April 10, 2011

Maine Gardener: What's new? Experts pick some fresh beauties

By Tom Atwell tatwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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“Black Velvet” petunias

Courtesy photos

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Flowering quince “Iwai Nishiki,” which attracts hummingbirds and has deep-red double blooms

Additional Photos Below

But flower gardening isn't only plants and shrubs. There are also perennials and annuals.

Buck of Plants Unlimited in Rockport was impressed by three different black petunias, especially "Black Velvet." There is also a black pinstriped one he likes.

Estabrook is high on some new Calibrachoa, common name Million Bells, in the Proven Winner line.

" 'Coral Berry Punch' and 'Blackberry Punch' are absolutely stunning," he said. "I think they are going to be big sellers."

Two heucheras, or coral bells, he admires are bicolors called "Lime Marmalade" and "Berry Smoothie." He especially likes "Berry Smoothie," which is a purplish red with dark veins running through it.

Palmer had an interesting take on "new," saying he is "not sure what constitutes 'new' any more. Years ago, there were really new, novel, unique plants never seen before in the perennial world. Today, the nuances in new are hard to see."

Among the ones he mentioned are Papaver "Place Pigalle," an Oriental poppy with white petals surrounded by a vermillion edge; Helianthus "Sunshine Daydream," an exquisite summer-blooming member of the sunflower family with large, 2.5-inch double-petaled yellow blossoms; and the "Milk and Honey" astilbe.

"Since this is a chinensis form, it is -- among astilbes -- relatively tolerant of dry conditions," Palmer said. "Charming white blossoms appear in early August."

He also said he gave the "Pink Penny" geranium a trial and was impressed. "An early summer pink-blooming variety reaching 12 inches in height but having a broader spread to 24 inches," he said. It will bloom sporadically through the rest of the season and turn copper color in the fall.

O'Donal, meanwhile, is excited about the Barth line of daylilies.

O'Donal's purchased the line -- created by Dr. Joseph Barth in Alna and continued by his son, Nicholas Barth, in Dresden -- last summer. But this year, there will be more of them for sale at the Gorham nursery.

Nick Barth looks for daylilies that have a branching, candelabra form with multiple stems and blossoms.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at



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Additional Photos

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The stunning “Blackberry Punch,” which is a new Calibrachoa

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Papaver “Place Pigalle,” a member of the Oriental poppy family


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