Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

From the E-Newsletter: July 2006

The Second Annual Phoenix Perennials
Great Plant Combination Contest Winners 2006

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

We received lots of wonderful entries to our contest filled with much creativity and great plant combinations. We had a difficult time making our decisions and would like to thank everyone who entered! Each entry had to list five to seven different perennials that made for an awesome plant combination. These perennials could be in a pot or in a garden bed. We judged the entries on both foliage and flower combinations. We were also looking for that extra knock-your-socks-off factor, that certain je ne sais quoi that really made a combination stand out. Without further ado:

The Winners Are!!!

1st Prize
$150 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Donald S. from North Vancouver

His Selected Plants:
1. Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
| Japanese Forest Grass
2. Astilbe (Red Flowered) | False Spiraea
3. Arisaema triphyllum | Jack-in-the-Pulpit
4. Trillium luteum | Yellow Wakerobin
5. Hosta 'Honeybells' | Plantain Lily

We loved the "Zen" quality of Donald's combination which works almost entirely by way of great foliage colour, shape and textural contrasts. Some accent colour from flowers would be added in different seasons from the trillium, the astilbe and the hosta. Though technically not part of the contest, we couldn't ignore the superlative use of hardscaping with the beautiful stepping stones and the bird bath created from two stones that Donald found at the base of Black Tusk Mountain near Whistler. Even without this hardscaping this is a beautiful combination for a part shade situation.


2nd Prize
$100 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Sarah H. from New Westminster

Her Selected Plants:
1. Sedum 'Angelina' and 'Ogon' | Stonecrop
2. Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy', agavifolium, 'Doris Taylor', 'Morning Light'
and Pachyveria 'Moonglow' | Mexican Hens and Chicks
3. Aeonium arboreum and 'Zwartkop' | Aeonium
4. Acorus gramineus 'Ogon' | Sweet Flag
5. Setcreasea pallida 'Purple Heart' | Purple Heart Wandering Jew

These incredible planters (there are two on either side of the deck) employ zone 8-9 succulents to marvelous effect with the surprising use of the golden sweet flag with its grass like leaves and the purple heart wandering jew with its bold purple foliage. The two types of golden sedum add pizzazz and additional textural contrast. These planters would not be fully hardy unless they were kept bone dry outside and at least protected inside during our occasional cold snaps but we thought this combination was so dramatic that we had to award it a prize.


3rd Prize
$50 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Cheryl S. of Surrey

Her Selected Plants:
1. Heuchera 'Silver Lode' | Coral Bells
2. Hosta (Blue Leaved) | Plantain Lily
3. Adiantum pedatum | Maidenhair Fern
4. Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' | Japanese Painted Fern
5. Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' | Redbud
6. Iris pallida 'Argenteovariegata' | Sweet Iris
7. Viola riviniana 'Purpurea' (syn. V. labradorica) | Violet

Like our first place winner this combination makes for a great study in foliage contrast. There are no bold flowers in this combination but this bed is dynamic and attractive. We thought that the use of the sweet iris with its vertical structure and variegated foliage really set off the entire combination. There are two other nice touches: The first is the waft of purple infused violets which pick up on the burgundy of the coral bells. The other is the foliage shape "echo" between the hosta and the violets -- note that each has heart-shaped leaves but in different sizes. Very nice!

Honourable Mention
Fame but not fortune
Katy E. of Delta

Her Selected Plants:
1. Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' | Maiden Grass
2. Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' | Cranesbill
3. Stipa tenuissima | Mexican Feather Grass
4. Anthemis tinctoria 'Wargrave's Variety' | Marguerite
5. Phygelius 'Moonraker' | Cape Fucshia
6. Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller'
7. Artemisia 'Limelight'

This is a beautiful entry very much in the style of Katy's 1st prize winning entry in last year's contest which you can view in the Learn section of the website under Articles. This combination is dynamic in the movement provided by the grasses and taller perennials. We also liked the controlled use of blues and yellows which is at once calming and exciting.


Honourable Mention
Fame but not fortune

Jane Ferguson of Bowen Island

Her Selected Plants:
1. Goodyera oblongifolia | Rattlesnake Plantain
2. Polystichum munitum | Sword Fern
3. Blechnum spicant | Deer Fern
4. Vaccinium sp. | Huckleberry
5. Ribes sanguineum | Red-flowering Currant
6. Gaultheria shallon | Salal
7. Athyrium filix-femina | Lady Fern

We loved that Jane is working to enhance her existing landscape on Bowen Island by planting additional native plants. Enhancing Mother Nature's work is a great way to integrate the garden with the natural landscape that surrounds it. Jane uses three of our wonderful native ferns and combines these with interesting native perennials and shrubs. This is a study in green as well as texture.

The three prize winners and the honourable mentions will be highlighted at the nursery in special displays that will allow everyone to see these combinations in the flesh. The displays will be ready for our Sumer Sizzle weekend on July 15th and 16th.

Thank you again to everyone who entered! We hope that you'll start planning soon for next year's contest.

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