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Top 10 Picks for 2014

A little background for those of you new to Heritage Perennials.  John Schroeder is a nursery grower with 2 nurseries producing the perennials you see in branded blue pots at your local garden centre.  He’s been doing this for over 30 years but this is an onerous task even for him – choosing just 10 perennials from the myriad of new varieties coming to market that he personally would recommend for your garden in 2014.

John knows his perennials and these selections have been ‘hand-picked’ for you taking reliability, beauty, performance and the best chance of garden success into consideration.

John Schroeder:  “As always, discovering new plants remains one of my favourite activities.  Whether it is finding something brand new, or an improvement on a classic, there’s always the thrill of discovery.  For all of us as gardeners and nursery growers, this is an exciting time with many new varieties of perennials available each year.  I’m delighted to present this list of ten of the most exciting and promising new perennials for 2014!”

1.  Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Freak!’ -  Zone 4

No sunny border would seem complete without the familiar presence of Shasta Daisies. This unique selection has large flowers, consisting of layers of white, fluffy petals surrounding a yellow button centre over attractive dark green, toothed foliage. Award winner. Excellent for cutting. Unusual for Leucanthemum, this selection reblooms providing a longer bloom time.

2.  Lilium ‘Tiny Double You -  Zone 2

One of the Lily Looks™ series developed in the Netherlands. Bred originally for containers, these are versatile garden plants as well. The dwarf habit makes them useful near the front of any sunny border where they put on a great midsummer show. Also equally at home in a rock garden. The best effect comes from massing in good-sized clumps of one variety. This selection is unique and new to the series with large, upfacing, fragrant DOUBLE orange flowers. 

3.  Nepeta x faassenii ‘Junior Walker’ -  Zone 5

In one of the ironies of perennial plant naming, Nepeta "Walkers Low' is actually a tall form of catmint. At the same time it was one of the few catmints awarded five stars by the Chicago Botanic Gardens in their trials. Nepeta 'Junior Walker' maintains the very long bloom season of its parent but grows less than half as tall making it perfect for smaller spaces. 

4.  Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’  -  Zone 4

This hybrid has terrific glossy foliage changing colour with the onset of cooler temperatures. The deeply cut, maple-shaped leaves begin caramel, changing to a rose-red for the fall staying attractive all winter in warmer regions. Sprays of small white flowers appear in late spring. Tolerates hot, humid summer regions.

 5.  Peony ‘Berry Garcia’ -  Zone 3

Itoh Peonies are rare and unusual hybrids between Garden Peonies and Tree Peonies. There are several varieties, all highly sought after by collectors, yet easy to grow and very hardy. This selection forms an upright bush of lush green leaves that stand up well into the autumn. The HUGE 15cm (6") flowers are double to semi-double, with light pink petals, dark pink flares and contrasting yellow stamens.

6.  Phlox Early Start™ Light Pink  -  Zone 4

Summer Phlox is very popular for its midsummer display in the border. This compact selection blooms earlier than other traditional paniculata types and produces large clusters of fragrant, light pink flowers with dark pink centres. Remove faded flowers to encourage more buds to form. Suitable for the border front or in containers. Happiest in a sunny location. Good mildew resistance although all Summer Phlox benefit from a location that provides good air circulation and consistent moisture.

 7.  Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ -  Zone 3

Japanese Spikenard makes a bold statement. It emerges in spring with large, bright gold leaves and providing it gets a few hours of sun daily, the foliage will remain bright gold throughout the summer. In full shade, foliage will be chartreuse to lime green in colour. Tall 60cm (2') spikes of tiny white flowers appear in summer followed by inedible, purple berries. Fast growing and deciduous. Shelter from strong winds.

 8.  Carex oshimensis EverColor® Everest  -  Zone 5

Sedges are grass-like plants, mostly preferring sites with moist, rich soil. This selection forms a low cascading clump of leathery dark green leaves, with crisp, white margins. A choice plant for edging, or in the rock garden. Evergreen but tips can get wind-burn over the winter. Simply trim with scissors in the spring.

9.  Echinacea x purpurea Double Scoop Series  -  Zone 4

Raspberry     Orangeberry     Cranberry     Bubble Gum

A new series of Coneflower bred to produce well-branched, sturdy and compact plants with excellent hardiness. They feature large, double flowers with bright centre cushions surrounded by flared, ray petals. Ideal for sunny borders and growing in mixed containers. Attractive to butterflies. Excellent for cutting. Coneflowers begin blooming midsummer and continue for months if faded flowers are regularly removed. However keeping some dried flower heads on the plants in fall will provide food for wintering song birds.

 10.  Panicum virgatum ‘Blood Brothers’  -  Zone 4

A Canadian introduction, this Switch Grass develops outstanding foliage colour. It forms an upright, slightly vase-shaped mound of green-blue leaves, the tips developing blood-red tones by midsummer that get better through the autumn. Sprays of small reddish flowers develop into tan seedheads by late fall. Remains sturdy and attractive well into winter. Great in a sunny border. Discovered by Canadian gardener Dale Smith as a sport of ‘Heavy Metal’ in her former garden near St. Thomas, Ontario. If we had to pick one, this would be the most beautiful red-colored Panicum we know.