New Plant Varieties

Illumination Flame Digiplexis

Is it just me, or does everyone want the newest plant on the block? Garden centers are always on the lookout for the newest varieties that will entice you to plant something in your garden. The New Varieties Showcase at this year’s Farwest Trade Show—the largest wholesale green industry show in the west—featured 45 of the newest varieties. You can get a peek at all of them here. Which ones interest you the most?

After seeing the plants up close at the show, here are a few of my favorites:

Persian Spire Parrotia
  • Persian Spire™ Parrotia – I’m ready to dig up my current Parrotia and replace it with this gem. In addition to fall color, it’s substantially more compact, has better form and offers purple-tinted leaf margins all season.

Skinny Genes Oak

  • Skinny Genes® Oak – Aside from the very clever name, this is an improved form of Crimson Spire™ Oak, which I have planted in my garden and thoroughly enjoy. It’s even more columnar (to only 10 feet wide) with greater foliage density.


Chinese Schefflera
  • Chinese Schefflera – I’m always on the lookout for interesting plants that perform in the shade. This appears to fit the bill. This Schefflera delavayi is hardy to USDA Zone 7. Leaves emerge covered in a coppery indumentum and can reach two feet in length. It’s been available from a few specialty retail nurseries, but should now be more widely available.

Mint Crisp
Variegated Honeysuckle
  • Mint Crisp Variegated Honeysuckle – The cream-and-green-speckled leaves make this plant “adorable.” The fact that it climbs to only 10 feet makes it manageable. The fragrant flowers that bloom from June through October make Mint Crisp memorable. The fact that the best foliage display is when it is planted in light-dappled or part-shade conditions make it a must have. I managed to snag one to see how it will perform in my garden!

We asked visitors to the New Varieties Showcase to share their top three favorites with us and by far the most popular was Illumination Flame Digiplexis. I saw a few of these for sale at Bauman Farms in early August. It’s considered a USDA Zone 8 plant; it might be marginally hardy in the Willamette Valley. It’s a stunner so I think it’s worth trying even if it turns out being an annual.

Three expert judges chose Monrovia’s Wild Swan™ Anemone (Anemone x ‘Macane001’ USPP #25132) as Best of Show because of its usefulness in the landscape: it’s more compact, more of a clumper than a spreader and it has the lovely lilac-blue color on the back of the white petals. Four other plants were named Plants of Merit: Illumination Flame Digiplexis (Digitalis Illumination Flame), Variegated Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Sheri’s Cloud’), Persian Spire™ Parrotia (Parrotia persica ‘JLColumnar’ PPAF), and Scarlet Ovation™ Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum ’Vacsid 1’ PPAF, CPBRAF).

Variegated Black Gum
Scarlet Ovation Evergreen
Wild Swan Anemone

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