Binetti: New plants can add interest to your garden

On GardeningApril 16, 2014 

The middle of April is a good time to add new plants to the landscape. Spring rains help soothe new roots and nurseries are full of great new plants.

If you’re looking for something new and interesting to add to your garden, here are my picks for the best of the new plants:

1. Sweet Spot Roses — A disease resistant decorator rose. These hardy bicolored roses are a whole new class. Called “Decorator Roses,” Sweet Spot roses are more compact than a tea rose and bloom longer than even a floribunda.

Strong disease resistance, drought tolerance and growing only 20 inches tall, Sweet Spot roses also fit into the class called landscape roses and come to the USA from Anthony Tesselaar of Australia who also gave us the Flower Carpet rose.

Now here is what makes this new rose so eye-catching: Each of these new varieties features a bright eye or spot in the center of the bloom. Sweet Spot Calypso has a yellow eye with orange petals, but there is also Sweet Spot yellow, ruby and peach all with a darker eye as an accent color. As colorful as an artist’s palette but as easy to grow as a long blooming flowering shrub, this rose is a revolutionary new introduction that can also decorate your deck or patio — because Sweet Spot roses are perfect for pots.

2. Raspberry Shortcake Shrub — compact, thornless plant with full size berries. Want fresh raspberries but don’t have a garden? The answer is this new shrubby raspberry developed to grow happily in a container and berry productive without the need for a pollinator plant.

Full-size berries on a very compact plant makes this the perfect fruit for gardeners with just a balcony or deck or any homeowner that wants a low-growing tidy hedge — that also produces berries. You can even grow Raspberry Shortcake in a container for several years, then transplant the shrub into the garden as an edible accent plant.

3. “All that Glows” Viburnum — shiny foliage for a fresh look

It is the high gloss of the shiny leaves that give this new, more compact viburnum its glowing reviews and appropriate name. “All that Glows” viburnum is also deer-resistant and features both spring blooms and fall berries so this is a shrub with three seasons of interest.

Growing 4 to 5 feet tall and just as wide, this viburnum can be expected to get half the size of other viburnums, making it an attractive and tidy shrub for front yard landscapes or even large containers. It will thrive in sun or part shade and like other viburnums “All That Glitters” loves our rainy climate and acid soil.

4. Winter Jewels Hellebores — Fancy flowers from early blooming perennials

Every garden needs hellebores because these winter-blooming perennials not only resist slugs, deer, drought and bloom in the shade but local growers from Skagit Gardens have come up with stunning new varieties that extend the flowering season of hellebores right into summer.

The Winter Jewels collection includes the double flowering “Golden Lotus” with nodding yellow flowers fringed with touches of red. “Onyx Odyssey” features purple, slate and black flowers and frilly pink. “Peppermint Ice” looks more like a rose than a hellebore.

There are several more varieties in this colorful series including the hard to find “Apricot Blush.” Hunting down these unusual hellebores is part of the fun. Spend a day driving to local nurseries or call around to nurseries you have always wanted to visit and start collecting these winter jewels.

Hellebores even do well under the shade of overhanging tree branches or under the skirts of rhododendrons and other large shrubs. Yes, every garden has room for one more hellebore — and in my garden these “winter jewels” continue to sparkle into April and even May.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.

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