December 5, 2021

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Episode 98: Upgraded Classics

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Everyone likes an upgrade. Whether it’s a faster car or a more efficient cell phone, it’s hard to turn down a better version of something you already like. Plants are much the same. If you already love that gorgeous catmint that flowers all season long, what not try one that not only has all the same great attributes but also has an improved habit.  Today we’re talking about plants we have a great affinity for, but that plant breeders have made just that much better. Perhaps it’s a longer bloom time, or stronger winter hardiness, or even a different color to the foliage. Whatever the change may be, it’s an improvement that has made us fall even more in love with these classic plants.

Expert testimony: Irvin Etienne is Curator of Herbaceous Plants and Seasonal Garden Design for The Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis.

Danielle’s Plants

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Classic: Persian ironwood
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Upgrade: ‘Lamplighter’ Persian ironwood

Classic: Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica, Zones 4-8)

Upgrade: ‘Lamplighter’ Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica ‘Lamplighter’, Zones 5-9)

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Classic: Holly-leaved mahonia
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Upgrade: ‘Charity’ mahonia

Classic: Holly-leaved mahonia (Mahonia aquifolium syn. Berberis aquifolium, Zones 5-8)

Upgrade: ‘Charity’ mahonia (Mahonia x media ‘Charity’, Zones 7-9)

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Classic: Bowles’ golden sedge
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Upgrade: ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass

Classic: Bowles’ golden sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’, Zones 5-9)

Upgrade:  ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’, Zones 5-9)

Carol’s Plants

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Classic: Variegated weigela
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Upgrade: MY MONET® weigela

Classic: Variegated weigela (Weigela florida ‘Variegata’, Zones 4-8)

Upgrade: MY MONET® weigela (Weigela florida ‘Verweig’, Zones 4-6)​

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Classic: Langsdorff’s flowering tobacco
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Upgrade: ‘Bronze Queen’ flowering tobacco

Classic: Langsdorff’s flowering tobacco (Nicotiana langsdorffii, Zones 10-11)

Upgrade: ‘Bronze Queen’ flowering tobacco (Nicotiana langsdorffii ‘Bronze Queen’, Zones 10-11)

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Classic: ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint
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Upgrade: ‘Kitten Around’ catmint (credit: Walters Gardens, Inc).

Classic: ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, Zones 4-8)

Upgrade: ‘Kitten Around’ catmint (Nepeta faassenii ‘Kitten Around’, Zones 3-8)

Expert’s Plants

Irvin Etienne is Curator of Herbaceous Plants and Seasonal Garden Design for The Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis.

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Classic: ‘Flamenco’ red-hot poker (credit: David J. Stang, via Wikimedia Commons)
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Upgrade: ‘Mango Popsicle’ red-hot poker (credit: Irvin Etienne)

Classic: ‘Flamenco’ red-hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Flamenco’, Zones 5-9)

Upgrade: ‘Mango Popsicle’ red-hot poker (Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’, Zones 6-9)

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Classic: ‘Fireball’ hardy hibiscus, photo courtesy of David J. Stang, via Wikimedia Commons
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Upgrade: ‘Holy Grail’ hardy hibiscus

Classic: ‘Fireball’ hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus ‘Fireball’, Zones 5-9)

Upgrade: ‘Holy Grail’ hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus ‘Holy Grail’, Zones 4-9)

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Classic: ‘Storm Cloud’ lily of the Nile (credit: © Armitage/Hip Labels, LLC)
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Upgrade: ‘Galaxy Blue’ lily of the Nile (credit: Irvin Etienne)

Classic: ‘Storm Cloud’ lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Storm Cloud’, Zones 7b-10)

Upgrade: ‘Galaxy Blue’ lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Galaxy Blue’, Zones 6-10)

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Classic: ‘Black Knight’ butterfly bush
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Upgrade: ‘Grand Cascade’ butterfly bush (credit: Irvin Etienne)

Classic: ‘Black Knight’ butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii ‘Black Knight’, Zones 5-9)

Upgrade: ‘Grand Cascade’ butterfly bush (Buddleia ‘Grand Cascade’, Zones 5-10)

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Classic: Mimosa (credit: Simon Garbutt, via Wikimedia Commons_
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Upgrade: ‘Summer Chocolate’ mimosa

Classic: Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin, Zones 6-9)

Upgrade: ‘Summer Chocolate’ mimosa (Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’, Zones 6-9)

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