Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

E-Newsletter: July 2010

The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
July 2010

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

I do believe Summer might be here! As I look at the weather forecast all I see are little pictures of suns with no clouds and numbers like 26, 28, and even 30! Oh my! It's time for the beach and barbecues and gardening in nice warm sunny weather! Remember that you can keep right on planting perennials through the summer months as long as you follow a few easy steps. Have a look at the article below.

It's time for The Summer Sizzle including our Summer Sale! All plants will be 30% off! That's this weekend! Please tell all your friends! It's been a strange roller coaster ride of a season for us nurseries and like most of them we just have too many plants! But they are beautiful, wonderful plants and they need a home. So bring your friends and do one last planting project before you relax for the summer! That would be great. ;-)

The winners of our Great Plant Combination Contest are announced in this newsletter. You can view the winning plant combinations starting this weekend at the Sizzle. Also, at the Summer Sizzle we have a series of FREE workshops. So come on down and learn with us. All of these workshops are brand new and never offered before. There are some exciting ideas and information to be had.

I'll be speaking in Langley next week if you're interested. Also in this issue Fabulous at Phoenix. The nursery looks like a giant garden right now and there is so much that is pretty. Fabulous at Phoenix represents just a small selection.

Extended Hours Until Saturday July 10th
Sun-Wed 10am-5pm
Thurs-Sat 10am-6pm

See you at the nursery soon!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians

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In this Issue

1. The Summer Sizzle including our Summer SALE!
2. You Can Plant Perennials All Summer: A few tricks for summer planting
3. Great Plant Combination Contest Winners
4. Upcoming Speaking Engagements by Phoenix Perennials Owner Gary Lewis
5. Fabulous at Phoenix: Gary's Picks of New, Notable and Luscious Plants at the Phoenix Candy Store


The Summer Sizzle
including our Summer Sale!
Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 9th, 10th and 11th

At this year's Summer Sizzle there will be FREE workshops, special displays from the winners of our Annual Great Plant Combination Contest, and plants on SALE!
Don't miss it.

30% off ALL Plants,
Pots and Iron Work*

There are no exceptions to the above dates.
*Statuary, deer cages and Bill Terry Meconopsis are not on sale. Certain other exceptions might be in effect.

Schedule of FREE Workshops: Saturday & Sunday (Same Line-Up Each Day)

Time Title Instructor Description Length
11am Top Plant Performers for the West Coast Garden: Summer and Fall Shelley Brignall Shelley will introduce you to some great perennials to give colour all through summer and into fall. 45 min.
12 pm Colour Without Flowers?: Create a Technicolour Garden with Fantastic Foliage Belinda Cardoso Belinda will introduce you to a wide range of plants with great foliage that adds invaluable colour to the garden. She will also talk about artfully combining foliage for maximum impact. 45 min.
1 pm Sizzling Succulents: Drama, Structure and Intrigue with Succulent Foliage Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials Sit down with Gary for an introduction to the fascinating world of succulents for the garden. Gary will focus on a variety of hardy and non-hardy plants including Agave, Echeveria, Aeonium, Yucca, Dasylirion, Sempervivum and Sedum. 45 min.
2 pm Tumbling Towards Ecstacy: Great Cascading Perennials for Walls and Planters Shelley Brignall Shelley will introduce you to a host of different plants for sun and shade that will elegantly tumble over the edge of walls and planters. 45 min.

This is going to be a great weekend. Tell your friends.

You might want to write it down on your calendar!



You Can Plant Perennials All Summer
A few careful steps are all that is required to successfully plant new perennials in the summer

Many gardeners think that once July and August are here that it is too late to plant new perennials. Indeed, the best seasons for perennial planting are spring and fall. But you can also plant perennials in the summer.

This common misconception is likely due to confusion between the planting of new perennials and the transplanting of existing perennials.

Transplanting of existing perennials refers to moving plants already established in the garden which results in the uprooting and damaging of established root systems, especially the fine white tip roots that are the primary conduits for water and nutrients. Once transplanted into a new location the remaining roots will usually not have enough capacity to uptake water to support the foliage, even if you trim back the foliage by a third to a half.

While this type of garden work should be avoided in the summer months, the planting of new perennials can continue with great success. This is because new perennials can be planted with little to no damage to established root systems. Your new perennial goes into the ground with its roots intact and just like when it was in a pot, the only thing you have to do is keep it watered.

Here are a few secrets of success for summer planting:

  1. While still in the pot water your new perennial so that water flows freely out the bottom of the pot and the root ball is thoroughly saturated.
  2. Dig a generous hole. Once dug, fill it with water and allow the water to slowly drain into the surrounding garden bed. This helps moisten the soil around your planting hole.
  3. Remove your new plant from its pot and gently scuff up the edges of the root ball with your fingers. Just a little damage to the roots will encourage them to grow and branch out into their new home. Plant your new plant and fill the hole three quarters full with a mix of half existing soil and half new compost or Sea Soil. Now fill the hole again with water and allow it to slowly drain away as before. This will thoroughly moisten the soil immediately adjacent to the new plant’s root ball.
  4. Fill the remaining quarter of the planting hole with soil and gently tamp down the soil around the root ball of your new plant.
  5. Collect the excess soil left over from planting and build a rim or bowl around your perennial about six to 12 inches from the base of the plant. This will create a bowl for you to water guaranteeing that water will collect in the bowl and sink straight downwards into the root ball of your new plant.
  6. Water your new perennial two to three times a week during dry sunny periods by filling the bowl with water two or three times and allowing the water to sink straight down into the root ball.
  7. To encourage faster rooting use a transplant fertilizer. The product we carry has rooting hormone as well as kelp extract which makes roots grow crazy fast!

Voilà! You can plant a new plant or whole new garden beds and you don't have to wait until fall! Follow these easy steps and you can plant new perennials all summer long! Have fun!

PS. These steps are also great for success with spring and fall plantings too, especially if you're planting trees and shrubs which are slower to establish than perennials.



The Sixth Annual Phoenix Perennials
Great Plant Combination Contest

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

Thank you to everyone who entered our contest! We had lots of great entries this year. There were lots of lovely and intriguing combinations showing great design and interesting ideas. We had a difficult time deciding and wish we had many more prizes to offer. Overall we could tell that you love your gardens and recognize them as expressions of your own person style. Thank you to all of our entrants for sharing your very personal works of art with us, your gardens. In selecting the winning entries we were looking for great combinations that also offered that little extra touch or pizzaz or surprise.


Come See the Winning Combinations In Person!
The winning entries will be set up as display gardens at the nursery through the month of July and August. They will be ready for their first viewing at the Summer Sizzle weekend!


This year the Great Plant Combination Contest Prizes go to:

1st Prize: $150 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Hannah P. of Richmond

Her combination includes:
Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' - Elderberry
Heuchera 'Marmalade' - Coral Bells
Hosta cv. - Blue-Leaved Hosta
Euonymus 'Emerald 'n' Gold' - Euonymus

Crocosmia cv. - Montbretia
Paeonia cv. - Peony

Hannah's planting offers bold contrasts of foliage. The foliage colours include blue, purple, gold, marmalade orange, light green and mid green. There are also good contrasts in leaf size, shape and texture. For instance, note the colour, textural and leaf shape contrasts between the dark, lacy elderberry, the big, ribbed blue leaves of the hosta, and the long, arching, grass-like leaves of the montbretia. If you consider foliage when you design your garden it will look great all season. Here's a great example!


2nd Prize: $100 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Brian B. of North Vancouver

His combination includes:
Dicksonia antartica - Tasmanian Tree Fern
Cimicifuga 'Brunette' - Bugbane
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola' - Japanese Forest Grass
Hosta 'June' - Plantain Lily
Asplenium scolopendrium - Harts Tongue Fern
Astilboides tabularis - Shieldleaf Rodgersia

Brian's combination for shade is a beautiful study in foliage contrast using size, shape, texture, subtle greens, a bold burgundy, and a golden lift from the Japanese forest grass. The combination is serene and intriguing at the same time. When the rodgersia, hosta and bugbane bloom they will contribute to the combination with their white or lavender flowers. Consider how all of the plants contribute to the combination. If you subtract even one plant the impact of the planting lessens. For instance, remove the huge round leaves of the rodgersia. It wouldn't be the same. Try that for each of the other plants. This is a really good combination because every plant contributes something different and together they become more than the sum of their parts.


3rd Prize: $50 Gift Certificate at Phoenix
Dennis M. of Vancouver

His combination includes:

Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' - Cerinthe
Geranium pratense ‘Dark Reiter’ - Cranesbill
Geranium pratense ‘Double Jewel’ - Cranesbill
Geranium sanguineum ‘New Hampshire Purple’ - Cranesbill
Iris sibirica ‘Temper Tantrum’ and ‘Ruffled Velvet’ - Iris
Polemonium ‘Purple Rain’ - Jacob's Ladder
Astrantia cv. - Masterwort  

Dennis' combination is all about flowers. We love the repetition of geraniums in different colours throughout the bed along with the somewhat similar yet different darker flowers of the masterwort. The cerinthe is a nice touch with its glaucous foliage and nodding blue flowers. Despite the focus on flowers there is still good structure here contributed by the verticals of the irises and Jacob's ladder that rise out of the billowing clouds of geraniums. Even when not in flower this bed will still look nice.


Honourable Mention: Fame but not Fortune but you do get a Phoenix Perennials T-Shirt!
Carrie R. of Surrey

Her combination includes:

Clematis chiisanensis ‘Lemon Bells’ - Clematis
Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ - Coral Bells
Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’ - Jacob's Ladder
Astrantia ‘Margery Fish’ - Masterwort
Rosa ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ - Rose

We thought this was a lovely combination. For one, we are always trying to encourage gardeners to plant climbers together so they can mix and mingle. Here is a great example of a climbing rose and a clematis weaving together to create a great duo. Below them you will find some nice foliage from a heuchera, some subtle blues on the tall Jacob's ladder that are high enough to join the climbing duo for a nice colour combo and then just out of this picture the white, long-lasting flowers of the masterwort to lift and brighten the whole combination. We also loved how Carrie described her combination: "This is an absolutely beautiful combination.  Together [the plants] combine to give a cottage feel without becoming too ‘messy’ looking.  The combo doesn’t look studied, but rather like a lovely accident, which in fact it was!" We sometimes create beautiful combinations when we don't even realize we're doing it! It happens to all gardeners from beginners to experts!


Honourable Mention: Fame but not Fortune but you do get a Phoenix Perennials T-Shirt!
Tamara R. of North Vancouver

Her combination includes:

Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' -Golden Creeping Jenny
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' - Black Mondo Grass
Heuchera 'Caramel' and 'Dolce Licorice' or 'Burnished Bronze' - Coral Bells
Milium effusum 'Aureum' – Golden Wood Millet
Sarcoccoca hookeriana ‘Humilis’ - Sweetbox
Helleborus (various colours) - Lenten Rose

This is a high impact planting at Tamara's front door. It's a shady area so she wanted to brighten it up. Well that she did! We love the bold bright colours in gold, burgundy, peach, black and green. She has also smartly planted hellebores and sweet box to add early spring colour and fragrance, respectively, but also to temper the bold coloured foliage with rich greens. This entrace way garden will look great most of the year. Tamara says that "my countless trips in and out of the house each day are now brightened by this foliage-based plant combination."


Early Bird Entry Draw
Those people who sent in their entries before June 16th were entered in a draw to win a $25 gift certificate!
The winner is: Alison K. of Delta


Come See the Winning Combinations In Person!
The winning entries will be set up as display gardens at the nursery through the month of July and August. They will be ready for their first viewing at the Summer Sizzle weekend!



Upcoming Speaking Engagements
by Phoenix Perennials Owner Gary Lewis

These talks are open to the public. There may be an entrance fee to these events and garden group meetings. It would be great to see you there!

Avoiding the Summer Doldrums: Great Plants for High Summer and Early Fall Does your garden look fabulous in the spring only to have its vibrant colours fade with the summer heat?  Gary offers advice on how to avoid these summer doldrums and recommends a host of great garden plants to keep colour in the garden through the hot months of the year. At the end Gary will “show and tell” a select group of plants from the talk.

Langley Garden Club

Monday July 12th, 7pm

Contact Lesley for more details:



Fabulous at Phoenix
Gary's Picks of New, Notable and Luscious Plants at the Phoenix Candy Store

The nursery looks like a giant garden through July and August. We'd love it if you came down to see it! We lament that so many of you come to the nursery in the spring when things are just starting to grow. Though the nursery is organized and neat then you haven't truly experienced the nursery unless you've come to see it in the summer! Like I said, it's like a giant garden - but without the entrace fee - though we do make it dangerous to get out without at least a few new plants for your garden!

Abutilon 'Hungtinton Pink' – Flowering Maple – This excellent and vigorous flowering maple cultivar has upright stems festooned with dangling two inch bells of rich pink throughout summer. May be hardy to zone 7 if grown in full-sun and protected from winter wet in well-drained beds and with mulch. Will blossom straight through winter in a bright window of the house. We’ll have numerous other cultivars available this season.

We have about 20 other colours of abutilon as well!

Carex elata 'Aurea' - Bowles Golden Sedge - This superlative sedge is fantastic in part sun to shade. The grass-like foliage is like a golden fountain which combines perfectly with blue-leaved hostas, toadlilies and ferns.
Carex appalachia - Appalachian Sedge - This lovely sedge is native to the dry woods of eastern North America. Its fine texture and fountaining habit make it a lovely groundcover in dry shade, even in the root zone of trees. Its tidy clumping habit makes it a perfect feature in a container, rock or stump, or in a border planting along a walkway.

Meconopsis 'Lingholm' (Bill Terry Strains) - Himalayan Blue Poppy - One of the holy grails of the botanical world, the Himalayan Blue Poppy. Count yourself lucky to live in one of the few places in the world with a suitable climate for growing these fabulous plants. ‘Lingholm’ is a hybrid group between M. betonicifolia and M. grandis which should be longer-lived than straight M. betonicifolia. The flowers are from three to five inches across in pale to deep sky blue. Prefers peaty, well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist in summer and bright but indirect light.

Bill Terry strains are the best plants available. Huge flowers, rich colour, vigorous plants.

Lilium 'Mona Lisa' - Oriental Lily - ‘Mona Lisa’ has gorgeous, huge flowers at least six inches across in luscious shades of pink with an edge of white and central red spots. It has a spicy, intoxicating fragrance. This is a dwarf oriental lily growing only to a couple of feet tall so it’s great for pots or near the front of perennial borders near the patio. Oriental lilies bloom in August with bold colours and a sweet and spicy intoxicating fragrance. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for a dramatic visual and olfactory experience.

Lilium 'Citronella' - Asiatic Lily - This unusual Asiatic lily has exquisite, downward facing, yellow turkscap flowers with black spots are borne in great profusion on these unusual specimens creating a candelabra of luminous summer colour. Up to 36 flowers per stem! Sun to part shade. Asiatic lilies are unscented and grace the garden with bright, diverse colours in June. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for best effect.
Lilium regale - Trumpet Lily - The exquisite trumpets of this species trumpet lily arrive on the scene in mid to late July and provide dramatic height and fragrance. Regale is a white fragrant lily with a yellow throat and pink reverses to the petals. Elegant. Said to be one of the best plants to enter cultivation in the last 200 years!

Lilium 'African Queen' - Trumpet Lily - The exquisite trumpets arrive on the scene in mid to late July (preceding the oriental lilies in August which you should also have in your garden) and provide dramatic height and fragrance. ‘African Queen’ has golden yellow/apricot flowers with reddish backs and a sweet fragrance. Looks great towering over purple coneflowers and rising beside the burgundy leaves of castor beans. Good fresh cut flower.

Lilium 'Casa Blanca' - Oriental Lily - Huge fragrant white lilies with bright orange stamens, ‘Casa Blanca’ is the classic white oriental lily both in gardens and in florist shops. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for a dramatic visual and olfactory experience. Oriental lilies bloom in August with bold colours and a sweet and spicy intoxicating fragrance. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for a dramatic visual and olfactory experience.
Lilium 'Landini' - Asiatic Lily - This is the darkest lily available! Burgundy-black flowers open on sturdy stems of more than eight flowers each. This lily has created quite a stir at the nursery (selling out every year) and with visitors to my garden (asking with lust in their eyes if there are more at the nursery). If you love “black” flowers or bold, rich colours then you need ‘Landini’. Asiatic lilies are unscented and grace garden beds or pots with bright, diverse colours in June. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for best effect.

Salvia greggii 'Wild Watermelon' - Aumtumn Sage - If you love ‘Hot Lips’ you’ll love ‘Wild Watermelon’. This fast growing selection with a unique fuchsia colour will bloom constantly with hundreds of flowers from June to November driving you, your garden visitors and butterflies wild with luscious colour (and nectar). Makes a super easy and appealing container plant for the patio, or combine with other deep purple, blue and white perennials in the garden. Plant in full sun in hot dry spots with well-drained soils.

We also have 'Ultra Violet' and 'Wild Thing'!

Salvia 'Caradonna' - Sage - Hands down one of our favourite sages at the nursery. 'Caradonna' has neat and tidy spires of purple flowers held with purple buds and purple stems. It is strongly upright and structural in the garden as long as soils are not too rich or the light too low. It blooms over an extended period and will rebloom with deadheading.
Agapanthus 'Black Buddha' - Lily-of-the-Nile - This hardy agapanthus is similar to ‘Back in Black’ with rich green foliage black stems, black buds, and brighter blue flowers followed by attractive black seed pods. Sounds luscious, doesn’t it? Mulch each winter with fallen leaves.
Astilbe 'Fanal' - False Spiraea - Astilbe offer excitement and vivid colour for the shade to part sun garden. The large upright red flower spike of ‘Fanal’ rises from elegant lacy foliage. Needs rich moist soil for best performance and dividing every 2-3 years.
Astilboides tabularis - Shieldleaf Rodgersia - This plant will love your moist soil and dappled shade. Its arching, creamy-white plumes will remind you of a large Astilbe and its umbrella-like, large foliage is just sensational. A great foliage plant for contrasting with finer foliage.
Agastache 'Summer Fiesta - Anise Hyssop - Agastache are incredibly useful for clouds of colour through the summer months. ‘Summer Fiesta’ has outstanding dense, spicy orange red spikes produced in masses. One of the best attributes of the Summer Series is an unfading calyx that clasps the flower which does not brown like other agastache, giving it a much longer lasting spike. Even without a single flower on the spike, it still appears to be in bloom! Provide full sun and good drainage.
Agastache 'Summer Love - Anise Hyssop - Agastache are incredibly useful for clouds of colour through the summer months. ‘Summer Love’ has massive numbers of densely clustered large dark pink flowers that bloom all summer and into fall. Three feet tall with bright green, fragrant foliage. One of the best attributes of the Summer Series is an unfading calyx that clasps the flower which does not brown like other agastache, giving it a much longer lasting spike. Even without a single flower on the spike, it still has colour! Sun, dry soil.
Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe - This stunning endangered aloe from the mountains of Lesotho (the mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa) features light green leaves arranged in a spiral that becomes more and more pronounced as the plant matures. In its native habitat it experiences sharp drainage, winter frosts and snow, and cool summers with ample moisture. Plant on a slope in full to partial sun in very well-drained soil or in a pot. It is hardy in zones 7b to 9. Our plants are grown from tissue culture.
Dahlia Bishop Series - Dahlia - This excellent series of burgundy-leaved dahlias includes the classic ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ (red) as well as the Bishops of Auckland (dark red), Canterbury (rosy red), Oxford (orange), York (yellow) and Leicester (lavender). These dahlias are fairly hardy in our climate and don't need to be lifted if planted in a protected, sunny spot in well-drained soil. A protective mulch is recommended.
Zantedeschia aethiopica 'White Giant' - Calla Lily - This fantastic, imposing, giant selection of Z. aethiopica features five foot clumps of white-speckled, ruffled arrow-shaped leaves topped by seven foot tall flower stems carrying the classic white boot-shaped calla flower. For full sun and average to moist soils. Semi-evergreen through most of the winter.
Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' - Silk Tree - This beautiful small tree has luxuriant feathery foliage of rich purple and burgundy topped for 2-3 months in summer with masses of fuzzy pink spheres. It is one of the few flowering trees that bloom in the summer and thus extremely useful. Overall this is a great subtropical contribution to the garden. The wood of this tree is not particularly strong, so plant where it will be protected from our winter wind storms.


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Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.
One of the largest and most exciting selections of perennials in the Lower Mainland.
Specializing in distinct perennials, fragrant shrubs, hardy subtropicals and the botanically intriguing.3380 No. 6 Road, Richmond (Between Bridgeport and Cambie)

Please visit our web page for information on the nursery, driving directions and a map.
We are near the south end of the Knight Street Bridge and very easy to get to from all of the surrounding municipalities and beyond.

Seven Days a Week 10am-5pm
Extended hours until July: Thurs, Fri and Sat 10am-6pm
March 5th to October 31st, 2010

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd. 2010

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