by Connie Oswald
A dark red heuchera called ‘Melting Fire’. A hollyhock that’s resistant to rust. A columbine with blossoms the color of ‘Tequila Sunrise’.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The plants are sold only in packs of four plants at $2.76 per pack.
About 100 varieties of perennials will be offered in the sale. They include plants for shade, deer-resistant plants and plants native to Western New York. See all the plants here.
Heuchera (coral bells) ‘Melting Fire’
A new plant to try in shady areas is Heuchera (coral bells) ‘Melting Fire’. It does well in part sun to shade.
While it does get a pretty flower, it’s the glossy foliage that makes it so appealing. The leaves start out very dark red and turn maroon with age.
“It provides contrast,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s. He suggests pairing ‘Melting Fire’ with Carex ‘Bowles Golden’ and Carex ‘Evergold’, two grassy perennials. (The carexes aren’t in this sale, but they will be available a little later in the season.)
You can also use ‘Melting Fire’ as an accent in a container with annuals.
Figleaf hollyhock resistant to rust
Rust is a fungal disease that can cause decreased vigor on regular hollyhocks, Yadon said.
The rust doesn’t look nice, either, which is why some people would refer to hollyhocks as outhouse plants. The plants were pretty when they were far away, back by the outhouse, but weren’t as pretty when you got close up. You can try treating rust if you want.
Or try figleaf hollyhock (Alcea ficifolia) ‘Happy Lights’ and ‘Barnyard’ mix.
“It’s more resistant than regular hollyhocks,” Yadon said. “That’s why I got them.”
Just like regular hollyhocks, these are tall– about four feet.
“The best use is at the back of the garden, along the fence or in the center of an island,” he said.
If they don’t get enough water, hollyhocks may be stunted, growing only 3 or 3½ feet tall.
Make sure you find a sunny spot for hollyhocks.
“Hollyhocks need a lot of sun,” Yadon said. “They’ll be more gangly if they don’t get a lot of sun.”
The colors will be mixed.
New ‘Tequila Sunrise’ columbine
Columbine is popular because of their beautiful flowers, and a new variety, Aquilegia skinnerii ‘Tequila Sunrise’, adds more variety. Each flower is orange and yellow. ‘Tequila Sunrise’ grows to a height of about 24 inches.
Columbine is a tried-and-true plant that grows well in part shade to shade, which is great for gardeners looking for a shade plant. But it can also take quite a bit of sun, Yadon said.
Another feature of columbine is that it flowers early in the season– spring to early summer. They are dependably hardy in our area and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Other columbine varieties offered in this sale are Aquilegia caerulea ‘Beidermeier’, which grow 12 to 14 inches tall, and Aquilegia caerulea ‘McKana Giants’, which grow 24 to 36 inches. Both come in a mix of colors; you won’t know the color that you will get.
Preparing for the sale
Take a pen: Check off each variety as you make your selection. The garden center will be crowded and it may be helpful if you don’t have to backtrack.
Carpool: Parking will be limited. Sharing transportation with a friend or relative can help reduce the overall traffic and increase parking availability.
Take your own wagon: Mischler’s shopping carts will be at a premium. To prevent waiting for an available cart, you might consider taking a wagon or cart of your own.
Carrying your purchases: Corrugated cardboard trays are available in multiple locations throughout the sales area. Placing your perennial sale packs directly in these trays will help save time at checkout.
Caring for your plants
People often ask whether they should keep their perennials in the house until they’re ready to plant them.
The answer is no. The sale perennials have been hardened off, which means they were introduced to colder temperatures several weeks ago.
The perennials are hardy to our area, but all young plants are susceptible to frost damage. If you encounter severe weather warnings or frost warnings, you should cover your plants or take them into a protected area under a porch or into an unheated garage.
Get the plants into the ground as soon as you can work the soil. The sooner the plants are in the ground the sooner they can establish a substantial root system.