Gardeners are always improving their gardens, or at least rearranging them.  New plants get their hearts racing. “I just have to have that new whatever.” Do be a bit skeptical about new perennials. Remember “Endless Summer.” It was a spectacular failure anyplace north of Minneapolis. That being said, here are some new introductions for this summer.

Ringo shrub rose is a bright golden yellow with a red center. It looks like a nasturtium actually. It slowly fades to white with a pink center. It blooms all summer so both color combos will be on the bush at the same time. This rose is described as sturdy, disease resistant and needing little care. It’s small, 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and a zone 4 to 8. Sounds too good to be true but a nice addition if it is as described.

A new small very fragrant lilac is called Sentura Pura. She’s a semi dwarf only getting about 4 to 6 feet tall, making her perfect for a smaller yard. She blooms heavily each spring with flower buds that emerge a “mulberry violet” and open to a “clear jacaranda purple with a deep true fragrance.” I will leave you to decipher those colors. The leaves are disease free so apparently, they don’t get the downy mildew that makes our regular lilac leaves looking yukky in late summer. A nice bonus, she is a zone 2 to 8 gal.

If you like “Jack Frost” bugloss you’ll love “Jack of Diamonds” he has huge 9 to 10 inch leaves that overlap at the base. The leaves have a heavy silver overlay with a vivid, wide dark green veining pattern. He’ s a big guy, 14 to 16 inches high and up to 32 inches tall.  A perfect addition to your shade garden.

If you need a groundcover for a hot, dry spot, have I got the plant for you. “Bogie Woogie” stonecrop is a low grower with cream leaf margins that blooms yellow in the early to midsummer. It is 6 to 8 inches tall and 16 to 18 inches wide. Mixed in with her green cousins, this cream and yellow plant will stand out like a lighthouse.

If you like bee balm –(Monarda) but don’t like the mildew some of them get, there is a new addition that should make you happy. “Bee Happy” is a well-behaved, compact cerise version of “Jacob Cline.” This line is known for being mildew resistant.  She has an upright growth habit and flowers for most of the summer.  She can be used in pots or in the ground. She is especially pretty combined with chartreuse grasses or pale blue salvias.  She’s 15 to 18 inches tall and about a foot wide. She is listed as a zone 4 but Monarda are quite hardy here.

If your garden demands a small hydrangea, a new Gold Medal Plant by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society may be just the girl for you. “Haas’ Halo” is a smooth hydrangea. She has the lace-cap blooms that grow to 14 inches wide. The stems are strong and never flop over. This is a bushy, upright plant; 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. She likes full to part sun and is listed as zone 3 to 9.

For a truly hardy mum, look to the “Igloo” series. Their newest addition is “Autumn Spice Igloo.”  The color is an orange-bronze. These plants are noted for being a dense flower covered ball about 18 to 20 inches tall and wide. They have an unprecedented uniformity, blooming in late summer and early fall. You don’t have to pinch them back to encourage a short, full plant.

Next week… annuals

Bev Johnson is a Master Gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension. Her column appears in the Weekend Edition.

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