From our very own Bailey Nurseries, located in Newport, Minn., we have Hydrangea arborescens (‘PIIHA-I’) Bella Anna, a new hydrangea in Bailey’s Endless Summer collection. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of many of the poofy-headed hydrangeas in this collection. But Bella Anna stands out in my mind for being only 3 feet tall, having unusual pink blooms that last from early summer through fall, and for being able to withstand severe pruning and our harsh winter weather.
I have no idea where I’ll put it, but I have to have Bailey’s new Hydrangea paniculata (‘Le Vasterival’) Great Star. This hydrangea grows to 6 or 7 feet tall, which is a bit difficult to squeeze into a small city garden, I know. But get this: it has giant star-shaped white flowers that can be as wide as 4 inches across. It’s gorgeous! And, well, one of the many red-twigged dogwoods in the side yard is going to have to move to a new home to make room for it.
From California-based Monrovia comes Paeonia Misaka Itoh (Beautiful Blossom), a new peony with flowers that look orange at first but fade to a peachy-yellow when planted in full sun. Touted as heavy flowering, this cultivar is disease resistant and has fine foliage that complements the bright, wide flowers.
Iris ‘Cinque Terre,’ is a beautiful, tall, bearded iris with petals described as a combo of henna and terra-cotta. A vigorous bloomer, this iris can have as many as seven to 10 buds on each stem. Plants grow to
3 to 4 feet.
If you don’t have penstemon, commonly known as beardtongue, in your garden, now may be the time to get some. California-based Blooms of Bressingham has introduced Penstemon ‘Prairie Twilight’ and we northerners can enjoy its bounty of tubular-shaped, purple flowers from May through mid July. If you plant this, I would advise buying at least three plants since penstemon doesn’t tend to spread quickly.
Black petunias anyone? That’s right, Ball Horticulture introduced Petunia x hybrida Black Velvet last year, but now you’ll be actually able to find them in local garden centers. Black flowers aren’t for everyone, I know. But if you like black, plant these petunias in full sun and you’ll have dense masses of long-blooming flowers all season. They’ll look great in containers, too.
Coreopsis ‘Salsa’ is another don’t-miss annual that’s new this year. Yes, yes, we’re all a bit tired of tickseed. But this new one, part of the Coloropsis Coreopsis series from Washington-based Skagit Gardens, features bright, golden flowers with burgundy eyes and can grow as tall as 18 inches. Oh, and did I mention it can take drought and light frost? Local garden centers should be carrying this, but you can find it online too.
If you’re looking for a new ornamental grass to add to your garden, Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ from New Mexico-based High Country Gardens is definitely worth a try. What makes this large-growing selection of blue grama grass exceptional are the nearly 3-foot-tall flowering stems that top the grass’ shorter blue-green foliage. Blooms mature into “blonde” seed heads by mid summer and unlike some grasses, this plant’s strong stems can stand up to rain and dry winds.
Meleah Maynard is a Master Gardener and freelance writer. If you’ve got a gardening question you’d like her to address in her column, you can email it to email@example.com.