Saturday, March 7, 2020

New Perennials for 2020 from Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. + Some Old Favourites

It's a gorgeous day here–sunny and warm enough for the snow to be melting. Though it feels like spring has arrived, I remind myself that it is only the first of March and winter may not be done with us just yet.

 You can see the tangled growth at the base of the lilac in this shot from June 2019.

Even though it is just a common lilac, the flowers are pretty and very fragrant.

Despite the pockets of snow, the dogs and I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon out in the garden. The temperature was mild enough for me to ditch my winter jacket and get to work pruning a neglected lilac. While this is not the proper time of year to prune a lilac (you could cut off all this year's flower buds if you aren't confident in what you're doing) I find it helpful to get a headstart on simple tasks like removing spindly suckers before I get overwhelmed with a long list of other pressing spring chores. That and it's nice to be puttering around outside in the sunshine!

Like me, I am sure you are beginning to draw up a spring wishlist. What interests me these days are plants with unique foliage and flowers. With that in mind, I've put together a list of new introductions from Terra Nova Nurseries that have captured my imagination. And as I promised earlier in the year, I'm also going to highlight some older introductions I think are worth seeking out.

A word about Terra Nova® Nurseries. They use tissue culture to propagate and grow both annuals and perennials.  Based in Canby Oregon, they have introduced over a thousand new plants to market.

As a wholesale propagation nursery, Terra Nova does not sell directly to the public. On their website, they have a handy page that will help you locate a retailer in your state or province that sells their plants (Sadly for Canadians on the East Coast and in Saskatchewan, Terra Nova is underrepresented).

Some of the New Plants for 2020

Geum Tempo™ Rose from Terra Nova® Nurseries

Geum Tempo™ Rose has dark rose-pink flowers on short, dark stems. Moist, loamy soil is prefered. Long bloom time. Full sun. Height: 8-21 inches, Spread: 12 inches. USDA zones: 5-9.

Sedum Peach Pearls has burgundy leaves and rose-gold flowers. Even in its first year, this sedum produces multiple flower crowns. 'Peach Pearls' likes soil with good drainage. Drought tolerant and attractive to pollinators. Full sun. Height: 14-20 inches, Spread: 24 inches. USDA zones: 4-9.

Veronica Vespers™ Blue has blueish-purple flowers. A long period of bloom begins in late spring and runs into mid-summer.  It prefers moist soil with lots of organic material and good drainage. Full sun. Height: 9-13 inches, Spread: 11 inches. USDA zones: 4-8.

Heuchera Northern Exposure™ Sienna has green foliage when it first emerges in the spring. In summer, it becomes a mix of sienna and orange with greenish margins. Fall sees it revert back again to green. Rust resistant. Moderately well-drained soil and average moisture conditions. Full sun to part shade. Height: 13-22 inches, Spread: 21 inches. USDA zones: 4-9.

Other Perennials that Caught my Eye:

Of all the perennials on my list, I would love to get my hands on this one the most! I find Thalictrum to be a terrific option for part-shade. This type of Meadow Rue has lovely ferny foliage, dark stems and star-like flowers. I have the mauve flowering variety but would like to add a white flowering version:

Thalictrum Nimbus™ White has clouds of white flowers and fern-like foliage. The flowers age to lavender-pink seed heads. This perennial prefers moist, humus-rich soil but adapts well to average soil with good drainage. Part-shade. Height: 28 inches, Spread: 16 inches. USDA zones: 5-9.

I have a quite number of Bleeding Hearts, but I don't have this cultivar with its combination of golden leaves and white flowers.

I can just imagine Dicentra 'White Gold' mixed in with tulips and daffodils. Beautiful! Again, it's a great option for the shady area of your garden (although, based on experience with similar 'Gold Heart', I would recommend part-shade for the best leaf color).

Dicentra 'White Gold' has heart-shaped white flowers and golden leaves on a vigorous plant. This perennial prefers moist, loamy soil. Part to full shade. Height: 24-30 inches, Spread: 36 inches. USDA zones: 4-8.

When you're a plant collector, it's hard to resist adding more of your favourites:

Geum Petticoats™ Peach has semi-double peach flowers on a compact plant with green foliage. Moist, loamy soil is prefered. Reblooms. Full sun. Height: 10-12 inches, Spread: 20 inches. USDA zones: 5-9.

Every year I try to invest in at least one new hosta with interesting features. Here are two with very attractive reddish-purple accents:

Hosta 'Purple Heart' has glossy lime-green foliage with red-purple at the base of each heart-shaped leaf. 'Purple Heart' has a neat, uniform growth habit and good slug resistance. Full shade. Height: 15-24 inches, Spread: 30 inches. USDA zones: 4-9.

Hosta 'Raspberry Sundae' is a compact hosta with creamy-white variegation through the centre of the leaf. It has deep burgundy petioles, leaf bases and flower stalks. Its flowers are deep lavender-purple. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 9-23 inches, Spread: 21 inches. USDA zones: 4-9.

Yet another personal favourite is Penstemon (I already have Penstemon 'Husker Red' and 'Dark Towers'). Many of the newer introductions aren't hardy here, but I was very excited to see two that are reputed to be tough, hardy perennials:

Penstemon Dakota™ Verde has violet flowers on dark stems. Seed heads are a lovely dark burgundy color and the foliage takes on a purple tinge in the fall. Average, well-drained soil is fine for this perennial. Full sun. Height: 12-24 inches, Spread: 18 inches. USDA zones: 3-8.

Penstemon Dakota™ Burgundy has violet flowers. This penstemon is shorter and more compact than popular 'Dark Towers'. Average well-drained soil and moisture conditions are fine for this plant. Full sun. Height: 12-24 inches, Spread: 18 inches. USDA zones: 3-8.

I thought I would also throw in a few annuals that caught my attention. Some people struggle with Rex Begonias, but I seem to have good luck with them. I keep them as houseplants year-round in an east-facing window. Each spring, I divide them and move the divisions outdoors to fill part-shade containers.

I often take cuttings in the fall and keep Coleus over the winter as houseplants. Last fall I didn't have a chance to take the usual cuttings, so this spring I am definitely in the market for some new plants. Here are a couple I am going to watch for:

I hope this post has inspired you to add a few plants to your own wishlist for 2020. 
Have a wonderful weekend!

Photos in this post are courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries.

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  1. I'm itching to get into the garden. I live in central Ontario and we don't see any signs of spring until May, then the summer season comes hard and fast. I will be ready with my trowel to dig in new plants, can't wait!

    1. As it does for you Julie, true spring weather does not arrive for me until May. In the meantime, I take advantage of mild weather when it makes an appearance. By mid-March I am suffering from a little cabin fever. Any excuse to be outside even if it involves getting a few chores done.

  2. OMG!! I love your garden!
    Is not easy to find such plants in Spain. I love Dicentras, but here is not very usual in gardencenters.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures.

    Love from Spain

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sandra. The pictures are from the Terra Nurseries site and I am grateful to be able to show them to readers.

  3. It has been mild enough to garden here, Jennifer, but I haven't done very much outside yet. I wish I had started on the pruning -- I keep telling myself that it is very early. You show some lovely plants. I love them all, but especially the Thalictrum. And I would like to try the Penstemon having not been able to over-winter one up to now. Great posting! P. x

  4. Hi Pam, I find spring is so busy!! That's why I like to do a little pruning now. Yesterday I noticed rabbits have been doing some pruning of their own. LOL! I certainly won't have to do anything to the hydrangea by the back door. They've cut it down to a little over a foot in height.
    Yes, I really want to see if I can get a hold of that Thalictrum. It's a perennial that deserves to be better known. I have been able to over winter 'Dark Towers' and 'Husker Red', so I would certainly recommend them. I find Penstemon need full sun and good drainage. I have a small patch of 'Dark Towers' in part-shade and it is struggling a little. I certainly love to add one of the Dakota series this spring.

  5. Such lovely new plants. I love the penstemon. And I'm digging that hosta with the burgundy stems. I love hostas! Thanks for sharing these new introductions!

    1. I love both the Penstemon I featured and really would love to get my hands on a few plants. You can't beat hosta for shade, can you? I definitely want to treat myself to a new one this spring. Happy gardening Margaret!

  6. Hi Jennifer! So thoroughly enjoyed this post! Just can't wait for all the rain and muck to cease and be able to get out more often to see what's coming up. Last week my purple hellebore started blooming, and of course so many perennials are starting to break through the ground. It's hard, as you know, with multiple dogs to keep things clean. We have 4 rescues; 2 are hospice, one is perfect, and 1 is a psycho who loves being out all morning and early afternoon, even in pouring rain! She'll come in for a few minutes to yell at me how wonderful it is and run back out. I've finally got enough fencing to keep them out of all my beds, so I'm hoping this year I'll see a lot more growth and things not trampled. I very much enjoy every one of your posts, and when I can't get out I go back and reread yours from the beginning. You are such a talented gardener, photographer, and writer! Thank you so much for your blog and sharing all your talents with us!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a long and very positive comment. It means a lot. I can relate to the problem of keeping things clean. I was just out with the dogs and had to wash their feet and undersides. They also left some paw prints on my kitchen floor. I am off to mop it all up. All the best and take care in these worrying times!


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