March 21, 2010
We consider many criteria such as improved hardiness, disease resistance, and vigor of the plant…as well as specific characteristics like shape, color and texture of blooms and foliage, fragrance and length of time in bloom or re-blooming traits. We are constantly searching for color to brighten shady sites, narrow or smaller growing varieties to accommodate intimate gardens, and great performance with little follow-up care. This year is especially exciting and fun with so many new varieties being introduced or becoming available from our growers. Here are a few of the ones that we are excited about and have dubbed this year’s “Peck’s Picks”:
BLOOMERANG LILAC: A reblooming dwarf lilac from Proven Winners. What’s not to love about this! Fabulous fragrant blooms to enjoy over & over again all season instead of just the short spring bloom time of other lilac varieties. It puts out a heavy flush of lavender blooms in May, followed by a short rest and then continually throws flowers through summer until frost. While extreme summer heat may slow flower production, blooming resumes as soon as temperatures cool again. This compact grower reportedly will mature at 4-5’ tall & wide…the perfect size to plant near patios, decks or windows so you can sniff the sweet fragrance all season.
INVINCIBELLE SPIRIT HYDRANGEA: The first pink Annabelle-type hydrangea from Proven Winners. This is a real breakthrough variety! Annabelle is known as the old fashioned standby for hardiness and dependability of bloom. Those qualities have been passed on to Invincibelle Spirit with the added fun of bright pink bloom and the ability to rebloom midsummer to frost. The flower clusters are somewhat smaller than Annabelle’s but the pink color and number of blooms more than make up for the flower size. Compact plants, just 3-4’ tall x 4-5’ wide, and easy care make this a fabulous addition to a perennial garden, patio or foundation planting. A donation of $1 per plant goes to Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
INCREDIBALL HYDRANGEA: Another offspring of Annabelle with enormous white flowers held on extremely beefy stems. These flower clusters are reported to be 10-12 inches across and have four times as many florets as Annabelle. How’s that for Incrediball! Incredible strong stems hold those huge and incredible flowers and keep them from flopping. Another Proven Winners introduction that adds the WOW to partially shaded gardens.
LIL KIM ROSE OF SHARON: Proven Winners hits another homerun with the miniature stature of this new “baby bloomer” that reportedly only reaches 3-4’ tall & wide. Single white hibiscus flowers with showy red eyes adorn the shrub from midsummer to frost. Each bloom lasts for about 3 days instead of only a single day like most all other Rose of Sharon varieties. Lil’Kim loves sun & heat, has loads of showy long-lasting flowers, and a perfect compact size, making it ideal to add a color pop to flower gardens and patio & foundation plantings.
CRIMSON SPIRE OAK: This is not a brand new 2010 release. In fact, it’s been around long enough for good testing around the country…and everyone is singing loud & joyful praises! This is the near perfect tree for urban lawns or smaller confined sites. It forms a tight columnar shape, 45’ tall and only 15 feet wide. Attractive green disease resistant foliage turns a bright rusty red in autumn. Crimson Spire is a cross of English x White Oak. We love the fast growth rate, excellent vertical form, and adaptability to various soils and conditions. Please check www.crimsonspire.com to see photos and more information.
LITTLE TWIST FLOWERING CHERRY: What a funky and unusual little ornamental tree! Its stems and shoots zigzag at every node to create a very unique form. White flowers adorn the bare twisted branches in early spring, followed by green leaves that turn a pretty maroon in autumn. This little specimen grows very slowly to reach a height of just 5-6’…perfect to anchor a Japanese garden, smaller flower bed, or patio garden.
BANANA CREAM SHASTA DAISY: The name tells you the color of this superb Shasta daisy but it doesn’t tell you the whole story! 4” light yellow flowers begin just like other Shastas in early June…but this one continues blooming on axillary buds all along the stems ensuring nearly summer-long bloom in the garden and for cut bouquets. It’s nearly the perfect perennial flower…compact size at 15-18” tall, vigorous grower with excellent disease resistance, long blooming & nearly care-free!
ITOH PEONY Collection: For those who admire the colorful and exotic flowers of tree peonies, yet want the easy care of old-fashioned garden peonies, your dreams have come true! Last year we offered a few of this new group of hybrids that are a cross of herbaceous and tree peonies combining the best qualities of both…the huge flowers and unusual colors of tree peonies, and the easy care and vigor of the old garden peonies. Itoh peonies offer fascinating colors, including yellow, on stems strong enough to hold the flowers that may exceed 10” across. Because many flowers are produced from side shoots, blooms appear over a longer time period. It is not unusual for a mature plant to produce 50 or more blooms, and if cut back after flowering, may produce a second flush. Plants die back to the ground in winter and fresh new shoots emerge from below ground in spring, growing 24-32” high by summer. We will offer in very limited quantities the following varieties: Bartzella, a fragrant, bright yellow with fully double flowers; Cora Louise, a large semi-double that opens a pale pink but quickly ages to white with striking dark lavender flares; Pink Double Dandy, dark lavender pink semi-double flowers age to soft pink revealing a cluster of yellow stamens; Sequestered Sunshine, bright yellow single petals surround a center tuft of yellow stamens; Yellow Doodle Dandy, large 7-8”, yellow double flowers. All are truly fabulous!
TIARELLA Collection: Tiarella or Foamflowers are under-used and under-appreciated…and we need to do something about it!!! We are shouting praise for these deer resistant garden-worthy plants due to their wonderful traits: shade tolerance; unique leaf shapes, textures & patterns; showy spring bloom; colorful fall foliage; cold hardiness; deer resistance…and the list goes on. As an attractive deer resistant clumping low edger or filler for shady gardens, it ranks as our favorite for shade. Two new deer resistant varieties from Terra Nova Nurseries bring the promise of even more accolades for their rapid trailing habits. Tiarella ‘Oregon Trail’ and ‘Cascade Creeper’ are deer resistant, and both have lobed and cut leaves with beautiful dark markings. In addition to being deer resistant and having white flowers in spring, Cascade Creeper blooms sporadically until fall. Oregon Trail is reported to spread 36” and Cascade Creeper up to 48”. Great for a beautiful, thick, deer resistant ground cover or even as a replacement for English ivy in baskets or patio containers. Oh…did we mention deer resistant?!!!
These are but a few of our Peck’s Picks! So many other new varieties, as well as our tried and true favorites will be arriving throughout the season. We work with our dedicated growers to bring you the healthiest and finest quality plants, and the best varieties available. Please visit us this season to see our plants, the products to help your plants thrive, and the many items for decorating and gift-giving available at Peck’s. Our garden center team includes 7 Iowa Certified Nursery Professionals and many other team members who have the experience, knowledge and skills to correctly answer your gardening questions…Peck’s has been providing advice to gardeners since 1956! We welcome your visits and wish you happiness and gardening fun throughout the coming season!