Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

From the E-Newsletter: July 2005

Great Plant Combination Contest Winners 2005

"A great garden is not just great plants grown well. A great garden hinges on great plant combinations."

We got lots of wonderful submissions to our first Great Plant Combinations Contest. Thank you to everyone for entering. When we sat down to judge the entries the universal sentiment was: This is HARD! There were so many lovely combinations that showed great creativity and a love for plants and gardening. But in the end we had to make a decision. And the winners are (drum roll please!):

1st Prize
and a $100 Gift Certificate at Phoenix

Katy E. of Delta
for her dynamic and sensual late summer garden.

Here is her combination:
1. Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' (Joe-Pye Weed)
2. Panicum 'Prairie Sky' (Switch Grass)
3. Verbena bonariensis (Brazilian Verbena)
4. Aster frickartii 'Monch'
5. Geranium 'Rozanne'
6. Sedum 'Matrona'

As Katy says: "This is a breathtaking combination in August and September when everything else in the garden is a yellow daisy." As judges we enjoyed the textural additions of the airy cloud of grass flowers on the panicum, the stiffer airiness of the verbena, and the structure contributed by the Sedum and the joe-pye weed (Eupatorium). We liked the subdued and restfull quality of the colour palette (lavender, purple, pink) in a late summer garden which are usually dominated by firey reds, oranges and yellows. But what really excited us is the dynamic and sensual nature of the combination, especially the movement contributed by the panicum and the verbena. Congratulations Katy!


2nd Prize
and a $50 Gift Certificate at Phoenix

Michelle C. of North Vancouver
for her subtly engaging and sophisticated foliage combination for shade.

Here is her combination:
1. Brunnera 'Jack Frost'
2. Hosta 'Blue Cadet'
3. Helleborus foetidus 'Red-Silver Strain'
4. Heuchera 'Crimson Curls'
5. Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' (Solomon's Seal)
6. Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass)
7. Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' (Japanese Painted Fern)

This combination is a lovely study in foliage combinations. Each of the plants contributes a distinct leaf shape, texture and colour that together create a dynamic yet subtle combination: the silver heart shaped leaves of the Brunnera Jack Frost, the rich blue of the hosta, the ruffled red leaves of the heuchera, the arching variegated leaves of the solomon's seal, the striking black straps of mondo grass and the delicate silvered fronds of the painted fern. Very nice. In particular we love the idea of the fronds of the painted fern intermingling with the black mondo grass. Congratulations Michelle!

3rd Prize
and a $25 Gift Certificate at Phoenix

Teri N. of Vancouver
for her bold and dramatic use of flower and leaf colour for part shade.

Here is her combination:
1. Humulus lupulus 'Aureas' (Golden Hops)
2. Cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty' (Bugbane)
3. Ligularia dentata 'Othello' (Ragwort)
4. Astrantia 'Hadspen Blood' (Masterwort)
5. Hosta 'Hadspen Blue'
6. Kirengoshema palmata (Korean Waxbells)

We liked the use of plants that contribute both bold foliage elements and floral colour. The dark foliage tones of the bugbane and ligularia are set off by the electric gold of the golden hops and the light green of the Korean waxbells. The blue-leaved hosta and the mid-green masterwort cool things down and balance out the bolder combinations. The flowers of each plant will mostly bloom at different times but will variously contribute gold, white, red, lavender and creamy yellow to accent the foliage combinations. Congratulations Teri!

Honourable Mentions

We decided to award two honourable mentions to entries that we thought were quite creative. This distinction awards the entrants with fame but, alas, not fortune.

Carol M. of Delta
for her rock planter with year-round interest.

Here is her combination:
1. Erica 'Kramer's Red' (Winter Heath)
2. Euonymous 'Emerald Gaiety'
3. Festuca 'Elijah Blue' (Blue Fescue)
4. Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' (Bugleweed)
5. Sedum 'Angelina'
6. Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme)

We were impressed with the use of foliage colour and texture in this planter: the electric yellow leaves of Sedum 'Angelina', the fine blue of the fescue, the comparatively broad chocolatey green leaves of the ajuga and the variegated leaves of the euonymous, the feathery texture of the erica and the soft greyish green of the woolly thyme tumbling over the edge. Congratulations Carol!






Dave W.
for his subtropical paradise.

Here is his combination:
1. Gunnera manicata (Dinosaur Food)
2. Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm)
3. Musa basjoo (Hardy Japanese Fibre Banana)
4. Colocasia (Taro)
5. Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
6. Cannas
7. Brugmansia (Angels' Trumpet)

If you can't afford to get away to the tropics as much as you would like, here's the garden for you. We were impressed with the boldness of this display and the uniqueness of the subtropical look. All of these dramatic subtropical plants are hardy in the Lower Mainland with the exception of the angel's trumpet and perhaps the taro. The rest require a protected yard and perhaps a little mulching, if any. Congratulations Dave!

Special Displays at Phoenix

Each of the winning combinations as well as the honourable mentions are currently on special display at the nursery. Come view the winning entries and see for yourself what these beautiful combinations look like in real life! If you become enamoured with one of them and want to try them at home, we have the plants available.

The Judges
Gary Lewis and Randy Rae, owners of Phoenix Perennials
The Phoenicians: Mark, Cliff, Jackie and Sandi
Clare Philips, award-winning garden designer and former owner of Phoenix Perennials

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest! We're going to make this contest an annual event so start planning next year's Great Plant Combinations!

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