By: Thom Morgan, Springmoor Landscape Manager
Each year the big nurseries offer up new plants that they think will be the next big thing in the landscaping industry, and each year I get excited to try all of their new specimens.
For 2015, those that are considered “new” have actually been around for a few years as trial plants in places like North Carolina State University’s JC Raulston Arboretum. There, staffers graded the trial plants on whether they performed as promised, and if the plants were marketable. If a plant made the grade, it became available to you and me.
This year, we have a group of more compact and disease-resistant forms of our old favorites.
Here is a list of the various growers that contributed and their new specimens:
Jackson & Perkins: If you have roses, they probably came from Jackson & Perkins. They usually have several new varieties of roses each year, but for 2015 they only list Obsession Floribunda Rose as their new offering. “Obsession” is a rich, dark red rose with many flower heads.
Regan Nursery: Regan offers several roses beginning with Anna’s Promise Grandiflora rose. A grandiflora has about twice the size bloom of our Mr. Lincoln hybrid teas,and Anna’s Promise is a copper, orange-pink bloom. Other roses offered by Regan Nursery are Top of the World (an orange climbing rose), Best Kept Secret (a white and pink flowered hybrid tea) and The Lady Gardener (an English rose with a double-blossomed peach colored bloom).
Monrovia: This nursery has a lot of new plants for 2015. One is a Red Rhapsody Chinese Hydrangea vine, which gets new red leaves with white flowers in the spring. The Tiny Tower Arborvitae is also new; the slow-growing compact arborvitae will only grow 10 feet tall by five feet wide, as opposed to the normal 20 feet tall, by eight feet wide arborvitae. Ember Waves Western Arborvitae has chartreuse foliage that turns gold with orange tips in the winter, and will grow 20 feet tall, by eight feet wide. Crimson Kisses Weigelia is a compact three-foot tall, by three-foot wide weigelia with dark green foliage, and dark red flowers. Impish Elf Pieris has bright pink bell-shaped flowers in the spring, and the new foliage comes out red. Monrovia doesn’t list a height, or width for this plant.
Burpee: I received my catalogue in December, and if you like to grow fresh vegetables, Burpee Seed supplies all the local box stores with seeds.
New for 2015 for Burpee is a Cupcake Hybrid Summer Squash. It looks just like an acorn squash, and the taste is said to be sweet, with a soft skin. Burpee mentions a few new tomatoes, but no varieties that would thrive in our humid piedmont summers.
Three new pepper varieties are Long Tall Sally, Blazing Banner and Big Boss Man.
A new collard for us is Tiger Hybrid—it grows upright so it doesn’t take up as much room as the standard collard, and is supposed to be full of flavor. Mokum Hybrid carrot looks like a Danver Long carrot, but is supposed to stay sweet and hold up better to our warm springs.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to spring and trying a few of these new plants!
Springmoor January Focal Points:
Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) has yellow flowers now, and it looks like a low-growing forsythia. We have a few by the Wolf Fountain.
Autumn Cherry (Prunus autumnalis) are in full bloom, and we have several around the campus. Can you spot them?
Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume) looks like the flowering cherry, except the blooms are coral pink.
Lenten Rose (Helleborus hybridus) are low-growing, shade-loving plants that bloom now through March. Look for some around the gazebo.
January Landscaping To-Do List:
Start a gardening journal: Keep notes of your plant success stories and failures, dates when you planted and harvested vegetables, and comments on how a vegetable tasted (noting weather conditions at the time). Good journaling can keep you from making the same mistakes every year, and improve your gardening skills.
Clean and sharpen gardening tools and remove dirt from shovels; apply a light application of motor oil to the steel blades to prevent rust.
Take a soil sample: It’s important to know the nutrient content of your soil, and its pH. You can purchase simple kits at any gardening store, or take a sample to the Agricultural Extension office on Blue Ridge Road to be tested. Be sure to do this before spring when they are very busy, and you will have to wait longer for your results.