Five new herbaceous perennials for your 2018 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

November 19, 2017

Above, Cephalanthus occidentalis is native in at least two provinces; ‘Ritzy Ruby’ Yarrow; Dianthus hybrid ‘Mountain Frost Pink PomPon’ has a very long name! Below, Armeria pseudarmeria is in a new Dreameria series originally from Australia; and a new series of Verbena (Endurascape). Photos by the introducers.





Two travelogues is surely enough for one month! So, this week I’ll get back to plants. And, as I have done most years I’ll present a summary of some of the new plants that are expected to be available to Canadian gardeners beginning next spring as presented by the trade magazine Landscape Trades in their October 2017 issue.

I’ll start with herbaceous perennials, and in that group, with one that hardly anyone knows, although it is native in parts of Ontario and Nova Scotia. Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘Bailoptics’, or Buttonbush’ has creamy white compact flowers. Buttonbush is a common shrub of many wet-land habitats in its range, including swamps, floodplains, mangrove, riparian zones, and moist forest understory. It is a member of the flora in the Everglades.

It truly is an unusual flower which just may be the reason many gardeners will choose to add it to their perennial gardens next year.

Achillea millefolium ‘Ritzy Ruby’ is my second suggestion. It is described as a naturally compact Yarrow whose flowers start out ruby-red in colour and then conclude by turning pink. It blooms earlier than other Achillea varieties, starting in late May or early June. It has a mounding habit up to about 25-35 cm (10-14”) height and width. Preferring full sun positions in the gar-den, this newcomer will do well in a garden border, or in containers.

A new Dianthus is also among the new introductions for next year. Dianthus hybrid ‘Mountain Frost Pink Pompon’ is its name. It is one of six cultivars being introduced, all of which but one are of a similar pink colour. The “odd man out” is white in colour. The plants attract Butterflies, are drought tolerant, have fragrant flowers, offer low maintenance, and are frost tolerant.

Delightful double rose-pink flowers provide a lovely burst of color in early spring followed by continual blooming until autumn. The tidy mounded habit keeps the plants neat and virtually maintenance-free in the garden. The producers say to plant in a sunny border or rock-garden location.

Water to establish plants, then only as needed under drought conditions. Removing old flower stems will keep the plants looking fresh and tidy, and will encourage more flowers.

There is to be a new and improved Verbena available come spring here in Canada. It is Verbena peruviana ‘Balendluim’. The one shown here is just one of eight colour selections available in what are known as the Endurascape series. It apparently does not matter what type of weather your garden has as this series is both hardy on the hottest days of summer as well as being able to withstand cold spring nights.

The flowers themselves have been improved particularly with better centre flower fill. The plants grow to a height of 20-30 cm (8-12”) tall and 46-61 cm (18-24”) wide. Yet another improvement is the plants have a more upright habit. You are advised to fertilize the plants about every two weeks.

The developers say the plants have excellent powdery mildew resistance.

One of my favourite herbaceous perennials over the years has been Thrift (Armeria)—with their tufts of grass-like foliage and pink-lavender flowers in early spring and sometimes also in the late fall. Now that has all changed with the introduction of the new Dreameria series (originally from Australia). Dreameria moves the genus from strictly early-Spring and late-Fall, cool-season perennial to season-long flowering! The tidy habit is perfect for patios and gardens.

This beautiful break-through in Armeria breeding provides frost-to-frost flowering in containers or in the garden. Very heat tolerant and easy to grow. Remove old flowers once a month for best performance.

The plants have an average height and width of just 25-30 cm (10-12”). They are somewhat frost tolerant, attract butterflies and are heat tolerant. I think we should consider this a major breakthrough in plant breeding and everyone should be planting some of the new Thrift!

Next week I’ll have more on new herbaceous perennials including a new Salvia nemorosa called ‘Rose Marvel’, a new Rose Mallow (Hibiscus), and a new daylily (Hemerocallis) called ‘Spacecoast Freaky Tiki’.



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