May 12, 2013

Maine Gardener: The scoop on plants that come through trials with flying colors


(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

“Starman” was called the best perennial geranium by Fine Gardening.

Courtesy photos

“Milkshake” is considered a great echinacea.

With stachys, the flower is secondary to the foliage, Hawke said.

And with a plant like "Big Ears," which rarely flowers, the flowers sap the energy of the plant so the leaves don't look as good. "Pink Cotton Candy" is a stachys that is grown for its flowers, which are a two-tone pink and one of the best in the trials.

"I've never met a meadow rue that I didn't like," Hawke said when he began the section of the talk on thalictrums. He loves their flowers, and the foliage is handsome.

Thalictrums have two types of flowers: Some have fairly prominent petals with a mass of stamens in the center, and others have just stamens and no petals -- even though some have modified stamens called "sepals" that look like petals.

Hawke said "Black Stockings" is a good plant, but not as dark as the marketing says it is.

"Elin" is a great thalictrum that grows to 8 feet tall and has round flower buds and modified tepals, Hawke said. The foliage is purple when it first comes out of the ground and then turns bluish-green, and the foliage is so thick, you can't see through it, he said.

He wanted to love "Splendide" for its superb flower production, but he couldn't get it to stand up.

Thalictrum rochebruneanum is a great plant, with the same flowers as "Elin" and as prolific, but you can see the flowers through the leaves.

These are all fairly new plants, but at least you know they have gone through trials.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)