By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries
After a year like 2020, it is good to have joy in any form! Terra Nova Nurseries comes to the rescue with four home-bred beauties and a Siberian Bugloss from guest breeder, Steve Lesch. Terra Nova’s employees are fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest. The winters are short, and snow rarely falls. But, there are months of oppressive wet weather with gray skies and no sunbreaks for weeks. Despite the rainy and gray weather, it is in these weeks that garden saunters can result in the discovery that truly brings joy and color to a dystopian palette.
Brunnera ‘Diane's Gold’ begins her yearly growth with bright blue forget-me-not flowers, followed by foliage of golden yellow hearts. Corydalis 'Canary Feathers' (a match for one of the new Pantone™ Colors of the Year) fires up brilliant gold spikes of flowers over lacy blue-gray foliage. Helleborus 'Honeyhill Joy' sends early spikes of white flowers over thick leaves. Pulmonaria 'Moonshine' feeds early pollinators from its dusky-blue blooms over highly silvered, compact foliage, and Tiarella 'Spring Symphony' delights with lacy pink flowers over palmate leaves. All five joyful plants provide pollinators food over the early weeks of spring when it is most appreciated; the local Anna’s hummingbird delights in the earliest flowers from the pulmonaria as it overwinters in Oregon.
Brunnera ‘Diane's Gold’
This is the first chartreuse foliaged brunnera that holds its color all summer. Breeder Steve Lesch found this amazing seedling in his friend Diane's garden and honored her with the plant’s moniker. Brunnera ‘Diane’s Gold’ has been stable and vigorous for years, and you will be impressed with how evenly it holds its chartreuse color through the summer. It looks equally good in the shade border or nursery container, and it is also showy with its very early sky-blue forget-me-not flowers in April. Brunnera are quite hardy in U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 4-9. This plant can get up to 12” tall and spread to 24” wide when mature.
Talk about flower-power! Corydalis ‘Canary Feathers’ is Terra Nova’s showiest, most vigorous and heat-tolerant corydalis introduced to date, and it is a blooming machine in pots or in the garden. This hybrid is tolerant of partial sun and is a great highlight in shady spots. Additionally, Corydalis ‘Canary Feathers’ combines well with Terra Nova’s silver-leaved heuchera and pulmonaria. This fantastic container plant blooms so long that early frosts can cut its life short, so some protection may be needed. It prefers moist, well-drained soils in U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 6-9. This gem grows 9” tall by 12” wide and is a great pollinator plant.
This hybrid from Honeyhill Farms is exceptional for its quantities of large, outfacing, cream-centered, white flowers over vigorous, shiny, blue-tinged foliage. Plant Helleborus 'Honeyhill Joy' to enjoy the remarkably early two-month long show of marvelous, late winter blooms. This variety’s foliage is exceptionally weather-resistant, almost like plastic, and it blooms early (after its first winter) in a 4″ pot! Helleborus ‘Honeyhill Joy’ is 2’ tall in full bloom and spreads to a 28” wide clump. In the Terra Nova Garden, there are clumps that are 15 years old! It is a nigercors hybrid hardy to U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 4-9.
One of the big problems with some pulmonaria is that late spring winds batter the foliage. But, that is not the case with Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’! It is Terra Nova’s flashiest pulmonaria with great garden vigor, compact growth habit and mildew-resistance. Shimmering silver-white leaves are rounded with a thin edge of darkest green on this variety. Heat and humidity tolerance make Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’ a good choice for the South, and it is one of the favorites of the entire Terra Nova breeding team! Pulmonaria are tolerant of wet soils and are easy in the average garden. A mature plant will grow to 20” wide and it prefers full to partial shade. Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’ is hardy in U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 4-9.
If you are ever in Delaware, plan on visiting the Mt. Cuba Center, where you can see wild tiarella, heuchera and phlox over acres of woodland. It is breathtaking in the spring! Terra Nova’s Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ is a select hybrid that is a smooth melody of compact foliage with leaves “painted” with black along the mid-rib. Profuse, light pink flowers of Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ reach their crescendo in mid-spring. The lightly scented flowers (almost cologne-like) are an important food source for early pollinators. This plant is hardy in U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 4-9, and it forms mounds 10” tall and wide. Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ typically blooms from May to June.
Dan Heims is a published author of two books and lectures around the world. In 2003 he won the Reginald Cory Memorial Cup from the Royal Horticultural Society. He was awarded the Award of Merit by the Perennial Plant Association in 2019, and the Luther Burbank Award by the American Horticultural Society in 2020.
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