Red Rocket Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Red Rocket’) — Narrow, columnar shape—8’spread x 30’ height. Fiery red fall foliage.

Pacific Sunset Maple (Hybrid of Acer truncatum, a maple native to northern China, and Acer platanoides or Norway maple)  — Compact, relatively small hardwood tree. Good fall color.

Goldspur Amur Chokecherry (Prunus maackii ‘Jefspur’) — Hardy tree for small spaces—10-15’ height x 8’ spread. White flowers in spring, golden, exfoliating bark, tiny black fruit in summer.


Little Devil Ninebark (Physocarphus poulifolium ‘Little Devil’) — One of the smallest ninebarks, 3-4’, so requires no pruning. Reddish-purple foliage. Whitish-pink flowers in June.

Superstar Spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Denistar’) — Smaller & more compact than Froebels spirea—2.5’x 3.5’. Deep green foliage with red new growth. Deep pink blossoms all summer. Bronze fall leaves.

Setting Sun Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) — Unusual peach-colored flowers with a dark peach-red eye. Compact—2’ height x 3’ spread.

All the Rage Shrub Rose — Easy Elegance Series, Coral buds opening to apricot blossoms. Blooms all summer. Disease resistant. Pleasing, round shape—2.5-4’ height.

Valley Cushion Mugho Pine (Pinus mugho mugus) — Smaller than the commonly sold dwarf mugho pine–only 2-3’ wide. Hardy.

Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs

Ozark Beauty Strawberry — Everbearing, deep red, firm berries, ‘just right’ sweetness.

Organiks — One of our biggest bedding plant suppliers is offering a new line of organically grown herbs and vegetables grown in organic soils, using organic fertilizers, and 100% eco-friendly, recylable pots! Perfect for those of us trying to become more earth-friendly.


We will have many new perennials but here are a couple of the best new perennials for 2013:

Variegated Solomons Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) — Awarded the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year! Greenish-white flowers in early summer and variegated (green and white) foliage. This hardy perennial is fragrant and needs a shady spot.

Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) — Two new compact (20”) Heleniums: ‘Fuego’ and ‘Salsa’ will form a mass of color in the late summer and early fall garden. Salsa is bright red Fuego flowers are orange and golden.

Annual Flowers

Again lots of beautiful, new annuals, but here are two worth noting:

Lemon Slice Superbells (Calibrachoa) — Bicolor white and bright yellow striped flowers for growing in pots or hanging baskets.

Blue a Fuse Petunia — Bicolor petunia with blue and white stripes. Trailing compact habit for containers or hanging baskets.

by Jan Cashman 2/10/12

There’s a garden full of new plants introduced to the retail market again this year.  Here are a few of these exciting new plants that should do well in our climate:


In the milder northern climates of Des Moines, Iowa, or Fort Collins, Colorado, ornamental pears are commonly used in their landscapes where a small, flowering tree is needed.  Ornamental pears give four seasons of beauty and the new Mountain Frost variety is improved over slow-growing Prairie Gem, the ornamental pear we used here in the past.  Mountain Frost is covered with attractive white flowers in the spring, has dark green leathery leaves which turn yellow in the fall, and reddish-brown bark.  Plant Mountain Frost instead of a flowering crab—this ornamental pear has little to no fruit.

Another even smaller (15’) ornamental tree that does well here is Crusader Hawthorn.  Not new, but new to us, Crusader has beautiful white flowers in the spring, bright red fruit in the summer, and orange leaves in the fall.  A mature specimen of Crusader Hawthorn can be seen in front of Northern Lights on West Babcock.

Celebration is a new narrow maple good for smaller yards; it grows to only 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide.   Drought tolerant and adaptable to various soils, Celebration should do well in our climate.  Leaves turn red and gold in the fall.


Ninebark shrubs (native species of ninebarks are found in surrounding areas) continue to gain in popularity because of new, improved, hardy varieties with unusual leaf colors.   Coppertina Ninebark, a new hybrid listed as Zone 3, grows to a large shrub, over 8 feet tall with a 5-6 foot spread.  Its leaves emerge copper-colored in the spring and soon turn a rich burgundy.  The bark is attractive and peeling; in the fall it has bright red seed capsules.  Try Coppertina ninebark where you need a tall shrub—it is drought tolerant and adaptable to many soil types.

Center Glow is another new ninebark from the University of Minnesota, so we know it will be hardy.  It grows to 6 to 8 feet with leaves that are red with a golden center, hence the name. Later the leaves turn deep burgundy.   It has creamy white flowers in the spring.  Ninebarks need to be planted in full sun for the best foliage color.


New to us, Honeysweet Rose, is a  Zone 4 shrub rose from Iowa that blooms all summer with fragrant, clustered pinkish-orange roses and dark green foliage.  Its height is 3 to 4 feet.


We’re always looking for the perfect tomato variety that ripens early enough for our climate, and is sweet, and delicious.  One recommendation by our bedding plant grower, Nancy Berg, is called Belii Naliv, from Timiryazen Agricultural Academy in Russia, 20 miles south of Moscow, developed in the 1960’s.  Nancy tried it in her garden last summer and it produced an abundant yield of 3 to 3.5” tomatoes.  She also trialed Beaver Lodge Slicer, a small plant good for growing in pots which produced lots of 2” tomatoes.


Gloriosa daisy or brown eyed susan are two common names for Rudbeckia, a bright yellow daisy-like perennial flower that blooms in late summer when many of the other perennials are finished blooming.  Tall (2-3’) Goldstrum is the hardy rudbeckia many of us are growing in our perennial flower beds but if you’re looking for something shorter try new Little Goldstar Rudbeckia which is only 14 to 16” tall.  Little Goldstar is more floriferous than Goldstrum and blooms earlier.  It looks great in a pretty container planted with mixed annuals and perennials.  Another perennial flower becoming more popular because of new colorful varieties (orange, yellow, blue, or red) and its attraction for bees and hummingbirds is Agastache.  The new Nectar Series is great for containers but could also be planted in your vegetable garden to attract bees for pollination.


The new wave and supertunia petunias and calibrachaos (that look like miniature trailing petunias) have revolutionized plants we use in hanging baskets and containers.  There are two new petunia series, Potunia  with a rounded, mounding growth habit great for pots, and Surprise, which trails, and has large flowers with large, vivid blooms of intense purple, orange with red veins, pink with a yellow center, or bright yellow.

Plan on planting some of these new, exceptional plant introductions in your yard this spring!

by Jan Cashman

Another winter almost past, and even though there’s still more snow to come, many of us are dreaming of warm weather and gardening. Each year at this time, trade magazines and plant catalogs feature new plants that have been introduced by plant breeders at research stations such as the one in Morden, Manitoba, Canada, at agricultural universities throughout the country, and by independent nursery growers. Breeders are looking for trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables with improved shape, hardiness, fruit, flower color and leaf color.

After last year’s winter injury and kill of so many shade trees in our area, especially green ash, we have found that the seedless selection called Mancana ash has been doing better here than other ash species. Although not a new introduction, Mancana ash is rated hardy and disease free. It will grow in adverse conditions and drought.

North Dakota State University recently introduced a new alder called ‘Prairie Horizon’. Alders are small trees in the birch family, often multiple stemmed, that do well in wet conditions where other trees would not thrive. They grow well in poor soils; their root’s nodules actually fix Nitrogen into the soil. Alder’s decorative seed pods resemble tiny pine cones that can be used in crafts and decorating.

Although the apple called ‘Frostbite’ was bred in 1936 in Minnesota (for years it was known as ‘MN447’), it has just now been introduced to the consumer. Closely related to the more recently introduced ‘Sweet 16’ and ‘Honeycrisp’, Frostbite is an extremely hardy apple that ripens in late September and is sweet, crisp and juicy. ‘Black Ice’, a hardy plum with large fruit that ripens early, is a new cross between a plum-cherry and a Japanese dessert plum. Either Underwood or American plum would be an acceptable pollinator for ‘Black Ice’.

There are two new, lower-growing ninebark shrubs. Ninebarks have gained in popularity the last few years for good reasons: the newer varieties are hardy in cold climates, they have beautiful leaf colors, and are pest free. ‘Summer Wine’ ninebark grows to a neat, rounded 5 to 6 feet. It has dark red leaves and contrasting pinkish-white flowers in mid-summer. ‘Little Devil’ is the shortest of the ninebarks, growing to a compact 3 to 4 feet with similar foliage and flowers to ‘Summer Wine’.

A new, improved variety of Rocky Mountain juniper called ‘Sky High’ is perfect for our climate. This silvery-blue upright evergreen needs little pruning to maintain its columnar shape.
Each year there are plenty of new perennial flowers introduced. Helleborus is a genus of perennials that has been popular in milder, wetter parts of the country like Seattle, but newer selections seem to do OK here. I have one planted in the shade of our huge flowering crabapple. The deer avoid helleborus, it stays evergreen all winter, and blooms very early in the spring. The leaves stay attractive all summer. New varieties include ‘Winter’s Bliss’ and ‘Winter’s Song’; both have been designated hardiness zone 4.

There is a new development in peonies, an old-fashioned, fragrant, wonderful perennial for our climate. Itoh, a peony cross between tree and herbaceous types, is hardy to zone 3. Itoh’s semi-double flowers are huge and fragrant; it has lush, green, disease-resistant foliage. Two new Itoh peonies to look for are Mikasa and Takara.

Other new perennial flowers to note are Early Bird Rudbeckia, a brown-eyed Susan that blooms earlier and longer than others, and Freya Campanula, an early, heavy-blooming, short bell flower deep violet in color.
New annuals include Calibrachoas in colors called ‘Blackberry’ and ‘Coralberry Punch’ that don’t need dead-heading. Calibrachoas resemble miniature trailing petunias. A hybrid of trailing petunia called SuperCal Terra Cotta, apricot in color, is more vigorous and floriforous than older varieties of trailing petunias. Both of these beautiful trailers will add to your pots and hanging baskets.

Northern Super Sweet is an early sweet corn variety that comes highly recommended by a customer who lives a few miles north of us. “Super sweet” (sh2) corns must be planted at least 25 feet away from other corn types or the kernels will become tough and starchy. If you can isolate it, Northern super sweet will produce a sweet-tasting corn that retains it sweetness for days after picking.
These are just a few of the newly introduced trees, shrubs, and flowers for 2011. Some might be just the right new plants for you.

by Jan Cashman 1/30/10

In the past few years, “branding” of plants has become important in the nursery and gardening business. “Proven Winners”, the largest U.S. plant brand, was formed in 1992 by plant propagators to introduce new, unique, high-performing plants, and has really taken off. Plants are selected for the Proven Winners brand after 2 to 3 years of rigorous testing and determination that they are virus free; then patented. Proven Winner plants have always been labeled with their tag, but now might be sold in pots carrying the Proven Winners logo.

Whether branded or not, it is always exciting at this time of the year to read about new plant introductions for the upcoming gardening season. There are hundreds; I will tell about a few interesting plants for our climate.

Bailey Nurseries, a large grower of hardy plants in St. Paul, Minnesota, brands the plants they develop “First Edition”. One of their First Edition introductions is an ornamental tree called Spring Wonder Sargent Cherry. Finally, a pink flowering cherry hardy enough to withstand our winters! About the size of a flowering crabapple, this tree has delicate, single, pink flowers and small, reddish-black fruit. In the fall its leaves turn shades of yellow, red and orange.

We are anxious to try the Proven Winner shrub, Black Lace Elderberry, which has finely cut, intense purple-black foliage. It has huge creamy pink flowers that contrast with its dark leaves. Like any elderberry—its nutritious fruit can be harvested for wine or jam or left for the birds to eat. This shrub can grow to over 8 feet and will make a stunning accent to landscapes.

Although new pink and blue flowered hydrangeas have been introduced for northern climates, the white-flowering hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) still are the easiest to grow here. Our white Annabelle hydrangea thrives in the shade; I like to harvest and dry its flowers when they start to turn from white to light green in late summer. It would be hard to improve on Annabelle, but Proven Winners Incrediball is a new hydrangea of the same species as Annabelle with up to four times as many huge blooms up to 12” in diameter. Incrediball will be a great small shrub for a shady spot!

Included in the many new perennial flowers released this year, there are new Echinaceas for sun, and new Heucheras and Hellebores for shade. Delphiniums have always been a mainstay to give height to the old-fashioned cottage garden. New Millennium is a series of delphiniums that is long-lived and more heat tolerant than the old Pacific Giants, but just as cold hardy. New Millennium delphiniums have stronger stems, important where the wind can blow these tall perennials over. The new Red Caroline Delphinium has coral-red flowers, a rare color for delphiniums.

Baptisia (common name: false indigo) is a perennial flower that doesn’t get much attention, but should. It was named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year. I have had one planted in my perennial garden for years; it thrives in partial shade with no extra care or attention. It is a tall plant (over 3 feet) with a clean look and indigo-blue flowers in early summer that develop into interesting seed pods. (Baptisia is in the pea family.) Deer leave it alone. Some new selections of Baptisia include Solar Flair with yellow flowers, Twilite, with purple flowers with a yellow edge, and Starlite, with periwinkle-blue flowers.

New annual flowers include a white allysum called Snow Princess. I like to plant white allysum for the border of my annual bed because it is quick to fill in and has a wonderful, sweet fragrance. Snow Princess has larger flowers and better vigor and heat tolerance than other white allysums. A new petunia, Pretty Much Picasso, is bright pinkish-purple with a lime green edge, sure to be a stand-out in any flower bed or container.

Innovative Iseli Nursery near Portland, Oregon, has been a pioneer in the development of dwarf evergreens. This year we are trying their dwarf bristlecone pine called Sherwood Compact that grows in a perfect conical shape to 4 feet, with a dense, formal appearance, unlike the irregular form of the common bristlecone pine. Sherwood Compact bristlecone pine grows slowly, so will make a great substitute for those who like the compact form of dwarf Alberta spruce but need a plant that is less susceptible to winter burn.

These are just a few of the many new and improved trees, shrubs, and flowers for 2010, some with a brand, others not. Chose those hardy for our climate and add something new to your landscape this spring.



by Jan Cashman

Every year growers and plant breeders develop improved trees, shrubs, and flowers that are disease resistant, have better form, leaf color, hardiness, and longer bloom times.    We don’t buy all the new varieties that are available to us; we wait to see how they grow first.  A new plant might sound great but fizzle after a few years.   Sometimes new plants cost more because of plant patents.   Sometimes we don’t purchase them right away because, as in the case of dwarf summer-flowering spireas, there are already over 20 varieties available.  We wait until we are sure that it is going to be an improvement over the dwarf spireas we already sell.   On the other hand, new plants are exciting, so each year we try some of the more promising varieties.

River birch (Betula nigra), unlike weeping birch,  is resistant to the insect called Bronze birch borer; a new river birch, Northern Tribute, selected for its adaptability to cold and drought, might prove to be a good tree.   Its coppery-bronze exfoliating bark is beautiful in both summer and winter.   Another not new, but native tree called Western Red Birch, also resistant to the birch borer, can be found along streams in western Montana.   This attractive multi-stem tree can provide wildlife habitat in your yard.

Japanese tree lilac is a compact, fragrant, disease free flowering tree for our area.  Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Minnesota, has selected Snowdance, a new early- flowering variety of tree lilac because it has exceptionally heavy bloom and a graceful vase shape.

This year there are many new shrubs, including a new serviceberry, Obelisk, that is tall and narrow, three new hardy dogwoods, and at least one new dwarf spirea.   Dwarf bush honeysuckle is a relatively unknown shrub that we feel should be planted more because it is compact, easy to grow, and hardy in sun or shade.  A new variety of dwarf bush honeysuckle called Cool Splash has variegated (bright white and green) leaves.  Cool Splash could be used as a substitute for variegated dogwood where a smaller plant is needed.

Because they take less time for plant breeders to develop, hundreds of new perennial and annual flowers are introduced each year.   The number of new Heucheras (coral bells), Echinaceas (coneflower), and Sedums introduced the last few years is mindboggling .   One new series of Achillea (Yarrow) is interesting to us because yarrow is so easy to grow here, in fact, certain varieties can be quite invasive.  This new series called Seduction is compact, growing to only 24” and less invasive.  The flowers are either dark rose, red or yellow.  (Pick and dry yarrow at peak bloom for beautiful dried-flower arrangements.)

Dicentra spectablis (bleeding heart) is one of the longest lived, hardiest, and most beautiful perennials in my garden.  Planted in a partially shaded area 34 years ago, my bleeding heart is still going strong.  Burning Hearts is a promising new, smaller, fernleaf variety of bleeding heart that has red flowers in clusters and blooms for a longer time than the old-fashioned bleeding heart.

With the emphasis these days on water conservation, the native Penstemons are a must in a xeriscape  landscape.   Silverton and Shadow Mountain are two new Penstemon varieties.  Silverton is a shorter (12”) plant with lavender blue flowers and evergreen foliage.  Shadow Mountain is a taller, drought tolerant Penstemon with lavender/maroon flowers.

This spring, try planting the new-to-us tomato called Bellstar, a plum tomato recommended by a customer in Ennis for its early fruit set and saucy qualities.  We will also have three new hot peppers good for growing in containers: Apache, Chenzo, and Cheyenne.  Or plant the compact Redskin sweet red bell pepper in a pot on your patio.

New and exciting plants can add a spark to your gardens.  Old standbys like bleeding hearts are tried and proven.  Either way, we all look forward to a fertile 2009 growing season.

by Jan Cashman

Each winter, in the midst of snow and cold, it’s fun to dream about spring and the new plants that will be available this year. Growers and researchers are always searching for superior selections and hybrids of ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers that are disease resistant, have better form, leaf color, hardiness, longer bloom times, and other superior traits. Here are a few standouts that will be available in the spring of 2008:

As our meteor pie cherry succumbs to old age, we are considering the new-to-us Evans Bali pie cherry because of its large (1″ diameter), sweeter fruit. Evans Bali, like other pie cherries, is self-fertile, but it is much sweeter and supposedly as hardy as meteor.
Although there is nothing new about dwarf apple trees, this year we will have more of our best apple varieties, such as Haralred, State Fair and Sweet Sixteen, available on semi-dwarf rootstock. Semi-dwarf apple trees reach about 60% of the size of standard apple trees. (Standard apple trees’ mature size is about 25′ x 25′.) Even a small back yard should have room for these smaller trees.

Choosing a good shade tree for our area continues to be a challenge. Unfortunately, after planting Fall Gold black ash in the last 15 years, the last two seasons has seen the insect called Cottony Psyllid almost wipe them out. The City of Bozeman issued $75 vouchers for citizens to replace Fall Gold black ash planted on their boulevards. But what trees make good replacements? For years, we have planted hardy green ash varieties (which are not susceptible to the Cottony Psyllid) but now all ash (species Fraxinus) are threatened by the Emerald Ash borer, slowly moving west from where it was first discovered in Michigan. (Mountain ash trees are in a different genus and are not threatened by either of these insects.)

One good shade tree for our area is the stately, tall American elm, which has done well here over the years, but most homeowners are fearful of them because of Dutch elm disease. Although it has not reached the Gallatin Valley, this disease has been found in Billings and Great Falls. Discovery and Vanguard are two new elm varieties introduced in Canada that are highly resistant to Dutch elm disease. Hardy, drought resistant, and similar in shape to the American elm, these two elms should be worth a try.

Linden is another attractive, long-lived shade tree that is relatively disease and insect free. Some newer cultivars of linden such as ‘Frontyard’ show improved shape, hardiness, and growth rate. Jerry likes the littleleaf types of linden for their shape and compact size. ‘Shamrock’ is a littleleaf linden selection that shows vigorous growth and has a uniform shape that works well in home landscapes.

Several species of ninebark shrubs have been gaining in popularity. Diablo, a tall (10′) shrub with purple leaves, has become a good substitute for the commonly planted purple leaf plum. Deer like to eat purple leaf plums and other plants in the Prunus genus, but they will avoid ninebarks. The newer, compact (5′) Summer Wine Ninebark, is an outstanding shrub with deeply cut dark red leaves and pinkish-white flowers in mid-summer.

Bailey Nurseries, in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a new series of roses they call “Easy Elegance” which may die to the ground in a hard winter (they are rated hardiness zone 4). These new roses are grown on their own root, so if they do freeze back all the way to the ground, the growth coming up from the root will be the same as the top growth. The “Easy Elegance” series of roses has fantastic colors, continuous blooms, are compact, disease-free and need little pruning. We have been trialing one called Sunrise Sunset, a small ground cover rose with stunning, pink-blend flowers. It has survived its first winter for us. Two other “Easy Elegance” roses we will be trying are Super Hero, a compact rose with large, red, hybrid-tea-like blooms, and Fiesta, another small shrub rose with stunning pink and white striped petals. Try planting these small roses within your perennial flower gardens.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), hardy geraniums, daylilies, and sedum are four reliable and easy-to-grow perennial flowers. This year we will have two new varieties of Echinacea, ‘Coconut Lime’ and ‘Pink Double Delight’, unusual looking flowers with huge cones. Coconut Lime has a lime green cone and white petals. Most hardy geraniums have single flowers, but there is a new double, bright pink hardy geranium, called ‘Southcombe Double.’ There are hundreds of kinds of daylilies, but one exceptional new reblooming variety called ‘Spanish Glow’ is full of large, peach-colored flowers. Sedum, both ground cover and upright types, grow well here. A new compact, upright sedum, just released, called ‘Autumn Charm’ has variegated leaves edged in white. ‘Autumn Charm’, like most sedums, is tolerant of heat, drought, and poor soils.
Ornamental grasses are used in our landscapes more each year. A great new variegated form of the ever-popular ‘Karl Forester’ reed grass called ‘Eldorado’ has narrow green blades with a bright gold center. The seed-heads are light purple and mature in the fall to a golden color.

Nancy, our grower, trialed a new flower called ‘Lemon Drop’ oenothera, growing it in an old washtub on her south side deck mixed with other heat-loving plants in reds and oranges. She said it withstood the heat well and bloomed all summer. It’s bright yellow flowers would make it a good addition to your sunny pots.
If you’re looking for the latest and best plants for your garden, try planting some of these new varieties.