Big Sky™ Series from the Saul Brothers
There were coneflowers before the Big Sky™ series, and there certainly have been coneflowers after them, but the Saul Brothers changed how we think about color in this genus.
Echinaceas always had other pignments to extend their color range, but the Saul Brothers reached in and brought out cultivar after cultivar of new colors: orange, gold, yellow, cleaner reds and purples, bi-colors. They showed how flexible and versitle the plants could really be.
Other breeders have taken up the challenge, but years after their introduction, five of the Saul Brothers cultivars remain listed in our Top Ten most-requested echinaceas, competing with classics like Kim’s Knee High and Magnus.
Heucheras by Theirry Delabroye
‘Caramel’ pretty much re-ignited Heuchera sales and its sister cultivars, Mocha, Pistache, Tiramisu and Encore, showed just what a shade foliage plant can do. Over this last decade, we have seen innovation after innovation from Thierry Delabroye, and his cultivars now account for about 55% of our Heuchera sales today.
Thierry is still working with his coral bells; and this year, he has released a new cultivar, villosa ‘Circus’. This Heuchera is a large-leafed plants with light limegreen foliage in the style of Pistache, and the markings resemble those found on tiarellas. When it blooms, the coral bells are heavy sprays of bright red.
Fleming Brothers Hibiscus
The Fleming Brothers changed the way we bought Hibiscus in the late 1990s. Before then, Hibiscus were divided between uninspired northern species and big but very tender southern species. Neither one had strong commercial value. This all changed with the introduction of Hibiscus ‘Kopper King.’ This was the complete package: good winter hardiness, big dinner plate blooms, and a distinctive purple maple-style leaf - all on a plant about three feet high.
The Fleming Brothers worked out a lot of the details we take for granted today in Hibiscus - the cold hardy roots, the extended color range, the thicker flower petals, the distinctive maple leaf shape, extended bloom lifespans and especially the compact size of the plant - versus the almost tree-like sizes of the native species. The Flemings have since passed away, but their work still shapes what we think a good Hibsicus should be.