Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

Power Plants (page 3 of 4)

by Barbara Pleasant

Wonderful Woody Plants

The worth of a long-lived shrub or tree cannot be decided overnight. It might take 10 years to appraise a shrub, up to 50 years for a tree. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and various state programs are not afraid of this challenge. Colorado's Plant Select program is spotlighting two low-water-use shrubs: 'Pawnee Buttes' sand cherry (Prunus besseyi) and 'Spanish Gold' broom (Cytisus purgans). Oakleaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) including 'Pink Diamond' (2000 Arkansas Select) and 'Alice' (2000 Georgia Gold) are big winners for the South and East.

I'm always excited to learn of a shrub that does a lot of different things. A great example is 'Brilliantissima' red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), a PHS 2000 Gold Medal winner. This multistemmed deciduous shrub grows into a 6- to 8-foot-tall upright clump and shows plump red buds in late winter, white flowers in spring, lustrous green leaves through summer, bright red foliage in fall, and red berries that persist through winter until the birds eat them. It's adapted from zones 4 through 9 and is recommended for mass planting, but a trio of these with a skirt of bluebeard (Caryopteris clandonensis) around their bases could be just the thing to anchor a neglected corner of my yard.

If you are entranced by birches and other trees with peeling bark, visit an arboretum that has aPersian parrotia (P. persica), also known as Persian ironwood. This PHS gold winner has been around long enough to have reached its full 30- to 40-foot height in botanical gardens and arboretums from New England to California. The Missouri Botanical Garden reports, "Persian parrotia's showiest feature is the colorful flaking bark on its sinewy trunk and branches."

The venerable white oak is on this year's PHS list. I already have one, so I'm taking a tip from the Georgia Gold and Mississippi Medallion programs and making 'Little Gem' magnolia my millenium tree.

People's Plant Awards

Several plant societies give awards to outstanding plants, while others publish lists of members' favorite varieties. Look for top picks at these Web sites:

All-America Rose Selections

American Hemerocallis Society winners

American Iris Society most popular irises

American Rose Society members' favorite roses

Hosta of the Year and other hosta information

Other plant and gardening organizations

Not all of the winners listed in this article have made it to the Web, but these links give detailed descriptions of many competitive programs.

Colorado State University, Best Annuals for 1999

Louisiana Select Plants, 1996-99

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Gold Medal Awards 1993-99

North Carolina State University Annuals Trials

Plants Promoted in Southeastern United States, 1996-2000 (combined list)

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