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A Potpourri of Precious Perennials

A Potpourri of Precious Perennials

By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Global plant breeder Terra Nova Nurseries, who has introduced over 1,000 new introductions to horticulture, has five great plants that show longevity in the garden, with seasonal variations expressed in each hardy plant. 

Of these five plants, there are two heuchera that love a little morning sun, but need to be kept out of the sometimes-blazing summer sun exposure. Heuchera 'Georgia Peach', when first introduced, was a color breakthrough, featuring glowing-orange leaves and silver veins. Our heuchera with southern monikers, such as ‘Georgia Peach’, imply they are bred with Heuchera villosa, which is a humidity resistant native near the Gulf of Mexico. The second heuchera, Heuchera ‘Spellbound’, expresses foliar shades of purple that are dynamite in a container, and even reflect other flower colors with their metallic finish.

Penstemon 'Dark Towers' has been touted by Kelly Norris, the acting horticulture director of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center, as a necessity in the borders of their garden. This full sun-exposure plant provides height and dark foliage, in addition to acting as a foil for lighter foliage or flowers. Sedum 'Peach Pearls' provides a unique splash of orange, red and yellow flowers over succulent stems of red foliage. And, lastly, Verbascum 'Royalty' is a purple-flowering champ in dry garden spaces.

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Heuchera 'Georgia Peach'

A plant that has achieved what some call “classic status,” Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ creates a unique pumpkin-orange glow in the garden. Specifically bred for heat and humidity tolerance, this USDA Zone 4-hardy heuchera produces large, peach-colored leaves with a showy silver overlay, providing a nice accent to the lush habit. Its foliage color changes and intensifies to a rose-purple tone with a decorative frosted veil in fall and winter.

Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ has a plant height of 14” in leaf, and its wispy flowers rise to 30” tall in May and June. It is a great landscape specimen for North America, providing drought resistance and color to a border, or in a container with contrasting purple foliage. It goes without saying, but Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ is a popular plant in the Terra Nova line of heuchera!

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Heuchera 'Spellbound'

Heuchera 'Spellbound' is a phenomenal plant with lustrous, ruffled foliage of dazzling silver tones and rose-purple tints that leave consumers spellbound. The purple tones are more prominent in the spring and fall, and move to a purple-tinted silver in summer. The silver tones found on Heuchera ‘Spellbound’, though, are more prevalent in shade. 

This heuchera is a large plant with a dense, multi-crown habit. Its foliage forms a mound that reaches 9”-12” tall, and blooms on slender spikes that are 16” tall from May to September. Heuchera ‘Spellbound’ has received awards in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Aside from the accolades, it is simply a great plant for containers or in the landscape.

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Penstemon 'Dark Towers' 

This plant produces glossy, bronze-red peaks that are topped with masses of pink flowers in July and August. Compared to similar penstemon, Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ has much darker and thicker foliage that stays darker throughout the season. This dark-leaved, ultra-hardy, pink-flowering Terra Nova variety was created by Dale Lindgren, of the University of Nebraska. It is a tough, carefree plant capable of tolerating high heat and humidity.

Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is an indispensable dark background plant for the border. Garden designers and consumers appreciate the 3’ tall dark foliage as a foil for gold and silver plants of shorter stature. It has been tested in USDA Hardiness Zones from 4 to 9, with cross-country success.

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Sedum ‘Peach Pearls’

There are very few who don’t love the spreading mound of burgundy leaves and the explosion of rose-gold to orange-red flowers that are produced by Sedum ‘Peach Pearls’.

This is not your typical red sedum with few stalks and bare knees; this sedum produces multiple crowns the first year with excellent habit, making more plant for the buck. Consumers will also appreciate this plant even more for attracting late-summer pollinators. This color splash requires minimal water, and is great for use in a container or in the garden. Foliage of Sedum ‘Peach Pearls’ reaches 14” in height and expands to 24” in full flower, making it a perfect mid-border choice. Sedum can be quite hardy and are thus rated for USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

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Verbascum 'Royalty'

Few plants match the tenacity and drought resistance of verbascum. While some varieties can reach 7’ tall, these reblooming dwarves are just 8” to 10” tall with short spikes of red-purple flowers. Verbascum ‘Royalty’, a hybrid that does not produce a seed, blooms and reblooms all summer long from a felted rosette of leaves. With repeated blooms, this plant provides succor to the many different pollinators over a much longer period of time. Good drainage is a must for Verbascum ‘Royalty’, and the USDA Hardiness Zones for this verbascum variety are from 5 to 9. Full-sun exposure is needed for Verbascum ‘Royalty’ to perform as expected.

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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.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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