Archive for lamium ‘Shell Pink’

Early Spring Beauty at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

Posted in bulbs for shade, evergreen, groundcover, hellebores, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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





A mixture in my woodland

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



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

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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  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  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.


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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Keeping the Shade Garden Going in Late Fall

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 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  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

main terrace at Carolyn's Shade Gardens in late fall

Articles on landscape design advocate creating beds that flower through out the gardening season.  This is a lofty goal, and one that is not always worth achieving.  Beds that are designed to accomplish it often look spotty and unfocused because there is no theory behind the design besides bloom time, and the bed never truly peaks.  My woodland gardens, which contain mostly spring ephemerals and are done by June, provide immense satisfaction to me and are thoroughly enjoyed by my customers, even though their ornamental season is limited.  Most of my other gardens also have their season of splendor and then step aside to let other areas shine.

On the other hand, it is important to me that I have at least one prominent garden that is ornamentally interesting all year.  And I realize that most gardeners don’t have the space that I have to indulge in the luxury of letting a garden go by in June.  So, the question is, how do you keep a garden going in late fall before the winter-blooming plants get started?  What plants can you use to create the sense of a garden still growing: a feeling of plant combinations not individual plants?

I want to tell you about the area where I have done this most successfully: the shady end of the terrace outside my front door.  Through silver, purple, pink, and dark green groundcovers, leaves, and flowers, this terrace still has the feeling of a garden in its prime right now in early December.

'Shell Pink' lamium at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Shell Pink’ Lamium in early December

I think the most important element of a late season border is a flowering evergreen groundcover.  In this bed, I use ‘Shell Pink’ lamium (photo above) because it blooms from April to December (at some times more prolifically than others) and remains evergreen all year.  I have also planted the fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium (photo below).  Its pink flowers appear from September into November.  Although dormant for a short time in summer, once its leaves come back in late August, it maintains a fresh pristine appearance through the following June.  It spreads to form a very attractive groundcover and is not picky about the site like the spring-blooming cyclamen.

fall-blooming cyclamen at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Hardy Cyclamen

'Diana Clare' pulmonaria at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Diana Clare’ Pulmonaria

Foliage is important this time of year.  I chose pulmonarias to fill a big space because their leaves remain ornamental almost until new leaves appear in February.  The solid silver foliage of  ‘Diana Clare’ (photo above) is one of my favorites in my pulmonaria collection.  Equally as important are the dark evergreen leaves of several hellebores: Christmas roses, hybrid hellebores, the H. x ericsmithii cultivars ‘Silvermoon’ and ‘Ivory Prince’ with their silver marbling, and the golden-veined leaves of H. x nigercors ‘Green Corsican’.  Finally, I treasure the almost year round interest of the new cultivars of our native coralbell, Heuchera villosa.  Here I used ‘Frosted Violet’ (photo below), which is deep burgundy-purple with lighter highlights.

'Frosted Violet' native coralbells at Carolyn's Shade GardensNative Coralbell ‘Frosted Violet’

Christmas Rose 'Jacob' at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Christmas rose ‘Jacob’

For the final element of flowers, in addition to the pink blooms of the lamium, I added the fall-blooming Christmas roses, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’ (photo above) and ‘Josef Lemper’.  ‘Jacob’, the shorter and more compact of the two, is sending up buds now.  ‘Josef’ will begin flowering in a few weeks.  Both cultivars continue to produce new blossoms into May.  I have also added lots of the fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’ (photo below).  This exceedingly robust snowdrop will produce its lovely white flowers for the next month.

fall-blooming snowdrop 'Potter's Prelude' at Carolyn's Shade GardensFall-blooming Snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’

Main terrace at Carolyn's Shade GardensTerrace in late November

So that’s it: groundcover, foliage, and flowers through mid-January when the winter-blooming perennials and bulbs take over.  Not the abundance of late spring, but certainly ornamental.


Notes:  All photos in this post were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in late November. Flowering evergreen shrubs are an important part of any late fall garden.  For all of you who have been to Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, you may wonder why I didn’t mention the semi-circle of large fragrant daphnes (Daphne odora) that lined this bed.  Unfortunately, they were killed last winter by falling white pine branches.  I hope to replace them.

fragrant daphne odora at Carolyn's Shade GardensFragrant Daphne, gone but not forgotten!

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