Coop program introduces plants

Mountain Lover, Corsican Violet among selections for Steamboat

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Plant Select is a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and the Green Industry. The program researches and evaluates plants, introducing new plants every year that do very well in Colorado gardens.

Thirty-one plants have been introduced since the program began in 1997. It is like a fashion show of flowers. Like style designers, plant breeders try to anticipate what gardeners are going to fancy in the coming season, whether it be a new color, a new fragrance, or greater drought tolerance or disease resistance.

The Plant Select Flowers for our zones in 2003 are:

n Corsican Violet -- A wild violet from the Mediterranean with large, 1-inch, cheerful, bright-purple flowers. Heat tolerant and perennial. It combines well with other colors in the garden and can take considerable drought. Excellent in a rock garden. Reseeds moderately. About 6-8 inches high. Suitable for zones 3-8 (up to 9,000 feet).

n Snow Angel Coral Bells -- Low-growing mounds of light green, broadly lobed leaves are marbled with a light cream variegation that brightens shady gardens. Spikes of pinkish-red bells add a complementary note from late spring into summer. An excellent plant for dry shade. The foliage stands about 6 inches high, the flower, 12-15 inches. Zones 3-9.

n CrystalriversVeronica -- This exceptional, evergreen groundcover has tiny blue flowers that appear in a solid mass in the spring with scattered blooms throughout the season. Fast growing and vigorous. Blooms in spring. Zones 3-9:

n Lavetalace Geranium -- This alpine geranium from the Drakenberg Mountains of South Africa forms compact, evergreen mounds of foliage resembling finely textured parsley that take on hints of purple and scarlet in winter. The vivid purple flowers continue from spring into the summer. Adaptable and long-lived. Zones 4-8, loam to gravelly soils.

n Mountain Lover -- A prostrate, broadleaf evergreen shrub. The lustrous, dark green leaves deepen with purple tints in the winter. Although rare in its native Allegheny Mountains home, this is a durable, adaptable plant for edging or small-scale groundcover in the home garden. Grows 8-12 inches high. Zones 4-9, loamy soils are best.

n Waxflower -- Intensely fragrant and showy clusters of waxy, white flowers appear in late spring on this shrub with the added interest of flaking, reddish-brown bark. Heavy textured green foliage transforms to brilliant orange and pink tones in the autumn. This western native adds winter interest with its silvery silhouette. An excellent choice for dry conditions. Grows 3-6 inches high. Zones 3-8, well drained, loam or gravelly soil.

Kathy Conlon is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or email: gardeners@co.routt.co.us.

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