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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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The Importance of Being a Patient Gardener

It is always exciting to read about new introductions of ornamental shrubs and perennials. I keep my note pad beside me as I scroll through gardening sites waiting for an opportunity to record the names of future plant introductions. Living in Canada, I understand that many new varieties will not make it to my side of the Canada-US border until a year after the are introduction into the USA.

Hydrangea IncrediballImagine my surprise when several of those got-to-have plants appeared a year earlier than expected in the catalogue of my wholesale suppliers. The publications usually arrive in November giving commercial clients an opportunity to place their orders early for the following spring.




Hydrangea Red SensationAs a garden designer, with no commercial traffic, I do not book in advance. I purchase, as I need. However, knowing that new introductions would be available, I made room for them in the garden compositions of new clients; it was my expectation that I would give them something new to differentiate their gardens from that of their neighbors. However, that was not to happen.


Hydrangea Invincibelle SpiritMost of the new introductions that I ordered, especially new varieties of Hydrangeas, failed to arrive. They were “sold out”. They had been allocated to the retail nurseries last November. On a recent visit to one of my suppliers, I asked how early I must book an order to assure delivery of this category of plants.

“Don’t bother”, was the reply. ”The new introductions are distributed directly to the retailers. We do not stock inventory for landscapers and garden designers because you should not be using a newly introduced plant that has no track record. Wait a season or two until the plant‘s performance has been established"..

That was very wise advice. I have been doing just that with perennial plants for years, growing them in my test garden for a year before including them in my work. I never stopped to consider the importance of that experimentation when working with ornamental shrubs. Therefore, Hydrangea Incrediball, Invincibelle Spirit, and Red Sensation did not make it into my clients’ gardens this season. I am disappointed that I was unable to offer them something different. However, I do understand that there would have been greater disappointment, both for my clients and for me, if I had planted a new variety that might have failed to perform.

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Reader Comments (2)

I know how you feel about new introductions. I guess I am the test garden for some of these because I hear all the time that Endless Summer does not perform, except for me. They have to be fed and do not like full sun.

All of the varieties you mention have been at Home Depot this year for $20.00 each, 3 gallon pots. I am also trying a smaller variety called Let's Dance in morning sun. So far, it looks good.


June 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Allan, This is such good advice, especially for shrubs. If you plant a perennial and it doesn't do well, you're out a few dollars, but shrubs are a much more expensive investment.

June 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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