May 23, 2010

Maine Gardener: New beauties to plant this season catch the eyes of garden experts

By Tom Atwell
Staff Writer

This gardening season seems to have an air of excitement to it.

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The Vanilla Strawberry, a pink and white variegated hydrangea, is a new plant expected to be popular this year.

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Pink Annabelle hydrangea

Additional Photos Below


YOU SHOULD start hitting your Asiatic and Oriental lilies with a systemic pesticide to keep them from being eaten by the lily leaf beetles. We have seen them on the newly emerging lilies already.


The spring started warm and people were eager to get out. The economy seems to be turning around, so people have money to buy plants. Traveling can be a pain, so people want to make their yards nice.

And, to finally get to the point, the industry is putting out a lot of new plants that will add interest to the garden. And again this year, a lot of them are hydrangeas.

Deb Bedard of Springvale Nurseries went right to the Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea when asked about new plants.

"It's a paniculata with the actual name 'Renhy' and the blooms are supposed to be pink and white variegated, and the huge triangular shape of paniculatas."

Another one she likes, also pink and white but heavier on the white, is Tickled Pink. This one is shorter, at 4 to 5 feet, with a lacier blossom.

Ginny Moody of Moody's Nursery in Saco is excited about the Quickfire hydrangea.

"That one starts blooming in June and blooms all summer long," she said. "It's in the PeeGee (paniculata) family and has white flowers that move to pink."

She also said there is a lot of interest in Invincibelle Spirit and Incrediball hydrangeas, both in the arborescens family. Invincibelle Spirit has bright pink flowers, while Incrediball has huge white flowers that stand up straight on thicker stems.

Tom Estabrook of Estabrook's in Yarmouth, Scarborough and Kennebunk also mentioned Invincibelle Spirit.

"It's a pink Annabelle, and it's nice because you can cut it to the ground and it will bloom that same year."

Jeff O'Donal mentioned two hydrangeas that are so new they aren't listed in his 2010 catalog, and one of them won't show up at the nursery until mid-summer.

"We're going to be getting a selection of the dwarf Limelight hydrangea," O'Donal said. "They are calling it 'Little Lime' and it will be available in two or three months. People are going to like this. It is a very compact version of the green panicle hydrangea."

The other one he already has, and it was in bloom until his nursery got hit with a frost earlier this month. It is a dwarf version of Penny Mac, a macrophylla hydrangea that is a virtual twin of Endless Summer.

"They are the blue one, and they are kind of cool," O'Donal said.

O'Donal has three other woody plants that excite him. One is a maple that is a cross between a palmataum, or Japanese maple, and a pseudosieboldianum, or Korean maple.

"The great thing about this is that it is hardy enough to grow in Orono," he said. "It has a nice fall color, but nothing in red yet."

O'Donal said he got 10 of them from J. Frank Schmidt in Oregon, and they have the look of a green Japanese maple with the hardiness of a Korean maple. It is a step toward creating a plant that looks like a red, cutleaf Japanese maple and is hardy for Zone 4, he said.


Also not in the catalog is a variegated river birch called Shiloh Splash.

"Being variegated, it is slower growing, but it has the same peeling bark as river birch," O'Donal said. "It can be grown as a low-branch trunk form or clump form, but you will want to limb it up so you can see the bark as well as the foliage. It is a really striking, almost white plant."

Fothergilla major 'Red Licorice' was rated as one of the best fothergillas in a university study, and got its name because of its fall color. It grows wide and has typical fothergilla white flowers and grows 6 to 8 feet tall.

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Additional Photos

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Little Lime hydrangea

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'Shiloh Splash,’ a variegated river birch, stands out in a landscape.

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'Red Licorice’ fothergilla, left, produces white flowers and grows 6 to 8 feet tall.

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Pretty Much Picasso supertunia

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A David Austin rose called Golden Celebration

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The "Anna Louise" clematis

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'Sugar Candy’ is a lovely example of improvements in clematis, according to Tom Estabrook of Estabrook’s in Yarmouth.

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The new Bloomerang lilac will rebloom later in the summer.

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Supertunia Citrus

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