Drum roll please!John Schroeder, co-owner with his wife Kelly of Valleybrook Gardens with nurseries in British Columbia and Ontario, has put together his Top 10 New for 2012 list. As you might guess, with over 30 years of experience growing perennials, annuals, herbs, clematis and roses, he knows a lot about this subject. Below find out what he says are ten of the best and most exciting introductions for 2012. We're really excited about these Top 10 Picks for 2012 - they're new introductions and therefore haven't been tested extensively. Some may become classics while others may be around for a few years and then disappear from sight. But, if you are willing to risk some time and money to have some of the latest plants available in your garden, join us on the leading edge!
1. Iceplant (Delosperma 'P001S' Fire Spinner™) - Zone 5
From South Africa via the Plant Select™ program in Colorado, comes this outstanding new variety with startling orange and purple bi-coloured flowers and apple green succulent foliage. According to Panayoti Kaleidis, who has introduced many hardy ice plants over the years, this selection appears to be the most vigorous of all, with mats spreading over 60cm (24 inches) in just two years. Flowering is concentrated in late spring and early summer and is truly show-stopping.
2. Double Coneflower (Echinacea 'Piccolino') - Zone 5
From Marco Van Noort in the Netherlands comes what is described as the first compact floriferous dwarf double Echinacea. Compact is certainly is, with a height of only 20-30cm (8-12 inches). The plant is also described as re-blooming, and the flowers are lightly fragrant. New Coneflower varieties arising out of European breeding have had noticeably better survivability than some recent North American introductions, so we look for E. 'Piccolino' to be a real thriver.
3. Flora Collection® Clematis (Clematis Bijou™) - Zone 4
From the renowned Raymond Evison of Guernsey, comes this very exciting departure from traditional Clematis. While this plant exhibits typically large, striking Clematis flowers, it only grows 30cm (12 inches) high! But that's not all... it also blooms for months on end. It's incredibly versatile in the garden and even makes a great hanging basket. On top of everything else, it thrives equally well indoors in bright, indirect light as well as in the garden. Hardy to Zone 4, this up and comer is prepared to take the gardening world by storm.
This hybrid from Honeyhill Farms has recently been introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries. It is exceptional for its quantities of large, outfacing, cream-centred, white flowers over vigorous, shiny, blue tinged foliage. In our trials at Valleybrook, 'Honeyhill Joy' has exhibited exceptionally strong, clean and weather resistant foliage. Enjoy the two month long show of marvelous attractive blooms, from late winter through early spring.
5. Fancy-Leaf Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Spellbound') - Zone 4
We've all seen more varieties of Coral Bells than we ever thought we needed or wanted. Just when we resolve we won't even look at another new variety, we find one that is so striking and beautiful that our resolve crumbles and we succumb again. 'Spellbound' looks so great, and grows so vigorously, that yes, we fell under its spell. Spring brings marvelous ruffled foliage of rose purple with silver highlights which eventually overtake the purple in summer, especially in the shade. It forms a big plant with a dense, multi-crown habit. Great for containers or in the landscape.
6. Hosta 'Empress Wu' - Zone 2
It's hard not to use superlatives when describing this monster Hosta. Named in honour of the only lady Emperor of China, it creates a stunning garden specimen in time. One of the most sought after Hosta this year, we can only offer this in limited quantities. This variety will grow over a metre (4 feet) tall and even wider.
7. Candytuft (Iberis Masterpiece™) - Zone 4
Just introduced to North America in 2012, we've trialed this plant in our garden for several years now. Forget the usual small flowered Candytufts, 'Masterpiece' blows them out of the water! Unlike others, this variety blooms from spring through autumn. Not only that, but the flowers are enormous, huge flat clusters of pure white 7cm (3 inch) flowers with a lightly pink centre. Foliage is evergreen and bushy. Attractive to butterflies, drought tolerant and deer resistant. Prefers well drained soil in sun or part shade. This perennial may be hardier than the Zone 6 we are rating it, and it also happily reseeds itself. Great in gardens or containers.
8. Itoh Hybrid Peony (Paeonia 'Lollipop') - Zone 3
Roger Anderson introduced this intersectional hybrid (commonly known as an Itoh hybrid) in 1999, but this is the first time this outstanding plant is available at a price that everyone can afford. Along with all the other similar hybrids, this has enormous flowers that hold up to wind and rain, are lightly fragrant, and contain magnificent colours not previously seen in garden Peonies. With an expected lifespan lasting decades, here is a survivor with style.
Destined to become a new industry standard, this new Jelitto introduction is a terrific improvement over 'Goldsturm'. While 'Goldsturm' stands waist-high, 'Little Goldstar' is a much more compact, proportional plant. Just knee high, this forms a bushy, short clump of rich green foliage covered with a dome of typical golden yellow blossoms from midsummer through early fall. Even more floriferous than 'Goldsturm', this plant looks fantastic in containers and in the garden. Since this variety is produced by tissue culture, the plants will be much more uniform than the seed grown 'Goldsturm', resulting in fewer losses for growers, retailers, and consumers.
There has been no shortage of new varieties of Gaillardia introduced during the last few years. Some exhibit excellent pot habit yet don't last too long in the garden. This strong growing variety, a recent Best New Perennial award winner at the Farwest Tradeshow is an excellent garden variety with a striking appearance. Moderately sized, it blooms from June to October. Flowers exhibit fluted petals of golden yellow around a vivid orange centre. Other Honourable Mentions for 2012 include: Anemone 'Pretty Lady Susan', Astilbe Younique™ Lilac, Echinacea 'Secret Lust', Helleborus 'Red Racer', Heuchera 'Autumn Leaves', Primula vulgaris Belarina® Cobalt Blue, Rudbeckia sub. 'Little Henry' and Veronica 'Atomic Blue'.