Nearly every year a list of new plants appear on the market  for home landscpape use.  Most disappear after only a few years on the planting schedules.    Most of these plants are perennials.  Hostas, aquilegias,  heucheras come and go like revolving doors.  Some are better than others either in hardiness, fussiness, life expectancy, disease resistance, or assets such as flower or foliage color  or strength of stems or general form.

Among shrubs, Endless Summer Hydrangea has been a big disappointment among many  landscapers for their unreliability of blueness of bloom but also frequency of bloom.   I have noticed they do not perform well in shade, even in light shade, if color and frequency of bloom are demanded.  One can follow several regimens of acidifying and fertilizing, but the blue color isn’t always reliable even when you do.  

I find the plant still useful in the shade.  The foliage is always attractive even if bloom might be scarce.

Over the past twenty years the group of plants that have made the best showings in the Minnesota northern landscape gardens are the countless new dwarf and semi dwarf coniferous evergreens.   A few of these plants were available a half a century ago, but simply not available to the general market here in the Twin City area. 

Today,  nearly every hue from blue to green to chartreuse is available in various textures, growth patterns, shapes  and sizes.   As winter comes to its end, stop by the evergreen landscape gardens at the South entrance of Courage Center in Golden Valley.   As sunlight increases, the  colors sharpen to make a beautiful display both of individual conifers as well as those in combinations. 

When you see a specimen which especially interests you, be sure you find out the accurate and complete name….the most accurate being the official Latin name of the plant….but Rhinegold Arborvitae, Gentsch Hemlock, or Motherlode Juniper would be good enough.  Most nurserymen would recognize the plant accurately. 

Do remember not every evergreen is a pine.  Most are not.   So often homeowners will ask a question similar to …”I saw a pine yesterday at the nursery and it had the most beautiful yellow foliage.  It was a creeper with real tight foliage….and… would you know the name of it?”    Knowing the color and the texture and nature of the plant is very helpful…enough in this case to know that this conifer is not going to be a pine.