Trying to decide which fabulous plant I want to pontificate about this week is as difficult as going into Baskin Robins and choosing an ice cream flavor. I love them all! So this week I am focusing on just two new introductions, one for sun and one for shade. Both have outstanding qualities that make them garden worthy.
“Summer Jazz” Trumpet Vine: If any of you have moved here from a warmer, sunnier part of the country you might have experienced the exuberance of trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). To say that it is a vigorous grower is an understatement. Not only do the branches grow 20 feet a year, but the roots send up suckers all over the place. The vines are self-clinging, which means they can attach themselves to anything without the aid of a trellis. Three inch long tubular flowers of red, orange or yellow are sumptuous and from July on are a magnet for bees and hummers. In the right place, with the right kind of maintenance, a trumpet vine can be a real garden asset. Trying to grow one in the northwest can prove difficult, don’t be disappointed if it is a challenging endeavor.
Because they are heat lovers, they are late to leaf out in our spring and often don’t come into bloom until September, if at all. It’s a whole lot of work for an iffy floral display. But thanks to the breeding work of Koichi Sakaue from Takarazuka, Japan, “Summer Jazz” was selected as the best new plant in 2014 for its well behaved growth habit along with its long and early blooming nature. To still call it a vine seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Growing only 4 to 5 feet tall and just as wide, “Summer Jazz” is easy to maintain in the garden. Simply plant it near a wall with southern exposure and wait for the hummers to come. In the winter, cut it back hard as the flowers will form on the new growth in the spring. It will surely “jazz up” your garden.
Aralia cordata “Sun King”: A show stopper for the shade, if ever there was one. This perennial will die back to the ground in the winter, just like a hosta. “Sun King” will emerge in spring with bright golden foliage and, under fertile conditions, will reach 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide by the end of summer. By August, it will be topped with tiny white flowers followed by metallic black berries. Two to three hours of morning sun will keep it a bright golden color all season long, more shade will result in a chartreuse color. Either way, it will light up the shade garden like nothing else I have ever seen. Anything that can put on 6 feet of growth in one season and come back the next year always piques my interest. And of course, if it has golden foliage then it is a no brainer. (Many of you probably know I have an insatiable appetite for golden leaved plants).
So there you have it, a new compact “vine” for the sun that will attract hummingbirds into the garden without taking over the garden and a dramatic golden foliaged perennial that will light up a shady area like a 500 watt light bulb. Both are available in garden centers this time of year and will keep your yard from being BORING.