There is no disputing the fact that we have a very difficult climate. What is hardy in the Twin Cities may or may not be here. Yes, we did warm up, putting us in a warmer zone, 4A, a change of 3 whole degrees. It is still a good idea to plant zone 3 plants, just to be sure. Perennials, after all, are never cheap. With that in mind, here are a few new releases the plant wizards have developed for the 2014 planting year.
If you need fall color, Sweet Summer Love clematis could be just the thing. It starts blooming earlier and longer than other autumn clematis. It is not only easy to grow but is also deer resistant. It is described as having cranberry-violet colored blooms, grows 10 feet tall and likes full sun. Another zone 4 plant.
If you need a small shrub, try Tiny Wine Ninebark. This native dwarf is only 3 to 4 feet tall. The foliage is dark bronze-maroon and extra bushy with small leaves. It has very showy white flowers in late spring. This would look great against a light colored house. It will grow in any zone from 3 to 8.
If you like flag iris, you will like a native iris found on an old farmstead in Nebraska. It’s listed as a zone 4 even though Nebraska is probably in zone 5. She blooms in early June. The lower petals or falls are two-toned with a pink-lavender crest with dark blue veining and a bright yellow spot. The uprights are a royal blue. It is quite tall, 36 to 40 inches, and 18 inches wide.
Not a new plant but one that shade gardeners need to look at is the valentine bleeding heart Hordival. It is small, 2 feet wide and high. The leaves are a gray-purple, the blooms a bright red and sparkling white. It will grow in full or partial shade and will do well in zones 3 to 9.
If you think arborvitae are boring, look for Fire Chief globe arborvitae. The red tipped foliage is brightest in spring and fall. It is naturally rounded so needs little pruning and at 4 X 4 feet tall and wide will fit in those small spaces. It is a zone 4 shrub and wants full sun
Bailey’s nursery has heard from northern gardeners who travel south in the spring complain that we don’t have any hardy magnolia trees. Their Dr. Dirr has bred one he calls Centennial Blush. It’s a small tree, 12 to 18 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide. It is bud and bloom hardy in zone 4, a very important trait as we can get late frosts. Pink buds open to fragrant double flowers in early spring. This is a star magnolia. If you want the saucer types, you will have to move south.
Not all of these plants will be available everywhere, but who knows, they may be. Just keep looking.