Garden Planner: By Mary James
A new year, a new you — and a new garden, too. Mix up those beds, borders and containers with some recent and early 2012 introductions from top breeders and growers around the west. Here are some tempting new-and-improved varieties in nurseries now.
After the lawn is gone, try two new showy fountain grasses (Pennisetum) — pink-tinged green and white ‘Cherry Sparkler’ and white-striped ‘Sky Rocket’. Both stay about 2 feet tall. Rudbeckia’s golden daisies, a mainstay of summer and fall gardens, now add their cheery blooms starting in spring with early blooming ‘Little Goldstar’ Rudbeckia fulgida. Another prolific spring bloomer is low-growing Moroccan daisy (Rhodathemum hosmariense) with silver ferny foliage and bright white flowers. From Palomar Perennials (suppliers to nurseries only).
Emerald Colonnade Holly (Ilex) is a green-to-the-ground, drought-tolerant shrub (to 12-feet tall) with many garden uses, ranging from topiaries to an evergreen screen. Brake-lights Red Yucca is a long-blooming compact (2 feet tall and wide) hesperaloe with unusual bold red, rather than coral, flowers. From Monrovia (888-752-6848).
Fans of trailing Superbells with their perky petunia-like flowers have a new color option with the rich, red flowers and twinkling-yellow eyes of ‘Cherry Star’. For small gardens, ‘Little Lime’ hydrangea is a modest 2- to 3-foot tall shrub with eye-catching lime blooms that fade to pale pink, while ‘Purple Haze’ Lo & Behold butterfly bush stays under 3 feet tall and wide while luring butterflies with fragrant purple-blue flowers. From Proven Winners and available at Armstrong Garden Centers and Mission Hills Nursery.
Compact ‘Blue Bells’ emu bush (Eremophila hygrophana) brightens waterwise gardens year round with lavender-blue flowers and frosty gray foliage. ‘Sierra Sun’ caesal-pinia answers the demand for a small (to 15 feet), evergreen, long-flowering (fall through winter), no-mess tree. Plus its small hibis-cus-like yellow flowers add a tropical feel to waterwise gardens. From Mountain States Nursery (800-840-8509).
There’s always space for another pink rose like these two highly fragrant beauties from England’s David Austin. ‘Princess Anne’ (shown), already an award-winner in the United Kingdom, has ruffled cerise petals backed by salmon pink. As they age, the frilly, old-fashioned flowers take on lilac-blue hues. The cupped, semidouble blooms of ‘Skylark’ resemble peonies. Both shrub roses grow about 3 feet tall. From David Austin Roses (800-328-8893).
Papery, pale-pink flowers contrast with willowy sage-green leaves on ‘Jester’ rockrose (Cistus x bornetianus ‘Jester’), a drought-tolerant, compact shrub 2- to 3-feet tall and wide. Striking seed heads that resemble furry black caterpillars top Harpochloa falx ‘Compact Black’, a new ornamental grass from South Africa. From Native Sons (805-481-5996).
Succulent lovers will find it hard to resist ‘Fireworks’ crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) with its pale-green leaves edged with creamy white. New growth is flushed red, including spines and the bracts that frame tip-end flowers. Variegated foliage also adds to the appeal of ‘Second Honeymoon’ rockrose. Grey-green leaves outlined with creamy yellow take on an orange glow in cool autumn weather. Pure white flowers unfurl from reddish buds in spring. From San Marcos Growers (805-683-1561).
New from Seed
This year’s introductions also add to the extensive options of gardeners who grow from seed. Here’s what’s new from four industry leaders:
From Botanical Interests — Sixteen native wildflowers (blue lupines, orange poppies,
rosy clarkia and more) in a new mix for Southern California gardens. 877-821-4340
From Renee’s Garden — Gourmet braising greens with two chards, compact ‘Astia’ zucchini for containers and edible landscape lettuces with ruffled purple and lime leaves. 888-880-7228
From Select Seeds — Painted Tongue ‘Black Trumpets’ with inky chocolate flowers (a Facebook fan favorite) and an heirloom eggplant, ‘Striped Toga’, with tasty orange and green striped fruit. 800-684-0395
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — An emerald-green eggplant from Russia, a creamy ivory sweet-pear tomato and a habanero-hot pepper mix in pretty pale to bold hues. 417-924-8917