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 Green Thumb Nursery - 319-393-5946 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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Trying New Plants

December 23, 2001

 The fun of gardening is trying out new plants. On our website throughout the winter months we will try to introduce some of these new varieties as well as showcase some great older varieties that are not widely known to the general gardening public. Click on "read more" to find information on a few of our featured plants!

We are constantly searching for new plants to enhance the color, texture or form in our gardens and landscapes. These three elements are basic to design. Our Iowa climate blesses us with changing seasons, which rewards us with huge changes in the appearance of our landscape. The seasonal change opens the door to excitement and challenge as we search the vast plant world for the right group of plants to bring color, texture and form to our outdoor living area. Increased travel, shipping and communication in our global society means that plantsmen from around the world are better able to share information and plant varieties. Combine this increase in plant varieties from around the world with the new cultivars being developed from the many breeding and hybridizing programs. The exciting spectrum of plant varieties has never been better than today, and the future possibilities are truly beyond imagination!

Midnight Wine Weigela (Weigela florida ‘Elvera’)
WOW! This new variety from the Netherlands is a showstopper! The bright pink trumpet-shaped flowers in late spring contrast with the season-long deep dark burgundy foliage to create a sensational color plant. But the winning feature is its neat dwarf mounded habit. This little jewel only grows to 18 to 24 inches high by 24 inches wide. It is reported to be hardy to zone 4 and loves sunny to lightly shaded sites. We anticipate using Midnight Wine in foundation plantings, perennial gardens, low borders and as groundcover. That dark burgundy foliage will really standout next to other leaves. We picture it combined with the silver foliage of Artemisia Silver Mound, or the yellow leaves of gold barberry, or the green and blue shades of various evergreen varieties, or... The point being that the possibilities for this plant seem endless as long as it is planted in a site with good drainage and six hours or more of sunshine. We anticipate its arrival at Peck's around mid to late May.

Flower Carpet Coral Rose (Rosa x ‘Noala’)
Another in the New Zealand Flower Carpet series will be released for sales this spring. Coral pink, slightly ruffled flowers abound on this ground cover rose. Rather than fading, the color deepens as the flowers age, which is a very important feature as the flowers last on the bush for a long time. It will grow to only 2 to 3 feet tall and up to 3 or 4 feet wide, making it a perfect ground cover or edger for sites with 5 or 6 hours of hot sun. When the first of the Flower Carpet series (Pink) was released, it was touted as “the environmental rose” and the “lazy gardener’s rose”. The easy care or no care aspect sounded just too unbelievable. However, we found that all (Pink, White, Appleblossom, and Red) thrived with no spraying for disease, little or no pruning, and minimal winter protection. The foliage on these roses almost appears varnished, and that “coating” repels the common rose disease villains, blackspot and mildew. We have all four colors planted at the nursery in our beds and follow this easy 5-step care process:


  1. prune in the spring to remove winter dieback

  2. one shot of slow release fertilizer (Osmocote) in spring that feeds all season

  3. application of systemic insecticide granules 2 or 3 times during the season to smack any wandering aphids or mites

  4. regular watering

  5. mulch with about 1/2 bag of shredded bark just as the ground freezes to provide a little extra winter protection

These roses are a “breeze” to take care of and reward all of us lazy gardeners with a constant abundance of colorful flowers from spring until the ground freezes. This new Coral Flower Carpet is reported to be the best of the series! We plan to plant it in hanging baskets and patio pots with blue, white or purple flowers as accompaniments for great color on porches and decks. It will make a colorful hardy ground cover or low edger and compliment flower gardens. This plant seems almost too good to be true! But we should have Flower Carpet Coral available for you early in the season, and you can check it out for yourself!

Winter "To-Do" List:


  • Prune oaks, crab apples, pears, honey locust, and hawthorns. The best time to trim these varieties is during the winter months

  • Monitor snowfalls. Lightly shake evergreens and shrubs to remove heavy snows that may weight down or break branches. Dig back drifts that reach higher than the fencing or protective wrap you have put around your trees and plants to prevent damage from hungry rabbits or deer

  • Feed the birds

  • Review your last summer’s garden and landscape to critique which varieties and planting techniques were successful. Browse through gardening magazines and catalogs for ideas to help plan for next season.

  • Bring us pictures or a rough sketch of any problem sites in your landscape or garden. Peck's professionals are happy to assist you with designs or answer any of your plant questions