By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

Proven Winners Color Choice shrubs is introducing a dwarf weigela as a permeant replacement for coleus (really?). Midnight Sun weigela is only a foot tall and 18 inches wide and has colorful foliage.  It grows in full sun or light shade. 

Our own Bailey Nurseries has a new ninebark out this spring. Spicy Devil is a “great structural shrub”. The leaves emerge orange and yellow and mature to a vibrant reddish purple. It blooms in the spring with pinkish- white flowers. The leaves are mildew-free. It is 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It prefers full sun and moderate water but resists drought and will adapt to wetter soil.

If you have a very protected area, Baileys has a new forsythia out this spring. It is listed as a zone 5 to 8. Spring Fling has an “explosion of brilliant flowers that mark winter’s end.” It is large enough for a hedge, 5 to 6 feet tall, but small enough to fit at the back of the garden. It doesn’t need pruning which often results in a misshapen shrub. If you like bright yellow flowers, you will love forsythia.  

Darwin Perennials/Ball has two new offers for the 4b zone. We can sometimes get away with zone 4b  if the plants are well mulched and not exposed to cold winds. 

Skyward Blue veronica has a high flower count on a dense upright plant. It blooms from late spring into summer on strong stems. The foliage resists powdery mildew, rabbits and deer. Bees and butterflies are attracted to its flowers. Skyward Pink is a sister plant with the same habits, just a different color. 

This nursery is also introducing a new coneflower. Sombrero Poco Hot Pink blooms heavily from late spring into summer. The bright color attracts butterflies. As with all flowers, she should be deadheaded to keep blooming. She grows 14 to 16 inches tall and wide. She wants full sun and good drainage. She will tolerate drought once well established.  Also listed as 4b.

Terra Nova Nurseries has a cone flower listed as zone 4.  “The anemone-like flowers crown this new echinacea” named Zenith. The flowers have a gold puffy center with spikes of yellow surrounding it.The flowers are long lasting and resists flopping. She is 14 inches by 18 wide with strong branching from the base. Could be used in a pot. Wants full sun.

Kieft Seed/Ball also has a new cultivar of coneflower. Yellow Ombre is part of their Artisan series. They are produced from seed rather than from cuttings. This plants color is a dark gold. She is highly branched and covered with flowers in summer. She is tall, 24 to 34 inches tall and 10 to 25 inches wide. A zone 4 sun lover. 

Plants Nouveau, has a zone 3 to 7 ninebark out this spring. Raspberry Lemonade is very yellow. The raspberry comes in on the color of the coral-red fruits the birds love. This shrub is 4X4, just right for a smaller garden. The short distance between the leaves creates an incredibly dense appearance. The leaves stay yellow from spring to fall. It blooms white. This shrub is suggested as an alternative to barberry. Another sun lover. 

Several of these nurseries are new to us here in Minnesota. They may or may not be available here. Who knows?