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Four New Hydrangeas, Clematis, Caryopteris & Box

Four new hydrangeas many gardeners will ‘die for’, a new Clematis Jackmanii and Caryopteris plus do you know sweet box!
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 21, 2010

Above, two new pink/red hydrangeas for next year: Endless Summer® Bella Anna™ and First Editions® Vanilla Strawberry™ plus a couple of shots of what our street-side and water-side gardens looked like when we awoke on Saturday morning. [It was melting fast!] Below, the new Blue Balloon® bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and two shots of Sarcococca humilis, the lower one I took in our garden here in the fall when the sweet box (in the lower left corner) was displaying its berries.

Perhaps it is too early for you to think about next year’s garden, but that is what I have for you this week. Some ideas for new plants for your, or a friend’s garden next year!

In recent years there seems to be a deluge of new, reasonably hardy, vary-coloured Hydrangea shrubs being of-fered on the Canadian and U.S. gardening markets. Next year will be no exception.

First we had the hardy Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer that bloomed on both new and old wood, which allowed blue-coloured flowers (or pink-coloured depending on whether the soil was alkaline or acid) to grow in much colder climates (at least to Ottawa) than the previous plants that bloomed only on old wood. Since the buds would get frozen in the winter, these older plants did not bloom in areas colder than southern Ontario, if even there.

The Endless Summer plant was a true breakthrough. Since then, Endless Summer Blushing Bride that starts out white and then turns to a light pink has been introduced, and now Endless Summer Bella AnnaTM will be welcomed in garden centres in the spring of 2011. It is actually a cultivar of the ever-so-common, and hardy, Hydrangea arborescens which you may well have growing in your garden now. It is the one that I always recommend cutting down close to the ground early each spring. The flowers heretofore have been greenish in colour as they come out, eventually changing to almost pure white.

This new one has strong, upright stems that support the weight of the colourful and long-lasting pink blooms. It was developed by the very well known horticulturist, Dr. Michael Dirr, a much admired book author now work-ing out of Georgia in the US. Endless Summer Bella Anna promises to be a popular new plant next year so if you want one for your or a friend’s garden, ordering it now would not likely be too early!

There are at least four other new hydrangeas also coming next spring.

One of the most impressive of these to me is a Hydrangea macrophylla called Guilded Gold that should be hardy to zone 5--meaning again Ottawa and Montreal. Even when it is not in flower it’s slightly variegated leaves have a green centre surrounded by a golden edge that gives a nice, but not overwhelming, contrast. It produces dainty blue and white lace cap flowers on a 90 to 120 cm (3 - 4’) plant (in both height and width). This one prefers partial shade or just morning sun with moist, well-drained soil and is generally a care-free maintenance plant.

Yet another new hydrangea is one called Double Delight Expression. It is a re-blooming plant with double pink to blue mop head flowers. The developer says removing the faded blooms encourages re-blooming.

It blooms from June until frost and is also hardy to zone 5.

Still another new hydrangea, again one of the well-known H. paniculata types, is known as First Editions® Va-nilla Strawberry™ hydrangea. The pointed-head flower clusters (just like the well-known PG Hydrangea) start out creamy vanilla-white, but change to a soft pink, and then finally to a ripe strawberry red. Apparently the red colour lasts for three to four weeks and new blooms keep the multi-coloured flowering going throughout the summer and into the early fall. This one likes full sun, and again like the PG, will easily grow to 180 cm (6’) tall.

New large-flowering Clematis vines are certainly not unusual as new plants are introduced by a number of growers and hybridizers each year. For this year, there is an unusual sport or variation or the most-common C. Jackmanii species--it’s called ‘Tie Dye’ Clematis. The same violet-purple flowers are present but they all have a white marbling throughout the petals. Like its namesake it is a vigorous grower and profuse flower-bearer. No doubt it will be popular.

Not any great number of gardeners grow the plant Caryopteris x clandonensis, often called bluebeard. The plant is not new, but there is a new cultivar available for next year. It is called Blue Balloon® bluebeard. The growth habit of this new cultivar is spherical, somewhat resembling a balloon, and thus its name. The dark blue flowers appear in August and September and are attractive to butterflies. The somewhat fragrant foliage is dark green above with silver hairs on the undersides.

This deciduous shrub is considered hardy to zone 6, and prefers to grow in a well-drained soil, and in full sun. The nursery suggests it will be best to cut back the foliage of these plants each spring which encourages strong, new branches that will form the interesting shape, and abundant flowering.

My final plant recommendations for this week are two new sarcococca cultivars. First, I always preface any discussion of the evergreen shrub sarcococca (Sarcococca humilis) with an apology that there really is not a good common name except perhaps “Sweet Box” probably due to the fact that some consider the foliage to look a little like box (Buxus) evergreen shrubs (and they are in the same plant family). And, the flowers the shrub bears in very early spring (anywhere from Christmas to early February, depending on the weather) are highly fragrant.

Now, as to the two new cultivars, they are known as Fragrant Valley™ and Fragrant Mountain™. The former has longer and narrower leaves than the older straight species, and the latter has slightly wider, glossier leaves. They both bloom extremely early in the season. Unfortunately, though the introducing nursery (Sidhu and Sons) in Mission, B.C. say the plants are hardy in zone 6, I was never able to grow them in Toronto, but they certainly do grow here in B.C. However, two years ago when we had a “heavy winter” even here on Vancouver Island, our plants were damaged, but did slowly regain their good looks!

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