What's New and Exciting?

The question I get all the time is "What's new and exciting?"  But with so many plants in development it's hard to pick just a few. So I typically respond with varieties that are looking good at the moment.

After a heavy rain this morning the sun came out and I had a quick walk through the garden. I just got back from the California Pack Trials so a lot has changed while I was gone. The magnolias are looking great. I have a yellow variety called 'Butterflies' that is just stunning right now. 'Goldfinch' is just about to break bud. Everything is so early this year, it's hard to believe it is early April. 

The Show Off forsythias are still looking great. It's a plant that gets a reaction from everyone that sees them in bloom. The flowers are just packed up and down the stem. No one believes me when I tell them how much I like this series. I kid you not these plants are special, especially the little Show Off Sugar Baby which is about the height of a daffodil. 

Show Off Forsythia

Show Off Sugar Baby 

'Amy Cotta', a new dwarf version of PJM Rhododendron, is favorite of mine. This cute little Rhododendron has smaller leaves than PJM and is a bright ball of purple when in flower.

Rhododendron 'Amy Cotta' 

Quince is in peak here in Michigan. The Double Take series is really looking great. This year I noticed that the orange opens first, followed by Scarlet and then Pink. The thing I like about these plants is that the large blooms last much longer than those of the typical quince. Growers like that too. I think it's because they have so many petals.

Double Take Orange Storm

Double Take Scarlet Storm

Double Take Pink Storm

The shrubs at the Pact Trials got me excited. We never seem to get very much press on our flowering shrubs, so I guess I'll have to do it myself. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Let's Dance Big Easy is one of my favorites, but as the breeder I am a bit biased. It has really big flowers that glow as they open with shades of green and pink then mature to a rich pink. People are going to be amazed by the size of these blooms.

Let's Dance Big Easy

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea was the surprise hit of the Proven Winners Shrub display. It is a new form of Hydrangea serrata a species which is native to the colder regions of Japan, Korea and China. The contrasting colors and the doubled flowers give this plant a lot of charm.

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea 

I am a big fan of Chris Warner's Oso Easy Roses. Oso Easy Mango Salsa is the newest addition to the series. Its flowers emerge orange, and then change to pink to give you a festive happy feeling. Our Canadian customers claim they are hardy to zone 3, but I'll list them zone 4 until we have a few more years of data to better judge them. Regardless, they are carefree, low growing roses that give you lots of color with very little effort.  

Oso Easy Mago Salsa Rose
I really like the Bloom-A-Thon azaleas. While you can get them in red, pink and lavender, I prefer Bloom-A-Thon White. The pure white flowers contrast nicely against the dark green, glossy foliage. It's the most compact plant in this series of continuous flowering azaleas.

Bloom-A-Thon White Azalea

So there you have it.  Check back later and I'll let you know what else is new and exciting in the world of flowering shrubs. 

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