Archive for Arum italicum ‘Tiny Tot’

November GBBD: What’s Peaking Now

Posted in evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, hellebores, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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

This Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, of unknown origin broke off in the ice and snow in January 2011.  For a photo of it then, click here.  It has recovered beautifully with an even more interesting habit.

I have said before that no matter how much I try to enjoy it, November is not my favorite month.  As I wander around, all I see are plants dying back, work to be done, and time running out.  Last year wasn’t too bad because we had a long warm fall with beautiful weather and plenty going on through the middle of November.  I even called my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post “Prime Time” (click here to see the show).  This year most gardeners in the mid-Atlantic US agree that fall colors on many plants have been muted and gardens have gone by early.  Even September and October contained few of the clear, crisp, and sunny days we look forward to, and then along came Sandy.

A seedling Japanese maple along my front walk.

Despite the bad fall, there are plants in my garden right now that make a stroll outside worthwhile.  What is it about them that so attracts me?  It is that these plants are reaching their ornamental height right now.  They are not just re-blooming or showing a few flowers on a plant that really peaked earlier like asters or phlox, and they are not producing lovely fall color on a woody that I grow just as much for its flowers like hydrangea or viburnum.  November is the month when they reach the top.

The Japanese maples that seeded around this London plane tree produce a variety of fall colors from yellow to orange to red.

In this post I re-introduce you to some of the plants that show their best side in November and December.  I have written about many of them before, and I will provide links to those posts.  However, I wanted to gather these plants together here to provide a complete reference of fall stars to use during your spring shopping  trips.

‘Shishigashira’ is a gorgeous Japanese maple that just starts to turn in mid-November.  It will eventually become a solid orangey red.

When all the other trees have shown their colors and lost their leaves, Japanese maples are just starting to turn.  Every time I go outside I grab my camera to take one more shot of their eye-catching color.  I think it is their prime ornamental characteristic, especially because of its timing, even though I also appreciate their fine branching structure, delicate leaves, and variety of habits.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium.

The white and pink flowers of hardy cyclamen.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen is dormant in the summer and re-emerges in the fall.  To get all the details, click here to read my recent post on this unusual but easy to grow plant.  For the purposes of this post, what makes it so desirable is that November is its peak when its leaves are fully emerged and provide a stunning backdrop for the flowers.

The basic Italian arum, A. italicum, sometimes called ‘Pictum’.


‘Gold Dust’ Italian arum has much more distinct markings with gold veins.


The leaves of ‘Tiny Tot’ Italian arum are about one-third the size (or less) of the species and very finely marked.


Italian arum’s life cycle is very similar to hardy cyclamen: it goes dormant in the summer and comes up fresh and beautiful to peak in the fall and through the winter.  It makes a great groundcover, and you can read more about it by clicking here.


Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii.

A giant snowdrop with unusually long outer segments (petals).

‘Potter’s Prelude’ giant snowdrop, G. elwesii var. monostichus, is just starting to open in mid-November.

I couldn’t write a post this time of year without mentioning fall-blooming snowdrops.  Although we think of snowdrops as blooming in March, there are several species that bloom in the fall, including G. reginae-olgae, which blooms in October and is done now.  Also the giant snowdrop, whose flowers are quite variable, blooms for a long period from November to February so I have included some photos above.  But the king of fall is ‘Potter’s Prelude’, a very robust and vigorous snowdrop that blooms reliably in November.  For more information, click here to read my post on fall-blooming snowdrops.

Christmas rose ‘Josef Lemper’, Helleborus niger

This photo was taken today—as you can see ‘Josef’ Lemper’s’ October flowers have gone by, but a whole new crop of buds are preparing for November.

 

The Christmas rose ‘Jacob’ begins a month later that ‘Josef Lemper’.  Its buds are just beginning to reach up beyond the leaves.

‘Josef Lemper’ and ‘Jacob’ Christmas roses are also stars in my November garden, producing pure white 3 to 4″ wide flowers set off by smooth evergreen leaves.  Fall is their season, and they produce copious amounts of flowers to cheer up dreary November days.  For more information on fall-blooming hellebores, click here.

Fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Joy’ produces its first two flowers but look at all the buds to come.

The last photo is a teaser because of course fall-blooming camellias play a huge part in my November garden.  As with the other plants profiled, they are not just hanging on into November but instead come into their own then.  Look for an upcoming post featuring my camellias and my recent visit to the garden of a customer who also loves camellias.

All these plants (except the single flower of ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose) are pictured blooming in my garden right now so I am linking to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (“GBBD”) hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.

Carolyn

 

Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is done for the fall.  Thanks for a great year.  See you in spring 2013.

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

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More Flowering Wintergreen Ground Covers for Shade

Posted in evergreen, Fall, groundcover, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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

‘Album’ fall blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium ‘Album’, has white flowers, shown here blooming before the leaves on September 28, 2011, and spreads to form a ground cover that stays green through the winter.

In my article Flowering Wintergreen Ground Covers for Shade, I explained that I treasure evergreen ground covers that are presentable through winter because, here in the mid-Atlantic (US), we go through long periods of winter weather that are just plain cold without the compensation or covering of snow when any patch of green is prized.  Ground covers, especially those that maintain a presence through winter, make a garden look mature and cut down on the labor of weeding and the expense of mulch. Yes, you can plant the evergreen  triumvirate of vinca, ivy, and pachysandra.  But I want more: beautiful flowers and foliage too.  Just like the four in my original article, all four of the shady ground covers described below have prominent places at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

‘Shell Pink’ spotted dead nettle (I prefer to call it lamium), Lamium maculatum ‘Shell Pink’, still blooming at the end of November 2010.

Lamium ‘Shell Pink’ is a versatile wintergreen ground cover with gorgeous flowers from April to November.  It is the only lamium cultivar that blooms this long–all the others have a season of bloom in the spring.  I grow mine under the shade of a white pine (photo above and below) and also in a sunny area in front of my peonies.  ‘Shell Pink’s’ leaves stay neat and tidy all winter.

The first flush of blooms on ‘Shell Pink’ lamium in early April 2011.

Lamium maculatum is native to Europe and temperate Asia.  It quickly creeps to form 4 to 8″ tall patches of wintergreen leaves even in open full shade in zones 3 to 8.  It doesn’t seem to care if the soil is moist or dry but likes to be well-drained.  On ‘Shell Pink’, the first flush of flower buds emerges in early April to be followed by successive waves of blooms into November.  It fills in around surrounding plants without overwhelming them.  My deer have never touched it.  Lamium also makes a great container plant and overwinters outside in pots.  The only other cultivar I recommend is ‘Purple Dragon’ with bright purple flowers and solid silver leaves (photo below).

Although ‘Purple Dragon’ lamium only blooms in the spring, it’s silver leaves are quite ornamental in their own right.  Photo December 2010.

In anticipation of comments telling me that lamium is “invasive”, let me say three things.  First, it is a ground cover so it is supposed to spread and cover large areas.  A plant isn’t invasive because it spreads too much—the gardener has just planted it in the wrong place.  To me, it’s invasive if you can’t remove it when you want to either because you can never get it all (goutweed, lesser celandine) or it seeds so prolifically that you can’t remove all the seedlings (garlic mustard).  Second, the straight species, Lamium maculatum, may be invasive so don’t plant it.  Third, many times when gardeners say this they are talking about yellow archangel, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, a plant with yellow flowers and silver leaves that is invasive.  Lamiums don’t have yellow flowers.  Thanks for listening!

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium, in full bloom in late October 2010.

Although spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum, is finicky and hard to grow, fall-blooming hardy cyclamen will thrive in most shady locations as long as it is well-drained.  The flowers start to bloom in September and October before the leaves break dormancy.  Then its gorgeous, intricately patterned wintergreen leaves emerge and remain pristine all winter until they go dormant in early summer.  Mine happily naturalize in east-facing shady locations.

Cyclamen hederifoliumImagine large patches of this fall-blooming hardy cyclamen foliage all through winter–absolutely stunning!  Photo in late November 2010.

Hardy cyclamen is native to wooded areas and rocky hillsides of southern Europe and Turkey.  It forms 4 to 6″ tall mats of leaves, which remain highly ornamental through winter in zones 5 to 9.  It is very tolerant of soil conditions as long as it is well-drained and, once established,  grows well in full dry shade.  My deer leave it alone.


‘Pictum’ Italian arum, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’, used as a ground cover around hellebores and hostas along my front walk so I can admire it all winter.  Photo October 20, 2011.


This is what happens to Italian arum during really cold weather.  No matter how many times I have witnessed it, I am always amazed when it stands back up and looks as if nothing has happened.  Photo December 2010.

I have featured Italian arum photos on my blog many times but that’s because I think it is such a great plant.  The leaves emerge in September and remain immaculate through the winter.  If the weather is really cold, it wilts to the ground (see photo above), only to perk up again as soon as temperatures recover.  I have it planted by my front walk so I can enjoy its spotless, highly ornamental leaves all winter.  I also use it to cover areas where I cut back ratty hostas in the fall (see my article Hostas for Fall).  In May and June, it blooms with a pale green hood-like spathe covering a yellow spadix like our native jack-in-the-pulpit.  Bright orange berries appear in summer.  Several wonderful cultivars are available, including ‘Gold Rush’, which emerges in the spring with golden venation, and ‘Tiny Tot’, a miniature.

‘Gold Rush’ Italian arum in November 2010.  Italian arum cultivars have superior markings.

Arum italicum 'Tiny Tot'/'Tiny Tot' Italian Arum‘Tiny Tot’ Italian arum in February of 2009.

Italian arum is native to Europe.  It grows 12 to 18″ tall in zones 6 to 9.  It thrives in any soil in almost full sun to full shade and is tolerant of drought.  Deer do not bother it.  In the 20 years that I have been growing it, it has spread politely to other areas of my garden, but occasionally I have heard that it can become an aggressive spreader.  Lyn from The Amateur Weeder reports that it is invasive in Australia.  Please consult local experts to see if there is a problem where you garden.


‘Sulphureum’ epimedium, E. x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’, used as a ground cover in front of hardy begonia, B. grandis.  Photo October 20, 2011.

I love epimediums.  In fact, I love them so much that they are one of the few plants I allow myself to collect with 30 varieties in my garden.  Their small but copious spring flowers are beautiful and unusual coming in white, pink, yellow, orange, red,  purple, and bicolors.  I also prize their leaves which are often shiny and wing-shaped, sporting spiky edges or colored splotches or lovely venation.  Many epimediums are deciduous and clump-forming.  In this article, I want to profile a few that have wintergreen leaves and spread to make a ground cover.

The fastest growing epimedium by far is ‘Sulphureum’.  It spreads at a medium rate to form a large patch (see photo above).  Its two-tone yellow flowers  look like miniature daffodils in early April.

E. x rubrum is the second fastest spreader.  It’s leaves are similar to ‘Sulphureum’.  If you can find the cultivar ‘Sweetheart’, pictured above, it has gorgeous flowers.  I sell a good selection of epimediums at my nursery, but I get my unusual epimediums from the Massachusetts nursery, Garden Vision Epimediums (email epimediums@earthlink.net).  They have hundreds of varieties.

‘Frohnleiten’ epimedium, E. x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’, is also a fairly quick spreader .  It has gorgeous shiny leaves with an intricate vein pattern and produces bright, sulfur yellow flowers in the spring.

‘Shrimp Girl’ epimedium, E. alpinum ‘Shrimp Girl’, is also a good spreader in my garden, here used as a ground cover in front of ferns and hostas.

The lovely two-tone flowers of ‘Shrimp Girl’ in spring.


I am including ‘Kaguyahime’ epimedium even though it spreads fairly slowly so that you can see how beautiful and unusual the leaves of wintergreen epimediums can be.

Epimediums are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa.  They reach 6 to 12″ tall, depending on the cultivar, and flower in April.  They grow in part to full shade and can take dry soil once established.  Their creeping roots are impenetrable to weeds.  I cut back all the remaining old foliage in March once I see the new flowers and leaves starting to emerge.  When choosing an epimedium for ground cover, select spreading varieties that have evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves.


Next spring when you are looking for ground covers, I hope you will consider one of the four described above.  In the meantime, leave a comment with the name of your favorite wintergreen ground cover for shade.  In my first article, I profiled golden groundsel, creeping phlox, dwarf sweetbox, and hybrid hellebores as ground covers.  If you want to read about them, click here.

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.


Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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