If you are of a certain age, the phrase ‘tutti-frutti’ means either a dish of ice cream with eye-catching little pieces of different fruit mixed in; or a wild song from the dawn of rock and roll featuring a frenetic performer named Little Richard. If you’re not of that age, the phrase it likely just a meaningless piece of alliteration.
In the Trial Garden this summer, there’s a new reason to get acquainted with Tutti Frutti. It’s the name of a series of Achillea millefolium introduced by Blooms of Bressingham and two of that series, ‘Apricot Delight’ and ‘Pomegranate’ can be found ensconced in containers. They’re worth seeking out to admire this year, and to find for your own garden next year.
Achillea is best known by its common name, yarrow. In the wild, yarrow is a late summer bloomer producing wide, flat clusters of flowers on tall stalks (called corymbs), usually in white or ivory. Achillea prefers full sun and dry, infertile soil. It tolerates both heat and humidity. Achillea’s principal drawback is that its carrot-like feathery foliage tends to be dull and to dry out quickly after blooms appear.
Enter plant breeders. Give the hybridizers a few years to cross-breed for favorable attributes. The result is a series of Achillea that are long-blooming, compact and disease-resistant. The foliage is vigorous; bright green with silver accents. Best of all, those corymbs are bursting with color. ‘Pomegranate’ is aptly named, with rich, velvety purple-red florets. ‘Apricot Delight’ harkens back to that dish of ice cream with a wonderful array of colors within each corymb. The container in the trial garden has everything from deep rose to pale apricot. Few plants provide this much visual satisfaction, and it’s pleasing to see a cultivar that looks as good in a container as in a garden setting.
According to Blooms of Bressingham, the Tutti Frutti series will bloom from June until August (the ones in the Trial Garden are in full regalia in mid-July) and their season can be extended by deadheading faded blooms. They are fully hardy in Zone 5. The container-grown cultivars in the Trial Garden appear to have topped out at about 24 inches.