The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has announced its Gold Medal plant winners for 2017, exceptional plants for both the homeowner and the professional garden designer. This year's selections include trees, vines, and perennials.
Natchez Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Natchez')
This workhorse crapemyrtle has been around for quite awhile, but it never loses its charm. At 20 to 30 feet tall, and with a similar spread, it's one of the tallest crapemyrtles, prized for its pure white flowers in July and August, its red, yellow and orange leaf color in fall, and its exfoliating bark -- shades of tan and chocolate -- in late fall and winter. One of the best known four-season plants, it was developed at the US National Arboretum by Dr. Donald Egolf. USDA zones 7-9, and I've seen it growing just fine as far north as Long Island and Cape Cod.
Gulftide Holly Tea Olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Gulftide')
Definitely one of my favorite plants, particularly because of its fragrant fall flowers. The tiny white blooms appear from September to November, and the plant will perfume the entire garden if planted en masse. It's an upright plant that looks like a holly, and it is extremely versatile: deer resistant, tolerant of shade and drought, and hardy to USDA zone 6. At about six feet tall and four feet wide, it can be used as a stand-alone specimen plant or as an attractive hedge.
This clematis variety is perfect for almost any garden. It blooms from June to September and comes in shades of dark pinks, reds and purples. The large three-inch flowers bloom on new growth, so the vine is best pruned in late winter to early spring. It's a vigorous climber and is resistant to clematis wilt. To USDA zone 5a.
Agastache x 'Blue Fortune'
Allium x 'Summer Beauty'
Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
PHS President Matt Rader said the plants are selected for their "beauty, reliability and ease of care." He added that their performance and hardiness in the mid-Atlantic growing region, from New York to Washington DC, has been proven. I'd say they'd be quite reliable in many other parts of the country.