Special award winner at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show, this vigorous hybrid deserves to become well known. With A. rupicola as the female parent, it exhibits continuous flowering starting in mid-June, lasting until mid-November frost. Not many perennials offer that length of show! The large white flowers are held well above the foliage. A pronounced nodding habit, particularly in the evening and early morning, enhances the appearance of the attractive lilac-blue reversed petals. This plant performs best in a rich soil that does not dry out. Looks great in dappled shade! Grows to approximately 60cm (24 inches).
2. Artemisia ‘Ever Goldy’ - Zone 3
Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ has been a best selling classic for as long as I’ve owned a perennial nursery. You can imagine my enthusiasm then when I spotted a gold form inEuropethis summer. I might have called it Gold Mound, but hey, if it becomes as popular as Silver Mound, I don’t care what it’s called. This should be as bone hardy as the silver form. It’s also just as seductively soft and cuddly looking. I can’t help myself from touching the foliage when it’s fresh and new.
3. Campanula ‘Miss Melanie’ - Zone 5
I’ve always been a fan of blue flowers in general, and bellflowers in particular. This Campanula portenschlagiana cultivar spills lovely, lavender-blue flowers over compact mounds of foliage in June. It looks great in containers, and offers great garden performance as well. While some of the creeping Campanula grow pretty quickly, Melanie is petite and well behaved, not growing much more than 20cm (8 in) high by 30cm (12 in) wide.
4. Delosperma Jewel of Desert Series - Zone 4 'Garnet' 'Moonstone' 'Peridott' 'Rosequartz' 'Ruby'
Not a single plant but a series. Hardy ice plants have also been a personal favourite of mine. With their extreme drought tolerance, super low spreading carpet growth habits and bright colours, I can find lots of places to use them. One of their few drawbacks is a relatively short bloom time. Well, that drawback should be a thing of the past with these. Even if they only bloom half the time that they’re claimed to bloom, they will still bloom much longer than existing varieties. Available in 5 different colours, you’ll want to try these in containers, rock walls, as a ground cover or just general drought tolerant garden colour.
This recent introduction is a fantastic addition to the many thousands of forms of Pinks, or hardy carnations that already exist. With blooms all summer long (are you noticing a trend here?), this is a perennial that begins to close the flowering gap with annuals. Nice compact garden habit, great colour, hardy, long blooming, scented, silvery foliage…what are you waiting for?
6. Echinacea Sombrero™ Series - Zone 4 Hot Coral Sandy Yellow Salsa Red
Unless you’ve only recently joined the perennial gardening world, you probably remember when coneflowers had single flowers and came in only two colours: purply-pink and white. A little more recently, an explosion of plant breeding has brought a rainbow of available colours. The dirty little secret of many of these new varieties is that they don’t last very long in the garden. Indeed, some have proved to be…‘gasp!’… very expensive annuals. So, I’m delighted to report there is hope. We’re very excited about the Sombrero™ series at the nursery. Dazzling colours, easy to grow and a true perennial garden habit. Could it be that these finally fulfill the promise that we’ve heard so often before? I am inclined to believe they do. The fact they are more affordable helps too! Well worth growing.
7. Gaura ‘Rosy Jane’ - Zone 5
We all know Butterfly Gaura as a nice, reliable long blooming feature or filler perennial in sunny gardens or containers. For 2013, I’m really excited to offer this colour breakthrough, as I think the lovely flowers are particularly attractive. Of course I expect butterflies will love these too! This North American native plant is very drought and heat tolerant, but doesn’t like wet winter soils. Winter mulch in Zones 5 and 6 is helpful.
8. Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ (COCKTAILS™ Series) - Zone 5, possibly 4
From breeder Brent Horvath at Intrinsic comes this latest, tasty addition to his collection of new Geums. Sporting flowers of burnt red to orange, these are colourful, reliable plants. I’m seeing a number of new Geum varieties coming into the market from various sources. There are probably good reasons for why that’s happening. Maybe it is because Geum are bright, cheerful, long blooming, easy to grow, good for cutting……
I’ve always considered Helenium to be fantastic, underutilized plants in the garden. They deliver profuse blooming performance during the height of summer and into the fall, when many perennials have finished their show. They are also extremely reliable and easy. Marching into the gardening world in 2013 are four excellent new Helenium in the Mariachi ™ series, bred for uniformity and compact habit. All four varieties are great, but if I had to choose one, I’d choose Salsa, just because I love the colour.
10. Lavandula intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ - Zone 5
With its very own Facebook page, here is a lavender I’m expecting to take the country by storm in 2013. Why? Performance dear reader, performance. Solid, uniform foliage remains tight and uniform even without pruning. Excellent Pythium resistance, makes it more tolerant of wetter soils, if full sun and good drainage is provided. Overall, reported to be much tougher than any other lavender by Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farms, who discovered this at his nursery. It is also much larger than most lavender varieties currently grown, so don’t put this is a small container. Named a 'Must-Grow Perennial' for 2013 by Better Homes & Gardens.