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In the Garden: Noteworthy perennials for 2014

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 like the color of the redbud tree, a bright fuchsia, you will love the new crabapple Showtime, official name, Malus Shotizam. It is described as having the most prolific fuchsia-red flowers of any crab on the current market – they are practically fluorescent. It is a small tree, about 25 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide.  After the spring show of flowers, it leafs out in dark green leaves with a red overcast.  The small apples are just the right size to feed the Robins and Cedar Waxwings in the fall. It is rated hardy to zone 4 and more disease resistant than the popular red flowering Prairifire crab.

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.

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