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GardenSMART :: Terra Nova's Tremendous Work in Perennial Breeding

Terra Nova's Tremendous Work in Perennial Breeding

By Chuck Pavlich, Director of New Product Development, Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Each year, more creativity is put forth for gardeners to enjoy. Similarly, each year brings new firsts for the garden world and the following Terra Nova Nurseries selections do not disappoint. Covering the garden gambit for full sun to full shade, Terra Nova's perennials are making their mark as garden standards, earning their place through a lengthy selection process and stringent trials across the United States and multiple continents.

The longer one gardens, the clearer it becomes that great garden perennials are no accident. Durability and beauty need not be at odds with each other. What it takes is the understanding of both art and science. Terra Nova is very familiar with this most wonderful intersection, and has resided there for decades, taking their place on the world stage as a leader in garden worthy perennials.

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Responsible for popularizing a fair number of genera, Terra Nova continually reinvents their best breeding by increasing hardiness or disease tolerance of their varieties, all with simple, traditional and G.M.O.-free breeding methods. Fancy machines and technical processes aren't always the answer. Sometimes, it’s as simple as executing an idea and goal.

Thalictrum are a bit of a garden mystery and sometimes gets a bad reputation for being picky and shy bloomers. Not to mention, they have an innately ephemeral nature and reputation as a garden diva.

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The first goal when breeding both Thalictrum NIMBUS Pink and Thalictrum NIMBUS White was to bring down the total height of this genus and species, and the second goal was to breed very large, long lasting flower heads. When young, both varieties possess maidenhair fern-like foliage that’s a cool turquoise green color. As the plants mature, the silky black stems become more evident and greatly add to the appeal of these garden charmers. Large, sweetly scented and filamentous flower heads attract many garden pollinators, but are a favorite of all Lepidoptera. Moisture loving and preferring Eastern or Northern exposure, Thalictrum NIMBUS Pink and Thalictrum NIMBUS White deserve a wide audience as easy-to-grow perennials. Learn more: and

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Heucherella 'Onyx' might be an odd marriage between a heuchera and a tiarella, but it’s a marriage that has produced some real winners, and 'Onyx' is no exception! Heucherella ‘Onyx’ is the first true black heucherella, and the variety carries with it all the best traits of both parents, such as heat and cold tolerance, humidity appreciation and bullet proof when it comes to rust. Heucherella ‘Onyx’ is medium sized and makes a fantastic container plant, especially when combined with contrasting color from annuals and perennials. 'Onyx' is adaptable to potting soil or rich forest duff and everything in between. Learn more:

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Standing less than half the height of its forebears, Penstemon DAKOTA Verde stands out in a sunny border or garden plot. Lush, emerald green foliage forms a thick rosette in the spring. Throughout the summer, the thick rosette shoots up branched stalks of charming, tubular flowers in great profusion. Each lavender floret is kissed on the exterior with light purple, and the pale-colored throat adds another dimension. Extremely hardy and tolerant of heat and humidity, Penstemon DAKOTA Verde will be a great, long-lived addition to the perennial garden. Learn more:

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True blue in the garden is a bit of a rarity; Veronica VENTURE Blue is a good cure for that. Among the shortest of the blue veronicas, VENTURE Blue more than makes up for its short stature with an astounding spring and summer display of the very definition of blue. One of the best features of this veronica is its excellent tolerance to powdery mildew - the bane of most in this genus. Selected first for its clean foliage, and then for its pure blue color, there's a new leader in garden veronicas. Want to “venture” a guess? Learn more:

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