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Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’
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Calluna vulgaris Firefly

<i>Calluna vulgaris</i> ‘Firefly’

Calluna

Heather

Callunas’ tiny, scalelike leaves range from deepest green to silver, gold and bronze, with some changing color after a frost. Flowering from mid-to-late summer in cool whites, pinks and purples, the small, bell-shaped flowers are frozen in graceful repose on one-sided spikes. Heathers are marvelous fresh or dried.

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ full sun  partial shade

Renowned for entertaining the richest, most vibrant brick-red foliage, ‘Firefly’ never fails to snap us out of a gray, winter-day funk. Splendid warm shades ranging from salmon to terracotta imbue the foliage the rest of the year, while deep mauve flowers festoon its upright, compact frame in late summer.

Awarded Britain’s coveted AGM award, this vividly colored heather merits a choice niche in your garden.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 18"–20" high wide; hardy to zone 4.

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ (S-0653)
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Other selections in this genus


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August Newsletter

Can you Dig It?

An E-newsletter from Digging Dog Nursery

August–October, 2014 .

Straight from the Border

Tips that may help your landscape survive out-of-the ordinary weather!

Has the weather in your area been more extreme this past year? Maybe you’re noticing increased rainfall, polar-cold winters or hot parched summers. If so, we’ve put together an enticing selection of hale and hearty plants that not only tolerate, but actually thrive in tough situations. We’ve also included some cultural practices that we’ve found helpful over the years.

  • If you are in the midst of a drought, you might consider applying a heavy mulch or adding organic matter to a garden bed to help retain moisture. Watering in the evening or at night, in addition to less frequent, heavier waterings will reduce water usage. In dire situations, perennials, grasses and even some shrubs can be pruned back. This won’t harm them in any way and will greatly diminish their water needs.
  • To improve drainage in overly moist areas, you may wish to create a raised planting bed, incorporating a sandy loam. Be sure to position the crown of your plants right at soil level or slightly above. Planting them too deep allows moisture to accumulate at the base of the plant, which can lead to rot.
  • When preparing for an extra cold winter, certain plants may benefit by an early August pruning rather than later in the fall. This ensures enough time for the pruned tips to harden off and for some new growth to push. Allowing the spent stems to remain standing atop perennials will shelter their crowns on those frosty nights. A fast draining mulch may also increase cold tolerance. Reemay, a sheer fabric which water can penetrate, or even an old wool coat or blanket can be draped over your plants, raising the temperature a few precious degrees during an occasional, unanticipated cold snap.

Who ever said gardening was for the faint-at-heart? When contemplating our leafy havens, it’s important to anticipate the unexpected, embrace change and remember there’s always next year. Our gardens promote hope, possibility and promise. As long as we possess cheerful resignation, an adventuresome spirit and a sense of humor, we’ll be satisfied gardeners.

Sun-loving, water thrifty toughies:

  • Argyrocytisus battandieri
    Hailing from North Africa’s Atlas Mountains and sadly rare in cultivation, this RHS award winning, vigorous small tree boasts an extraordinary appearance that understates its surprising hardiness. Large, erect cone-shaped clusters with dense pineapple-scented lemon-yellow flowers festoon the velvety gray-green trifoliate leaves. Evergreen in milder climates, Pineapple Broom’s upright yet relaxed looking bushy habit injects a sumptuous dose of summer cheer to a warm wall, seating area or the backside of a mixed planting. It relishes regular pruning and good drainage, endures deer, poor soil, heat and dry conditions, and thankfully will not reseed. Hardy to zone 7. (T-0275)
  • cistus anne palmerCistus ‘Anne Palmer’
    Silvery pink, crepe-paper like petals float over this evergreen shrub’s ripple-edged gray-green foliage. Equally at home in tough coastal or inland environments. Hardy to zone 8. (S-0187)
  • cistus snow fireCistus ‘Snow Fire’
    Regarded by Eric Sammons as perhaps the most successful of his unreleased hybrids, this well-bred Cistus claims Cistus populifolius subsp. major and Cistus inflatus as its parents. ‘Snow Fire’ closely resembles ‘Snow White’, except for a slightly smaller, more spreading stance and its decorated blooms, whose blazing marks undoubtedly kindled the “fire” in this cultivar’s name. Dainty white overlapping petals surround a golden eye, and each is brushed by a prominent burgundy-red patch at its base. The bright green, wavy-edged leaves and reddish stems respond quite well to pruning. Blooms April–August. Hardy to zone 8. (S-0560)
  • 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. Blooms June–November. Zone 6/7. (G-0540)
  • Eryngium planum ‘Silver Salentino’
    A snowy white multitude of plump conical flower heads perch atop pointed, widely spaced silver bracts. Leafy multi branching stems, pearly hued and steadfast, bolster the luminous blooms, while arising from an attractive dark green basal rosette defined by serrated leather like leaves and red-tinted petioles. Pair ‘Silver Salentino’ with Eryngium ‘Blue Glitter’ for a classic look. Blooms July – September. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1493)
  • Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii ‘John Tomlinson’
    A selection made from wild seed collected in the former Yugoslavia by the namesake, this charismatic Euphorbia is esteemed for its handsome compact profile and glowing yellow-green conical inflorescences. Large rounded and broad heads taper towards the base while housing crowded bell-shaped flowers. Hardy to zone 7. (P-1338)
  • Festuca mairei
    Indigenous to Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, this long lived cold hardy grass sprouts a gracefully arching fountain distinguished by handsome khaki-tinged gray-green blades. Taller than most Festucas, Atlas has quickly earned the reputation as one of the finest large area ground covers, proving indispensable for mass plantings on slopes, in mixed borders or natural style meadows. Evergreen where winters are mild and remarkably drought tolerant, its reliable good looking mound relishes occasional waterings and doesn’t require a trim, only a little raking. Hardy to zone 4. (g-0488)
  • Genista aetnensis
    Discovered on the lava-strewn slopes of Italy’s Mt. Etna, this fantastic large shrub or small tree hosts sparsely arranged tiny green leaves and round arching slender green stems, creating an airy semitransparent effect. A fragrant sun-struck explosion of copious bright yellow pea-shaped flowers bedazzles its graceful narrow frame, which casts little shade and never overwhelms. Well-suited for lean, yet sharply draining soil, easily grown Genista aetnensis can take intense sun and heat, requires very little water, especially summer irrigation, will not reseed unlike its ill-mannered cousins and imparts untold elegance to a warm sheltered spot. Zone 7/8. (S-0761)
  • merrist wood creamx Halimiocistus wintonensis ‘Merrist Wood Cream’
    Lovely, yet tough and drought resistant, x Halimiocistus is a cross between the genera Halimium and Cistus. This demure evergreen cultivar was raised at Merrist Wood Horticultural College in 1970. Its low spreading form hosts soft yellow flowers embellished with wine-red spots at the base of each petal and narrow gray-green leaves. Hardy to zone 7. (S-0044)
  • Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’
    Paper-thin, bright orange-red blooms make a toasty statement against a bed of gray-green leaves. Blooms May–July. Hardy to zone 4. (P-0943)
  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Ellagance Purple’
    Introduced by Kieft Seeds of the Netherlands, this fantastic 2008 Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner offers a perfumed plethora of large vivid purple-blue flower spikes bolstered by swank silver-green slender leaves. ‘Ellagance Purple’ achieves an impeccable well-branched mound, that is compact and just right for nestling into tight spots. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0767)
  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Thumbelina Leigh’
    First spotted by Kiwis Elsie and Brian Hall as a markedly unique seedling in a bed of Lavandula angustifolia ’Hidcote’, ’Thumbelina Leigh’ is distinctive for its compact spherical habit and short sturdy well-branched flower wands, offering a vibrant highly aromatic profusion of dense two-toned blooms. The sweet smelling rounded blossoms feature deep purple pubescent calyxes plus large corollas, colored both a bright violet-blue and dark lavender-violet. A stellar addition to path edges, the rockery, knot gardens and containers, the small impeccably formed gray-green mound celebrates a flowery encore if you shear one-third of its mass after the first bloom. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0776)
  • Marrubium supinum
    Soft-as-velvet, crinkle-edged and reminiscent of scallop shells, the diminutive rounded leaves are ash green on top and a fuzzy frosted celadon below. Tightset textural foliage and downy white stems weave a low, pearl-hued cushion-like mat that stages leafy flower stems with whorled, small rosy mauve blooms. Possessing an unwavering tenacity, this good-looking evergreen ground cover cavorts throughout southern Spain and northwest Africa, and can charm a niche in the rockery or along a path in your garden. Blooms June–July. Hardy to zone 6. (P-1765)
  • origanum libanoticumOriganum x ‘Amethyst Falls’
    Esteemed plantsman and Bluebird Nursery owner Harlan Hamernik selected this Origanum for its exceptional floral detail. Aromatic, glaucous green-gray leaves compile a shapely drought resistant bed that unleashes large pendant sprays distinguished by extravagant quantities of layered chartreuse bracts and small, protruding vivid amethyst flowers. Delivering an unparalleled, several month showing, the rotund conelike blooms can be left to promote winter hardiness, and staged in a container or easy-to-see spot with a sunny southwestern exposure and quick draining soil. Hardy to zone 5. (P-1464)
  • Origanum libanoticum
    Embellished by small rose-pink flowers, droves of stacked, overlapping pale green and blush-colored bracts look like slender papery ornaments. Exceptional in dried arrangements, these large decorative blooms hang from the tips of long, wiry, arching stems, loosely lined with smooth, nearly round, green leaves. A little more upright and more open than ‘Kent Beauty’, this captivating Origanum deserves a spot where it can be easily cherished. Hardy to zone 6. (P-1220)
  • 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. Blooms June – October. Zone 6/7. (G-0511)
  • Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’
    There’s no escaping the spell that these devilishly handsome dark leaves and neon bright blooms will cast on you. Topped with a rosy red summertime icing of tiny star-shaped flowers arranged in 4-branched clusters, the rich mahogany red foliage is thick, obovate and toothed at the tips, while shrouding merlot-infused trailing stems. ‘Voodoo’ conjures a short trouble free carpet-like ground cover that relishes sandy or rocky soil, stays evergreen in milder climates, detests over watering and abates erosion. Hardy to zone 3. (P-1776)
  • Sedum telephium ‘Karfunkelstein’
    Fancied as one of the rising stars at the 2006 RHS Sedum Trials, this exceptional Ernest Pagels prodigy has a dainty demeanor. Copious rose red buds and small dusky pink flower heads crest a close-knit sea of upright multibranched green stems infused with lavish beet red shades. Ideal for gardens where space is scarce, the short stalwart stalks never flop and are clad in toothed gray-green spoon-shaped leaves with slate purple overtones. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1717)

Moisture aficionados:

  • 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’. Blooms July–August. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1024)
  • ligularia rocketLigularia stenocephala ‘The Rocket’
    While stenocephala refers to the “narrow-headed flower,” ‘The Rocket’ sums up even better the form of this Ligularia, as well as the charged energy it inspires. The large leaves are kelly-green, heart-shaped, and feature coarsely serrated margins. Strong shoots emerge in the spring, which unfurl to create an underlayer of verdant leaves for the clear yellow racemes to blast through on their way to altitudes of 5 ft. Striking and easily grown, it will sparkle in a wooded setting with Rodgersia nearby, or at water’s edge. Blooms July–August. Hardy to zone 5. (P-0101)
  • lysimachia aureumLysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’
    Golden Creeping Jenny
    Native to Europe and Russia, Golden Creeping Jenny has naturalized in North America. Bearing tiny, bright yellow flowers, it creates a striking understory of round, golden foliage and, if planted at the edge of a pond, will reach into the water like rays of sunlight. For stunning contrast, place near plants with purple foliage. Blooms April–September. Hardy to zone 5. (P-0545)
  • rodgersiaRodgersia aesculifolia
    Fingerleaf Rodgersia
    Rodgersias are fine architectural specimens characterized by brownish black, fleshy rhizomes and large textured leaves spreading to a foot across, so be sure to provide these plants with plenty of space. Similar to the palmate leaves of Horse Chestnut, the crinkled foliage of this species is tinted bronze and heavily veined. The 7 leaflets radiate from the center and shaggy brown hair covers the loosely branched stalks, which hold pyramidal flowers, ranging in color from porcelain white to muted pink. Blooms June–mid-August. Hardy to zone 5. (P-0311)
  • Salvia uliginosa
    Bog Sage
    Uliginosa means “of the marshes”, in this case those between the forests of southern Brazil and Argentina’s fertile pampas. Eye-catching white flecked azure blue flowers soar atop slender branching stems lined with narrow lance-shaped green leaves. A quick-to-establish colonizing perennial, Bog Sage presents an airy, strong and erect habit that doesn’t need staking and flourishes in moist niches along streams or ponds and in ordinary garden conditions, even tolerating heavy or dry soil. For a spectacular effect, plant it alongside Anemone ’Andrea Atkinson’. Blooms August–October. Hardy to zone 6. (P-0997)
  • Tricyrtis ‘Empress’
    Renowned for its extra large and wider open flowers, this exquisite, newly introduced Toad Lily is a formosana hybrid. Ornate, spidery spaced petals are inscribed by occasional darkened tips and irregular velvet-rich deep purple spots, stipples and mottling on a creamy white background. An enticing fall beacon amongst the shadows, ‘Empress’s showy terminal blooms are supported by an upright robust gathering of lustrous, semi-clasping dark green foliage that stays dapper all season. Blooms August – September. Hardy to zone 5. (P-1469)

Stalwart plants undaunted by subzero weather:

  • Achillea filipendulina ‘Parker’s Variety’
    A well-loved garden mainstay, this steadfast AGM recipient features dense golden floral plates, rising like harvest moons, on stout upright leafy stems above a handsome pewter green mound of deeply dissected aromatic foliage. Grateful for lean somewhat dry sites, ‘Parker’s Variety’ asserts a regal stature and richly colored corymbs with complementary accents amid blue flowering neighbors such as Salvia ‘Nekan’ or Agapanthus ‘Storm Cloud’. Blooms June–August. Hardy to zone 3. (P-0004)
  • Aster novae-angliae ‘Harrington’s Pink’
    New England Aster
    Celebrated by Graham Stuart Thomas for conveying “much garden charm,” this well-loved Aster’s attraction is her pink flowers and her tall profile. Lavish quantities of delicate gold-centered daisies house nearly 50 layered, extra fine rays each, while cresting thick, straight, somewhat woody branched stalks. Bred by Mr. Hilliard from Williamsburg, Iowa, the robust, grayish green clump crowded with stem-clasping, bristle-rough, 4 to 5 in. long leaves tolerates wet soil and some shade, resists mildew and can accompany Sedum ‘Indian Chief’ and blue blooming Asters. Blooms August – September. Hardy to zone 3. (p-1426)
  • bergeniaBergenia ‘Magic Giant’
    Big varnished rosettes of thick, extra large rounded evergreen foliage beams purplish bronze colors that indeed work magic on a bleak winter landscape. A verdant foil the rest of the year, dark green leaves reach up to a foot long and 9 in. across, while supporting dense rosy pink flower clusters, defined by red centers, white stamens and open starry faces on stout wine-hued stems. Bedazzled with jewel tones and texture galore, this hybrid Bergenia crafts an exceptional, easy care ground cover for moist poorly drained banks, stream sides or borders. Blooms April–May. Hardy to zone 3. (P-1747)
  • Clematis ‘Pamiat Serdtsa’
    (Integrifolia group)
    With a name that translates “memory of the heart,” this vine’s floral elegance is hard to forget. Long blooming and satin sheened, the rich colored heliotrope purple blooms show off darker, glossier midribs. Caught in a partially open, spirited flounce that surrounds pale yellow anthers, the 3 in. long tepals are sometimes twisted and irregularly edged. ‘Pamiat Serdtsa’s sturdy herbaceous shoots will climb and saunter but not cling, while slightly nodding blooms pose suspended from subtly crooked stems. Developed at the Ukraine’s Nikita Botanic Garden, she etches an exquisite juxtaposition of color when meandering up through Spiraea ‘Ogon’ in the mixed border. Blooms July–September. Hardy to zone 3. (T-0243)
  • Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’
    Red Osier Dogwood
    With common names like Hart’s Rouges, Kinnikinnik and Shoemack, who would expect this North American riparian native to be a vibrant beauty igniting the winter landscape? ‘Cardinal’ sculpts an unflappable, extremely cold-hardy multi-stemmed shrub that has a lot to offer: fiery red-hued stems in winter, flat-topped clusters of petite white flowers in spring, creamy white summertime fruit, and dark green deciduous foliage manifesting a purple-red fall display. Beloved by gardeners, birds and the azure butterfly, the Red Osier Dogwood prefers rich, somewhat moist soil, but tolerates a variety of sites and can be ensconced near Acer griseum for an intriguing blend of colors and textures. Trim roots to remove unwanted suckers and prune 30% of the old wood in early spring to stimulate brilliant new growth. Blooms August – September. Hardy to zone 3. (S-0733)
  • Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’
    Bitter Switch Grass
    Populating Delaware’s coastal sand dunes near the town of Dewey, noted grass expert, Rick Darke selected this kingly Panicum for its blue, oh-so-blue smooth glaucous blades and elegant fountain like stance. Distinctive straight-up stems bolster light airy plumes, followed by caramel-colored seed heads persisting well into winter. ‘Dewey Blue’ is not only a stunning showman but an enduring workhorse whose slowly spreading rhizomes form clumps that are vital in stabilizing seashore ecosystems, as well as withstanding hot dry summers and varied garden soils. Blooms August – October. Hardy to zone 3. (G-0500)
  • Persicaria affinis ‘Dimity’
    Himalayan Fleeceflower
    he deep green leaves of this graceful ground cover turn a rich brown during the winter and form a thick mat over a few seasons. The jointed, wine-red stems pick up the accents in the white and crimson flowers which are arranged, lavender like, along dense 2 to 3 in. terminal spikes held over a foot above the foliage. As the blooms mature, they darken to a crimson-rose shade, and finally end their days colored a rich rusty brown. Blooms late May–September. Hardy to zone 3. (P-0250)

Current Staff’s Favorite Plant

staff favorite plant

Everyone at DD loves Tricyrtis ‘Empress’ (P-1469) for its ornate late season flower, which never fails to jazz up a shady nook!

Renowned for its extra large and wider open flowers, this exquisite, newly introduced Toad Lily is a formosana hybrid. Ornate, spidery spaced petals are inscribed by occasional darkened tips and irregular velvet-rich deep purple spots, stipples and mottling on a creamy white background. An enticing fall beacon amongst the shadows, ‘Empress’s showy terminal blooms are supported by an upright robust gathering of lustrous, semi-clasping dark green foliage that stays dapper all season.

Blooms August – September.

Size: 2-¼' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

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Customer Comment:

“I am (a university specialist) advising the horticultural industry of Maryland.  The plants your company sent were of excellent quality.  Nice job.  This the first time I have dealt with your company and I was very impressed.”

~Stanton in Maryland


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