|Here are Rich Hornbaker’s thoughts on some interesting new plants for 2017. Click on the list to the right to see all the new plants we’ll have this year.
HOSTAS: You might think that, after 30 years of specializing in hostas, it would be hard for us to get excited about new hostas. But such is not the case. We have some very interesting new introductions this year.
We have two new yellow dwarfs. ‘Munchkin Fire’ ($18) is a vigorous grower with short, narrow leaves that holds their bright yellow color all season. ‘Sun Mouse’ ($15) has similar leaf shape and performance as the popular ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, but has brilliant yellow color. Both of these minis should make great edgers or small splashes of yellow in the shade garden.
A new hosta getting a lot of hype is ‘First Blush’ ($40), a medium small plant whose spring foliage will start to “blush” with reddish color, starting at the tips of the green leaves, and moving down toward the base. The blush holds until the temperatures go into the 90s. The red of the petioles extends onto the base of the leaves. This one is a big step towards a truly red hosta. Another medium small newby is ‘Sunset Grooves’ ($18), touted as being a showier version of 2013’s Hosta of the Year, ‘Rainforest Sunrise’. It has thick, round, bright yellow leaves with wide, dark green margins.
The aptly named ‘Petticoat Junction’ ($20) is a medium sized blue with very appealing, tight ruffles and twisted leaf tips. A must-have hosta for all you Cardinal fans out there is ‘Stan the Man’ ($25), a medium sized, somewhat puckered blue with creamy, bicolored margins.
Two medium large hostas sound exceptional. ‘One Last Dance’ ($18) is a sport of one of our favorite yellows, ‘Dancing Queen’. This new sport has dark green centers and intense yellow margins, with irregular, wavy edges that give it a feathery look. ‘Sugar Daddy’ ($18), a stunning sport of ‘Big Daddy’, with large, cupped and puckered blue leaves with white streaks and margins. Like its daddy, it has heavy substance and slug resistance.
PERENNIALS: Helleborus is finally getting the attention and popularity it deserves, and growers have responded with lots of new varieties. Often referred to as Lenten Rose because it blooms so early, Helleborus is a great companion to hostas in the shade garden. The foliage generally has a bluish cast and is resistant to deer browsing, and the flowers range from white or yellow to pink and red. Plants are easy to grow and are hardy to Zone 4. We have around a dozen new varieties this year in the full range of colors.
Who could resist a plant called ‘Charlotte’s Web’? Not us. Tradescantia ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is a gold foliaged Spiderwort that doesn’t burn in the sun. Chartreuse leaves turn gold with sun exposure and the plant is covered with soft blue flowers in summer. It grows around 16 inches tall and is hardy to Zone 3.
Dark foliage is always intriguing. Penstemon ‘Blackbeard’ features eggplant purple foliage on a very upright plant. Purple flower stems hold lilac purple flowers with white flaring tubes above the foliage, around 28-34” tall. Hardy to Zone 3. Another plant with interesting darkness to it is Amsonia ‘Storm Cloud’, whose stems emerge nearly black in the spring. Dark green leaves with silver veining then develop, followed by light blue flowers which cover the wide mound for several weeks in late spring and early summer. It grows 24-30” tall in full to partial sun and is hardy to Zone 4.
Of course, there are some new Echinaceas, including two orange ones. One called Sombrero® Adobe Orange is touted as the one of the best orange coneflowers yet. Its intense orange petals are matched by an orange cone. The other one, Double Scoop™ Mandarin, features large, orange pom pom flowers that gradually fade to pink. Both stand around 20” tall and are hardy to Zone 4.
We have several new Heucheras this year, including ‘Black Pearl’, touted as being the standard in black foliaged Heucheras. Two new compact Coral Bells combine nicely colored flowers with interesting foliage. Dolce® Appletini has lime green foliage with a silver overlay and beautiful ruby red flowers. Dolce® Silver Gumdrop has silver iridescent leaves and vibrant pink flowers.
TREES and SHRUBS: A new Japanese Maple, ‘Red Dragon’, is being promoted as the new standard in red foliaged laceleaf maples. Its dark purple-maroon color holds well through the hot summer months on a vigorous, well-branched tree. Another Japanese Maple, ‘Sherwood Flame’, is a new alternative to the usual ‘Bloodgood’. It forms a nicely rounded, small tree around 15’ tall and its red spring foliage turns reddish green in late summer, then cherry red in the fall.
Prunus Pink Flair® is an excellent small ornamental cherry offering multi-season color. Fragrant, bright pink blooms in spring are followed by attractive foliage that turns orange-red in the fall. It grows around 25’ tall with a 15’ spread, and is hardy to Zone 3.
You will probably hear a lot about a new Hydrangea arborescens called Invincibelle® Ruby. It is in the same family of hydrangeas as the old fashioned, white ‘Annabelle’, but it has dark red buds that open to a two-toned combination of bright ruby red and silvery pink. It reblooms until frost on sturdy stems with dark green foliage.
Hibiscus Lil’ Kim® Red is a new dwarf Rose of Sharon that only gets around 3-4’ tall. The long lasting flowers are a deep rose with a showy red eye.
New conifers include Picea obovata ‘Arctos’, a Siberian Spruce with unique bluish green color on a tough, durable pyramidal tree. Its moderate growth rate will result in a 10’ tall tree in 10 years.
Pinus peuce ‘Pacific Blue’ is a Macedonian Pine with beautiful, long, thin blue needles densely covering an upright tree. It is very wind and cold hardy, and should reach 20’ in 10 years.
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