Califonia Bountiful

Fresh faces are getting ready for the garden

Jan./Feb. 2011 California Country magazine

New plant varieties will be available spring 2011.

In the cold grip of winter, production nurseries throughout California are nurturing the spring crop of landscape plants—hardy perennials and showy annuals—for the coming planting season. Among the millions of plants that will be shipped to retail nurseries and garden centers throughout the nation are some new plant varieties that growers hope will spark consumer interest.

Jon Reelhorn

At Belmont Nursery in Fresno, owner Jon Reelhorn said gardeners should look for new plant offerings to spruce up existing gardens and provide interesting touches for newly installed landscapes.

Belmont Nursery held an invitational tour of its nursery operations last fall for the professional landscape community to showcase some of the new plant products that will be available this spring.

The sentiment among those who plan and manage large-scale ornamental landscapes is that every dollar invested in plant material needs to provide benefit. Freshening commercial landscapes with new plant varieties is one approach to improved visual appeal.

Most home gardeners share the interests of their larger counterparts, Reelhorn said. The professionals who will be ordering from wholesale nurseries said they're looking for plant and shrub bargains, drought-tolerant material, plants that are clean and fast growing, as well as new plant varieties that are low-maintenance and colorful.

Like other leading production nurseries, Reelhorn said consumers can expect to find an exciting array of new plants for their gardens at nurseries in their areas. Here is a sampling of new garden plants that will be in nurseries this spring:

Gailliardia grandiflora

Lycium barbarum

Berberis thunbergii

Abelia grandiflora

Gardenia augusta

Gailliardia grandiflora, commonly called Blanket Flower, is a perennial member of the sunflower family. The Arizona Sun variety is a new cultivar. Bright, daisy-like flowers may reach up to 4 inches across and the continuous blooms can last for weeks. New hybrids offer a variety of colors and flowers may be single or double petaled. Generally grows from 2 to 3 feet tall, but new hybrid strains include dwarf varieties like Gaillardia grandiflora 'Goblin' that reaches only about a foot in height.

Lycium barbarum, commonly called Goji Berry, is a small perennial that produces a sweet, red berry much sought for its nutritional value. Native to remote regions of China, Tibet and Mongolia, goji berries can grow to 8 to 10 feet tall in full sun to partial shade. Greenish-gray foliage with a graceful arching habit. Self-pollinating. Only recently has this hardy shrub been cultivated for decorative landscaping in California.

Berberis thunbergii, commonly called Berberis Orange Rocket, is a newly patented Barberry species. In fall, it produces bright orange deciduous leaves. Dwarf shrub. Foliage color continues throughout the summer. Reaches heights of 2 to 3 feet. Striking columnar in shape. Named the top shrub in 2010 at the Far West Nursery Show in Portland.

Abelia grandiflora, commonly called Abelia, will appear in the new Mardi Gras variety. Key features include elegant variegated foliage, green with white margins with new growth flushed pink. Excellent flowering that holds its color even in harsh sun. Compact mounding habit, 2 1/2 feet by 5 feet. Heat and drought tolerant once established. Grows well in pots and containers, in garden border, along foundation or in mass plantings.

Gardenia augusta is a new hybrid that is a whole zone hardier than traditional hybrids. It's heavy blooming with fragrant, pure white double blooms and has a compact spreading habit of only 2 feet by 2 feet. Best grown in part shade in moist, well-drained and slightly acidic soils. This woody shrub requires little to no pruning. Thrives in containers, as well as landscape plantings.

Kate Campbell is a reporter for California Country. She can be reached at 800-698-FARM or

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