Archive for Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’

Early Spring Ephemerals Light Up the Garden

Posted in bulbs for shade, hellebores, landscape design, my garden, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Corydalis solida seedling 4-3-2011 7-36-54 PMCorydalis solida comes in many colors: in the right corner is ‘Purple Bird’, in the middle is pink ‘Beth Evans’, and in the left corner is brick red ‘George P. Baker’.

As the hellebores bloom in my garden, they do not stand alone but are surrounded by large swathes of spring ephemerals.  These are plants that come up in the spring to take advantage of the available sun before the leaves come out and then go dormant for the year as it gets hot.  I especially appreciate their vibrant colors at a time of year when spring is here, but the weather is not necessarily warm and sunny.

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

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Corydalis solida 'George P. Baker'‘George P. Baker’

All the plants shown here are in bloom now or just about to bloom.  They are very easy to plant and grow.  And best of all they spread by themselves to form large patches in the years after you plant them.  Spring ephemerals don’t take up any room as they can be interplanted with hostas, ferns, and other perennials that come up later and fill in the space.  They are also great for the backs of beds that are empty and visible before other plants emerge.

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Corydalis solida, helleborusThis riot of color is going on in my woods right now as various shades of Corydalis solida bloom with hellebores.

Here are some more suggestions for plants that will achieve this early spring bounty in your garden—all available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this weekend:

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Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'Snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, bloom with the snowdrops, and you can’t beat the color of ‘Ruby Giant’.

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Crocus tommasinianus, Helleborus x hybridus‘Ruby Giant’ with white hellebores, a match made in heaven.

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Scilla mischtschenkoana, Dicentra cucullariaPale blue squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana, is the earliest blooming of the group, here with Dutchman’s breeches.

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Eranthis hyemalis & Galanthus 'S. Arnott'Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, blooms with the snowdrops.

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Galanthus nivalis and EranthisSnowdrops and winter aconite are the most beautiful sight in my late winter garden.

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Eranthis hyemalis, Corydalis solidaAfter it blooms, winter aconite’s elegant foliage makes a great backdrop for hellebores and Corydalis solida.

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Puschkinia scilloides As the pale blue squill fades, striped-squill, Puschkinia scilloides, takes over.

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Puschkinia scilloidesStriped-squill has naturalized to form a large patch under my winter hazel.

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Scilla sibericaAlso coming into bloom now are the fluorescent blue flowers of Siberian squill,  Scilla siberica.

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Scilla sibericaSiberian squill has moved all over my garden and has never appeared anywhere that I didn’t want it.  The color is just gorgeous.

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Fritallaria meleagrisCheckered lily, Fritillaria meleagris,  is just getting started.  It too seeds to spread through out my woods.

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Heuchera 'Caramel', Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, has lovely upturned blue flowers with an ethereal white center.  Here it peeks through the winter leaves of native ‘Caramel’ heuchera.

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Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow spreads quickly to form large patches.  It looks especially beautiful under my star magnolia right now.

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Erythronium 'Pagoda'The lovely leaves of U.S. native dogtooth violets, Erythronium, are appearing now and the earliest varieties are blooming.  Although they look delicate, they are as tough as nails and come back in my woodland year after year.

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Stylophorum diphyllum & Mertensia virginicaI can see the dark purple leaves of native Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, emerging from the mulch.  I can’t get enough of its porcelain blue flowers, here with native Celandine poppy.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Mertensia virginicaEuropean wood anemones are also getting ready to pop.  The earliest is yellow-flowered Anemone ranunculoides, but they also come in pink and white.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Wyatt's Pink'‘Wyatt’s Pink’ European wood anemone is quite rare and beautiful.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Bractiata'The elegant flower of ‘Bractiata’ European wood anemone.

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All these flowers keep me going through the cold wet days of early spring.  Add them to your own garden to beat the winter doldrums and signal that the end is in sight.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our first event is the Hellebore Extravaganza this Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase hellebores and other plants.

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.

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.

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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Groundcovers, Thinking Outside the Box

Posted in garden to visit, groundcover, How to, landscape design, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 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.

Part of the Idea Garden at Longwood Gardens

I recently visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  I have no hesitancy in saying that Longwood is one of the premier gardens in the world and should be on everyone’s life list.  However, there is so much there that it is difficult to post about it.  Also, “familiarity breeds contempt.”  I hold two Certificates in Ornamental Horticulture from Longwood and have taken a total of 18 courses to earn them.  Each course involved a minimum of 8 visits to the gardens so you can see that I have spent a lot of time there.  If you are local, these courses are the absolute best plant education available.

Italian Water Garden, viewed while resting in the shade.

Because I have spent so much time at Longwood, I didn’t photograph the usual sights or even visit the fabulous four acre indoor conservatory (with one exception mentioned below).  As a shade gardener I headed straight for Peirce’s Woods, which is seven acres devoted to shady plants native to the eastern U.S. deciduous forest.  I hoped to augment my library of photographs and get some ideas of plants to sell at the nursery and add to my own gardens.  I wasn’t disappointed.

The straight species of smooth hydrangea, H. arborescens, lined the very shady paths by the lake.  I think it is more appropriate to a woodland garden than the cultivated forms like ‘Annabelle’.

Smooth hydrangea has a lovely flower whose size is in keeping with other native woodland plants.

While walking through Peirce’s Woods, I returned to the thoughts I have been having lately about groundcovers.  This time of year, with the weeds running rampant, my customers are more interested in groundcovers.  But it is clear from their questions that they mean plants that form runners to creep and cover the ground.  The classic examples are vinca, ivy, and pachysandra.  However, my definition of groundcover is much broader than this and includes any plant massed to effectively choke out weeds.

Native maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum


When you look at the masses of native maidenhair fern above, you are probably thinking that’s all very nice that Longwood uses masses of these fairly pricey, non-creeping plants as groundcover, but I could never afford that quantity of plants.  However, think of the alternative: weeds and the hours if not days it takes to remove them, not to mention how their presence detracts from the look of your garden as well as your satisfaction with it.  Your time is valuable, and you wouldn’t be reading my blog if the look of your garden wasn’t important to you.

Native semi-evergreen coralbells, Heuchera villosa, often sold as the cultivar ‘Autumn Bride’, has gorgeous white flowers in the fall.

Yes, you can use mulch to keep down the weeds.  However, commercial shredded hardwood mulch is not attractive, is generally not produced sustainably, and requires a significant time investment to apply it.  Most importantly, it requires a monetary outlay every year because it must be re-applied every spring.  Perennial plants are initially more expensive to buy and plant but once they are there, you never have to do anything again.  It is kind of like buying a compact fluorescent light bulb versus the bulbs we grew up with.

Here are some more plants that Longwood uses in masses to make effective groundcovers:

Mexican feather grass, Nassella tenuissima


Native evergreen Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides

Native semi-evergreen coralbells, Heuchera villosa purple form.

Shredded umbrella-plant, Syneilesis aconitifolia: I can only dream of achieving this in my garden, and, yes, it is very expensive.

Native hay-scented fern, Dennstaedtia punctiloba, creeps to fill in large areas.

This bellflower, Campanula takesimana, was growing and apparently self-sowing in dense shade on the hillside near the Chimes Tower.

Fall-blooming yellow waxbells, Kirengoshoma palmata, is more like a shrub than a perennial but it dies to the ground ever year.

Native coralbells, Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’, is my favorite heuchera and retains its lovely color 365 days a year.

Giant butterbur, Petasites japonicus, grows in dense shade and covers a lot of ground.

Lavender mist meadow-rue, Thalictrum rochebrunianum

Native sensitive fern, Onoclea sensibilis, does creep.

Shrubs can be used as groundcover also, two examples from Longwood:

The straight species of oakleaf hydrangea, H. quecifolia, gets quite large and spreading.

Native southern bush honeysuckle, Diervilla sessifolia, suckers to form a colony.

Lastly, I want to show you why I briefly visited the conservatories:  groundcover for walls, the new fern wall at Longwood.  It is worth a visit just to see it:

This is a beautiful hallway containing individual restrooms, and the walls are totally covered in ferns.

Some of the ferns are quite large, and all are healthy and beautiful.

I hope I have convinced you to think outside the box and mass all kinds of unusual plants as groundcovers.  You will have more time to enjoy a better looking garden and save money in the long run.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:  This coming weekend we will have our final open hours at the nursery on Saturday, June 16, from 9 am to 2 pm, and Sunday, June 17, from 11 am to 1 pm.  We close on June 17 until September.  Customers on my email list will receive an email with details.

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.

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.

A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit

Posted in evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, landscape design, Shade Gardening with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 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.

Italian arum, Arum italicum, goes dormant during the summer and comes up again in September so it is pristine in the fall and through the winter.  All photos were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this week.

“A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit” was inspired by an article in a gardening magazine talking about dressing up your fall garden with mums because everything else is finished and the garden is looking tired.  Reading this sent me rushing for my camera and out the door to prove them wrong (I have a similar response to shade gardening articles that start: “Now you can’t have color in the shade, but….”).  In fact, my indignation has inspired a three-part post, the other two will cover flowers and hostas that look good in fall.  And none of the plants I am highlighting are relying on fall leaf color yet.  So here is some of what is fresh and beautiful in my shady gardens right now:

‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s Wort, Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’, has gorgeous gold foliage all season.  With the onset of cold weather, it will take on peachy hues.

‘Caramel’ coral bells, Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’, displays its lovely colors 365 days a year.  The native Heuchera villosa cultivars, including ‘Caramel’, ‘Citronelle’, ‘Bronze Wave’, and ‘Frosted Violet’, are the best coral bells for our area and remain colorful through winter.

‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, really comes into its own in the fall when its cascading yellow-variegated foliage shines in full shade.

The foliage palette for shade has been enlarged by the recent introduction of foamy bells, x Heucherella, which is a cross between native foamflower, Tiarella, and native coral bells, Heuchera.  This is ‘Solar Power’.

One of the many things I like about hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, is that their evergreen leaves stay pristine through whatever summer throws at them.

The evergreen leaves of Christmas rose hellebore, Helleborus niger, are also lovely in the fall.

The leaves of ‘Black Scallop’ ajuga, A. reptans ‘Black Scallop, become darker and darker as fall progresses, ending up a deep mahogany.

‘Diana Clare’ lungwort, Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’, is another plant that can take whatever nature dishes out—it shines in full shade.

Unlike deciduous ferns that hit the decks in September, evergreen ferns are just getting going, here tassel fern, Polystichum polyblepharum.  To read my article on evergreen ferns for shade, click here.

The foliage of ‘Wolf Eyes’ kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’, is beautiful all season, but I especially appreciate it in the fall when other leaves are tattered.


‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, is my favorite of all the native winterberry cultivars because it has a compact habit and produces copious amounts of very large berries.  For more information on this great shrub, click here.

Our native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is in full fruit right now.

The striking bright purple berries of ‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’, march evenly down the stems of its beautifully cascading branches.  For more information and a close up photo, click here.

I grow my tea viburnums, Viburnum setigerum, in the shade of massive 150-year-old London plane trees, but it doesn’t stop them from producing their spectacular bunches of shiny red fruit.

The foliage and berries highlighted above, along with many I did not include, make my fall gardens a showplace for my customers and a relaxing retreat for me.  They do not require any dressing up for fall because they are already fully clothed.

Carolyn

Stay tuned for Part 2, A Few Fall Favorites for Flowers, and Part 3, Hostas for Fall.

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.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: Orders for woody shade plants will be accepted until  midnight on Wednesday, October 5.  Click here for the catalogue.  Our final fall open house sale will be on Saturday, October 8, from 10 am to 2 pm, and Sunday, October 9, from 1 to 3 pm.  Remember you can make an appointment to shop 24/7 by sending me an email at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  The nursery closes for the year on October 16.

Supporting Sustainable Living: Part One

Posted in garden essay, green gardening, native plants, organic gardening with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 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.

PA native bloody butcher (attractive common name!), Trillium recurvatum, is just forming its buds now and will produce its beautiful flower shortly (photo on right Arrowhead Alpines).

All photos in this article are of plants native to Pennsylvania (PA) available at “Bulb and Native Wildflower Day” on April 9 at my nursery.  Single photos and the left photo in collages show the plants in my garden today.

Jan who writes the garden blog Thanks for Today is doing something wonderful, and  I want all my readers, subscribers, and customers to participate in Jan’s project.  Jan has started the Gardeners’ Sustainable Living Project, which celebrates Earth Day  by encouraging gardeners to get together and share the big and small things that they are doing anywhere in their lives to support sustainable living.  If you read my blog, you know that this is an important topic for me.

PA native rue-anemone, Anemonella thalictroides, is a dainty woodlander in full bloom right now.

To participate in the project, all you have to do is click on the Gardeners’ Sustainable Living Project link below and leave a comment describing a few of your own sustainable living practices.  If you are a garden blogger, you can write a post about your efforts, but Jan only requires a comment.  If you participate by April 15, you become eligible to receive all kinds of fun prizes.  I got so excited about the project, I decided to contribute a prize of my own: a snowdrop collection.  For prize details, click here.

The buds of PA native Celandine poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum, are just starting to show color, and the flowers will cover the plant for at least six weeks (photo on right Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder).

While you are leaving your comment, you can read all the posts written by garden bloggers telling you what they are doing to promote sustainability.  Donna at Gardens Eye View in her article  on “Trust” points out that we have been entrusted with the earth and we should leave it the way we found it.  She tells us about her efforts to do that.  Jean at Jean’s Garden explains how she has “come to understand how my plant choices can affect ecological systems and environmental balance.”

PA native twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, is just pushing out of the ground in my garden (photo on right Missouri Botanical Gardens PlantFinder).

Pam at Pam’s English Cottage Garden was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life to “be more mindful of my carbon footprint by eating locally grown foods that are in season, and by supporting local farmers.”  Allan at allanbecker.gardenguru describes a wide range of “respectful grass roots initiatives that influence both consumer behavior and the agendas of local officials” while  promoting sustainability.  You can get a lot of great ideas by reading these thoughtful articles and all the others linked there.

I love the early spring colors of emerging PA native coral-bell leaves.  Clockwise from upper left: Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’, ‘Frosted Violet’, ‘Autumn Bride’, ‘Blackout’.

So what am I doing to promote sustainability?  For my whole gardening life, I have been organic, not using any herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers.  I don’t water except to establish new plants and, by following gardening practices like grinding my leaves (seeFall Clean-up and Leaves on the Lawn) and composting, I have restored the soil to its former pristine state.  I have gotten rid of almost an acre of lawn and replaced it with large areas of plants native to Pennsylvania.  In Maine, I founded and continue to run a community based invasive plant removal program whose goal is to eliminate all invasive plants from the small island where we vacation.

PA native Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, is just about to come into full bloom in my garden.

Several years ago, though, I realized that I am uniquely placed to have an even larger impact in this area through my nursery.  As my customers ask me for advice and as I talk to the horticultural groups touring my display gardens, I emphasize sustainable practices and demonstrate how they work in my own gardens.  Instead of being lectured to in a darkened room, these gardeners are seeing  living proof that the sustainable methods I advocate have worked to create beautiful gardens.

PA native bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, is in full bloom right now.  The rare double form ‘Multiplex’, pictured on the right, is much longer blooming.

Reading Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants was a turning point for me.  I finally understood why planting native plants is not just a “good thing”, but absolutely crucial to our survival.  I wrote about this in My Thanksgiving Oak Forest,  and I hope you will read my article.  Now I give out a synopsis of the book to the hundreds of customers who attend events at my nursery each year in hopes that they too will be inspired.

My new yellow signs boldly demonstrate which plants are native in my woodland garden.

As a result of my new understanding, I increased my emphasis on native plants at the nursery.  Native plants appear in green print in my catalogue.  I purchased new signage for the garden and the nursery so natives could have their own special yellow signs (see photo above) while non-natives have white.  I am about to have my sixth annual native wildflower day on April 9 during which customers can shop for a wide assortment of almost 40 native perennials, not including the native ferns that will be offered at my fern sale.

The foliage of PA native dwarf Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium reptans ‘Blue Pearl’, is evergreen, and the plants are covered with buds right now.

My two acres of display gardens demonstrate how desirable non-native plants can be incorporated into the sweeps of native plants that dominate my landscape.  And I have used my blog with its 450 customer-subscribers and 26,000 views since November to promote the planting of natives (see, for example, My Thanksgiving Oak Forest, New Native Shade Perennials for 2011, and Woody Plants for Shade).

The early leaves of PA native wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, are a beautiful deep blue-green and are followed by lovely flowers in April and May.

So now, what do I want you to do?  Please go to http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2011/03/gardeners-sustainable-living-2011-win.html and leave a comment describing a few of your own sustainable practices.  I know many of my customers are reading my blog because almost everyone who has visited this year has said “I love your blog”.  Now you can thank me by supporting Jan’s project and mentioning in your comment that you came from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

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.), click here.

Nursery Happenings: My next nursery event is Bulb and Native Wildflower Day on Saturday, April 9, from 9 am to 3 pm.  My next open house sale features early spring-blooming shade plants and is Saturday, April 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  For details and directions, click here.

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