Archive for oakleaf hydrangea

Native Fall Color at Longwood Gardens

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, garden to visit, green gardening, native plants, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

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A view across the lake of the color in Peirce’s Woods, an area of native plants.

We have been having one of the most beautiful falls that I can remember.  Every day is bright and sunny, between 50 and 60 degrees F (10 to 15.6 degrees C) except when we have just the right amount of rain. The fall color on trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials is spectacular.  I am blessed to live in an area where I can enjoy one of nature’s most majestic shows just by walking outside my door.  So I decided to post photos for gardeners in the US and abroad who don’t experience this amazing prelude to winter.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for 2016.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Let us know if you are local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops and/or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.  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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Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, native to PA.

All but two of these photos were taken during a visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, US, on November 2.  Every plant is native to the US and most to Pennsylvania (PA), which is part of the mid-Atlantic.  A similar color riot is still going on today, November 12, in my own PA garden.

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Pitcher plants, Saracenia, native to PA, even the planters near Peirce’s Woods are filled with natives. 

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Hydrangea quercifolia

One of my top five shrubs: oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, and fall color is a big part of that along with gorgeous flowers, tropical-looking leaves, peeling cinnamon bark, and its status as a native albeit slightly south of PA.

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Hydrangea quercifolia

The words “jewel-like color” were made for oakleaf hydrangea. 

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Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, native to PA, one of the best small trees for fall color not to mention spectacular flowers and fruit as well as a unique and elegant habit.  This is a young specimen.

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Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, a PA native with beautiful flowers in the late spring.  Great for creating a grove in dense shade and dry soil.

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Fothergilla gardenii

Fothergilla, F. gardenii, native just south of PA, provides a mix of oranges, reds, and yellows that lasts a long time.  In the spring it sports lovely fragrant flowers.

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Looking across the lake towards Peirce’s Woods, the red tree to the left of center is a red maple, Acer rubrum, and the smaller peachy tree to the right is sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum.
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Acer rubrum
Red maple is a shade tree native to PA.  It colors early so I was surprised to find it still stealing the show.  Here is a view from the other side looking down at the lake.
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Oxydendrum arboreum
Sourwood, also known as dead man’s fingers due to the unusual habit of its flowers, is a smaller flowering tree native to PA with many ornamental attributes including unbelievable fall color.
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Taxodium distichum 'Prarie Sentinel'‘Prairie Sentinel’ pond cypress, Taxodium ascendens, has a more upright habit than its cousin the bald cypress and is native just south of PA.
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Acer saccharum
For all-round large shade tree, I would nominate the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, native to PA.  Photos don’t do its color justice, and large specimens have a habit that is purely regal.  This one is a youngster.
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Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

I had to throw in this photo from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens of ‘Hartlage Wine’ allspice, Calycanthus raulstonii.  Top five shrubs again with absolutely gorgeous, bright yellow fall color; long-lasting, exquisite, large red flowers; and big, shiny, smooth blue-green leaves.  It is a native hybrid.

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Also from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, another favorite tree native to PA, yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea.

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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.

Fall Foliage Color at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, How to, landscape design, my garden, native plants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-0011Japanese maples are a great source of November fall color because they lose their leaves later than most other trees.

At Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, the landscape provides ornamental interest 365 days a year.  To make this happen, I expect most trees and shrubs to have at least two ornamental qualities peaking at different times before they are given precious garden space.  Ornamental interest can come from flowers, fruit, bark, leaves, habit, texture, and fall color.  Brightly colored fall leaves are a wonderful way to extend your garden’s interest through November.  Some of my favorite fall foliage stars are profiled below.      

Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed until the spring.  For announcements of spring 2016 events starting with snowdrop sales, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Let us know if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on our special advance notice list.   For the 2015 snowdrop catalogue, click here.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-006Native oakleaf hydrangeas turn beautiful shades of red and then burgundy over a long period of time.  The leaves in the upper left of the photo are still green while the foliage in the upper right is deep burgundy.  I also grow oakleaf hydrangea for its fresh and dried flowers, peeling bark, unusually shaped large leaves, walnut and dry shade tolerance, and tropical texture.  It is a true four-season star.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-003Plants in the witch hazel family often have elegant leaves and beautiful fall colors, and winter hazel, Corylopsis, is no exception.  Here it is surrounded by ‘All Gold’ Japanese hakone grass.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade GardensThe lovely purple spots on the leaves of ‘Katherine Adele’ hardy geranium darken as the fall progresses.  In mid-November, as other perennials go dormant around it, ‘Katherine Adele’ fills out and reaches an ornamental peak.  I also grow it for its pretty pink flowers in spring.  However, I grow many varieties of hardy geranium and this variety is the worst for self-sowing, and the seedlings are hard to remove.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-005‘Mohawk’ viburnum resulted from a cross between Burkwood hybrid and Korean spicebush viburnums.  It is a medium-sized shrub with elegant and highly fragrant flowers.  ‘Mohawk’, a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society gold medal winner, is particularly treasured for its stunning and log-lasting fall color.  I also love the rose-red buds that precede the white flowers in April.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-004My grove of native pawpaws turns a beautiful yellow in the fall.  Very easy to grow, pawpaws produce an abundance of edible fruit with a taste and texture resembling banana-mango-pineapple custard.  Fruit production is enhanced by planting two different cultivars.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-007Native flowering dogwood, on the left above, turns a gorgeous red in the fall.  Its flowers, fruit, bark, and habit are also highly ornamental. 

Witch hazels have a very unique yellow-orange fall color that stands out in the landscape.  ‘Angelly’, on the right above, is my favorite witch hazel because of its striking, bright yellow, spring flowers, which made my choice easy when I was confronted with a greenhouse full of hundreds of witch hazels in bloom.  ‘Angelly’s’ flowers stood out.   It also has the crucial ability to shed its old leaves.  Witch hazel flowers blooming among hundreds of old brown leaves are not attractive and removing the leaves by hand is a chore.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-002Another perennial that comes into its own in the fall is Ruby Glow euphorbia or wood spurge.  The leaves and stems darken as the season progresses and are much more purple now than when I took this photo on November 7.  I also value Ruby Glow for its unusual chartreuse flowers in spring and its upright, shrub-like habit.  Although its common name is wood spurge, it prefers a sunny location.

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DSCN7098Japanese maples have stunning fall color very late in the fall foliage season.  They can self sow prolifically and have sometimes been called invasive.  This tree was a seedling that appeared in my garden in the right place at the right time.  In the lower right of the photo are the beautiful yellow leaves of native ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-008Generally unselected Japanese maples have red fall color.  However, I prefer the seedlings that have yellow or orange foliage in fall.  The above seedling growing out of the side of a giant London plane tree in my nursery sales area has multi-colored leaves.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens1If you are considering adding a Japanese maple to your garden, you can choose from the hundreds of cultivars selected from Acer palmatum.  The variety of sizes, leaf shapes, habits, fall colors, etc., available is amazing.  Pictured above and at the top of the post is ‘Shishigashira’ or lion’s head Japanese maple, one of my favorites.  It is under-planted with ‘Shell Pink’ lamium and fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, fall stars in their own right.

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Fall Foliage 2015 Carolyn's Shade Gardens-009I will end this post with a photo of three spectacular native plants.  The taller tree is yellowwood, valued as a medium-sized shade tree with beautiful, fragrant flowers and striking yellow fall color.  The small tree is a flowering dogwood discussed earlier in the post.  The shrub with the orange fall color is a flame azalea, one of our stunning native deciduous rhododendrons.

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Carolyn

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.

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.

Woody Plants for Shade Part 10

Posted in Fall Color, native plants, Shade Shrubs, shade vines, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Our 2014 Spring Shrub Offer is on line here and orders are due April 27.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens’ third spring sale featuring native plants and wildflowers is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, from 10 am to 3 pm.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Our 2014 Miniature Hosta Catalogue is now on line, click here.  It lists all the wonderful little hostas that will be available at the nursery and by mail. 

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Spring Shrub OfferClockwise from upper left: Pink Swamp Azalea, ‘Popcorn’ Snowball Bush, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Coastal Doghobble in winter, Carolina Jessamine, ‘Jet Trail’ Quince.

Because shade gardens are not composed solely of perennials, I offer woody plants—shrubs, trees, and vines—to my customers several times a year.  I want them to have a reliable source for large and healthy specimens, but I also want to make available woody plants for shade that are wonderful but hard-to-find.  I am in the middle of an offer right now, and customers need to let me know if they want to order by Sunday, April 27.  To see the 2014 Spring Shrub Offer, click here.

When I do these offers, I also do a post describing the plants in more detail.  These posts are some of the most popular I have ever written.  In fact, Woody Plants for Shade Part 2 is number four for all time views and Woody Plants for Shade Part 1 is number eight.  If you want to read about all the plants I have recommended, I have included links at the end of this post.  So let’s get to the plants that I am recommending this time, starting with three evergreen shrubs.

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Buxus microphylla Wintergreen 7-12-10_LSUnfortunately, the only shot I have of ‘Wintergreen’ boxwood shows it in a container, but at least you can see its loose habit and delicate leaves.

‘Wintergreen’ Korean or little leaf boxwood, Buxus microphylla var. koreana,  is a very useful shrub for hedges, edging, achieving a somewhat formal look, and adding evergreen interest to your garden.  At 2 to 4′ tall and 3 to 5′ wide, it doesn’t take up a lot of space.   As an added bonus, ‘Wintergreen’s’ small dark evergreen leaves maintain their green color in the winter unlike most boxwoods, which turn an ugly bronze-yellow.  The loose, rounded habit is easily pruned for use as a hedge.  It grows in part to full shade and is deer and disease resistant.  After this winter it is nice to know that ‘Wintergreen’ is extremely hardy to zone 4.

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Leucothoe axillaris MOBOTCoastal doghobble’s shiny evergreen leaves display its lovely, fragrant flowers beautifully.  Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder.

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Leucothoe axillaris 11-7-11_LSThe winter foliage of coastal doghobble.

Coastal doghobble, Leucothoe axillaris, is native to the southeastern U.S., starting just south of Pennsylvania.  It has showy, arching clusters of white, fragrant flowers in May.  The glossy evergreen leaves  have excellent burgundy fall color.  Coastal doghobble looks great even after a hard winter unlike the more commonly available doghobble, L. fontanesiana, which always looks ratty to me.  It is deer resistant and grows 2 to 4′ tall and 3 to 5′ wide in part shade.  Evidently it was given the name doghobble by bear hunters because bears could crash through it but dogs would become entangled.

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Osmanthus heterophyllus Goshiki 10-26-11_LS‘Goshiki’ osmanthus has a beautiful blend of colors in its leaves and a wonderful fragrance.

‘Goshiki’ variegated holly tea olive, Osmanthus heterophyllus, has dramatic, holly-like evergreen leaves that emerge reddish bronze and change to a lovely blend of cream, gold, and green, lighting up dark corners.  Its delicious fragrance perfumes the garden in November when it blooms.  The prickly foliage repels deer.  My osmanthus came through this winter looking spectacular with no browning.  ‘Goshiki’ grows to 6′ tall and 4′ wide in full sun to full shade.  It received the coveted Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Award as an outstanding shrub for our area.

That covers the evergreens, now for the deciduous shrubs:

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Chaenomeles x superba 'Jet Trail'‘Jet Trail’ quince, Chaenomeles x superba, is loaded with buds and showy, pure white flowers every March (April this year!) and it only grows to 3′ tall and 3′ wide.  I have profiled it before so for all the details, click here.

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Hydrangea quercifoliaNative ‘Ellen Huff’ oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, has all the four season attributes of my favorite shrub—ornamental bark, beautiful fall color, bold-textured leaves, and gorgeous, long-lasting flowers—plus a vigorous habit and great branching structure.  For more details, click here to read my profile of oakleaf hydrangeas.
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Jasminum nudiflorumA close up of winter jasmine’s lovely yellow flowers.

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Jasminum nudiflorumI grow winter jasmine trailing over my terrace walls and enjoy its flowers all winter.

Although Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, requires full sun, I am offering it because so many customers have asked for it after seeing my plants trailing off my terraces.  The soft yellow flowers open during warm spells throughout the winter and then prolifically in February and March (April this year) for a very long season.  The graceful, arching stems are dark green providing great winter interest.  The shiny dark green leaves have an unusual delicate texture.  When planted in a flat area, winter jasmine spreads to make an effective ground cover.  It is tough, adaptable, and deer resistant, growing to 3′ tall and 6′ wide in average garden soils.

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Rhododendron viscosum Betty Cummins 6-6-12_LS (1)Swamp azaleas usually have white flowers, but ‘Betty Cummins’ has lovely deep pink blooms.

‘Betty Cummins’ pink swamp azalea, Rhododendron viscosum, is a rare deep pink flowered form of our native swamp azalea.  Swamp azalea grows wild from Maine to Florida, and this particular form was found in New Jersey.  It blooms in early summer and has a wonderful spicy, clove-like scent.  The deciduous, lustrous deep green leaves turn an attractive orange to maroon in fall.  ‘Betty Cummins’ grows to 6′ tall and 5′ wide in part shade.  It is wet site tolerant and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

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Viburnum plicatum Popcorn 4-6-12_LS (2)‘Popcorn’ Japanese snowball bush is loaded with round white flowers earlier in the season than most other shrubs.

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Viburnum plicatum Popcorn 4-6-12_LS (5)A close up of ‘Popcorn’s’ flowers: although it looks like an hydrangea, it is actually a viburnum.

‘Popcorn’ Japanese snowball bush, Viburnum plicatum, has 3″ round blooms that open lime green and mature to pure white, putting on a stunning show for a full month in April and May.  The dark leathery green leaves turn burgundy red in fall.  ‘Popcorn’ has a lovely upright, tiered, and compact habit.  It grows to 5 to 8′ tall and 4 to 7′ wide in full sun to part shade, but it tolerates full shade.  It is deer resistant and heat and drought tolerant.

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Gelsemium sempervirens 'Margarita'‘Margarita’ Carolina jessamine grows on a fence in part shade.  It is native to the southeastern U.S. and has received a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Award as an outstanding vine for our area.  To see my previous profile, click here.

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Gelsemium sempervirens 'Margarita'A close up of ‘Margarita’s’ fragrant yellow flowers.

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Those are the nine woody shade plants that I am currently offering to my customers.  If you want to read about more trees, shrubs, and vines for you shady garden, here are links to all my previous posts:

Woody Plants for Shade Part 1

Woody Plants for Shade Part 2

Woody Plants for Shade Part 3

Woody Plants for Shade Part 4

Woody Plants for Shade Part 5

Woody Plants for Shade Part 6

Woody Plants for Shade Part 7

Woody Plants for Shade Part 8

Woody Plants for Shade Part 9

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our third sale featuring native plants and wildflowers 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.  The 2014 Spring Shrub Offer is here, and orders must be received by April 27.

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.

Woody Plants for Shade Part 6

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Shade Gardening, Shade Shrubs, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma, is available in the current offer but was profiled in a previous woody plant post so I am not describing it here.  However, it is a favorite for fall interest and I wanted to include a photo.  For a full write up of this plant,  go to Woody Plants for Shade Part 3.

My nursery, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, specializes in perennials for shade with an emphasis on hellebores, unusual bulbs especially snowdrops, hostas particularly miniature hostas, native plants, and ferns.  However, a satisfying shade garden does not consist of just perennials but includes trees, shrubs, and vines.

‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming hardy camellia is another repeat, see this post for details.  I planted one myself last fall, and I would like to add to my previous write up that this camellia has more buds and flowers than any other camellia in my garden.  In 2011, it produced the beautiful flowers pictured above through out the entire winter.  Right now my plant is poised to do it again with hundreds of buds waiting to open.

Despite the need, woody plants for shade are difficult to find in local nurseries.  To fill this gap for my customers, three times a year, I offer woody plants for pre-order.  The plants chosen for the offer are the result of hours of painstaking selection in the shade houses of wholesale nurseries to find the healthiest, most desirable woodies available.


‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming hardy camellia is another favorite offered previously, see this post for details.  I have written three articles about fall-blooming hardy camellias in general.  If you are interested in finding out more about them, start here Fall-blooming Hardy Camellias Part 3, and you will find links to the first two installments.

 It is now time for my fall 2012 woody offer.  If you are a customer, you should already have gotten an email with all the details.  Blog readers can look at the catalogue on line by clicking here.  My nursery is on site retail sales only.  The only plants I ship are snowdrops in February and miniature hostas later in the season.  However, I hope out-of-town readers will get some good ideas for woody shade plants to look for at their local independent nursery.

The previous three photos are of another repeat: paper bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, for details click here.  My plants have thrived through the last two hot and dry summers with pristine tropical looking leaves, gorgeous fall-forming buds, and highly fragrant late winter-blooming flowers.  This is truly a shrub with 365 days of interest.

So much for the preliminaries and repeat offerings, let’s get to the new plants.  There are six: three from my favorite group of shrubs, hydrangeas, and three evergreens for winter interest (the camellias are evergreen too).  Here are the details.

Native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia

The fall color of oakleaf hydrangea.

Our native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, is the best all round shrub for shade—everyone should have at least one!  Huge, long-lasting, upright pyramids of white flowers bloom from May through July. It has bold-textured leaves with heart-stopping burgundy-red fall color, and cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark—a true four season plant. 

The white flowers of ‘Amethyst’ oakleaf hydrangea age to a striking red that does not fade when dried.  Great for flower arranging.

I am offering ‘Amethyst’ native oakleaf hydrangea, a new cultivar selected because  its initially white flowers turn to a striking red color and stay that way.  It grows to 5 to 6’ tall and 5 to 6’ wide in sun to full shade.  It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9, walnut and drought tolerant, and native to the southeastern US.

 

‘Blue Bird’ sawtooth hydrangea, H. serrata


‘Blue Bird’ sawtooth hydrangea produces lovely blue lacecap flowers starting in June for an extended period.  Acid soil results in the best blue tint.  I also grow it for its beautiful clean bright green leaves through out the season, which are enhanced by red highlights in the fall.  It is very tolerant of cold temperatures avoiding bud and twig dieback in harder winters.  ‘Blue Bird’ reaches 4′ tall and 4′ wide in part to dappled shade and grows in zones 5 to 9.  Sawtooth hydrangea is native to Korea and Japan.

This photo shows ‘Endless Summer’ bigleaf hydrangea, H. macrophylla, right now.  Yes, it is loaded with fresh flowers and buds and has been blooming since late spring.

‘Endless Summer’ bigleaf hydrangea sports very large pink or blue mophead flowers from late spring through summer and well into fall—it’s in full bloom right now as you can see from the photo above.  It represents a recent breakthrough in hydrangeas because it blooms on old and new wood giving it an extended bloom season.  This also means that if the buds formed on old wood the previous season are frozen over the winter, buds will form on new wood as the season progresses.  ‘Endless Summer’s’ large, medium green leaves provide a pleasing backdrop for the flowers.  It grows in zones 4 to 9 and reaches 4′ tall and 4′ wide in part shade.  It is recommended for full sun only with supplemental watering.  Bigleaf hydrangea is native to Japan.

‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba, A. japonica, is an elegant specimen for deep shade.

A close up of the unusual leaves of ‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba—glorious in winter.

‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba’s very shiny, broadleaf evergreen leaves sprinkled with yellow spots make it one of the most vibrant and colorful plants to thrive in dense shade.  I have grown it successfully for many years in several areas of my garden that receive no direct sunlight.  It is very vigorous, disease free, and easy to grow as long as you don’t plant it in the sun.  ‘Gold Dust’ grows to 6 to 8′ tall and 4 to 6′ wide in part to dense full shade and is hardy in zones 7 to 9.  Aucuba is native to Japan, and the variegated form was introduced to the west in 1783.

The fall flowers of ‘Rose Creek’ glossy abelia, A. x grandiflora.

‘Rose Creek’ is a compact form of glossy abelia, great for smaller spaces and smaller gardens.

‘Rose Creek’ is a dense and compact glossy abelia that covers itself in a multitude of wonderfully fragrant, showy white flowers continuously from May through September.   When the flower petals drop off, the rosy pink sepals (bud enclosures) remain and are very eye-catching.  The beautiful, glossy evergreen foliage has pink highlights and turns purple in the fall, providing excellent winter interest.  The stems are  crimson red.  ‘Rose Creek’ grows to 2 to 3′ tall and 3 to 4′ wide in part shade or full sun and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.  It is deer resistant and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Glossy abelia is a cross between two Chinese abelia species.

The incredibly shiny leaves of Prague viburnum, V. x pragense, sparkle in the winter.

This photo of the flower of Prague viburnum was kindly lent to me by Monrovia, for their full plant profile, click here.

Prague viburnum’s pink buds open into large, bouquet-like, creamy white flowers in May followed by glossy, persistent black fruit.  Just as ornamental are its very showy, lustrous, dark evergreen leaves.  Prague viburnum reaches 8′ tall and 6′ wide in full sun to part shade and is hardy in zones 5 to 8.  You can grow it in full shade and the leaves will be gorgeous, but it won’t flower very well.  It is fast growing and deer resistant.  It is a cross between leatherleaf and service viburnums, which are both from China.

I hope you have a space in your garden for at least one of these wonderful shrubs for shade.  For more ideas, check out Woody Plants for Shade Parts 1 to 5 using the links provided below:

Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4,   Part 5

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:  Shrub orders are due by noon on Wednesday, October 3.  For the catalogue, click here.  We are offering two sessions of a seminar on low maintenance gardening for fall on Wednesday, October 3, and Friday, October 5, from 10 to 11:30 am.  For the details, click here.  Look for a special offer of double hellebores next week.

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.

 

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

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.

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