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Are you thinking that your yard doesn’t have room for another plant? Something about the promise of Spring makes us think that we can, and will, find room to plant absolutely everything. After all, there are worse things to collect than new plants. And gardens have always provided very fertile ground for dreaming.

The plant buyers at the Garden Center take many things into consideration when they evaluate what new varieties to introduce to you. They are gardeners themselves and are as excited as anyone when the catalogs start arriving touting the best of what’s new. But innovation is just one consideration. Customer requests and plant hardiness are other factors that are taken into account. Of course, that’s after we get over the initial plant lust. So consider the new for 2019 shrubs that we’ll be trying this spring.

Hydrangeas still reign supreme as the most popular flowering shrub. It seems that we can’t get enough of them. And don’t think that hybridizers haven’t noticed as there seem to be a dozen new ones offered every spring. The hottest species are H. macrophylla, or Bigleaf Hydrangea, and H. paniculata, commonly referred to as PeeGee Hydrangea. A newer series of Bigleafs developed in The Netherlands is the Seaside Serenade Collection. They do bloom on both old and new growth, making them useful for morning sun locations with moist, well-drained soil. We had Hamptons last spring and we were pleased enough with it to add Cape Cod and Outer banks to our plant list. If you have acidic soil, Cape Cod will deliver lots of billowy, mop-headed, flowers in an intense mauve-blue. In our more alkaline soils, the blossoms will be pink. The blooms on Outer Banks will be pink as well, but the shape is more open and lacey.

We’ll have plenty of PeeGee Hydrangeas this spring. The more recent breeding has concentrated on controlling size. Old fashioned paniculatas can get quite large, making them impractical for smaller suburban yards. Lavalamp Flare is one of the most compact. The white, cone-shaped flowers quickly age to a very showy bright rose-pink. They’d be perfect planted along a sunny walkway or next to a terrace.

Another genus that the breeders can’t seem to leave untouched is Weigela. Newer varieties are more compact than their older cousins and many boast colorful foliage. Coco Krunch was developed in Canada, so we’re crossing our fingers that it will have better flower bud hardiness than the Wine series. Really new though, is the golden-leafed Golden Jackpot. The brilliant foliage color will not bleach out, even in a full sun location. And Czechmark Trilogy doesn’t refer to tri-colored foliage, but tri-colored flowers!

And finally, we’re anxious to see Winecraft Black Smokebush. The standard Royal Purple could get quite big and the red-purple foliage often faded to olive green by mid-summer. This Proven Winners introduction is much more compact and the leaf color morphs from deep red in spring to a summer black purple to tones of crimson and orange in the autumn.

And if you’re the type of gardener who likes share knowledge, consider keeping a gardening journal, observing and recording the performance of new varieties that you plant. The plant geeks at the Center would love to have your feedback about our new plants.