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"What's New for 2020," by the Whistling Gardener

With a few possible exceptions, most of the new 2019 plants are long gone and we will have to wait until next spring to discover what the breeders have in store for us for the 2020 season. As a retailer however, we get a sneak preview and from time to time, if the growers have a crop mature early, we actually get to bring in some of those new goodies in the fall.
Winter Splash Wintergreen. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Back in March of this year, I introduced you to several new plants for the 2019 season that were sure to be hits in your garden.

There was a landscape rose called "At Last" that actually sported some fragrance - something that had been sorely missing with past landscape/shrub roses. If you missed it don’t worry, it will be available again this coming spring.

I also introduced you to a new hydrangea called "Summer Crush," part of the Endless Summer series of repeat blooming hydrangeas, and it too turned out to be a big hit. While most garden centers will be sold out of roses this time of year, you might still be able to snag yourself one of those hydrangeas before the season ends.

Remember, anything you plant now will take off like a rocket come springtime, so don’t hesitate to plug up any blank spots in the garden (or maybe even yank out a few poor performers) and plunge in some newbies.

With a few possible exceptions, most of the 2019 introductions are long gone and we will have to wait until next spring to discover what the breeders have in store for us for the 2020 season. As a retailer however, we get a sneak preview and from time to time, if the growers have a crop mature early, we actually get to bring in some of those new goodies in the fall.

Here are a few new introductions for 2020 that are actually available this month in the garden center. You can plant any of these shrubs or perennials now and they should do just fine over the winter.

Cotoneaster "Autumn Inferno" — This is a First Editions introduction from Bailey Nurseries that has several seasons of interest. In the spring it is covered with small white and pink flowers that will attract hummingbirds and other pollinators, followed by dark glossy green foliage all summer long. In the fall, those shiny leaves turn a brilliant orange to red and will rival any burning bush (plus they don’t bleach out in the summer like burning bushes tend to do in our region). In the winter the berries hang on until the birds eat them up and then it all starts over again come spring.

Cotoneasters as a whole are all very reliable for us and "Autumn Inferno" is no exception. It will grow to about five feet by five feet and prefers full sun and good draining soil. You can either leave it natural or shear it into a nice and tidy hedge, it doesn’t seem to care. If you have burning bushes in your landscape and are unhappy with them, this plant is the perfect replacement!

Sorbaria "Matcha Ball" — Another First Editions introduction from Bailey Nurseries (this company is based in Minnesota but has growing grounds in Yamhill, Oregon), this small shrub only gets two to three feet tall by three to four feet wide and sports finely divided fern-like foliage that can be pink to peach in early spring and then turns to a soft green, much like Matcha tea. In the fall the plant turns an attractive yellow.

"Matcha Ball" prefers moist soil and full sun, but seems to tolerate a broad range of conditions. This is a dwarf form of its big brother "Sem," which is also an attractive plant but tends to spread and colonize the garden, whereas Matcha Ball is a little better behaved. All Sorbarias, when maintained properly, make very good garden plants and the taller growing varieties also put out a white fluffy flower in summer that looks much like an astilbe. Find a spot for one, you won’t regret it.

Salix "Iceberg Alley" — Also from Bailey Nurseries, this shrub is a willow with powdery silver leaves on a compact plant that only grows to four feet by four feet. The early spring catkins are also silver with red stamens and can be cut for arrangements. "Iceberg" tolerates wet soils, prefers full sun and is hardy to minus 40 degrees - so no need to worry about it freezing out.

Gaultheria procumbens "Winter Splash"— This is a new and exciting variation of our North American native wintergreen, a very low growing (two to three  inches is all) ground cover that thrives in filtered shade and soils rich in organic matter. The leaves and berries are edible and have that distinct wintergreen flavor. "Winter Splash" is special because of the variegated foliage, which works very well in winter container plantings as a seasonal accent. Shades of green, white, and pink all blend together to make for a very attractive plant. "Winter Splash" has been introduced by Brigg’s Nursery, a Washington nursery located in Porter.

As we move through the fall season I will introduce you to more 2020 treasures, but in the meantime take a minute to check out what is already available. There is nothing like bringing home a new plant-buddy to lift our spirits as the season wanes.

Sunnyside will be hosting our annual Customer Appreciation Day next Saturday, September 28th, 2019, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. A day for us to say thank you for 71 amazing years of business, with sales, prizes, food, family fun and more!  For more information, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net/events.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA and can be reached atinfo@sunnysidenursery.net.

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