Plant and seed catalogues for the spring have appeared, and a company that focuses on sustainable gardening has released its annual top 10 list, a colorful lineup of perennials including a rich purple English lavender, a coral-pink sage, a deep red wildflower and an orange-flowering ice plant.
High Country Gardens, which grows its plants in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, recently announces its top 10 new plants for 2019, according to a company press release. Included in this lineup is a preplanned garden High Country calls the Fabulous Flowers and Foliage Shade Garden.
Here are names and descriptions of the plants and preplanned garden as well as photos provided by High Country Gardens.
1. After Midnight English Lavender
The 2019 Plant of the Year (pictured above) is After Midnight English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia WWG002), according to High Country.
“This exclusive introduction has stunning, dark-colored flower spikes with deep indigo-blue calyxes and large violet-purple flowers,” the release states. “The color of the flowers is truly unique, and the plant stands apart from any other lavender available to gardeners. A medium sized English lavender selection with gray-green foliage, After Midnight blooms in late spring/early summer and attracts bees and butterflies to its nectar-rich flowers.”
After Midnight English Lavender thrives in USDA zones 5 through 9.
This and several other plants in the lineup come from the company’s new FlowerKisser brand. These plants, selected by founder and chief horticulturist David Salman, “are particularly nectar-rich and attract many pollinators, including honeybees, native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds,” the release states.
2. Coral-Pink Sage
Second in the lineup is Coral-Pink Sage, also part of the FlowerKisser brand.
” The brilliant coral-pink flowers of … Coral-Pink Sage (Salvia greggii WWG003) color a waterwise garden from late spring to fall frost with a non-stop display,” the High Country release states. “This plant grows as a medium sized woody shrub, and it loves a hot, sunny place where the soil dries out quickly. Hummingbirds adore its flowers, which never fail to provide them with a sweet meal. Trim this plant back in mid-spring by about 1/3 its height to stimulate new growth and another flush of gorgeous flowers.”
Coral-Pink Sage thrives in zones 6 through 9, according to High Country, and it doesn’t need much water.
3. Red Feathers
Third in the lineup is a deep red wildflower.
“Red Feathers (Echium amoenum) is a beautiful, xeric, small growing wildflower from the Caucasus Mountains of western Asia,” according to High Country. “Its russet-red flower spikes resemble Liatris. Blooming in late spring, this lovely plant will continue to produce new flower spikes throughout the summer when deadheaded. But leave some spikes on the plant later in the season to ripen seed.
“A short-lived perennial, Red Feathers should be mulched with gravel mulch to encourage it to re-seed itself. Adaptable to average, sandy and clay soils. Plant it in spots with a half day to a full day of sun. Pair this plant with Creeping Goldenaster (Heterotheca jonesii), Blue Flax (Linum) and Dark Violet Skullcap (Scutellaria).”
The plant grows in zones 3 through 9.
4. Granita Orange Cold Hardy Ice Plant
Fourth is an orange-flowering ice plant (Delosperma).
Granita Orange Cold Hardy Ice Plant, according to High Country, “blooms in mid- to late spring with a stunning display of large, pure-orange flowers. Granita Orange grows to form a tidy mat of ground-hugging evergreen foliage. It was discovered in a Salt Lake City rock garden where it appeared as a volunteer seedling, and it has proven to be a very cold hardy groundcover that fits well in a drought-tolerant garden.”
This plant grows in zones 5 through 9.
5. Arizona Beauty Coyote Mint
Fifth in High Country’s top 10 is Arizona Beauty Coyote Mint, also part of the FlowerKisser brand.
“Arizona Beauty Coyote Mint (Monardella odoratissima Arizona Beauty) has flowers and foliage with a very minty scent when brushed or handled,” High Country says. “This sweetly scented native groundcover has lavender-pink puffball-shaped flowers that attract bees and butterflies.”
It was collected by chief horticulturist Salman, found in the east-central mountains of Arizona, growing around and under Ponderosa pine.
“Normally this species is sub-alpine,” according to the release, “but this lower elevation form (8,500 feet) grows well at middle elevations throughout the western U.S. Plant it in a spot that gets some afternoon shade where day temperatures are hot.”
High Country advises using it as a companion plant for other smaller growing perennials such as Ornamental Oregano, Prairie Clover (Dalea purpureum) and Dark Violet Skullcap (Scutellaria).
It grows well in zones 4 through 8.
Sixth on the list is an easy-to-grow garden designed for planting in shade, dappled shade or morning sun.
“These perennials provide season-long interest with a pleasing combination of foliage types that provide contrasting textures and colors and a profusion of pink, yellow and white flowers,” according to High Country. “The garden grows well in most soil types (but avoid wet clay or water-logged soils). The Fabulous Flowers and Foliage Shade Garden is an excellent choice for planting on the shady north or northeast side of a house. It also grows well by a tall fence or wall and in areas shaded by tall trees and mature shrubs.”
The Fabulous Flowers and Foliage Shade Garden comes with a planting diagram, care instructions and 18 plants, according to the press release. The garden covers approximately 40 square feet and grows well in zones 4 through 8.
7. Dark Shadows Sage
No. 7 is Dark Shadows Sage, also a FlowerKisser.
“Dark Shadows Sage (Salvia hybrid WWG001) is a color breakthrough in cold-hardy bush sages,” states High Country. “It blooms with a profusion of hummingbird-attracting dark-purple flowers.”
A hybrid of Raspberry Delight introduced by Salman, High Country says “it’s a large, tall-growing woody sage that comes into color in late summer and flowers until frost. … [It] is a good choice near walkways and paths. (When you brush against the foliage, it releases a delightfully sweet, herbal fragrance.) This sage makes an excellent companion plant for Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Boutleloua ‘Blonde Ambition’), Dark Violet Skullcap (Scutellaria ‘Dark Violet’) and twice-blooming ‘Sharon Roberts’ English lavender.”
It grows well in zones 5 through 9.
8. Walker’s Deep Blue Catmint
Eighth in the 2019 lineup is Walker’s Deep Blue Catmint.
This plant (Nepeta Walker’s Deep Blue) “is a dark blue, flowered form of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ discovered in a Santa Fe landscape,” according to High Country. “It’s identical in size and growth habit (as tall as 20 feet as wide as 18 to 24 inches) and durability in the garden, but in hot, sunny growing conditions it will have noticeably darker blue flowers.”
It grows in USDA zones 4 through 9.
9. Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus
Ninth comes Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus, or Needle-Spined Claret Cup (Echinocereus coccineus), which High Country describes as extremely cold hardy and long-lived.
“This is one of the very best native plants for thriving in the most inhospitable of growing conditions,” according to High Country. “Blooming in mid-spring, this outstanding species has a profusion of scarlet, hummingbird-attracting flowers held over a mound of tight clustering stems.”
It grows well in zones 4 through 9, staying small at 5 to 8 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
10. Chumby Silky Rock Jasmine
The final entry in this years top 10 is Chumby Silky Rock Jasmine.
This plant (Androsace sarmentosa ‘Chumbyi’) “blooms in early summer with fragrant clusters of pink flowers held over fuzzy rosettes of gray-green foliage,” states the High Country release. “Growing and spreading much like a strawberry plant, this compact little grower puts out red-stemmed runners that root to form a tidy mound. A cheerful member of the Primrose family, Chumby Silky Rock Jasmine is a wonderful small perennial for shady perennials borders. It also works great as an edging plant for shaded pathways.”
High Country describes it as easy-to-grow, stating that the “Himalayan native is a resilient performer that makes a good companion plant for other shade lovers such as Deep Blue Arizona Sage (Salvia arizonica) and Kashmir Sage (Phlomis cashmeriana).”
It remains small—2 to 4 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide—and grows well in zones 3 through 8.
High Country Gardens’ history and origins date back to 1984, when David Salman opened Santa Fe Greenhouses with the aim to “change the face of western gardening from rocks and cactus to lush, blooming eco-friendly garden habitats,” according to the company’s website. That retail operation eventually expanded to a mail-order division called High Country Gardens. David’s wife, Ava, later joined the company to focus on marketing and online sales while David continued to work on product development.
In 2012, the couple closed the retail outlet and sold High Country Gardens to American Meadows. David Salman still serves as chief horticulturist, focused on developing new plant varieties. High Country Gardens has received one plant patent, for the above-mentioned ornamental grass Bouteloua gracilis, also known as Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass. According to the website, High Country Gardens has also won nine consecutive awards for best new plant introduction from the Direct Gardening Association.