Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cool New Plants for 2009 II

Here's another sampling of new plants for 2009 -- and why I think they will be worth at least a try.

'King's Ransom' is a very cool variegated sport of the now classic 'Jack Frost' -- so just take those wonderfully silver leaves and add a creamy edge to each, and you've got the new 'King's Ransom'. It should be a pleasant addition to the shade garden, making an effective neighbour to something plain and dark such as a Heuchera.

The "parent" 'Jack Frost' is such a great and easy plant, that this new form should at least be decent. My realistic expectation however, is that 'King's Ransom' will be somewhat less vigorous, but hopefully this is not a problem. Another potential concern is the stability of the variegated characteristic -- hopefully it's not anything like the dreaded form 'Variegata'. In any case, I'm still looking forward to trying 'King's Ransom' -- hopefully I don't have pay one to obtain it.

Geranium 'Sandrine' is from Thierry Delabroye of France (the same breeder that has brought us all the wonderful new Heuchera villosa hybrids), and is being described as "'Ann Folkard' on steroids". I always found 'Ann Folkard' to be such a useful "design" plant (I'm no designer), with it's subtle golden foliage and weaving/sprawling habit, but that it still lacked something. The flowers of the newer 'Sandrine' are twice as large as the ones on 'Ann Folkard', and that could make all the difference.

'Fooled Me' has brilliant golden-yellow flowers with striking red eye-zone and matching picotee edge. It won the American Hemerocallis Society's Silver Stout Medal (the highest honour) award in 2005, and is known for its prolific flower production.

Here's to dirt under your nails.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Worthy Perennial - Rodgersia (Rodger's Flower)

It's always a pleasant surprise to come to a realization, after years in the horticulture industry, that "Hey, this plant is better than I thought." Or, in other words, discovering that a plant that has been around for a while (i.e. is not "new"), but is generally underused and/or under-appreciated.

Such, I've found, is the case with Rodgersia (Rodger's Flower), a genus of about five species from China and Japan, named after U.S. navy commander Admiral John Rodgers. I had always considered this plant to be relegated to consistently moist, rich soil and therefore intolerant of "normal" garden conditions. However, after several years (including most summers consisting of extended periods of relative drought) in my garden, I'm beginning to believe otherwise. It has performed consistently and with a subtle beauty -- it is what most plants-people would describe as typically "ornamental" or "architectural".

Here's a couple of photographs of a stand of what I believe to be R. pinnata 'Superba', although there is certainly some confusion amongst the taxonimists, likely due to the plants' propensity to hybridize.

Here it is again from a different angle, and a few weeks later in the season, providing a pleasant backdrop to Siberian Iris and a hardy Geranium.

There's many forms, including several new ones that may be of interest, but even the older forms, as above, are of significant use in the garden.

Here's to dirt under your nails.