Cool New Woodies for 2020


Thanks to Tim Kane with Prides Corner Farms for this content.


There is nothing like the mention of new plants that will raise the temperature of any plant lover and get them to take notice.  The SynRG™ group of growers including Overdevest Nurseries, Prides Corner Farms, Saunders Brothers, Sheridan Nurseries and Willoway Nurseries, have had some pretty exciting new plants directed our way over the last couple of years.  Our ability to provide feedback from you, the retail garden center has been a key element to making plant breeders seek SynRG™ growers out for introductions and trialing.  As a result, we always have some sexy and downright cool new plants, both woody selections and perennials, to send your way. 

It is hard to narrow that list down to just a few plants even for this article which is meant to focus on woodies.  All of the new woodies we have released as a group have some real cool factor but we can’t, in this short space, talk about all of them so, here is an attempt to talk about what are, arguably, the coolest of those new woody plants.

There are (3) new plants that have been around just long enough to be certified as Handpicked for You® Plants.  This certification is for the best of the best and these plants have proven their worth and have really raised the bar for plant excellence. 

The first of these is Buxus ‘Little Missy’.  Wait you say, this plant has been around for quite a long time.  Why should it be considered a ‘Cool New Plant’?  When a plant is not well known and tremendously underutilized, we feel it still qualifies as new.  And it definitely is cool.  Why, you ask.  Compact form, lustrous foliage, great hardiness and great tolerance to Boxwood Blight and Boxwood Leaf Miner combine to make this plant very cool!  No wonder it was Handpicked for You certified for 2020.

Ok. So maybe a green foliage plant like Boxwood does not rate on your coolness scale.  Maybe a wonderful Hydrangea macrophylla might.  I get it, there are lots of Hydrangea macrophylla out there but ‘Cherry Explosion’ is definitely well endowed with cool.  Big, wide, colorfully red lacecap flowers really put on a show on this reblooming selection blessed with a compact form and deep, dark green foliage.  The best part of this plant may be its supreme temperature tolerance.  Bred in Wisconsin, ‘Cherry Explosion’ has Zone 4 cold weather tolerance to burn making it dependable even in climates where other macrophylla Hydrangea dare not tread.

Let’s throw in an outstanding rose into our gallery of coolness.  Rosa True Bloom™ True Passion is very cool because it is, well, really hot.  Hmmm….maybe I should explain that.  Bred by Ping Lim, the breeder of Easy Elegance Roses, True Passion magnifies all the hardiness, disease resistance and blooming power of that series to create a rose that is breathtaking.  Strong growing with deep green foliage, True Passion displays a nearly non-stop procession of hot, bright orange, tea-like flowers that are a beacon of brightness in any garden.  True Passion is so floriferous, so easy to grow and so rewarding.  If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!

Are you still looking for more coolness to satisfy your cool plant craving?  SynRG® has a great group of First Look plants have just started coming your way over the last year that might be some of the next Handpicked for You® plants.  Here are a few samples for you to dream about over the next few months and try out on your own.

Non-invasive Barberry are always attention getters and we have the next of the WorryFree® line that is just hitting the market.  Like Crimson Cutie®, the first of the WorryFree® selections, Lemon Glow® will make you take notice.  Its brilliant yellow new foliage color that mellows to a pleasing, glowing lemon shade as it matures will brighten up any landscape.  Its compact form is pleasing and, this University of Connecticut bred selection, is certified viable seed free.  Look forward to seeing many of WorryFree® Lemon Glow® Barberry coming your way soon!

There has been no bigger new introduction in 2020 than (2) NewGen Boxwood, NewGen Freedom® and NewGen Independence®.  Yes, that’s right.  More non blooming, green plants that have taken the plant world by storm.  Who would have believed that Boxwood could be so exciting and so cool??  It seems as if all you need is to have a couple of revolutionary new Boxwood that help solve two problems that have dogged Boxwood over the last few years to be considered cool.  Hey, that is cool!

Those problems, Boxwood Blight and Boxwood Leaf Miner, had placed Boxwood on life support in many areas of the United States.  Leave it to the Boxwood gurus at Saunders Brothers to lead the NewGen Boxwood revolution that helps solve these issues.  Both selections are Boxwood Blight and Boxwood Leaf Miner tolerant to a degree that makes them, hands down, the best Boxwood to plant in areas that have had really high pressure from these two issues. Even better, they grow well, look stunning and rate near the top of the charts in coolness.

Finally, let’s talk about fragrant Viburnum.  Is there anything that has a higher coolness factor in early to mid-spring than a plant that fills your yard with its sweet scent?  How about a plant that does that while being half the size at maturity than the most famous of the fragrant Viburnum, Viburnum carlesi? You see what I did there?  I got you to yell, ‘That is so cool’! 

You are so right. Viburnum carlesi Spice Island® is cool and has all the ingredients to be a Must Have plant.  You can use it in any half to full sun area and, with its slow growing, compact size, it will be hard to not find areas you where you want to plant it!  And, let’s face it, you just can’t beat that a plant that smells so good.  The only thing better would be to find the exact same plant that would bloom throughout the spring and summer.  Are you plant breeders listening out there??

I hope you have a new appreciation of the cool new woody plants the SynRG™ growers have to offer.  Believe or not, these few plants are just scratching the surface of the exciting and, yes, cool plants we have to offer.  Give your favorite SynRG™ grower a call today to get an infusion of cool at your garden center!