Archive for paper bush

Edgeworthia Update

Posted in garden to visit, How to, my garden, Shade Shrubs, winter interest with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens


Edgeworthia chrysanthaThis is still the best photo that I have of an edgeworthia in bloom despite dozens of photos taken since my 2012 blog post.  Edgeworthias without leaves are very hard to capture in a photograph.  Photo taken by Rhoda Maurer and used with the permission of the Scott Arboretum.  Scott Arboretum, March 2006

On December 10, 2012, I wrote an article for my blog entitled “A Shrub for all Seasons: Edgeworthia”, click here to read it.  This post is my fifth most viewed of all posts since I started my blog in November of 2010.  That’s saying a lot as my blog is just about to reach 2 million views!  There are also 137 comments and responses on the post from readers all over the US and abroad.  Readers are so interested in edgeworthias that I decided it was time to cover the topic again. 

And my wholesale supplier just notified me that they will actually have edgeworthias in stock this spring so I can satisfy the demand that is usually created by showing photos of this elegant and unusual shrub.  Send an email if you want to reserve one, sorry no mail order.

Nursery News:  The 2017 Winter Interest Plant Catalogue has been emailed to all local customers.  Please email me at if you would like me to send it to you.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to  Let us know if you are local or mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


edgeworthia-chrysantha-3-6-2016-9-44-03-pmThis edgeworthia in bloom won a blue ribbon in March of 2016 at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the world’s largest indoor flower show.  Like the first photo, it shows the lovely rounded habit that can be achieved through judicious pruning and a part sun location.

Four years after my first post, edgeworthias are still very rare, and available cultural information remains sparse.  In this post, I will let you know what I have learned in the last four years, but keep in mind that my observations are hardly scientific.  I am not going to repeat anything in my previous post so if you are new to this plant, I suggest you read that article first, including the comments, click here.


edgeworthia-chrysantha-3-21-2016-6-39-29-pmThe beautiful and wonderfully fragrant flowers of edgeworthia.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, March 2016

First and foremost, I can say with even more assurance than in 2012 that edgeworthias are hardy in southeastern Pennsylvania, US, and surrounding areas.  We are in USDA hardiness zone 7 with an average annual minimum temperature of 0 to 10 degrees F (-17.8 to -12.2 C).  In January of 2014, the weather for the suburbs of Philadelphia, where Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is located, repeatedly dipped into this range and below.  In spring of 2014, all the established edgeworthias that I have been following remained alive and are still thriving.  However, most of them did not bloom that spring as the buds were frozen.  Some had stem damage but have since recovered robustly.  To put this in perspective though, many shrubs with borderline hardiness for our area died that winter.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds, tropical looking leaves, and cinnamon red stems of edgeworthia in fall.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 2015


Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds in winter are my favorite phase of edgeworthia although it is lovely 365 days a year.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, January 2015

The only other new hardiness information I have comes from Andrew Bunting, the former Curator of Plants at the Scott Arboretum and now Assistant Director of the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Andrew points out that there are actually two species of edgeworthia, E. chrysantha and E. papyrifera.   Although they are sometimes treated as synonymous, Andrew thinks they are distinct species.  In his experience, E. papyrifera is much weaker in growth than E. chrysantha.  Commenters on my first post agree with Andrew’s assessment.  The orange-flowered edgeworthia ‘Akebono’ is apparently a cultivar of E. papyrifera, although some sources disagree.  My wholesale supplier doesn’t carry it because it hasn’t proved hardy for them.  


Edgeworthia at ScottThis photo shows a very large edgeworthia in bud in the Winter Garden at the Scott Arboretum.  The location faces south in an exposed but part shade area.  March 2013


Edgeworthia Scott Arboretum Fall 2014The same edgeworthia in September 2014.

What else have I learned?  Sources generally describe edgeworthia’s ultimate height and width as much smaller than is actually the case.  For example, my favorite source for plant information, Missouri Botanic Garden lists the height and width as 4′ by 6′.  Edgeworthias in our area grown in part shade grow to a minimum of 6′ by 6′, and the one at the Scott Arboretum in the photos above is probably 8′ by 8′.  If they are grown in a sunnier spot, they are shorter and more compact but still quite large.  If you read the reader comments on my first post, which are a great source for information about edgewothias in different locations and climates, many people have been surprised by the size of their edgeworthia and have had to prune it drastically or move it.  Luckily, it responds well to their pruning (I have never pruned mine).


edgeworthia-chrysantha-11-18-2016-2-29-43-pmMy unpruned edgeworthia is much larger than planned and is currently trying to eat my lion’s head Japanese maple.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 18, 2016


Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia leaves turn yellow in the fall and sporadically through out the year.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 7, 2015


Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe leaves also droop when the weather turns cold.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, November 23, 2015


edgeworthia-chrysantha-11-6-2016-3-58-01-pmEdgeworthias in sunnier locations go through the fall transformation earlier and have a longer ugly duckling stage before the exquisite buds emerge from the yellow, droopy leaves.  Scott Arboretum, November 6, 2016.

It is normal for the old leaves on edgeworthias to turn yellow and fall off through out the season.  This has been a cause for concern for many readers, but it is something that can be ignored.  In the fall all the leaves droop, turn yellow, and fall off unveiling the beautiful silver buds.  The leaves also droop when it is really hot out.  I think this is a natural protective measure in response to the temperature and not necessarily a sign that supplemental water is required.  Other plants in my garden do this, ligularias come to mind.  I have never watered my edgeworthia, even during the extended drought and high temperatures this past summer and fall.  It is quite healthy.


Edgeworthia Scott Arboretum Fall 2014A group of three edgeworthias behind the Scott Arboretum offices on the Swarthmore College campus.  September 2014


edgeworthia-chrysantha-1-18-2017-2-11-10-amThe same group in January 2017.  I feel like the edgeworthias on the Swarthmore campus are old friends as I visit them so often.  If you are in this area and want to see edgeworthia specimens in a  variety of cultural conditions, you should visit the Scott Arboretum.
Two final cultural pointers:  I have concluded that edgeworthias grow best in part sun to part shade in an east-facing location.  However, several southern gardeners have written in that they grow it in full sun, and it thrives.  No one has mentioned success in full shade.  Also, my original edgeworthia was planted quite close to two gigantic black walnuts.  Although it has never died completely, it has slowly declined to the point where it is almost nonexistent.  This is not scientific evidence of susceptibility to walnut toxicity, but I would recommend avoiding walnuts when siting edgeworthia.


Edgeworthia Chanticleer Fall 2014Chanticleer also has a nice specimen in the courtyard near the swimming pool.  October 2014
Edgeworthia Cresson Garden Fall 2014A large specimen in Charles Cresson’s garden.  October 2014

Let’s keep this conversation going.  If you are growing edgeworthia, please leave a comment describing your experience with it, especially if you are north of the Delaware Valley area.



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

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

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

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

Woody Plants for Shade Part 9

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, native plants, Shade Shrubs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Magnolia asheiAshe magnolia is a rare native bigleaf magnolia in a size suitable for almost any garden.


Because shade gardens are not composed solely of perennials, three times a year I offer woody plants—shrubs, trees, and vines—to my customers.  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, September 29.  To see the 2013 Fall 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, you can find the remaining six by using the Search My Website feature on the right hand side of the home page.  So let’s get to the plants that I am recommending this time, starting with the trees.


Magnolia asheiThis is my own Ashe magnolia, which I planted in an open, north-facing bed.  It bloomed after its first full year and was spectacular as promised.


I have been coveting the native bigleaf magnolia, also known as the large-leaved cucumber tree, M. macrophylla, for a long time.  It has gorgeous, gigantic fragrant flowers and the most amazing leaves and did I say it was native?  There is even one in my neighborhood for me to lust after.  However, it’s huge, the sources say 40 feet tall by 40 feet wide, but I have seen larger specimens.  Plantsman Michael Dirr calls it a “cumbersome giant”, and it takes forever to bloom.  Imagine how excited I was when I discovered a small version of this tree tucked into a courtyard at Chanticleer.


Magnolia asheiThe flower bud on the Ashe magnolia.


Ashe magnolia, M. macrophylla ssp. ashei, is a subspecies of the bigleaf magnolia, or maybe it is its own species, but the important thing is that it only grows to 15 to 20 feet tall with a similar width.  The specimen at the Scott Arboretum is 10 feet tall after 20 years.  It has the same spectacular, tropical-looking 24″ leaves.  The huge 10″, highly fragrant flowers are pure white with a purple center spot and bloom in early summer.  Unlike its big relative, it blooms at a very young age in sun to part shade.  It originates in the Florida panhandle and its hardiness range is unclear.  However, it does fine in the Delaware Valley.


Stewartia koreanaKorean stewartia has attractive exfoliating bark that is especially ornamental in winter.


Stewartia koreanaStewartias are known for their striking fall color.


Stewartia koreanaKorean stewartia blooms in the summer with white, camellia-like flowers.


Korean stewartia, S. koreana,  is another small tree that is easily integrated into home gardens.  It reaches 25 feet in height and has an upright, pyramidal shape.  Its large, white, camellia-like flowers appear over a long period of time in June and July.  Its cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark is visually interesting in winter.  The refined dark green leaves turn a beautiful orange-red color in fall.  Korean stewartia has received the coveted Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant award.  For details, click here.  This is an elegant tree for the smaller landscape with a solid 365 days of ornamental interest.


Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'Fall-blooming hardy camellia ‘Long Island Pink’


Fall-blooming camellias hardy in zone 6, the zone for most of southeastern Pennsylvania, are hard to find for sale especially in a decent size.  Even though hardy camellias suitable for our more northern climate were developed over 20 years ago, they are not well known to most gardeners and even to the horticultural trade.  That is why I always include a nice selection in my offering.  For more information on them generally, you can read my posts by clicking here, which will take you to Part 4 in the series and provide links to the first three parts.  To summarize, they bloom in part to full shade in the fall, generally from October through December, with large showy flowers and have glossy evergreen leaves and a lovely habit.


Camellia Northern Exposure Monrovia‘Northern Exposure’ fall-blooming camellia


I am offering three camellias this time.  ‘Long Island Pink’ has a compact and upright habit reaching 5 feet tall and three feet wide.  It produces lovely single pink flowers in mid-fall and has glossy dark evergreen leaves.  ‘Northern Exposure’ grows to 6 feet tall and five feet wide.  Its pale pink buds open to very large, single white flowers with bright yellow stamens over a long period of time in fall.  The flowers look gorgeous against the glossy dark evergreen leaves


Camellia 'Winter's Dream'‘Winter’s Dream’ fall-blooming camellia


‘Winter’s Dream’  also has a compact and upright habit, reaching 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide.  It produces very showy semi-double pink flowers in early fall.  ‘Winter’s Dream’ was developed by famous camellia breeder Dr. William Ackerman at the U.S. National Arboretum.  All three of these camellias are fully cold hardy in our area but benefit from siting to protect them from winter sun and wind, which generally comes from the northwest.


Callicarpa americanaThe berries of our native American beautyberry are eye-catching to say the least.


I always try to plant native trees and shrubs when I can for many reasons ranging from their durability and beauty to the ultimate survival of the human species (for more on this read My Thanksgiving Oak Forest).  So you can imagine how happy I was to find a source for native American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana.  I immediately planted three of them on the shady open hillside above my nursery and have been very impressed with the spectacular berries they produced this fall.

American beautyberry grows 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide in sun to part shade.  Its pink flowers in early summer are nice, but, like all beautyberries, it takes center stage in fall.  Right now large clusters of spectacular, long-lasting, magenta-purple berries march up and down the branches wherever the leaves join the stem.  The color is so unusual it stops people in their tracks.  This striking native plant is also deer resistant and attractive to birds.  I am thrilled to be able to offer this wonderful native to my customers.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaRight now edgeworthia is just forming its gorgeous silver buds, which remain ornamental all winter.


Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Snow Cream' Cresson gardenThe whole bush is loaded with these buds all fall and early winter before the flowers open.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia’s fragrant and unusual yellow flowers are very long-blooming.


I have profiled Edgeworthia chrysantha (supposedly called paper bush but everyone calls it edgeworthia) before in my woody plants for shade series and written a post on what is one of my top five favorite shrubs.  For all the details, see Edgeworthia, A Shrub for All Seasons.  I continue to offer it again and again because it is very hard to find for sale.  I am not sure why because it is ornamental 365 days a year with an elegant habit, reddish bark, large tropically-textured leaves, gorgeous silver buds from fall to late winter, and fragrant flowers from January to March.  For all the details, including a discussion of edgeworthia’s cultural requirements, you will have to read my post.


Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball' & 'Invincible Spirit'‘Incrediball’ smooth hydrangea in my garden.


Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' photo MOBOTThe flowers of ‘Incrediball’ are gorgeous in both their white and green stages.  They last forever in a vase.


Another native, ‘Incrediball’ smooth hydrangea, H. arborescens,  grows to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide in part shade and is full shade tolerant.  Its very showy pure white, 12″ and larger globular flowers are set off beautifully by smooth bright green leaves from June through August.  Unlike some other hydrangeas whose flowers turn brown, these flowers age to a lovely green and are wonderful in dried arrangements.  ‘Incrediball’ is a vast improvement on ‘Annabelle’ because it has very sturdy upright stems and its flowers do not flop even in the torrential rains we had early this summer.  My one-year-old plants shown above were loaded with upright flowers all summer.  Smooth hydrangea is said to be deer resistant and mine, which are exposed to deer, have not been touched.


Hydrangea macrophylla 'Forever Pink'The leaves and flowers of ‘Forever Pink’ are both beautiful.
I chose ‘Forever Pink’ bigleaf hydrangea, H. macrophylla,  for the offer because its leaves still look beautiful in the fall and it has striking flowers.  It grows to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide in sun to full shade.  The vibrant, large, dark pink flowers cover the plant for an extended period in summer.  It has a compact, globe-shaped form with thick stems that resist falling over.  ‘Forever Pink’ is very tolerant of cold temperatures and salt and can take more sun than other bigleaf hydrangeas due to its thick leaves.


Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Pee Wee’ oakleaf hydrangea is small enough to fit almost anywhere in the garden.


Hydrangea quercifoliaAll oakleaf hydrangeas have lovely red to burgundy fall color.


Hydrangea quercifoliaOakleaf hydrangea’s large flowers


Everyone should have a native oakleaf hydrangea in their garden for four-season interest.  They get quite large, but  ‘Pee Wee’ dwarf oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia,  is the perfect cultivar for  smaller gardens and smaller spaces.  It grows to 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide in full sun to full shade.  The large, long-lasting, upright pyramids of white flowers in June and July change to pink as they age and even look good brown.  The bold-textured leaves with burgundy-red fall color and cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark move the season of interest through fall and winter.  Oakleaf hydrangeas are walnut tolerant and native to the southeastern US.


Symphoricarpos 'Amethyst'The berries of ‘Amethyst’ coral berry cover the shrub.


I was looking through my supplier’s availability list when I came across native  ‘Amethyst’ coral berry, Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii, a shrub unknown to me.  I was very excited when I discovered that it is a hybrid of two Pennsylvania natives and thrives in the shade.  ‘Amethyst’ grows to 3 to 5 feet tall with a similar width in part shade, but is full shade tolerant.  Small pink flowers appear in June.  In the fall, abundant and unusually striking pink fruit are set off beautifully by fine-textured blue-green leaves and then remain after the leaves drop.  Coral berry is deer resistant and attractive to birds.


I hope I have introduced you to some new trees and shrubs that excite you.  Remember orders must be received by September 29.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., 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 Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will hold a full-fledged open house sale on Saturday, September 28, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Shrub and tree orders are due by September 29.  For details, click here.  We are currently offering double hellebores, both by pre-order and at the nursery.  For details, click here.   Now that it’s cool, we are also shipping miniature hostas again.  For details, click here.  Low maintenance seminars are in the works.

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

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

A Shrub for All Seasons: Edgeworthia

Posted in Fall, Shade Shrubs, winter, winter interest with tags , , , on December 10, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Snow Cream' Cresson gardenI love edgeworthia in all its manifestations, but late winter when the buds start to swell has to be my favorite.

Edgeworthia chrysantha also known as paper bush is a collector’s plant.  That means it is rarely seen in public and private gardens and is hard to find at nurseries.  However, I have been able to offer it to my customers in fall 2011 and fall 2012 because my wholesale shrub supplier carries beautiful specimens of it.  I have grown it in my own garden for three years so I decided it was time for a full blown profile of what has become one of my favorite shrubs.

[Note:Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas.]

Edgeworthia chrysantha My photos of the whole plant do not do justice to how gorgeous it is, but as I reviewed the on-line literature, I realized that everyone has this problem.  This edgeworthia is pictured in mid-April on the terrace of the main house at Chanticleer gardens in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Edgeworthia is native to China and was named for Michael Edgeworth (1812 to 1881), a plant collector for the East India Company.  It arrived fairly recently in the US.  My 1990 edition of Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants contains no mention of it, and it was not covered in my 1994 Longwood course, Deciduous Flowering Shrubs II.  Although articles state that its common name is paper bush, I have never heard anyone who actually grows it call it anything but edgeworthia.  In China, its bark is used to produce very high quality paper and for various medicinal purposes.  Here it is an unusual and elegant four season ornamental notable for its leaves, buds, flowers, and habit.

Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia’s leaves are large and tropical, and its bark is an unusual reddish-brown.  This photo was taken in September and the highly ornamental buds have formed but have not yet expanded.

Edgeworthia is in the same family as daphne and has even occasionally been called yellow daphne.  It is deciduous and  has large and distinctive leaves.  They are 5 to 6″ long and about 2″ wide, blue-green on the top and silvery green on the bottom.  Although they can turn yellow in fall, you wouldn’t grow edgeworthia for fall color.  The leaves cluster at the tips of the branches giving the shrub a decidedly lush and tropical appearance that really stands out in the garden.  When the leaves drop, they reveal the slender and pliable reddish-brown bark seen above.

Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia buds in November as they start to expand.


Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Snow Cream' Cresson gardenEdgeworthia buds as they appear through the heart of the winter.


Edgeworthis chrysanthaPlease use your imagination to envision how gorgeous this shrub must be covered with hundreds of the silky silver buds shown in the preceding photo.  This edgeworthia is pictured at the very end of January and is in the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard at the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.

My favorite season for edgeworthia is winter when the leaves drop to reveal the buds which form in late summer or early fall depending on where you live.  Each 1″ plus bud resembles an intricately designed tassel on the corner of an elegant Victorian pillow.  The silky hairs glow in the light, and the plant looks like it is covered with hundreds of silver flowers–simply breathtaking.  The falling leaves also reveal edgeworthia’s striking architectural habit.  It is a multi-stemmed shrub that forms an almost perfectly rounded umbrella shape of cinnamon colored branches.

Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia’s buds start to open at the beginning of March in our area and as early as January in the south.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia’s flowers starting to open.


Edgeworthia chrysanthaFully open flowers in my garden in mid-March 2012.  I wish blog posts could include a fragrance button!

Blooming begins in our area in early March and can continue through April.  Each bud expands to reveal 25 to 35 tubular flowers with a silky silver exterior and a bright yellow interior.  That would be ornamental enough but the fragrance is amazing.  I can’t describe it—you will just have to find a specimen and experience it for your self.

Edgeworthia chrysanthaEdgeworthia blooming at the Scott Arboretum (photo taken by Rhoda Maurer and used with the permission of the Scott Arboretum).

I am going to give cultural information for edgeworthia with the caveat that I don’t think the plant has been grown long enough for it to be definitive.  Most sources say that edgeworthia grows in light to partial shade and requires moist, fertile, well-drained organic soil with supplemental water in summer.  I grow mine in an east-facing location with very high shade, but edgeworthias at the Scott Arboretum and Chanticleer are in the sun while Charles Cresson has a relatively old plant in full shade.  My edgeworthias have organic soil but are in a dry location.  This causes the leaves to go limp when it’s hot but doesn’t seem to harm the plants, time will tell.

Zone information is also variable, and the only thing I can guarantee is that specimens have been growing successfully in the Delaware Valley area of Pennsylvania for some time.  If you garden north of here, I suggest you try the plant anyway because we really don’t know how much cold it can take.  Planting in a protected location is often recommended, and all the plants I have seen are in protected spots, but I don’t know if this is necessary.  Mine are more exposed than other local plants so we will see. 

Finally, height and width estimates range all over the place with a consensus probably being 6′ by 6′.  However, the Chanticleer specimen in the sun is much lower and tighter while Charles Cresson’s shady specimen is taller and looser.  One thing is clear though: you won’t regret adding edgeworthia to your garden.

If you are growing edgeworthia, please leave a comment describing your experience with it, especially if you are from an area north of the Delaware Valley.



Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is done for the fall.  Thanks for a great year.  See you in spring 2013.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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


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

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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 3

Posted in evergreen, landscape design, native plants, New Plants, Shade Shrubs, shade vines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Winter’s Joy’ Fall-blooming Hardy Camellia

My nursery specializes in herbaceous flowering plants for shade.   However, although no shade garden is complete without trees, shrubs, and vines, our local nurseries seem to ignore woody plants for shade.  To fill this gap, I offer my customers shade-loving woodies from a wholesale grower whose quality meets my exacting standards.  As in Woody Plants for Shade Part One and Woody Plants for Shade Part Two, I thought my blog readers who are not customers might be interested in learning about the woody plants that I would recommend they add to their shade gardens.  And doing an article in addition to the customer offering allows me to add more information so customers might be interested also.

This summer was tough on plants.  I lost several shrubs that I planted this spring.  That is why fall is the best time to plant.  The soil temperature is elevated for good root development through December, but new plants don’t have to contend with scorching temperatures, severe drought, or an excess of rain.  The plants that I add in the fall are always the most successful in my garden.

Included in my offering are three evergreen shrubs, five deciduous shrubs, and one vine.  Of the nine plants I have chosen, three are native.  Please read my article My Thanksgiving Oak Forest to see why I think planting native plants is crucial to our environment.  My article New Native Shade Perennials for 2011 explains why I think native cultivars are valuable native plants.  With that introduction, here are the plants I am offering highlighted in green:

The fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ shines in the winter sun.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love camellias, especially fall-blooming varieties.  There is nothing like going outside on a cold November or December day and being greeted by large showy flowers backed by gorgeous evergreen leaves.  Camellias really light up the shadiest parts of my garden during the time of year when flowers are most appreciated.  For more information on and some beautiful photographs of fall-blooming hardy camellias, see my articles Fall-blooming Camellias Part 1 and Fall-blooming Camellias Part 2.

‘Winter’s Snowman’ blooming in December

In a very shady place on the terrace outside my front door, I have a ‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming hardy camellia.  At maturity, it will reach six feet.  Its semi-double white flowers glow when displayed against the glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit.  Although it is fully hardy in our area, I have sheltered it from winter sun and our winter winds, which come from the northwest.

‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming camellia

In a similarly sheltered and shady location outside my back door along the path to my compost “pit”, I have planted another fall-blooming camellia.   ‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming hardy camellia has semi-double, fuchsia-pink flowers elegantly displayed against glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit, reaching six feet at maturity.  Right now both these fall-blooming camellias are covered with buds.  I can’t wait for the display to begin.

‘Winter’s Joy’ is loaded with buds just waiting to produce its showy flowers, and look at that immaculate foliage.

I really like leatherleaf viburnums.  They are evergreen, deer resistant, grow in full shade, have lovely flowers and foliage, and are big enough to screen unsightly views.  The plants I have in my garden are the straight species Viburnum rhytidophyllum and that’s what I intended to offer to my customers.  However, when I saw ‘Dart’s Duke’ lantanaphyllum viburnum (what a name!), V. x rhytidophyllum ‘Dart’s Duke’, and did some research, I realized it is a superior plant for foliage, flowers, berries, and vigor.   A comparison of the nursery stock confirmed this.

‘Dart’s Duke’ showing its majestic leaves and reblooming to produce some of its very large flowers for fall.

‘Dart’s Duke’ grows to 8’ tall by 8’ wide in full sun to full shade.  It has very large, 6 to 10”, showy white flowers in May and can rebloom in the fall.  The flowers are followed by very nice red fruit.  The beautiful, clean dark green, leathery evergreen foliage is deer resistant and winter tough.  It is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant for 2012, one of only four plants honored.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry is dispalying its amazing purple berries right now at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’,  has attractive pink flowers in spring.  But the real show is in the fall when huge amounts of unbelievably colored purple berries run down the center of the beautifully layered branches.  When the leaves drop, the persistent berries are even more showy though they are attractive to birds.  Beautyberry reaches 4’ tall by 4′ wide in sun to part shade and is deer resistant.  I have grown this plant successfully in part shade for years.  If desired, it can be cut back in spring, but I usually leave mine alone.  Beautyberry is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant and Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit.

Paper Bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha

Paper bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, is a rare and unusual shrub that has just been discovered by collectors within the last few years.  However, it has so many great ornamental features that it is sure to become very popular.  Its very fragrant clusters of tubular bright yellow flowers bloom from January to March.  The buds, which form in the fall, are as ornamental as the flowers.  They remind me of the tassels on the corners of Victorian pillows.  Paper bush has an elegant and symmetrical upright, branching habit, growing to 6’ tall in part to full shade with protection from winter winds.  It is an exquisite and rare shrub that is ornamental 365 days of the year in my garden.

The buds of paper bush are ornamental all winter.

The unusual fragrant flowers of paper bush

The flowers of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea start out a lovely pink and mature to a bright maroon.

‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea, Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziosa’, produces numerous lovely pink, small, mophead-like flowers in June and July, which darken with age to a gorgeous maroon (see link below for photo).  The flowers are reliably pink and don’t turn blue.  The beautiful burgundy fall color of the leaves and stems only adds to the show.  ‘Preziosa’ reaches 4’ tall and wide in part to full shade.  The Hydrangea serrata species is one that thrives in full shade.  Unlike many hydrangeas, ‘Preziosa’ is very tolerant of the cold temperatures in our zone 6.  For a raving review of ‘Preziosa’ and more cultural information (note that the winter protection recommended is for zone 5), click here.

The leaves of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea have already started to turn burgundy.

This photo shows the berries on my ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly right now—they get much larger as the season progresses, but the show is already breathtaking.

One of my all time favorite native plants is winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata.  It grows wild all over the island in Maine where my family vacations and is always covered with berries in the fall.  Here in Pennsylvania, my preferred winterberry holly cultivar is Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’.  It produces copious amounts of very large red berries on relatively compact plants that never need pruning.  The birds love the berries too, but they leave enough behind for it to remain extremely showy late into the winter.  ‘Red Sprite’ reaches 5’ tall in sun to part shade and is wet site and salt tolerant, and deer resistant.  All hollies require a male pollinator, in this case ‘Jim Dandy’, for good fruit set.  Winterberry is native to the entire eastern half of North America, including Pennsylvania.

The flowers and foliage of native ‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle, Diervilla sessifolia ‘Cool Splash’

‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle is a native shrub whose bold green and white variegation really stands out in the shade.  Its honeysuckle-shaped yellow flowers appear in July and August with rebloom in the fall.  ‘Cool Splash’ grows to 4’ tall and wide in sun to part shade.  It is tough, cold hardy, and deer resistant, and integrates well into perennial borders.  This species is native to the southeastern U.S., but a closely related species, D. lonicera, is native to Pennsylvania.  It is one of four plants honored with a gold medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2011.  Nan Ondra at the blog Hayfield has written an excellent profile of this native shrub (with many photos), click here .

In late spring and early summer, ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle is covered with these delightful tubular yellow flowers attractive to hummingbirds.

I love vines, and one of my first acquisitions was the native ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’.  It is my most vigorous trumpet honeysuckle vine, completely covering the lattice under my deck.  Its bright yellow tubular flowers are beloved by  hummingbirds in late spring and early summer and  rebloom through fall, forming attractive red berries.  ‘John Clayton’s’ semi-evergreen, bright green leaves remain attractive through the season.  It reaches 10’ in sun to part shade.  It is deer resistant and very low maintenance.  Trumpet honeysuckle is native to the eastern U.S., including Pennsylvania.

I grow most of these plants in my gardens so I know you can’t go wrong by adding them to yours!  If you are a customer, see Nursery Happenings below for details on how to order these wonderful shade plants.  If not, now you have some plants to ask for at your local independent nursery.

For a great video demonstration of how to plant a shrub put together by my cousin, Jay MacMullan, at the blog Landscape Design and Gardening Resource Guide, click here.


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

Nursery Happenings: Orders for woody shade plants will be accepted until  noon on Thursday, September 29.  Click here for the catalogue.  Our final fall open house sale will be on Saturday, October 8, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you can’t make it because of Yom Kippur or other reasons, remember you can make an appointment to shop 24/7 by sending me an email at

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