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This Week, Another Four Shrubs & One More Annual Flower For Your 2015 Garden
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

March 8, 2015

Above, Ilex verticillata ‘Berry Heavy’—two similar shots showing the large number of berries produced; a close-up and overall bush shot of Ilex x meserveae ‘Castle Gold’ Blue Holly; and ‘Yel-low Wall’ Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Below, ‘Lemony Lace’ Elderberry (Sambucus rac-emosa) including the red berries in fall; and ‘Dark Knight’ Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia hybrid) shown in a container and a close-up of the darker coloured flowers.
All photos courtesy Proven Winners.



‘Berry Heavy’ is the cultivar name of this deciduous Winterberry holly. It of course derives that name from its berry-producing habit—a good addition to mixed borders or cutting gardens. Beautiful for cuts to create holiday displays. Good in groupings and mass plantings, perennial and shrub borders, as a specimen, screen, or hedge. Good show in winter gardens. This plant tolerates wet conditions and may be used in rain gardens.

According to the Humane Society of America Ilex berries can be toxic to pets. This is means that the plants are generally identified as having the capability for producing a toxic reaction.

Adaptable to wet soils, does well in light and heavy soils. First class pick for planting in saturated areas. Likes high moisture, native to swampy and boggy areas. Best if pruned in late winter or early spring. No pruning really necessary unless removing dead/broken branches. Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees and shrubs. Follow the recommended rates of application.

Heavy berry production for brilliant winter color!

Berry Heavy winterberry produces copious amounts of bright red berries to be enjoyed in fall and winter. Brighten up the winter landscape with a mass planting! The berries can also be cut for use in floral arrangements. To produce berries a male and female plant are both required. Use ‘Mr. Poppins’™ or ‘Jim Dandy’ as the male pollinator. Fruit is not edible.

The next shrub is also a holly, but this one is an evergreen. As it happens I have been writing about the introduction of Ilex meserveae since about 1980 when I first saw them at the Conard-Pyle company headquarters in West Grove Pennsylvania. I have more than once written about the amateur hybridizer (Mrs. Catherine Meserve) who, upon the death of her husband, was urged to take up hybridizing of a specific genus of plants, and ended up with her work on hol-lies. Prior to the introduction of these, we literally had no evergreen hollies that were hardy enough to grow in the southern Ontario or colder climate.

If you want to read Catherine’s story and the plants which resulted from her work check out this article on this site: .

Great as a foundation plant, specimen or hedge this can be used as a replacement for pyramidal yews. Good in groupings and mass plantings, perennial and shrub borders, ‘Berry Heavy’ can be used as a screen or hedge—an outstanding plant for the winter landscape.

Prune to shape immediately after flowering. Flowers are not significant, but should be left intact for berry production (plant near ‘Castle Wall’ for pollination). Likes high moisture, native to swampy and boggy areas. Adaptable to wet soils, does well in light and heavy soils. Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees and shrubs.

Blue holly just got a lot more colorful! A real showstopper each spring as foliage flushes a bright yet attractive lime-gold. And of course you get the hardiness and red berries you expect from a blue holly.

Now I have another deciduous yellow-foliage plant that many gardeners may like as a fence covering. It is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) ‘Yellow Wall’. The yellow colour appears in the autumn.

An excellent choice for quickly covering walls or fences for an instant 'green wall'. Do not plant against houses or other structures as it may be difficult to remove.

May be trimmed in summer. Adaptable to most soils. Fast, easy green walls!

A companion plant for Red Wall® Virginia Creeper this vine is noted for its yellow autumn col-or. A nice native vine for covering fences and walls quickly.

My final deciduous shrub for this week is ‘Lemony Lace’ Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). The distinctive golden, thread-like foliage looks wonderful in mixed borders or as a high-impact specimen plant. Plant it with ‘Black Lace’ Sambucus for a really bold statement! The red fall fruit makes it a good addition to wildlife gardens.

This plant definitely benefits from hard pruning as a young plant to develop a nice full habit. Older plants can be trimmed after flowering. This plant blooms on old wood, so spring pruning will reduce flower production. Adaptable to most well-drained soils. Check out this showy new cut-leaf elderberry with bright golden foliage!

It's a colorful, shaggy mound of gold threads with colorful reddish new growth. The foliage is more deeply cut than 'Sutherland Gold' or ‘Black Lace’™ resulting in a compact irregular mound with extremely fine texture. White spring flowers produce red fruit in fall. Will tolerate full sun in northern climates, but prefers light shade in more southern areas.

A Plant of Merit and People's Choice Award winner at the 2014 Farwest Horticulture Trade Show (held annually in Portland, Oregon), ‘Lemony Lace’ Sambucus also won a Green Thumb Award from the Direct Gardening Association.

Finally this week a new cultivar of Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia hybrid) called ‘Dark Knight’. It features masses of fragrant flowers on mounded plants. Unlike most alyssum this one will bloom all summer, even in hot climates.

No deadheading necessary for continuous bloom.

It is cold and heat tolerant; also a "heavy drinker" and will prefer evenly moist soil. It will be quick to show drought stress, but should bounce back quickly once re-hydrated. In a hanging basket you should be prepared to water often, maybe more than once a day during hot weather. Plants are easier to keep moist when planted in large planters. Due to water needs it is ideal for use in larger planters. In containers an application of continuous release fertilizer at planting is best. To help maximize performance use applications of a well-balanced water-soluble fertilizer (according to package directions) starting in mid-summer.

It will also perform well in the landscape where it will function as an annual, full sun, ground-cover.

While plants shouldn't need to be trimmed back, if the plants are taking over your walkway or are looking less than the best, a trim can be administered at any time. Use a sharp pair of prun-ing shears as needed.

A yearly application of fertilizer or compost on garden beds and regular fertilization of plants in pots will help ensure the best possible performance.

There seem to be quite a number of new introductions in the Proven Winners catalogue, so I may be able to bring you another small batch next week as well.


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