Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Best New Plants for Next Year’s Garden

A Preview of the 2011 Winners from the Far West Show

Ladies and gentlemen, start your plant lists!

I’m a big believer in lists. After all, you wouldn’t plan a large party and then go to the store without a shopping list. Yet we arrive at nurseries on the first warm spring day without a plan and then get seduced by blooming lovelies we know nothing about. We miss out on the hottest new plants because we haven’t done our off-season research.

So this fall, start your list with the award-winning plants from Oregon’s Far West Show. They’re coming to a nursery near you next spring.


For up-close dramatic displays, the flamboyant dense-black blossoms are perfect in large containers. The deep hue of the blooms can echo other plants with dark flowers or foliage, such as the black cones of Echinacea ‘Firebird’ or black mondo grass (Ophiopogon nigrescens).

BEST PERENNIAL/GRASS: Gaillardia ‘Moxie’

Also sold as Gaillardia Commotion® this perennial displays a swath of vibrant yellow flowers with red-orange centers from late summer to fall in gardens to Zone 5. At two feet tall and wide in full sun, tuck it among taller spring bloomers to extend your color season. Bonus—it’s drought tolerant once established.

BEST SHRUB: Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’

I’m always looking for upright accents and this bright coral barberry grows as a column—four feet tall and only sixteen inches wide in full to part sun. No worries about any barbarian barberry habits either—this Zone 5 denizen has passed the USDA Cereal Rust Disease Trials in Minnesota and is on the Federal Register as an approved cultivar.

BEST TREE: Drimys winteri var. chilensis

If plant explorer Dan Hinkley thinks a tree is good, I want it. So the evergreen Drymeeze Chilean Winter’s Bark is on my list—even if I have trouble spelling it. This twenty-foot tree is another plant with a columnar habit—great for small backyards. Fragrant white flowers in late winter are a gift in Zones 7-9.

BEST IN SHOW: Paonia x ‘Pink Double Dandy’

Itoh peonies are premium plants with premium prices. But for vigor and beauty, this cross between a tree and an herbaceous peony is worth every penny. Now an Itoh peony has received the Far West Show’s top award. Strong stems hold up clear pink semi-double flowers, so the 30-inch tall and wide peony needs no staking. Grows in full sun in Zones 4-8.