Hellebores for Early Color

Posted in evergreen, hellebores, my garden, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2020 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

A customer sent me this lovely photo of hellebores she purchased from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (thanks, Jane).

This is the third in a series of posts on early-blooming plants, which include Trees and Shrubs for Early Color, click here to read, and Bulbs for Early Color, click here to read. I have revived my blog to provide a few moments of beauty to my readers all over the globe during the worldwide health crisis.

I am dedicating this post to Jeremy and Fran T. at Trader Joe’s and all the brave people who are staffing our grocery stores so we can continue to buy food as COVID-19 keeps us indoors.  In the face of their dedication, any sacrifice that we are asked to make seems trivial.  Stay home to save lives.

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.Hybrid hellebores, H. x hybridus, are my favorite hellebores because of their color range and variations in flower forms.  Although the inside of the  nodding flowers are often difficult to see without flipping them over, each flower is like a gift when I raise it into view.  And the back of the flowers are often as pretty as the inside.  The photo above shows a rare anemone form with an extra layer of ruffles around the center of the flower.  It does not have a name and cannot be purchased.  All the anemone form hellebores in our garden were discovered among the hundreds of single-flowered forms we sell each year.

The photos in this post are of hellebores, one of the specialties of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens nursery.  Hellebores bloom anytime from January to March, depending on the weather—some even start in the fall.  They are easy to grow in well-drained soil in light conditions ranging from almost full sun to almost full shade.  Their leaves are evergreen and deer resistant. 

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Another anemone form flower.  If you want one for yourself, check all the flowers whenever you see hellebores for sale and you may find one.  I found this among thousands of singles at one of our wholesale suppliers.

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Hybrid hellebores or Lenten roses with nodding flowers and plainer green leaves come in a wide range of colors including the highly sought after black, yellow, and orange-tinged cultivars as well as fully double flowers.  Many of the hybrid hellebores in our garden are unnamed or no longer available. If known, I am giving cultivar names as well as alternate cultivars that are similar in color and form.

Christmas rose types have desirable outward-facing flowers and often more interesting marbled leaves, but their color range is limited to white, pink, and red and the shades in between, and they do not come in doubles.

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A double-flowered hybrid hellebore called ‘Peppermint Ice’ in the Winter Jewels Series.

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a close up of ‘Peppermint Ice’

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‘Dark and Handsome’, a double-flowered hellebore in the Wedding Party Series.  Dark-flowered hellebores are very striking in the garden but need to be carefully sited so they show up.

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Light-colored hellebores, especially those with white flowers like double-flowered ‘Sparkling Diamond’ in the Winter Jewels Series, stand out in the landscape.

.When hybrid hellebores are happy, they produce dozens of flowers on very large plants.  For optimal viewing, site them where you walk in the winter.  This unnamed clump is on the hill above the stone wall along our drive, allowing us to look up into the flowers.

.an old cultivar called ‘Single Black’

.‘Cherry Blossom’ in the Winter Jewels Series sometimes has a dark ruffle around the center but can also be fully single or fully double.

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‘Cotton Candy’ in the Winter Jewels Series

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A customer sent me this photo of hybrid hellebores displayed beautifully in her garden (thanks, Mary).

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‘Glenda’s Gloss’ is a Christmas rose-type hellebore and a new addition to the FrostKiss Series.  All hellebores in this series are upright with outward-facing flowers and gorgeous marbled leaves.  They are the result of a complicated cross including Christmas rose, hybrid hellebores, and H. lividus.

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The new leaves of ‘Glenda’s Gloss’ are painted with pink and silver.  The leaves of all FrostKiss hellebores gradually fade over the summer to bright green with gold marbling and remain ornamental all winter unlike hybrid hellebores, which can become unsightly.

A customer photo of ‘Molly’s White’ purchased recently at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It is a very early-blooming member of the Frostkiss series and is almost identical to FrostKiss ‘Moondance’, which blooms a little later (thanks, Martin).

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A customer photo of ‘Ice N’ Roses Red’ purchased at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens last spring.  The Ice N’ Roses Series results from a complicated cross of Christmas rose and hybrid hellebores plus two other hellebore species, resulting in very robust plants with outward-facing flowers (thanks, John).

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‘Shooting Star’ is another product of crosses between hellebore species, this time Christmas rose, Corsican hellebore, and H. lividus.  Its delicate pink flowers fading to darker pink face outwards.

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I love green-flowered hellebores.  The photo shows pulmonaria with the faded flowers of ‘Honeyhill Joy’, the result of a cross between Christmas rose and Corsican hellebores.  Christmas roses, H. niger, have outward-facing, pure white flowers and bloom very early in our garden.  They are done now.  Although Corsican hellebores, H. argutifolius, are hardy in our area, I don’t consider them a good garden plant as the flowers appear on the end of last year’s ratty leaf stalks.

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Another customer photo showing bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, in her garden.  I love this hellebore species with its clusters of bright chartreuse flowers topping the spidery dark evergreen leaves.  The plants can be short-lived but usually reseed themselves before they disappear (thanks, Mary).

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You can provide inspiration to me and other readers by posting comments about your own favorite hellebores.  Blogs are a lot more fun for everyone, especially the writer, when they are interactive.  Scroll down to the end of the page to the box where it says “Leave a Reply” and start typing—-it’s easy!

Carolyn

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.

Bulbs for Early Color

Posted in bulbs for shade, my garden, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2020 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Viridapice’ snowdrops (photo sent to me by the amazing Joan L)

Your comments on my last post, Trees and Shrubs for Early Color, click here to read, inspired me to write more with the goal of giving readers a bright spot during what is one of the grimmest times in our nation’s history. Please encourage all your gardening friends to read my blog.  And let’s make it even more interactive.  Leave comments about your experiences with the plants profiled or recommend similar plants and ask questions, nothing is too basic.  There is a wealth of knowledge in the gardening community that we can all share here.

The photos below are of flowering bulbs that provide late winter and very early spring color.  They are easy to grow, inexpensive to buy, and multiply readily.

I am dedicating this post to New York City Police Officer Tim G., whom we have known his whole life, and his fellow officers who continue to serve even though over 900 of them have tested positive for coronavirus.  And to the 11,000 health care workers who have contracted the virus in Spain.  In the face of their dedication, any sacrifice that we are asked to make seems trivial.  Stay home to save lives.

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.It is not going to surprise anyone who reads this blog that snowdrops, Galanthus, are my favorite bulb—I explain why in my post Classic Snowdrops, click here to read.  This is ‘Kite’, a large and elegant snowdrop that has the unique ability to produce twin flowers (two flowers on one stem).

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Yes, snowdrops can be yellow.  A customer sent me this photo of the lovely ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

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Everytime it gets warm enough during the winter for honeybees to fly, they swarm onto the snowdrops.  This honeybee on ‘Straffan’ has collected an impressive amount of bright orange pollen.

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Winter-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum, starts blooming in early January and often continues through March.  This photo shows our last blooming stand on March 24.

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The winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, along our woodland path flowers in February.  It is interplanted with common snowdrops, G. nivalis, which in this photo taken February 12 are not open yet.

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Siberian squill, Scilla siberica, blooms in the most amazing color of blue in February and March.  It is still in bloom today.

.White Siberian squill, S. siberica ‘Alba’, is less common and really stands out in the winter landscape.

.‘Beth Evans’ corydalis (top of photo), C. solida, also known as fumewort, blooms through out March.  It is shown here with ‘Shell Pink’ lamium, which usually blooms in April but flowered early this year.

.Although we started with named cultivars of Corydalis solida, like ‘Beth Evans’ above, it has seeded through out our gardens in a multitude of beautiful colors.  It is a bulbous corydalis and much more reliable than the herbaceous coydalis in blues and purples, which look glorious in pots but can’t withstand our hot summers.  It goes dormant very quickly after it flowers.

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In the last post, I showed glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, under our star magnolis.  Its sky blue flowers look up and have an elegant white center.

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Glory-of-the-snow comes in pink too, C. forbesii ‘Pink Giant’.

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I especially like this white glory-of-the-snow, C. luciliae ‘Alba’, because it shows up so well in the winter garden.

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‘Charmer’ Greek windflower, Anemone blanda, was new for us last year and is quite striking and unusual.  We have had the blue and white forms seeding happily in our woodland for years.

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Two-toned grape hyacinth, Muscari latifolium, combines pale and dark blue in a single flower.  There are many forms of grape hyacinth, but this is my favorite.

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A harbinger of things to come, Anemone x seemanii, European wood anemone, blooms in March, earlier than all my other wood anemones, which generally flower in April.  I hope to include more of them in a later post.

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I have dozens of varieties of daffodils, Narcissus, planted all over the garden.  I am enjoying them more than ever this year, especially this early-blooming form right outside my front door whose name is lost in the mists of time.

My intent is to post on the blog more than once a week.  You can provide inspiration to me and other readers by posting comments about your own experience with these plants or other late winter bulbs.  Blogs are a lot more fun for everyone, especially the writer, when they are interactive.  Scroll down to the end of the page to the box where it says “Leave a Reply” and start typing—-it’s easy!

Carolyn

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.

Trees and Shrubs for Early Color

Posted in my garden, Shade Shrubs, Shade trees, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2020 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The fragrant, rose-pink double flowers of ‘Peggy Clarke’ flowering apricot, Prunus mume, have been a sensation at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens since early March.

Blogging is a lot of work, and 2020 marks my tenth year of providing quality content to my readers all over the globe.  It requires so much computer time that I have been taking a break since last October to dedicate more hours to my plant nursery and my own garden.  However, with coronavirus spreading quickly through the US and my own state of Pennsylvania, I have been wracking my brain for a way that I could contribute without leaving my home.  I hope that reviving my blog will give readers, and especially my wonderful customers in the beleaguered mid-Atlantic area, a brief moment of pleasure in the terrifying world we have entered. 

The photos below are of trees and shrubs that provide late winter and very early spring color.  They are electrifying in my garden when everything else is still winter brown.

I am dedicating this post to my high school friend Adrienne’s sister who is currently struggling to beat corona in New York and to all the healthcare workers and other personnel on the front lines, who are risking their own lives to keep us healthy.  Sty home to save lives.

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.‘Peggy Clarke’ is a gorgeous small tree with a vased-shaped habit, sited here in a west-facing location near our front door for optimal late-winter viewing.

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Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, cascades off the corner of our terrace, but I have also seen it grown as a groundcover.  It normally opens a few flowers during warm days in January and February; however, we have had such a mild winter that it has been flowering for about five months.  The photo shows the last few blooms as the leaves start to open.

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Our star magnolia, M. stellata, is often damaged by frost, but I wouldn’t be without its glorious masses of early, pure white flowers.

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We have planted a field of blue glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, under the star magnolia, and the combination is beautiful.  I couldn’t get a satisfactory shot of the two together, but you can see the magnolia trunk in the background.

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Another shrub that has been blooming off and on since late fall is evergreen Japanese mahonia, M. japonica.  This mahonia is the best species for garden use as its leaves remain pristine and its flowers are a lovely shade of yellow in large sprays.

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If Cornelian cherry dogwood, Cornus mas, bloomed later in the season, it would be overshadowed by many other small flowering trees.  However, its fresh, yellow-green flowers stand out in the stark late winter landscape.

.‘Okame’ cherry, Prunus x incam ‘Okame’, viewed here from an upstairs window, provides shade for our deck and is the earliest blooming cherry with very long-lasting flowers.

.Under the ‘Okame’ cherry, by the edge of the deck is a dwarf Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Yatsubusa Kiyohime’.  Its leaves come out very early and are a striking combination of red and bronze.

.Our edgeworthia opens its fragrant yellow and white flowers in late winter.  This shrub has four seasons of ornamental interest with beautiful flowers, cinnamon-colored bark, tropical leaves, and, my favorite, copious silver buds like tassels on Victorian cushions starting in November.

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Edgeworthia flower

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Yulan magnolia, M. denudata, is a relatively rare, early-blooming magnolia with large, goblet-like white flowers.  Again, it can get damaged by late frosts but is well worth having in the years like this one when it is magnificent.

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Yulan magnolia flower

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Buttercup winter hazel, Corylopsis pauciflora, is an early-blooming, fine-textured shrub with elegant, butter yellow flowers.

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‘Texas Scarlet’ dwarf flowering quince gives an eye-catching punch of color in what can still be a dreary winter landscape.  It stays quite small and doesn’t have thorns like regular quinces.

My intent is to post on the blog more than once a week.  You can provide inspiration to me and other readers by posting comments about your own experience with these plants or other late winter trees and shrubs.  Blogs are a lot more fun for everyone, especially the writer, when they are interactive.  Scroll down to the end of the page to the box where it says “Leave a Reply” and start typing—-it’s easy!

Carolyn

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.

Classic Snowdrops

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The classic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’ glowing on a sunny day in February at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Highlighted in this post are five classic snowdrops that will be available in our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue. These snowdrops are still treasured by snowdrop enthusiasts everywhere even though they are more than 100 years old, and they all embody what attracts me to snowdrops.

People often ask me why I love snowdrops.  There are many reasons.  Originally, it was their bloom time: who can resist a flower looking like ‘Atkinsii’ in the above photograph in early February, my least favorite time of year?

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  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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Snowdrops are also quite beautiful and elegant, especially when they are tall and stately with large flowers like ‘Atkinsii’ and several of the other classic snowdrops shown below.

. Snowdrops describes ‘Atkinsii’ as having “elegant elongated flowers that suggest the drop-pearl earrings of Elizabeth I”—a true English classic.  The reference is to Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis, and John Grimshaw (Griffin Press 2006), which contains a lot of the information in this post.

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This photo illustrates the size difference between ‘Atkinsii’ in the back and the double common snowdrop in the front.

Third, snowdrops are also the most reliable winter-blooming plants in my garden and are very easy to grow.  And, among the many forms I grow, the tried-and-true classics multiply the fastest to form eye-catching swathes of blooms, which is what I am after.  I am not a collector who wants to have one of everything!  It would be impossible now anyway as experts estimate that there are over 2,500 snowdrop cultivars in existence.

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‘Atkinsii’ is a great multiplier.  Here it fills a hillside at Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire, England.  For more on ‘Atkinsii’ at Painswick, read my blog post here.  It has received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society (“RHS AGM) as one of the most suitable snowdrops for the garden.  ‘Atkinsii’ was selected in the 1860s by a prominent 19th century plantsman, James Atkins, who retired to the village of Painswick.  It was named after him in 1889 by James Allen, one of the most important snowdrop experts of all time.

Fourth, snowdrops are plants with colorful histories, which I find fascinating.  The stories of the horticulturists who selected the earliest snowdrop cultivars like ‘Atkinsii’ are well-documented in The Galanthophiles: 100 Years of Snowdrop Devotees by Jane Kilpatrick and Jennifer Harmer (Orphans Publishing 2018) from which I extracted many of the historical facts in this post.  Snowdrops are also found in historic places like Colesbourne Park, (in the photo below) the estate of the famous Victorian plant explorer and snowdrop lover Henry John Elwes (1846-1922), who received his original stock of ‘S. Arnott’ from Samuel Arnott.

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Thousands of another classic snowdrop ‘S. Arnott’ bloom every year at Colesbourne Park, the premier snowdrop destination in England.  Snowdrops describes ‘S. Arnott’ as “a first-class garden plant with an unquestionable constitution, admired by everyone….[a] classic snowdrop.”   This is the snowdrop that collectors repeatedly state that they would choose if they were limited to one—the so-called “desert island snowdrop”.  It is named for an early galanthophile, Samuel Arnott (1852-1930).  ‘S. Arnott’ has also received an RHS AGM, one of only 28 snowdrops to receive this honor.

 And, finally, I have met some of my favorite people while visiting snowdrops.

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Our friends Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes maintain Colesbourne Park as a spectacular snowdrop destination.  Here, Sir Henry Elwes talks about snowdrops at Colesbourne Park, standing in a patch of ‘S. Arnott’.

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Alan Street in a border of ‘S. Arnott’ during our walk around Avon Bulbs.  He is the only person I know who gets more excited about snowdrops than I do.

.‘S. Arnott’ in the lovely private garden “Welshway” of Hilary and Hugh Purkess in Gloucestershire, where we received a wonderful garden tour and some hot tea with delicious cake on a freezing day in February.

Despite the fact that all these snowdrops have been around for over a hundred years, they are still treasured by galanthophiles and grown in every serious enthusiast’s garden because they are such good plants.

.Although there are a plethora of new snowdrop cultivars, Avon Bulbs still chose to feature ‘S. Arnott’ in its award-winning display at the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Show.

Here are three more classic snowdrops I think you will love:

.‘Merlin’ is a another beautiful classic snowdrop discovered in 1891 by Victorian plantsman James Allen of Shepton Mallet in Somerset.

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‘Merlin’s’ almost solid green inner segments are quite striking shown here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It has been awarded an RHS AGM as an excellent snowdrop for the garden.

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‘Hill Poë’ is a beautiful and vigorous classic snowdrop, shown here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It was discovered by James Hill Poë in his garden at Riverston, County Tipperary, Ireland, in a patch of Galanthus plicatus, sometimes called the Crimean snowdrop.  In March of 1917, he wrote to an RHS publication that the G. plicatus came to him from a family who received them from an officer serving in the Crimean War (1853-1856).  Many soldiers sent or brought home snowdrops from the Crimea, a testament to the irresistible attraction of snowdrops.
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‘Hill Poë’ is double and has five outer segments.

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‘Hill Poë’s’ inner segments are very regular and full.

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‘Hill Poë’ at Evenley Wood Garden in Northamptonshire, England.

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‘Scharlockii’ is another classic snowdrop, which, though not as tall, is even more vigorous than the others profiled in this post, shown here growing at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It is identified by the lovely green markings on its outer segments and even more so by the “rabbit ears” overarching each flower.  They appear when the spathe (flower covering) splits to drop the flower bud and then elongates into two leafy ears.

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‘Scharlockii’ is a selection from Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, made by Julius Scharlock in 1868 near Frankfurt, Germany.

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‘Scharlockii’ in the copse at Avon Bulbs in Somerset, England.

It is difficult to imagine now with the multitude of named snowdrops available, that at a seminal RHS snowdrop conference in 1891, there were only 42 cultivars in existence.  All five of the snowdrops in this post existed then and have persisted as desirable plants to this day despite the competition.  In 2001, when Matt Bishop’s book (referenced above) was published as an exhaustive reference, there were approximately 500 snowdrops included.  Earlier in 2019, A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops: Second Edition by Freda Cox (Crowood Press) was published and provides beautiful drawings, descriptions, and brief histories for 2,400 cultivars.  It takes a lot to stand out in that crowd.

Carolyn

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Note: 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-Blooming Snowdrops

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The species snowdrop Galanthus reginae-olgae blooming in our garden in October with ‘Shell Pink’ lamium.

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Around this time every year, I start to get emails from customers and blog readers asking which early-blooming snowdrops will be available for purchase in our catalogue.  When you see the photo above, you can understand why gardeners who appreciate snowdrops are trying to extend their season into early fall.   Early snowdrops are beautiful in their own right but especially appreciated when not surrounded by the many other snowdrop cultivars that flower in the heart of the snowdrop season.  And  this beautiful clump of fresh white flowers is in full bloom when everything around it is going by for the year.

Highlighted in this post are five, early-blooming snowdrops that will be available in the 2020 catalogue.  Keep in mind that exact bloom time is affected by how quickly the soil cools off in the fall and the amount of moisture available to the bulbs—warmer and drier falls seem to equate with later-blooming.

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  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 reginae-olgae looks a lot like the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, but it blooms reliably by mid-October in our garden, and it has a more rigidly upright habit.

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G. reginae-olgae also lasts a long time—here it is looking a little worse for wear on December 3.

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The G. reginae-olgae that we sell comes from bulb expert Charles Cresson who selected it as a form that thrives in our climate as opposed to the other forms of this species he has trialed.  I too have tried G. reginae-olgae from other sources without success.

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Galanthus elwesii ‘Potter’s Prelude’ begins to bloom in mid-November in our garden and can often last into January.  It is a rare American snowdrop selected in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s.

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fall-blooming snowdrop 'Potter's Prelude' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Potter’s Prelude’s’ flowers are big and beautiful.

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‘Potter’s Prelude’ is a great companion plant for fall-blooming camellias—here with the petals of ‘Winter’s Joy’.

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‘Potter’s Prelude’ has beautiful foliage.  The leaves of early-blooming snowdrops come out with or immediately after the flowers, which means that, if we have a hard winter, they can look somewhat battered when it is snowdrop shipping time in late February or early March.

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Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’ is a November-blooming snowdrop so highly regarded in England that it has earned the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, one of only 28 snowdrops to do so.

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‘Barnes’ in our garden

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‘Barnes’ also remains ornamental for a long period of time.  It still looks great here at the very end of December.

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Galanthus elwesii ‘Standing Tall’ is a very large and beautiful December-blooming snowdrop selected by bulb expert Charles Cresson in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, after many years of evaluation.

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The big flowers have beautiful dark green markings.

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It is a bold plant that can hold its own among evergreen groundcovers like the Chinese wild ginger in the photo.

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Galanthus elwesii ‘Xmas’, a December-blooming snowdrop, originated at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.  I introduced it and named it ‘Xmas’ because it blooms around Christmas and has a distinct X on its inner segments.

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‘Xmas’ is quite vigorous in my mid-Atlantic garden.

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Each plant quickly produces two or three flowers.

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‘Xmas’ is gorgeous on a sunny December day.

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When you look through our catalogue in December, think about adding some of these beautiful, early snowdrops.

Carolyn

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Note: 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.

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland

Posted in garden to visit, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland

During our recent trip to Ireland, Michael and I visited Kylemore Abbey and its lovely and historic Victorian walled garden.  The abbey is located in the Connemara region in the northwest of Ireland, an area known for its scenic beauty as well as its retention of traditional Gaelic language and culture.  This was our favorite part of Ireland with majestic mountains, gorgeous beaches, Caribbean blue water, peat bogs, Norman outposts, ruined cottages, hidden lakes (or loughs as they are called there), free-roaming sheep, and best of all, very few people.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We are open from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

The abbey was carved into the side of the hills surrounding Lough Pollaacapull so that it could be perfectly reflected in the waters of the lake.  It was too windy the day we were there to capture the reflection!

Kylemore Abbey was built by Margaret and Mitchell Henry, a prominent London doctor of Irish descent.  When he inherited the family business in the late 1860s, he became one of the wealthiest men in Britain.  He bought what was then Kylemore Hunting Lodge and the surrounding 18,000 acres and built Kylemore Castle for his wife Margaret and their many children.  He gave up his medical practice and became a leading champion of the rights of the poor, representing Ireland as a Parliamentary MP in London. 

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Today the castle is owned by an order of Benedictine nuns originally from Ypres, Belgium.  The history of how they arrived at Kylemore, as presented in the abbey museum, is fascinating.  Due to the suppression of religious houses in England, Benedictine Houses were founded in Belgium, starting in 1598.  The current owners of Kylemore originated from a Benedictine House formed in 1665 in Ypres to provide a religious community for Irish women persecuted in Ireland.  The Ypres Abbey attracted the daughters of Irish nobility and enjoyed the patronage of many influential Irish families.  When Ypres Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War One, the nuns sought refuge in England, and in 1920 were given Kylemore Castle as their new home.

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The view from Kylemore Abbey to Lough Pollaacapull and the surrounding hills is spectacular.

After they arrived at Kylemore, which then became an abbey instead of a castle, the nuns reopened their international boarding school and started a day school for local girls, which closed in 2010.  Today, the nuns make soap and delicious chocolate sold at the abbey gift shop and oversee the workings of the historic estate and gardens. The ground floor of Kylemore Abbey is a museum that preserves the furnishings of the Henry family, telling their story, and documenting the nuns flight from Ypres as well as the history of their school—it is well worth a visit. 

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The main gate of the Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.  The walls are made of brick and granite to absorb heat and shelter the garden from wind and frost as well as the sheep that roam freely all over the Connemara region.  The tricolor beds planted in stripes were a common Victorian garden feature called a ribbon bed.

The Kylemore Victorian walled garden, built at the same time as the castle, covers six acres and once contained 21 heated glass houses and employed 40 gardeners.  It was so advanced for its time that it was compared favorably to Kew Gardens in London.  However, over the years it declined so that by 1995 it was completely overgrown with brambles and trees and most of the glass houses were destroyed.  The Benedictine nuns began an extensive renovation that year based on historic photos from the 1870s as well as the structures and topography revealed when the encroaching plants were cleared.  The garden reopened in 2000, recapturing most of its former glory.  It is planted with exclusively Victorian plant varieties using Victorian garden designs.

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Apple and pear trees are espaliered inside the walls.

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The garden is in two parts divided by a mountain stream.  This photo shows the eastern half, which contains the formal flower garden, the glass houses, the tool shed, and the living quarters for the gardeners.

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The typical formality of a Victorian garden.

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a renovated glass house

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remains of some of the other glass houses

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fruit storage and potting shed

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The tool shed contains tools and other relics recovered during renovation.

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A window in the “bothy” where the garden laborers lived.  Employees at Kylemore Abbey were well paid during a time of desperate poverty in Ireland.

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The head gardener’s house was preserved and shows the respected position he held at the estate.

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The house is prominently positioned at the top of the garden, giving the head gardener a good view over the garden and its workers.  The inside of the house shows the privileged lifestyle of the head gardener’s family.

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The mountain stream, which divides the two halves of the garden.  The trees and plants surrounding it provide a shady retreat.

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I was particularly taken by this rodgersia along the stream.  I was unable to find out its exact name or species.

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The western half of the garden houses the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery, and herb garden

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the orchard

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the perennial garden

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rhubarb patch

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No matter what direction you look, the garden is surrounded by mountains.

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Next up a look at a few more interesting aspects of the Connemara region—peat bogs, invasive plants, sheep farming, and beaches.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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.

Tudor Walled Garden in Kilkenny Ireland

Posted in garden to visit, hellebores, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

heritage2-e1464010072611-001 Tudor walled garden at Rothe House in Kilkenny, Ireland (courtesy of the Rothe House Museum website)

During our recent trip to Ireland, Michael and I visited the lovely and interesting town of Kilkenny, home to Ireland’s “Medieval Mile”.  We were especially interested in seeing the Rothe House Museum and Garden but very much enjoyed the whole town.  The Rothe House is actually three houses and three courtyards plus a large walled garden, all built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe Fitz Piers, a merchant, landowner, and Mayor of Kilkenny.  He and his wife Rose Archer and their 12 children lived there until John’s death in 1620 when his oldest son Peter took over the business and property.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We are open from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

Street view of the Rothe House (courtesy of Ireland Dept. of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government)

Between 2005 and 2007, the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, which owns the building complex, excavated the walled garden area, which runs from the back of the mansion on Parliament Street to the city wall.  The excavations exposed the original layout of the very large Tudor era garden, including its planting beds, paths, walls, and even the seeds and pollen of the 17th century plants.  Over 2,000 artifacts from the period were recovered.  Based on these discoveries, the garden has been meticulously restored using plants from the 17th century.

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The entrance to the Rothe House walled garden is through this archway from an inner courtyard.

This garden is very large for an urban, walled garden.  The lower garden near the house contains vegetables and herbs, while the upper garden is an orchard.  It was pouring rain the day we were there—the only day it rained while we were in Ireland—which made it difficult to take photos.  The weather was also not conducive to reading all the explanatory signs, which would have been very helpful when putting this post together.  Nevertheless, I think you will enjoy seeing the garden, and I hope you will visit it if you are ever in Ireland.

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Looking back over the vegetable and herb garden towards the house.

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Everything was very well maintained.

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borage and other edible and medicinal plants including artichokes at the back right

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As usual, I envy the delphiniums as it is too hot and humid to grow them in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Another plant that grows much better in Ireland: Corsican hellebore.  We can grow it in PA, but the leaves, which unlike hybrid hellebores have the flowers at the end of their stalks, always get ruined over the winter and look awful when the flowers open.  I forgo the flowers, trim the plant to the ground, and enjoy the fresh leaves for the rest of the season.

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Michael, bundled up against the rain, gives some perspective on the mammoth size that Corsican hellebores attain in the mild Irish climate.

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Luckily, hybrid hellebores do beautifully in Pennsylvania and in Ireland.

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Lupines don’t grow in the Pennsylvania heat and humidity either but were beautiful all over Ireland.

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I have tried this Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium caeruleum, several times in my garden and see it for sale at many local nurseries in Pennsylvania.  Again, it is unsuited to our climate—now I know where it does grow well.  Luckily, native dwarf Jacob’s ladder, P. reptans, does beautifully in Pennsylvania.

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More delphinium envy!

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A lovely meadow like area between the lower and upper garden.

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Looking from the lower garden into the orchard

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the orchard

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Providing a home for orchard pollinators

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Next up a Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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.

Native Plants for June and Beyond

Posted in garden to visit, green gardening, landscape design, my garden, native plants, organic gardening, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Indian pink or spigelia is the most requested plant at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  None of our suppliers have any luck growing it in pots, so we are trying to grow it ourselves for sale in 2020.

A long time ago, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens made sustainable practices one of its missions.   We have fulfilled this in many ways, including making a wide range of native plants available to our customers, showcasing native plants in our display gardens, and getting rid of our lawn.  Since we purchased the property in 1983, all our gardens have been maintained organically without herbicides, chemical fertilizers, or supplemental water.  We mulch with ground leaves, and never use potentially toxic hardwood mulch.

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 to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

The long spires of black cohosh are one of the highlights of our garden in June.

You can read more about our sustainable practices and why they are important in these posts: 

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

Your Native Woodland: If You Build it They Will Come, Part 2, more native plants for your woodland

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 humans, pets, and the environment 

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

Strike a Blow for the Environment in your own Yard, how to incorporate large quantities of native plants into your garden

Looking back over these posts, I realized that many of them feature native plants that bloom in the spring.  As 2/3 of the plants in our display gardens are native, I wanted to highlight some of the summer- and fall-blooming varieties.  Every photo is taken in our garden, and every plant is native, most to Pennsylvania.  If you want to know the Latin name, click on the photo.

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We have two gigantic walnuts in our display gardens and have no trouble growing native plants under them.  Shown here is oakleaf hydrangea, my favorite of all the hydrangeas, surrounded by blue wood asters, which bloom in October.

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My favorite oakleaf hydrangea is ‘Snowflake’ with gorgeous double flowers.  Double flowers are not as good for pollinators, so the majority of our oakleafs have single flowers.

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Blue wood asters and foamflowers make a weed-free groundcover under our walnuts.

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Coral bells or heucheras add color to the garden all season.  However, many of the coral bells marketed to gardeners do not grow well in the mid-Atlantic.  At Carolyn’s Shade Gardens we only sell heucheras that thrive in this region, including my favorite ‘Berry Smoothie’.

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Our woodland is quiet in summer and fall but blooming along the entrance path is the native shrub, flowering raspberry.  I love it for its light green almost tropical leaves and large raspberry-colored flowers.

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Maidenhair ferns with their delicate and unusual leaf pattern and wiry black stems are ornamental all season.  They spread slowly to make a bigger and bigger patch.

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Our Ashe magnolia with its gigantic white flowers just finished blooming.  At its feet are sweeping stands of culver’s root, which will bloom in late July and August.

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White baneberry is just starting to make its creepy fruit, which looks just like its other common name: doll’s eyes.  I like everything about this plant—its delicate shrub-like habit, lovely white flowers, and unique berries.

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The yellow and green variegated leaves of ‘Golden Shadows’ pagoda dogwood are beautiful all season, while the spiderwort at its base produces lovely blue flowers now, and the New York ironweed next to it will bloom in August and September.

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Giant Solomon’s seal on the right towers over non-native Solomon’s seal to its left.  In the foreground is twinleaf, whose elegant and unsual leaves look good all season.

.Evergreen hart’s tongue fern (in front) provides interest all year.  In the back, our gigantic stand of bottlebrush buckeye is getting ready to put on its breath-taking show.

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We have had no luck with native bleeding-hearts, which we have tried in many different locations in the garden, until it planted itself in the stump of our dead ash tree.  Sometimes you have to let the plants decide where they want to grow!

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Indian pink on the left with variegated ‘Oehme’ palm sedge on the right and fall-blooming blue stemmed goldenrod at its base.  Palm sedge is a great grass for shade—it happily grows in full shade in our garden.

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Indian pink enjoys this sunny, dry location, even re-blooming in the fall.  Over it is a fringe tree, which blooms in late spring.

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We are not native plant purists as our business also specializes in snowdrops, hellebores, and hostas.  However, we believe that gardeners should try to incorporate as many native plants in their gardens as possible for the reasons that author Doug Tallamy so eloquently describes in his ground-breaking book Bringing Nature Home.  It’s not about saving the planet: it’s about the survival of humans, including our children and grandchildren, on the planet.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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 Garden Tourist

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, hosta, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The cover of The Garden Tourist by Jana Milbocker features the teacup garden at Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which is 10 minutes from our nursery.  Many of our out-of-state visitors tour Chanticleer and shop at our nursery on the same day.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has been selected as one of the 120 must visit destination gardens and nurseries in the Northeast United States in the wonderful guidebook The Garden Tourist by Jana Milbocker.  This book is a great resource for those of us who love to visit gardens as it covers Maine through Pennsylvania with detailed information on each entry, including photos, suggested daily itineraries, and nearby restaurants.  You can purchase The Garden Tourist on Amazon here, or at Valley Forge Flowers in Wayne, Pennsylvania, if you are local. 

I have visited, photographed, and written about many of the destinations included in the book, so, from personal experience, I can say that they are well-chosen.  As a sample, here are the featured Pennsylvania gardens and nurseries:  Ambler Arboretum, Bartram’s Garden, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, Chanticleer, Highlands Mansion & Garden, Hortulus Farm Garden & Nursery, Longwood Gardens, Meadowbrook Farm, Shofuso Japanese Garden, Scott Arboretum, Terrain, and Wyck Garden.

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 to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

The Carolyn’s Shade Gardens page from The Garden Tourist.

We are so honored to be included in this wonderful garden resource.  Many of our customers have already purchased it and are looking forward to putting it to use.  One longtime customer even brought his copy over so I could autograph the Carolyn’s Shade Gardens page!  I thought it would be fun to give my readers, especially my international followers, a more in depth photographic tour of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  The photographs used in this post were taken from 2010 to 2019.  Enjoy!

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Stone stairs lead from the nursery area, past the original entrance to the two-room gardener’s cottage that is now our home, to the Main Terrace.  All the areas of our garden have names, which I will capitalize.  That way my husband Michael and I can communicate about garden maintenance.  During our last open house, visitors were overheard referring to “the team of workers who [must] take care of the gardens.”  We are still laughing and wondering when our team will arrive!  Michael does most of the maintenance, and I help when I can.  5/7/2012

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On the way down the stairs, you pass the entrance to the Main Rock Garden.  It is mostly a winter garden filled with snowdrops, snowflakes, hardy cyclamen, winter aconite, and other early bulbs.  4/25/2016

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The Main Terrace outside the front door in early spring.  4/15/2012

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The Main Terrace a month later.  5/15/2015

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Michael’s pride and joy and a major feature of the Main Terrace is our gorgeous wisteria.  Plein Air painters come to capture it on canvas every year.  4/29/2011

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One of my favorite color combinations on the Main Terrace: ‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea, ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding-heart, and Spanish bluebells emerging from a silver-variegated ornamental grass.  4/15/2012

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We call the lowest of our three terraces the Orange and Purple Garden.  Here ‘Paliban’ lilac blooms over a collection of small hostas with orange geum in the foreground.  5/10/2015

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The Orange and Purple Garden features a grass oval surrounded by stepping stones inter-planted with sedums, geums, thyme, moss phlox and other low plants.  5/8/2011

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The Orange and Purple Garden in fall when our coral bark maple ‘Sango-kaku’ is the star of the show.  11/2/2013

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in front of the terraces in the lawn area is a very old American hornbeam with lots of surface roots and a dense canopy requiring plants that can handle full dry shade.  The Hornbeam Garden features Japanese woodland primroses (in flower above), Athyrium-type ferns (Japanese painted, lady, and ‘Ghost’ ferns), hellebores, cardamine, golden groundsel, and pulmonarias, among other plants.  4/15/2012

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The Chain Link Strip Garden (don’t ask) along the right boundary of our property is a great place to grow hostas because all the water from the driveway drains through here—hostas love water.  Blue-leafed ‘Neptune’ is on the left, and 2007 Hosta of the Year ‘Paradigm’ is on the right behind a native Carolina allspice.  ‘Paradigm’ measures 60″ wide.  6/7/2019

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Native ‘Golden Shadows’ pagoda dogwood is dwarfed by this ‘Great Expectations’ hosta in the Chain Link Strip Garden.  Hosta experts tell me it is the biggest specimen they have ever seen at 52″ wide.  6/7/2019

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All the way at the bottom of the yard where it is actually consistently moist are our Production Beds where we grow shade plants to sell at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  Pictured are ‘Old Brick Reds’ primroses, two types of pulmonaria, and golden groundsel.  5/10/2015

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Walking back uphill towards the woodland, you pass our River of Phlox ‘Sherwood Purple’.  Native, evergreen creeping phlox makes an excellent groundcover with gorgeous purple, blue, pink or white flowers, depending on which cultivar you plant.  In the River, we have planted a large part of our snowdrop collection, which blooms December through March before the phlox flowers extend.  4/24/2019

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In late winter, snowdrops and winter aconite begin to emerge along the woodland path.  3/2/2019

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The snowdrops have been multiplying here for over 100 years and fill the Woodland with white when they open.  3/26/2015

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When the snowdrops and aconite are done, the Woodland bursts into bloom with mostly native wildflowers—the native, white redbud trees play a starring role.  4/15/2019

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Plants native to Pennsylvania fill the Woodland, here mayapples, golden groundsel, and Virginia bluebells.  4/25/2017

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Epimediums, daffodils, cinnamon ferns, and Celandine poppies replace the February-blooming aconite whose leaves are still visible at their base.  4/26/2015

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Natives dwarf Jacob’s ladder, black cohosh, and foamflower line the path.  5/10/2015

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The Lower Deck Garden provides early color from hellebores, ‘Mohawk’ viburnum, pink old-fashioned bleeding-hearts, and the rose-colored new leaves of ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple.  4/26/2015

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The Upper Deck Garden comes into its own later in May with Hosta nigrescens, pulmonaria, Spanish bluebells, and variegated Solomon’s seal, all echoing the blue and silver garden under the Kentucky coffee tree across the path.  ‘Butterfly’ has assumed its main season color of green and white but will turn pink again in the fall.  5/6/2011

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The Kentucky Coffee Tree Garden across from the deck is filled with silver and blue plants, including ‘Ghost’ fern, ‘Bunny Blue’ sedge, ‘El Nino’ hosta, white bigroot geranium, variegated Japanese kerria, and ‘Jack Frost’ and ‘Dawson’s White’ brunnera.  5/27/2012

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Sugar maples, behind the Kentucky coffee tree on the left and the two giant black walnuts center and right, light up the woodland in fall.  For scale the ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple is on the far right.  10/27/2010

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Moving up the hill, ‘Eye Declare’ hosta steals the show when it emerges in the Sycamore Garden in mid-spring (for orientation, you can see the Blue and Silver Garden in the top right of the photo).  The trees are actually London plane trees but the garden’s name stuck.  5/8/2011

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In early summer, native Indian pinks (spigelia) fill the Sycamore Garden and hummingbirds vsit from miles around.  6/7/2019

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Above the Sycamore Garden, behind the carriage house, is Hosta Hill, filled with hostas of all sizes plus epimediums, ferns, and hellebores.  5/26/2019

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I have a special place in my heart for our Mini Hosta Rock Garden, featuring mini hostas in a multitude of colors and sizes plus a wide assortment of dwarf plants, including ferns, irises, epimediums, conifers, lady’s mantles, and sedums, among others.  6/9/2015

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The garden is never without flowers unless deep snow covers the snowdrops, which start blooming in mid-October and finish in late March.  12/10/2013

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Michael and I rest in deep winter waiting for the cycle to begin again as soon as the snow melts.  2/21/2014

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Although it may seem like winter-, spring-, and early summer-blooming plants predominate, our garden is beautiful in late summer and fall too—I just don’t photograph it then.  I enjoyed writing this post and seeing our garden develop and change over the 10 years that these photographs were taken.  I hope you enjoyed the tour too.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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.

What’s Up at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens?

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Just a few days ago our woodland was empty, but now it is filled with flowers.

We think that the winter garden at our nursery is gorgeous.  But it is still sparse with lots of empty patches of brown leaves even though it is filled with blooming hellebores, snowdrops, cyclamen, winter aconite, and other late winter bulbs.  It’s not until early spring that our woodland explodes with color, mostly from native plants taking advantage of all the sunlight before the trees leaf out.  I thought you might like to see what that looks like, especially if you visited more than a week ago.  Our many epimediums are also in full bloom!

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 to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

a small field of native Virginia blue bells

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Epimediums and European wood anemones play a starring role.

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Native cinnamon ferns erupt through the winter aconite.

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Even with all the color below, the three native white-flowered redbuds steal the show.

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Pine needle paths draw visitors through the woods.

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Yellow and blue are my favorite spring colors: here Virginia bluebells with native Celandine poppy and yellow wood anemone.

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Yellow and white is pretty stunning too: here Celandine poppy and white wood anemone.

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‘New York Night’ hellebore and native yellow violets

And now for the epimediums:

Red epimedium, E. x rubrum, is a great spreader.

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Sulphur yellow epimediums, E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum, look great with the blue of pulmonarias.

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‘Purple Prince’ epimedium with ‘Pagoda’ dogtooth violets in the background.

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‘Cherry Tart’ epimedium

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The leaves and flowers of ‘Domino’ epimedium are especially lovely, and it flowers twice.

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‘Yubae’ epimedium

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I love orange flowers, and Epimedium x warleyense produces a lot.  It’s also a great groundcover.

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‘Bandit’ epimdium is the perfect size for my miniature hosta rock garden, and its white flowers really stand out against its black-bordered leaves.

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I love this combination: ‘Tama No Gempi’ epimedium and ‘Little Wonder’ mini hosta.

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I had to leave so much out—maybe there will be a part two.

Carolyn

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