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Regional Picks: Plant Wish List – Mountain West

Fine Gardening – Issue 172

Mountain West


1. Clear Creek® Yellowhorn


Name: Xanthoceras sorbifolium ‘Psgan’

Usda Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 18 to 22 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; clay, loam, or sandy soil

Yellowhorn has become one of my favorite spring bloomers. Every midspring, it is covered in white blossoms with yellow eyes that turn maroon. When in full bloom, people will simply stop and stare. Yellowhorn can be grown as a shrub or small tree, depending upon training and pruning. Clear Creek® was developed by Green Acres Nursery in Golden, Colorado, and is particularly hardy in our variable climate.


2. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ Coneflower


Name: Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 24 to 30 inches tall and 18 to 20 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Of the many recent introductions of different-colored coneflowers, this one is a standout. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ holds its color in the intense Mountain West sunshine. It comes in a mix of colors including yellow, orange, red, cream, and purple. A mass planting with several colors of this easily grown perennial provides a show from midsummer through fall.


3. ‘Sucker Punch’ Chokecherry


Name: Prunus × virginiana ‘Sucker Punch’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 20 to 30 feet tall and 18 to 20 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

When I first heard about a chokecherry that didn’t sucker, my immediate reaction was—we’ll see. Sure enough, this one lives up to its name. The leaves start the season green before turning a deep reddish purple that really stands out in the landscape. ‘Sucker Punch’ has clusters of white blossoms in spring followed by dark fruit in late summer that can be used for jams and jellies, if you beat the birds.


4. Little Devil™ Ninebark


Name: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Donna May’

Zones: 3 to 7

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; moist, well-drained soil

Ninebarks are among my favorite shrubs, and this new variety is definitely going to be added to my garden. A low-maintenance shrub, it has finely textured, dark burgundy leaves that show off clusters of small pinkish-white flowers in late spring. Little Devil is smaller than other purple-leaved ninebarks, giving us more options for use in a mixed border.


Michelle Provaznik is executive director of the Gardens on Spring Creek, the community botanic garden of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Photos, except where noted: millettephotomedia.com; Bill Johnson; Marg Cousens/gapphotos.com; courtesy of Michelle Provaznik

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