I am always excited to see what new plants growers are offering, especially if they have fabulous foliage. Bonus points for deer resistance! Reading about them is only half the story, however. Actually growing them in my own landscape and/or containers is the true test as to whether I recommend them to you or use them in future designs for clients. Here they have to deal with deer, rabbits, lack of irrigation, squishing into pots or neglect. The latter is never intentional but I must admit I do sometimes put smaller test plants into ‘corners’ and promptly forget about them. It’s a wonderful surprise to discover them a few months later and see the plants thriving!
These are a few of the shrubs and perennials I have been testing in my own garden this summer.
Summer Ruffle Hibiscus
Hibiscus ‘Summer Ruffle’
There are a few variegated hibiscus on the market now; Sugar Tip is a beauty that I have written about before, but at 5-6′ tall and wide it is a fair size. Summer Ruffle is a new introduction and one of the First Editions collection that got my attention for its petite stature at just 3-4′ tall and wide. That makes it a prime candidate for container design as well as smaller gardens.
The foliage is a soft blue-green with wide creamy-white margins. It is a beautiful shrub even without blooms.
hibiscus ‘Summer Ruffle’
The ruffled semi-double flowers open lavender and fade to blue – very pretty.
Lots of blooms on this young shrub
Place this near blue-green conifers, green and white variegated grasses and deep purple foliage such as barberry, weigela or Loropetalum for a delightful combination that puts foliage first but celebrates the summer blooms
Purple Preference Euphorbia
Euphorbia ‘Purple Preference’
On a recent trip to Portland I called in at Xera (of course) and scooped up three of these Purple Preference euphorbias. I fell in love with the smoky purple new growth over the dusky green older leaves – oh my. This is an evergreen perennial so it promises year round beauty.
Purple Preference a fairly new introduction from England (well that explains it – we spoke the same language…) and is said to grow to 2′ tall and wide. In terms of self seeding the growers state it as being well behaved. I haven’t had it long enough to give feedback on that but I can tell you that both in a mixed container and in the landscape it looks stunning. Try it in front of peegee hydrangeas (e.g. Hydrangea p. ‘Quickfire’) for a delicate color echo as the flowers fade from white to rose, or mingled with silver foliage such as this next perennial.
At first glance this new introduction from Proven Winners seems to be identical to Silver Brocade with its felted silvery-white leaves and groundcover habit. It is certainly more vigorous; mine are at least 4′ in diameter and I find myself wishing I had allowed them more space! Where they appear to be superior to Silver Brocade is that this new Quicksilver does not flower. So no little yellow flowers to clip off in order to keep the plant looking its best. That makes it lower maintenance – always a good thing.
Drought tolerant and deer resistant, I use this as a weed suppressing groundcover in my sunny borders.
Delosperma x Jewel of the Desert ‘Opal’ with Quicksilver artemisia
Try it with the Purple Preference euphorbia mentioned above, perhaps adding the new ice plant Delosperma x Jewel of the Desert for some bold flower power.
Cool Splash Diervilla (Bush honeysuckle)
Cool Splash foliage in full sun
This is one TOUGH little shrub! But let’s back up…..have you grown the native bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)?
Northern bush honeysuckle grown in full sun
Here’s a photo taken in a full sun, never watered, exposed to elements type of border in my own garden. Gorgeous, right? Look at the coppery new growth and imagine the fragrance from those lemon blooms.
So here’s what I like about its relative, the new introduction from First Editions; Cool Splash diervilla (Diervilla sessilifolia ‘Cool Splash’) can take full sun or a lot of shade. This next photo shows the shrub that has been totally neglected since planting it under a towering Douglas fir tree three months ago. It has never been watered unless it rained and gets only 1-2 hour of direct sun, being in open shade for most of the day.
Cool Splash grown in dry shade
What you’ll notice is that the variegation isn’t as remarkable as the first image and it isn’t blooming – yet. However it is very much alive and doing fine, despite my less than stellar nurturing! Having said that, the growers recommend this shrub for full sun but I think I have proved a point that it isn’t a primadonna. The shrub in my sunny border rarely gets watered either and is squished between several exuberant perennials.
This deciduous shrub grows up to 4.5′ tall and wide and its crisp variegated leaves will brighten both shade and sunny combos. Try it next to early blooming shrubs that can look lack luster by August such as lilac or forsythia. Or partner it with the variegatedCanadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Glentsch White’) shown below;
Gentsch White Canadian hemlock
and perhaps a delicate rose such as the David Austin rose ‘Wildeve’ for a romantic vignette;
Pearl Glam beautyberry
White flower buds on Pearl Glam beautyberry
Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is known for its metallic purple berries in fall. The problem – until now – has been waiting that long for the shrub to be of interest. Problem solved with the new variety Pearl Glam from Proven Winners.
Although the emerging foliage is green it quickly turns dark; a perfect foil for the white flowers shown here. I can’t wait to see how it looks with the purple berries!
This variety is said to grow 4-5′ tall and wide, making it a great candidate for a container or the landscape.
Pearl Glam beautyberry
Try it with chartreuse foliage for high contrast or silver for a more contemporary look.
I have one in a mixed container (first image) and one in the landscape (above). The latter has never been watered since it was planted but is thriving. It is also on the ‘wildlife freeway’ through my garden but seems to be untouched. A very exciting new shrub for sure.
Lots more to share with you in the near future so be sure to stay tuned!
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