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.