There’s no better way to leave 2020 behind us than to look forward to the new plants you will be finding at Amsterdam Garden Centre in just a few short months. So, with no further fanfare, here are my top ten perennial and shrub choices for 2021 – although you might notice that hydrangeas seem to dominate the list.
Salix candida ‘Iceberg Alley’ / Sageleaf Willow – A very cold-hardy (USDA Zone 2) shrubby willow with intensely silver new growth that rivals Dusty Miller and perennial Artemisia. It was discovered at the botanical garden of Memorial University in Newfoundland, tolerates moist soils and will be useful in those colder higher elevation or interior gardens. Spring brings pussy willow-like catkins (good for cutting) with red stamens, making it an excellent nectar source for pollinators. Grows 3-6’ tall and wide.
Rosa x ‘Ringo’ / Landscape Rose – Although this cultivar was released last year, it saw very little local production and the few I got my hands on sold very quickly. With its zone 4 hardiness and masses of single yellow blooms with red central rings, this disease resistant rose is a must for any garden. The flowers fade to white (with a pink ring) and require no deadheading, with the plant maturing between 3-4’ tall and wide. A new melon coloured variety, called ‘Ringo All-Star’ is also slated for release this year.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Wee Bit Giddy’ / Mophead Hydrangea – An extreme dwarf (maturing at 24” tall and 30” wide) Mophead Hydrangea with bright red blooms in neutral soils and violet-red in acidic. Along with ‘Wee Bit Grumpy’ (blue) the pair may be considered an improvement on the CityLine series which has been popular in small urban landscapes. The blooms are large for the size of the plant and both are hardy to USDA zone 5.
Ajuga ‘Cordial Canary’ / Bugleweed – This member of the Feathered Friends Collection from Garden Solutions is a real colour breakthrough. Consider it a gold-leaved version of ‘Chocolate Chip’ with sharply contrasting cobalt blue flowers from late spring into summer. It is USDA Zone 4 hardy, reliably evergreen and a perfect ‘pop’ accent for mixed containers. Grows 4” tall by 18”+ wide.
Azalea ‘Perfecto Mundo Double Purple’ / Re-Blooming Azalea – I have been really impressed by this particular series of reblooming azaleas, as I still had a few in flower in the perennial house in December. These are not like other repeat-bloomers that flower heavily in spring and provide a scant show for summer and fall, you can actually anticipate months of blooms. Expect frilled mauve-purple double flowers and an ultimate height of 36”. Hardy to zone 6.
Hibiscus ‘Summerific French Vanilla’ / Perennial Hibiscus – Despite its exotic appearance this perennial hibiscus is hardy to USDA Zone 4. You can expect massive 7-8” wide creamy-vanilla blooms (accented with a red eye) emerging from pale yellow buds in mid to late summer. These are nicely contrasted by red stems and deep green foliage. Grows 4’ tall.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Garnetta’ / Smooth Hydrangea – A new introduction in the Invincibelle line that blooms later with pink flowers accented with ruby-red highlights. It is compact (30”) and quite cold hardy (USDA Zone 3), making it ideal for growing in containers and it also features much sturdier stems…so no floppy flower stalks.
Rhododendron ‘Black Hat’ / PJM Rhododendron – If you’ve been having a hard time growing rhododendron then this sun tolerant and cold hardy (USDA Zone 4) cultivar is for you. ‘Black Hat’ features ruffled lavender-pink blooms in very early spring which are sharply contrasted by the purplish-black winter foliage, hence the cultivar name. It is also quite compact at 36” tall.