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Joe's Top Ten of 2013

Joe compiled a list of his top ten favourite plants that looked the best in his garden this year. These were ordered based on how much he feels they contributed to his landscape overall. Some factors, such as hardiness and reliability, were taken into consideration as well.

10. Gentian Speedwell (Veronica gentianoides ‘Barbara Sherwood’)

When this perennial blooms in our display garden at Greenland, we get a lot of requests for it. The glossy, semi-evergreen leaves form a neat, spreading clump, and spikes of beautiful, sky-blue flowers appear in June. What’s more, this plant is easy to grow and extremely hardy. Sun to part shade, 12-18” x 18”, zone 2.


9. ‘Twist-n-Shout’ Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘PIIHM-I’)

Lace-cap style flowers are bluish-purple in acidic soil, or pink in alkaline soil, appearing in summer (usually towards the end of summer in our area). As a member of the Endless Summer series of hydrangeas, this plant has a reputation for being unreliable in our area, and it certainly requires the proper location to do well. Joe has had success in 75% shade, with a moist soil that gets annual amendments of compost, but no fertilizer. He recommends mulching in fall and piling the snow on in winter, but plants usually die back to the ground each year. Shade, 3’ x 3’, zone 4.

8. ‘Moon Frost’ Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Moon Frost’)

This dwarf evergreen shrub has remarkable soft, silvery foliage and a light, feathery texture. Joe combines it with ‘Royal Purple’ smokebush, ‘Mother Lode’ juniper, ‘Cis’ Korean fir, long-beaked sedge, and showy lady’s slipper. We caution against growing it in hot areas as the needles can scorch; Joe grows it in half shade, in a rich, moist soil. Note that tip dieback can occur, sometimes creating the need for a spring pruning. Sun to part shade, 3-4’ x 3-4’, zone 4.


7. ‘Sum & Substance’ Hosta (Hosta ‘Sum & Substance’)

Despite many newer hosta, this older variety is still one of the best. It is noted for its enormous, chartreuse leaves that have an almost waxy texture. While traditionally used as a shade plant, this is one of the more sun-tolerant hostas, although the leaves will bleach if it is too hot. Consistent moisture is also a must. Shade to part sun, 3-4’ x 3-4’, zone 2.


6. ‘Autumn Sun’ Coneflower (Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Sun’)

This unusual variety of coneflower also goes by the name ‘Herbstonne’. It is part of the same genus as black-eyed Susan, and has the same bright yellow colour as that flower, but instead of a small black cone in the center, it has a tall, skinny, greenish cone in the center that makes it resemble Ratibida columnifera (prairie coneflower). The flowers appear in late summer through to late fall. Joe is always impressed with how tall this perennial grows and the number of large flowers it produces. It is also very hardy and drought-resistant when established. Sun, 5-6’ x 2-3’, zone 3.


5. Western Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum)

Every year, this is one of our most frequently requested perennials at Greenland. It is the only true lily that is native to our area, and it is the floral emblem of Saskatchewan. Joe believes that even when stacked up against some of the most beloved lily hybrids, this wild species stands tall. He grows it in woodland conditions with hardy orchids. The bright orange-red flowers, with yellow centers and purple-black spots, really pack a punch in June. Sun to part shade, 2-3’ x 12-18”, zone 2.

4. Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

This hardy orchid is another one of our most requested perennials each season. The pink and white, slipper-shaped flowers, appearing in June to July, are coveted by gardeners around the world. Joe has a number of clumps in his yard, and has many tips to share to keep these beauties alive, but they basically enjoy a rich, moist, well-drained soil in partial shade.  Joe says they are fairly heavy feeders and the key is to choose a soil that is porous, allowing air to exist around the roots. He emphasizes they are slow and finicky, and some patience is required to see them reach their full potential. Greenland will have gorgeous, large, flowering plants available in 2014, in extremely limited quantities. Part shade, 18-36” x 1-2’, zone 3.

3. ‘Julia Rose’ Itoh Peony (Paeonia x ‘Julia Rose’)

The Itoh peonies are hybrids between the tree peonies and the herbaceous peonies. The result is a group of plants that have the large flowers in the wide range of colours seen in tree peonies, with the hardiness of herbaceous peonies. Joe has a small collection of them in his garden, but this one is his oldest and therefore largest and most impressive specimen. It has a dense, shrubby form, and produces many semi-double flowers up to 8” across, in a pinkish coppery colour that is difficult to describe. The bloom period is in June to July. Though the Itoh Peonies cost more than regular herbaceous peony, they are very reliable and well worth the money. Sun, 3-4’ x 3-4’, zone 3.

2. Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum)

Joe says this small tree is the main focal point and anchor of his backyard landscape. Joe is known around Greenland as a maple lover, and recommends this as an excellent alternative to Japanese maple, which is not hardy in our area. The green palmate (5- to 7-fingered) leaves look like a classic Japanese maple, not the “dissectum” varieties that have become more common. The horizontal branching habit and burnt-orange and red fall colour make this tree a unique and beautiful addition to your yard, but avoid exposed or hot and dry locations. Sun to part shade, 15’ x 10’, zone 4.


1. White Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha)

This is another plant that is featured in our display garden at Greenland, which gets a lot of attention from visitors. People are often amazed to learn that this is an herbaceous perennial, not a shrub, because of its enormous size. The plumes of feathery white flowers, appearing in midsummer, last well into fall; and the foliage texture is amazing.

Use this vigorous plant to fill in large spaces or as a backdrop in a large perennial or mixed border. Sun to part shade, 6-7’ x 5-7’, zone 3.

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