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Amsonia (aka: bluestar) are one of the best temperate genera (18 species) of blue-flowered perennials for the spring garden. We’ve offered quite a few different species and selections through the years, rotating them in and out as propagation successes allow and as sales dictate. All but two of the species, (Amsonia orientalis from Europe and Amsonia elliptica from Asia) are North American natives. Most are extremely drought tolerant, while others like Amsonia rigida and Amsonia tabernaemontana can tolerate very wet soils.

Amsonia montana is a commonly grown plant of mystery, having just appeared in horticulture, but never been documented from a wild population. A few of the amsonia species have flowers so pale blue that they appear white in the garden with only a hint of blue on the flower corolla. Amsonia are quite promiscuous in the garden, so if you grow more than one species nearby, you will have hybrids from seed. We hope you’ll explore this amazing genus of perennials.

Hit gold with Solomon’s Seal

Several of the Solomon’s Seals age gracefully, but we’re usually too busy writing catalog copy to get photos. This year, we happened to catch Polygonatum infundiflorum ‘Lemon Seoul’ all lit up in its fall fines. 

Agave Mountain Man – the big moment

We posted this a few weeks ago as our Agave ‘Mountain Man’ (A. gentryi x montana) prepared to open. We’ll, the big moment is here…below are a few shot from today.

The seed were wild-collected in Mexico in the late 1990s by our friends at Yucca Do, and our seedling was planted in May 2000, so it took 17 years to flower.  Fingers crossed for good seed set, and fortunately we have many more agaves in flower (and a tall ladder) to help the process. 

Ark, Ark…is that rain we hear?

In a matter of two days, most of our region went from abnormally dry to saturated, when an unusual weather system tracked across our area.  Not to worry…we’ve loaded two each of every plant on the green arc for safe keeping.

We tallied 5.5″ of rain at the nursery, while areas a few miles away registered almost 9 inches.  As you’ve no doubt seen on the news, areas in and around creeks and rivers are underwater.  Fortunately, we’re fine as all our time spent on water management preparation paid dividends.  

The gardens looks absolutely fabulous, so we hope to see you at our 2017 Spring Open Nursery and Garden which starts today (Friday).  We’ve prepared a special display of the new xMangaves (agave x manfreda hybrids) on the deck area, so we hope you’ll stop by and check out this amazing new category of drought-tolerant succulents for both containers and the garden.  See you soon!

A View from the top – Agave flowering soon

Look what showed up in the garden.  Our specimen of Agave ‘Mountain Man’…a hybrid of Agave montana and Agave gentryi decidied to flower for our spring open nursery and garden.  This unusual hybrid starts its flower spike in the fall, which stops for the coldest part of winter, then starts growing again in spring.  The spike showed no damage despite a winter low of 13 degrees F.  Be sure to check this out when you visit…located just behind the welcome tent. 

Baptisias: Great American Natives!

Baptisias, commonly known as false indigo, are North American native members of the pea family and quite drought tolerant once established. They provide amazing architectural form in a sunny garden or perennial border, and are deer-resistant and a butterfly magnet (See the top 25 flowers that attract butterflies here.).

image of Baptisia 'Blueberry Sundae'

Not only do baptisia come in blue, which many people are familiar with in the most common species, B. australis, but they are also available in a wide array of colors such as white, yellow, purple, and pink, and new breeding efforts are producing bicolor flowers such as those of Lunar Eclipse.

Baptisias have long been one of our favorite groups of sun perennials here at PDN. Through our trials of new varieties introduced  to the market, as well as our own breeding program, we continue to select for improved structure and habit as well as flower color. In 2017, we have introduced 2 new varieties in our Tower Series, Yellow Towers and Ivory Towers. These join our previous introduction, Blue Towers, all having a vigorous upright habit to 4.5-5′, terminating in 18-20″ spikes of flowers, true show-stoppers in the garden.

image of Baptisia 'Yellow Towers'

Baptisia ‘Yellow Towers’

Due to high demand, we quickly sold out of finished stock of Ivory Towers, but don’t fret, we have another crop coming along and they should be ready just in time for our Spring Open Nursery & Garden Days April 28-30 and May 5-7. And be sure to join us on Sunday May 7 at 2pm for our Gardening Unplugged garden chat series, where Tony will be talking about baptisias. You can also read Tony’s more in depth article about baptisias, here.

Winter Gems for the Garden!

Hellebores are the gems of the winter woodland garden. Hellebores, also known as lenten rose, come in a wide range colors and flower forms, they are deer resistant and drought tolerant once established.

picture of Helleborus Confetti Cake

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Confetti Cake’

This year we are pleased to offer many new hellebore hybrids from the breeding work of Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens.

picture of Helleborus Blushing Bridesmaid

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Blushing Bridesmaid’

We are continuing to add new hellebores to our website monthly, including selections from our own breeding. Be sure to visit during our annual Winter Open Nursery and Garden, Feb. 24-26 and March 3-5, to enjoy the many hellebores blooming in the gardens as well as selecting a few gems for your own.

picture of Helleborus Pippa's Purple

Helleborus ‘Pippa’s Purple’ in the sales house with close-up of flower.

pictures of Hellebores being released soon

Hellebores that will be released for sale shortly – Rose Quartz, Golden Lotus, and French Kiss

The Marvels of Nature!

So what do you get when you cross Manfreda and an Agave?

Wait!!  Is that even possible?

It is!!  And, voila… we present… x Mangave!

x Mangave is an intergeneric hybrid combining the leaf spotting and perennial flowering nature of Manfreda and the leaf spines and evergreen nature (above freezing) of Agave. Like both parents, x Mangave is drought tolerant and has an aversion to winter moisture. In areas where x Mangave is not winter hardy, it makes a great container specimen.

picture of x Mangave Pineapple Express-garden

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ in the garden

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ is a 2016 introduction from Walters Gardens with fleshy, olive green leaves heavily spotted with purple. Pineapple Express will form a rosette 18″ tall x 24″ wide. Above is Pineapple Express in the garden and below is Pineapple Express in our sales house.

We have an exciting array on new varieties of x Mangaves in production with varying leaf shapes and variegation patterns, so be sure to look for them in the future. If you are not already growing x Mangave be sure to check out these horticultural gems.

picture of x Mangave Pineapple Express-sales

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ for sale in our sales house

Agaves and Mangaves

Agave victoriae-reginae PDN018 winter before flowering

We are very excited to see that we have at least 9 agaves so far that will be flowering in 2016.  Above is a recent photo of Agave victoriae-reginae where you can see the bud forming in the center where the leaves have become reduced in size.  While we lose the agaves after flowering, we are able to make crosses and create more new and unqiue agaves.  We also share pollen with plant breeder Hans Hansen, who crosses them with manfredas to create some amazing mangaves as pictured below, which we are pleased to introduce for 2016

x Mangave Kaleidoscope - Jaguar with cream edge WG285-9 at Walters(64484)

Mangave ‘Kaleidoscope’ makes a superb container plant where it isn’t hardy in the ground.  It should be fine outdoors from Zone 7b south.

xMangave Moonglow (M. Bloodspot x M. Choc Chip x )(Walters)(64486)

Mangave ‘Moonglow‘ with its large dark purple spots is the smallest of the three. The foliage of all is incredible pliable unlike most agaves.

xMangave Pineapple Express at Walters4(64487)A third introduction for 2016 is Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’…the fastest growing of these three.  These will fill out a container in no time and are great for summer patio containers.

 

 

 

Bluebell Giants – Our new agave hybrids

Agave x protoamericana 45-79 in spike

Agave x protoamericana

 

Agave Belleville3

 

Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Bellville’

One of the fun projects our JLBG research division has been working on for several years is breeding for winter hardy century plants. One of our latest crosses is between the two plants pictured above, Agave x protoamericana (blue) and Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Bellville’ (green).  These are the two largest agaves that are winter hardy for us, and we were able to cross them in 2014.  We are offering seed grown offspring while they last under the name Agave ‘Bluebell Giants’.  In most cases, our other hybrid agaves are larger and more vigorous than the parents, which in this cases could be HUGE!   These seed-grown plants have now filled our 1 qt pots and we’ll be planting our first plants in the garden in spring.  If you like giant agave and love to experiment along with us, don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.