Plant Select, a collaborative effort between Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and regional and national horticultural professionals, is pleased to announce seven new plants to be promoted for 2011.
Colorado desert blue star is a widely adaptable Western native which thrives in ordinary gardens or unwatered xeriscapes. Sapphire blue star flowers appear from April to early summer, and the autumn foliage is a beautiful, clear yellow. This perennial plant grows 10-14 inches tall and 12-15 inches wide. It prefers full sun and well-drained soils, and is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet).
Blonde Ambition blue grama grass is a first-of-its-kind, highly ornamental selection of Western native grass with tall, upright stems. Showy chartreuse, aging-to-blonde seed heads hold their straight shape and are displayed high above the foliage through winter, providing many months of color and texture. Developed by David Salman of High Country Gardens, this new grass is being co-introduced nationally with Plant Select. Blonde Ambition grows 30-36 inches tall and wide. Blooming July to October, it prefers full sun to partial shade in moderate to dry soils and tolerates a wide range of soil types. This hardy native will grow in USDA zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet).
Golden Storksbill is a long-lived, easy-to-grow, adaptable perennial with silvery mounds of evergreen, ferny foliage. Fragrant, soft yellow, geranium-like flowers appear from early spring through late summer. Golden storksbill grows 8-10 inches tall and 10-25 inches wide, and tolerates a wide range of moisture conditions – from moderate to xeric – in USDA zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet). This adaptable plant grows well in full sun to part shade and in loamy, sandy or gravelly soils.
Avalanche white sun daisy is an all-new, extremely cold-hardy perennial. Its dazzling white flowers with metallic backing are produced from April through summer over glistening mats of lustrous, nearly succulent, evergreen foliage. It has greater disease resistance and heavier summer bloom than other hardy sun daisies. Large blossoms close at night to reveal a metallic reverse of the ray flowers. Avalanche sun daisy grows 8-12 inches tall and 10-15 inches wide in full sun to partial shade in sandy, clay or loam soils. This spectacular addition to the sunny border or xeriscape is hardy for gardens and landscapes in USDA zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet).
Grand Mesa beardtongue has stunning cobalt blue spikes in early spring which last for nearly two months. Its dense mats of evergreen rosettes turn a lovely orange-red in winter. This close cousin to ‘Bandera’ blooms almost a month earlier, extending the season of garden-worthy blue penstemons. Grand Mesa beardtongue is found only in Western Colorado in the wild but grows well in sunny, moderate-to-dry gardens and landscapes in USDA zones 3-9 (up to 9,000 feet). Grand Mesa beardtongue grows 24-30 inches tall and 10-15 inches wide, blooming April to June, and is adaptable to loamy, sandy or clay soils.
Baby blue rabbitbrush is a dwarf form of rabbitbrush which occur everywhere in the West, but this compact, dome-like strain found along the Front Range is especially dense and silvery-blue with bright golden flowers in late summer and fall. This indispensible and indestructible native offers multi-season interest, growing 16-28 inches tall, 20-30 inches wide and blooming September through November. Baby blue rabbitbrush prefers full sun to part shade in sandy, clay or loam soils. Once established, it will need no additional moisture, but can tolerate moderate water conditions as well. Hardy in USDA zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet).
Russian hawthorn is another gem which traces its origins in American horticulture to the Cheyenne Experiment Station. This nearly perfect small tree has gorgeous bark and deep green, ferny foliage. White flowers appear in April and May, followed by glistening red fruit in fall and brilliant, gold fall color. Russian hawthorn grows 12-24 feet tall and 6-12 feet wide and tolerates a wide range of light (full sun to part shade), moisture (moderate to xeric) and soil (sandy, clay or loam) conditions. Hardy to USDA zones 4-9 (up to 8,000 feet). Russian hawthorn is an underutilized tree, although it has been treasured by keen gardeners in the Front Range for many years.
The mission of Plant Select is to seek out and distribute the best plants for landscapes from the High Plains to the Intermountain region and beyond. To be included in the program, selected plants should:
• Thrive in a broad range of garden situations in the Rocky Mountain region
• Be resilient to the region’s challenging climate
• Exemplify the unique
• Demonstrate disease and insect resistance
• Flourish in low water conditions
• Display a long season of beauty in the garden
• Ensure noninvasiveness
For more information, go to www.plantselect.org. To view and download high resolution images of the 2011 Plant Select offerings, go to www.plantselect.org, click on “Press Area” then enter the case-sensitive password, “salvia.” The photos are under “2011 images.” Please credit Plant Select for all images used.
Most of these plants will be available at local nurseries or garden centers for this growing season.