Archive for sweet betsy

Specimen Natives for Your Woodland

Posted in bulbs for shade, green gardening, groundcover, landscape design, native plants, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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

Who says our native mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, is not as ornamental as the Asian versions?

This is the last in a three-part series of posts dealing with native plants for mid-Atlantic U.S. gardens.  In the first, Your Native Woodland, I explained how easy it is to create your own native woodland garden by choosing plants that spread aggressively.  In the second, Native Phlox for Your Garden, I profiled some of the wonderful members of the genus Phlox, all native to eastern North America and Pennsylvania in particular.  Here I am going to suggest some superstar native plants to place between the spreaders recommended in the first post.

Double bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’, just might be my all time favorite flower, and it thrives in my woodland.

Let’s face it: none of us avid gardeners (and collectors) are going to be happy limiting ourselves to the seven spreading  plants that I recommended in my previous post for colonizing a woodland.  Although the gardening books seem to think we have moist, loamy soil in our woods, we don’t (where do these people garden anyway?).  So what other plants can stand up to the root-filled, dry, rocky, clay soil prevalent in the woods of the mid-Atlantic?  You will be happy to know there are many, and the plants shown below just scratch the surface.  I have personally tested each one, and killed many others, so I know they work.

White trillium, T. grandiflorum, is one of the many native trilliums that thrive in my woodland.

Sweet Betsy, Trillium cuneatum, also does well as do prairie trillium, T. recurvatum, and yellow trillium, T. luteum.  Although I usually do not water my woodland, I find that trilliums benefit from watering in drought conditions.

Dogtooth violet, Erythronium ‘Pagoda’, is a hybrid of two North American species.  ‘Pagoda’ seeds around my woodland, and this is one of its seedlings.

The single-flowered bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, is quite lovely too.  Both it and ‘Multiplex’, pictured above, have spread into large patches.

Large-flowered bellwort, Uvularia grandiflora, has very unusual yellow flowers.  Shown here with British Columbia wild-ginger, Asarum caudatum, native to the U.S. west coast.

My woodland wouldn’t be complete without mayapples with their beautifully patterned, umbrella-like leaves, incredibly fragrant flowers, and “apples” in May.  However, they do spread quite quickly and are better used as one of the colonizing plants in my first post—give them room.

Every woodland needs lots of ferns!  Pictured here is cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, but I also have Christmas, royal, and ostrich ferns in my woods, among others.  In the flood plain down by my creek, ostrich fern has successfully out competed my nemesis, the incredibly invasive, non-native Japanese knotweed.  In drier woods, ostrich fern’s spreading tendencies are kept in check.

Yellow violet, Viola pubescens, spreads almost as well in my woods as the white violet recommended in my woodland post, and you can’t beat the crayon yellow flowers.


Dutchman’s breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, never fails to bring out the child in me with its little pairs of pants swinging in the breeze.

Large camas, Camassis leichtlinii ‘Caerulea’, is native to western North America not the mid-Atlantic, but it does so well in my woodland that I have included it here.  The large clumps of tall blue flowers line the back of the beds.

Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, is a star of my woodland garden with its wonderful fragrance, interesting leaves, and red fall color.  There are many cultivars available, and I recommend choosing a spreading form: cultivars in the “River Series” are particularly vigorous.

One of the loveliest native flowers in my woods is rue-anemone, Anemonella thalictroides (photo used with the permission of Arrowhead Alpines).  It looks so dainty, but it is tough as nails and seeds around freely.

There are many forms of rue-anemone, but my favorite is this luminescent single pink.

You can’t go wrong when you add any of these wonderful native plants to your woodland.  They are ‘tried and true’ in mine!


Commenters have asked for photos showing ” sweeping vistas” of my woods.  It is impossible to take this kind of photo in my woodland and capture the effect of the masses of plants because of the trees.  My woods are filled with 10 to 12′ diameter trees—no panoramic views are possible.  The best I could do was go up on the roof and shoot down, but individual plants are not visible, and I am not happy with the result:

Nursery Happenings: The third annual Great Hosta Blowout where you can order beautiful hostas for a bargain basement price is going on now until April 25.  To see the catalogue, click here.  My third Open House Sale, featuring hostas, ferns, and hardy geraniums, will take place on Saturday, May 12, from 10 am to 3 pm

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