Plant Select® is a program designed to introduce the very best garden plants to the Rocky Mountain and Plains regions. The program is managed cooperatively by the Denver Botanic gardens, Colorado State University, and green industries in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. In 1998, Plant Select® featured six outstanding plants.
Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush (Buddleia alternifolia ‘Argentea’) is the only woody plant in the year’s lineup. Unlike most familiar species of butterfly bush, which die to the ground almost every year, this tough ornamental is from the high, cold plains of northwestern China. It’s adaptable to ordinary garden conditions in Colorado, blooming from the first year and quickly forming an elegant, vase-shaped, small tree or large shrub. It grows to a height and width of 10 feet or more, and has silvery branches that bear clouds of deep blue-purple flowers in June.
Starburst Ice Plant ® (Delosperma floribundum) is superficially reminiscent of the purple ice plant. It forms a much more compact mound of shimmering, soft pink flowers with conspicuous white centers. It has received unprecedented attention at regional trials, and is similar to the already well-known ice plants in terms of hardiness and garden performance.
COLORADO GOLD® Gazania (Gazania linearis) is unlike the tender hybrids. This hardy gazania forms a much more attractive evergreen mat and its flowers open quite early in the morning, closing only in inclement weather and at night. It’s an extraordinarily tough strain developed from several wild collections, and it performs well in mountain communities.
PURPLE MOUNTAIN® Sun Daisy (Osteospermum barberiae var. compactum) comes from the high Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa. Unlike most sun daisies, this species is hardy and thrives in ordinary soils and conditions. It quickly forms a lustrous evergreen mat that sports lavish, deep-purple flowers from April to autumn frost.
LAVENDER MIST® Sun Daisy (Osteospermum sp.) is ever blooming and makes a trim, evergreen mat of foliage with one-foot tall stems and pale lavender flowers that age to a deeper purple.
PINK CRYSTALS® Ruby Grass (Melinis nerviglumis) is an annual grass that has dazzled visitors at the Denver Botanic gardens for years with its mercurial, shimmering, pink seedheads. This is the first year it’s being offered commercially on a wide scale anywhere in the United States.
Plant Select® introductions and recommendations are available at garden centers and nurseries. Additional information on the cultural needs of these and other plants in the program is available at the Plant Select® website, www.plantselect.org.