New Plants for Urban Gardeners

New Plants for Urban Gardeners

Part of Ep. 1703 Ideas for Spring

Roy Klehm, co-owner of Klehm's Songsparrow Farm and Nursery in Avalon, Wis., shows off new and unusual plants that fit small areas. Plants shown include a selection of miniature hostas, dwarf conifers, Japanese maples, as well as Jervis hemlock and Rock Garden holly.

Premiere date: May 06, 2009

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We're at Klehm's Songsparrow Farm and Nursery in Avalon, Wisconsin, and I'm with the co-owner, Roy Klehm.  And we're gonna talk about some new and unusual plants, particularly for small areas.  We're gonna start out with hostas for really small areas.  I'm holding Teeny-Weeny Bikini.

Roy:
And I'm holding Pandora's Box.

Shelley:
Oh, I can't decide which one I like better.  These are cute.

Roy:
This has a little bit more white in it.

Shelley:
I love it, it looks like somebody painted it.

Roy:
The neat thing about miniature hostas is, even if they get five years old like this Peanut, here's a small Peanut.

Shelley:
This is a peanut, okay.

Roy:
This is a five-year-old Peanut.  They still maintain their short height, even though they spread a little bit.

Shelley:
And what is the max height for a miniature hosta?

Roy:
Seven inches is considered maximum, maybe eight.  But generally seven.

Shelley:
So this is about as tall as it's gonna get.  It may get wider.

Roy:
Right, five inches, six inches tall here.  It will start spreading, if it were out of this container, of course, it would spread a lot faster.

Shelley:
So these are perfect for containers, for trough gardens, for small spaces.

Roy:
Or even nice little containers like this.

Shelley:
Oh, I love this one.

Roy:
This is blue mouse ears, Shelley, this is our best seller.

Shelley:
I like this.  Look at that.

Roy:
It is a nice texture, and they look like little mice ears coming up here.

Shelley:
And it's almost a succulent feel to it.

Roy:
It is.

Shelley:
Now, mostly, hostas are shade.  Blue ones, more shade?

Roy:
Blue ones require the most shade.

Shelley:
Okay.

Roy:
Green ones can take the most sunlight.  This Tortifrons, with this little twisted foliage.

Shelley:
So most sun for the greenest.  And the yellow ones?

Roy:
Yellow ones could be half and half.  Yellows need a little bit of sun to produce the keratinoids to make the yellow color.

Shelley:
Good to know, okay.

Roy:
Now, we also have dwarf conifers.  We call them "junior" specimens.

Shelley:
Oh, wouldn't these look great in a trough garden?

Roy:
Yeah, railroad gardening.  This is a Chamaecyparis called Golden Sprite.  Feel how thick and tight that is.

Shelley:
Well, again, these are just so touchable.

Roy:
This is about a five-year-old plant.

Shelley:
Oh, really?

Roy:
We have little hemlocks, the same, this is a Jervis hemlock.
Shelley:
These are more shade tolerant than some other evergreens.

Roy:
Most can take full shade, they can also grow in full sun.

Shelley:
Wow, very versatile.

Roy:
We have a holly, too, that we can grow in the shade, this is called Rock Garden holly.

Shelley:
Oh, is that pretty!

Roy:
Look at the little berries coming.

Shelley:
Oh look at this.

Roy:
And how tiny the leaves are, you can see the new growth, that's even sort of red.

Shelley:
Don't you normally need a male and a female, though?

Roy:
You do but this seems to make berries all by itself.

Shelley:
So we don't need two or three plants.

Roy:
It's very talented.

Shelley:
Very, yes.

Roy:
Come over this way, and I want to show you some very nice dwarf golden conifers that maybe grow a little bit taller.

Shelley:
Oh, look at the golden color.
Roy:
This is Tom Thumb Picea orientalis.

Shelley:
That just begs to be played with.

Roy:
Looks like a pin cushion.  There's a golden form of Colorado spruce, it's called Gebelle's Golden Spring.

Shelley:
Wouldn't that brighten up a dark spot?

Roy:
Oh, I think so.  And there's a real nice dwarf Alberta spruce of golden color, J.W.  Daisy White.

Shelley:
Oh look up at the top, how white it is.

Roy:
And we've got this grafted on an understock to give it some height, so you can plant little things around it.  And you notice there's a side growth, and that's from the understock here, so just pinch that off with a little scissors or a knife.

Shelley:
Because that's coming from basically the undesirable, we want this to grow.

Roy:
We want this to grow, right.  This gives it the height.

Shelley:
Now, these are all perfectly hardy for us in Wisconsin.  I think all the spruce that we show here are fine, very hardy.  No problem.

Shelley:
Okay, good.

Roy:
Jumping into more yellow leafed plants, this is a Japanese maple, Acer shirasawanum Aureum.

Shelley:
Easy for you to say!

Roy:
I know, I always have to work on that.  I think the label says SHIR.
Shelley:
That's good!  Look at the color of that, though.

Roy:
And that should be in a half-shady position, out of the winter winds, and mulched heavily.

Shelley:
These are like a Zone 5.

Roy:
I'd say Zone 5, southern Wisconsin, up into central Wisconsin.  Northern Wisconsin, probably bring them indoors.

Shelley:
Put them in a container maybe, so then in the winter, put them in a cool garage or a basement of something like that.

Roy:
They're worth growing because they're so beautiful.

Shelley:
Oh yeah.

Roy:
Look at the real fine-leaf one, this is called Fairyhair.

Shelley:
This is a Japanese maple?

Roy:
This is a Japanese maple.  There's a red version called Baby Lace.

Shelley:
Oh, wow.  Look at that.

Roy:
There's a little wider version called Red Dragon that's still quite cut-leaf.

Shelley:
They're so delicate looking.

Roy:
And there's a larger growing green-leaf one called Waterfalls.

Shelley:
Oh, I like that one, too.  Now this one's quite tall.

Roy:
This is taller, too, because we grafted it again on an understock.

Shelley:
To give it some more height.

Roy:
And that allows it to weep better, too.  Now this is a columnar one.  It's very unusual, it's just been in the marketplace a while, Twombly's Red Sentinel.  It grows straight up.  You might have to stake it a little bit to keep it nice and straight, and it'll make a head later on.

Shelley:
Oh, I like that, too.

Roy:
So a really nice vertical element.  Now we have another grape genera with yellow leaves.  This is a European Beech called Dawyck Gold.

Shelley:
You know, we just don't plant enough beeches.

Roy:
I think you're right.  They can grow 200 or 300 years.

Shelley:
Maybe that's why.

Roy:
They get big.

Shelley:
But probably not in our lifetime.

Roy:
I wouldn't worry about it in our lifetime, no.

Shelley:
We can again think of this as kind of a small-garden plant just because it's a slow grower.

Roy:
But give it some space for the next generation.  And there's a purple version called Dawyck Purple.  They both kind of came from the Dawyck castle in Scotland.

Shelley:
Oh, really?  Neat.

Roy:
The piece de resistance is a tri-color beech.

Shelley:
Oh look at that.  You know, I've seen these full-size and they still just don't look real.

Roy:
It has three colors in the leaves, and very delicate, maybe not as fast a growing because it doesn't have as much chlorophyl.

Shelley:
So that slows it down a little.

Roy:
That slows it down a little.  The more chlorophyl a plant has the more energy it can make to grow faster.

Shelley:
That makes sense.
Roy:
The weeping form is called Purple Fountains.

Shelley:
I like this.

Roy:
Look at how it nicely hangs down.

Shelley:
Very graceful.

Roy:
We have it staked, and if you want it taller, you'd take one of these shoots, stake it up right like this, and let the lateral ones hang down.

Shelley:
And then when it gets the height you want, you would basically un-stake it.

Roy:
Yeah, and just let it grow naturally.  That's Purple Fountains.

Shelley:
You know, these are great for a small garden, or for a small space in a big garden, like mine.

Roy:
And the color complement any green plants you have.

Shelley:
Yeah, thank you, Roy.

Roy:
You're welcome.

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