October 2008 Plant Profile: Calluna vulgaris cultivars

Each winter, as most perennials are cut back lying dormant before spring, these ground-hugging shrubs take center stage as their foliage burst into dramatic colors that always seems to stop visitors along the main path of the Soest Garden. Planting these in rockeries in blazing full sun helps to enhance the coloration so they are exceptional evergreen plants for difficult places. 

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September 2008 Plant Profile: Gaillardia Commotion™ ‘Frenzy’

One of the newest plants in the Soest Garden is this fiery little gem donated to us by Skagit Gardens . Gaillardia, also known as Blanket Flower, is starting to make a big splash in the horticultural market with its heat tolerance and tremendously prolific bloom. This selection along with the cultivar ‘Tizzy’, which was also donated to us, possesses these qualities on top of extravagant color and visual interest all throughout the summer and fall months. 

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August 2008 Plant Profile: Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’

Who knew such a stunning plant, originally from South Africa , could grace our gardens and add such architectural curiosity in the late summer garden. ‘Sparkling Burgundy ‘ was selected by Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina and has found its way to the West Coast where gardeners have marveled at its ease of growth and overall winter hardiness. In early summer, succulent and strap-like deep purple foliage begins to emerge and looks absolutely stunning contrasting with the bright gold of Sedum ‘Angelina’ (a combination I recreated in Bed 7 of the Soest Garden ). 

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July 2008 Plant Profile: Disporum cantoniense ‘Night Heron’

“Sleek and sophisticated” many say about this outstanding perennial from Dan Hinkley of the former Heronswood Nursery. The emerging stems of this much sought after perennial are strikingly deep red, almost black, stalks with pink sheaths that give it the appearance of a rare and enticing bamboo. The slender stalks are then topped with interesting green, bell-shaped flowers and the plant “greens up” eventually. 

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June 2008 Plant Profile: Hosta ‘June’

This month’s perennial plant pick is appropriately named ‘June’. This has been one of the finest variegated Hostas ever introduced because of its exceptional color, substance and humble vigor. It is a mutation of the ever popular blue cultivar ‘Halcyon’ (in fact, you can see both varieties growing next to each other in Bed 7 to see the resemblance). Hostas are hot right now with such a diverse selection available. 

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May 2008 Plant Profile: Allium schubertii

Ornamental tumbleweed onion
One of Ciscoe Morris’s picks is this early summer sparkler that’s starting to bloom  as we speak.Bed 6 is home to several flowering onions that begin to open in late may, but this species is the most impressive of all with it’s huge “beach ball” size inflorescence composed of over 200 florets. What’s striking of all is the fact that when the entire seedhead dries, it is still highly ornamental in the garden and, yes, looks like a starry tumbleweed, but far more decorative. 

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April 2008 Plant Profile: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

“So good, it’s almost too good” my friend and colleague Richie Steffen, Curator at the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, said about this plant when it was selected as a Great Plant Pick (www.greatplantpicks.org).  This is a fairly new addition to the Soest garden as part of a collection of various silver-variegated cultivars. ‘Jack Frost’ is, by far, the most popular of these selections for its large heart-shaped silver leaves netted in green, profuse “forget-me-not” blooms in mid-late spring, and remarkable vigor and hardiness. 

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March 2008 Plant Profile: Anemone nemorosa x nemorosa ‘Vestal’

Another early season charmer, this sweet little ground hugger has captivated avid gardeners for years and we’re fortunate to have several clumps of this spring ephemeral under the new Shade Bed under the large Oak in the Soest Garden. Topping out at only 6 inches in height and forming a clump about a foot wide, the tight buds burst into pure white with a single row of guard petals encasing a central tuft of frilly pompoms. 

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February 2008 Plant Profile: Helleborus Ivory Prince (‘Walhelivor’)

Helleborus Ivory Prince (‘Walhelivor’)
Introduced a few years ago, Skagit Gardens kindly donated three plants of this lovely hellebore. Developed by English plant breeder David Tristram, this fabulous perennial is strikingly evergreen with blue green foliage faintly marbled in silver gray. In January, pale maroon-pink buds emerge from the base and slowly develop and come into bloom in February when it opens to a 3” cream white flower with a green base and over a period of several weeks, it gently ages to a pale green with a pink cast. 

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October 2007 Plant Profile: Chrysanthemum ‘Apricot’

Chrysanthemums or simply “mums” have always been frowned upon by savvy gardeners for being so common, disposable and overused. However, when sophisticated gardeners come across ‘Apricot’ in the Soest Garden, nothing else makes them fall to their knees begging to have this profusion of bloom and warm delicate color in their autumn landscape. Starting in mid-October, deep pink buds burst open like a fireworks display of peachy pink petals and continue through frost! 

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