Hot Tips: Great New Plant 2011

While visiting my friend Sharon’s East Hampton garden last summer, I was awed by a marvelous plant aglow with a showy profusion of tubular golden bells. It was Phygelius x rectus ‘Moonraker’, an evergreen subshrub from South Africa.  Phygelius has been featured in a number of British gardens (since 1855) but I didn’t think it was hardy on Long Island (zone 7). Its tag said it was. So we were off to the races.

Phygelius x rectus ‘Moonraker’ is a must-have, even if it doesn’t survive the winter, because it blooms  all summer and into the Fall. And for me, it was disease free — a big plus in an  organic garden.  At the oft-times frigid Chicago Botanic Garden,  Phygelius plants have survived as herbaceous perennials. I’d settle for that, gladly. Furthermore, hybridizers have been busy, so plants are also available with flowers in coppery orange, pink, rose and white. There’s even a new  group of ever-flowering  summer, compact, container plants from a British hybridizer, rated zone 8, called the CandyDropSeries. I have seen pictures. Woo Woo Hubba Hubba. Well worth having  as annuals, and due to cross the pond in the Spring. Look for them too.

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