digging dog nursery mendocino coast   garden perennials from digging dog nursery

Kniphofia (Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker)
at Digging Dog

Including Kniphofia caulescens, Kniphofia galpinii, Kniphofia linearifolia, Kniphofia pauciflora, and Kniphofia uvaria

Kniphofia

Kniphofia

Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker

“Red Hot Poker” is the local nickname for these bold, handsome natives of Madagascar and tropical South Africa. Brought to England in 1707, they were kept as greenhouse treasures until 1848, when someone had the bright idea of planting them outdoors, and their abiding hardiness was discovered.

The old-fashioned orange and yellow form has survived years of neglect in abandoned gardens here on the coast; the new hybrids and species we offer, in versatile creamy yellows, chartreuses, soft melons and bolder colors, are more suitable to modern schemes, but are just as hardy and reliable. The thick, almost succulent leaf blades are evergreen, and of interest even when the cylindrical flower spikes are absent. Heat and drought tolerant.

View a slideshow of plant images from this genus


Kniphofia ‘Alcazar’  full sun

Alcazar is a Spanish translation of the Arabic word for castle, and this luscious Kniphofia deserves royal treatment for its splendid show. From a nest of lancelike leaves, chartreuse-tinted buds elongate on thick, bronzy stems to form majestic tapered spires of a dark rosy terracotta, which age to a rich salmon-orange. Pair with Cardoon for a lively tango of color and form.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 3-1/2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Alcazar’ (p-0806)
Each $10.75
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Kniphofia ‘Bee’s Sunset’  full sun
Kniphofia  Bee’s Sunset

The abundant and long lasting yellow-orange flower spikes of vigorous ‘Bee’s Sunset’ will cast a warm glow on neighbors such as Buddleia crispa, Lavandula ‘Super’ and Geranium ‘Purple Pillow’.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4' high x 3' wide; hardy to zone 5.

AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 2014

Kniphofia ‘Bee’s Sunset’ (p-0541)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Bleached Blonde’  full sun

Not all bleached blondes turn heads like this one does. Blooms of sandy blonde topped with auburn adorn this softly colored beauty. Anchored by vigorous medium green, bladelike foliage, slim 5 in. long flowers have a repeat bloom, imparting greenish yellow shades at summer’s end.

First introduced by Olympic Coast Gardens, ‘Bleached Blonde’ can be matched with Phygelius ‘Pink Elf’.

Blooms June & again in August.

Size: 3'–4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Bleached Blonde’ (P-1117)
Each $10.00
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Kniphofia ‘Border Ballet’  full sun

Like many of the best ballet dancers, this cultivar is tall, elegant and full of stamina. We found this selection at Western Hills and have propagated it by divisions to maintain the soft dusty coral color of the flowers, which continue blooming throughout the summer. For a contrast of color and texture, we often plant this near Thalictrum rochebrunianum.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4-1/2' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Border Ballet’ (P-0386)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Bressingham Sunbeam’  full sun

Graceful copper-tinged stems emerge from a refined, narrow-bladed, green-gray base. Awash in yellow with amber and bronze accents, the slender sunny blooms set its diminutive silhouette aglow.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Bressingham Sunbeam’ (P-0707)
Each $10.00
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Kniphofia caulescens  full sun
Kniphofia caulescens

The narrow leaves of this seedling selection are in sharp contrast to the large straplike foliage typical of the species. Glaucous blue blades make a dramatic base for the subdued rainbow of earthy colors: thick, coppery flower stems, clay-colored buds and rich terracotta blooms, which eventually pale to a light greenish yellow. For more drama, plant by Caryopteris incana and Achillea ‘Inca Gold’.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.


Kniphofia caulescens (p-0757)
Each $11.00
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Kniphofia citrina (Lime Select)  full sun

One of our own seedling selections, this stunning form of Kniphofia citrina will surely brighten your garden with a refreshing splash of citrus color. Above clumps of glaucous leaves, the vivid lime green buds open into dense chartreuse flowers that later fade to light yellow.

Blooms June–July.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia citrina (Lime Select) (P-0651)
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Kniphofia ‘Cobra’  full sun

Distinguished by seductive dark bronzy hues and tapered bases, this Kniphofia’s broad flower heads evoke mysterious images. As the close-knit, 6 to 10 in. long pokers mature, they gradually lighten, imparting rich copper colors and creamy yellows on sturdy stems above a coarse basal tuft of sword-shaped bluish green leaves.

A Blooms of Bressingham introduction, ‘Cobra’ promises toasty easy-to-blend shades that can be associated with Agastache ‘Black Adder’ and Eryngium bourgatii.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 3'–3-1/2' high x 2'–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Cobra’ (P-0758)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Dorset Sentry’  full sun

Counting orioles, hummingbirds, and studied gardeners among its fans, ‘Dorset Sentry’ brandishes big fat green buds and even larger plump acid yellow torches on beefy, bronze-toned upright stalks. A green bed of toothed bladelike leaves anchors the sun-struck blooms that last for months and bridge the gap between summer and fall. Selected by a John May, this moderately sized Kniphofia breathes enthused late season energy into the garden and can flank a pathway, stand sentinel at a threshold, or occupy a midborder position.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Dorset Sentry’ (P-1762)
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Kniphofia galpinii ‘Orange Flame’  full sun
Kniphofia galpinii Orange Flame

Alighting slender stems, these dainty flowers smoulder with fervent salmon and saturated orange. A foundation of finely textured grass-like foliage hosts the loosely arranged blooms, which are quieted by dusky hued unopened buds and smoky purple-tipped individual florets. Projecting a vivacious yet sophisticated demeanor, 'Orange Flame' makes a compelling container subject.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 15"–2' high x 15"–18" wide; hardy to zone 8.

Kniphofia galpinii ‘Orange Flame’ (P-1216)
Each $9.25
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Kniphofia ‘Gladness’  full sun

When the bronzed apricot buds finally unfurl into lucent golden orange torches that seem to glow from within, we promise you'll be glad. Numerous, cinnamon-toned sturdy stalks are unleashed from a midsized roost of creased grayish green leaves margined with tiny teeth. Rotund and broad in the middle, the substantial flowers convey a free wheeling radiance.

Blooms July – August

Size: 2'–3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Gladness’ (P-1457)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Glow’  full sun
Kniphofia  Glow

Once this Kniphofia blooms, you’ll see why it was dubbed ‘Glow’. Solidly colored coral torches honed with dark rosy overtones shine above a handsome, not–so-tall, foliar foundation distinguished by composed blue-green hues and tiny teeth along each leaf margin. Sized just right for a front row location in the border or a smaller garden. ‘Glow’ imparts a flashy propensity, especially when Geranium harveyi and Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ are planted nearby.

Blooms July-August.

Size: 2'–3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 8.

Kniphofia ‘Glow’ (P-1272)
Each $10.00
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Kniphofia ‘Goldfinch’  full sun

Conjuring images of cheerful yellow songbirds, this spirited Kniphofia is aptly named. Rising from narrow and glaucous medium green blades, the sturdy, yet graceful stems support good-sized cylindrical blooms. Each inflorescence consists of delicate florets—long, slender and pendulous—arranged in an airy fashion. Bring a sunny lift to your summer border and site ‘Goldfinch’ by Liatris ‘Kobold’ and Salvia ‘Sensation Rose.

Blooms June–early August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Goldfinch’ (P-0947)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Green Jade’  full sun
Kniphofia  Green Jade

Still esteemed by Beth Chatto who introduced it in 1968, this captivating Kniphofia first originated as a seedling selection in Sir Cedric Morris’s Suffolk garden. Bold long cylinders in icy lime-green shades convey a distinguished sense of composure and are without a doubt the greenest torch lily blooms we offer.

Arising from green buds above broad verdurous straps and stalwart stems, the densely packed, irresistibly colored florets are crowned with a dusky orange tuft and eventually lighten to a creamy chartreuse from the bottom up.

Blooms July – September.

Size: 4'–4-1/2' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Green Jade’ (p-1319)
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Kniphofia ‘Ice Queen’  full sun
Kniphofia  Ice Queen

Selected by Alan Bloom, this upright species is remarkably robust. The deep green foliage is broad and straplike, the flower stalks are thick and sturdy, and the vibrant chartreuse buds open into 6 in. lime-yellow flowers, which fade to light yellow. We plant ‘Ice Queen’ beside Anemone ‘Alice’ for an unusual but delightful combination with the late blooming pink flowers.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Ice Queen’ (p-0409)
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Kniphofia ‘Jan Brennan’  full sun

Flaunting one of the brightest, most rotund torches we have ever seen, this jaunty Kniphofia was discovered by Gretchen Hahn, a former staff member, in the backyard of a local north coast resident. Unknown to us and most likely a hybrid of Kniphofia uvaria ‘Nobilis’ which has naturalized in our area, it bears the owner’s namesake. The large radiant florets graduate in color, beginning on top with a salmon hue that shades to tangerine and then transmutes to antique gold supported by a lemon-yellow base.

Bolstered on bronzed olive-tinted stems above brawny medium green leaves, the exuberant display can be staged alongside Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ for unbridled oohs and awhs!

Blooms August – September.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Jan Brennan’ (P-1341)
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Kniphofia ‘Light of the World’  full sun

An illustrious contender for the late season border, ‘Light of the World’ boasts showy, long slender torches. Green-tinged buds open to reveal dainty flared, pendulous florets lit in lucent tangerine orange shades. Pointed, low growing grassy leaves with pale midribs ground this small-statured, first-rate Kniphofia, which can be granted a front row seat accompanied by Nepeta ‘Little Trudy’.

Blooms September.

Size: 2' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Light of the World’ (P-1655)
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Kniphofia linearifolia  full sun
Kniphofia linearifolia

Large, pumpkin-colored flower buds seem to glow atop the thick purplish stems of this robust species. Visually supported by broad straplike foliage, the enormous, nearly round orange flowers eventually fade to yellow at the base. Combine with Aster ‘Lady in Black’ and Salvia ‘Limelight’ for a stunning display of purple, chartreuse and orange.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 6' high x 4' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia linearifolia (p-0653)
Each $10.00
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Kniphofia ‘Lye End’  full sun
Kniphofia  Lye End

This toasty-hued, perky cultivar first caught our eye at Cotswald Garden Flowers, owned by Bob Brown, England’s renown Kniphofia enthusiast. It has since become one of our favorites for its long and slender, loosely set racemes. Tipped with burnt coral tones, the blooms fade to melon in the middle and finally brighten to a creamy yellowish sherbet base, which features larger, more pendant florets. The colorful splendor bursts forth from earthy red and greenish-tinged buds elevated on supple, slightly bronzed stems above green foliage.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Lye End’ (P-1273)
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Kniphofia ‘Minister Verschuur’  full sun
Kniphofia  Minister Verschuur

With ample-sized blossoms and a medium-sized profile, this exuberant Kniphofia is ideal for smaller gardens. Stiff jade-toned narrow blades and lusty bronze green stems support moss-hued tapering buds and bright yellow flowers. A subtle apricot cast suffuses the lit up torches, which feature pendulous evenly spaced close-set florets and promise a colorful presence throughout most of the summer.

Blooms June–July.

Size: 2'–2-1/2' high x 18"–2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Minister Verschuur’ (P-1704)
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Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’  full sun
Kniphofia  Nancy’s Red

Looking for a midsized plant to accentuate a hot-colored border or ignite a cooler one? ‘Nancy’s Red’ may be your girl. Delicate olive-green stems lift brick-red buds and waxed, dusky coral-red florets, which become more pendulous with age, flaring out to reveal creamy yellow tips. Shaded in such rich colors, the slender, somewhat open cone-shaped blooms achieve an ardent contrast against low growing, narrow green leaves.

Clearly in a class of her own—undemanding, flamboyant yet refined and well groomed—Nancy gives you good reason to entice her into your garden bed and keep her where she’s easily seen.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’ (P-1385)
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Kniphofia x ‘Naudes Nek’  full sun

We found this upbeat, not-yet-identified Kniphofia at Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne’s Northwest Garden Nursery in Eugene, Oregon. Originating from seed they had collected in Naudes Nek, a rather cold region of South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains, it conveys a lighthearted charm with narrow, bright green channelled foliage and an intriguing floral display. Round-tipped, squat buds exhibit a glowing potpourri of colors from top to bottom: earthy brownish orange with chartreuse tinges, an amber midsection and a golden yellow base. The buoyant blooms elongate on slender green stems and turn more tangerine as they mature, showing off a happy face amid Thymus ‘Archer’s Gold’ and Geums.

Blooms August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia x ‘Naudes Nek’ (P-1387)
Each $9.50
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Kniphofia ‘Painted Lady’  full sun

Upstaging many a perennial in the summer border, this svelte temptress celebrates AGM status, sophisticated hues and a refined stance. Burnt coral buds offer a surprise as they elongate to narrow, 7 in. long cream-colored spears that subtly transmute warm orange and amber shades near their tops.

Bred by Eric Smith at Buckshaw Gardens, ‘Painted Lady’s long blooming gala is supported by strong bronzy green stems and a lower growing green base.

Blooms June – August.

Size: 3' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Painted Lady’ (P-1656)
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Kniphofia pauciflora  full sun

Originally inhabiting the marshy grasslands of Kwazula-Natal, South Africa, this Ariel-like Kniphofia is sadly extinct in its wild haunts, but will gladly impart a lighthearted smile to your landscape.

Slim grassy blades folded along the midribs are the understory for airy and slender, buttercup yellow pokers. Tubular, flared and widely spaced, the dainty pendant florets open from coral buds for several months, then rebloom later in the season.

Blooms June–July.

Size: 18" high x 15" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia pauciflora (p-1456)
Each $9.00
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Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’  full sun
Kniphofia  Percy’s Pride

The tightly clustered light yellow to lime flowers of this Torch Lily are just about the largest of all the species we offer. They bloom several times each year, and contrast strikingly with the inch-wide straplike leaves. For a range of yellows, we plant ‘Percy’s Pride’ with Symphytum ‘Axminster Gold’.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ (P-0205)
Each $11.50
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Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’  full sun
Kniphofia  Safranvogel

Uniquely infused with a strawberry hue, the slender, creamy tapers of bloom are anchored by thin grassy green blades. ‘Safranvogel’s distinctive coloring and small stance begs for an up-front position in the border.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 2' high x 20" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’ (P-0946)
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Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’ x ‘Maid of Orleans’  full sun

We have British Kniphofia aficionado, Bob Brown of Cotswald Garden Flowers to thank for this ethereal beauty. Staged on lithe bronzed stems, the distinctive flowers feature widely spaced, rich reddish coral florets, each narrow, pendulous tube tinged yellow at the base and curved up at the tips.

The aging long, slender blooms lighten and become even more open, attaining an unmatched delicacy and lovely subtle coloration that’s reminiscent of its ‘Safranvogel’ heritage. Quiet, sublime and almost other-worldly, this unusual cross is shown to best effect when planted in multiples against a dark background.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 2' high x 15" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’ x ‘Maid of Orleans’ (P-1386)
Each $10.50
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Kniphofia ‘Shining Sceptre’  full sun
Kniphofia  Shining Sceptre

Noble stands of copper-tinted golden scepters command our attention in the midsummer border. Supported by soothing green blades and lengthy bronze-hued stems, these thickset, good-sized blooms cast lambent accents upon the cool, blue-violet blooms of Aconitum ‘Arendsii’ and Geranium renardii ‘Phillipe Vapelle’.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 4' high x 18"–2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Shining Sceptre’ (p-1187)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia sp. (Patricia Marrow)  full sun

When we came across this extraordinary Kniphofia in Patricia Marrow’s garden in Somerset, England, it was mysteriously unlabeled. Stout, bronzy flowering stems with lime-colored buds rise above rosettes of narrow grayish green foliage. Lively and large, the greenish yellow blooms are tipped with a dusky melon color, and eventually fade to creamy white from the base up.

Blend with Nepeta ‘Pool Bank’, Cistus ‘Anne Palmer’ and Euphorbia ‘Great Dixter’ for a vibrant spectrum of color.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia sp. (Patricia Marrow) (p-0759)
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Kniphofia uvaria ‘Candle Light’  full sun
Kniphofia uvaria Candle Light

Sun-kissed torches, a compact habit and an exceptionally long flowering period earn this well-mannered Kniphofia a chance to illuminate our border. Verdant low growing foliage makes a fine textured base for supple green stalks and green-tinged yellow buds, which mature into splendid 5 in. blooms, creamy yellow on top and alabaster white below.

Introduced by Georgia’s Richard Saul, small-statured ‘Candle Light’ can be showcased in the frontlines along with Echinops ‘Blue Glow’ for a spirited match. (pp#12,342)

Blooms May – October.

Size: 2'–2-1/2' high x 2'–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Candle Light’ (P-1569)
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Kniphofia uvaria ‘Malibu Yellow’  full sun
Kniphofia uvaria Malibu Yellow

Shouldered by thick green stalks, the richly colored, bright yellow blooms combine with this Kniphofia’s robust stature to bestow a grandiose presence in the border. Composed of large, pendulous, evenly spaced florets that open from grassy green buds, the ample-sized torches radiate unforgettable, look-at-me, sunlit chroma, while topping sprightly green, strapping blades.

Blooms May–July.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 7.

AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 2014

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Malibu Yellow’ (p-1292)
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Kniphofia uvaria ‘Tower of Gold’  full sun  new plant

Famed horticulturist Luther Burbank, gardening at his residence in Santa Rosa, California until 1926, selected this golden beacon that's guaranteed to brighten summer's end. A verdant stocky thicket of upright dark green foliar blades hurls forth strong olive bronze stems and big plump pokers. The gregarious densely set blooms first emerge with a lime-infused somewhat triangular shape, then take on rich yellow hues and a rounder appearance upon maturity. Cohorts such as Helianthus 'Dakota Queen' or Artemisia 'Huntington Gardens' make for a statuesque pageant.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 4'–5' high x 2-1/2'–3' wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Tower of Gold’ (P-1808)
Each $9.75
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Kniphofia ‘Vanilla’  full sun
Kniphofia  Vanilla Kniphofia  Vanilla

Slender blooms in a soft shade of pale yellow are staged well above finely textured foliage. This courtly Kniphofia echoes ornamental grasses such as Panicum and makes a friendly color-mate for Eupatoriums and Geraniums.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.


Kniphofia ‘Vanilla’ (P-0240)
Each $9.00
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Kniphofia ‘Wayside Flame’  full sun

Like a candle flame, this flower is both bright and yet soft orange. To give our summer garden warm accents, we plant robust ‘Wayside Flame’ near Lavandula ‘Silver Frost’.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4-1/2' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Wayside Flame’ (p-0410)
Each $9.50
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Kniphofia ‘Wol’s Red Seedling’  full sun

The superb scarlet-red blooms of this British raised cultivar are deemed the deepest and darkest red of all Kniphofia blooms in cultivation. A gorgeous profusion of slender fiery hued flowers enlivens the landscape all summer long, while the bushy small-sized mound of shiny dark green grassy blades assures a refined habit that easily tucks into space thrifty gardens.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 7.

Kniphofia ‘Wol’s Red Seedling’ (P-1763)
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Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’  full sun

Bolstered by hefty, tall and straight asparagus-hued stalks, dense yellowish orange buds, infused with chartreuse, remind us of miniature Christmas trees. Radiant yellows, pumpkin colors and lime tinges meld an unparalleled luminosity as the gorgeous torches stand sentinel, their plump rounded bases tapering to blunt tips well above a bright green, upright clump of strapping, deeply furrowed lax leaves.

A robust specimen for the fall garden, ‘Yellow Cheer’s late season effervescence steals the show, especially when staged against a dark green foil. One per customer.

Blooms late August to mid-October.

Size: 5' high x 3' wide; hardy to zone 8.

Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’ (p-1458)
Each $11.00
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Kniphofia ‘Yellow Hammer’  full sun  new plant

This rarely offered Kniphofia is a favorite of songbirds and hummingbirds, and is earlier to bloom than most Torch Lilies. Large nectar-rich, well-formed lemon yellow heads unfurl from acid green buds on tall sturdy stalks above an easily maintained medium green bed of narrow arching evergreen foliage. 'Yellow Hammer', possibly named after a small Eurasian yellow-breasted bird, can be nestled alongside Euphorbia 'John Tomlinson' for foliar contrast and melding flower colors.

Blooms late May–June.

Size: 3'–3-1/2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 6.

Kniphofia ‘Yellow Hammer’ (P-1809)
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Latest News

Straight from the Border
Bring sparkling beauty to your late summer and early fall garden.

By the time August rolls around and the waning days of summer segue into fall, gardens can appear tired and somewhat lackluster. We may find ourselves simply losing interest in our verdant abodes.

Over the years, we’ve discovered a few simple techniques that allow any plantscape to resonate with late-season appeal. For starters, the addition of well-rotted compost and or mulch not only reduces watering requirements throughout the warmer months, but generally makes it easier for plants to stay perky and fresh looking during the dog days of summer. Sometime in early May, you may wish to cut back tall, late blooming perennials that have a tendency to flop or become messy by the time they finally flower. By doing so, they’ll maintain a tidier habit, and when coupled with frequent deadheading many blossoms will keep on coming ‘til the season’s end.

You could include a few specimen shrubs or trees. They serve as strong bones or placeholders, lending an overall pleasing appearance to the landscape, even though some of the perennials or grasses may be spent. White, clear pink or chartreuse-hued flowers tend to forge soothing counterpoints as they effortlessly meld autumn’s cozy parade of warm oranges, reds and yellows. Major stars of the late show, ornamental grasses become poetry in motion during gusty days, while their shimmering inflorescences are set aglow by afternoon sunlight. When designing your outdoor space, it’s important to choose plant’s not only for their flowers, but to consider their seed heads (often important food sources for birds), foliar intrigue, berries, bark and dynamic architecture as well.

We’ve included a sampling of our very favorite plants that promise to inspire your green thumb, heighten your senses and entice you back into the garden for a stellar last hurrah! There’s still enough time to select a couple of new botanical wonders and get a jump start on next spring before winter finally arrives.

Perennials:

  • asarum splendens

    Actaea simplex ‘Atropurpurea’ & Helianthus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’

    Actaea simplex ‘Atropurpurea’
    Grown from seedlings carefully selected for dark, coppery purple foliage, the regal profile of ‘Atropurpurea’ shows its good breeding. A garden dweller with a staid bearing, its stately reddish purple stems soar above your head, displaying dense spires covered with round mahogany-hued buds and sweet starbursts of white. Echo this Actaea’s somber tones by bringing it together with Angelica gigas, and let the lime green foliage of Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’ brighten the mood. Hardy to zone 4. (P-0049)
  • Asarum splendens
    asarum splendens

    Asarum splendens



    Chinese Wild Ginger
    “Splendid” seems like too modest a word to proclaim the elegance of this ginger’s foliage! glistening, broadly arrow-shaped, deep green leaves flaunt dramatic silver marbling and come spring, 2 in. wide dark purple blossoms with white throats. Situated among Podophyllum hexandrum, easy-to-grow Asarum splendens sculpts a show stealing, illustriously patterned ground cover in just a few years that appreciates warm, humid summers while resenting cool ones. Hardy to zone 6. (p-1247)
  • Aster cordifolius ‘Avondale’
    Blue wood Aster
    Selected from a versatile Aster indigenous to our southeastern mountains, ‘Avondale’ greets fall with a jovial long lasting barrage of small, yellow-eyed pale lavender-blue daisies atop tidy slender green foliage. Acquiescent to varied light, it exhibits an upright open habit in sunny spots and becomes more relaxed and arching in darker recesses. Ignored by deer, but coveted by butterflies, floral arrangers, and gardeners, this floriferous wonder endures dry shade once established, favors well-drained soil and can be planted en masse along woodland fringes, meandering amid Geranium ‘White Ness’. Zone 3/4. (P-1746)
  • Aster lateriflorus ‘White Lovely’
    Calico Aster
    A preeminent star of the fall show, ‘White Lovely’ entertains petite, thin-petaled white daisies tinged lilac when mature and brightened by sunny-side-up yellow eyes. The copious, late summer flowers are borne along horizontally branched leafy sprays of arching and wide-angled, purple-streaked stems with small, slender dark green foliage that never tuckers out. We like to plant Monarda ‘Violet Queen’ and Melianthus ‘Antonow’s Blue’ behind while headlining this elegant Aster right up front. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1366)

    aster jindai and melianthus major

    Aster ‘Jindai’ & Melainthus major

  • Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’
    Dwarf Tatarian Aster
    The name may sound like one of the bad guys from Star Wars, but this unique Aster is definitely on our side with its upright bearing and lush textural appeal. Not as towering as its moisture-loving Asian counterpart, ‘Jindai’ spawns huge serrated rough-to-the-touch leafage on stout shorter stalks and abundant branched sprays of late blooming violet flowers engraved by large saffron eyes. A stand-alone for the mixed border, its assertive look can be juxtaposed against finer textured plants like Spiraea ‘Ogon’ and Phlox ‘David’. Hardy to zone 3. (P-0632)
  • Eupatorium maculatum ‘Riesenschirm’ Regarded as one of the top ten plants of the Dutch wave, favored by bees and butterflies and an AGM winner, this superb back-of-the-border beauty propels polished, tall dark purple stems—stiff, straight and staunch—skyward bound. Loosely arranged whorls of heavily textured deep green tapered leaves anchor fluffy 8 in. wide domed flower heads awash with reddish purple hues. Its lofty architecture maintains a dignified profile, even in winter, enhanced by warm browns and seed heads, which nourish finches and tits. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1754)
  • Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’
    A statuesque beauty, ‘Venusta’ is distinguished by huge, fluffy cloudlike plumes painted with soft salmon pinks floating above a good-sized, leafy mass of upright stems and jagged, Maple-shaped foliage. Forging an impressive stand in a moist well drained setting, Meadow Sweet seldom needs staking, and makes an airy partner for Trollius ‘ Superbus’. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1024)
  • Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’
    Cymbal Star
    One of the largest flowered Heleniums, ‘Zimbelstern’s undulating, brilliantly golden, mahogany-splashed petals converge at a russet eye. Before its enthusiastic bloom, strong stems sport unusual chartreuse buds that have a joy all their own. Hardy to zone 4. (p-0854)
  • Helenium ‘Red Jewel’
    Saturated with dusky red hues, uniquely shaded petals perform a lavish dance around prominent maroon and saffron hubs. Droves of closely set flowers, some marked by yellow tips, are esteemed for their long blooming period and the consistent color they maintain throughout the season, unlike many other Heleniums. Destined to be a vivacious garden mainstay, this Bob Brown introduction grows as a bushy verdant clump, looks spectacular en masse and can escort perennials like Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ and Salvia confertiflora for a galvanizing floral affair. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1701)
  • Helianthus giganteus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’
    Giant Pale Yellow Sunflower
    Late blooming pastel yellow flowers gaze down at onlookers from atop lofty, sturdy stems. Combine with Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and tall, late Asters in the rear of the border. Hardy to zone 6. (p-0461)
  • Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’
    Bolstered by hefty, tall and straight asparagus-hued stalks, dense yellowish orange buds, infused with chartreuse, remind us of miniature Christmas trees. Radiant yellows, pumpkin colors and lime tinges meld an unparalleled luminosity as the gorgeous torches stand sentinel, their plump rounded bases tapering to blunt tips well above a bright green, upright clump of strapping, deeply furrowed lax leaves. A robust specimen for the fall garden, ‘Yellow Cheer’s late season effervescence steals the show, especially when staged against a dark green foil. Hardy to zone 8. (p-1458)
  • leontis

    Leonotis menthifolia ‘Savannah Sunset’

    Leonotis menthifolia ‘Savannah Sunset’
    Lion’s Tail
    Conjuring images of romping safari lions, wondrous dense whorls of furry bright orange tubular flowers ascend straight lofty stalks in spaced intervals. New growth emerges from the blossom’s center, crafting an unusual tiered effect, while freely branching square hairy stems sprout neatly paired triangular green leaves that are narrow and toothed. Majestic as a container specimen or a mixed border focal point, this easy-to-grow South African mint family member favors a sunny well-drained spot with average moisture and a hard cut back after frosty winters. Hardy to zone 8. (P-1657)
  • Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’
    Assuming an air of refinement, the very slender blooms feature small, deep rose and chartreuse bracts that resemble decorative braids. Tipped with tiny purple flowers, the clustered bracts are held at nearly right angles to upright and reddish leafy stems. Grounded by medium green foliage, this long lasting, delicate floral display casts earthy yet saturated hues in the border or an arrangement. Shown in the middle with Hypericum androsaemum to the left. Hardy to zone 6. (p-1277)
    origanum, persicaria, hypericum

    Hypericum androsaseum to the left with Euphorbia ‘Excalibur’ behind & Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ back right;
    low growing Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’ (middle, to the right of the Hypericum)

  • Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Summer Dance’
    With foliage that’s close to lime-green, and spiky floral tails that approach the scarlet spectrum of rosy pink, this slow spreading perennial is sure to please. We brought ‘Summer Dance’ home from Piet Oudolf’s Dutch nursery and have come to appreciate its brighter, less rambunctious nature. Swaying to a late summer breeze, our stand lives up to its name while cheerfully commingling amid Anemone ‘Andrea Atkinson’ in the border. Zone 5/6. (P-1312)
    rudbeckia

    Rudbeckia ’Praire Glow’, Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’ & Helenium ‘Red Jewel’ on the right

  • Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’
    Spangled with burgundy, bronze and reddish orange shades, irresistible legions of ebullient long blooming daisies parade dark chocolate centers and bicolor gold-tipped petals. At the base, large trilobed verdant leaves form a handsome bushy mass that gives way to upper, narrower leaves and openly branched, erect purple flowering stems. A denizen of the Great Plains, this summertime showstopper is not as long-lived as other Rudbeckias; it eventually wears out, but easily reseeds. Hardy to zone 3. (P-1713)
  • Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Red Thunder’
    Derived from a Korean collection of Sanguisorba officinalis, this high-fashion Sanguisorba was selected by Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf for its deep ruby-red bobbles, perched on tall stiffer stems. Whether in the border or a meadow planting, a bouquet or frost-covered in the garden’s winter light, their distinctive silhouette inspires as much drama as a gathering thunderhead. A bluish green bed of pinnate foliage with toothed leaflets launches the strong floral display that can be superimposed against lofty silvery plumed Miscanthus, whorled Veronicastrum blooms and Helianthus ‘Capenoch Star’. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1542)
  • Sedum telephium ‘Red Cauli’
    A vibrant carousel of color and a neat compact visage earned this popular Sedum the RHS Garden Merit award in 2006 and a place in our border. Flashy cardinal-hued arching stems and notched blue-green succulent leaves with purple tinges elevate pale rosy buds and bright pink clustered flowers, which age to a dark ruby red. Let ‘Red Cauli’ festoon a patio container or a pathway’s edge, accompanying other late blooming companions such as Salvia reptans West Texas Form and Calamagrostis foliosa. Zone 3/4. (P-1716)
    sedum and salvia

    Salvia ‘Limelight’ & Sedum ‘Red Cauli’

  • Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’
    Whorls of densely packed, chartreuse terminal buds on strong upright stems provide exciting contrast to the lush green color of ‘Limelight’s foliage. In flower, this cultivar is sure to take center stage as deep bluish purple blooms peek out from the vibrant yellow-green calyxes. Cut back each season to encourage new growth at the base and to maintain a pleasing shape. Hardy to zone 8. (p-0608)
  • Tricyrtis lasiocarpa
    Amethyst Toad Lily
    A favored standout among Tricyrtis, this exceptional species sprouts an attractive tightset clump of sturdy erect arching stems garbed with glistening green and purple freckled alternating leaves. Amethyst and blue petal tips embellish white upward facing orchid-style blooms that populate large well-branched terminal sprays. Hailing from Taiwan, where it has been observed growing in nearly full sun, Amethyst Toad Lily’s lovely long blooming flowers can model their ornate features in a brighter garden bed. Hardy to zone 7. (P-0271)

Grasses

  • Andropogon gerardii
    Big Bluestem
    Historically renowned as the sod our ancestors broke their backs busting, Big Bluestem is the most widespread of all the prairie grasses. Its regal and wild color show makes it a must in our garden. Growing to great size, the stand’s lush, blue-blushed summer greenery becomes a burgundy and copper glory at first frost. Soaring three-pronged red seed heads beg its other common name, Turkeyfoot. Reliable, heat tolerant and sturdy, Andropogon gerardii thrives in poorly drained clay to dry sandy soils, and easily transitions the outskirts of your garden into the wild meadow beyond. Hardy to zone 4. (g-0448)
  • Eragrostis chloromelas
    Blue Lovegrass
    Witness the ethereal haze of sheer amber-colored panicles floating on lax 3 ft. stalks over long fine cut powdery blue blades and you’ll see why we love this gorgeous South African denizen. The flowing warm season mound spreads slowly over time, while the gauzy inflorescences tantalize birds, butterflies and the rest of us through early winter. Appreciative of fast draining locations, Blue Lovegrass makes a sterling drought tolerant specimen or mass planting. Flank with Pennisetum spathiolatum and tall Molinias, and intersperse Sanguisorba ’Chocolate Tip’ or Aster ’Blue Danube’ for a spectacular painterly effect. Zone 6/7. (G-0540)
  • Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Bergfreund’
    Invite this “friend of the mountain” into your garden bed and it will quickly become your friend as well. Dynamic yet not too imposing, a gauzy array of gently pendulous, rich-colored reddish purple panicles mingle on dark green upright stems. Handsome foliage forms a low green stage that radiates yellow hues in autumn. Studded with ricelike beads transmuting warm chestnut hues when mature, the airy plumes should be headlined right up front where they become a mysterious veil that you can peer through. Hardy to zone 4. (G-0489)
  • Pennisetum spathiolatum
    Slender Veldt Grass
    A denizen of South Africa, this drought tolerant evergreen grass has low growing, narrow dark green blades that provide a verdant contrast to its tawny colored tapers. The dense, abundantly produced inflorescences hover on jointed nearly invisible stems, some 2 to 3 ft. tall, while fashioning a delightful see-through veil. Especially mesmerizing when grouped in a dry creek bed, a meadow or a water wise garden, the Slender Veldt Grass asks only for a well drained abode. Zone 6/7. (G-0511)

Shrubs

  • Cornus capitata
    Evergreen Dogwood
    An elegant, large evergreen shrub or small tree, this slow growing Dogwood is a perfect anchor for the shrubby border. Handsome, curved leathery leaves with light green veins provide a pleasing texture and turn bronze in the winter months. Buttonlike flower heads surrounded by creamy yellow bracts precede the long lasting, prominent, pinkish red strawberry-shaped fruit that appears in November and can be brought inside as a colorful complement to holiday greenery. Hardy to zone 8. (S-0364)
    cotinus and persicaria

    Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ & Cotinus ‘Grace’

  • Cotinus ‘Grace’
    Smoke Bush
    An arresting beacon as the sun casts a ruby glow through its purple-black leaves, ‘Grace’ inherits her elegance from Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’ and Cotinus obovatus. The sprays of tiny deep pink flowers throw a smoky, wine-colored fog over its robust form, and a close glance reveals bright yellow at the center of each bloom. Lovely in contrast with the silver foliage of Teucrium fruticans (Select Form), ‘Grace’ conveys a stately presence matched by few other plants. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0394)
  • hydrangea ruby slippers

    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’


    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’
    Easily slipped into a diminutive spot, this compelling smaller-statured beauty sprung from a 1998 U.S. National Arboretum cross between ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Pee Wee’. Exceptional 9 in. upright flowers, which open white but quickly transmute pale pink and eventually deeper rose hues, dress up a more petite, compact rounded carriage. Broad, lobed deciduous leaves are dark green in summer and mahogany tinted come autumn. A peerless companion for fine textured plants such as Spiraea ‘Ogon’ or Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, ‘Ruby Slippers’s lovely low profile can be ushered to the foreground, planted en masse or utilized as a hedge. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0766)
  • Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’
    Left to its own designs, this vigorous Hydrangea has a natural upright and arching form, but it also responds well to pruning, making ‘Unique’ an effective choice where space is scarce. The immense flower heads are spectacular and abundant, and true to name are unique in shape, being quite broad at the base and bluntly rounded at the tip. They begin the season a creamy white and gradually darken to a buff pink. Hardy to zone 3. (s-0348)
    hydrangea unique

    Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’

Trees & Vines

  • Clematis terniflora
    Sweet Autumn Clematis
    This spectacular New Zealand native is covered with small white flowers borne on long, arching panicles. The pink anthers, silky seed heads, and dark glossy leaves combine with the Hawthorn-like fragrance of the flowers to create a sensuous, alluring effect. We trained our Sweet Autumn Clematis to grow horizontally against a wall, so that the evergreen foliage contrasts with the hanging flower panicles. Hardy to zone 6. (T-0108)
  • Parrotia persica
    F. W. Parrot, who made the first ascent of Mt. Ararat in 1829, lends his name to this low branched, round headed, deciduous Persian native with tremendous landscape value. In spring, the silver, green and cream-colored smooth bark is complemented by lustrous green foliage and in autumn it’s highlighted by exquisite gold, rosy pink and crimson tones. Later, showy red stamens and wooly brown bracts create a reddish haze around bare limbs, making a virtual carousel of color and texture. Pest free Persian Ironwood prefers well drained soil and detests both overly wet or dry conditions. Grows moderately. 10’ in 6–8 yrs. Hardy to zone 5. (T-0016)

Current Staff’s Favorite Plant

staff favorite plant

This glamorous beacon for the late season garden is our favorite plant this week. Hydrangea aspera ‘Rocklon’ with it's large pink clouds of buds and pinkish bronze, downy new growth bring a soft look to this noble, rarely cultivated Hydrangea. Mounted on stout fuzzy stems, wide, hairy serrated foliage, with red-hued petioles, provides a graceful deep green foil for the enormous mauve lacecaps ringed by white bracts. Adequate water and bright shade will ensure ‘Rocklon’s prosperity, while Corydalis and Stylophorum diphyllum offer contrasting texture beneath. (S-0421)

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