New perennial coreopsis seem to be popping up everywhere and here are some more – twenty five more from the cross-pollinating paintbrush of Darrell Probst, famous for his epimediums. Click on the picture to see a large image. His new Big Bang Series is included here… What an amazing collection!
Of course, as many gardeners have discovered, “perennial” is a relative term when it comes to coreopsis. The more unusual colours are derived from annual varieties which bring a short life as well as new colours so varieties like ‘Autumn Blush’ and ‘Limerock Ruby’ tend to give one summer of colour and no more in many gardens. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, prolific summer container plants are invaluable, we just need to know.
The Big Bang Series, though, is bred to be hardy in zone 5; it’s now being tested in zone 4. The first to be introduced, ‘Full Moon’, with 3in/7.5cm flowers in clear pale yellow, is now available by mail order in the US. Expect ‘Redshift’ to be available before too long, its 2in/5cm flowers open creamy yellow with a red ring around the eye and in cooler weather the red colouring becomes more dominant.
Also new is ‘Lightning Flash’, a form of C. tripteris, with bright yellow foliage and yellow flowers - though at 6ft/2m tall it’s a rather a different creature from most coreopsis; it should be a dramatic back-of-the-border plant. It should be available in the US soon, and later in the UK. ‘Curiosité Chartreuse’, from Europe, looks similar to ‘Lightning Flash’ but its appearance in nurseries is a little more distant. However, Beth Chatto had a similar yellow-leaved form which has been around in Europe for about ten years but never appeared in nurseries. All three are probably the same.
But as more and more of these coreopsis appear on the market - some tough as nails, some more like annuals for summer containers - we need breeders and nurseries to be open and realistic about the hardiness of these plants. It’s not that we won’t grow those that are less hardy, we just need to know so that we can grow them in an appropriate way and our expectations are not dashed.