Voices

Colorful, tall and tough, perennial has Moxie

The snows may have finally come but we are only a few weeks away from the new gardening season. The snow will add much needed soil moisture and protect our plants. It will also keep us indoors so let’s not waste time and begin exploring some of the new plants that will be on the market this year.

Last spring, I checked out collections from Terra Nova Nurseries and Skagit Gardens. Terra Nova is the Oregon nursery that developed the endless list of colorful heuchera over the past few years. Skagit Gardens is based in Mount Vernon, Wash., and specializes in perennials. Here are a few of my favorites.

Hands-down gaillardia Commotion Moxie was my favorite. If you remember the Fanfare gaillardia introduced several years ago, Moxie is very similar. Its bright, sunny yellow flowers began blooming in late June even with the cold, wet spring we had. I tucked them in pots on my deck and the tall flower stalks elevated the flower up through the other plants for a real show. The plant grows 24 inches tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 5. I plan on picking up a few more of them this spring.

My second favorites were two kniphofias – the bright yellow Pineapple Popsicle, and bright orange Mango Popsicle. Commonly known as red hot poker, poker plant or torch lily, the plants produce a brightly colored flower that resembles a fire poker. These were perfect in my deck pots. They bloomed early and with some deadheading bloomed well into the fall. The hummingbirds loved them and they are supposed to be deer resistant. Unfortunately, they are hardy only to USDA Zone 6 so we’ll see if they survive the winter. Even if I had to treat them as annuals, they would be worth buying every year.

I also tried some new heuchera and heucherella from Terra Nova Nurseries. I normally don’t have very good luck growing them but these did well for me. Maybe the secret was the potting soil enriched with blood meal and a steady water supply that other places in my garden beds don’t get. Heucherella Solar Power was my favorite of the bunch. Its deeply lobed leaves varied from gold to lime green with a touch of red in the center. The plant had a mounding habit that can reach 20 inches across with age. It added a nice edging to my container but would be perfect along the edge of a garden bed where its broad range of color would go with many other garden plants. Its rated hardiness is USDA zone 4 and it will take more direct sun than most other heucherella.

Look for these plants at independent garden centers this spring rather than the box stores and have some fun exploring some new colors in the garden.

Master Gardener Pat Munts has gardened the same acre in Spokane Valley for 30 years. She can be emailed at pat@inlandnw gardening.com.


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