First Impressions

runktrun(z7a MA)April 9, 2011

I thought this might be a good time to share our first impressions of 2010 new plant introductions for those gardeners patient and smart enough to wait for regional reviews.

The first of two 2010 plants that I added to my garden was a Proven Winners introduction Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' which like most Buddleias with "blue" in its name there is nothing remotely blue about the flower color. But don't let that dissuade you as this is one terrific little plant. I might even go so far as to say this is likely to become one of those classic plants found in nearly every landscape. In my garden this little wonder started blooming mid-late summer and kept blooming non-stop without deadheading all the way till November and still looked good at Thanksgiving.

The second 2010 introduction that I added to my garden was another Proven Winners plant, Syringa "Boomerang" a re-blooming lilac touted to bloom in the spring and re-bloom "throughout" the summer. This plant reminded me of S. 'Miss Kim' both in terms of scent and bloom appearance. I was advised to deadhead the spring blooms for a better summer show, the lilac did in fact re-bloom during the mid summer but to be honest the number of blooms were not all that abundant. I have not completely given up hope that this will mature into a summer time stunner but my first impression leads me to believe other wise.

So did you add anything new to your garden that you would like to share your first impressions of with us?

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I only added perennials last summer after a couple of years of adding a bunch of shrubs. Many of the plants I added last summer were old standards with easy care, like perennial geraniums, Nepeta, and a few day lilies. Much of the small amount of energy that I was able to devote to my garden went into edging beds with barriers to keep grass out, but I did try a few plants that are relatively new ones, all in the gold, blue, white color range.

I grew Heuchera 'Pistache' which I hadn't seen before this past spring, though it was probably out in smaller numbers in 2009. It was quite vigorous and healthy last summer despite the hot dry weather and little attention. Right now it has only just emerged from a giant snow bank and does not seem to have been eaten by voles, but the foliage is pretty tattered after 6 feet of snow on top of it. (It was under a plow pile.) I am looking forward to seeing how it does this year in comparison with 'Lime Rickey,' which I just bought at the UNH greenhouse where I got Pistache last year. Pistache is in a bright mostly shade garden that is blue, chartreuse, and white much of the year with the yellow-greens coming largely from foliage: Deutzia 'Chardonnay Pearls', Hosta, Hakone grass, and the Heucheras. Whichever seems to do better I'll add more of to brighten the spot a bit more. I could use a zone 4 hardy shrub that is mid-sized to add to this bed if anyone has suggestions, but it will be in almost full shade and I'd like it to fit the blue/gold/white theme.

I also planted Clematis 'Stolwijk Gold' (good thing I don't have to try to SAY that one) which in mostly sun retained its gold foliage color without burning. It is a type 1 (no prune) alpina group clematis, and when I checked on it yesterday, has buds that are just beginning to swell, so I am looking forward to seeing its purple-blue blooms this spring. Like all clematis it grew well, but not huge in its first full year in the ground.

A third new variety was Gentian 'True Blue' which started blooming much earlier than my other (fall-blooming) gentians and continued for quite a while. It looked great next to the gold clematis foliage of Stolwijk Gold and a blue spruce. It shows no signs of sprouting yet, but I am assuming that it will have survived the winter without problems.

I'd say on first impression that I found three great new plants last season and I'm looking forward to seeing how they come back and perform this summer.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:18AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I could use a zone 4 hardy shrub that is mid-sized to add to this bed if anyone has suggestions, but it will be in almost full shade and I'd like it to fit the blue/gold/white theme.

You might want to try Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Gold Angel' (Perennial Japanese Shrub Mint) which is zone 4 and I have been using it for three or so years to brighten a dark shady corner. The gold/chartreuse really pops even from a long distance. It is definitely the last shrub to flower in my yard, which I think adds to its appeal. I have tried Leucosceptrum stellipilum 'October Moon' (Perennial Japanese Shrub Mint), which was a weaker plant in my yard. I bought L.�Gold Angel� from Plant Delights for $12.99. It was a fast grower and will likely be a presence the first season in your garden.
For this same garden you might consider adding black for a real pop. There are a number of black Actea that may be a nice addition.

Clematis 'Stolwijk Gold' sounds like a must have clematis. Do you know who is doing a good job these days with mail order clematis?

I forgot to mention another new plant from Blooms of Bressingham Eryngium 'Big Blue' . I have become obsessed with this electric blue plant that has blue stems as well as flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Delights

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 7:49PM
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scpearson(5 NE CT)

I am a "blue" flower/plant lover, I confess! Got carried away with the blue, adding only white or silver. Then my husband brought home three whole flats of red flowered annual plants last summer - horrors! (wasn't he paying attention?) Not to be ungrateful, I scattered them amongst
my flower garden only to find they really set off the other plants very well. I think I will expand my theme of blue, although, I DO love them, so I just wanted to say your blue/white/gold theme sounds like something I would love.
I have the Big Blue you mentioned...interesting "flower." Thanks for putting this thread up...
I hope more will share. Also, I have wondered myself about
mail order clematis... a love of mine, but I wish I had better luck. I probably average 50% survival over the years, which is very disappointing to me. A wonderful GW gardener sent me some clematis seeds this year that I am excited about growing.
Thank you both for your posts. Susan

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 11:26PM
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I bought two Cimicifuga racemosa/black snakeroot plants from Bluestone Perennials three years ago and one finally bloomed last season. I knew it would take a year or two after planting for them to bloom so I was very excited to see lots of buds on one of them back in early October. The flowers opened 10/18. As luck would have it, I planted toad lily in front of them in a full shade bed--what a great combination!

Black snakeroot/Cimicifuga racemosa

Toad lily w/black snakeroot

The only thing I wasn't happy with was the first frost zapped them so it was--briefly--a great show. One of my garden goals is growing things that bloom for a long time so I'll have to decide at some point whether the snakeroot is worth the effort. I also somehow got the idea they preferred shade but have since read they're okay with part sun so a new location presents a problem given how large they get--flower stalks can get up to 5 ft. tall. Right now they're growing on the north side of my garage in full shade.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 6:03AM
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Katy - Thanks for the shrub suggestion. Since it blooms so late, I probably wouldn't have issues with it seeding around. Does it travel with rhizomes like some other mint family plants?

I have gotten great clematis from Silver Star Vinery, Brushwood and Hummingbird Farm. Silver Star's are bigger, but more expensive by a little bit. Joy Creek in OR also has a great reputation and I may yet ordering from them since they have a couple I can't seem to live without. I'm not sure if anyone has 'Stolwijk Gold' still this season. Mine came from Hummingbird but they don't have it this year and last I saw Plant Delights was out of it. Just checked - Avant Gardens has it. I haven't gotten Clematis from them, but other plants I have gotten have been great. I'l have to check out 'Eryngium 'Big Blue'. So far I've avoided Eryngium since DH hates prickly plants, but I might find a spot for it where he would not come in contact with it. How prickly does it feel?

Susan - I often use orange in small doses in my blue/yellow areas for that pop, though in a few spots I have red. I find my most successful clematis are NOT the group 2 large-flowered ones that are always in the nurseries. I really like the summer bloomers, especially viticella group, which don't get wilt and tend to be quite vigorous growers and bloomers, though some have smaller flowers. I was cleaning up beds yesterday and counted my clems; I am up to 24 (with more ordered) and only 3 are group 2. I also grow a few type 1 (no prune) which are spring bloomers like 'Stolwijk Gold.' My all time favorite is Venosa Violacea; vigorous vine and lovely large blossoms in summer. It even blooms in quite a bit of shade:
I have gotten a very few Clematis locally, but usually get them mail order so I have more choice. I may try seed this year. Here's a good resource for growing clematis from seed:

Gardenweed - Nice combination! Think about adding variagated Solomon's Seal/Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' as a foliage contrast to the other two. I have found that Cimicifuga AKA Actea only blooms for a relatively short period, maybe 3 weeks in the shady spot where it grows in my garden. I leave up the seed heads for winter interest. Mine are one of the dark-leaved varieties and I grow it mostly for that dark maroonish foliage. The one green plant I have is in the sun, and is unhealthy, always dying back before blossoming. Don't know if it is just a bad plant or if it really doesn't like so much sun. I need to move it - just haven't found a spot yet, but I think if I had limited space, the green plant would be culled due to not long enough interest. The dark foliaged variety I just love. I tried toad lily/Tricyrtis once, and it is the only plant I've ever had completely eaten by deer (just as it was starting to bloom!), so I haven't tried again. I do love the plant's form and those lovely blossoms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Avant Gardens Clelmatis 'Stolwijk Gold'

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 7:13AM
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nhbabs - I would love to plant variagated Solomon's seal in that bed with the snakeroot but have yet to find one at a nursery at an affordable price. Haven't had any luck trading for seeds to winter sow either but may have to give in and buy a plant (or two) this year. My snakeroot is also a dark-leaved variety and is accompanied in that bed by lots of hostas, brunnera 'Jack Frost', bleeding heart, astilbe, lady's mantle, columbine, Japanese painted fern, a couple hellebores, coral bells and a few other shade lovers so there's a lot of interest over the course of the season. I winter sowed persicaria virginiana 'Painters Palette' for some variegated foliage. I spent quite a bit of time & effort on that bed since it's what you see when first approaching the house from the north.

The toad lily was new last year. I've only seen a single deer since I moved here and that was when there was snow on the ground. The hawks & our resident fox family seem to keep other small varmints in check.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Here's another mail-order source for Clematis alpina 'Stolwijk Gold':
Well-Sweep Herb Farm. . . since it is one of my most reliable NJ perennial growers, I was able to pick out my own specimen last season, and I agree
with nhbabs that it's a terrific little plant. Be forewarned: Well-Sweep's
"old-fashioned" method of mail order is a complete throwback (but not
that far!). . .rather than order on-line from a website, you have to request
their catalogue and then either mail or phone in your order. . .but I
absolutely swear by the quality of their plants - that I buy directly!

For a shrub-in-shade that "sort of" fits the blue/white/gold theme, you
might consider a relatively new introduction: Diervilla 'Cool Splash". . .
smallish shrub (about 3'), green leaves beautifully variegated with white,
and smallish pale yellow blooms. Ask me next season - I'm picking one up from Variegated Foliage Nursery (CT) next month - and I'll have a full


Here is a link that might be useful: Well-Sweep Herb Farm

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:54AM
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Come to the swap at my house in Lexington MA on June 18 or any other day, and I'll give you some variegated Solomon's Seal. Blanchette's is a private nursery about 25 minutes from here and they have about 15 varieties of Solomon's seal.In 2010 the "regular" SS was 8.95 a pot, which I don't think you'll find cheaper anywhere. They are not huge plants, but it is locally grown and always always healthy. And the selection at this nursery is worth the price of gas

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:28PM
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Thanks for the most generous offer, Marie but unfortunately, that's a 2 hour + drive from where I am. With gas at $4/gal., that alone is the cost of a couple plants at a local nursery. I appreciate the invite too. If I can tempt a long-time garden buddy, we might drive up together.
E in CT

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

I have to second the opinion on the Buddleia 'Lo and Behold'. I planted 3 in the garden and they bloomed non-stop and looked great all season. I also agree that this could become a classic plant for the landscape. One of these and a fairy rose would be a great combination for continuous bloom.

Carl, thanks for the info on both nurseries. I am going to try the Diervilla 'Cool Splash' this year as well. I have a few on hold for me at my local nursery. I'm looking forward to them. I'll have to check out that Variegated Foliage Nursery. I had never heard of it before. It looks really interesting and on my way to LI. Definitely looks like it would be worth the detour!

Another shrub that I added a couple years ago was Viburnum plicatum 'Popcorn'. I love this shrub. I'm a big fan of fall color and I got lucky when I happened to plant a Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' nearby.

A perennial that I picked up last year that I really like is Ligularia 'Osiris Cafe Noir' (at least that's what the Name That Plant folks labeled it, and it matches pics on the internet). It was mis-labeled at a nursery as an aruncus. The underside of the leaf and the stems have a great dark burgundy color.

Nhbabs, have you ever tried Gentian from seed? I picked one up last year for the first time and I absolutely love it. I've never seen them around here in nurseries and was surprised when I stumbled upon one. I tried collecting seeds and was very unsure if what I was "collecting" really was seed. I WS what I collected and I have 1 sprout coming up. But, I sowed multiple items in the same flat so I'm not sure if one of the other seeds strayed. Time will tell. I would be excited if I did get even a single plant from seed.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:19PM
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You are welcome!Seriously, make a garden day of it. Even if you only drop by, there is one garden 20 minutes away (arbo-retum and she has a website to look at )that is a must see and two nurseries: Blanchettes, I already mentioned, and Seawrights which grows and sells only daylilies.(and some hostas)They'll go to the field and dig them while you wait.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:49AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)


Katy - Thanks for the shrub suggestion. Since it blooms so late, I probably wouldn't have issues with it seeding around. Does it travel with rhizomes like some other mint family plants?

This has been a extremely well behaved plant with absolutely no traveling.

I'l have to check out 'Eryngium 'Big Blue'. So far I've avoided Eryngium since DH hates prickly plants, but I might find a spot for it where he would not come in contact with it. How prickly does it feel?

OMG you reminded me of a thread from years ago when you shared with us your hubbies aversion to prickly plants which ignited a lively conversation on the topic and concluded with idabean commenting on our husbands "Pickles". LOL
Oh and yes Eryngium 'Big Blue' is razor sharp.

Thanks for the link to Avant Gardens C. 'Stolwijk Gold' amongst a half a dozen other treasures are waiting patiently in my shopping basket.

Keep us posted on your attempts to grow Clematis from seed if the success rate is relatively high and it is not too complicated I would love to try this. I have unsuccessfully tried layering a few Clematis.

That toad lily is really beautiful and worthy of you protecting it from ravenous deer.

Thanks for the link to Well-Sweep I have a number of herbs that I wanted to purchase as well so I am going to give them a try. I can't get over the huge list of Lavender offerings.

I second your opinion of Viburnham plicatum 'Popcorn' I am so happy with mine that is sited in a shady woodland area that I am going to purchase a second one. I don't know if it is because of digital photography but my V. Popcorn in the shade has a darker purple fall color.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 8:26AM
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Well this is a fun thread, but you are all bad influences on me.

Carl, I've been looking at that Diervilla 'Cool Splash', but hadn't figured out where to put it. It hadn't occurred to me that it would work well in my shady bed. I might have to get that as well as the Leucosceptrum stellipilum 'Gold Angel' . . . I think there is room for both if I shift a few other plants in that bed. I also have spent a quite enjoyable evening browsing Wellspring Farm's catalog which I downloaded.

Thyme - I have a Viburnum plicatum 'Mareisii' that I like a lot. It blooms well in almost full shade and if it were in sun, I think it would have nice fall color. That's one I may try to propogate a few more of. I might have to go looking for a 'Popcorn' as well - it looks like a plant with multiseason interest. I haven't tried any gentians from seed - most of my seed-growing is either direct-seed annuals or veggie starts, and I haven't done much of that for several years.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:30PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Oh rats I feel as though I just blew the punch line of good joke.
OMG you reminded me of a thread from years ago when you shared with us your hubbies aversion to prickly plants which ignited a lively conversation on the topic and concluded with idabean commenting on our husbands "Pickles". LOL It should have been PRICKLES not pickles

The photo below of Hydrangea 'Pia' and Hemerocallis 'Keith Greer' is actually viewed primarily from the opposite side where the daylily would be in front but more importantly the purpose of this bed is to be viewed from a long distance. The repeated H. 'Pia' and very large brightly colored H. 'Keith Greer' do the trick but I need something in front of the daylily that will pop at a long distance. The only thing after a year of pondering that I have come up with is snap dragons as I liked the idea of its spiky shape. It is part shade and I would be happy with either perennial or annual.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Is the hydrangea really that shade of mixed pink and purple? (Sometimes colors don't photograph well.) If you want something short to puddle at the feet of the taller plants I could see Nierembergia, which might well winter over for you, though for me it's treated as an annual. A short Campanlua like 'Blue Clips' or 'White Clips' would serve the same function. Both have enough flower power in my experience to be seen from a distance if planted en masse but are well behaved and come in blue and white.

If you want other spikier plants, there are some Campanulas like persicifolia that might work, though I don't know if seeding is a problem for them or if they have enough flowers for your use. This also is available in blue and in white.

There are some shorter summer-blooming "tall" phlox on the market now that would be a bit shorter than the daylilies and would sort of match the shape of the hydrangea flowers, but later in the summer. Don't know what colors those come in. A shorter daylily in front might work also.

Some of the yellow hostas seem fairly sun tolerant and might work here if deer aren't a problem for you, depending on how much shade your part shade is and what time of day. I find the yellow foliage stands out against the greens. My Siberian iris can be pretty stunning in mid to late spring and the foliage is neat the rest of the year, but it looks similar to the day-lilies as far as foliage.

Some of the shorter rhodies and azaleas might look good here if you don't mind the short season of bloom and have the room. How tall are your daylilies?

That's what has occurred to me so far - don't know if any of those meet your requirements and taste.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:03AM
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Did I really say that? Could not have been me....just because I make a few jokes, I get blamed for everything. It could have just as well been Dee.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:33PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Thanks, I don't know why as it seems so obvious now but it never dawned on me that a dense mat of color could be as effective from a distance as individual large blossoms dah. I am going to look into the Campanula 'Blue Clips' as I think that or something similar might also tie together this 50'+ stretch of mixed border.
Of course it is spring and my desire to ignore my gut that is telling me not to crowd too many plants into too little space is powerful so I am still looking for a spiky 18-24" long blooming plant.

Marie, Marie, Marie,
Poor innocent Dee is not around and you point the finger at her??? Frankly, if you had suggested that Cloud9 was responsible for the off colored joke I probably would have taken you at your word. LOL, LOL, LOL. Check out the thread linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oh by Gosh by Golly How I Love a Holly

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:08PM
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If those hydrangeas "read" purple, and NOT blue, my first choice of a color
that would "pop" is . . .orange. . .there's a huge range of orange daylilies
that could cover a whole season of bloom. One the other hand, if those
hydrangeas "read" blue, I think I'd stick with white for a new accent plant.
If you introduce a third blue or purple plant, from a distance it will just
bleed into the hydrangeas. . .no pop!

Partial shade? Hmm. . .some possibilities with Heuchera 'Peach Flambe' , or
even H. 'Citronelle' or 'Lime Rickey' come to mind. Annuals? Massed clumps
of bronze or orange Coleus ('Sedona' is my favorite) could be striking. . .


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:25AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Sorry for the delay response but I have been lost over at Annies Annuals searching through every orange flower ever sold until sadly alas I remembered that flanked at both ends of this stretch of border is a grouping of three fairy rose. Curse that pale pink!!!!

Now I suppose my only alternative is white but to be honest I am feeling a little weary of the color that is void of color. I have always felt that white is wonderful for lightening up a shady spot or elegant when paired with silver and black but I am a little nervous that planting a stretch of white center stage in a mixed border will be similar to a bare bulb in a police interrogation room. What do you think? How do you use white in your garden?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:47AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Hi Katy,
I noted your comment about orange and pink, and then about white. I have an area where there is an old oak leaf hydrangea that blooms cream colored and then fades to pink. Beneath it is a clump of old fashioned daylilies (I have no idea what variety - these were from my grandma way back!). Next to those is an old rose, I suspect a floribunda shrub type, but this too is very old, from my other grandma who got it one Mothers' Day but had nowhere to plant it. All in all, those colors work well! If I find a photo I'll post it.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:24PM
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"Curse that pale pink!"

Yeah, that would kind of sabotage the hot orange. . .but there's hope yet !
As long as those hydrangeas "read" purple, and NOT blue, you could go
with hot pink. . .it would complement the purple and soft pink of the rose,
while ricochetting off the yellow - and there's your "pop". . .

White. . . very valuable as a filler and to punch up colors, but I suspect
you're very right to be leery of a 50' swath of white. . .now, it wouldn't
hurt to break up that hot pink border with some random ("please, please,
random, not every three feet!") bursts of white. . .

There's a terrific hot pink penta, but I don't think you'll have enough sun
for that; annual vinca comes in an electric shade of pink (also the white
for contrast). I'm sure your research will turn up many others. . .

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:18AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)


Thanks hot pink it is!

White. . . very valuable as a filler and to punch up colors, but I suspect
you're very right to be leery of a 50' swath of white.

The planting area I am discussing is probably only 20' of a 50' boarder for one type of flowering plant and then I am hoping to cram in a lower/spiller in front of that as a unifying plant for the entire 50' run. For some crazy reason I am still feeling hesitant about using a blast of white for the twenty foot run as it is center stage but I wouldn't mind using a 50' lower mat of white to tie it all together. Do you think it might be because this center group of colors are pretty bold on there own and don't really need punching up? I am beginning to think that white might be more challenging of a non color to work with than I ever considered before.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:26AM
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