LINCOLN, Neb. -- The GreatPlants program announces the 2009 Plants of the Year - new or overlooked trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses that show superior qualities for Nebraska landscapes.
True to the GreatPlants selection process, they are hardy, ornamental plants that are not commonly planted but deserve a place in the Great Plains landscape.
Tree of the Year - Corneliancherry dogwood, Cornus mas
This durable small tree has rounded clusters of tiny yellow flowers in early spring before leaves appear, and lustrous dark green leaves and bright cherry red fruit in late summer. Olive-shaped fruits are relished by songbirds or can be used to make jam or jelly. Bark is an attractive mix of gray and brown that exfoliates on mature branches.
This slow-growing European native remains free of insect, disease and cold injuries. It grows best in full sun, but tolerates some shade.
Conifer of the Year - Serbian spruce, Picea omorika
This handsome spruce offers an alternative to Norway and blue spruce. It has a slender trunk with short, ascending or drooping branches -- creating a graceful, ballerina effect. Lustrous dark green needles have silver bands underneath. Winter hardy throughout the Great Plains, it grows best in full sun to light shade.
Shrub of the Year -- Creeping mahonia or creeping barberry, Mahonia repens
This stoloniferous groundcover grows along the rocky ridges and under the thick evergreen canopy of western Nebraska's Pine Ridge. The stiff, spine-tipped leaves, reminiscent of holly leaves, turn a rich bronzy purple in late fall, lasting through the winter months. Clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers in early spring are followed by grape-like, dark purple berries in late summer.
Perennial of the Year - Arkansas bluestar, Amsonia hubrichtii
An excellent, dependable plant, worthy of any garden, with upright stems in early spring that rapidly extend to mature size. Starry, pale blue flowers in May and June. Fine, thread-like dark green leaves unfold along the thin stems to form a fine-textured mound of foliage. In autumn, the foliage turns a lovely golden-yellow; brightest when planted in full sun.
Grass of the Year - Shenandoah switchgrass, Panicum 'Shenandoah'
The bright green leaves of this switchgrass are tipped with dark red by mid-summer, turning entirely red and orange in fall. Only 4-5 feet tall in flower, this slower-growing selection is very adaptable, tolerating drought and soggy soils, high pH and full, hot sun. One of the best grasses for maintaining upright habit and tight clump form in the garden. This North American prairie native was selected by Germany's Hans Simon.
GreatPlants Releases for 2009
The following plants are named cultivars released by the GreatPlants program for 2009.
Prairie Gypsy Monarda, Monarda 'Prairie Gypsy'
This wonderful new Monarda has 3 inch wide, raspberry-colored flowers with purple spots on the petals. This selection does not spread aggressively by rhizomes like other beebalms and its attractive minty-scented leaves are mildew-resistant.
Selected by Harlan Hamernik of Bluebird Nursery.
Prairie Jewel Mistflower, Eupatorium 'Prairie Jewel'
Attractive cream and green mottled foliage brightly emerges in spring and grows up to a nice upright mound by late summer. Clusters of small white flower buds cover the plant in fall and slowly open over several weeks. It's a durable plant that's easy to grow in well-drained, moderately dry soils and is pest-free.
Discovered by Ed Rasmussen of The Fragrant Path, Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.
Mongolian Snowflakes Clematis, Clematis hexapetala 'Mongolian Snowflakes'
Clusters of white, fragrant flowers top this shrubby clematis in late spring and feathery, silver seedheads put on a spectacular show in July and August. Rich, dark green linear leaves. Grows best in well-drained, moderately dry soils and will take a few years to grow into a 3 foot mound. A rare clematis collected by Harlan Hamernik in China.
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Want to learn more?
Contact Bob Henrickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 472-7855 for more information about these plants. GreatPlants is a joint program of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Nursery & Landscape Association. More at http://arboretum.unl.edu/greatplants