University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Recall some of the new plants and gardening ideas from 2007 as you make your 2008 landscape and gardening plants.  Some of these from our Green Mountain Gardener articles included new annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and choosing plants “ecologically”. 

Early last year we described several of the newest introductions from seeds, winners in the All-America Selections program.  These included three flowers—Fresh Look Gold Celosia or plumed cockscomb, Opera Supreme Pink Morn Petunia, and Pacifica Burgundy Halo vinca or annual periwinkle.  All of these have grown well for me in Vermont.  There also was an award winning new vegetable, Holy Molé pepper.  Violas, and their many hybrids, were the annual flower of the year of the National Garden Bureau. 

There were several perennial flowers highlighted in our articles this past year.  Walker’s Low catmint was the Perennial Plant of the Year.  This perennial has dark blue clusters of flowers on arching stems in summer, and isn’t low—that name just comes from where it was found in Ireland.  Other catmints were described later in the year, the bottom line being that most (22) rated highly and similarly in northern trials (Chicago).  The four best in these trials were ‘Joanna Reed’, ‘Select Blue’, ‘Six Hills Giant’, and ‘Walker’s Low.’

Meadow rues were featured as a group of easy-care perennials, growing in various habitats from sun to shade depending on the species.  There are ones providing blooms in late spring, mid-summer, or late summer.  Although most are around six feet tall, they range from six inches to ten feet tall.  ‘Lavender Mist’ is a good cultivar, and one of the most common.

Representative species were given of various colors of the lilac, perhaps our most common New England shrub and known mostly for its lilac color.  There are actually seven official lilac colors, from purples to reds and pink, to white.  There are generally two groups of lilacs to choose from in order to extend the bloom season—the common lilacs in late spring, and the later ones such as the Preston hybrids. 

Not all shrubs are good in our landscapes, though.  Alternative choices should be considered for the burning bush and bush honeysuckle, and all their variations.  These have become invasive in many areas from birds spreading their seeds into natural areas, resulting in their crowding out desirable native plants.  The same applies to the common ornamental tree the Norway maple.

A group of stately, long-lived trees you should consider if enough room in landscapes are the oaks.  The white oaks, such as the true white oak and English oak, produce acorns each year.  They often have a deep taproot, making them hard to transplant once established.  The reds oaks, such as the pin oak and Northern red oak, have fibrous roots near the surface so are easier to transplant.  Their acorns are produced every two years.  Even if you don’t have room to plant these, learn and preserve them if they already exist on your property.

More on all these and the other topics from 2007 such as vegetable and fruit gardening, and specific crop pests and culture, can be found online (

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