CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I'm not so old-fashioned after all. Recently I wrote about flowering quince -- one of my favorite shrubs. But many people think they are old-fashioned and aren't interested. A friend told me she likes the look but doesn't like the thorns.
Just last week Proven Winners plant growers announced that thornless, new-and-improved flowering quince bushes will be coming to a garden center near you!
These are just lovely plants. Also known as chaenomeles or Japanese quince, flowering quince is among the first shrubs to flower in early spring. It also flowers before it has leaves, creating an interesting contrast of colorful flowers on bare wood.
A breeding team at North Carolina State University has taken the thorns out of flowering quince. Called the Double Take Series, these new thornless varieties also offer doubled flowers in dramatic red, pink and orange hues.
In addition, the flowers contain higher petal counts, and resemble Camellias more than traditional quince, creating a burst of color in your garden in stark contrast to anything else in the landscape.
They are hardy in zones 5 through 8, like sunny locations and are drought-tolerant when established. They are also fruitless and grow 3 to 4 feet tall.
It's that time of year -- the Perennial Plant Association has announced its 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year. Drum roll, please ...
The association has chosen Amsonia hubrichtii, more commonly known as Arkansas blue star or thread-leaf blue star. It's a plant that grows 36 inches tall and 36 inches wide in a mounded form. This hardy perennial grows in hardiness zones 4 through 9 and is a versatile North American native.