Gold Japanese Maple: ACER palmatum ‘Shidawa Gold’

Shidawa Gold Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘Shidawa Gold’ is a witches broom at Raraflora Nursery in Australia that originated off Aoyagi.  The leaves are very similar in color and shape but Shidawa Gold only gets to approximately 6 feet in height.  Grown for it’s pea green winter bark and spectacular yellow fall color, this selection is a rare treasure.  Makes an excellent japanese maple bonsai. There have been some issues with leaves burning in direct sunlight but this often can be the case with any japanese maple, especially light green leaved varieties. Picture is taken during October and shows the brilliant fall color.

Height: 6 feet

Width: 5 feet

Spring Leaf Color: Lime Green

Fall Leaf Color: Yellow

Zone: 6 to 9

An Evergreen With Gorgeous Fall Color: PINUS (Pine) contorta ‘Chief Joseph’

If you’re looking for spectacular fall color then you need to check out this new variety of limber pine called ‘Chief Joseph’.   During the spring and summer this Pinus contorta doesn’t appear much different than other limber pines, a light green to green needle cast and soft look.  As the temperatures cool the true beauty of this plant comes to the surface.   It becomes a conifer that will be the center of your winter garden.  The bright glowing yellow color lasts all winter long until it reverts back to the spring color. We spotted this beauty immediately as we exited the car at a nursery in Oregon. It’s been a tough find at the local garden centers but we’ll do our best to edit this post with places that have it for sale.

Type: Dwarf
Common Name: LodgePole Pine, Limber Pine
Height: 6 feet
Width: 3 feet
Zone: 5 to 9

Growth Rate: 2 to 4 inches a year with slowing growth rate after 10 years

Perennial Of The Year 2011: Amsonia hubrictii

Amsonia hubrictii has always been a favorite of perennial gardeners across the midwest and southeast.  This year it might be a little harder to find than usual because the Perennial Plant Association has chosen it as the Perennial of the Year for 2011.  With the honor usually comes hot sales.  Last year we noticed a shortage of the plant due to the increased use in mass planting in commercial and government plantings.

Amsonia is a great plant for several.  One, it’s very easy to grow and tolerant of harsh conditions.  Two, the flowers are attractive and abundant.  Third, the foliage is airy and has nice appeal even without flowers.  A finally, it has a fantastic bright yellow fall color that draws your eye from long distances.  Our advice is if you want to add this plant to your garden this year then you will want to pick up this plant at your local garden centers early.

Height: 3 feet

Width  2-3 feet

Bloom Color:  Light Blue

Zone: 5-9

Light: Part Sun to Sun

Deer Resistant

Like Black Petunias? Ball Horticulture Thinks You Do. Introducting Black Velvet, PinStripe, and Phantom

The hot new petunia this year at all the trials were the new petunias from Ball Seed.  We had the privilege of growing all three of these in trials and we weren’t disappointed.  We went to the OFA tradeshow at Ohio State and the feelings were mutual.

The color in the all black variety “Black Velvet” was rich, dark, and consistent.  Phantom’s great contrast of yellow to black made a visual impact from 10 feet away.  Finally,  Pin Stripe, although not consistent in every flower had an interesting look to it. Some of the middles had a light purple, almost pinkish center and others had a slice of yellow.   I will say that although they showed some vigor, we didn’t think it was nearly as vigorous as a normal wave petunia.  It did much better in pots than it did in the ground. Some of the other trials we saw in the ground exhibited the same growth rates.  The worst growth rate was at the Conservatory at Ohio State were they didn’t give any extra water to the plants.  They looked as if they were planted yesterday even though they had been in the ground months.

Our suggestion is to try these new petunias.  The make excellent container plants and mix well with pure white petunias and other contrasting light colored flowers.  Look for them at all your local garden centers in 2011

Rare But Beautiful: JUNIPERUS (Juniper) squamata ‘Floriant’

You may be familiar with Juniper squamata ‘Blue Star”.  This variety is a special selection of ‘Blue Star’ that is variegated or blonde within the needles.  This plant seems to be also called ‘Boyko’s Starburst’ and occurred on a plant at Jimmy Boyko’s nursery near Sandy, Oregon. This particular variety was found in Europe to this point all the experts call them identical. The creamy white and blue make an eye catching combination as evidenced in the picture.  At this point we haven’t found any for sale but did find that Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana IL may be carrying them in the near future

Type: Dwarf
Common Name: Blue Star Juniper
Height: 1.5-2 feet
Width: 3-5  feet
Zone: 4 to 8

Growth Rate: 2 to 4 inches a year with slowing growth rate after 10 years

Special Traits: Deer Resistant