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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:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


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.

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2011 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, landscape design, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume

On March 3, 7, and 13, my customers and I attended seminars on Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants given by Charles Cresson at his garden, Hedgleigh Spring in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania (US).  Charles is the instructor for the Longwood Gardens certificate course “Hardy Spring and Fall Bulbs” as well as the author of several gardening books.  He is also a frequent lecturer, most recently at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island and Rare Find Nursery in New Jersey for presentations on “Choosing Hardy Camellias for Spring and Fall”.

Charles Cresson, kneeling to point out plicate leaves on a snowdrop, to seminar attendees.

Charles trained at the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, in England and the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium, best known for its witch hazel introductions.    He has worked at Meadowbrook Farm, Winterthur, Nemours, and Chanticleer.  His grandfather built the house at Hedgleigh Spring in 1911 and created the garden over the course of 50 years.  Charles has gardened there for  more than 40 years.

Every time we viewed a new snowdrop, no matter how rare, Charles picked two flowers and passed them around so that we could closely examine the markings and experience the fragrance.  He then collected the flowers in a little vase for later comparison.

What a treat Charles’s seminars were.  Even though I attended all three sessions, I learned something new each time and came away with a deep admiration for Charles’s encyclopedic knowledge of plants and the depth of his plant collection, not to mention a wish list of plants for my own gardens.  I also appreciated how each plant was not just deposited in the garden but was carefully incorporated into the overall design.

The seminars began in the front garden viewing the hybrid witch hazel cultivars Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (dark orange) and ‘Moonlight’ (pale yellow) underplanted with snowdrops, winter aconite, and various perennials. Charles does not recommend ‘Moonlight’ because it holds its dead leaves.

It would be hard to name another garden with the wealth of unusual plants that Charles has found and nurtured to perfection over the years.  That being said I thought my customers who were unable to attend the seminars and my worldwide blog readers might like to see what we saw.  I have organized the plants by category below with commentary in the caption where relevant.

We crossed a stone bridge to view the meadow where snow crocus and common and giant snowdrops were massed to be succeeded by daffodils, camassia, and then summer and fall blooming flowers.

A narrow path skirts the pond, which is surrounded on all sides by rock gardens full of unusual plants.

The Bulbs

We saw so many rare and unusual bulbs that I can only include a sampling here.

A rare pale yellow form of winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

The exquisite buds of the species crocus C. imperati ‘De Jager’

Masses of the rodent resistant and very early blooming snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’, shadowed by a magnificent Japanese maple.

The very early blooming daffodil Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

A very good form of winter blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum

The reticulate iris I. histrioides ‘George’

There were large patches of spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum, throughout the garden.

The flower of spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum

We were privileged to see this semi-double form of spring snowflake,  which Charles has named  Leucojum vernum ‘Gertrude Wister’ and registered with the Dutch bulb authority.

The Snowdrops

If you read my blog, you know what a galanthophile I am so with supreme effort I have limited myself to just a few of the many snowdrops we saw.

Clockwise from upper left: G. elwesii var. monostichus, G. ikariae, ‘Jaquenetta’, ‘Straffan’, G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus, ‘Dionysus’

Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’, confused in the trade but still quite lovely

Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus Cresson GardenThe elegant pleated leaves and plump flowers of Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

The beautiful shiny green leaves of Galanthus woronowii

There were drifts of Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’, called the ‘desert island snowdrop’ because it is the one cultivar many galanthophiles would choose if they were limited to one.

The Perennials

A very rare perennial for shade Amur adonis, A. amurensis ‘Fukuju Kai’

Helleborus niger double form Cresson gardenA semi-double form of Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, which I have only seen at Hedgleigh Spring

The Algerian iris, I. unguicularis, blooming in early March with a beautiful fragrance

The Shrubs

Koehne holly, Ilex x koehneana, looking as fresh and beautiful as it did in the fall

Camellia japonica ‘Spring’s Promise’ was one of several very early spring-blooming camellias that we saw.

Grape holly, Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’

A highlight for me were the buds on this paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Snow Cream’, which look like the tassels on Victorian cushions

Hybrid witch hazels, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ and ‘Moonlight’

I hope you have enjoyed your virtual seminar.  Please let me know in a comment/reply what your favorite winter interest plant is.


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: My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter and early spring blooming plants for shade (checks and cash only).  For directions and parking information, click here.

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