The three are now named and in the patent process: Emerald
Heights™ and Blue Cascade™ are licensed to McCorkle Nursery (Dearing, GA) while 'Vintage Jade' is being introduced by Plant Introductions, Inc. Liners and/or
container-grown plants are available in 2011.
Characteristics: Original Selections, five-years in-ground,
measured 03-07-2011, University of Georgia Horticulture Farm
Emerald Heights™ ('PIIDIST-I' PPAF)―Compact, upright-rounded
habit, with lustrous dark green, leathery leaves; small red flowers in leaf
axils in February-March; parent plant 5.3' high and 8.4' wide; adaptable from
zones 7 to 9; avoid late summer pruning so foliage fully hardens; liner will
fill a three-gallon container in a single season; excellent alternative to
Schipka cherrylaurel, as it resembles the latter in habit.
Blue Cascade™ ('PIIDIST-II' PPAF)―Compact, spreading habit
with the leaves held upright, resulting in a unique texture; leaves
bronze-purple-red upon emergence turning dark matt blue-green and holding color
year-round; red flowers are borne in leaf axils during February-March; parent
plant 3' high and 7.8' wide; adaptable from zones 7 to 9; superior grouping or
massing broadleaf evergreen for sun to partial shade; the foliage color and
texture make this a standout introduction.
'Vintage Jade' (PPAF)―Branches layer, one-upon-the-other,
resulting in a broadleaf evergreen with
lustrous dark green leaves; red flowers open in February-March; parent plant is
2.2' high and 8' wide; adaptable from zones 6b to 9; perfect plant for covering
large areas as the habit is groundcover-like.
These new introductions are primed and ready for integration
into modern landscapes. Their adaptability to wet, yes wet, and dry soils is
without parallel. The names, Distylium
and Isu tree, are foreign to most gardeners and nursery growers. Given
landscape opportunities, they will become "household" names. There are no messy
fruits (small brown capsules the color of the older stems) or maintenance
anomalies to frustrate gardeners and growers. Light tip pruning in June spurs
new growth flushes and denser plants. A late winter tip pruning also works.
Possibly the best advice is minimal attention.
A note on temperature tolerances and performance at the
Horticulture Farm might open a few minds. The lowest temperature over the
five-year period was 13.6°F. Michael Hayman, Louisville, tested Emerald
Heights™ and Blue Cascade™ and plants survived 0°F in 2010 with foliar injury. 'Vintage Jade' was essentially unscathed. In 2010, 73 days of 90°F and above
were recorded. The plants never flinched, only prospered.