Sunday, January 31, 2010

In the Pipeline -- New Plants for 2011 and Beyond, Part 2

In this post, we will take a look at the breeding work of Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Hebron, Illinois. His most popular introduction so far include Polemonium 'Heaven Scent', a personal favourite of mine, with early, grape-scented purple flowers and dark spring foliage. It was derived from crossing the native (most of north-eastern North America) P. reptans with P. yezoense 'Purple Rain'.

Another popular introduction of Brent's is Sedum 'Lajos' Autumn Charm™, a wonderfully variegated (sport of the popular 'Autumn Joy') form of Showy Stonecrop. While I have become somewhat jaded with variegated Sedums, due to their relative instability, this one appears to be the "most stable", and is otherwise very colourful.

One of Brent's plants that has been out for a few years, that I am very impressed with but have yet to grow is Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head' (below). Compared with the "flowers" of other forms of Fountain Grass, this one is simply outstanding.

In Brent's pipeline are several more exciting new perennials. The following have been released in the last year or two, or will be released by his nursery in 2010. Keep in mind that an introduction to the industry, typically takes a few more years to reach "mass production".

One that is almost shockingly beautiful is Andropogon gerardii 'Red Bull', a selection of the native (most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains) Big Bluestem or Turkey Foot Grass, which is described as the "monarch of the prairie grasses". In any case, it is a beautiful, upright grass that is easy to grow in full sun, with lush summer foliage, that in the case of 'Red Bull', turns a brilliant red in the autumn.

Another beauty is Geum 'Mai Tai' with lovely peachy-apricot flowers on dark stems.

Last but not least is Penstemon digitalis 'Precious Gem', a brand new selection of the native (most of eastern North America) with foliage that emerges bronze and turns green by summer, and with plenteous pink flowers on dark stems that persist until autumn.

Here's to dirt under your nails...

MPD, coolplantsguy

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In the Pipeline -- New Plants for 2011 and Beyond

So most of us are at least somewhat interested in trying a new plant or two this spring or summer... my last four posts here have highlighted several new varieties that will be available in 2010. But what about the new plants that are in the pipeline to be released in 2011 and beyond? Here's a few sneak peaks to whet your appetite.

One of my favourite stops while visiting Holland, was the nursery of Marco van Noort, an incredible plantsman, and breeder of the popular Geranium 'Jolly Bee'. The genus Geranium is a specialty of his, but it appears as though he is branching into Echinacea as well. Here are some seedlings pictured on his website:

Also check out this video of plants that he is releasing in 2010-11.

I am very impressed with these, and knowing his standards in breeding and selection, they are bound to be good varieties. My best guess is that they will likely make it North American in 2011-12.

I can recall my last visit to his nursery and seeing a very small batch of near-red Geranium cinereum -- it looks like 'Memories' or 'Signal' are the result of that work -- beautiful!

Here's one that he describes as the largest-flower ever. The variety 'Dragon Heart' (also a superb plant) is on the left for comparison.

Spring is just around the corner! A few more weeks my friends.

Here's to, at least dreaming of, dirt under your nails.

MPD, coolplantsguy

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Plants for 2010, Part 4

Are there too many Heuchera varieties? I would say, yes. Are they otherwise, great, colourful and so very cool plants? Again, the answer is yes.

I don't think there is another perennial that provides such a long season of interest, combination of foliage and flower, and the tapestry of colour. Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon was one of the first to realize this, and capitalize on the potential of this North American genus. Ever since the introduction of his classic 'Plum Pudding', the gardening world has been enamoured by his "babies". Here's a few of the latest...

First is Heuchera 'Electra', with brilliant, blood-red veins on golden-yellow leaves. This vigorous variety delivers what 'Tiramisu' promised.

Second, is Heucherella 'Golden Zebra' with brilliant yellow leaves boldly splashed with dark red. Picture this in the garden beside a dark-leaved companion or in a fantastic container.

Finally, is Heucherella 'Sweet Tea', the most boldly-coloured variety ever! Huge cinnamon stars are surrounded by the lovliest orange tea-coloured borders. What a cool plant -- again, try in the garden or containers with darker or lighter-coloured companions.

In the meantime, there's lots of snow in Niagara, and I'm loving it.

Here's to dirt under your nails... in another 10 weeks or so. ;)

MPD, the coolplantsguy