From annuals that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book to breeding marvels in perennials and shrubs, the visits to Danziger and Proven Winners at California Spring Trials were exciting, to be sure. Here are some of my favorites.
Erysimum (wall flower) ‘Sunstrong Bicolor Purple’
The wall flowers definitely have a place in the market, and the last five years or so has seen a major upswing in breeding interest: The Poems, the Winters, and the Sugar Rush series to name but a few. However, I am pleased to show off Danziger’s new wall flower as a better replacement for the Bowles Mauve type of wall flowers. The plants are robust and floriferous and bring lilac-purple back to the genus. I look forward to seeing this plant as more than a novelty item.
Heucheras ‘Dolce Apple Twist’ and ‘Primo Peachberry Ice’
Both these heucheras from Proven Winners impressed me for different reasons. The first appears to be a much-needed vigorous Citronella form. As lovely as Citronella and other chartreuse forms are, their landscape performance is poor at best. Since Apple Twist has not yet been sold and tried out in large numbers, it may turn out to be a dog, as well. However, it looks robust and I am pleased to see it.
The Peachberry Ice introduction is big. I recently talked about the Grande series from Terra Nova as a fine example of full-bodied heucheras. Peachberry Ice will take up significant space on the shelf and in the landscape, but there is nothing wrong with that. If I hear about another short and compact plant, I may be bilious. I love the color and I love the vigor of this hybrid.
Buddleia Pugster Series
Thank goodness the plant looks great because Proven Winners gave it a name that only punch drunk boxers would like. The plants are both dwarf and vigorous, an oxymoron to be sure, but this is exactly what the market is demanding. The bold foliage makes a statement (this will soon be in my garden) and the flowers are excellent. Buddleias are cool, and in recent years a few good ones have emerged. This is one of them.
Salvia ‘Rockin’ Fuchsia’
A ton of salvias have been bred, and not even the breeders can tell the differences between many of them. However, Proven Winners has brought this unique sage to the marketplace that provides heavy handsome flower spikes and hearty foliage. It is part of the Rockin’, series but to my eyes, it is the best of them. This should be an easy plant to produce and an easy sale at retail.
Gomphrena ‘Truffula Pink’
Both Dr. Seuss and I are happy that Proven Winners brought out this large-statured gomphrena. In general, gomphrena is underused. We have had a good number of choices in the short and medium height categories, but few in the tall (more than 3-foot) group. I like the vigor, the flower color, and what appears to be many flowers appearing over a long period of time. Hats off to the Lorax.