Grandma’s garden is back in vogue. Or is it? At first glance, today’s top performing perennials may look like the romantic ‘cottage garden’ flowers of yesteryear, but looks can be deceiving.
We’re talking about the kind of plants that Grandma could only dream of! Longer flowering, bigger flowers, and a greater choice of colours are just some of the improvements we enjoy today. These exciting newcomers from the InPlants stable show how breeders can take a well-known and loved plant and create something new and special, enhancing the traits of the parents.
Penstemons have always been reliable garden favourites, but take a closer look at this new trio. The robust Taffy series produce multiple flower spikes on a much fuller bush than the older penstemons and they’ll flower for two months or more.
Strawberry Taffy, Boysenberry Taffy and Blueberry Taffy have large bell shaped blooms in three stunning bicolours. All three are easy to grow in well-drained soil and are drought and humidity tolerant. Plant them in well-drained soil and take care not to mulch over the crowns.
For a romantic effect, plant Taffy penstemons in bold clumps with old-fashioned roses. Or combine them in a border with other perennials, such as Echinacea, Scabiosa and daisies. They’re also fantastic with grasses, for that prairie wildflower look.
Snowy white Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum), with their sparkling simplicity and long stems for picking, are the quintessential cottage garden plant. But there is nothing old fashioned about new ‘Paladin’. These super-sized daisies sport a thick ruffle of white petals, layered around a central bright yellow eye. By early summer the plant becomes smothered in flower, creating a beautiful ‘light and bright’ effect for the garden right through till autumn. The long flowering period makes ‘Paladin’ a good choice for mass planting, or grouping with other perennials. At only 40cm tall (60cm with flowers) and 50cm wide, neatly compact 'Paladin' also grows well in containers.
Unlike some shasta daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Paladin’ has virtually no unpleasant scent - good news for those who want to fill vases for indoors!
Paladin loves full sun and well-drained soil, ideally one that’s not too rich, for neat compact growth. Avoid over-feeding plants in the garden but feed plants in pots with slow release fertiliser.
Here’s a stunning bed mate for ‘Taffy’ penstemons and ‘Paladin’ daisies. Scabiosa ‘Crimson Clouds’ is another modern advance on older varieties. It is extremely free flowering from late spring till autumn frost, most profusely in the summer months. The large pincushion flowers perch on sturdy upright stems, great for picking. The intensely coloured flowered are flecked with white and are attractive to butterflies. Each robust bushy plant will cover up to 60cm diameter and reach 50cm tall. Mulch to conserve moisture, feed with slow release fertiliser in spring and water in the drier months.
‘Crimson Clouds’ also looks good in containers, but be sure to choose a generous sized pot and provide plenty of food and water. This non-stop bloomer needs plenty of fuel to keep up with its powerful flowering performance!
Penstemon 'Boysenberry Taffy'
Penstemon 'Blueberry Taffy'
Scabiosa 'Crimson Clouds'