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Plants? Yeah, WeХve Got A Guy For That

Editor’s Note: Landscape Architect Business (LAB) welcomes Jesse Hensen of Eason Horticultural Resources Inc., as its new Horticulture Columnist. As you design outdoor areas, landmarks, and structures, I hope you’ll look to Jesse for insider know-how. After all, everyone has “a guy” … Consider Jesse your guy for all-things horticultural.

Burgundy Fireworks. Photo by Jesse Hensen

This is my first contribution as the new horticultural columnist for Landscape Architect Business ( LAB) , and I am excited to be here!

I’d like to share more about myself. I have more than 30 years of experience in horticulture, from working in and managing garden centers, to working with and selling for wholesale growers, and now, as a vendor-relations manager for a horticultural brokerage company. I love plants, and most of my friends describe me as a “plant geek” or a “hortaholic,” loving all plants, pretty or not.

In writing this column, I’ll discuss all types of plants: the new, the unusual, the underused, or, sometimes, the ones I simply like.

Fall is a great time for planting and learning more about the trending perennials for the coming year.

Coneflowers --a staple in the landscape--are one of the bestselling genera in the perennial world today. Because hundreds of new echinaceas and rudbeckias have been introduced over the last several years, it’s hard to imagine anything truly outstanding in new varieties.

That is, until I saw Burgundy Fireworks being introduced by Chicagoland Grows, a program promoting the use of new plant cultivars well-adapted to Upper Midwest growing conditions ( www.chicagolandgrows.org ).

This unusual selection is a cross between three species of native echinaceas: E. laevigata , purpurea , and tennesseensis , and has deep, beet-red ray flowers with quilled petals.

It is more compact than most of the coneflowers on the market--only growing 18 inches tall. Its strong, sturdy stems hold the beautiful flowers well above the foliage.

With its short, compact habit, Burgundy Fireworks can be used in a wide variety of applications throughout a landscape, whether as a mixed border or in masses. The vibrant flower also makes for a delightful contained specimen.

It has proven to be stable in four years of field evaluations, so grow it with confidence. It is vigorous and strong, growing in full-sun locations, and hardy in zones 5-7.

Goldfinch, another splendid new addition, is a bright, lemon-yellow-flowered shasta daisy from Terra Nova Nurseries ( www.terranovanurseries.com ).

Goldfinch. Photo by Jesse Hensen

White-flowered shasta daisies are Native American plants that have become garden staples because they are easy to grow, are not susceptible to disease or insect problems, and provide excellent color over a significant portion of the summer.

Although there have been several yellow-flowered introductions over the last few years, Goldfinch is being hailed as the yellowest form to date.

This all-summer blooming selection has large, semi-double flowers above attractive mounds of deep-green foliage. As the flowers mature, they slowly and gracefully change from bright lemon-yellow to an ivory-white.

Goldfinch has a tidy, compact habit, growing only 20 to 24 inches tall, making it a perfect companion in a sunny border garden. With its size, color, and long bloom time, it is an excellent addition to mixed containers.

Goldfinch should be grown in full-sun for best performance, and in hardy zones 5-8.

This is just a sneak peek into some of the exciting new perennials coming to nurseries and garden centers in 2013. Plant breeders are constantly trying to find new and improved forms of plants that give longer bloom time, better habits, more disease resistance, and broader range of application.

Jesse Hensen is the Vendor Relations/Customer Service Manager for Eason Horticultural Resources, a wholesale plant broker company. He can be reached at 859-578-3535 or via email at jhensen@ehrnet.com .

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