New plants on trial: Top Shrub – Physocarpus Coppertina
New plants on trial: Top Perennial – Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’

New plants on trial: Shrubs and climbers

Schizophragmamoonlight Although I thought Physocarpus Coppertina was the most promising of last year’s trial shrubs and vines, as I discussed in yesterday's post, the first year of some other newcomers was also very encouraging.

The pretty silvered Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight’ is planted to climb an oak tree, just as these self-clinging plants do in the wild; it grew away well last year, sailed through the winter, and is now setting off further up the tree, where it’s areial roots grip without much help, and across the nearby soil. The foliage turns an attractive yellow in the fall. Two true climbing hydrangeas,ne forms of Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris made a much slower start, and ‘Firefly’ which is supposed to be variegated seems to have discouragingly plain green leaves; perhaps the color will develop later.

The other plant that shows real promise is Deutzia ‘Chardonney Pearls’ (not Chardonnay?). With soft limey yellow foliage, ageing to pale green, and upright clusters of white flowers, this yellow-leaved sport of  D. gracilis appeared at Michigan’s Spring Meadow Nursery (wholesale only, sorry). It’s in bud now; will it open before we leave for the Chelsea Flower Show in a few days time?

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’ (which even has its own website) was cut back a little in winter but is now growing away well and I’ll be moving it early next spring to a place where its yellow foliage can light up the woodland. This looks very encouraging. H. aborescens White Dome also grew away strongly last year, and it’s off to a flying start this spring – it’s made more growth than any other shrub so far. This too will have to go out in the woodland garden I think. Neither have yet flowered.Hydrangealittlehoney

I also tried some Forever and Ever repeat-flowering hydrangeas (which also have their own website); they were cut back to the ground and while some are now growing away slowly, some are not. I’ll report after this season.

Both my plants of the variegated Weigela ‘My Monet’ have come through the winter unscathed, just a little dieback, and are slowly pushing out fresh new variegated foliage; I need to see the flowers against the foliage to really make an assessment and as the flowers come on the previous year’s growth it will be next year before I can give a clear view. The same applies to the dark leaved ‘Fine Wine’ although this is of course more vigorous and has made a much more substantial plant in its first year; it may flower – I’ll probably be away at Chelsea.

Cornusarcticfire500 Two dogwoods, grown for their winter stems, look promising: the dark-stemmed Cornus stolonifera Arctic Fire, the more vigorous of the two so far, and the pale-stemmed C. sanguinea Arctic Sun. It’s too early to give a definite view but both grew away well, especially Artic Fire which also featured lovely red and yellw fall color, both sailed through our 0F/-18C winter with very attractive winter stems, and both are leafing out nicely this spring.

The aronia, calycanthus, clethra, heptacodium, ilex, and others I have on trial – they’re growing away nicely but it’s too early to tell.

These died in their first winter: Buddleia ‘Adonis’, Buddleia ‘Peacock’, Caryopteris ‘Pink Chablis’.

More information

Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight’ is no longer available in North America from White Flower Farm, from whom I bought it, so try Brushwood Nursery. In Britain it's more widely available, for a guide to suppliers click here.

Deutzia Chardonney Pearls (‘Duncan’) is a Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrub. For more information click here. To find a retailer in North America click here. It's not yet available in Britain.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’ – for more information and US mail order suppliers go to the Little Honey website. For suppliers in Britain click here.

Hydrangea arborescens White Dome (‘Dardom’) - for more, and a note of mail order suppliers in the USA, click here. British gardeners can find stockists here.

Hydrangea Forever and Ever Series - for more information click here.

Weigela My Monet (‘Verweig') is a Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrub – for more information and North American mail order suppliers click here. In Britain, this plant is known simply as Monet, for a list of suppliers click here.

Weigela 'Fine Wine ('Bramwell') is a Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrub - for more information click here. This plant is not yet available in Britain.

Cornus stolonifera Arctic Fire ('Farrow') - for more information in North America click here. This plant is not yet available in Britain.

C. sanguinea Arctic Sun ('Cato') - for more information in North America click here. This plant is not yet available in Britain.

Tomorrow: The most promising new perennial on trial.