I’m such a plant nerd – new plant introductions always get me so excited. And there were plenty to be found at this year’s annual Garden Writers Association symposium, held in Indianapolis.
My personal favorite:
This happy accident, courtesy of the USDA, has produced a pink blueberry that’s especially hardy in colder climates (Zones 4-9). That’s perfect for me, since my Rochester, NY garden is Zone 6b. Available next season via Briggs Plant Propagators, this “rabbit-eye” variety with frosty-pink, edible berries takes full sun to part shade and grows 4 to 5 feet high by 5 feet wide. And in fall, it features fabulous red foliage. Design-wise, it’s good in mixed borders and massed plantings, but because of blueberries’ love of acidic soil, you may want to plant it with other acid-loving plants or grow it in a container with acidified soil.
And here’s a list of some others I’m excited about:
Colocasia ‘Bikini-tini’. One of the super-funky plants from Plants Nouveau’s new Tropicools™ line of zone 6 – Zone 6! – hardy colocasias. “Anyone living in zone 6 and 7 can now reliably leave these planted in the garden each year,” says Plants Nouveau. Well, I’ve stuck mine in the ground and we shall see … I really hope they’re right!
Nandina ‘Flirt’. As beautiful and breathtaking as the Southern Living Plant Collection’s ‘Delta Jazz’ crapemyrtle was with its hot-pink blooms against burgundy leaves, it’s a fraction away from being hardy in my Zone 6b garden. So my eyes quickly turned to ‘Flirt’ Nandina, a improvement on the Harbour Dwarf Nandina. “‘Flirt’ holds its red foliage through fall, winter and spring,” read the literature. Wowee! And it’s hardy in zones 6-10. Again, I wonder if it’s a gamble to grow in Zone 6ish landscapes, since its ability to remain evergreen and hold its red color depends on how severely cold it gets. In my area, I’m close to Lake Ontario with lots of snow cover to insulate such plants, especially if I shelter them in a little microclimate of shrubs near the foundation of my house. Yes, I’ve been burned on this before. But I’ve been a long-time lover of nandina, and if I find this variety, I may ‘flirt’ with disaster!