Archive for Mertensia virginica

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.

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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

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 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 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.

Your Native Woodland: If You Build It They Will Come, Part 2

Posted in green gardening, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Perennials, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The woodland at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens with mayapples, golden groundsel, Viginia bluebells, dwarf Jacob’s ladder, wild ginger, and white-flowered redbud, all native to Pennsylvania in the mid-Atlantic US.

I am very excited to report that my blog has now gone over 2 million views.  To see the numbers, look at the counter on the right sidebar labeled Site Stats Since 11/3/10 (if the sidebar is not visible, click the snowdrop banner at the top).  That’s a lot of people!  And what have they been reading?  Well, my fifth most popular post is Your Native Woodland: If You Build It They Will Come, which I wrote in April 2012.  In it, I tell readers how to create their very own woodland filled with native plants.  To read it, click here.

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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Photos of the six of the native plants recommended in the 2012 post, clockwise from the left: Celandine poppies and Virginia bluebells, dwarf Jacob’s ladder and wild ginger, ‘Blue Ridge’ creeping phlox, and northern sea oats.

In 2012, I recommended that readers use nine plants to create their native woodland: Virginia bluebells, Celandine poppy, dwarf Jacob’s ladder, white violets, creeping phlox, wild ginger, golden groundsel, and northern sea oats.  All the botanical names are in the original post.  I still believe that those nine plants are the best natives to start your woodland because they are beautiful, easy to grow, and spread quickly.

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Photos of the remaining three native plants recommended in the 2012 post, clockwise from upper left: white violets, blue wood aster, and golden groundsel.

I am hoping that after five years, gardeners have been successful with the original nine recommendations and are ready to broaden their selection.  Below, I profile eight more easy-to-grow native plants.  Keep in mind that the more plants of each variety you plant, the more satisfied you will be with the result.  If you are on a budget, plant five, seven, or nine of one or two of the recommendations rather than a smaller quantity of each.  Use plenty of compost and mulch with ground or whole leaves, and then stand back and watch them spread. 

Here are my suggestions for additions:

.Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, thrives in high shade and well-drained soil.  Here it is with blue wood aster right under my massive black walnut trees.

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Last time I recommended ‘Blue Ridge’ creeping phlox, but purple and pink creeping phlox are even more vigorous.  This is my sweep of the purple variety, Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’.  It really likes edges so plant it along your woodland path.

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‘Sherwood Purple’

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Creeping phlox also comes in pink—the cultivar ‘Home Fires’.

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Native sedge, Carex laxiculmus ‘Bunny Blue’, grows right at the base of trees and reproduces itself nicely, spreading its beautiful silver-blue hue around the woods.

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This is a western native camassia, C. leitchtlinii ‘Caerulea’.  It grows through out my woodland in filtered light but also in my part sun meadow.  Each plant increases to a gorgeous clump and blooms in May.

A very unusual native plant called Robin’s plantain, Erigeron pulchellus ‘Lynnhave Carpet’, makes a tight ground cover of fuzzy gray leaves at the edge of my woods.  In May, it produces multitudes of daisy like flowers.  This patch started from a single plant given to me by Charles Cresson.

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There are many ferns that thrive in my woods but none do as well as ghost fern.  It is a native hybrid (lady fern x Japanese painted fern) rather than a straight native, but it makes up for its non-native heritage with its beautiful silvery gray leaves and striking upright habit.

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Your woods wouldn’t be complete without understory trees, and nothing works better than our Pennsylvania native redbuds.  I use white-flowered redbud, Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’, in my woods because I love blue, yellow, and white together.   ‘Alba’ is pictured here with yellow trillium, Virginia bluebells, and Celandine poppy.

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White redbud with native hardy geranium, ginger, Virginia bluebells, cinnamon fern, mayapples, and golden groundsel.

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It is a pleasure to walk this path in the spring.

Carolyn

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

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

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

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

Bucks County PA Tour

Posted in garden to visit, native plants, Shade Perennials, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The bluebell meadow at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania (PA) USA, is at its peak right now.

My brother, Nick Walker, and his company, Cottage Industries in Wayne, Pennsylvania, did such a wonderful job on our recent home remodeling that Michael and I thought it would be fun to take him and his wife to dinner.  He lives in Stockton, New Jersey, near New Hope, Pennsylvania, giving us a great excuse to spend the night in the beautiful Bucks County area and visit local restaurants and garden related venues.  I know readers often follow in our footsteps so if you have any questions please email.

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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Our first stop was the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, a 134 acre sanctuary for native plants with 3.5 miles of trails through various habitats.  This is another view of the breath-taking bluebell meadow, featuring Virginia bluebells, mayapples, twinleaf, and Celandine poppy.

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Squirrel-corn and Celandine poppy at Bowman’s Hill.

.yellow trillium

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Quaker-ladies

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red trillium and squirrel-corn

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The real marsh-marigold, Caltha palustris, a PA native plant.  Please do not confuse this with lesser celandine, Ranuculus ficaria, which is an extremely destructive, non-native, invasive plant on the PA banned plant list, click here.

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Canada mayapple

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toadshade

yellow or eastern trout-lily, Erythronium americanum

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After a few hours at Bowman’s Hill, including some shopping in their extensive native plant nursery, we walked around the scenic town of New Hope, PA, which is right on the banks of the Delaware River.  Many of the buildings date from the 18th century.

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We ate lunch in New Hope at Nektar, a small plates restaurant with amazing views of the river and town.  We liked it so much we went back for dinner.

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The next morning we walked from the inn to Bowman’s Hill Tower, built in 1930 to honor General George Washington and the troops stationed near there during the American Revolution.

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The tower has spectacular views of New Hope and the Delaware River.  Unfortunately it was not open so we had to look through the woods to the river.

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Next we were off to Paxson Hill Farm in New Hope, a 32 acre property with a nursery and very unique and extensive gardens.

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Sweeps of ‘Sagae’ hosta, variegated Solomon’s seal, ‘Lilafee’ epimedium, and cimicifuga near the Japanese garden.

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The Paxson Hill display gardens include this full scale, underground hobbit house.

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After a delicious lunch at the Stockton New Jersey Farmer’s Market, it was back to work at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

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

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

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

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

Pleasurable Pairings for Spring Part 2

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Mertensia virginica, Stylophorum diphyllumNative Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, and native Celandine poppies, Stylophorum diphyllum, are two of my favorite plants for spring and are wonderful combined with almost anything.  Very easy to grow in part to full shade and woodland conditions.

In April 2011, I wrote a post about beautiful spring pairings.  To read it, click here.  I always meant to continue the topic and have finally taken the time to photograph the garden.  Some of the combinations are the same but that’s because I love them!

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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Mertensia virginica, Polystichum polyblepharumVirginia bluebells with emerging tassel ferns, Polystichum polyblepharum.

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Mertensia virginica, Brunnera macrophylaOr how about blue on blue with Virginia bluebells and Siberian bugloss, Brunnera macrophylla?

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Leucojum aestivum, Stylophorum diphyllumNative Celandine poppies are just as versatile, here with summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum.

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Epimedium versicolor 'Sulphureum', Stylophorum diphyllum, Osmunda cinnamomeaNative Celandine poppies with ‘Sulphureum’ epimedium, daffodils, native cinnamon fern, and the leaves of winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis.

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Hosta 'Paradise Island', Vinca minor 'Bowles Purple'Gold hostas look so beautiful when they are emerging.  Here ‘Paradise Island’ hosta with ‘Bowles Purple’ vinca.  Although I don’t recommend planting vinca because it is so invasive, I couldn’t resist adding this purple variety to a contained space.

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Spiraea japonica 'Magic Carpet', Dicentra spectabilis 'Goldheart'One of my all time favorite combinations, the peach-colored spring leaves of ‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea with the similarly colored stems of ‘Goldheart’ old-fashioned bleeding-heart.

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Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty', SedumNative ‘Purple Beauty’ moss phlox, P. subulata, with a sedum showing its winter colors.

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Fritillaria meleagrisCheckered-lily in its white, Fritillaria meleagris ‘Alba’, and purple forms seed through out my dry, full shade woodland.

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Epimedium x warleyense, Hosta montana 'Aureo-marginata' Orange epimedium, E. x warleyense, with the emerging leaves of Hosta montana ‘Aureo-marginata’.

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That’s all for now but look for Part 3 soon.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our third open house, featuring ferns, hostas, and hardy geraniums is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, don’t’ wait until then—you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase these wonderful plants.  Just send me an email at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net with some suggested dates and times that you would like to visit.

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.

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.

Letting Go Part 2: Naturalizing Bulbs

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, landscape design, my garden, Shade Perennials, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Corydalis solidaWhen I stopped trying to keep all my Corydalis solida separate and let the colors hybridize, this is what I got.

In May of 2011, I wrote a post titled Letting Go Part 1: The Lawn.  It is a well-documented discussion of why gardeners should get rid of their lawns and let what lawn remains go “natural”.  At the time I intended to write another article about letting go of garden beds, but time got away from me.  

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Galanthus nivalis, Crocus tommasinianusCommon snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, and snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, naturalized in Charles Cresson’s meadow—a wonderful combination for late winter.

I was inspired to get back to the topic by reading a gorgeous book on bulbs given to me by one of my customers.  Not to digress, but I have the nicest customers who constantly send me articles, bring homemade food, send beautiful cards and letters sometimes hand drawn (one customer is a professional calligrapher), and write complimentary and encouraging emails.  Thanks to you all.

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Buried Treasures.

This book was no ordinary gift but a 400 page hardcover book with over 300 color plates.  It is called Buried Treasures and was written by Janis Ruksans.  Ruksans is an internationally famous nurseryman and plant explorer with a mail order nursery specializing in unusual bulbs and located in Latvia.  He has introduced hundreds of bulbs and one of his focuses is Corydalis solida (first photo), which happens to be one of my favorite plants.

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Eranthis hyemalis, Corydalis solidaWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, naturalized with corydalis and hybrid hellebores.

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Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite in bloom in February.

As I read his book, I was struck by what he said about naturalizing bulbs:

“There are two different kinds of naturalization.  The first kind occurs when you plant your bulbs so they will look as natural as possible.  The second kind is the real thing, which will happen only if your bulbs start to reproduce by self-sowing.… Some of the most beautiful displays happen in spots where bulbs … have been left to develop naturally.”

As simple as this statement appears, many gardeners have trouble applying this concept to their gardens because it requires letting go.  You are no longer in control of where plants appear and how they combine with each other.  I know because it took me years to embrace it myself.

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Scilla mischtschenkoana, Dicentra cucullariaTubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana, on the left and Dutchman’s breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, spread randomly at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

However, once I let go of deciding where bulbs (and many perennials) could grow, I believe that my garden reached a whole new level of interest and beauty.  Ruksans’s book inspired me to write this post about the bulbs, including tubers, corms, and other bulb allies, that spread well in my garden.  If you feel inclined to let go, here are some of the bulbs that work the best.

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Scilla sibericaSiberian squill, Scilla siberica, provides a splash of early brilliant blue and moves all over the garden, even into the lawn.

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Puschkinia scilloidesStriped-squill, Puschkinia scilloides, is pale blue and spreads beneath my winterhazel.
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Puschkinia scilloidesA close up shot better shows off striped-squill’s elegance. 

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Mertensia virginicaThere are hardly any beds in my garden that do not sport Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, in early spring.  All I planted was the original clump given to me by a good friend many years ago.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Mertensia virginicaWood anemones, including Anemone ranunculoides pictured above with Virginia bluebells, have been allowed to form gigantic patches in my woodland.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Alba Plena'European wood anemones, A. nemorosa, are a favorite, including ‘Alba Plena’.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Anemone nemorosa 'Vestal'My woodland with wood anemones and bluebells.

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Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, is everywhere even the formal beds by the front door.  It doesn’t take up any “room” because it goes dormant and perennials can be planted right in it.

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Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'‘Pink Giant’ is the pink cultivar of glory-of-the-snow, and it too plants itself wherever it wants.

The most wonderful result of my new relaxed approach came from Corydalis solida, a plant with no real common name.  It is a bulbous corydalis, which comes up very early in spring and dies back shortly after flowering.  Unlike the colorful herbaceous corydalis that never come back due to our hot summers, this corydalis returns year after year without fuss and even self-sows.  Here are a few of its cultivars:

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

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Corydalis solida subsp. incisaC. solida subsp. incisa

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Corydalis solida 'Blushing Girl'‘Blushing Girl’ selected by Jans Ruksans.

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Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'‘Beth Evans’

All four cultivars are very beautiful in their own right, and at first I kept them separate so they would stay pure.  However, when I let go and nature took its course, the results were amazing.  Now I have a rainbow of corydalis.

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Corydalis solida seedling 4-3-2011 7-36-54 PMCordalis solida left to its own devices.

Although I have a large garden, this is not a technique limited to big spaces.  Any garden bed full of perennials or any area beneath trees and shrubs is perfect for naturalizing bulbs.  Just give them a free hand after you get them started.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our third sale is Saurday, April 26, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on our list will get an email with all the details.  You can sign up to receive emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Coming soon is a shrub offer.  If you have any shrubs you want, please email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 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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