Improving the quality of plants and introducing new plant varieties has been a long standing initiative for Mass Hort since our inception in 1829. To that end, and to this day, we participate actively in evaluating new and experimental plant material, sometimes even before it is made available to the public! We are proud to provide a New England environment testing bed for plant breeders, and flower and vegetable companies from all over the world in our New England Trial Garden. Our capacity to do so is supported by our ability to grow all of the plant material on site in our greenhouses from either seed or rooted cutting.
Therefore, we can acclimate the plant material to our exact growing environment from the very beginning! We are so pleased to share with you some of our favorite plants that have performed so well for us here in The Gardens at Elm Bank! We love growing them and observing how they change day-to-day and season-to-season. All of these were on display throughout our gardens this summer and many of the perennials have been with us for years and can be enjoyed again next year! So without further delay, we are excited to present the Top Ten lists for Annuals, Perennials, and Vegetables, from our horticultural staff, David Fiske, Gardens Curator and head horticulturist, and Senior Horticulturist Hannah Traggis.
Top Ten Perennials in The Gardens at Elm Bank:
Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’: This 5-6’ tall, late-flowering coneflower boasts large, buttery yellow, 4-5” daisy-like flowers with broad, drooping petals and bright green cone-like centers. Easy to grow and trouble free, this plant spreads rhizotomously in conditions ranging from full sun to partial shade. Enjoy large swaths of this in Bressingham Garden as it creates a gorgeous late-summer golden backdrop that persists throughout the fall.
Hosta ‘Autumn Frost’: This striking hosta forms a medium sized mound of showy, frosty blue leaves with extra wide, bright yellow margins. You can view a lovely specimen in our Hosta Garden next spring.
Echinacea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’: This 2010 All American Selections Winner proves itself year after year here in the Gardens at Elm Bank. This easy and carefree perennial provides a vibrant burst of color and its hardiness keeps it coming up reliably every spring. A lovely swath of it graces
Tradescantia rosea – Spider Wort ‘Morning Grace’: We have loved this sweet little perennial for several years now as she creates a lovely presence in Bressingham Garden. This plant maintains a nice compact shape with upright, unblemished leaves throughout the entire season. By mid-June, a delicate canopy of tiny, pale lavender tradescantia flowers appear above the leaves and persist throughout the summer. Clumps grow vigorously and are ready for division after two years.
Levisticum officinale – Lovage: We love this ancient herb for so many reasons! Early to rise from the ground in spring, cold-tolerant leaves venture from newly thawed soil providing patches of vibrant green in a still brown early spring garden. Mature plants reach 2-3’ in height with dramatic bloomstalks reaching up to 8’ into the sky. All parts of this plant are edible, imparting a delicious celery-like flavor to salads, soups, stir-fries and more! Hollow stems make a fun and fascinating drinking straw for children of ALL ages!
Miscanthus sinensis – Maiden Grass ‘Bandwidth’: This is a favorite from a recent, and still on-going, perennial trial that we are already in love with! The plant boasts a vibrant yellow and green alternating pattern and provides all the wow of her larger cousins but remains petite at approximately 2-3’ in height. You will enjoy finding new places for this highly ornamental grass in your home landscape.
Echinacea Sombrero ‘Granada Gold’: This powerhouse is another favorite from the 2017 perennial trials. Remaining fairly petite with flower spikes reaching approximately 24” in our garden, gorgeous deep gold flowers begin forming in early summer and do not stop until autumn. The foliage remains unblemished and dark green, in neat rosettes. Interestingly, this variety seemed to resist vole predation compared to many other Echinacea varieties growing right beside it this year.
Dianthus ‘Mountain Frost Pink Carpet’: As the name suggests, this lovely, low growing ground cover creates a solid carpet of chartreuse leaves topped by a delicate frosting of lovely bright pink old fashioned flowers with a dark pink center ring. We’ve enjoyed flowers on this garden from the time it starts blooming in early summer through the first frosts of fall.
Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’: The willow-leaved sunflower is a hardy, no-nonsense powerhouse that boasts very showy flowers in late summer through October, persisting even after a few frosts that kill off so many other plants. We love this plant for the cheery, bright yellow flowers that shine back at us in the early mornings of late fall, while frost still clings to her leaves!
Vernonia fasciculata – Ironweed is a pollinator favorite in both Weezie’s Garden for Children as well as the Noannett Native Plant display here in The Gardens at Elm Bank. Blooming from August through late September, this tall plant holds a prominent place in the backs of a garden, showing large clusters are dark purple blossoms.
Top Ten Annuals that brightened every day in the gardens:
Firehouse™ Verbena Lavender
Dahlia City Lights™ Golden Yellow
Gomphrena Truffula™ ‘Pink’
Angelonia Angelface® ‘Wedgewood Blue’
Calibrachoa Superbells® ‘Cardinal Star™’
Euphorbia marginata ‘Snow on the Mountain’
Lantana Luscious® ‘Citrus Blend™’
Hibiscus sabdariffa Cranberry Roselle
Salvia Rockin’® ‘Fuchsia’
Calibrachoa Can-Can® ‘Pink Flamingo’
Top Ten Vegetables that kept our palates singing this summer:
Capsicum annuum Chili Pepper ‘Takanotsume’ – Kitazawa Seed Co.
Lactuca sativa Red Butterhead Lettuce ‘Skyphos’ – Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Ocimum basilicum Basil ‘Eleonora’ – Vitalis Organic Seeds
Ocimum basilicum Basil ‘Amazel’ – Proven Winners®
Capsicum annuum Sweet Banana Pepper ‘Cavalcade F1’ – Syngenta Flowers
Sorghum bicolor ‘Coral’ – Experimental Farm Network
Solanum lycopersicum Tomato ‘Calabacita Roja’ – Experimental Farm Network
Solanum pimpenelliforlum Orange Currant – Adaptive Seeds
Cucumis sativus Cucumber ‘Corinto F1’ – Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Allium cepa Onion ‘Rossa di Milano’ – Uprising Organic Seeds