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Between the Rows: Picking your garden’s newcomer

  • Allium millenium is beautiful with its many rosy-purple globe flowers on 12-to-18-inch stems. It also has the virtue of being a low-maintenance plant that is pest and disease resistant. Courtesy photo/Perennial Plant Association

  • Above, Echinacea tennesseensis. There seem to be more echinaceas on the market every year in more colors, more multicolors and with more petals with wild mop heads. Courtesy photo/American Meadows

  • “Peachy Knock Out” roses bloom over a long season and are highly resistant to black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew and rust. Courtesy photo/American Rose Trials for Sustainability

  • “Peachy Knock Out” roses bloom over a long season and are highly resistant to black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew and rust. Courtesy photo/American Rose Trials for Sustainability

  • “Hosta Floramora” is a cross involving the Japanese Hosta longipes and the Chinese Hosta plantaginea that results in a 30-inch wide clump of glossy foliage and 20-inch spikes of deliciously fragrant, wide white flowers that will bloom in September. Courtesy photo/Plant Delights Nursery

  • LEUCHTMAN



For the Recorder
Friday, April 27, 2018

What new flowers will you plant in your garden this year?

I don’t mean brand new on the market, but new to you. Last fall, I planted more than 100 crocus bulbs: white, yellow and purple. These are not new varieties, but I have never planted crocus before. In my new garden, I can’t plant many bulbs because the soil is very wet and the bulbs would rot. But the bit of lawn in front of the house allows for a small number of crocus.

Now I am thinking of what new flower I will put in one of the main garden beds. The clumping allium “Millenium” is my choice. Millenium is the Perennial Plant of the Year, awarded because it is beautiful with its many rosy-purple globe flowers on 12-to-18-inch stems. It also has the virtue of being a low-maintenance plant that is pest and disease resistant. It needs good soil and at least six hours of sun. It is available online and at garden centers. I recently learned that new introductions are in such short supply that they are very hard to get in spite of all their publicity.

The Perennial Plant of the Year website lists all the plants chosen since the organization was formed in 1990. You will probably recognize many of the award-winning plants in your own garden, like last year’s Aesclepius tuberosa. My own garden includes the delicate pink Japanese anemone “Honorine Joubert,” the rich blue salvia “May Night,” the Penstemon digitalis “Husker’s Red” with it’s wine-red foliage, and perovskia, also known as Russian sage, with its lavender flowers that vigorously attract honeybees.

There seem to be more echinaceas on the market every year in more colors, more multicolors and with more petals with wild mop heads. One reason they have become so popular is because echinacea, coneflower, is a wonderful pollinator plant attracting bees and butterflies. If your desire is to have a flower that is especially attractive, the familiar pink variety, Echinacea purpurea, is an excellent choice. The petals act as a runway for the bee or butterfly to land on and get to the source of nectar and pollen. I found an unusual variety, Echinacea tennesseenis, with unique upward-facing petals that give the flower a cup-like shape. I can’t wait to try this one.

Naturally, I want to encourage people to plant roses, especially those who are still under the misconception that roses are really finicky and a lot of work. Many people who have tip-toed into the world of roses have discovered “Knock Out” roses. “Peachy Knock Out” is a fairly new rose, but it has been in production long enough to have been tested in the several trial gardens of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (ARTS) organization. Gardeners may remember the All America Rose Trials, which gave their approval — or not — to new roses as they came on the market, but they are no longer in existence. Now we have ARTS, and they are devoted to letting us know which roses are not only beautiful, but are disease resistant and thrive in many areas of our country.

Peachy roses bloom over a long season and are highly resistant to black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew and rust. They have received awards in four regions of our country and have been named an ARTS Master Rose.

Two summers ago, I was on a garden tour in Minneapolis and environs. We went to wonderful public and private gardens. We also went to a display garden with a variety of fairly new cultivars. One was the “Delft Lace” astilbe which has tall, airy blossoms in shades of pink with red stems. It was this plant that made me pay attention to astilbes which come in a surprising number of forms. There is “Purple Candles” with its statuesque plumes in a rich shade of purple, and “Red Charm,” the reddest astilbe that is equally statuesque, but has arching plumes that make it unusual.

Sometimes, we find a plant that just speaks to us, even if we have to splurge to have it. I have never been a devotee of hostas, but, expensive as it is, I was enchanted by the $50 “Hosta Floramora,” a 2018 Plant Delights Nursery introduction this year. Plant Delights is a wonderful nursery in North Carolina with excellent and unusual plants. Floramora is a cross involving the Japanese Hosta longipes and the Chinese Hosta plantaginea. The result is a 30-inch wide clump of glossy foliage and 20-inch spikes of deliciously fragrant, wide white flowers that will bloom in September.

Like all good hostas, this is a hardy plant and enjoys some sun and some light shade. Before planting, the soil should be well-prepared by digging at least 12 inches or more, and by improving the soil with a generous helping of compost and some slow acting fertilizer. Hostas originated where there was a lot of rain, and they have large leaves that transpire more moisture than other perennials, so they need regular watering.

We all have favorites to grow every year, and we have limited space, but it is always fun to grow something new.

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website: www.commonweeder.com.