Archive for Viburnum x pragense

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

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.

‘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.

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

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


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