Three more new plants for your garden next year
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

September 23, 2018

Above, Digiplexis Illumination Flame. Below, Agastache Kudos red; and Geum Pretticoats ‘Peach’.
Photos courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries.




Since we are getting on to the end of September, I thought I would write about three new plants that did not get included in the last item on this topic on August 26.

The first one is a relatively new plant—Digiplexis Illumination Flame—which actually comes in a number of flower colours

This outstanding hybrid is the result of breeding between Digitalis (Foxglove) and a Digitalis relative from the Canary Islands, Isoplexis. Masses of beautiful tubular flowers appear over a long period on tall stems in red to orange shades with yellow throats, very much resembling living flames. Attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Definitely worth growing as an annual farther north. Won Plant of the Year at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show and Greenhouse Grower’s 2013 Award of Excellence.

The result of this cross has taken the horticultural world by storm – a breathtaking (by all accounts) combination of the orangeish-apricot flowers of isoplexis with the pinks of foxglove. The variety is called ‘Illumination Flame” Its height averages 85 – 90 cm (33 – 35 inches), and it can be in bloom from late spring through to early fall. In fact, this cross was thought to be impossible but was accomplished after six years of work.

‘Illumination Flame’ was bred by Charles Valin at Thompson & Morgan in the United Kingdom and is a cross between digitalis and the Mediterranean shrub isoplexis. The ground-breaking new hybrid resulted in a well basal branched, vigorous, beautifully colored and long blooming foxglove.

The real breeding breakthrough is unlike digitalis, which bloom for a few weeks, digiplexis flowers for several months. Flowering begins in the mid spring and continues throughout the summer and until the first hard frost. Digiplexis grows numerous spikes with, as its name implies, flame colored sterile blossoms. The two-inch tubular, hooded flowers have rich fuchsia-pink tones on the outside, while the inside of the blooms transition from fuchsia pink to golden apricot throats streaked with lavender spots.

The flower spikes are similar in shape to foxglove, and the plant is reported to have multiple bloom spikes. This is my first growing season with this plant, and it will be a learning experience for us all. I am hoping that, because of the heat loving isoplexis genes, it will last longer into the summer for us. It would be best to site it in a spot that receives some afternoon shade to ensure it lasts as long as possible. The plant is sterile, so it won’t seed; but reportedly the bees and butterflies are still attracted to it. And, even though the tag claims it is a perennial, I will be labeling it an annual until it proves itself as carrying through an entire summer and winter here.

Some of you are bound to ask where can you get this new plant. And, I cannot tell you that right now. I suggest you ask your favourite garden centre to order dome for you from their wholesaler. I happened to find the one I have on sale in our Quality Foods grocery store just a week ago.

The other two plants I am going to write about this week come from Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon which I wrote about in detail on August 26 here.

The first is an Agastache in the Kudos series—specifically the Red cultivar. Finally a red that is really red in full sun! You will appreciate this dwarf, well-branched plant with its “so-bright” red flowers. Great re-blooming flower clusters. Loved by butterflies and hummingbirds.

The best red flowering Agastache for large flowers, shorter habit, good branching, good flower size and excellent colour.

The original goal of the nursery was to breed a genetically dwarf, well branched series of Agastache that did not require a pot crop. Done and done! But what we didn’t know we were getting was a series of very unique, super hardy Agastache that is nearly impervious to Downy Mildew (the worst foliage disease for Agastache, especially in humid climates). Garden trials all over the U.S. have confirmed it; Kudos™ Agastache are a game changer. Terra Nova Kudos all have pleasant fragrances and are amazing attractors of pollinating insects, too – always a good thing!

Pretticoats Peach re-blooms all summer. Airy, semi-double, peach flowers in abundance cover this fresh, easy to grow perennial. Amazingly green leaves with a compact habit make it perfect in a pot or in a border. It has a better habit and longer blooming than other hybrids. Shorter flower height. holds the flowers to the side rather than down.

It must be noted that geums will do well across USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. Though these plants are easy to care for, there can be issues if the growing conditions are not suitable. Look out for signs of damage. Geums can get affected by spider mites, leaf spots, mildew, root rot, etc. So, if you are really keen on growing this plant, do provide it with the ideal conditions it needs for proper growth. Here's what you need to do.

Bloom time is from April through to September. This plant will thrive in regions with full sun. Full sun will promote flowering. However, it will also grow well if it is kept in an area where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. For regions with hot and humid climate, it would be best to provide afternoon shade.


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