Plant Watch 2019: Rising Stars and Out of Favor

Every season I find some new underused plant that outperform my expectations. At the same time, I decide to cut ties with other plants that we’ve used on multiple jobs with lackluster results.

First, the stinkers.

This is the best this plant will look. Usually it sends up long stalks and the rebloom is hardly worth talking about.

Syringa ‘Bloomerang’. I just haven’t been happy with this plant. I was sold on marketing. What’s not to like with a reblooming Lilac? Well the reality is plenty. Does Syringa ‘Bloomerang’ rebloom? It does, but it’s hardly worth writing about. In fact, it’s hardly noticeable. The flowers that form after spring are really, really small. I suppose a microscopic flower is better than no flower at all but what I dislike most is the growth habit. A lot of growth, not a lot of mass. For this reason, it had to be chopped.

Aster 'Purple Dome' leaf fungus

Aster ‘Purple Dome’. This plant drives me crazy. Yes, it’s a native but not all natives are good. This is the case with Aster ‘Purple Dome ‘. It’s a dependable flower at a time of the year every garden could use more color. That said, I’ve decided this plant just isn’t worth a space in my gardens anymore. Every fall, just before it goes into it’s prime time, the foliage seems to wilt away due to a fungus. It happens every year and it’s really disappointing. It’s so unsightly, it’s hard to enjoy the flowers. Also, there is an insect problem that seems to suck the sap out of the leaves, turning them a not so enjoyable chlorotic green For that reason it’s off the list.

The winners:

October Skies Aster

As a replacement to Aster ‘Purple Dome’, my choice has been Aster ‘October Skies’. It’s about the same height as ‘Purple Dome’ but takes up more real estate. Very solid performer and none of the problems of it’s relative.

For a replacement for Syringa ‘Bloomerang’, I’d chose the older Korean Lilac which has a similar leaf, a much nicer growth habit with one strong bloom in spring.

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Richard Schipul
Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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