Nursery Notes: New stuff at Beltane Nursery

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The Dream Catcher beauty bush is one of many Proven Winners selections available at Beltane Nursery.

The Dream Catcher beauty bush is one of many Proven Winners selections available at Beltane Nursery.

I am writing this pretty early one morning. Frost is in the air. The sun is coming up but not even on the hill above me yet. The birds are chirping back and forth and the day looks very promising. Yesterday I was asked, “What’s new in the nursery this year?” We had just unloaded another truck the day before, so there is quite a lot new. Just let me think…

This year, we are growing many kinds of new Proven Winners basket stuffers for the hanging basket collection. Best not to mention them as it is pretty early for them and I don’t have time to tour the back four production greenhouses where they are all growing. We also have a brand new selection of perennials growing in four-inch and one-gallon pots. It’s a little early for them, as well, but with a week of sunshine they should be ready to go up to the unheated sales area. I like to order about a hundred new varieties every spring for the perennials. There are also new rose varieties for 2012, but I will write about them at a later date. For now, I will discuss the new tree and shrub varieties.

A patch of dwarf blue globe spruce caught my eye. They are new to the nursery this year. They make a unique little specimen, growing 2.5 feet tall and about as wide. Hardy, disease free and slow growing, they would work well in a rock garden setting and would be pretty much maintenance free.

Nearby are the Japanese cryptomeria. These interesting little trees, which remind me of the houseplant Norfolk Island pine trees. In any case, the Japanese cryptomeria are hardy to Creston and would make a great small specimen tree. Very distinctive. Also from Japan and new in the nursery this year are the golden full moon maples. These are a small tree that will grow to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide at maturity. They will keep their beautiful leaf colour better through summer if they are planted with some afternoon shade. They are hardy to zone 5.

In the edible department, we have two new kinds of honeyberries, Borealis haskap berry and Polar Jewel honeyberry. They grow to a shrubby six feet in height and produce sweet blue berries with a taste reminiscent of a wild blueberry. They have no pest or disease issues and are hardy to the Arctic Circle. They may be eaten fresh or used in jams and jellies, etc. They are supposed to produce berries earlier than strawberries but this remains to be seen. In any case, they are sure to be popular.

From France in the floral department are the Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas. I may have had them for a week or two early last year, so they still qualify as new in the nursery. Hydrangea paniculata “Renhy” will grow in the full sun or part shade to six feet high and four feet wide. They are hardy to –30 F. Continuous blooms create a two-tone effect. Similarly, we have Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas, which are a pink Annabelle hydrangea with 10- to 12-inch new blooms opening mid-summer. They start off dark pink and mature to a soft pink. They will re-bloom till frost without the need for deadheading. Royalties from the sale of these plants support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Last year, we couldn’t get the Incrediball hydrangea. Also from Proven Winners this is a white hydrangea, which is very hardy with huge, huge flowers. They do well as fresh cuts and can also be dried.

I will also mention the dream catcher beauty bush. It has coppery-coloured new foliage that contrasts nicely against the yellowy-green leaves it carries through the growing season. It is another Proven Winners selection. Covered in pinkish white blooms in late spring, it has great fall colour, as well. Three seasons of interest make it a great addition to the garden.

Lastly, if you are looking for a tall and narrow tree to spice up your landscape we have some new Red Obelisk beech trees in the nursery. I’ve noticed them growing in the arboretum for years but only now found a good source for them. So here they are.

I hope you’ve all had a great Easter and may the ground dry out enough soon to get started planting.

Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.