Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Cool New Digitalis II

Well, it turns out that my cool new Digitalis is an outstanding form of a variant of Digitalis purpurea that has turned up on occasion since the 1800s.

Graham Rice of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the UK made an excellent post on his blog re. my "new but old" plant over at his blog The Transatlantic Plantsman, including an intersting explanation from a former plantsman at the RHS.

In any case, if you Google "peloric Digitalis" you will find all sorts of interesing reading regarding this type of occassional variant.

Upon Graham's suggestion, I will isolate this plant and collect seed in attempt to create a new strain.

Here's to dirt your nails.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Cool New Digitalis

A very weird and wonderful Digitalis (Foxglove) was discovered by one of my growers at our nursery yesterday. It was one amongst several dozen D. purpurea 'Excelsior Hybrids'.

Although I have seen oddities before in certain plants, nothing quite as extraordinary as this.

Time will tell, with a few emails zipping around the world, whether it is truly of any horticultural significance. In the meantime, it is fun and otherwise a plain testimony to nature's wonderful variability.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Three Cool Rare Plants

OK, so we took a peak at three relatively "new" plants (and more to come soon) in the last post. Here's a look at three cool "rare" plants. Of course, rare is relative, but they can be fun, simply because no one else has them yet.

Rare plants may or may not be new, in fact, some have been around for decades if not centuries, but remain rare by virtue of their difficult production in a commercial environment. In any case, they will not be available at your local garden centre. You might be able to obtain them at one of the links (mostly high-end mail order nurseries) below under 'Other Cool Plant Sites'.

These are plants that I have not tried before myself, but certiainly hope to in the near future. One that caught my eye was Eupatorium fortunei 'Pink Elegance' at Thierry Delabroye's nursery.

This is the same plantsman that has been introducing the latest Heuchera cultivars, e.g. 'Caramel', 'Tiramisu', 'Pistache', 'Pinot Gris', etc. In any case, I've always been a fan of variegated plants, and a variegated Eupatorium at 1m+ (3-4') would be very cool.

A very cool, but mysteriously rare plant so far in the horticultural industry, is Veronica 'Christy'. This is a hybrid of Veronica austriaca ‘Crater Lake Blue’ and V. prostrata discovered by Christy Hensler in Washington state. It has performed admirably in our trial gardens for a few years now.

Finally, another cool rare variegated plant, is Symphytum × uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'. For whatever reason, this plant is near impossible to produce commercially, but is an outstanding and tremendously colourful addition to the garden.

In my experience, this plant is easy once established and provides very dramatic colour in mid to late-spring. For a variegated plant, it is indeed bold and beautiful.

So, in addition to trying something new or cool, to be really different, try one of these rare plants.

Here's to dirt under your nails, and enjoy.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three New Cool Plants I

Most gardeners are interested in "what's new" as far as plant varieties are concerned. It provides us with an opportunity to be different than our friends, and to learn about and appreciate something that is, at the very least different from what we're use to, but also hopefully better or improved, than what most are used to.

These three plants are relatively new, but also tried and tested for a couple of years in trial gardens here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The pictures were taken May 14, 2007.

The first is Geum 'Mango Lassi', which was introduced by Blooming Nursery of Oregon a few years back. It's origin or parentage is, as far as I can tell, unknown. In any case, it performed admirably and made a tremendous display of colour for several weeks in our trial garden last year. Try it with something that has silver foliage like Stachys 'Big Ears' (Lambs Ears) and/or a plant with similar colour like Physocarpus Coppertina.

The second is Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire', a new introduction a few years back via Blooms of Bressingham. It is a definite improvement upon older selections of the Cushion Spurge that had dark foliage but faded quickly to the usual grey-green. In any case, this one is a beauty with dark foliage that contrasts nicely with the chartreuse flowers in spring, and holds its colour nicely into the summer.

Finally, new varieties of Pulmonaria (Lungwort, Lords and Ladies) have been plentiful in recent years, but some have been prone to mildew and otherwise less than stellar. Pulmonaria 'Samurai' however (P. 'Majeste' × P. longifolia cevennsis) has performed like a star with clean silver foliage and brilliant near-blue flowers.

If you'd like to try something new this year, try one of these -- plants that have been tried and tested.

Here's to dirt under your nails.