Some new perennials from Terra Nova Nurseries
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

August 26, 2018

Above, Kniphofia ‘Banana Popsickle’; Echinacea Kismet ‘Intense Orange’; and Coleus Terra Nova ‘Lovebird’. Below, Heuchera Northern Exposure ‘Black’; Penstemon Dakota ‘Burgundy’; and Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’.
All photos courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries.




All of today’s plants are new or relatively new out of Terra Nova Plants, located in Oregon. Dan Heims, the company president and chief plant guru, regularly travels around the world both looking for new plants to introduce, and giving lectures and talks to folks both trade people and ordinary gardeners interested in new herbaceous perennials. If you are ever travelling in the State of Oregon, you’ll find Terra Nova located just south of Portland on Macksburg Road. A map on the company’s Website will guide you in more detail.

The first plant I want to write about today is Kniphofia or red hot poker. The only problem with that name is that the flowers on this cultivar are a delightful yellow so the common name doesn’t mean a whole lot. The cultivar, ‘Banana Popsickle’, has lovely all-yellow flowers that continue in the summer as long as the sun shines most of the time. In other words expect this shorter version of Kniphofia to be in bloom from July to October.

Terra Novaa has several new cultivars of Echinacea as well. In fact they have an entirely new series known as Kismet. In addition to a white, their most colourful cultivar in the series (in my not-so-humble opinion) is ‘Intense Orange’ which I have shown here.

This cultivar is said to bear an amazing number of large flowers from early summer until frost. The plants themselves are strongly upright and compact. The height of the foliage is about 40 cm and the flowers are just slightly higher. The plants form a mound of 45 cm in width. One plant will easily fill one container of average size.

My third plant from Terra Nova this week is a mini Coleus known as ‘Lovebird’. Terra Nova describe the plant as “A seriously cute compact bun of a plant with fringed leaves edged in red and yellow. Use for small pots or in small mixed containers.”

These plants are self-branching and hence little extra care is required. The nursery does advise not to bury the crowns of the plants at the time of planting out.

In past reports here in writing about Heuchera I have often mentioned cultivars with dark coloured foliage, but I think the newest one from Terra Nova, simply known as ‘Black’ is perhaps the best of the bunch!

Before the new wave of hybrid Heuchera, many coral bells claimed a heritage that included only one species, H. sanguinea, the coral bells of your grandmother. Today, however, in order to give gardeners stronger, prettier plants, breeders are combining species so the newest coral bells pro-vide a mix of outstanding characteristics.

The flowers are relatively dainty on most varieties of Heuchera with a color range of whites, pinks and reds. There are a few species cultivars which have a very pale yellow tone. Foliage can vary widely from the ½” wide leaves of Heuchera pulchella to the 11? wide leaves of Heuchera vilosa. Foliage colours of the species run from greens to olives to purple veins which are prominent in winter. Terra Nova Nurseries was at the forefront of the colored foliage boom with the selection of Heuchera ‘Amber Waves’ in 2000.

Can you say Johann Heinrich von Heucher? He was an Austrian professor of medicine and botany and a friend of Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy. Linnaeus would often name plants in honor of his friends and in 1738 he did so with von Heucher. Being Austrian, his name was pronounced “Hoyker,” and, you guessed it, the plant should be pronounced “Hoy-ker-uh.” Botanical illustrations have shown the plant in different European collections of American plants which date back to 1601.

Be sure to check your annual/perennial seller next spring for H. Northern Exposure ‘Black’.

A favourite ‘old’ perennial, particularly in the U.K. was always Penstemon. There is even a specialized plant society for lovers of the genus.

Now Terra Nova have introduced a new series for 2018. The one I liked is Penstemon Dakota ‘Burgundy’.

Glossy, purple black leaves on a very hardy perennial. Lovely lavender to violet flowers in June, which are loved by hummingbirds. Shorter and more compact than 'Dark Towers' or 'Mystica'. Tough and long lived. Showy dark seed heads in fall make great cut “flowers”.

Flowers are more lavender to violet rather than pink.

Artemisia are always of interest due to their grey foliage colour to divide up other colours in the perennial border. For the last plant for today, have a look at Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’.

Artemisia Makana™ Silver makes a mounding, small shrub. It's soft, silvery foliage works great in a mixed container or in the ground. Can be used for containers, accent, or planted in mass. It can be trained as a small specimen tree. It is fast growing and needs good drainage.

Perhaps I’ll have more suggestions next week!


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