New Varieties Showcase: Compact, colorful cultivars highlighted

By CASEY MINTER

Capital Press

New varieties of nursery stock will share the spotlight at this year's Farwest Show.

The 2014 Farwest New Varieties Showcase will once again highlight the latest, most interesting new plant varieties.

This year’s showcase will bring attendees face-to-face with a sprawling, colorful display of annuals, perennials, shrubs, conifers and shade and flowering trees.

The diverse assortment of plants at this year’s showcase is meant to inspire creativity in the landscape, garden and home.

“Every year we have a different display, but this year we have a tremendous diversity in plant material,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing. “I’m really excited to see the plants.”

Some varieties worth noting include Marley’s Pink Parasol Japanese Snowball, with its weeping pink flowers and light, sweet cotton candy fragrance; the Afterburner Tupelo, which displays glossy, green foliage in the warmer seasons and bright, burning red foliage that lasts well into the fall; and the Lemon Lace Elderberry with its contrasting, bright foliage that is a great way to add a color to a woodland garden.

The plants are not only attention grabbing and beautiful, but also will help boost sales at the cash register. Nineteen companies are bringing 52 plants to the New Varieties Showcase, with over 2,000 square feet of the show floor dedicated to it.

This will be the seventh year that the Farwest Show will feature the New Varieties Showcase, and it has become one the show’s largest components, Murphy said.

One variety in particular has special relevance to this year’s showcase, and to Oregon. The Oregon Snowflake Flowering Currant is from Ryan Contreras, a plant breeder and assistant professor of horticulture at Oregon State University. This compact cultivar is the first to come from OSU’s new ornamental plant breeding program, a program that aims to continue pushing the boundaries of how people view and grow ornamental plants.

The Snowflake Flowering Currant has several characteristics that make it a good addition to this year’s showcase.

“The most distinguishing characteristic is its dissected foliage. Most currants have a very smooth foliage, this looks more like a Japanese maple style than your typical currant,” Murphy said.

What also makes this plant variety special is its compact, manageable size. Whereas many currants grow over 15 to 20 feet tall, this will stay 4 to 5 feet tall.

“It’s good for all those smaller yards that are more popular now,” Murphy said.

Show attendees can vote for their favorite plants throughout the Farwest Trade Show floor. The People’s Choice award winners will be announced after the show. There will also be a team of judges evaluating each variety on its performance in a landscape, its value to the landscape and its potential to do well in a retail environment.

The judges will vote on the Best of Show as well as three other commendable additions to the nursery industry.



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