03 June 2013

New under the garden sun, part 1: Perennial Pleasures.

 Now that we're finally moved (again, and hopefully for a long while), it's time to make some new gardens so I can plant the new plants that I've seen, and, in some cases, have been coming my way this spring. Some of them are brand new, some are new to this neck of the woods. All of them are charming and I hope they do very, very well.

Bearded irises aren't to everyone's taste, but they certainly are striking and elegant. This beauty has the curious name of 'Rip City'. It doesn't rebloom, but has a long bloom period, and is considered a real winner among fanciers. I personally prefer the Siberian and Japanese irises, but I wouldn't refuse this if it landed in my garden. 
 I do love yarrows, and find the secret to success with them is very, very good winter drainage. I plant them with echinaceas, sea holly, and Russian sages, all of which also want great drainage. This variety is 'Desert Eve Red'.
 As I said in a talk the other day, if you're not planting epimediums (Mitrewort, Bishop's Cap), I want to know why. They are early to bloom but flower for weeks, with their sprays of dainty flowers, semi-evergreen, groundcovering foliage. 'Amber Queen', shown here, has the biggest flowers of any epimedium I've seen yet.
 Why some plant breeder would name an anemone 'Blue Poppy', I do NOT know, but this variety of wood anemone is called just that! It's early to bloom, especially in containers at nurseries, and we think it goes dormant in summer heat. It's very pretty, but it sure isn't Meconopsis blue!
 We all know I am besotted with coneflowers, and they do very well for me--or have in my previous garden, anyway, and I see no reason why they won't here, too. I just got my hands on 'Double Scoop Orangeberry' the other day, and I will be strong and cut the flower buds off this, and other new varieties I get, so they will put their energy into developing good root systems and strong crowns of foliage. That's what we have to do with the fancy cultivars, folks, like it or not. A little toughlove now will pay off next year.
 This is an exception to the rule about cutting the flower buds off the first year. This is the AAS winner 'Cheyenne Spirit' echinacea, which apparently throws flowers in a variety of shades, and blooms the first year from seed (if sown early enough in the season, like say January). I bought a plant from a local nursery and we will see how it performs.
 You know how you spy something in a nursery and go charging across the greenhouse to look at it? Sure you do. Don't deny it. I know I'm not the only one. This spike speedwell, Veronica 'First Lady' did that to me on Friday. Stunning white flowers will look very good beside any other flower colour as a contrast. I suspect this will be a great bee plant, like other veronicas are.
And this is a new creeping speedwell called 'Whitewater'. I don't know yet how vigourous it will be: some of the creeping veronicas are quite exuberant, but I have never found them hard to control. 
We used to be able to get perennial ice plants in two flower colours: yellow and hot magenta. There are several new lines of Delosperma, with gorgeous new colours. From the Jewels of Desert series, this is 'Garnet'....
 ...and this is 'Topaz'. I'm putting these into trough gardens, and we'll see how they do!
 I like lamiums, or deadnettles. They are groundcovers, good for sun to partial shade, have lovely flowers that bees appreciate, and look good in bloom or not. Hort Couture have gotten their hands on this all gold variety, called 'Gold Nuggets'. I think this one probably should have a little more shade than sun.
 I had to try 'Mercury Rising' coreopsis, because it's from a series called 'Big Bang'. And being a huge nerd/geek and fan of the television show The Big Bang Theory, I just couldn't resist. We'll see how hardy it is, but I'll put it in a well drained spot and it should do fine.
 I love penstemons, from the native hairy penstemon to the annual, showy varieties. This is a perennial variety called 'Pina Colada' that I used to have, and was very pleased to find again. Its flowers vary in colour but have shades of blue to purple in them, and it flowers like gangbusters.
 It's always good to learn new things. I have loved the native blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium) forever--its cheery purple-blue flowers always appear in late spring in pastures and meadows. This is a cultivated variety called 'Lucerne' that is hardy to zone 4, apparently. I've seen containers done with this, but I wonder what it would look like after it finished blooming.
 Lastly for today, this isn't a brand new peony, but it was given to me last year and made the move here with me. It's called 'Coral Sunset', and it changes colours from coral through to a soft yellow as the flowers mature. I am a sook for peonies, whether they are herbaceous, tree, or Itoh, so there will be plenty of peonies here...and many other plants, we hope.


  1. Hello Jodi girl !
    I hope you have many happy years in this new home and that you feel like you are really at home finally!
    Love all the plants you are showing here .. especially this peony, in such a beautiful colour whether it changes or not .. it is gorgeous.
    I always wondered why they called that anemone a blue poppy too ..who knows eh ?
    My passion has been Japanese Maples .. I scored Inaba Shidare in a 5 gallon pot for $38 .. I am living off that high for days now ! LOL
    Gardeners .. what a funny lot we are?
    Joy : )
    PS jealous of that Orangeberry .. I have the Raspberry one and yes .. sigh .. cutting off the flower heads .. sniff !

  2. I love every one of these plants but especially the Coral Sunset peony....must try to get one.
    Dee Blaine

  3. You have chosen some beauties for your new gardens. While it must be very difficult to leave an established and well-loved garden, a new place brings new opportunities: in garden design and also in plant selection. Enjoy your new gardens!

  4. Congratulations on the new garden! You've picked some great ones. Lamium is the longest-flowering plant in my garden--from early March (if there's no snow) through October or November. I realized last year that I included it in most of my Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts. ;-) That 'Coral Sunset' Peony is gorgeous! I want it! I've been wanting to plant Epimediums for at least a decade (don't ask me why I didn't), and finally planted two varieties this spring (Rubrum was sold out, and I can't remember which ones I purchased, but they're fantastic). Great post!

    1. I just love the Mercury Rising Coreopsis - where can I find some?

    2. Since I don't know where you live, it's hard for me to tell you where to buy it. I got mine at Briar Patch in Berwick. :-) If you're in Nova Scotia, that will help, if not...well, I honestly don't know.

  5. Enjoy, dear Jodi ... I love your 'Coral Sunset' Peony!

  6. I can see how the speedwell, Veronica 'First Lady' wooed you. I am smitten too. :)
    Lovely collection of flowers you are starting. All the best in your new garden!

  7. Good to see you making plans and collecting plants once again, Jodi; I hope you have many, many years to work on your new garden! I usually avoid most of the new echinacea cultivars, but 'Cheyenne Spirit' has me excited--I haven't seen it anywhere here, but will have to make a note to look for this one. And I'm definitely going to look for something from the 'Big Bang' series:)

  8. I love Iris and that bearded Iris is stunning. I didn't know that Coneflowers come in all those colours.

    Oh your garden is going to be wonderful. Looking forward to seeing its progression.

  9. Sorry to hear you had to move yet again.. very frustrating, especially in spring when you want to be organizing your garden. Despite the setbacks it looks like you're doing well though and have obviously found a place to accommodate a growing plant collection. I've charged across more than a few nurseries, demanding answers from staff, WHAT IS THIS?!!?!? :)) Haven't met a veronica I don't like yet. by the way, found Saltscapes in the grocery store this week, had forgotten it was coming out. Loved the article, looking forward to the next installment.

  10. sandy lawrence11 June, 2013 11:02

    After blooming, the blue-eyed grass keeps its nice green blades in attractive low clumps exactly like it's bigger relative's iris blades. I need to get another start of blue-eyed grass. The unusually cold winter we had in '11 killed mine here in Central Texas, or maybe it was the combination of too much rain with the low temps, although it was in a raised bed with good drainage. There's now a chocolate version of blue-eyed grass new to me, sort of very light cocoa. Saw it in Chocolate Flower Farm newsletter. Covet that iris!

  11. If there is an upside to having to move again, it is getting to buy new plants! Lots of beautiful choices here. -Jean

  12. I grow bearded iris as the other types require more water than I could ever give them. I love your pic of "Rip City' , the colours are gorgeous. I'll be on the look for that one:)

  13. I have never seen such a gorgeous colour in a peony! I love it! The echinacaea is a wonderful new shade too!


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