September 2013 GBBD

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Begonia grandis & Hosta 'Paul's Glory'Hardy begonias and ‘Paradise Joyce’ hosta

I have been very busy getting the nursery ready for the fall season but took a few hours off to get this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post done.  First though, I want to tell you what is in the fall line up.   Our fourth annual Double Hellebore Offer is underway.  To look at the brochure, click here.  These hellebores are the biggest doubles we have ever sold, and they are almost guaranteed to bloom this spring because they bloomed last spring.  If you want to see them in person, they are here right now and ready to go, so make an appointment or come during our open hours tomorrow, Sunday, September 15, from 1 to 3 pm.


Begonia grandisHardy begonias are the ideal fall plant—they come up late and look pristine when they bloom from September through the first frost.

Our fall season started today, September 14, when we opened for a few hours so customers eager to start planting could shop.  Thanks to everyone who came by.  We will be open again tomorrow from 1 pm to 3 pm.   The first full-fledged open house sale is scheduled for Septmebr 28, and cyclamen breeder John Lonsdale will be making a guest appearance with his gorgeous hardy cyclamen.  He will have selected forms of Cyclamen hederifolium plus many other rare species.  Customers will get an email with all the details.  If you want to come before September 28, just send me an email with your preferred day and time.


Begonia grandis 'Alba'white hardy begonia

I am currently putting together a Shrub, Tree, and Vine Offer with woody plants suitable for all your shady areas.  Look for an email this week if you are on my customer email list.  Finally, my husband Michael will be holding three sessions of his well-attended Low Maintenance Gardening Seminars.  They are tentatively scheduled for September 27, 29, and 30, but all the details will arrive by email shortly.  That’s all the business for now so on to the post….


Begonia grandis 'Alba' & Hosta 'Striptease'My back hill is filled with large patches of hostas, and I use hardy begonias to fill in between them and even to cover up plants that are worn out by fall.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on the 15th of the month) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos each month of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  I encourage all gardeners, but especially my customers, to expand their floral display beyond spring so that their gardens delight them with flowers whenever they go outside.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.


Begonia grandis 'Alba'hardy begonias


Anemone x hybridaAnother fall star is Japanese anemone, which blooms from August into October depending on the variety.  The taller cultivars look beautiful draped over shorter plants, here hybrid hellebores.  However, shorter and more upright types have been introduced lately, look for the Pretty Lady series and ‘Pink Saucers’, both available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.


Anemone x 'September Charm'‘September Charm’ Japanese anemone


Anemone x 'Pamina'My favorite, ‘Pamina’ Japanese anemone


Hosta 'Honeybells'I generally do not grow hostas for their flowers, but I make an exception for the highly fragrant varieties like ‘Guacamole’.  This photo shows ‘Honeybells’ towering over my miniature hosta rock garden.


Hosta 'Stained Glass'Another hosta with deliciously fragrant flowers is ‘Stained Glass’, the 2006 Hosta of the Year.


Hosta 'Stained Glass'‘Stained Glass’ is one of my favorite hostas—how many of your hostas look like this by fall?


Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'Another hosta that comes through summer in pristine condition is the adorable miniature ‘Mighty Mouse’.


Phlox paniculata & Spiraea 'Magic Carpet'It wouldn’t be fall without garden phlox.  I let this highly fragrant native plant self sow throughout my gardens and it is usually covered with butterflies.


Phlox paniculata 'Starfire'The more modern garden phlox cultivars are mildew resistant and come in vibrant colors like ‘Starfire’ in this photo.


Phlox paniculata 'Nicky' & Heuchera villosa 'Citronelle'‘Nicky’ garden phlox with ‘Citronelle’ coralbells


Heuchera villosa 'Berry Smoothie'Customers have been raving about ‘Berry Smoothie’ coralbells for the last couple of years so I finally planted it in my garden—gorgeous.


Ceratostigma plubaginoides & Hypericum 'Briggadoon'Two of my favorite colors, yellow and blue, come together through the side-by-side pairing of ‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s wort and plumbago (also called autumn leadwort), both excellent groundcovers.


Polystichum polyblepharumTassel fern makes such an elegant specimen with its circular habit and shiny evergreen leaves.


Cyclamen hederifoliumIt wouldn’t be September without fall-blooming hardy cyclamen.  The flowers start blooming in August (and last into October) and are followed by the beautifully patterned leaves which last until the next June.


Cyclamen hederifolium 'Alba'white fall-blooming hardy cyclamen


Ajuga 'Black Scallop'‘Black Scallop’ ajuga is the only one I sell because it is so superior.  It produces a solid weed-choking mat of very shiny, semi-evergreen leaves topped by lovely blue flowers.


Rudbeckia speciesThis late-blooming black-eyed Susan species, Rudbeckia triloba (thanks Heide) self sows like mad, but I wouldn’t give up the beautiful display.


Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'‘Aureola’ Japanese hakone grass is beautiful all year.


Pennisetum 'Moudry'Black fountain grass comes into its glory in the fall.  Yes, I know it can spread, but I have had it for 15 years and it hasn’t gone anywhere that I didn’t want to leave it.  Gardeners with smaller areas or less tolerance for the natural look should beware.


Chelone lyoniiAnother favorite native, pink turtlehead, peaks in my garden in September.


Tricyrtis 'Sinonome'A glimpse of what’s to come in October, the first flower opens on my ‘Sinonome’ toad-lily.

Almost all of these plants are available for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens so, if you are in the area, I hope you will stop by.  If not, you now have a lot of ideas for your fall shade garden.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. 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 Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be open Sunday, September 15, from 1 to 3 pm, and for a full-fledged open house sale on Saturday, September 28, from 10 am to 3 pm.  We are currently offering double hellebores, both by pre-order and at the nursery.  For details, click here.   Now that it’s cool, we are also shipping miniature hostas again.  For details, click here.  Low maintenance seminars and a chance to order shrubs and vines are in the works.

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.

36 Responses to “September 2013 GBBD”

  1. I believe the rudbeckia is triloba a serious self seeder!

  2. You picked a perfect weekend to reopen the nursery. I am so happy to see what I hope is the end of 90 degree temps with high humidity and to finally get some cool, dry fall air. I love your toad-lily.

  3. Welcome back, Carolyn. The gardens look great and full of bloom. Phlox still going strong? Here it is already cut back. The dry weather took its toll. Love that Tassel Fern, what a beauty.

    • Donna, There was no dry weather here. In fact there has been an excess of rain to the point where some of my hellebores in pots rotted without being watered all summer. Phlox is in its glory right now. I think this summer down here was one for the record books, cool and plentiful rain. Sorry it was so dry there. Carolyn

  4. Hi Carolyn, Coincidentally I just saw Hardy begonias at a public garden nearby. Yours look lovely and it’s nice to learn about another plant to use for fall. Also, I like your hostas very much. I haven’t grown them for a while because of deer, but was surprised about their fragrance. It’s always nice to have fragrant plants. Susie

    • Susie, Hardy begonias look like they just emerged from the ground even when its the beginning of October. Of the thousands of hostas only a handful are fragrant mostly derived from the species Hosta plantaginea, which is still available. In addition, the is Guacamole, Stained Glass, Honeybells, Aphrodite, and some more. It is well worth hunting them down. Carolyn

  5. Carolyn, I love the surprises in the fall garden especially the phlox and cyclamen as they continue to bloom. And the exotic look of anemone and toad-lily. Your fall garden is just smashing.

  6. Your hardy begonias are beautiful. Clearly mine needs to be moved to a more hospitable location as it is not nearly as full and flowering as yours. I am growing H. Guacamole and had not realized it would have such great flowers. I’m with you in that I don’t grow most Hostas for their flowers. Thanks for posting.

    • Linda, Gucamole is a great hosta with gorgeous fragrant flowers, clean beautiful leaves, and an elegant habit. It takes a few years to mature but it’s worth the wait. I wish I could advise you but hardy begonias grow in every possible condition on my property except full sun. My biggest stands are on a bright but shady slope. Carolyn

  7. Beyond a doubt…! the best newsletter/blog ever!

    Thanks Carolyn I appreciate the time and effort you put into this newsletter. I read every word and wish I lived closer so I could load up with the plants you have available!

  8. I am so jealous of those who live close enough to visit and buy from your nursery! Double hellebores, hardy begonias, and Stained Glass Hosta are all on my wish list. I am so excited that fall is coming. Even today, with hot sun into the upper 80s, i can feel a difference in the air. It won’t be long!

  9. Hello Carolyn,
    Lots of lovely plants here. I wondered if you have a Latin name for the tall Fountain grass, and roughly how big it gets? It looks lovely. You might be amused to hear that on the day your post arrived , Fiona returned home from our small local town clutching a new plant she’d found …. a Pretty Lady Susan Anemone … looks really pretty,
    Lucky you with self seeding Phlox, BW, Julian

  10. I googled ‘hardy begonias’ and came up with several blog articles you have written, Carolyn. I really have to consider them for my garden. Your September blooms are lovely — must visit again soon. P. x

  11. Things look great down there, I’m jealous of all the rain…. This part of PA was bone dry most of July and August.
    I’m always surprised that the blue leadwort isn’t more widely grown, it has such a long bloom season and is carefree, plus the blue of the flowers! Who knows…. Thanks for the post, Frank

    • Frank, We were very lucky this summer. You are so right, my leadwort blooms from June into October and then it turns brilliant red for the fall. I think you don’t see it around that much because it comes up late in the spring so isn’t often available at nurseries then, and most gardeners do not plant in the fall even though it’s the best time. It definitely should be more widely used. Carolyn

  12. Love the toad lily….

  13. I love those hardy begonias Carolyn, I would swap them any day for the garish type I grow, listen to me I was once very big in the annual scene. Good luck with all that goes on in Bryn Mawr early fall. We move in late November, you wouldn’t be very impressed with our new rather small garden but for several reasons the time for change has come and lets face it I will probably big it up.

  14. I am thinking I am borderline for the hardy begonia – yes, I join all the others who have commented positively about it. The plumbago is always a treat for me when it blooms. Bit by bit it is stretching out and that makes me happy.

  15. Cyclamen amaze me for looking so delicate yet being resilient enough to survive the first frosts.

  16. I really need to try Coralbells again–I’m a huge fan, and they grew really well at my old house many years ago. I’ve tried them twice here, but I think I just need to pick a different spot. I’ve also been meaning to try hardy Cyclamen. They’re so graceful and lovely!

  17. Louise Thompson Says:

    Hardy begonias are really wonderful. I got my first ones from a catalog before I knew about you, and there are two things, besides their beauty and bloom time, that I like: they come up in all the oddest places but aren’t really “aggressive” and transplant fairly easily; and because they come up so late in the spring, I can interplant them with things like mertensia (Virginia bluebells) so the begonias new leaves start to fill the space as the mertensia are dying back. I may be over this Saturday to get some white hardy begonias, though, since all I have are the pink ones.


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