New perennials: What's not to crave?
Remember that some "new" perennials may be renamed, newly hyped or not yet in nurseries, despite assurances they'll be available by April. None of us will know for sure until we track them down and grow them ourselves
Local news partner - Plant Talk
Valerie Easton writes in her blog about gardens and the people who make them.
IT'S HARD TO gather a batch of new perennials this spring without getting hungry, and not for gardening. Most new plant names seem chosen to tantalize our taste buds. A daisy, for instance, is named 'Banana Cream' and a penstemon is 'Watermelon Taffy.'
As if these new perennials with their bicolors, perfume, ruffles and stripes wouldn't be appealing enough without being named for desserts.
Please remember that some "new" perennials may be renamed, newly hyped or not yet in nurseries, despite assurances they'll be available by April. None of us will know for sure until we track them down and grow them ourselves. Buyer bewitched and buyer beware.
• Hemerocallis 'Primal Scream' has tangerine-orange, gold-dusted flowers with soft, green throats. The flowers measure a whopping (for a day lily) 8 inches across, and are held high above arching, blade-like foliage. You know the drill: Remove the spent flowers daily to keep the plant blooming — and divide more often than you'd like to. 'Primal Scream' might well be showy enough to be worth the work.
• A sturdy, long-blooming new Shasta daisy comes in shades from lemon yellow through butter, aging to white, for a two-tone effect. Leucanthemum s. 'Banana Cream' attracts butterflies, is a long-lasting cut flower, and at just 18 inches high, sufficiently compact not to flop over in rain and wind.
• Fresh kinds of hostas and heucheras usher in springtime, however similar they may be to last year's introductions. In the hosta category, H. 'Wheee!' is mid-sized, with rippled, ruffled foliage. Each leaf is heavily outlined in cream to increase the wavy effect. The flowers are lavender, and the leaves thick enough to be relatively slug-resistant. When it comes to heucheras, check out the new H. 'Georgia Plum.' Deeply rose purple with a silvery overlay, it's a smaller, more compact version of the popular 'Georgia Peach,' and ideal for adding drama to containers.
• Foxgloves are both cottage-garden casual and architectural enough to suit more modern gardens. Digitalis x hybrida 'Polka Dot Pandora' has been popular in England and is newly available here in the U.S. Its two-tone, apricot-flushed-with-pink flowers are so much more appealing than the typical foxglove's faded lavender. Its resume is pretty impressive: this foxglove doesn't seed itself, grows just 2 to 3 feet high, blooms from June into September, takes sun or partial shade and attracts bees and butterflies.
• I love agastaches for their easy-care drought tolerance, long bloom time and fragrant foliage that smells of summer. They're beautiful in bouquets, and beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds. I can't wait to mix the deep violet-blue flower spikes of the new A. 'Blue Boa' in with all my apricot and orange agastaches.
• Could these new plants be as crave-able as candy? The hot pink and white spikes of Penstemon 'Watermelon Taffy' are cheerful and vigorous, blooming for an astounding 20 weeks. Then there's the hummingbird magnet Kniphofia 'Orange Vanilla Popsicle,' with short, grassy leaves, compact habit and the startling color combo of creamy white topped with orange-red flower spikes.
• An adaptable little sedge is poised to become the most useful plant introduced this spring. Carex 'Spark Plug' is a variegated bristle of a grass. Its short, spiky foliage striped in white is perfect for edging and for pots. While the indispensable black mondo grass creates a dark, shadowy effect in the garden, 'Spark Plug' may well become its light, bright counterpart and every bit as ubiquitous.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of "petal & twig." Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com.