Archive for the my garden Category

Early Spring Beauty at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

Posted in bulbs for shade, evergreen, groundcover, hellebores, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns 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:  Email for an appointment to shop for many of the plants featured in this post or come on Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm when customers are picking up their edgeworthias, just email me a time.  Our second sale featuring hellebores and native plants is Saturday, April 15, from 10 am to 3 pm (checks and cash only).  Customers will get details in an email.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, 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 local or mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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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.

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‘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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum

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

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Carolyn

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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.

Edgeworthia Update

Posted in garden to visit, How to, my garden, Shade Shrubs, winter interest with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

Edgeworthia chrysanthaThis is still the best photo that I have of an edgeworthia in bloom despite dozens of photos taken since my 2012 blog post.  Edgeworthias without leaves are very hard to capture in a photograph.  Photo taken by Rhoda Maurer and used with the permission of the Scott Arboretum.  Scott Arboretum, March 2006

On December 10, 2012, I wrote an article for my blog entitled “A Shrub for all Seasons: Edgeworthia”, click here to read it.  This post is my fifth most viewed of all posts since I started my blog in November of 2010.  That’s saying a lot as my blog is just about to reach 2 million views!  There are also 137 comments and responses on the post from readers all over the US and abroad.  Readers are so interested in edgeworthias that I decided it was time to cover the topic again. 

And my wholesale supplier just notified me that they will actually have edgeworthias in stock this spring so I can satisfy the demand that is usually created by showing photos of this elegant and unusual shrub.  Send an email if you want to reserve one, sorry no mail order.

Nursery News:  The 2017 Winter Interest Plant Catalogue has been emailed to all local customers.  Please email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net if you would like me to send it to you.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, 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 local or mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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edgeworthia-chrysantha-3-6-2016-9-44-03-pmThis edgeworthia in bloom won a blue ribbon in March of 2016 at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the world’s largest indoor flower show.  Like the first photo, it shows the lovely rounded habit that can be achieved through judicious pruning and a part sun location.

Four years after my first post, edgeworthias are still very rare, and available cultural information remains sparse.  In this post, I will let you know what I have learned in the last four years, but keep in mind that my observations are hardly scientific.  I am not going to repeat anything in my previous post so if you are new to this plant, I suggest you read that article first, including the comments, click here.

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edgeworthia-chrysantha-3-21-2016-6-39-29-pmThe beautiful and wonderfully fragrant flowers of edgeworthia.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, March 2016

First and foremost, I can say with even more assurance than in 2012 that edgeworthias are hardy in southeastern Pennsylvania, US, and surrounding areas.  We are in USDA hardiness zone 7 with an average annual minimum temperature of 0 to 10 degrees F (-17.8 to -12.2 C).  In January of 2014, the weather for the suburbs of Philadelphia, where Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is located, repeatedly dipped into this range and below.  In spring of 2014, all the established edgeworthias that I have been following remained alive and are still thriving.  However, most of them did not bloom that spring as the buds were frozen.  Some had stem damage but have since recovered robustly.  To put this in perspective though, many shrubs with borderline hardiness for our area died that winter.

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Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds, tropical looking leaves, and cinnamon red stems of edgeworthia in fall.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 2015

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Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds in winter are my favorite phase of edgeworthia although it is lovely 365 days a year.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, January 2015

The only other new hardiness information I have comes from Andrew Bunting, the former Curator of Plants at the Scott Arboretum and now Assistant Director of the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Andrew points out that there are actually two species of edgeworthia, E. chrysantha and E. papyrifera.   Although they are sometimes treated as synonymous, Andrew thinks they are distinct species.  In his experience, E. papyrifera is much weaker in growth than E. chrysantha.  Commenters on my first post agree with Andrew’s assessment.  The orange-flowered edgeworthia ‘Akebono’ is apparently a cultivar of E. papyrifera, although some sources disagree.  My wholesale supplier doesn’t carry it because it hasn’t proved hardy for them.  

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Edgeworthia at ScottThis photo shows a very large edgeworthia in bud in the Winter Garden at the Scott Arboretum.  The location faces south in an exposed but part shade area.  March 2013

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Edgeworthia Scott Arboretum Fall 2014The same edgeworthia in September 2014.

What else have I learned?  Sources generally describe edgeworthia’s ultimate height and width as much smaller than is actually the case.  For example, my favorite source for plant information, Missouri Botanic Garden lists the height and width as 4′ by 6′.  Edgeworthias in our area grown in part shade grow to a minimum of 6′ by 6′, and the one at the Scott Arboretum in the photos above is probably 8′ by 8′.  If they are grown in a sunnier spot, they are shorter and more compact but still quite large.  If you read the reader comments on my first post, which are a great source for information about edgewothias in different locations and climates, many people have been surprised by the size of their edgeworthia and have had to prune it drastically or move it.  Luckily, it responds well to their pruning (I have never pruned mine).

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edgeworthia-chrysantha-11-18-2016-2-29-43-pmMy unpruned edgeworthia is much larger than planned and is currently trying to eat my lion’s head Japanese maple.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 18, 2016

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Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia leaves turn yellow in the fall and sporadically through out the year.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 7, 2015

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Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe leaves also droop when the weather turns cold.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 23, 2015

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edgeworthia-chrysantha-11-6-2016-3-58-01-pmEdgeworthias in sunnier locations go through the fall transformation earlier and have a longer ugly duckling stage before the exquisite buds emerge from the yellow, droopy leaves.  Scott Arboretum, November 6, 2016.

It is normal for the old leaves on edgeworthias to turn yellow and fall off through out the season.  This has been a cause for concern for many readers, but it is something that can be ignored.  In the fall all the leaves droop, turn yellow, and fall off unveiling the beautiful silver buds.  The leaves also droop when it is really hot out.  I think this is a natural protective measure in response to the temperature and not necessarily a sign that supplemental water is required.  Other plants in my garden do this, ligularias come to mind.  I have never watered my edgeworthia, even during the extended drought and high temperatures this past summer and fall.  It is quite healthy.

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Edgeworthia Scott Arboretum Fall 2014A group of three edgeworthias behind the Scott Arboretum offices on the Swarthmore College campus.  September 2014

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edgeworthia-chrysantha-1-18-2017-2-11-10-amThe same group in January 2017.  I feel like the edgeworthias on the Swarthmore campus are old friends as I visit them so often.  If you are in this area and want to see edgeworthia specimens in a  variety of cultural conditions, you should visit the Scott Arboretum.
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Two final cultural pointers:  I have concluded that edgeworthias grow best in part sun to part shade in an east-facing location.  However, several southern gardeners have written in that they grow it in full sun, and it thrives.  No one has mentioned success in full shade.  Also, my original edgeworthia was planted quite close to two gigantic black walnuts.  Although it has never died completely, it has slowly declined to the point where it is almost nonexistent.  This is not scientific evidence of susceptibility to walnut toxicity, but I would recommend avoiding walnuts when siting edgeworthia.

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Edgeworthia Chanticleer Fall 2014Chanticleer also has a nice specimen in the courtyard near the swimming pool.  October 2014
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Edgeworthia Cresson Garden Fall 2014A large specimen in Charles Cresson’s garden.  October 2014

Let’s keep this conversation going.  If you are growing edgeworthia, please leave a comment describing your experience with it, especially if you are north of the Delaware Valley area.

Carolyn

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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.

2017 Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS)

Posted in flower show, green gardening, How to, my garden, organic gardening, product review, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

img_2272A beautifully designed display decorating the MANTS booth of one of my wholesale suppliers.

Last week Michael and I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show (MANTS) at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.  MANTS is a yearly event in early January with over 960 exhibiting companies covering 300,000 square feet (seven acres) of the convention center and hosting 11,000 attendees.  We go to MANTS not only to get ideas about new products and plants for Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, but also to discover potential new suppliers and renew acquaintances with existing suppliers.  I thought you might enjoy a quick peak at what goes on at a trade show of this size.

Nursery News:  The 2017 Winter Interest Plant Catalogue has been emailed to all local customers.  Please email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net if you would like me to send it to you.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, 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 local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops and/or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Helleborus x 'Molly's White'I am very excited about this new hellebore that Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be selling in 2017.  It is called ‘Molly’s White’ and is a sister plant to the best-selling ‘Penny’s Pink’.  I already have it in my garden, and it’s doing quite well.  My ‘Penny’s Pink’ plants have lots of buds showing right now.  to read more about this newer type of hellebore, click here.

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img_2262There are many beautifully displayed plant exhibits at MANTS like the one above featuring an edgeworthia, camellias, and hellebores. It is difficult with the odd lighting to get a good photo though.

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img_2264If you start flowers and vegetables from seed, you can’t go wrong with Hart Seed Company, a 100-year-old, family owned and operated business, specializing in untreated and non-GE (genetically engineered) seed.  They support independent, local nurseries by refusing to sell to big box and discount stores.

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img_2270Colonial Road, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, makes very comfortable, recycled plastic Adirondack chairs that come close to looking like the high maintenance wood version (at least if you buy it in the white shown in the poster instead of the kaleidoscope of colors displayed here).  I loved my wooden Adirondack chairs but was constantly replacing rotted slats, and have you ever tried to paint one?  Let me know if you are interested in seeing mine or buying any as Carolyn’s Shade Gardens can get them for you.

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img_2280It is tempting to turn to harmful chemicals when confronted by the possibility of Lyme disease or Zika virus.  Thankfully you don’t need to.  Here’s Mark Wilson, President of Natural Repellents LLC, holding his ground-breaking product Tick Killz, a natural insecticide made from 100% organic ingredients and safe for children, pets, beneficial insects, and the environment.  It controls deer and other ticks, mosquitos, fleas, mites, and aphids, among other insects.  If you spray your property, this may be the product for you, 1 oz. makes 5 gallons.

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img_2268I wouldn’t consider using anything but organic potting soil and mulch to grow vegetables for my family (and even in my perennial gardens).  Coast of Maine makes 100% organic products using predominantly lobster and crab shells mixed with seaweed and blueberry bush trimmings.  I have used their potting soil for containers at my family’s house in Maine with great results.   Their website has a store locator to help you find local nurseries carrying their products, click here, and Whole Foods carries them.

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img_2279Unlike most nurseries, I mix my own potting soil using compost with ProMix added to lighten it.  ProMix has a high proportion of sphagnum/peat moss, which cannot be sustainably harvested.  Ground coconut hulls or coir is a sustainable product, and the condensed block above, which yields this wheelbarrow-full when water is added, reduces transportation and storage costs.  However, the product is made in Sri Lanka so I am not sure where I come out.

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img_2284The folks from Jolly Gardener have just introduced a new line of organic soils and mixes.  I always want to support companies who decide to take the organic route!

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50601438057__5a52bfc7-9c6c-4098-ad06-d5e92ecab530Given the trend towards legalization and what a big business this is becoming, I was surprised there wasn’t more marketing to this specialized segment of the green industry.

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img_2278Another fun aspect of MANTS is seeing the lengths exhibitors go to attract attendees to their booths.  This tree touched the roof of the convention center, and the holly and evergreen next to it are huge too.
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img_2273Michael standing next to the biggest tree spade I have ever seen.
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img_2281Amazing boxwoods
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downtown-baltimore-1-12-2017-5-28-05-pmBaltimore is a fun city to visit.  We had a delicious dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant located in a charming re-purposed factory.
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Fort McHenry, BaltimoreWe visited Fort McHenry, a late 18th century, star-shaped fort guarding the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.   Francis Scott Key composed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814 about the flag flying at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore against the British in the War of 1812.
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orpheus-statue-fort-mchenry-1-12-2017-2-51-48-pmOn the grounds of Fort McHenry, you will find this somewhat startling 24 foot statue of the Greek mythological figure Orpheus on a 15 foot tall base and clothed in nothing but a fig leaf.  It was commissioned in 1914 to commemorate Francis Scott Key for the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore even though “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become our national anthem until 1931.  Click here to read the rather humorous background of the statue.

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Carolyn

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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.

Curating a Plant Collection: Snowdrops or Otherwise

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, my garden, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

Galanthus reginae-olgaeGalanthus reginae-olgae is the earliest snowdrop to bloom in my garden, around the third week of October.

My garden is not a collection of plants, especially those that require any sort of extra maintenance.  If you visit Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, you will see that most plantings are quite natural looking with a focus on natives.  However, there are a few exceptions, and most of you know by now that I am an unapologetic collector of snowdrops.  I also sell snowdrops, click here for the 2017 catalogue, and some of them are quite pricey, so I thought it would be helpful if I explained how I keep track of mine.  This system can be used for any plant collection.

Nursery News:  The 2017 Snowdrop Catalogue is available for ordering, click here.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for 2016.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, 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 local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops and/or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Galanthus 'Potter's Prelude' elwesii‘Potter’s Prelude’ always flowers by mid-November and, weather permitting, continues into January.

My system involves written records on my computer and physical markings in the garden.  There may be a fancy computerized plant database available, but I use a simple table with columns in a Word document.  The first column is alphabetical and lists the complete botanical name of the snowdrop, including the species and cultivar names if applicable, e.g., Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’.  The remaining columns describe the pertinent information about the snowdrop for each location in the garden: date planted, exact location, number of plants, and source.

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Galanthus 'Brenda Troyle'This is the ‘Brenda Troyle’ planting that corresponds to the first location entry below. 

For example, ‘Brenda Troyle’ is listed in column one as Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’ as it is a hybrid with no species name like elwesii or nivalis.  Column two describes location one: “2012, front walk next to Dbl Rose hellebore, 2 Cresson.”  Column three describes location two: “2014, carriage house 2nd bed on left, moved 1 Cresson.”  It is very important that the location description is as detailed as possible so that if all your outdoor markings disappear, you still know where your snowdrop is located.

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Galanthus elwesii ex Montrose GardensAnother snowdrop blooming right now is Nancy Goodwin’s fall-blooming G. elwesii var. monostictus, which she shared with me in 2013.  At the back of the clump is the metal tag and peeking out in front is the plastic stake.

Out in the garden, each snowdrop gets two markers.  The first is a 10″ zinc plant marker produced by Bosmere, item H185, in sets of 10.  Included is a carbon pencil, but I don’t use that to write on the markers.  All labels in my garden are inscribed with an opaque paint marker made by Uchida, Decolor 200-S Black, and available at art supply stores.   All other writing materials, including pencils and “permanent markers” wear off.  I place the metal plant marker directly behind the snowdrop and record the full name, date acquired, and source.

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dscn7338Bosmere zinc plant markers

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dscn8464opaque paint marker

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dscn7336A paint marker is used to record the name, date acquired and source.

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Each snowdrop is also marked with a second tag directly in front of the plant.  For this, I use a 6″ Rapiclip plant label made by Luster Leaf in packages of 50.  These plastic stakes are long and sturdy but flexible, not brittle.  They can be pushed almost all the way into the ground and bend instead of breaking if you step on them.  I write the same information on them with a paint marker.

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dscn7337Rapiclip plant labels

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Galanthus 'Foxgrove Magnet'‘Foxgrove Magnet’ with its metal marker behind and plastic tag in front.
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dscn8458There are variations on my marking scheme.  For example, this bed has random, unnamed, fall-blooming G. elwesii.  Each clump has a plastic tag behind it describing its special characteristics, if any.
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dscn8459I am superstitious so if I plant dormant snowdrops in the fall, they get a reused plastic tag and part of a bamboo garden stake until they come up in the spring.
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dscn8460I also use bamboo poles, hammered solidly into the ground, if the snowdrops are planted in an area where a lot of leaves fall and obscure the metal and plastic stakes.  The photo below shows what I found under the leaves.
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dscn8452I may not have remembered that this snowdrop grouping was there if it hadn’t been marked with the bamboo stake.

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I realize that not everyone is obsessed with snowdrops, but this system can be used for any plant collection that has grown to the point where its size exceeds the mental capacity of the collector  :-).  I grow about 30 varieties of epimediums and keep a chronological handwritten record plus metal and plastic markers outside.  European wood anemones get metal tags and a handwritten list.  Mini hostas are marked with plastic tags and recorded haphazardly.  The rest of the plants have to rely on invoices and various notations in garden journals.  Every winter I consider making a complete database of all the plants at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens but the prospect is daunting.

Carolyn

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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.

Mini Hostas Make Excellent Groundcovers

Posted in groundcover, hosta, How to, landscape design, miniature hosta, my garden, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Mini Hosta Rock Garden

Part of my mini hosta rock garden in June of 2015.  Be sure to see it when you visit Carolyn’s Shade Gardens—it is one of the highlights of the garden right now!

When it begins to warm up (finally!), the weeds are not far behind, and customers start asking for groundcovers.  If garden beds are filled with plants, there is no bare soil on which weeds can germinate, and garden maintenance is greatly reduced.  Covering bare ground can be accomplished economically by choosing plants that spread rather than form clumps.  Spreading mini (and small) hostas are perfect for this task, but which ones work?  Here is your answer:

Nursery News:  You are welcome to shop at the nursery any time by appointment.  The 2016 Mini Hosta Catalogue is now on line here, and we are taking orders.  Our fourth open house sale, featuring summer and fall blooming shade plants, larger hostas, and miniature hostas, will be held on Saturday, May 21, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on my email list will receive a detailed email. 

For announcements of spring 2016 events, 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 local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.

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Hosta Kiwi Golden Thimble

‘Kiwi Golden Thimble’ rapidly produces an adorable mound of golden leaves.

You can read more about mini hostas in these posts:

2016 Mouse Ears Hosta Update

Top 5 Favorite Little Hostas

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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Hosta 'Twist of Lime'

‘Twist of Lime’ with its blue-green edge is a very fast grower and a favorite of my customers.

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.Hosta Little Wonder

‘Little Wonder’ has colorful leaves and a very dense growth habit.

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Hosta Lemon Lime
‘Lemon Lime’ is an outstanding groundcover hosta.
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Hosta Blue Mouse Ears

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the only mouse ears hosta that I would use as a groundcover because it is so vigorous.

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Hosta Green with Envy

‘Green with Envy’ is practically jumping out of my strawberry pot as it tries to expand.

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Hosta Rock Prince

‘Rock Prince’ filled in this whole area between the stones very quickly.

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Hosta Baby Bunting

‘Baby Bunting’s’ tiny leaves make a very fine-textured groundcover.

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Hosta Lemon Delight

‘Lemon Delight’ makes an excellent dense cover, and the wavy leaf edges provide a feeling of movement.

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Hosta Dragon Tails

Of course any mini, if planted en mass, provides groundcover, here ‘Dragon Tails’.

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Carolyn

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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.

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.

Strike a Blow for the Environment in your own Yard

Posted in garden essay, green gardening, groundcover, landscape design, my garden, native plants, organic gardening, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Senecio aureus

Golden groundsel, Senecio aureus, is the best native plant for ground cover.

I write a lot about the things we do at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens to support the environment: gardening organically without herbicides and chemical fertilizers, doing little supplemental watering, composting, mulching with ground leaves, getting rid of our lawn, landscaping with large quantities of native plants, and promoting natives at the nursery.

Nursery News:  You are welcome to shop at the nursery any time by appointment.  The 2016 Mini Hosta Catalogue is now on line here, and we are taking orders.  Our third open house sale, featuring hostas, miniature hostas, ferns, and hardy geraniums, will be held on Saturday, May 7, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on my email list will get a detailed email.   For announcements of spring 2016 events, 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 local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.

Carolyn's Shade Gardens Woodland

Our native white-flowered redbud surrounded by native plants.

You can read more about these practices in these posts among others: 

Your Native Woodland: If You Build it They Will Come, how to create your own woodland filled with native plants

My Thanksgiving Oak Forest, the importance of native plants to our survival

Your Most Precious Garden Resource, step-by-step guide to mulching with ground leaves 

Letting Go Part 1: The Lawn, the dangers of lawn chemicals to ourselves and the environment 

Do You Know Where Your Mulch Comes From?, toxic substances in shredded hardwood mulch

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Carolyn's Shade Gardens woodland

Our woodland in April with Virginia bluebells, wild ginger, golden groundsel, and mayapples—all native.

My guide to creating a native woodland has been especially popular.  However, most gardeners don’t have vast areas of woods to convert to native plants but still want to make a difference.  And I am sure that most people realize that planting three milkweed plants, though admirable and to be encouraged, is not going to save the monarch butterflies.  So what can you do? 

.Viola striata

Native white violets, Viola striata, used in quantity as an edging along the front of a border.  The violets spread rapidly by seed, filling in empty areas and preventing weeds.

One solution is to find ways to include large quantities—a critical mass—of native plants in your garden, no matter what size.  You can accomplish this by replacing non-native ground covers like pachysandra, vinca, ivy, euonymus, and turf grass with native ground cover plants.  It is easy to do and you can start small by using spreading native plants like the violets above as edging for your existing beds.  Soon you will be eliminating whole swathes of your lawn!  Here are some more ideas of plants to use:

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Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty'
Native ‘Purple Beauty’ moss phlox, P. subulata, used as an edging.
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Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'

This patch of native ‘Emerald Blue’ moss phlox has been in place for at least a decade and requires no maintenance at all.  It is evergreen so is present year round like pachysandra but provides you with beautiful flowers and the native insects with food.  Its mat-like habit excludes all weeds.

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Phlox subulata 'Nice 'n White'

Native ‘Nice ‘n White’ moss phlox used to replace non-native vinca, which you can see behind it.  This location is quite shady and the moss phlox thrives.  All it needs is good drainage.

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Phlox subulata 'Nice 'n White'

Our original planting of native ‘Nice ‘n White’ moss phlox is filling in to create a solid blanket while we continue to move down the hill adding new plants.

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Iris cristata 'Tennessee White'

Native ‘Tennessee White’ dwarf crested iris, Iris cristata, used to edge our raised beds.  I expect these clumps to double in size by next spring.

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Senecio aureus

Native golden groundsel, Senecio aureus, the yellow flower in the photo above and the first photo, makes the best ground cover of any native plant.  It spreads aggressively and is evergreen and mat-forming like pachysandra but also produces beautiful, fragrant flowers suitable for cutting.  Like pachysandra it is too aggressive to be mixed with other plants, but unlike the pachysandra in our area it is not subject to alfalfa mosaic virus.

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Chrysognum virginianum 4-26-2016 11-47-39 AM

Native goldenstar, Chrysogonum virginianum, is another creeping plant that makes a good edger.

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Chrysognum virginianum 4-26-2016 11-47-51 AM

Because the goldenstar was working so well at the edge, we decided to replace a whole section of our lawn with it.

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Phlox stolonifera 'Sherwood Purple'

Two years ago we replaced another section of our lawn with native ‘Sherwood Purple’ creeping phlox, P. stolonifera.  This phlox grows in part to full shade and forms a flat, weed-choking mat that stays green all winter.

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Aster cordifolius

Native blue wood aster, Aster cordifolius, replaced another section of lawn at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens that surrounded a gigantic black walnut.

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Aster cordifolius

Native blue wood aster blooms in the fall and grows in part to full shade.

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Doug Tallamy explains in his amazing book Bringing Nature Home* that we can make a difference for the environment and the plants and animals (including us) which are struggling to survive there, by planting native plants in our suburban gardens.  I hope I have given you some good ideas for accomplishing this laudable goal.

*Profiled in my blog post My Thanksgiving Oak Forest.

Carolyn

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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.

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.

Snowflakes (Leucojum) Continue the Snowdrop Season

Posted in bulbs for shade, my garden, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Leucojum aestivum, Stylophorum diphyllum

Summer snowflake with Celandine poppy in the woodland at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

When snowdrops are finishing, their close relatives, snowflakes (Leucojum),  are ready to take over the display.  They are quite beautiful, but haven’t been subjected to the intense selection process that has resulted in over 1,500 snowdrop cultivars.  They are very easy to grow, and I think they deserve more attention.

Nursery News:  Our first open house sale, featuring hellebores and other winter-blooming plants, will be held on Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on my email list will get a detailed email.   For announcements of spring 2016 events, 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 local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.  All snowdrops in the 2016 Snowdrop Catalogue are sold out.  To access the catalogue, click here.

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Leucojum aestivum, Stylophorum diphyllum 4-26-2015 6-43-58 PMLeucojum aestivum in my woodland in April.

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There are two main species of snowflakes: Leucojum aestivum or summer snowflake and Leucojum vernum or spring snowflake.  Summer snowflake blooms in April in our area so the common name is very confusing.  It is a large and vigorous plant reaching 12 to 18 inches with multiple green-tipped, white, lantern-shaped flowers at the end of each flower stem. 

It likes moist soil but grows quite well in my dry woodland as you can see from the photos.  It grows in dappled woodland conditions but also quite sunny spots and seeds aggressively in my garden.  Summer snowflake is native to Central and Eastern Europe.  The cultivar ‘Gravetye Giant’ has bigger flowers, but I have not grown it.

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 Spring snowflake

Spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum, blooms in March in our area so it could easily be called winter snowflake. On its own, it is a diminutive plant reaching 6 to 9 inches with single, green-tipped, white, lantern-shaped flowers at the end of each flower stem.  The leaves are strap-shaped and a very pretty glossy, bright green.  It likes moist soil but grows quite well in average moisture conditions in deciduous shade to part shade locations.  Spring snowflake is native to Central and Southern Europe. 

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Leucojum vernum Ithan Park 3-17-2016 5-21-07 PM
A very upright and dark green Leucojum vernum—it stood out from the hundreds around it.
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Although unassuming as a single plant, spring snowflake is breath-taking when massed as the following photos show:

Leucojum vernum at Winterthur 2016 3-12-2016 2-52-03 PM 3-12-2016 2-52-03 PM

A clump of spring snowflake.

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Leucojum vernum at Winterthur 2016 3-12-2016 2-52-03 PM 3-12-2016 3-49-41 PM

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Leucojum vernum at Winterthur 2016 3-12-2016 2-52-03 PM 3-12-2016 2-52-31 PM

A hillside of spring snowflake in mid-March at Winterthur.

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Leucojum vernum at Winterthur 2016 3-12-2016 2-52-03 PM 3-12-2016 3-46-20 PM

Spring snowflake combined with Amur adonis and glory-of-the-snow in mid-March at Winterthur.

There are some named forms of Leucojum vernum, which are quite interesting:

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Leucojum vernum Ithan Park 3-17-2016 5-20-19 PM

Leucojum vernum var. wagneri (or vagneri) produces two flowers on each stem, although none of mine did that this year.  I have read that it is no longer a valid variety.  If you visit naturalized populations of Leucojum vernum, a certain percentage will have twin flowers. This photo shows a wagneri with standard-shaped flowers and green spots.

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Leucojum vernum var. wagneri

This wagneri has the yellower spots typical of var. carpaticum pictured below.

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Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

Leucojum vernum var. carpaticum has yellow spots on each petal instead of the normal green spots.

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Leucojum vernum 'Null Punkte'

‘Null Punkte’ from Germany is pure white with no spots.

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Leucojum vernum 'Gertrude Wister' Cresson garden

‘Gertrude Wister’ is a semi-double spring snowflake with 12 or more petals instead of the normal 6.  It was discovered by noted bulb expert Gertrude Wister in her garden on the Swarthmore College campus in Pennsylvania, US.

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Leucojum vernum 'Gertrude Wister'

A group of ‘Gertrude Wister’.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is honored to be the only source for this cultivar.

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The surface has barely been scratched though—there are many beautiful forms under evaluation:

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Leucojum vernum Cresson garden

A form with 8 petals found in Charles Cresson’s garden.  This is the one I want.

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Leucojum vernum Ithan Park 3-17-2016 5-20-08 PM

This lovely flower appeared in the midst of a group of var. wagneri.  It has the spots, but then the very pointy tips are dipped in green paint.

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DSCN7757

A similar paint-dipped flower, but this one is outward facing, even more pointy, and has more color.

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DSCN7756

A very large flower with much more prominent spots.

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Leucojum vernum Ithan Park 3-17-2016 5-18-044

A very large-flowered wagneri.

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Leucojum vernum Ithan Park 3-17-2016 5-24-032

A wagneri with more separated petals.

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Leucojum Johan Germany 2

A very large flower with alternating spotted petals and pure white petals.

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Leucojum vernum 2016

Two flowers fused on the same stem: we will have to see if this repeats itself.

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Leucojum vernum double Johan

A true double flower under evaluation by a friend in Belgium.

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Leucojum vernum double Johan

Very beautiful!

Carolyn

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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.

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.

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