All Shades of Green—-A Plant Perspective

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New Variety—Shasta Daisy


Real Charmer


Real Galaxy


Real Glory










A daisy is a daisy is a daisy.  But now we have three plain ‘ole daisies that have been dressed up to become fancy plants.  The ‘Real’ collection has three different cultivars.  ‘Real Charmer’ has fringed central petals, ‘Real Galaxy’ has many layers of fine fringed pure white petals and ‘Real Glory’ has a reflexing anemone flower form.  All have sturdy upright habits producing a full canopy of blossoms.  They have improved disease resistance and bloom early in mid-summer, with a second flush in fall with dead-heading.  These lovely daisies can go in containers or the border and make long-lasting cut flowers.  Plant where they receive full sun down to zone 5.

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New Variety—Scarlet Torch Bottlebrush




I love the foliage on this bottlebrush shrub.  It’s almost between a conifer and a deciduous plant, smooth and shiny green. And evergreen.  I like it and I didn’t even get to see the beautiful flowers, which are crimson red and larger than other varieties. This plant is sold by Monrovia and grows in zones 8-11. It’s compact and grows eight feet high and 10 feet wide.  Also, it is said to be non-drooping.  I don’t know what’s wrong with a little droop now and then, but I guess too much droop is a sign of weakness.  ‘Stand up straight young plant and we’ll sell 5000 of you this spring, become droopy and it’s off to the half price lot for you!’  Little pruning is required to keep it’s dense form and it is tolerant of poor and rocky soils.  This genus is native to Australia.

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New Variety—Avantgarde Hydrangea


Hydangea macrophylla 'Avantgarde'

Pruned to create one 7-9 inch bloom


Hydrangea macrophylla 'Avantgarde'

One plant with several blooms.



When this hydrangea is pruned to just one blossom it looks like a miniature tree covered in a thousand flowers.  Like a big poofy fluff ball, it almost seems fake, not like a real plant.  It is hard to imagine this puffy little thing out in the landscaping.  I think a wind would lift it up like a hot air balloon and it might sail across the Atlantic Ocean and settle itself in front of a patisserie.  ‘Je voudrais un chocolat chaud et un croissant, s’il vous plait.   Je vais voir les beaux jardins a Versailles et les vivant fleurs en le campagne. La vie est belle’   Avantgarde is from a French word that means innovative, pushing the boundaries of what is accepted, and I think this hydrangea does just that.  Besides speaking French, it grows up to 24″ tall and 18″ wide.  The stems are strong enough to support those magnificent flowers and the bloom can last for up to three months, changing color from white to pink or blue to green.  Vive le France.


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New Variety—Echibeckia



I recently attended the Farwest Show in Portland, Oregon, which is one of the leading nursery and greenhouse industry trade shows in the United States.  I really enjoyed the informational seminars on plants diseases, pests in the greenhouse and the great debate over neonicotinoids.  Another one of my favorite stops wqs the New Varieties Showcase which featured the the latest and greatest plants arriving at the nurseries this year and next.  My next few posts will present these new introductions, with photos that I took at the show.

Echibeckia has a progression of shimmering summer colors that is warm and inviting.  A cross between Echinacea and Rudbeckia, this flower has the appearance of both.  It was introduced by Pacific Plug & Liner and is offered by T & L Nursery (my neighbor!)  It’s said to have the appearance and fast growth of Rudbeckia with the hardiness and disease tolerance of Echinacea.  Only time will tell.  Some of the flashy new varieties of echinacea don’t seem to be very hardy in our area.  The flowers are three inches in diameter and can last for 2-3 months.  Wow—I would really like to see that.  Three months is a long time for a sunny summer flower.  They are also said to be self-cleaning, meaning they don’t leave behind an ugly dead flower for months.  What happens to it, I wonder? Does it just whirl away into the stardust? At night when the moon’s gravity pulls it off of the stems, drawing its summer warmth into the cosmos?  Another test for next year.  Bloom season goes from early summer to fall and the plant can grow 2-3 feet tall, making a large clump.  Like its parents, Echibeckia grows best in full sun and is hardy to zone 6 (I find that hard to believe, someone else will have to test that one).  With all the new varieties constantly coming out, what should we do with the old ones?  Throw them in the compost and forget them?  Goodbye purple coneflower?  I think we need to remember our roots, our stems and our familiar flowers.  Let’s keep some of the oldies and goodies.








Pearly Everlasting


Our cat is a true horticulturist. He loves plants. Whether it’s the smell or the texture, Pearly everlasting, or Anaphalis margaritacea, is completely irresistible to Sprite.  He rolled in it, sniffed it, rubbed it and was blissfully happy to be part of this lovely native plant.  Who knew that nature has created another catnip?  I see it blooming now in the ditches on the side of the road.  That’s a tough place to live so this must be a tough plant, and deer resistant too.  We should bring it into our gardens. I wonder if it would take over?  I’m sure Sprite would take care of that!  Donna at Gardens Eye View has done a wonderful post about this plant which you can read here.

Just the Facts
Zones 3-8
Height 1-3 ft Width 1-2 ft.
Blooms July to August
Full sun to part shade
Herbaceous Perennial
Native to North America
Easily grown, prefers dry, sandy conditions


Pearly everlasting growing in a weedy ditch.


New Perennials for 2015

I came across these new perennials in an online publication this week.  I’m really interested in the new digiplexis which is supposed to be more winter hardy than the first flashy one, Illumination Flame.  Echibeckia is quite stunning, and who doesn’t like a name like that?  It just rolls off the tongue and is fun to say.  It’s a cross between two daisy-like flowers, echinacea and rudbeckia.  The cone flower and a black-eyed susan.  The colors are terrific, it will be fun to watch it grow.  Another cross is between Stachys and Lamium.  I wonder how this one will grow, as lamium can tend to be invasive.  Lots of fun and adventure in the garden for 2015!

Coreopsis ‘Firefly’


Echibeckia Summerina

Lavender ‘Laveanna Pink Lollipop’

Lavender Madrid Series

Lobelia ‘Vulcan Red’

Penstemon ‘Purple Perfectionist’

Salvia Color Spires Series

Salvia ‘Embers Wish’

Stachys/Lamium ‘Lilac Falls’

Digitalis Foxlight Series

Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’




Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ This stocky, brand new digitalis hybrid is hardier than ‘Illumination Flame,’ to Zone 7. ‘Berry Canary’ has a dense, compact habit, stout spikes and soft-frosted pink flowers all season long.

Digitalis ‘Foxlight Series‘ The new Foxlight digitalis hybrid series offers three bold flower colors (Plum Gold, Rose Ivory and Ruby Glow) with lower input costs. It blooms all summer with flowers that face out for better show, offering a great focal point in gardens and containers.

Echibeckia Summerina A brand new series from an intergeneric cross, Summerina has the appearance of rudbeckia with the hardiness of echinacea. The extra-large, sterile flowers last two months on the plant before dropping and are self-cleaning.

Lavender ‘Laveanna Pink Lollipop‘ These pretty pink flowers are supported by a well-branched plant with leaves and flowers that spread a delicate lavender fragrance. They thrive in full sun and well-drained soil.
Lavender Madrid Series (GreenFuse Botanicals)
Lavender Madrid Series The new Madrid series offers the same early flowering as the original Madrid lavender, but with larger florets and bracts and an excellent mounded habit. Three colors — Blue, Purple and the unique Rose — reach 10 to 14 inches in height.

Lobelia ‘Vulcan Red’ This professional-quality cardinal flower makes full, strong-stemmed plants with a controlled habit. Deep red flowers bloom atop striking bronze foliage on this first year flowering perennial.

Penstemon ‘Purple Perfectionist‘ Part of the new Essential Perennials line from HGTV HOME, this purple people-pleaser offers a compact form and longer bloom period, attracting pollinators. It’s deer-resistant and blooms in full sun.

Salvia Color Spires Series The new Color Spires series with three colors blooms from late spring into early summer and forms a dense, rounded clump of aromatic, grey-green foliage. Deer and rabbit resistant, it’s a full sun variety for Zones 3 to 8. Crystal Blue is a unique, light sky blue that’s a Garden Writers favorite.
Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’ (Sunset Western Garden/Southern Living Collection)
Salvia ‘Embers Wish’ Glowing, bright coral flowers cover these tough plants from spring to frost. This salvia shakes off heat and humidity and attracts pollinators. Root hardy to 25°F, it reaches 3 by 3 feet and is long-blooming for easy care. A portion of the proceeds from this plant will support the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Stachys/Lamium ‘Lilac Falls’ An interspecific cross between stachys and lamium gives ‘Lilac Falls’ a great branching habit. It flowers continuously with beautiful lavender blooms, looks great in a container or hanging basket and could be an interesting component in containers with annuals or perennials.

Coreopsis ‘Firefly’ Well-formed, compact mounds of dense, thread-like foliage are blanketed with bright yellow and red bicolor flowers. Hardy to Zone 5 and easy to grow with powdery mildew resistance, ‘Firefly’ is a plant for borders or mixed containers.

Information and Photos Courtesy of Greenhouse Growers e-newsletter www.greenhousegrower.com/varieties/california-spring-trials-13-new-perennials-for-2015-slideshow/


Portland Rose Garden

I captured this short 8 second video at the Portland, Oregon Rose garden this month.  It’s so fleeting, but it captures the sweetness of summer and the beauty of this floriferous climbing rose, Super Dorothy Perkins.  I don’t know who the running girl is, but who wouldn’t want to skip carefree through this place?  I love the way this rose hangs down, like wisteria or a golden chain tree. Another new favorite of mine from this trip is All American Magic, pictured below.  The color change is incredible…pink, yellow and red…it does seem like magic.  If you are ever in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting this beautiful rose garden.  It’s the good life.



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