Fraser Valley Sidhu nursery get unique plants start for home and world

Opinion: Several of Sidhu & Sons Nursery Ltd.’s varieties have become the cultivars of choice for many North American nurseries, and even in Europe

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We see many wonderful new plants being introduced each year from around the world, but it’s exciting to know that a significant number of these jewels originate right here in B.C.

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Some of the most creative, new plant introductions come from a nursery located just out of Mission. Sidhu & Sons Nursery Ltd. was founded in 1975 by Gurdev Sidhu. Starting as a hobby farm, this nursery has now grown to more than 600 acres. They propagate and grow both starter plants for other nurseries to grow on and beautifully finished nursery stock that they ship across North America.

Strictly a wholesale nursery, Sidhu & Sons grows a wide selection of plants, from broadleaves, like rhododendrons and azaleas, and grafted and cutting-grown conifers to hardy, deciduous flowering and ornamental shrubs, grasses and small fruits. Their selection is truly amazing.

What is interesting from a gardener’s point of view is the number of unique plants they have introduced in the past few years; several varieties have become the cultivars of choice for many North American nurseries and even some nurseries in Europe.

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The most recent introduction is a new Pieris japonica called Glowing Hearts. Like most Pieris japonicas, it will grow about five feet tall over 10 years, is tolerant of full sun or partial shade and is hardy to zone 6. In late February and March, rich, pink flowers will cascade over this plant, but what makes it so exceptional is its explosion of scarlet new growth that simply glows. Each leaf has a chartreuse stripe down the centre, which only adds to the drama of this unique plant.

Glowing Hearts is quite at home in any garden, and it also makes a wonderful container plant that will certainly demand attention each time it repeats its flush of new growth.

Nandina Bonfire has slender, fiery, swirly leaves that are very distinctive.
<span class="caption"> Nandina Bonfire has slender, fiery, swirly leaves that are very distinctive.</span> <span class="credit">Photo by Sidhu &amp; Sons Nursery Ltd.</span>

I’m a huge fan of nandinas for their elegant, year-round beauty and their red tones in winter. I also like their grass-like nature, especially when used in containers where, even with the slightest breeze, they provide subtle motion and sometimes even a soft whisper of sound.

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Sidhu’s first introduction of Bonfire is an exciting addition to the large nandina family. A compact variety, growing about three to four feet in height, it displays distinctively swirly leaves that flush out in vibrant, orangey-red new growth. Hardy to zone 6, it’s a sun lover but is quite tolerant of some shade. As with most nandinas, once established it is very drought tolerant, making it an important option for today’s gardens.

Most people love the rich, burgundy-red foliage of smoke bushes, but the traditional varieties, like Royal Purple, grow too large for today’s smaller space gardens. The Sidhu family has introduced a far more compact variety called Cotinus coggygria Velveteeny. Growing only about four feet by four feet, it’s just the right size for containers and its foliage is a rich, deep purple, much like Royal Purple. Velveteeny is hardy to zone 4.

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One of Sidhu’s earlier introductions is now a mainstream, go-to variety. Today, Himalayan sweet box is becoming one of the best plants for shade, not only because of its hardiness (zone 4) and compact nature, but also because of its powerful sweet perfume in late winter. The Sidhu family has introduced two varieties that are far superior to the older strains. Sarcococca Fragrant Valley is a very low-growing ‘humilis’ type, with rich dark green leaves, making it an ideal ground cover. Besides its nice growing habit, its strong perfume adds fragrance to any winter garden.

Sarcococca Fragrant Mountain has a delightful perfume. It reaches up to two feet with a foliage similar to skimmia.
<span class="caption"> Sarcococca Fragrant Mountain has a delightful perfume. It reaches up to two feet with a foliage similar to skimmia.</span> <span class="credit">Photo by Sidhu &amp; Sons Nursery Ltd.</span>

Sarcococca Fragrant Mountain is a larger growing variety, reaching up to about two feet, and again it has rich dark foliage that is similar to skimmia. This plant has a nice form, is ideal in any shady spots and has that same rich perfume when you need it most during the bleakest time of the year.

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A new, more compact emerald cedar has really taken off for a couple of different reasons. Thuja Smaragd, the standard hedging cedar, is valued for its rich, dark green foliage, compact habit and hardiness to zone 3. The Sidhus’ introduction of Thuja Smaragd Emerald Petite is a miniature version of its parent. Maturing at only six feet tall with a maximum spread of two feet, it’s an ideal small-space specimen or a great container plant, especially where a little screening is needed.

Emerald Petite is also terrific for Christmas décor. Indoors or out, from tiny, four-inch pots to larger, five-foot specimens, it can be used as tabletop decorations or as a small patio Christmas tree that is lit and decorated. Unlike most smaller Christmas trees, it can be used throughout the year in our gardens.

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The Sidhu family has developed and introduced other exciting plants, such as a new native salal called Gaultheria shallon Cascade Sunrise, which has edible berries and orange-red new growth; a compact Viburnum davidii cultivar called Pin Cushion, which attracts songbirds and butterflies; a hardy white potentilla called Frosty; a very hardy rhododendron hybrid named PJM Elite Star and another nandina called Goldstream, which flushes out yellow and gold new growth and matures to a rich, amber gold.

We are fortunate to have this great family and their nursery operation in our province, and we are grateful for all these wonderful new introductions that we can now enjoy in our gardens.

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