The Elements of a Beautiful Garden

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design, miniature hosta with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

DSCN6643I love this combination of ‘All Gold’ Japanese Hakone grass and pink astilbe.

My son Alex Walker-Drennan took me to visit one of the gardens installed and maintained by his landscaping company Practiced Hands Gardening (practicedhandsgardening@gmail.com).  The garden has a strong Carolyn’s Shade Gardens connection as almost all the plants came from my nursery, and it was designed by Joan LaLeike whom many of you know from my open house sales.  It is owned by Hope and is on less than 1/4 acre very close to the City of Philadelphia.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the summer and will reopen in the fall.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Let us know if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas.  For the miniature hosta catalogue, click here.

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DSCN6620The front of Hope’s house has great curb appeal.

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The garden was started about five years ago, and Hope works on a different section each year.  I always recommend that customers take this approach rather than trying to work on their whole property at once.  Completing an area, even a small one, gives you a sense of accomplishment and the inspiration to tackle the next project.  Hope has created a very satisfying garden in a relatively short period of time, which got me thinking about the important elements of a beautiful garden. Here’s what I came up with:

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DSCN66021. A Good Design: complementary textures, heights, and colors.

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DSCN6619A mixture of perennials, annuals, and deciduous and evergreen shrubs plus the lovely bark and habit of the birch keeps the garden flanking the front door interesting all year.

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DSCN6618A close up of the front garden, hellebores—-my favorites!

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DSCN6632A good design can be achieved without hiring a designer but knowledge of the plant material and how it performs is crucial.  Visit local public gardens like Chanticleer, Longwood, Winterthur, and the Morris Arboretum to view mature specimens thriving in an established environment before you choose and place your plants.

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DSCN66262.  Lot of Plants: Hope’s garden is densely planted giving a lush and vibrant look and cutting down on maintenance by keeping out weeds.  If you are working with a big space and a small budget, tackle one section at a time and fill it in.

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I am not sure who came up with the idea that plants should not touch and should be surrounded by a sea of mulch, but from a design perspective the results are not pleasing.  Leave room for each plant to reach its mature size without crowding, but once it does no soil should be visible.

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DSCN66313.  Lots of the Same Plant:  Massing of this Japanese hakone grass makes viewing from a distance a pleasure and guides the viewer around the garden.

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DSCN6627I rarely plant one of anything except trees.  When you shop, stay within your budget by purchasing the same total number of perennials but choose more of each variety you plant and less varieites.  Here, ‘Caramel’ heuchera and hydrangeas are massed.

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Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' & Brunnera macrophyllaA simple mass planting of Japanese painted ferns and perennial forget-me-nots used as ground cover under a tree are much more pleasing than one or two of a lot of different plants crowded into the space.

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Brunnera macrophylla 'Dawson's White' A new planting masses ‘Dawson’s White’ brunnera leaving enough space for it to reach its mature size.

If you don’t make any other changes after you read this post, do this:  for the next year (or even better two years) do not buy any new plant varieties but instead add more of the same plants to groups that are working in your garden already.  I did this in my garden and the results were spectacular.

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Hosta 'Cracker Crumbs', Sedum 'Antique Grill'4.  Pay Attention to Details:  While the big picture is very important, little details really add to garden interest.  Hope has a very attractive but tiny bed filled with small scale plants edging her front walk, here petunias, ‘Antique Grill’ sedum, and ‘Cracker Crumbs’ miniature hosta.

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Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' 6-21-2015 1-44-28 PMThe bed really shows off her ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta, which is planted all along the walk.

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DSCN66285.  Expect Trial and Error not Perfection:  The leyland cypresses behind this bed (upper right of photo), put in before Joan took over, are failing.  Instead of nursing along these ugly plants, Hope is removing them and trying something new.  Plants are living things so every one that you or a designer chooses will not necessarily work or even live.  Give your plants a few years to perform and if they don’t, move on.

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DSCN66396. Use Hardscape:  Walls, walks, patios, decks, fountains, ponds, etc., add tremendous interest to a garden design.  They also significantly increase the cost so they should be added with a lot of forethought.  Here Hope removed her dated deck and replaced it with a two-level stone patio complete with “fountain stairs”.

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DSCN66447.  Add garden ornaments and containers:  You don’t have to go wild with sculptures, birdhouses, sundials, and urns everywhere, but a few well-placed garden ornaments really add interest.  At Hope’s, this lovely pot anchors this part of the garden.

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DSCN6638Ornaments don’t have to be big or expensive—I love this little mushroom sitting under the oakleaf hydrangea.

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DSCN6635Containers of plants are visually interesting, here dwarf conifers on Hope’s patio wall.

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DSCN6634A dish of mini hostas and sedums.

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DSCN66468.  Maintain Your Garden Well Especially the Edges:  A beautiful garden needs work to stay that way.  Trees and shrubs require regular pruning, beds should be cut back and mulched in the fall or spring, borders need edging at least once a year, and weeding is ongoing.  A beautiful design with  lovely plant material is wasted if the garden is overgrown with messy edges and full of weeds.

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I admit that I am not always diligent about following my own rules, but when I finally do the results are always superior to what went before.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Top 5 Favorite Little Hostas

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Hosta 'Sparkler'‘Sparkler’ might make it to my favorite minis list because of its beautiful colors and unusual habit, but I am not sure it meets the American Hosta Society’s definition of miniature.  Available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG).

With the latest issue of its journal, the American Hosta Society sent its members a form asking them to vote for their 10 favorite “regular” hostas and 5 favorite minis.  In my post Top 10 Favorite Larger Hostas,  I showed photos of some of my favorites.  Click here to read it.   If you are curious, here are my final picks:

1. Blue Mouse Ears
2. Blue Angel
3. Sagae
4. Eye Declare
5. El Nino
6. Crumb Cake
7. Paradise Joyce
8. Praying Hands
9. H. nigrescens
10. Stained Glass

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens’ final open house sale of the year,  featuring summer and fall blooming shade plants, miniature hostas, and groundcovers, is this Saturday, May 30,  from 10 am to 3 pm.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Our 2015 Miniature Hosta Catalogue is now on line, click here.  It lists all the wonderful little hostas that are available for pick up at the nursery and by mail.  Local customers are encouraged to pre-order.

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Hosta 'Little Treasure'‘Little Treasure’ may also be too big to be a mini but would be on my top 10 little hostas list because of its amazing blue color and lovely presentaion.  Available at CSG.

When my husband saw my post and my list, he commented that there was a lesson to be learned from it: if you see a hosta you like, buy it because it probably won’t be available next year. There are so many new hostas being introduced every year that many great cultivars are no longer sold.  Of my top 10 larger hostas, I was only able to sell 4 this year.  That’s why for this post I have once again indicated which little hostas are currently available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

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Hosta 'Moon Shadow'‘Moon Shadow’ may also be too big to get a vote, but I love its colors.  Available at CSG.

So what is the definition of a miniature hosta?  The American Hosta Society defines miniature hostas by their leaf size.  The leaf blade area, length x width, can be no greater than 6 square inches.  Clump spread is irrelevant.  That is why ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ heads my larger hosta list: its leaves are too big to qualify as a mini.  Here are a few more that are on my favorite little hostas list but don’t make it to the final five:

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Hosta 'Appletini'‘Appletini’, definitely a “little” and not a mini, has breathtaking spring color and shiny gold leaves through the season.  Available at CSG in 2016.

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Hosta 'Baby Bunting'‘Baby Bunting’s’ leaves look huge here, but they are tiny, cute, and blue in my miniature hosta rock garden.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Stiletto'‘Stiletto’s’ long, narrow leaves with wavy edges also make it stand out.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Faithful Heart'‘Faithful Heart’  has such an unusual look.  The smooth leaves come out solid gold and gradually develop a distinct green edge over the course of at least a month—very fun.  Shown here in my strawberry pot.  Available at CSG.

Now for the final five—the hostas that got my vote in the American Hosta Society poll for favorite minis:

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Hosta 'Twist of Lime'At number five, ‘Twist of Lime’  makes my list because its leaves are beautiful, it is very easy to grow, and it spreads nicely to make a lovely groundcover.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Pixie Vamp'At number four, ‘Pixie Vamp’ has everything going for it: great colors, elegant habit, adorable name, and look at those dark mahogany flower stems—a real standout.  Unfortunately no longer available but I am searching.

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Hosta 'Dragon Tails'

The photo says it all about number three ‘Dragon Tails’.  Wouldn’t a dragon have a tail like that?  Absolutely adorable!  Available at CSG in 2016.

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Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'

You could have predicted that a Mouse Ears hosta would be in my top five.  I have chosen ‘Mighty Mouse’ because it is readily available, grows well in pots and the ground, has a really cute name, and epitomizes the Mouse Ears form.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Cracker Crumbs'I could have chosen so many minis to be in my top five and all the finalists could be number one.  It’s like being asked to pick your favorite child.  However, I ended the agonizing and picked ‘Cracker Crumbs’ as number one.  Its shiny gold leaves with blue-green edges are beautiful, it has a great look both as a specimen and as a groundcover, it’s easy to grow, and it is readily available “in the trade”.  None of the other four combine all these characteristics.  Available at CSG.

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I hope you have enjoyed my little hosta roundup.  If you would like to read more about little hostas, click on any of the following links:

The Mice Have Multiplied Again

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 2

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 1

New Mice for 2014

2013 New Miniature and Small Hostas

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

I LOVE Mice

Beyond Mice

Hostas Containers and Companions

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Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: The 2015 Miniature Hosta Availability for mail order and pick up at the nursery is here.   Our final big spring sale, featuring miniature hostas and summer and fall blooming shade plants is Saturday, May 30, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on our list have gotten an email with all the details.  You can sign up to receive emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

The Mice Have Multiplied Again

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Mouse Ears CollectionMy Mouse Ears Hosta collection in pots, back row left to right: ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Mini Skirt’, ‘Mouse Cheese’, ‘Lucky Mouse’, front row left to right: ‘Green Mouse Ears’, ‘Pure Heart’, ‘Desert Mouse’, ‘Funny Mouse’.

I love Mouse Ears miniature and small hostas.  I like them because they are cute, they have a look all their own, they have adorable names, their colors are beautiful, I would actually grow them for their flowers, and their thick leaves give them a unique presence and repel slugs.  There are two new Mouse Ears this year: ‘Mini Skirt’ and ‘Pure Heart’, but I am also including photos of other members of this captivating family of hostas.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is holding its traditional Memorial Weekend open hours on Friday, May 22, and Saturday, May 23,  from 10 am to 2 pm.  Just stop by, no appointment necessary and you can park in the driveway. Our final big spring sale, featuring summer and fall blooming shade plants and miniature hostas, is scheduled for Saturday, May 30,  from 10 am to 3 pm.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Our 2015 Miniature Hosta Catalogue is now on line, click here.  It lists all the wonderful little hostas that are available for pick up at the nursery and by mail.  Local customers are encouraged to pre-order.

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Hosta 'Mini Skirt'Newly introduced‘Mini Skirt’has the same variegation as ‘Mighty Mouse’ but with heavily ruffled leaves—stunning and already a customer favorite!

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Hosta 'Pure Heart'Newly introduced ‘Pure Heart’  has the reverse variegation of ‘Mighty Mouse’.  This tiny Mouse Ears hosta is named after Pearl Pureheart, Mighty Mouse’s cartoon girlfriend.

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Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'‘Mighty Mouse’ is still one of the best Mouse Ears both in the ground and in a pot.

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Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'‘Mighty Mouse’ in my miniature hosta rock garden.  I hope you can stop by this weekend and see all the minis growing there.

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Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'‘Blue Mouse Ears’  started it all and is still the best of the bunch if you are just getting into Mouse Ears.  It is much larger than the other Mouse Ears and is not considered a mini hosta.  The American Hosta Society defines miniature hostas by their leaf size.  The leaf blade area, length x width, can be no greater than 6 square inches.  Clump spread is irrelevant.

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Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'Another photo of  ‘Blue Mouse Ears’  highlighting the silver edging on the almost perfectly round leaves.

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Hosta 'Mouse Cheese'‘Mouse Cheese’ has the look of ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ with thick round leaves and lovely proportionate flowers but starts out chartreuse and turns more and more gold throughout the season.

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Hosta 'Green Mouse Ears'‘Green Mouse Ears’ has really taken off this year in a pot.  Always one of my favorites because of its ultra thick leaves, its bright green color is a nice contrast to the other Mouse Ears.

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Hosta 'Holy Mouse Ears'‘Holy Mouse Ears’ is slow growing but remains one of my favorites.

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Hosta 'Sunny Mouse Ears'Like ‘Mouse Cheese’, ‘Sunny Mouse Ears’ changes from chartruese to gold over the course of the season, but it has rounder, tinier leaves.

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That’s it for my Mouse Ears update.  If you would like to read more about little hostas, click on any of the following links:

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 2

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 1

New Mice for 2014

2013 New Miniature and Small Hostas

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

I LOVE Mice

Beyond Mice

Hostas Containers and Companions

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Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: The 2014 Miniature Hosta Availability for mail order and pick up at the nursery is here.   Our next open hours are Saturday, May 31, from 10 am to 2 pm.  Our final big spring sale, featuring miniature hostas and summer and fall blooming shade plants is Saturday, June 7, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on our list have gotten an email with all the details.  You can sign up to receive emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Top 10 Favorite Larger Hostas

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, hosta, landscape design, my garden, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Hosta 'Stained Glass'One of the most beautiful times in my garden is when the wisteria is in full bloom.  Under it is planted one of my candidates for Top 10 Hostas, ‘Stained Glass’, hosta of the year for 2006.  Available at CSG.

With the latest issue of its beautiful and informative journal, the American Hosta Society sent its members a form asking them to vote for their 10 favorite “regular” hostas and 5 favorite minis.  People often ask me which hostas are my favorites, and the AHS Popularity Poll sent me out into the garden to make a list.  Naturally I brought my camera, and I thought I would show you some of the contenders.  To avoid disappointment, I have indicated which are for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG).  Sadly, some of my favorites are not readily available.

Nursery News:  The 2015 Miniature Hosta Catalogue is on line here, and we are taking orders for both mail order and pick up at the nursery.  Our third open house sale, featuring hostas, ferns, and hardy geraniums, is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  We are also open 24/7 by appointment.  If you would like to receive emails notifying you of catalogues, events, and sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  If you are interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas, please let us know and we will put you on our special list.

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Hosta 'Paul's Glory'Hosta ‘Paul’s Glory, hosta of the year for 1999. Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Paradise Island' & 'Maui Buttercups'Hosta ‘Paradise Island’ on the left and ‘Maui Buttercups’ on the right.  They are not really in contention, but they looked so beautiful together under the ‘Paliban’ lilac.

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Hosta 'Paradise Joyce'Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’ hasn’t been available for years, but it really is one of the best.

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Hosta 'Eye Declare'Hosta ‘Eye Declare’, here with ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’ erigeron in the foreground and ‘Stainless Steel’ coralbells in the background, may be my favorite big hosta.  Again it is not available in the trade.

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Hosta 'First Frost'Hosta ‘First Frost’, 2010 hosta of the year, with its blue and yellow spring coloring is just gorgeous.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'El Nino'Hosta ‘El Nino’, here with white-flowered hardy geranium, has always been one of my favorites with its unique blue and ivory coloring.  It is difficult to find, but I have it for sale this year.

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Hosta 'El Nino'A close up of ‘El Nino’, a star in my silver and blue garden.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Great Expectations'Hosta ‘Great Expectations’ really started to thrive when I moved it from full shade to an eastern-facing location.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Brother Stefan' Hosta ‘Brother Stefan’ seems to like sun too, here it faces southwest and is paired with ‘Goldheart’ bleeding-heart.  I think it should have been hosta of the year rather than the somewhat similar ‘Paradigm’.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Crumb Cake'Hosta ‘Crumb Cake’, here in a container, is definitely on my top ten list.  It is a small hosta, but the leaves are too big for it to qualify as a mini.

There were other contenders not pictured here: ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sagae’ (2000 hosta of the year), ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ (2014 hosta of the year), adorable ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (2008 hosta of the year), whose leaves are also a little too big to be a mini, the amazing ‘Praying Hands’ (2011 hosta of the year), ‘Remember Me’, and H. nigrescens.  I guess I will have to do another post.  I will definitely have to narrow down my list!  That’s all for now but look for another post on my favorite hostas soon.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: To order miniature hostas for shipping or pick up at our nursery, click here to access the catalogue.  Our third open house, featuring ferns, hostas, and hardy geraniums is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, don’t’ wait until then—you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase these wonderful plants.  Just send me an email at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net with some suggested dates and times that you would like to visit.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Pleasurable Pairings for Spring Part 2

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Mertensia virginica, Stylophorum diphyllumNative Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, and native Celandine poppies, Stylophorum diphyllum, are two of my favorite plants for spring and are wonderful combined with almost anything.  Very easy to grow in part to full shade and woodland conditions.

In April 2011, I wrote a post about beautiful spring pairings.  To read it, click here.  I always meant to continue the topic and have finally taken the time to photograph the garden.  Some of the combinations are the same but that’s because I love them!

Nursery News:  Our third open house sale, featuring hostas, ferns, and hardy geraniums, is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  We are also open 24/7 by appointment.  Look for a shrub offer shortly and the 2015 Miniature Hosta Catalogue.  If you would like to receive emails notifying you of catalogues, events, and sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  If you are interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas, please let us know and we will put you on our special list.

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Mertensia virginica, Polystichum polyblepharumVirginia bluebells with emerging tassel ferns, Polystichum polyblepharum.

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Mertensia virginica, Brunnera macrophylaOr how about blue on blue with Virginia bluebells and Siberian bugloss, Brunnera macrophylla?

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Leucojum aestivum, Stylophorum diphyllumNative Celandine poppies are just as versatile, here with summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum.

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Epimedium versicolor 'Sulphureum', Stylophorum diphyllum, Osmunda cinnamomeaNative Celandine poppies with ‘Sulphureum’ epimedium, daffodils, native cinnamon fern, and the leaves of winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis.

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Hosta 'Paradise Island', Vinca minor 'Bowles Purple'Gold hostas look so beautiful when they are emerging.  Here ‘Paradise Island’ hosta with ‘Bowles Purple’ vinca.  Although I don’t recommend planting vinca because it is so invasive, I couldn’t resist adding this purple variety to a contained space.

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Spiraea japonica 'Magic Carpet', Dicentra spectabilis 'Goldheart'One of my all time favorite combinations, the peach-colored spring leaves of ‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea with the similarly colored stems of ‘Goldheart’ old-fashioned bleeding-heart.

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Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty', SedumNative ‘Purple Beauty’ moss phlox, P. subulata, with a sedum showing its winter colors.

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Fritillaria meleagrisCheckered-lily in its white, Fritillaria meleagris ‘Alba’, and purple forms seed through out my dry, full shade woodland.

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Epimedium x warleyense, Hosta montana 'Aureo-marginata' Orange epimedium, E. x warleyense, with the emerging leaves of Hosta montana ‘Aureo-marginata’.

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That’s all for now but look for Part 3 soon.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our third open house, featuring ferns, hostas, and hardy geraniums is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, don’t’ wait until then—you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase these wonderful plants.  Just send me an email at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net with some suggested dates and times that you would like to visit.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Early Spring Ephemerals Light Up the Garden

Posted in bulbs for shade, hellebores, landscape design, my garden, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Corydalis solida seedling 4-3-2011 7-36-54 PMCorydalis solida comes in many colors: in the right corner is ‘Purple Bird’, in the middle is pink ‘Beth Evans’, and in the left corner is brick red ‘George P. Baker’.

As the hellebores bloom in my garden, they do not stand alone but are surrounded by large swathes of spring ephemerals.  These are plants that come up in the spring to take advantage of the available sun before the leaves come out and then go dormant for the year as it gets hot.  I especially appreciate their vibrant colors at a time of year when spring is here, but the weather is not necessarily warm and sunny.

Nursery News:  Our first open house sale, featuring hellebores and many of the plants in this post, is this Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you would like to receive emails notifying you of catalogues, events, and sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  If you are interested in snowdrops, please let us know and we will put you on the special snowdrop list.

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Corydalis solida 'George P. Baker'‘George P. Baker’

All the plants shown here are in bloom now or just about to bloom.  They are very easy to plant and grow.  And best of all they spread by themselves to form large patches in the years after you plant them.  Spring ephemerals don’t take up any room as they can be interplanted with hostas, ferns, and other perennials that come up later and fill in the space.  They are also great for the backs of beds that are empty and visible before other plants emerge.

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Corydalis solida, helleborusThis riot of color is going on in my woods right now as various shades of Corydalis solida bloom with hellebores.

Here are some more suggestions for plants that will achieve this early spring bounty in your garden—all available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this weekend:

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Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'Snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, bloom with the snowdrops, and you can’t beat the color of ‘Ruby Giant’.

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Crocus tommasinianus, Helleborus x hybridus‘Ruby Giant’ with white hellebores, a match made in heaven.

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Scilla mischtschenkoana, Dicentra cucullariaPale blue squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana, is the earliest blooming of the group, here with Dutchman’s breeches.

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Eranthis hyemalis & Galanthus 'S. Arnott'Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, blooms with the snowdrops.

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Galanthus nivalis and EranthisSnowdrops and winter aconite are the most beautiful sight in my late winter garden.

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Eranthis hyemalis, Corydalis solidaAfter it blooms, winter aconite’s elegant foliage makes a great backdrop for hellebores and Corydalis solida.

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Puschkinia scilloides As the pale blue squill fades, striped-squill, Puschkinia scilloides, takes over.

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Puschkinia scilloidesStriped-squill has naturalized to form a large patch under my winter hazel.

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Scilla sibericaAlso coming into bloom now are the fluorescent blue flowers of Siberian squill,  Scilla siberica.

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Scilla sibericaSiberian squill has moved all over my garden and has never appeared anywhere that I didn’t want it.  The color is just gorgeous.

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Fritallaria meleagrisCheckered lily, Fritillaria meleagris,  is just getting started.  It too seeds to spread through out my woods.

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Heuchera 'Caramel', Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, has lovely upturned blue flowers with an ethereal white center.  Here it peeks through the winter leaves of native ‘Caramel’ heuchera.

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Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow spreads quickly to form large patches.  It looks especially beautiful under my star magnolia right now.

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Erythronium 'Pagoda'The lovely leaves of U.S. native dogtooth violets, Erythronium, are appearing now and the earliest varieties are blooming.  Although they look delicate, they are as tough as nails and come back in my woodland year after year.

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Stylophorum diphyllum & Mertensia virginicaI can see the dark purple leaves of native Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, emerging from the mulch.  I can’t get enough of its porcelain blue flowers, here with native Celandine poppy.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Mertensia virginicaEuropean wood anemones are also getting ready to pop.  The earliest is yellow-flowered Anemone ranunculoides, but they also come in pink and white.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Wyatt's Pink'‘Wyatt’s Pink’ European wood anemone is quite rare and beautiful.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Bractiata'The elegant flower of ‘Bractiata’ European wood anemone.

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All these flowers keep me going through the cold wet days of early spring.  Add them to your own garden to beat the winter doldrums and signal that the end is in sight.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our first event is the Hellebore Extravaganza this Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase hellebores and other plants.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

A Wonderful New Hellebore, ‘Penny’s Pink’

Posted in evergreen, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , on March 30, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 4-13-51 PM‘Penny’s Pink’ hybrid hellebore

I rarely profile a single plant, but I am so excited about ‘Penny’s Pink’ hybrid hellebore that I decided it deserved a post of its own.  And where do I start, the new leaves, the old leaves, the new flowers, the old flowers….they all have amazing ornamental value.  Read on to find out about what has been called “the most exciting new hellebore in years.”  All photos were taken of actual plants at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Nursery News:  Our first open house sale, the Hellebore Extravaganza, is on April 11 from 10 am to 3 pm, but we are open and selling hellebores already.  To get an email with all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  If you are especially interested in snowdrops, please let us know and we will put you on the special snowdrop list.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-19-58 AMThe 3″ symmetrical, cup-shaped flowers are a lovely rosy pink with a prominent cluster of yellow stamens set off by chartreuse nectaries.

‘Penny’s Pink’ was hybridized by RD Plants in the UK and is named after famous British plantswoman Penelope Hobhouse.  It is probably a cross between hybrid hellebore and Helleborus x ballardiae, which is itself a cross between Christmas rose and Helleborus lividus.  The latter species gives ‘Penny’s Pink’ its burgundy overtones, marbled leaves, and distinctive pink flowers.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-24-21 AMBurgundy stems are topped by a fading flower on the right and a flower well past its prime on the left, both are beautiful.  Because the flowers are sterile, they last a long time.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-22-18 AMThe backs of the flowers are as pretty as the front and deepen to a dark pink with age.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-16-04 AMThe new leaves of ‘Penny’s Pink’ come out looking like pink fishnet stockings as one reviewer described them.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-17-38 AM The colors stop people in their tracks in my sales area.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 5-29-2014 7-12-10 AMBy June, the pink marbling has turned to lime-green, and the leaves are shiny, thick, and leathery.  You can see that the spent flowers still provide interest.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 5-29-2014 7-12-27 AMI didn’t stock this hellebore until late May last year.  Based on the leaves alone, the plants were gone within a day and never made it to the open house sale.  No one visited without buying one.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-02 PMAnd here’s something amazing—this is one of last year’s leaves in my garden today.  After our horrendous winter, they still look beautiful, not something I can say about most plants or humans either.  I don’t need to tell you what my other hellebore leaves look like!

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-43 PMAnother “old” leaf photo of the whole plant from the top. 

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-23 PMFive flower stalks loaded with buds recently emerged.  This plant, which I put in my garden last June, was the smallest of the 100 plants I sold.

‘Penny’s Pink’ is 14 to 18 inches tall and 20 to 23 inches wide.  It blooms at the same time as most other hellebores but for a longer period and grows in the same conditions: well-drained soil in a mostly shady to mostly sunny location.  Available now at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our first event is the Hellebore Extravaganza on Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase hellebores.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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