Deb Babcock: Plant Select — a cooperative effort

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Plant Select® is a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and the Green Industry. This program seeks out, evaluates and distributes plants that will flourish in our mountain and Front Range environments. New plants are introduced every year that do very well in the unique and variable climates of Colorado gardens.

They are chosen based on how well they adapt to our challenging climate with cold winters and very hot summers. The researchers also seek plants that are unique, resist pests, are drought-tolerant, noninvasive, can be mass-produced easily and offer a long season of beauty in the garden.

Thanks to the people who work on the Plant Select specimens, several native species — in particular phlox, penstemon, and eriogonum (buckwheat) — now are found in gardens across the world. And likewise, some plants like the beautiful ice plant from South Africa and snow daisies and salvias from western Asia have found homes in Colorado gardens.

New introductions for 2012 that are hardy for our Zone 4 gardens here in Routt County include:

■ Filigree Daisy (Anthemis marschalliana)

Lacy mat of silvery foliage is beautiful through much of the year, but in May and June the chrome-yellow daisies glow for weeks on end. This tough, mat-forming perennial from west Asia will become a centerpiece of your xeriscape or dry border. Also grows in loamy soils if not over fertilized.

■ Weeping white spruce (Picea glauca “Pendula”)

This first Plant Select conifer recommendation is a living sculpture for the landscape. This is a very hardy form of the boreal spruce that also thrives in summer heat. The graceful foliage shimmers, and the weeping form adds drama and texture to any setting. With its compact footprint, this distinctive specimen enhances tight landscape and garden settings. A must-have for winter interest.

■ Ruby Voodoo rose (Rosa “Ruby Voodoo”)

This has spectacular late spring blooms with multi-toned, purple-pink double blossoms repeating moderately throughout the summer. Intensely fragrant, its attractive habit and vigor will ensure that this John Starnes hybrid becomes a staple in the new American rose garden. Annual pruning encourages a more compact habit.

■ Dalmatian daisy (Tanacetum cinerariifolium)

The compact mound of silvery, ferny foliage is decorative at all times, but much of the year it is obscured under a dome of shimmering white daisies. Aromatic and pest-free, this is the perfect white daisy for drier gardens and landscapes.

These plants can be found in local garden centers and will have a stake or tag on the plant identifying as one of the Plant Select introductions for Colorado gardens.

Deb Babcock is a volunteer Master Gardener through the CSU Extension Routt County. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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