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Highlights from the 2011 Utah Nursery and Landscape Show

I had the opportunity to attend the UNLA show last week.  In the middle of a snow storm, it was wonderful to cozy up in the convention hall with some green, LIVE plants!  And what a show it was!

I am a plant freak so I’m always on the prowl for new and interesting varieties. You can’t always tell how gorgeous a plant is based on photos from the purveyors.  Photoshop brightens the colors, makes lavender flowers appear blue, greens more intense etc.  There is just no substitute for seeing them in real life!

Of course, most of the plants are not in bloom which is perfect for me because foliage is the place I start anyway in evaluating the potential of a plant.  There are a few standouts I was excited to see in person and I’m sharing them here, complete with my non-professional, non-photoshopped pictures.

Perennials:

Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’ – Terra Nova Nurseries introduction

This plant boasts gorgeous shades of red from maple-leaf read through deep burgundy brown, ‘Sweet Tea’ hits the sweet spot.  I know there are TONS of heuchera/ heucherella varieties out there and many sort of blend into each other but this one is a stand-out stunner!  No idea yet how it will perform here but, in general, I’ve had stronger performance in part-shade from the fancy Heucherella varieties than I have from the larger Heuchera family.

Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’ foliage

There are a number of Euphorbias on the market that have lovely foliage but they look even more amazing when grouped together- the contrasts are stunning.  This selection was brought to the show by Skaggit Nursery (and they donated all the  plants in their booth to a local nonprofit botanical garden after the show so a big thumbs up for them!)

Left to right: Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’, Euphorbia ‘Ruby Glow’, Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (which can barely be seen).

Another interesting plant was the Heuchera ‘Root Beer’.  I don’t really see it as being a superstar plant itself- the leaves are a basic brown and the contrasts are subtle but it is the perfect plant to use to intensify the colors of it’s neighbors.  Don’t get me wrong- it’s pretty cool if you look at it closely but the color will receed in the light shade required to grow it here.

Leaf close-up: see how the solid brown centers give way to amber colored edges?

The brown leaves aren’t for everyone but I think it’s pretty cool! Another Terra Nova introduction.

As for shrubs, the winner in my book is from the grower Bailey NurseriesI’m a HUGE fan of ‘Diabolo’ Ninebark.  ‘Diabolo’ (Spanish for ‘devil’) is a fantastic plant but for it’s larger-than-is-usually desireable size.  This is why Bailey’s new cultivar, ‘Little Diabolo’ intrigues me.  This new cultivar will supposedly stay in the 3-4 feet tall/wide range vs. the 6-8 foot range of it’s Daddy.  Ninebarks also offer the advantage of being waterwise which is a huge plus for Intermountain gardens.  Now, the photo below show the poor ‘Little Diabolo’ in a state of being more green than burgundy with the foliage but give the guy a break- it IS January out there!

Looking a little green in the foliage but he’ll fire up nicely in ‘normal’ conditions.

I’m feeling a little more confident I’ll survive until spring now!

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  • Jen
    January 31, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Nice to see you are up and running! No wonder I haven’t heard from you ;0). Sounds like it was a great program!