Three More New Herbaceous Perennials & One Small Tree For Your 2014 Garden; Also The Northwest Flower & Garden Show
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

December 15, 2013

Above: the new Japanese maple ‘Tsuma Gaki’ with its interesting spring and fall foliage; and the very colourful Heuchera ‘Zipper’. Below: a particularly small Hosta ‘Curly Fries’; and a new addition to the ‘Taffy’ series of Penstemon, ‘Boysenberry Taffy’.
Photos by the introducers..

Last week I promised I would write about just one more Heuchera—one of a delightful colour called ‘Zipper’. I will do that but first this week, I want to tell you about a relatively new Japanese maple called ‘Tsuma gaki’.

Acer palmatum ‘Tsuma Gaki’ is the perfect foliage specimen for year-round interest. It has a unique multi-season appeal. In the fall it exhibits the pure crimson leaves that Japanese Maples are so coveted for. In the summer the leaves are lush and green, but the most-interesting display is in the spring, when emerald and crimson are both present on the leaves at once--these intriguing leaves unfurl palmate leaves with a thick crimson border and a pure green heart. The 5-fingered leaves tipped in red produce a striking display--this is where 'Tsuma Gaki' gets its name, which means ‘painted nails.’

You will create year-round interest in your garden with this fine deciduous specimen. The color show is always shifting from spring through fall, and in the winter the stark architectural display of the branches holds its own gothic appeal. This small, spreading tree has an upright habit and will reach about three metres (ten feet) tall at maturity, and about the same width.

It is a superb container choice, and makes a splendid specimen, with its bushy, spreading habit adding a vibrant dab of color to the landscape. The canopy of this tree is very low, and the weight of the leaves naturally pulls the branches down in a pendulous, almost-weeping display. For a more upright look, train the tree with stakes and light prunings.

'Tsuma Gaki' appreciates shelter from the hottest afternoon sun in all but very northern climates. Give it morning sun, average water, and rich, neutral soil, and it will reward you with years of fine multicoloured foliage!

Now, to Heuchera ‘Zipper’. The hybridizers/introducers say “You will love Heuchera 'Zipper' with its brightly colored, seriously ruffled leaves. 'Zipper' leaves are well coloured all year and change from orange in spring and fall to golden amber in summer and winter, always with magenta backs showing. This ruffle was bred with Heuchera villosa and H. micrantha which have given a larger leaf size, better heat and humidity tolerance, as well as good cold tolerance.”

This Heuchera will grow to about 45 cm (18”) tall, with a spread of 30 cm (12”). It is hardy to zone 5 (at least) and grows either in full sun or part shade. The plant grows to a height of only 20 cm (8”) but the flowers usually top out at 45 cm (18”). Spread of the plants will average out at 30 cm (12”).

‘Zipper’ was hybridized by the famous Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon, and should be available from many garden locations come next spring.

Hosta is another genus of herbaceous perennial which has had an amazing amount of hybridizing work done on it in the last decades. This year there is a new one with a cute cultivar name, and an unusual growth habit. ‘Curly Fries’ is a miniature to small-sized Hosta (it grows only to 15 cm [6”]), perfect for containers or the front of borders that need a pop of colour and texture. It forms an arching, wiggly clump of extremely rippled, narrow leaves, and is best in morning sun where its chartreuse foliage will be brightest. Mature plants will have red speckled petioles.

This cultivar will show you lovely lavender-blue flowers in summer atop the rather short foliage. It will be found to be useful both at the front of perennial borders as well as in containers.

It is a seedling from the usually sterile Hosta 'Pineapple Upsidedown Cake'. Very stiff, narrow leaves are heavily ruffled. Leaves emerge chartreuse and brighten to yellow. Best yellow leaf colour is achieved when grown in half day of sun.

A unique Hosta of all those introduced in many years! It was hybridized in 2008 by breeder Bob Solberg and is being introduced by Walters Gardens

The final perennial this week is a Penstemon, called ‘Boysenberry Taffy’. It is one of the Taffy™ series which have been bred and introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon. All members of this series, including ‘Boysenberry Taffy’ grow in vigorous upright clumps of foliage. This one grows in stately spikes of berry-wine colour, marked with a small white throat.

‘Boysenberry Taffy’ was bred to have an extremely long period of bloom from July to October. Deadheading is not required. Average height is up to 70 cm (28”) with a plant width of 45 cm (18”). It prefers full sun. It is an attractant for hummingbirds but tends not to be attractive to deer.

Extra-long blooming with a tidy habit of non-browning flowers.

For the present time, that is all the new plants I plan to write about, but I am sure it won’t be long until I find news about some other exciting new cultivars, and will feel the urge to tell you about them.

Just to end this week, I should tell you that at present it is my plan to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle in February (February 5-9, 2014). I expect we’ll be there on the opening day. That could well prove to be the venue for me to see additional newer plants that I write about in less than two months. If you will be in the Seattle area during that week you might well wish to attend as well. And, if that is the case, there is a special price of just $17 for single-day tickets currently being offered (up until the opening day).They make good presents or stocking stuffers and getting them can all be done from your home computer. For full information on the show, which I have attended on several occasions, just check out the show’s Website ( ) where you’ll find all necessary information. It has always been a great show with wonderful show gardens, and great garden shopping. It is held in a downtown venue (the Washington State Convention Center) at 8th Street and Pike. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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