Sunday, May 18, 2014

Favorites purchased at 2014 local plant sales

Having become fond of magnolias while living in the South, I began to notice some smaller varieties blooming here in the spring.  I chose to plant 'Butterflies' Magnolia in the front yard, which should only grow 12-15' high , spreading 6' wide. The yellow spring blossoms are said to perch like butterflies on the branches.

'Bartzella' Peony is a recent yellow introduction local Master Gardeners have been coveting.  Spotting one on clearance at a local big box store, I decided to give it a try.  It's a cross between a herbaceous and a tree peony, that looks and behaves like a very big, healthy herbaceous peony bearing dozens of huge flowers (9in across) on strong stems, above rich green foliage. There are very few yellows in the herbaceous Peony world. The quest for this elusive marvel began in Japan in the 1950s, but it was Roger Anderson, an amateur breeder in Wisconsin, whose 12 patient years of crosses between species finally hit the jackpot in 1980, though he didn't see 'Bartzella' bloom until 1986. Bartzella features large lemon-scented yellow blossoms with soft red flares in the center and white-tipped carpels. An excellent plant possessing health and vigor, it is Winner of the American Peony Society Gold Medal.

Hellebores have come to be of particular interest recently as harbingers of spring, blooming for six weeks or more beginning in late winter.  They are often flowering during the Christian season of Lent, from which they get their common name, Lenten Rose.

Two of the three 'Pink Parachutes' Hellebores planted during a past season have sprung up in the garden this year.  Very strong, pencil-width stems carry loads of huge 3¾” flowers from early through mid-spring. The blooms are bright pink with a fine spray of tiny dark pink to wine colored spots on all of the petals.  Most flowers have soft blush pink backs, but others have nicely contrasting white backs, lending a two-tone look to the blooms.

A new addition this spring is ‘Mango Magic’, a rare color strain for hellebores. Like the flesh of a ripe mango, the flowers range in color from mango yellow to apricot with rose speckling and veining. This especially floriferous strain typically produces 50-60, large 2-3” blossoms on mature four year old plants.  Like all WINTER THRILLERS™ hellebores, it has beautiful dark green, bushy foliage that looks great all year. It will grow to a height of 18-22' with a spread of 24", in part to full shade in neutral to alkaline soil.  This is the perfect plant for naturalizing in moist, woodland areas where its extensive root system will spread as far as it is allowed. (Note: Not native to North America)

Time to get planting, lake flies or no lake flies...

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