Sunday, December 26, 2010

Monrovia highlights for 2011 - Part 2

When Monrovia, the countries top plant propagator describes their plants as ‘new’ it means that they now have the opportunity to grow it themselves in sufficient quantities to sell it to folks like you and me! Other growers may sell the same plant BUT the excellent soil mixes, growing conditions and quality control often means that the Monrovia product is bigger, better and healthier. If I have the choice between a Monrovia plant and an unknown grower I will choose Monrovia every time for their dependability. (Having said that for the non-USA readers, ask your local nurseries if they have these plant varieties grown by reputable growers. Since they are not exclusive to Monrovia, you should be able to find some or all of them where you live. Hilliers Garden Centers and John Woods Nurseries in the UK are two possibilities).

As promised, here are a few of my favorite new plants for 2011, focusing on the less well known varieties. Start making notes!

Cathedral Gem Sausage Vine; an evergreen shade loving climber

Cathedral Gem Sausage Vine (Holboellia coriacea). This was found growing on a wall in Winchester Cathedral, UK so it must be good! It is listed as being an easy to grow evergreen vine with clusters of white fragrant flowers in late winter/early spring. The flowers are followed by large lavender-pink sausage shaped fruit - sure to be a talking point and a chance for one-upmanship with your gardening neighbors! Growing to 25’ in part or full shade it is a good alternative to the more aggressive Akebia vine. Zone 6-10.

Yellow catkins on 'Sparkler' Stachyurus
‘Sparkler’ Willow-leaf Stachyurus (Stachyurus salicifolia). I definitely want to try and find a spot for this one. This arching shrub blooms in late winter, to be followed by a striking display of pendulous soft yellow catkins in March. The narrow, bamboo-like foliage is evergreen and forms a bush about 8’ tall and wide. Preferring light shade and well drained soils I think it would look beautiful at the edge of a woodland, perhaps with a dark green backdrop to really show off the catkins. Zone 7-10.

'Blue Dwarf' Alberta Spruce

 ‘Blue Dwarf’ Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Haal’). Alberta spruce are known for their tight conical shape and several great dwarf cultivars have been introduced. What I like about this one is its silvery-blue foliage which does not revert back to green. This would be so pretty in a pot by your doorway, decorated with white lights for the holidays! Prefers full sun but light shade OK. Slow growing to 5-7’ tall and just 2’ wide. Zone 2-8.

'Husky Mania' Rhododendron
Photo credit; Monrovia & University of Connecticut
 ‘Husky Mania’ Rhododendron. Oh boy I’m going to get a lot of flak for this one!! For those of you outside WA State, let me explain that the Husky’s are the athletic teams from the University of Washington (purple and gold colors), whilst Washington State University has the Cougars (denoted by the colors crimson and gray). Both our kids are Cougars……..oops. Well ignoring that detail, this Rhodie blooms with yummy violet-purple flowers with green speckles in mid June. A big boy, reaching 8’ tall x 10’ wide and preferring part shade this could make a great back drop for some shorter golden foliage such as the perennial Spiderwort  'Blue and Gold' (Tradescantia) or ‘Bowle's golden sedge’ (Carex elata 'Bowle's golden'), an evergreen grass which thrives in part shade. Zone 4-8.

Email your favorite nursery and tell them what you’re interested in for next year. Molbaks nursery in the greater Seattle area has an excellent selection of Monrovia plants in their ‘Monrovia boutique’. For other vendors check out the Monrovia website.

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