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When first introduced to the gardening public, the initial impact of a brown leaved grass was more whimper than bang. It wasn't an overnight success but eventually the fox brown sedge (leatherleaf sedge) became a designer's dream and won the Award of Garden Merit (A.G.M.) from The Royal Horticultural Society. This most popular of all the New Zealand grasses, was initially deemed "dead". Now we know it was just a sleeper. ("Dead" was not the description you wanted on point of purchase garden center labeling!) Carex buchananii had a life of its own.
Jelitto's new 'Firefox' has wiry leaves with richer red-brown leaf coloring and a growth habit that is more strictly upright and less arching than typical seed strains. 'Firefox' has proven winter hardier, too, and would be worth testing in colder regions where the common species has not been possible.
A plant once thought "dead" grows immediately alive when featured with plant foliage that is silver-grey. Artemisia stellariana, Salvia argentea or Perovskia atriplicifolia work beautifully. Dark burgundy leaves like Heuchera 'Palace Purple Select' or the purple-brown foliage of Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' would blend well. The purple blooms of Helleborus 'Blue Lady' would be a good combination, too. 'Firefox' is a great choice for borders, meadows, rock gardens or containers.
Jelitto knows Echinaceas. Our award-winning 'Magnus' has received the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit and the Plant of the Year from the Perennial Plant Association. We introduced 'Lucky Star' and 'Magnus Superior', in the years 2009 and 2010, only after we knew we had unique perennial seed selections. Jelitto was going for three in a row in 2011 with the introduction of 'Happy Star'. In all honesty, two of these introductions would be one and the same: 'Lucky Star' and 'Happy Star'. Surprised? We felt neither lucky nor happy to find-out that 'Lucky Star' was already a registered trademark name.
Breeders no longer consider plant names a playground; it's a minefield. We were firmly told 'Lucky Star' was our unlucky choice. It's a nuisance and an extra cost of doing business - unforeseen only a few years ago - to research trademark sites in Europe and North America, but we didn't think of Israel or Ecuador!
Will there come a time when all good names have been trademarked? When .com names became scarce on the Internet a new .net was designed. What will we do with future plant names? The puzzling name game is a distraction to the work, that we feel is more important, which is to sift through dozens of new Echinacea introductions to figure-out which ones will be affordable and durable.
The cost of tissue-cultured plugs, subsequent production losses, patent royalties and trademark registrations only increase your price tag. It needn't be a tough decision. We've tested most of the highly touted offerings from tissue culture and the seed houses. They have left a lot to be desired if price and garden value are worth anything. Jelitto seed varieties make a lot of sense: improved profit margins and durable perennials.
'Happy Star' is a lovely white flowering selection, bred out of Jelitto's 'Rubinstern'. Beautiful white petals, horizontally arranged around a large cone, distinguish this consistent, new affordable seed strain.
The mosquito hyssop, Agastache cana, was the modest starting point for this breeding project. It didn't stop there. (It could have if we'd been badly bitten by mosquitoes...)
Add a couple of other Southwestern USA species, spend years evaluating seedlings - throwing-out many more than are kept - for further trials - and wait to see what the stork brings - or doesn't. Breeding efforts don't always end-up where the guiding hand wants to take it. But this end point was special: Jelitto's new seed strain is impressive.
Agastache 'Bolero' has a compact habit, grows to height and spread of 40 cm (16") and is covered with rose-purple tubular blooms with purple calyxes above mounds of aromatic dark colored foliage. 99% of the slug-resistant plants have bronze colored leaves - considerably darker than lesser strains.
'Bolero' is reliably first year flowering, tolerant of dry conditions, hardy in Zones 5 -10 and magnificently suited for container production or dry gardens. This combines beautifully with Delosperma cooperi, Kniphofia hirsuta 'Fire Dance' and Penstemon 'Sunburst Ruby'. 'Bolero' like Jelitto's other fine new 2011 introduction Agastache 'Tango', attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and honeybees during its flowering period from June through October.
Agastaches have been a recent target for breeders who have developed interesting seed strains and cultivars. The Hummingbird Mints, bred principally from species native to southwestern USA and northern Mexico, have attractive features that appeal to growers and home gardeners.
Jelitto's new seed cultivar 'Tango' will add more fuel to the fire. Funnel-shaped blooms of fiery orange, on dense terminal spikes to 35 cm (14") tall, stand out in a crowd. But don't forget the other fine selling points. 'Tango' has attractive, aromatic-scented, grey-green foliage that blends magnificently with the orange blossoms. And growers will also appreciate the more compact habit and the short time - as little as 12 weeks - it takes to produce finished pots of Jelitto's first year flowering seed strain. Hardy in Zone 5 -10.
'Tango' is a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies from June through October in full sun and well drained soils. Honeybees love it, too. Lovely perennial companions include Callirhoe involucrata, Eriogonum allenii 'Little Rascal' and Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Superior'.
The name Agastache is derived from Greek and refers to the many flowering spikes. Agan means: much and stachys means ear of grain or spike. There are over twenty Agastache species, principally from Western USA and Northern Mexico. But there are, also, a few species from the Eastern USA and Asia.
Panicum virgatum, a prairie species widespread across much of North America, southwards to Central America, is one of the most versatile of all ornamental grasses. The species is also drawing bioenergy interest for its high cellulose content and ease of cultivation. Long-lived, tolerant of a wide variety of dry to moist soils, switch grass (sometimes called panic grass) is an outstanding species for naturalizing in meadows. The profusion of breezy, graceful flowering panicles open pink-red in mid-summer and can be interesting cut flowers, too.
Jelitto has tested many Panicum seed strains and cultivars for ornamental potential and sturdiness. We are grateful to Cassian Schmidt, the Director of Sichtungsgarten Herrmanshof in Weinheim, Germany, who shared seed with us many years ago. Crosses with these produced very decorative deep green plants that resulted in Jelitto's new 'Emerald Chief'. Our new seed strain has foliage that consistently turns a lovely golden color in fall and remains attractive deep into winter. Unfortunately, many selections are floppy and fall over before then. 'Emerald Chief' remains upright. Many comparissons did not survive the European winter cold and wet in nursery pots. 'Emerald Chief' came through undamaged.
'Emerald Chief' can be used as a stand alone specimen but looks best in small sweeps in a sunny garden with Andropogon scoparius 'Prairie Blues', Amsonia hubrichtii, Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus Superior', Gaura lindheimeri 'Summer Breeze' and Rudbeckia grandiflora 'Sundance'.
Trollius 'New Moon' has a long and distinguished history. We received seed from the nurseryman Coen Jansen of the Netherlands who had been working with the legendary 'Alabaster' that originally came from the famous Georg Arends Nursery in Wuppertal, Germany. Arends, going back as far as the 1930s, had been the source of many outstanding perennial introductions including Astilbes, Primulas and Saxifragas. Sedum 'Herbstfreude' ('Autumn Joy'), one of the most popular perennials of all times, originated at the Arends Nursery.
Although Trollius 'Alabaster' has an extraordinarily beautiful creamy-yellow blossom, it has not been a strong grower and has been a challenge to propagate vegetatively. Still, the majestic blooms proved irresistible to anyone who saw it. Jelitto experimented with plants grown from Jansen's seed with the desired goal of producing a seed strain with bigger blooms and more vigor. 'New Moon' is a Jelitto seed strain success!
Few wildflowers in native habitats are as endearing as globe flowers when discovered - sometimes in abundance - in the cool, moist meadows of Europe, Asia and North America. We are certain that growers and home gardeners will find 'New Moon' just as beautiful.
Trollius 'New Moon' is hardy in Zones 3 - 7 and looks wonderful in a cool, humus rich garden combined with Deschampsia cespitosa 'Pixie Fountain', Viola sororia 'Dark Freckles', and Alchemilla sericata 'Gold Strike'.
The heavenly blue flowers on 'Baby Blues' took us by surprise and won our hearts. We've fallen in love with this lovely scree plant. This short-lived perennial (best grown as an annual) will become a valuable substitute for the powdery mildew plagued Myosotis species, forget me nots. 'Baby Blues' flowers more abundantly than the wild species and has dozens of intense blue corollas with throats of soft heavenly blue on evenly compact stems to 25 cm (10") tall.
'Baby Blues' is a relative of the luscious Eritrichium nanum, a native of the European Alps. This highly desirable species was described by Will Ingwersen as "...one of the most supremely beautiful of all alpine plants..." And, as experienced growers will also admit: It is very difficult to grow in cultivation. Eritrichium nanum shouldn't be confused with Eritrichium 'Baby Blues' which can be easily grown, even as an annual, in full sun in climates with cooler summers and in soils that are gritty and well drained. One of the parents, Eritrichium canum var. canum originates on hillsides of grit, gravel or sandy riverbanks. 'Baby Blues' is a fast germinator and can be brought to flower in three to four months.
Eritrichium is a name of Greek origin erion translating to wool; tricha to hair. The leaves on many of the species are soft and fuzzy.