Early Spring Beauty at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

Hellebores are in their prime.  Here is a claret colored hybrid at sunrise.  We have a wonderful selection of hellebores for sale right now.

Apparently winter is over, although nothing could surprise me in the weather department this year.  Last weekend when Kelly Norris, Director of Horticulture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, visited my gardens, the tour consisted of me pointing and saying “if it were really spring, you would be seeing….”  Now the garden is bursting, please come back Kelly :-)!

Nursery News:  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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


Bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, stood up particularly well during the extreme heating and cooling and heavy snow that March threw at it.  Lots of customers have been asking for these, and we have more in stock.


‘Goldheart’ old-fashioned bleeding-heart seems to appear overnight.  It turns into a majestic plant with gold leaves and pink flowers, a combination I have grown to love.


.‘Diana Clare’ pulmonaria’s large blue flowers look spectacular with its emerging silver leaves.


Once you have a couple of varieties of pulmonarias, they start to cross and every one is beautiful.


The lovely, pale yellow flowers of Anemone x seemanii were produced by a cross between A. ranunculoides and A. nemorosa, European wood anemones.  Very rare and available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens for the first time this year!


Our native double bloodroot, Sanguinaria ‘Mulptiplex’, is my all time favorite flower.  It seems to prefer the rocky slope in my woodland, and I often see the single form on road embankments.  We take special orders for this plant.


Our display gardens have about forty types of epimediums, and their flowers are popping out of the ground.  Here, the orange-flowered E. x warleyense.  We will be selling this epimedium along with ‘Roseum’, ‘Niveum’, ‘Lilafee’, E. grandiflorum, and the rarer ‘Yubae’ (Rose Queen) and ‘Pierre’s Purple’.


Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum

One of the first plants I ever planted and still a favorite: Dutchman’s breeches, Dicentra cucullaria.  Available this spring.


There are lots of dogtooth violets in our woodland and they have even crossed and produced some stunning new forms.  This is the European Erythronium dens-canis.  Its flowers are gorgeous but sparse.  We sell the US native ‘Pagoda’, a vigorous plant with many yellow flowers just starting to open.


Everything is so late this year!  Native moss phlox ‘Emerald Blue’ is just starting to open its flowers.  Moss phlox makes a great, evergreen groundcover in sun to part shade in dry areas.  Ask us to point out our amazing stand of the white-flowered form ‘Nice n’ White’.  We also sell purple, crimson, and a new, more compact cultivar called ‘Emerald Pink’ that looks like a miniature boxwood.


‘Shell Pink’ lamium bursts into bloom now but then continues to flower until December.  It is the only lamium that produces flowers for three seasons.  Its leaves are also semi-evergreen so the ground is never bare.  It is not invasive and should not be confused with the yellow-flowered lamiastrum.


Anemone ranunculoides, a parent of A. x seemanii shown earlier, is a bolder color and faster spreader.  We also sell ‘Bractiata’, ‘Vestal’, ‘Alba Plena’, and ‘Wyatt’s Pink’ European wood anemones.


Now we get to one of my favorite plants, Corydalis solida, which you will see all over my garden in a rainbow of colors.  Its common name is fumewort, but I never hear anyone call it that.  The photo above shows the varieties that I sell: ‘George P. Baker’ in the foreground, ‘Purple Bird’ in the center, followed by ‘Beth Evans’, and ‘White Knight’ at the very back.


‘White Knight’ is new this year and is a stunning form, densely packed with pure white flowers.


If you let Corydalis solida self-sow in your garden, you will get some gorgeous un-named forms like the blue above.  Unlike other brightly colored corydalis, fumewort comes back reliably every year.  It goes dormant after it flowers but reappears bigger and better the next spring.





A mixture in my woodland

If you are local and want to get a jump on the April 15 open house sale, we are around today, tomorrow, and all weekend.  Just email for an appointment.  Or come Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm when customers are picking up their edgworthias—let me know an approximate time.



Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

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.

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.

19 Responses to “Early Spring Beauty at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens”

  1. Sallyann Gansky Says:

    Hi Carolyn

    I will be picking up my Penny’s White Hellebore this Saturday.

    Sallyann Gansky

  2. Valerie Carey Says:

    Lovely garden! I very much enjoy seeing your photos of plants in bloom.

    One point of confusion: You wrote in this entry that you mail order ship only snowdrops & miniature hostas. But in the past I’ve ordered Epimediums from you and had planned to order more this year. Is that no longer possible?

    Thank you!
    Valerie Carey

    • Valerie, I have never shipped epimediums although I do sell them here at the nursery. The only plants I ship are miniature hostas and snowdrops as stated. Maybe you are thinking of Garden Visions Epimediums, wonderful mail order source. Carolyn

      • Valerie Carey Says:

        Ahhhhh. You are correct! I had the two of you confused. Still love your garden & plant photos! I may be looking for some miniature hosta replacements as our weird winter in SE Michigan may have done some of mine in. Thanks!

      • Valerie, I intend to start working on the 2017 Miniature Hosta catalogue shortly. It will be posted on the right sidebar of the home page of the website. You are on the list to receive email notification of the posting. Carolyn

      • Valerie Carey Says:

        Thank you!

  3. The only thing blooming in my yard now is lesser celadine! I know there are lovely spring perenials buried underneath. Any ideas on how to get rid of this nasty invasive?

    • Marti, I have the same problem. I wish I had better news but the only way to get rid of it safely is to dig it up making sure that you get all the little bulbs with the clump. Work on the outliers first, then in towards the center of the infestation. It is important to set yourself a reasonable goal such as picking your most important flower bed and removing it from there first. Place anything you remove in a construction trash bag in your trash. Good luck, Carolyn

  4. corky2935@aol.com Says:

    Wow. Spring has surely arrived at the Walkers. My garden is soooooo far behind. Hope to visit you soon.

    Corinne Applegate

  5. Barbara Field Says:

    Do you have any idea where I can buy by mail wild white violets?I used to have them in a

    house I had to leave-they were fully naturalized over a large area. I now have a new house with a shade garden and would love to find some starter plants.


  6. Lovely and beautiful!

  7. Wonderful spring flowers. Loved especially your Corydalis solida, mine are starting to seed around in the woodland, I hope they will look like yours one day.

    • Pauline, I started by buying every type of Corydalis solida that I could find, including var. incisa, which is closer to the species. Everywhere I planted them, they started to seed and spread and every new color is beautiful. Now they are appearing in the lawn which is fun. Carolyn

  8. It’s wonderful to see all your flowers. That hellebore is a lovely color. Snow is melting here as temperatures get up into the 50s and the sun keeps getting stronger and stronger. I’m hoping for a good show from all the crocus bulbs I planted in the fall (once the snow melts from on top of them).

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