By Leslie Kirk
This spring marks an extraordinary season of high anticipation for landscape professionals, as growers and breeders have specifically targeted this group as a top priority for the year’s plant introductions. Whether propagated in high-performance greenhouses and labs or exclusively bred for superior qualities, dozens of new annuals, perennials and groundcovers offer landscapers diverse, ground-breaking new options during 2010.
With clients’ budgets thinner and installation jobs limited, landscape professionals have expressed the need for plants that present extended life and hardiness potential. Climate and economic changes have presented landscapers with the challenge of having to install beds and borders that must survive not only one full season, but, often well into the next. Plant selections need to be reliable as well as novel. Perennials need to overwinter well, and annuals need to have unparalleled flower power to make them worth the cost.
A few of the nation’s leading growers, in particular, have established landscaper needs and demands as priorities. Each have met exacting standards to provide specific landscape solutions, offering new introductions that adapt to a wide-range of climate changes, extended or multiple seasons, provide superior disease tolerance, and still grant distinctive appeal in the landscape.
Cora Cascade 'Peach Blush', a brand new vinca from Goldsmith Seeds / Syngenta, provides landscapers superior disease resistance and performance with a trailing habit. This delicate, peach vinca works well in the landscape for garden color that spreads out with a profusion of blooms. It was specifically bred for outstanding heat and humidity tolerance and excellent field performance all season long. On average, 'Peach Blush' will reach a mature height of 6 to 8 inches and width of 32 to 36 inches. Cora Cascade varieties make excellent spring and summer annual selections and are available in five colors.
| Cora Cascade 'Peach Blush'|
| Coreopsis 'Mango Punch'|
| Endurio 'Sky Blue Martien'|
| Heuchera 'Electra'|
| Aquilegia 'Winky Double Blue & White'|
| Laser Cyclamen|
| Leucanthemum 'Paladin'|
| Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet'|
| Dianthus 'Raspberry Surprise'|
Coreopsis 'Mango Punch' belongs to Terra Nova Nurseries’ new series of annual coreopsis, which are available in a brilliant color palette and have an unusually high flower count from May to frost. The plants are self-cleaning and will rebloom continuously all summer and fall with little care and attention, making them a unique alternative to mums. 'Mango Punch' was one of the most desired coreopsis in this new series during trialing because of its truly unique mango-orange color with red overlay. This coreopsis is an easy, low-cost plant to grow and offers a superior, consistent compact growth habit of about 18 inches wide by 12 inches tall. The annual is best planted in full sun with average to well-draining soil.
The brand new Viola Endurio 'Sky Blue Martien' from Syngenta is another annual worth a professional landscaper’s second glance for its breeding prowess and innovation. This striking, pale-blue, semi-trailing viola has a neatly mounding, spreading habit that cascades in any application for a graceful look. 'Sky Blue Martien' reaches a mature height of approximately 4 to 6 inches with an equal spread. Endurio series varieties withstand winter in mild climates and can even continue flowering through a light snowfall, making these flowers extremely versatile. Along with 'Sky Blue Martien', there are eight bold color selections available in the series.
Terra Nova Nurseries’ production team has taken a great interest in 2010 towards introducing heucheras that vary in color over four seasons. Heuchera 'Electra' is the perfect selection for landscapes in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9, presenting blood-red veins that electrify golden leaves. The red venation of ‘Electra’ stays strong, while the leaf changes from shades of yellow in spring to chartreuse in summer and fall. The foliage then turns a lovely tan in winter. It is heat and humidity tolerant due to its Heuchera villosa breeding. The compact habit grows to 11 inches wide by 7 inches tall on average, and is best placed in full shade. The ideal soil is a moist-but-well-drained mix that is low in peat.
For colder climates, landscapers may want to look at the new Aquilegia 'Winky Double Blue & White' from Garden Splendor. This perennial is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and is a perfect option for mid-borders, beds, containers and accent plantings. Bred specifically for its long-blooming, double flowers and reliable performance, ‘Winky Double Blue & White’ is a tried-and-true option for a long-term project. The flowers are of pure white with blue tips and grow on a compact, sturdy habit. This aquilegia is best placed in partial shade and in moist, well-drained soils. It grows to an average mature height of 24 to 30 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Laser Cyclamen from Goldsmith Seeds / Syngenta are perfect options for dramatic color in fall, winter and early spring, remaining vibrant during temperatures as low as 30 degrees. With excellent, steady outdoor performance and size, these cyclamen are ideal options for landscapers hoping to plant uniform beds and borders. With 18 colors available, landscape professionals have numerous options to provide clients with diverse winter interest that lasts. Perfect for partial to full shade, Laser Cyclamen plants grow to a mature height and width of 10 to 12 inches. These cyclamen also boast interesting foliage and lovely fragrance.
Leucanthemum 'Paladin' offers a new and unique flower type for a Shasta daisy with three rows of ruffled petals on stiff, upright stems. Terra Nova Nurseries bred this plant with a unique flower form on a compact habit and a long bloom time. They bred-out the disagreeable odor common to this genera, making it nearly odorless and highly desirable. This Leucanthemum is an ideal flower for borders and containers due to its numerous crowns. Hardy to USDA Zones 5 to 8, 'Paladin' reaches an average height of 20 inches tall and width of 15 inches wide. This perennial is best placed in sun to part shade with soil that is moderately fertile, moist and well-drained.
Hybridizing Pulmonaria at Terra Nova Nurseries leads to plants that are bred for superior mildew resistance, short bloom stalks, vivid flower colors, and thick, well–spotted foliage. Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet' offers all of these traits as well as heat and humidity tolerance, an upright habit, and large pink flowers. This is also the first new Pulmonaria introduction from Terra Nova Nurseries in years. 'Silver Bouquet' displays spectacular silver foliage for year-round interest, and the foliage fills in quickly as the plant finishes flowering. This Pulmonaria is best planted in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9 in average soil. The plant will grow 20 inches wide by 7 inches tall on average, and can be planted in part sun to shade, or even full sun in the Pacific Northwest.
For smaller spaces, Garden Splendor now offers Dianthus 'Raspberry Surprise'. This perennial was selected for its long and free-flowering capabilities, compact and well-proportioned habit, strong fragrance, and unique bi-colored blooms. It is an outstanding option for front borders, raised beds, containers, rock gardens and cutting gardens. The masses of fragrant, semi-double pink blooms boast raspberry accents over compact, silvery-green foliage. 'Raspberry Surprise' is easily adaptable in sunny areas with well-draining soil. It grows to an average height and width of 10 to 12 inches, and is hardy to USDA Zone 4.
The new variegated Ajuga 'Sparkler' has thick, dark green, shiny foliage covered in creamy-white splashes that light up the floor of a garden. 'Sparkler' is the most vigorous and variegated ajuga in Terra Nova Nurseries’ extensive collection. In winter, the variegated foliage takes on striking pink tones, and warm weather with new growth brings out even more variegation. The plant grows to an average height of 28 inches wide by 4 inches tall, and is best planted in moist, well-drained soils rich in humus. A perfect fit for nearly any USDA Zone 5 landscape, this ajuga tolerates sun or shade.
Leslie Kirk is a public relations manager with Eberly & Collard Public Relations, a national media relations firm specializing in the home, garden, design, landscape, and agribusiness industries. Kirk and her team can be reached at 404-574-2900 or via www.eberlycollardpr.com.
Garden Splendor -- www.gardensplendor.com
Goldsmith Seeds -- www.goldsmithseeds.com
Syngenta -- www.syngenta.com
Terra Nova Nurseries -- www.terranovanurseries.com