What's New Recap

At last Saturday’s seminar – titled What’s New? -- I presented a list of new plants that I deemed worthy of inclusion in any garden. In case you missed it, here’s a short list of my favorites. (Sorry the list doesn’t include everything I mentioned, but we sold out of several items before noon on Saturday.)


This is the hottest new plant you’ve never heard of. It’s an evergreen member of the witch hazel family, and my guess is it’s going to become one of the most popular plants we’ve seen in years. Consider its many attributes: Evergreen; thrives in heat and humidity; drought tolerant once established, but adapts to wet soils; loves full sun, but can handle afternoon shade; no major pest or disease issues; easy to prune and maintain at desired size. Now that’s a plant for Oklahoma, right?

It’s also available in several sizes, from a mere 3’ tall and wide to 8’ tall and wide. Think of it as an alternative to boxwood, hollies, laurels, euonymus, photinia, and Indian hawthorn.

Weeping Japanese Snowbell

For you plant geeks, this is a Styrax japonicus in an amazing, weeping form called ‘Fragrant Fountain.’ As a specimen, it’s fantastic. And in a small garden it would be ideal. Unfortunately, we only have one left at the moment, but we’re trying to get more. We do have several of the upright tree forms, and they too are beautiful.

Not so well known to area gardeners, the Japanese Snowbell produces a profusion of gorgeous white flowers in mid to late spring, even when planted in dappled light or afternoon shade. I’m not aware of any pest or disease problems, and I grew one for ten years at a previous home.

‘Golden Sunshine’ Willow

A gorgeous willow in a shrub form! Foliage emerges bright gold and softens to chartreuse in fall. Will reach 15’ tall and 5’ wide, but can be pruned to limit size. Needs moist, well-drained soil, but is relatively drought tolerant once established.

Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’

Think saucer magnolia on steroids! This is a tree that will cause people to stop in front of your house, ring the doorbell and ask, “What in the world is that?!” Growing to roughly 25’ tall and only 10’ wide, this deciduous beauty produces 12” fragrant fuchsia flowers. Ours are in bloom now, and all I can say is WOW! Needs full sun, and regular watering during dry spells.

River Birch ‘Fox Valley’

I’ve always loved river birch, and because they’re native, they do really well in our neck of the woods. But they’re not exactly a good choice for small properties.

The variety ‘Fox Valley,’ however, is a much smaller, almost shrub-like form of river birch that is a sight to see. At maturity, it tops out at around 15’, making it ideal for smaller yards. And just like its full-grown cousin, it produces beautiful, exfoliating bark. Needs moist soil.

Podocarpus ‘Blue Gem’

Only a few years ago, you would never have found a Podocarpus growing in this area because they weren’t hardy. However, this new introduction is hardy. It’s also cute as can be.

A low-growing evergreen with blue-green foliage, ‘Blue Gem’ is great for small spots. It’s also a fine choice for rock gardens or bonsai.  It’s a slow grower, reaching only 1’ tall by 3’ wide in ten years. I love this little guy! Grow in full sun to afternoon shade and water well during dry spells, including during the winter months.

Again, that’s hardly the complete list. And since Saturday even more new plants have arrived, including an amazing Chionanthus or Fringe Tree called Tokyo Tower. It’s an upright form of one of my favorite trees, and it produces a mass of showy white flowers in spring that is unforgettable. This is a tree that deserves to be planted more in this area.