ItSaul Plants

It is mid November in Maine and we are consistently getting frost at night but to date, only a dusting of snow (I do realize that the mere mention of this will jinx us into a snowy winter and I am going to take a break now to check the weather… ah, chance of snow on Sunday.) It has been nice to be out in the gardens this fall which has given us the chance to catch up on cutting back perennials and cleaning leaves out of the plant beds. Once we get everything cleaned out, it allows us to see the holes in the designs. And, you know, wherever there are holes, means that we need to get in new plants. Yes!

echinacea mixedHave you started receiving your 2013 plant catalogs? I have started to read through them but I feel guilty for not being out there in the garden, enjoying this beautiful fall. This is Maine, though. Which means that winter will come and she (or he) will be wicked. When those days are upon us, those days when you feel like you are floating on the ground as you try to walk over the crunching frost below, I will then be able to comfortably immerse my horticultural desires into all of the plant catalogs and on-line offerings within the confines of my warm office.

I have to admit that I am a bit impatient to see the newest plants and on occasion, will look through different nurseries’ on-line offerings for what they have coming down the pike.

One small nursery that has burst onto the scene in recent years is ItSaul Plants. Two brothers, Bobby and Richard Saul, are constantly breeding and releasing tough and interesting new plants. They began their operation over 20 years ago in the Atlanta, Georgia area. They now have a plant breeding company and a wholesale nursery. The plant offerings on their website are limited but they are unusual and one of a kind. I am amazed at the number of good, new plant introductions that they are bringing to the market. They sell their plants in plugs for other nurseries to finish growing and sell to the public, so you cannot buy directly from them unless you are a retail nursery or grower.

I cannot pick just one plant from their site but I am thinking that I want to try one of each. Here are some of my favorites, including:

– Their entire group of new Echinacea (above) introductions which feature wild colors (coneflowers have naturally been a pale purple) and larger flowers. Some of the newer Echinacea cultivars from other breeders have gotten a bad rap as they did not last long in the landscape. These selections should be tougher in the eastern US with our humid summers.

chasmanthium latifolia

Chasmanthium latifolium ‘River Mist’ “variegated northern sea oats” – If you have grown northern sea oats before, then you know that this native plant is relatively easy to grow and will self seed in good soils. This variegated introduction should be a real focal point in a border or slightly shady setting. I think I have an area along a fence where this would work perfectly.

weeping maple and kniphofia

– This fastigiate, weeping, Japanese maple named Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen.’ This may be one of the wildest looking plants that I have seen in a while. There is an area in our Children’s Garden where I think this will be spectacular.

– Kniphofia ‘Echo Mango’ – I have always liked yellow flowered Kniphofias. This new introduction promises to have larger flowers and a darker yellow-orange color.

hydrangea macrophylla big daddy

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Big Daddy’ – I am sucker for big flowers and if this plant flowers as big as it is in the photos, it will be a wonderful introduction to the garden. We have many different Hydrangea at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and this cultivar may be a great addition to our collection.

These are just a few of the plants that I will be trying in the garden during the next year. What about you? Which nurseries (and plants) are you excited about buying from in the coming year? – Rodney

Photos: ItSaul Plants, Wayside Gardens

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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  1. Lorraine Roberts on November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    As a grower and owner of a retail garden center and organic perennial nursery, I can highly recommend the newly released ItSaul Echinacea ‘Solar Flare’. We grew it for our retail center and trialed it in our display gardens and it was outstanding. The large blooms are stunning. Very vigorous grower.

    • rodneyeason on November 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you, Lorraine for the recommendation. We will definitely try E. ‘Solar Flare’ in the gardens.

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