May 23, 2014 at 1:00 am


Color your world with latest plant offerings

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' is a cross between our perennial Digitalis purpurea and the Canary Island foxglove Isoplixis. (Cultivaris)

After months of looking at nothing but snow cover, I’m totally color starved, so while waiting for the weather to warm, I’ve been window shopping at garden centers. Here are some of the treasures I found on my travels.

Colorful foliage is all the rage with shade gardeners, and Earthly Arts garden center in Imlay City has a great collection of new introductions from Terra Nova, selected by none other than the king of color, horticulturist and Terra Nova president Dan Heims for his presentation in Port Huron in February.

TN’s ‘Berry Exciting’ Corydalis with its yellow fern-like leaves and purple flowers is the perfect jewel for any Zone 5 shade garden.

‘Georgia Plum’ Heuchera, a Zone 4 Terra Nova introduction, features rose purple leaves with a pink to silver overlay and dark veining — a stunning treasure to enhance a Hosta collection.

Summer and fall color can be hard to come by in part shade to shade gardens, so Creeping Broad-Leaved Sedge (Carex s. ‘Banana Boat’), another Dan Heims introduction, rises to just 6 to 12 inches in height. Hardy to Zone 5, the bright banana yellow, inch-wide strap like leaves with narrow green margins spread slowly to form a dense mat.

‘Banana Boat’ works well as an accent in front of Hosta as well as glowing little filler in shade-loving containers.

Foxgloves, an English garden staple for eons, are enjoying a resurgence thanks to new cultivars that flower in the first year, producing magnificent spires of thimble-like flowers loved by hummingbirds. The new ‘Dalmatian’ series in purple, cream or pink sports more showy upright flowers and is said to be hardier than the lovely Camelots I am happy to grow as annuals.

For those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt, want to be the first on their block to grow what’s new and are willing to pay a premium price, Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ is the find of the season. This tender perennial (Zone 8), grown as an annual, is a cross between our perennial Digitalis purpurea and the Canary Island foxglove Isoplixis. I found mine at Telly’s in Troy, and they weren’t flying off the shelf yet because they were not yet in bloom, so there should be some left. The tubular flowers, painted fuchsia on the outer petal surface and a buttery orange shaded interior, splashed with fine red speckles are stunning. Site it in moist, rich, well-drained soil in sun to part shade in a container or garden bed for a thrilling season-long, 36-inch tall show.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. Email her at Szerlag @ You can also read her previous columns at