FARGO — The good old days often look better in the rearview mirror than when one was actually living them.
Take gardening, for example. Heck, we didn’t even have Wave Petunias when I was a kid.
And even though we dined on sweet corn as a meal all its own and loved every bite of it, today's super sweet varieties are even more delicious.
We’re living in good gardening times. Plant breeders have been prolific, and among plant innovators is the Proven Winners trademarked brand of plants, recognizable by their “PW” logo on many pots we see at garden centers.
Here are the descriptions, provided by Proven Winners, of their new perennials for 2020. It will be interesting to see how these perform in our region. Listed as winter hardiness zones 3 and 4, they certainly merit trying.
Firefly Amethyst Achillea: With a height of 20 inches, it’s a shorter member of the Firefly Achillea series, with attractive pink flowers. Also known as yarrow, many varieties of Achillea can seed themselves rather invasively, which can be avoided if the flowers are removed religiously upon fading, before seedpods form.
Firefly Diamond Achillea: Long-lasting white flowers with an upright habit to 28 inches.
Firefly Peach Sky Achillea: A tall, columnar 36-inch Achillea with a blend of peach-colored blossoms with extended bloom into late summer.
Firefly Sunshine Achillea: The bright yellow flowers hold their vibrant color longer than most types, and the upright 30-inch habit holds its form well.
Serendipity Allium: This onion relative with globe-shaped lavender flowers blooms in mid- to late summer with blue-green foliage.
Crested Surf Athyrium fern: For shaded perennial beds, it’s described as zone 3, although some ferns in this genus are borderline in hardiness. Described as highly ornamental, growing to 22 inches.
Jack of Diamonds Brunnera: Uncommonly large 9- to 10-inch leaves overlap at the base for a unique effect on a plant 15 inches high. Ornamental leaves have a silver overlay with wide, dark green veining.
Queen of Hearts Brunnera: Massive heart-shaped leaves have a pronounced silver overlay. Compared with Jack of Diamonds, Queen of Hearts has narrower veining.
Pink Diamonds Dicentra: A relative of the traditional bleeding heart, but this one requires sun. Growing to 16 inches high, it reportedly blooms from late spring until early fall, unlike spring-only types.
Orange You Awesome Echinacea: Produced from tissue culture, it has a uniform orange flower color and habit not typical of seed strains. Excellent basal branching, large flower size and horizontally held petals on a 20-inch plant.
Yellow My Darling Echinacea: Flowers age from rich to creamy yellow for a long period of color on plants 24 inches high.
Sound of My Heart Daylily: Unique pink flowers with purple center and edges, on a 28-inch plant that reblooms from early summer through early fall.
Candy Crush Perennial Hibiscus: Grows to 4 feet with vivid bubblegum pink flowers. Although listed as zone 4, perennial hibiscus should be given protective winter mulch.
Evening Rose Perennial Hibiscus: Massive 8-inch, magenta flowers on plants 4 feet high.
Opening Act Pink-a-Dot Phlox: The dark green, glossy foliage is disease-resistant, an improvement on older varieties of tall garden phlox. Flowers are light pink with darker centers on plants growing to 24 inches.
Opening Act Ultra Pink Phlox: Intense, rose-pink flowers on a disease-resistant plant 28 inches high.
White Profusion Salvia: A pure white companion to blue salvia, which reblooms through summer, if sheared back after each flush of flowers.
Boogie Woogie Sedum: Variegated, summer-blooming groundcover sedum with two-tone foliage and yellow flowers on a plant that spreads beautifully in hot, sunny locations.
Pride and Joy Sedum: A mound-type sedum that blooms in late summer through fall with deep pink flowers on a 12-inch plant.
Yellow Brick Road Sedum: Fine-textured yellow flowers cover the dark green leaves of this groundcover-type sedum, which blooms in midsummer.
Purple Illusion Veronica: Thick, rosy purple flowers and dark green leaves on a plant 18 inches high.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at email@example.com or call 701-241-5707.