This Week It Is Four New Herbaceous Perennials
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

January 17, 2016

Above, one plant of Clematis ‘Bernadine’ amongst other members of the same Boulevard group at a Chelsea Flower Show; and a close-up of the same plant. Below, Dianthus Star ‘Superstar’; Hemerocallis ‘Shy Tiger’; and Hosta ‘Island Breeze’




The first new plant this week is a Clematis, but it is classified as a perennial rather than a climbing vine. It comes from my friend Raymond Evison on the Island of Guernsey, and is being distributed in Canada by Valleybrook Gardens of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Abbotsford in the lower mainland British Columbia.

Bernadine Boulevard clematis (Clematis ‘Bernadine’), according to Ray Evison is an exceptional plant for small gardens or in containers—being part of the Boulevard (or Patio) collection. It bears soft silvery-lilac flowers from late spring through early fall. It is ideal for brightening up an outdoor dining area. It is hardy to zone 4 and grows to a height of 90 – 120 cm (35 – 47 in.).

The new compact clematis, comprising the seven-strong Boulevard collection, produce flowers down the stem--most clematis produce one flower a stem tip--so more blooms are on display at any given time.

Grow little Boulevard beauties such as two-tone pink Ooh La La and rich-red Picardy on a 90 cm (3ft) high obelisk in a container or border for blooms from late spring well into summer and beyond; Evison suggests prodding birch branches into soil to make a barely visible support sys-tem.

How to prune these new clematis? Simply cut back in early spring to 30 cm (12 in.) above soil level, so the plant regenerates and starts afresh each season.

Like all their relatives, they need a cool root system, so cover their bases with shallow-rooted plants or a decorative mulch when planting.

You can also use them to thread through small shrubs: Ray Evison recommends, for example, growing pale-blue Cezanne through the foliage of a deep bronze Japanese maple and encouraging the ice-pink blooms of Chantilly to enliven a purple smokebush.

My second plant new for this year is a Dianthus. Superstar Pinks dianthus (Dianthus Star ‘Super-star’) has elegant art deco patterned flowers, cherry red with white-pink patterns and a deep cherry eye, carried on sturdy stems. The blooms are slightly fragrant and the plant is a repeat bloomer. No other Dianthus boasts such rich, complex blooms! The neatly serrated, overlap-ping petals are dazzlingly painted in pure white, apple-blossom pink, and deep cherry red. Whorling like the blades of a fan, each of these five petals transitions beautifully from its dark center to its clean white picotee.

As colorfully marked as one of the butterflies they attract, these delightful 3.8 cm (1 to 1½-in.) blooms are the centerpiece of the sunny summer garden! Superstar is a charming new Dianthus offering light fragrance, bright color, generous rebloom over a long season, and the best drought tolerance of any Garden Pink! Because this Dianthus is day neutral, its bloom season keeps going on and on for as long as the weather stays warm. And thanks to its excellent drought tolerance it stays beautiful even through those hot, dry spells.

The foliage is glaucous and the plants have a unique, dense mounding habit. In Canada it should be hardy to zone 5. Your garden centre will be able to order it from Willowbrook Nurseries in Fenwick, Ontario.

The third plant this week is a Daylily. Shy Tiger daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Shy Tiger’) is said to be a beautiful summer bloomer that has fragrant flowers, in a tangerine-orange colour. The petals are slightly wavy edged salmon with a bright yellow heart. It prefers to grow in full sun to partial shade, and in a well-drained soil. The nursery suggests the plant be well watered regularly during the first part of the season in order to achieve larger flowers when it blooms.

The plant is a mid-season bloomer that grows to a height of about 60 cm (2 ft.) and average flower size is 13 cm (5 in.). The flowers are held above the shiny, dark green foliage on a plant that blooms repeatedly throughout the growing season. This is one of the best-growing and most floriferous orange daylilies for landscapes.

The final plant for this week is a new Hosta. It is called Island Breeze hosta (Hosta ‘Island Breeze’). First came ‘Fire Island’ which was followed by its variegated progeny ‘Paradise Island’. Now there is ‘Island Breeze’ which is the third member of this “tropical family” and a sport of ‘Paradise Island’. The improvements in this cultivar include more impressive variegation due to its wider margins, thicker leaf substance and a strong growth rate. Wide dark green margins stand in sharp contrast to the bright yellow centres in early spring. As summer approaches the centres become more chartreuse when plants are grown in heavier shade or lighter yellow if they are grown in more sun. Like ‘Paradise Island’, this one also has showy red speckled petioles that bleed up into the leaves.

Dark lavender flowers appear on reddish green scapes in mid-summer.

Hostas are extremely popular perennials in today’s gardens due to their versatility in the landscape. Their subtle colours, tall flower scapes and broad, course leaves fill a niche in garden de-signs that few other plants can achieve. Their large leaves provide excellent coverage for dying bulb foliage. Hostas also grow well in city environments where the air may be polluted by car exhaust, etc.

This plant is hardy to zone 3, and grows to a height of 30 cm (12 in.). Availability is through any garden centre which buys perennials from Valleybrook Gardens.

Next week about four more herbaceous perennials.


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  • Plant a Row Grow a Row