New Sun Perennials
New plants are in the spotlight this issue. We will describe as many new plants as space allows. There’s no time for small talk, so let’s get busy.
Anise Hyssop (Agastache hybrids) We’re not certain whether to call the Agastache (Ag-a-stack’-ee) a perennial or an herb, so we will feature them in both columns. These hardy, drought tolerant gems are ideal plants for the Midwest. There are several new hybrids this year, all boasting fragrant, deer-resistant foliage. The descriptive names give away the flower colors: ‘Lavender Haze’, ‘Purple Pygmy’, ‘Apricot Sprite’, ‘Sunset Hyssop’. One of our favorites, ‘Golden Jubilee’, has blue flowers atop stunning golden foliage. Absolutely yummy.
Basil There are lots of types of basil at the Bear. The Italian types are best for pesto; ‘Spicy Globe’ is cute in containers and it’s hard to beat the color of ‘Purple Ruffles’. But there were 2 Basils that we couldn’t resist trying this year. ‘Red Rubin’ is a handsome large leaf basil. Copper-tinged purple leaves will stand out in the garden or in the salad bowl. The combination of flavors in ‘Lime Basil’ just doesn’t sound possible. One squeeze of a leaf will convince you: they did a pretty good job of combining the fruity taste of lime with the sweetness of basil.
Silky Mix Butterfly Weed
Attracting Monarch Butterflies is as simple as growing this annual member of the Butterfly Weed family. A single plant grows to about 3’ tall and wide, providing plenty of leaves for food. Twenty of these plants were defoliated in a Monarch orgy 2 years ago at the Bear. We were so proud. Clusters of red or yellow flowers and large seed pods top the foliage. A must-have for the butterfly garden
With eye-popping colors (the other one is named ‘Soprano Purple’) and an endless display, these daisy relatives are a hot addition to a container planting. If the idea of a long bloom season appeals to you, we saw these flowering in Kansas City on Thanksgiving after a mild fall. Let them spill, fall, edge, drape or otherwise spice up the garden.
There has been an endless procession of new Coleus over the last few years. Their varied names suggest diversity in shape and color: ‘Ruffles’, ‘Kingswood Torch’, Amora’, ‘Skyfire’, ‘Swinging Linda’. There has never been a better choice of these garden gems. In the garden or on the porch, in the sun or tucked away in the shade, there is a Coleus that is waiting to surprise you.
Lantana Red Spread
All of the members of the Lantana family have proven themselves to be garden worthy. Like a good scout, they are trustworthy and honest, they love the heat and deter deer with their fuzzy leaves. We were impressed with the short, yellow ‘New Gold’ variety last year. With a healthy spread and a hearty red, this one may become the next famous Lantana
Fire Profusion Zinnia
The Profusion Zinnias fall into the category of landscape Zinnias, which merely means they last a whole lot longer than any other Zinnia you have ever seen. One plant will form a dense mound of foliage about 12” tall and 18” wide and will flower continuously all summer long. ‘Fire’ is the newest color offered. Oh, yes, did we mention the deer didn’t touch them?
New Shade Perennials
Obsidian Coral Bells
Coral Bells will make you think you woke up in the late 60s. A glossy polish on the purple adds to the groovy experience. Violet buds and cream flowers explode over the foliage in early summer. “Obsidian” will grow to 12” tall and 24” wide. Morning sun will help bring out color. Truly psychedelic.
Lungwort is the unsung hero of the shade garden. In the early spring, new leaves barely have a chance to grow before flower clusters pop out. Lavender flowers age to blue, showing off a two-tone glow. Silvery leaves form a 12” tall mound and are covered with tiny hairs that
help keep deer at bay. “Samurai” is a great addition to the Lungwort family.
Stoplight Foamy Bells
Yellow leaves with red centers places this plant in the late 60s psychedelic group. Fortunately, it stays under 12”, so we can stay focused on it. Clusters of white flowers stand endlessly in the early spring. Stoplight is an easy way to brighten up a corner of the shade garden.
Running Tapestry Foamflower
The lovely Foamflowers defy the cold — their leaves last almost all winter. The early spring flowering season sneers at the frost by lasting over 8 weeks long. “Running Tapestry” is a rare form of Foamflower
that spreads by runners forming a slowly spreading, dense groundcover. This shade lover will grow between 8-12” tall (20” when in flower) and slowly ramble its way into your heart.
Pirates Patch Foamflower
Our favorite shade perennial is the Foamflower. Flamboyant foliage and fragrant flowers that impress even our jaded judges are just a couple of reasons. “Pirates Patch” is a new introduction by the folks at Terra Nova (they practically invented Foamflowers). Large, crisp maple shape leaves carry a dark maroon center and turn bronze red in the fall. Did we mention it’s our favorite shade perennial?
Bear Creek Nursery
“ Along with a selection of new annuals, perennials, herbs and grasses, the Bear offers many native trees and shrubs as well as a number of aquatic plants to enhance the pond. Landscape materials and a comprehensive selection of glazed & terra cotta pots round out the products available at your friendly neighborhood garden center. Sound advice is always available from the well informed staff, who will be happy to help you find just the right plant to compliment your garden. Landscape services are available year round.”