I had the opportunity to spend a few hours yesterday with Dr. Allan Armitage, as part of a small group from the Smith Gilbert Gardens Foundation. As I have mentioned in the past, we are incredibly lucky in Georgia to have Drs. Armitage and Michael Dirr associated with UGA. As a result, those of us in the gardening community in Georgia tend to have access to some cool information.
As always, I was impressed with just how approachable Dr. Armitage is, particularly in light of what a big deal he is in the horticulture world. There were about 12 of us, and we spent an hour strolling the grounds at the Smith Gilbert Gardens, and then another hour getting a sneak peek of some of his new favorites in the world of perennials.
I'll share more information later (my notes are outside in the truck, and it's way too cold to go outside this early), but for now, here are some tidbits from last night:
Dr. Armitage spoke about hydrangeas, and how strong the paniculatas are coming onto the scene. Some of the cultivars have been around for a long time, but some of the new ones like Pinky Winky and Limelight are really making a big splash. It's no secret that I am a bit of a hydrangea "junky," and have lots of them in the stepchild garden, but I can't argue with the statement that the macrophyllas can be finicky, particularly for new gardeners. In contrast, the paniculatas seem to grow most anywhere, loving sun, shade, or a mix of the two. They aren't the waterhogs that the big leafed relatives can be, either. I've had H. paniculata "Unique" for a couple of years, and it's just a workhorse in my own garden, and at the Big House, as well. Guess it's time to add in some others..... (That's Pinky Winky in the photo.)
Achilleas (Yarrow) are coming on again in a strong way. The newer cultivars like "Pomegranate" are better behaved than some of the older strains, and stay lower to the ground. Yarrow is another plant that I personally can't get enough of, even if it does tend to roam all over the garden when it's happy.
Lastly, one of the new perennials Dr. Armitage likes is a wallflower called "Jenny Brock." This is one of those flowers that doesn't get used often in the south, since it doesn't like heat, but according to the trials at UGA, "Jenny Brock" is perennial, and has flowered there from February until July! Wallflower is an old favorite of mine (as a transplanted New Englander), so this is one I'm going to start looking for today!
I'm starting my day at the greenwaste site, then planning to work in the stepchild garden today; I'm sure there are still plants living under the foot of fallen leaves......