Exceptionnelle performance

June 20, 2012
Written by Claude Vallée
Les Exceptionnelles®,” perhaps the best-known brand in Québec ornamental horticulture, has received broad media coverage over the last six years, estimated at more than one million dollars per year in terms of its economic impact. This is something, I believe, without precedent in Canadian history.

In 2011, in addressing some of the issues facing our industry, our planning committee decided to take advantage of this exclusive and popular brand to promote the benefits and enjoyment of annuals.

This year’s advertising campaign continues with the theme by focusing on colours, one of the main attractions of these plants. With the motto “Colours of Cheerfulness,” plus very attractive visuals, the advertising agency that was in charge to create the campaign, Horticolor Canada, has successfully met the challenge to connect the consumer with the huge potential of annuals. The message is simple and joyful … much like the pleasures of gardening.

WORKING HAND IN HAND WITH FLEURONS DU QUéBEC
■ For two years, “Les Exceptionnelles” has been affiliated with the Fleurons du Québec program, which pays tribute to municipalities that improve their landscapes with horticultural beautification projects. In addition, the program offers two training sessions, especially dedicated to municipal representatives, in which the main purpose is the promotion of this category of plants from economic, social and environmental points of view.

Since municipalities can influence the passion of their citizens about horticulture, they have a duty of leading by example. We strongly believe that the work that has been carried out the two past years with the Fleurons du Québec has had positive results with residents.

In 2011, the general public came out in force, and about 3,000 horticulture enthusiasts voted the Daniel A. Seguin Garden as among their favourite attractions. It’s important to note here that the trend for new exotic foliage over the years is increasing.

INTRODUCING THE 2012 EXCEPTIONNELLES
■ Silky Pennisetum ‘Sky Rocket’
p20_4635-Pennisetum  
Silky Pennisetum ‘Sky Rocket.’
 
(Pennisetum setaceum ‘Sky Rocket’)
Height: 80 – 90 cm
Width: 70 – 80 cm
Flowering stage: generous silky spikes.
Foliage colour: soft green with white accents.
Placement: sun, semi-shade, light shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

The judges give it a perfect mark! This mutation of the very popular Pennisetum ‘Fireworks,’ designated “Exceptionnelle” in 2009, is a splendid variant with soft-green foliage with cream accents. The silky ears, finely hooked, change from a rosy tint to a cream colour as they develop. This grass adds height, texture and design to floral arrangements and flowerbeds. In addition, this cultivar is not invasive and the sterile bloom will renew abundantly until the frosts.

Discovered in 2009 in a nursery in Georgia, this new variety will be at the forefront of many gardens for many years.

Acalypha ‘Bronze Pink’
p20_4635-acalypha  
Acalypha ‘Bronze Pink
 
(Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Bronze Pink’)
Height: 70 – 80 cm.
Width: 30 – 40 cm.
Flowering stage: non-applicable.
Foliage colour: marbled – pink fluorescent with burgundy.
Placement: sun, semi-shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

Amazingly durable, this plant does not need blooms to provide a continuous touch of colour in outdoor arrangements. In fact, this is a feature that is more and more appreciated by present-day gardeners. The wide, copper-coloured leaves of this tropical plant are strong on its purple stalks, and its tints seem to change depending on the available light. As beautiful in a mass planting as it is as a single unit, this plant is as versatile as coleus. Plant in big containers, or in mulch on the garden, to see its full potential. Acalypha ‘Bronze Pink’ has superior heat resistance.

Canna ‘Hello Yello’
p20_4635-Canna-xjpg  
Canna ‘Hello Yello’
 
(Canna ‘Hello Yello’)
Height: 140 – 160 cm.
Width: 80 – 90 cm.
Flowering stage: bright yellow.
Foliage: soft green.
Placement: sun, semi-shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

‘Hello Yello’ blooms throughout the summer and has magnificent and abundant bright yellow flowers. This is a medium-sized canna that could be grown either in a container or in the ground. Much like ‘Orange Punch,’ a 2010 Exceptionelle, ‘Hello Yello’ is “self-cleaning” since its faded flowers naturally drop. This is a typical characteristic of cannas, and it results in no dried petals in the inflorescence.

This is a star performer that gets noticed. Very easy to grow, its rhizomes can be kept in a cool and dry place in winter and transplanted the next spring. Produced through the invitro cultivation technique, this plant is virus-free – the Achilles heel of many previous cultivars – and very vigorous.

Impatient ‘Rockapulco® Coral Reef’
p20_4635-Impatien  
 Impatiens walleriana Rockapulco Coral Reef
 
(Impatiens walleriana Rockapulco Coral Reef)
Height: 25 – 50 cm.
Width: 25 – 30 cm.
Flowering stage: coral pink.
Foliage: dark green.
Placement: light shade, semi-shade, shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

If you were told it was now possible to cultivate roses in the shade, without any insect and disease problems, you would probably like to have such a plant, wouldn’t you? We have almost overcome this challenge with the Rockapulco impatiens series, in which the double flowers look a lot like a bunch of roses. The plants are easily grown and become an impressive display of foliage and flowers. This is a great gift idea without any risk!

Mirror plant ‘Evening Glow’
p20_4635-Coprosma-  
Coprosma ‘Evening Glow’
 
(Coprosma ‘Evening Glow’)
Height: 40 – 50 cm.
Width: 30 – 40 cm.
Flowering stage: non-applicable.
Foliage: green variegated of yellow and pink.
Placement: sun, semi-shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

Because of its shiny foliage, Coprosma is often referred to as the “mirror plant.” A native of New Zealand, the variety features abundant foliage. Moderate in size, this plant is very cold-resistant, handling temperatures of up to -10ºC. Multi-coloured, ‘Evening Glow’ is perfect on a terrace or a balcony. You will not be upset if you occasionally forget to water them, since they have amazing resistance to drought. This strong performer will shine in small areas or within autumn landscapes in which it will display more of a red tint the more temperatures fall.
Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’

(Alternanthera brasiliana ‘Little Ruby’)
p20_4635-Alternanthe  
 Alternanthera brasiliana ‘Little Ruby’
 
Height: 20 – 30 cm.
Width: 35 – 45 cm.
Flowering stage: non-applicable.
Foliage: burgundy.
Placement: sun, semi-shade, shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

This new variety adds depth in a landscape. It could be used as ground covering, in a combination, or by itself in a beautiful container. It is easy to grow and will enhance everything around it. Its compact, regular shape and the thickness of its stalks make it an appealing plant, and it is for this reason that it is often referred to as  “Joseph’s Coat” in the language of Shakespeare. It is perfect when used within any contemporary design. It’s a true multipurpose plant!

Verveine Lanai® ‘Twister Pink’
p20_4635-Verbena-hybrida  
Verbena Lanai ‘Twister Pink’
 
(Verbena Lanai ‘Twister Pink’)
Height: 20 – 25 cm.
Width: 25 – 30 cm.
Flowering stage: unique two-tone white and pink.
Foliage: dark green.
Placement: sun, semi-shade.
Uses: landscape beds or containers.

This is a first in the verbena line! The outstanding two-coloured blooms of this new variety are a positive blend of white and pink, setting a magnificent crown on each inflorescence. The nuances in the colour of the flowers change throughout the season, and get a broader range of pinkish tints. Their inflorescence remains intense. Very floriferous, this variety is not affected by powdery mildew.

PAYING TRIBUTE TO OUR PARTNERS
■ Without our partners, this program would not be the success it is today. Our thanks go to: Unijardin, Passion Jardins, Botanix, Ball Horticulture, JVK, Norseco, Fleurs plantes jardins, the FIHOQ, Horticolor Canada, IQDHO, Fafard, Plant-Prod Québec, Teris, Déco Style, Corbeil et Bigras, l’Association des responsables d’espace vert du Québec, Compostage GL, Savaria, l’ITA, La corporation des Fleurons du Québec, jardin Daniel A. Séguin, Montréal Botanical Garden, Jardin Van den Hende, and Reford Garden.

For more information, contact coordinator Claude Vallée at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.itasth.qc.ca/exceptionnelles or www.facebook.com/LesExceptionnelles . ■



Claude Vallée, M.Sc., is professor and coordinator of technological innovation in horticulture at the St-Hyacinthe campus of the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire.

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