Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

From the BC Master Gardener's Newsletter: December 2005

The Twelve Days of Christmas


To honour the Christmas season, we have asked 12 gardeners extraordinaire to share their lists of favourite plants. Some are exciting new plants, small trees, or shrub “must haves” and others are proven performers that add charm and beauty every year; all are sure to be added to many wish lists.

On the first day of Christmas, one dramatic, scented perennial, courtesy of Ann-Marie Metten, our newsletter editor:
Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’—Dramatic black foliage with delicate spires of white flowers that perfume the garden.

On the second day of Christmas, 10 garden designers’ delights, courtesy of Joan Bentley, MG:
Anemone nemorosa—The early spring bloomer I like best, at present. Does well just about anywhere, making a mat of blue or white blooms to welcome spring.
Baptisia australis—Lupin-like blue flowers in early summer and blue-green foliage continue to look good all summer.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’—An excellent small tree for lawns and woodland gardens.
Leycesteria formosa—Although deciduous, the bamboo-like stems form a graceful V-shape and remain bright green in winter. In summer, drooping clusters of honeysuckle-like flowers give way to deep maroon berries. A good shrub for all seasons.
Polemonium caeruleum ‘Brise d’Anjou’—Its variegated leaves brighten any shade garden.
Rodgersia aesculifolia and R. pinnata—Both have fabulous bold leaf structure and airy plumes of flowers.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’—An award winner.
Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’—This golden feverfew adds a lime green sparkle to the summer border with its glowing chartreuse foliage and white flowers, which are great for bringing indoors.
Verbena bonariensis—Although somewhat tender perennial, it self seeds freely. A late bloomer, I love it for its light airy appearance that allows it to be at home, even in the front of the border.

On the third day of Christmas, seven plants with oldfashioned beauty, colour, and scent, courtesy of Nancy Wong, VanDusen Director of Marketing:
Acer palmatum ‘Tamuki yama’
Alcea rosea
• Calicarpa bodinieri
• Convallaria majalis
• Daphne odorata
• Fritillaria meleagris
• Viburnum bodnanse

On the fourth day of Christmas, two plant collector must-haves, courtesy of Verity Goodier, MG:
Crinodendron hookerianum—A beautiful and remarkable shrub from Chile with fragrant, waxy,
crimson flowers, on 2 to 3-inch long coloured stalks— just like Chinese lanterns or Christmas lights! Bears evergreen, lance-shaped, leathery, dark-green leaves. Flowers in May and this year had a second flush in September. Very striking. Tender, but does well at Roberts Creek in a sheltered spot.
Leucojum autumnale, now known as Acis automnalis—This small bulbous plant has many tiny
white nodding bells, tinged rose at base on each maroon stem. Blooms mid August until the end of October. Wispy grass-like leaves. I placed mine by steps into the garden so I can appreciate its fragility. Very dainty.


On the fifth day of Christmas, nine rhododendrons with fabulous foliage and form (and show-stopping flowers, of course), courtesy of Karen Shuster, MG:
Rhododendron ‘Alison Johnstone’
R. ‘Creamy Chiffon’
R. ‘Fastuosum Flore Pleno’
R. ‘Golfer’
R. ‘Loderi Venus’
R. ‘Mrs. E. C. Sterling’
R. ‘Nancy Evans’
R. ‘Peeping Tom’
R. ‘Sir Charles Lemon’

On the sixth day of Christmas, three proven winners, courtesy of John Schroeder, Heritage Perennials:
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’
Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’
As well as three charming favourites chosen by Cheryl Fiddis, President, Burnaby Rhododendron and Gardens Society, because they attract birds and wildlife to her garden, courtesy of Margot Moser, MG:
Cotoneaster spp.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’
Daphne laureola

On the seventh day of Christmas, a fern collection par excellence, courtesy of Margot Moser, Marlene Anderson-Joyce, Peter Barnsdale, and Pauline Barratt, MGs:
Adiantum capillus-vernis (Venus maidenhair fern)
A. pedatum (northern maidenhair fern)
A. venustum (Himalayan maidenhair fern)
Asplenium scolopendrium (hart’s-tongue fern)
A. trichomanes (maidenhair spleenwort)
Athyrium felix-femina ‘Frizelliae’
A. niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese painted fern)
A. otophorum (eared lady fern)
Blechnum spicant (deer fern)
Dryopteris affinis ‘Crispa Barnes’ (crisped goldenscaled male fern)
D. affinis ‘Cristata the King’ (golden-scaled male fern)
D. affinis x filix-mas ‘Robusta’ (male fern)
D. dilitata ‘Lepidota cristata’ (lacy crested broad buckler fern)—Delicate evergreen fern with a finely cut network of cobwebby greenery. Edged in demurely flared tips.
Polypodium interjectum (intermediate polypody)— Pretty little creeping fern with bluish-green, lanceshaped evergreen fronds.
Polystichum setiferum (soft shield fern)
P. tsus-simense (Korean rock fern)—Peter Barnsdale’s favourite dainty fern, evergreen with lovely new fronds unfurling in deep purple hue that mature to deep green. Looks like corsage greenery.

On the eighth day of Christmas, 14 choice native plants, courtesy of Virginia Skilton, president, Native Plant Society of BC:
Aconitum delphiniifolium (mountain monkshood)
Castilleja rhexifolia (alpine/subalpine paintbrush)
Dodecatheon pulchellum and D. hendersonii (shooting stars)
Erythronium grandiflorum (glacier lily)
Gentiana calycosa (explorer’s gentian)
Lilium philadelphicum (western wood lily)
Lupinus arcticus (mountain lupine)
Mimulus lewisii (pink monkeyflower)
Penstemon davidsonii (Davidson’s penstemon), P. eriantherus, P. serrulatus, P. fruticosus
Platanthera dilatata (bog rein orchid)

On the ninth day of Christmas, three lists of easy-to grow, floriferous dahlias, courtesy of Ian Back, Victoria Dahlia Society:
• From Barry Willoughby—‘Kenora Jubilee’, ‘Kenora Sunset’, ‘Kenora Majestic’, ‘Jomanda’, ‘Embrace’, ‘Highflier’, ‘Cornel’, ‘Juul’s Lotus’
• From Art Hadfield—‘Aztec Gold’, ‘Camano Sitka’, ‘Amoraigi Joy’, ‘Cheyenne’, ‘Geri Hoeck’, ‘Chat Noir’
• From James Deatherage—‘Edna C.’, ‘Skipley Mii Too’, ‘Clearview David’, ‘Pink Suffusion’, ‘Embrace’, ‘Jessica’, ‘Rose Toscano’, ‘Chimacum Troy’, ‘Valley Porcupine’

On the tenth day of Christmas
, nine stunning plants, courtesy of Brian Minter:
Caryopteris ‘Sunshine Blue’—Sunny yellow foliage with rich amethyst blue flowers, will blow ‘Worcester Gold’s’ pale blue flowers away.
Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sunrise’—Citron yellow flowers and rose-like fragrance.
Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Rainbow’—Green variegated leaves have a white edge and new growth is a wonderful rose colour.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’
H. macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’—First macrophylla to bloom on new and old wood extending blooming period to six months if deadheaded.
Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’—Imagine: clusters of burgundy fruit set off by clean, bright gold leaves!

Magnolia ‘Yellow Bird’—A neat, upright, small variety, blooms two weeks after ‘Elizabeth’ so misses damage caused by late spring frosts.
Malus ‘Red Sentinal’—Highly rated dwarf variety. Disease resistant, striking pale-pink, cup-shaped blooms, golden yellow fall foliage, deep red fruit that last all winter (providing good Christmas decoration and food for birds).
Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’—Fuzzy reddish-burgundy branches provide a dramatic contrast with the finely divided, gold foliage. Highly desirable dwarf variety, non-invasive, stunning fall foliage.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 10 botanically intriguing wonders, courtesy of Gary Lewis, Phoenix Perennials:
Arisaema consanguineum—Four feet tall with multiple leaflets that form an umbrella-like canopy. Large, shiny green seed heads that turn bright red.
Begonia grandis
Cardiocrinum giganteum
Cypripedium formosanum—Light green, fan-shaped leaves, pale pink flowers. The easiest lady slipper to grow.
Dahlia ‘Bishop’ Series—Burgundy-foliaged series.
Echinacea Big Sky Series
Heuchera ‘Marmalade’
Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’—The darkest-leaved ligularia to date.
Sedum palmeri—A trailing sedum collected by Dan Hinkley with quite broad bluish-green leaves. Looks like an Echeveria.
Tricyrtis ‘Blue Haven’—Rich royal blue flowers.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 10 tropical cannas, many with bold, colourful foliage, all with fabulous flowers, courtesy of Barry Roberts, MG:
C. ‘Australia’—Deep purple-black foliage.
C. ‘Ingeborg’
C. ‘Phasion’ (syn. ‘Tropicana’, ‘Durban’)—Outrageous red and purple striped foliage.
C. ‘Picasso’
C. ‘Pink Sunburst’ (syn. ‘Pringle Bay’)—Green leaves with yellow and pink stripes
C. ‘Roi Humbert’
C. ‘Rosemond Coles’
C. ‘Striata’ (syn. ‘Bengal Tiger’, ‘Pretoria’)—Pale green and yellow striped leaves
C. ‘Wyoming’ (syn. ‘Professor Lorentz’)

Many thanks to the gardeners who generously contributed their lists. During
the grey days of winter, we will dream about finding a spot for each plant in our
—Jane Sherrott, BC Master Gardeners,


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