New Plants for a New Decade

by Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette
January 28, 2010

What’s a great way to start out the New Year? Each year the nursery industry offers exciting new plant hybrids to give your gardens new life.  Varieties with improved disease resistance, intriguing foliage color, and longer bloom duration enhance the beauty and ease of maintenance in your yard.

The list of new plants leads the passionate gardener to think of ways to make room for a few more plants in the yard – perhaps removing a bit of lawn for a new bed, or adding a few containers.  Let me introduce you to a few of these new additions.

Most everyone I know lost at least one rosemary in last winter’s snow and cold weather.  The variety Rosmarinus ‘Bonnie Jean’ claims resistance to winter damage being hardy in Zone 7 and above.  This low growing, dense rosemary tops out at 18 inches, spreading to 30 inches wide.  The dark bluish-purple flowers add color to the garden just when it needs it the most, from late fall to early winter.  Additional benefits of this plant are that it is both deer resistant and drought tolerant.  A gift of a bouquet of rosemary always elicits a happy smile during those grey winter days.

Another evergreen that offers year-round color is Euphorbia ‘Ruby Glow’.  The foliage color is nearly black burgundy with bright red new growth.  Chartreuse stems provide a dramatic contrast.  This small plant reaches 10-12 inches tall by 18 inches wide, making a striking focal point in a container or perennial garden.  It prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soil.

For late summer interest, the grass Pennisetum ‘Red Head’ could be a welcome feature of a perennial border.  The bronze-red plumes of flowers rise up above the foliage during August and early September.  This deciduous grass is drought tolerant and deer resistant (that is, if the deer are reading the list of what is supposed to be drought tolerant).  This grass needs a bit of room, growing to 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide.  Pennisetum blends nicely with purple coneflower (echinacea purpurea) and black eyed susan (rudbeckia).

Have a shady spot in the garden?  Consider Beesia deltophylla.  Try this ground-cover from local plantsman Dan Hinkley’s collection.  The shiny green to grayish blue heart shaped leaves grow slowly to an 18-24 inch clump.  This evergreen perennial is happiest in dappled shade with moist, rich soil like found in a woodland garden  White star shaped flowers appear in mid to late spring.

Want some color right now?  Helleborus ‘Pink Frost’ could be just what you’re looking for.  Burgundy and white buds open to pink flowers February through April.  The evergreen foliage sports red veins with a silvery cast to the green leaves.  Staying below 9-12 inches, this is a wonderful ground-cover for a shady area.

The list goes on, with many choices for something new to pique your gardening sensibilities.  Make this the decade of new and exciting things in your garden!

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