Archive for native coralbells

Native Plants 2013

Posted in groundcover, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 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.

Stylophorum diphyllum & Mertensia virginicaThis photo is one of my favorite shots of my native woodland which has huge swathes of some of the native plants that are particularly good spreaders, including Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, and Celandine poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum.  For more photos of my woods and information on the natives I grow there click here.

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This weekend Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is holding its second annual Native Wildflower Weekend on Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.  This event is my seventh annual native plant event and is timed to coincide with my native woodland coming into bloom.  However, this is the coldest spring that I have experienced since starting Carolyn’s Shade Gardens 21 years ago.  The timetable for my events is the same but the plants in the ground and in the pots are on a totally different schedule—they didn’t get the memo, they think it’s early March.

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Polemonium reptansAnother shot of what my woods should look like with dwarf Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium reptans, in the foreground and native wild-ginger, Asarum canadense, in the background.  The Jacob’s ladder is visible right now, but the ginger has not even emerged from the mulch of ground leaves.

Normally I write a blog post around this time featuring native plants. That process usually involves heading out to the garden to take a lot of photos of my native plants to use in the article.  However, the only plants blooming right now are hellebores, pulmonarias, and many beautiful non-native bulbs—all my winter-blooming shade plants.  So I thought I would use some of my existing photos to show you what spring usually looks like and to highlight some native favorites.

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Senecio aureusThe woodland with golden groundsel, Senecio aureus, and Virginia bluebells.  Golden grounsel is a wonderful native plant with fragrant yellow flowers and wintergreen leaves.  It spreads aggressively to form an impermeable groundcover and should only be planted in places where its habit can be accommodated.  It is a wonderful replacement for pachysandra, vinca, or ivy.

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Phlox stolonifera 'Home Fires'‘Home Fires’ creeping phlox, P. stolonifera, is actually blooming in the pots for sale at my nursery.  You have to admire its courage!

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Phlox stolonifera 'Sherwood Purple'‘Sherwood Purple’ creeping phlox is the best spreader for use in a shady woodland.  Creeping phlox should not be confused with moss phlox, P. subulata, which is also native but prefers part shade.

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Heuchera villosa 'Citronelle'Lemon coral bells, Heuchera villosa ‘Citronelle’, keep their color all winter as do all the coral bells native to our area.  They are also tough as nails compared to the coral bells derived from western natives that don’t work here.

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Heuchera 'Green Spice' Terra Nova photo‘Green Spice’ coral bells have beautifully patterned leaves all winter.

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Spigelia marilandicaIndian pink, Spigelia marilandica, is a very flashy native that blooms in May and June and attracts hummingbirds.  It is dormant in the garden and in the pots right now.

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Phlox divaricata 'Blue Moon'The lovely fragrant flowers of ‘Blue Moon’ wild sweet William, Phlox divaricata, are a great spreading addition to the woodland edge.

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Phlox divaricata 'May Breeze'‘May Breeze’ wild sweet William is a steely white.

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Lobelia cardinalisOne of my all time favorite native plants, cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, blooms in the fall and is a hummingbird magnet.

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Sanguinaria canadensisNo garden should be without bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis.

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Polemonium reptansDwarf Jacob’s ladder and Celandine poppy are equally vigorous and combine well.

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Podophyllum peltatumThe elegant leaf pattern of our native mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, is under-appreciated.

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Aquilegia canadensisAnother hummingbird attractor, wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, needs very good drainage.

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Asarum caudatumIf you like the shiny leaf of European ginger, the native long-tailed ginger, Asarum caudatum, from the west coast is a nice alternative.  It grows faster and is less picky about siting.
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Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty'‘Purple Beauty’ moss phlox, P. subulata, is one of seven different colors that I will be selling this season.  Moss phlox is often seen in quite a bit of sun but it also thrives in part shade locations.  It likes to be well-drained.

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Jeffersonia diphyllaA treasured native, twin-leaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, has not even started to emerge yet.

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Camassia leichtlinii 'Coerulea'Another native of western US, ‘Caerulea’ camassia, C. leichtlinii, grows in the full shade of my woodland and in the sunny areas beside my lawn.

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Erythronium 'Pagoda'‘Pagoda’ dogtooth violets, Erythronium ‘Pagoda’, are so happy in my woods that they have self-sowed all over.

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Geranium maculatum 'Espresso'My favorite time of year for the purple-leafed native geranium ‘Espresso’, G. maculatum, is when it first emerges in the spring.

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Tiarella cordifolia 'Brandywine'Foamflowers, Tiarella cordifolia, are a wonderful Pennsylvania native.  This is the spreading form ‘Brandywine’.

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Iris cristataIn well-drained locations, blue dwarf crested iris, I. cristata, spreads to make large colonies.

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Every photo in this post was taken in my garden.  If you live in the area, I hope you can visit when the plants are in bloom.  Meanwhile, if you want them in your garden, this weekend is your chance to acquire them.

Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b.  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.

Nursery Happenings:  Our Native Wildflower Weekend takes place this Friday, April 5, from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday, April 6, from 10 am to 2 pm.  If you are a customer, you should have gotten an email with all the details. If you can’t come to an event, just email to schedule an appointment to shop.  If you wish to order shrubs, I will be doing a second order within the next week for customers who missed the deadline. 

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.

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