The pinkish mauve flower spikes with white interiors of Spiny Bear's Breeches look the same as those of Acanthus mollis, but the leaves look more spiny (they aren't) and the plant is more cold tolerant. This plant makes an amazing show for 2 months in the summer on the north side of our house.
Saucy Seduction™ Yarrow blooms from June to August, with rosy pink flat-topped flowers above fine fern-like leaves. Achillea millifolium Saucy Seduction™ spreads slowly by rhizomes to form a broad patch eventually, so it works well as a groundcover for dry sites. The blooms are held on long stems and make an attractive fresh or dried cut flower. One of the Seduction™ Series, originating in the Netherlands and introduced by Blooms of Bressingham®.
‘Strawberry Seduction’ has bright red dome-shaped flowers starting in June. The blooms sport bright yellow eyes, and the flowers turn creamy yellow as they mature. The strong stems make them an excellent cut flower, and deadheading will result in a longer blooming season. A Blooms of Bressingham® introduction, and hybridized by Sahin in the Netherlands. All Yarrows are not only deer resistant, but also very dry site tolerant.
Dwarf Golden Sweet Flag is a wonderful plant for walkways as well as rain gardens and stream edges, because it is tolerant of foot traffic as well as significant moisture. The evergreen foliage is like tiny thick bladed grass tufts and when crushed, it releases an attractive sweet scent. The tufts slowly expand to make a short yellowish green mat. Although it looks like a grass, Acorus gramineus 'Minimus Aureus' is actually more closely related to the Iris family.
'Ogon' Sweet Flag has bright yellow stiffly upright leaves that are a vivid addition to a wet site in the shade. The clumps of Acorus 'Ogon' get larger with age. This Sweet Flag is evergreen so it provides great winter interest. Introduced into the US by Barry Yinger. Per Diane Guidone formerly of Rumson, NJ, Acorus withstood salt inundation in the recent hurricanes really well.
Branched Bugbane has fragrant white flowers in late summer, over purplish bronze foliage. By mid summer the leaves take on a green hue. Bees and butterflies love the blooms. Per noted plantsman David Culp, Actaea do very well under Black Walnuts.
‘Chocoholic’ Bugbane is shorter than other dark purple Actaeas, but what it lacks in stature it makes up for in the beauty of its foliage. The leaves emerge in the spring as a dark bronzy purple and turn more green by mid summer. The fragrant white flower spikes tower over the foliage in the late summer, attracting all manner of pollinators. This is particularly attractive when paired with shade tolerant gold foliage plants. Consistent moisture is necessary for the best performance.
'Blue Boa' Anise Hyssop is an improvement on 'Blue Fortune'. The large fragrant flower spikes are larger and deeper blue in color, verging on violet. The foliage is a bright green and wonderfully fragrant when touched. Agastache x 'Blue Boa' blooms for a prolonged time in mid to late summer, especially when deadheaded after the initial flowers flush. Although 'Blue Boa' Hyssop has proven itself to be very cold tolerant, it needs excellent drainage to survive our winters. Introduced by Terra Nova, and winner of a number of Horticultural Awards.
The smoky bluish violet racemes of 'Purple Haze' Anise Hyssop start in July and keep going until fall. Agastache x 'Purple Haze' is a real butterfly and bee magnet, from those plant gurus of North Creek Nurseries. Hybridized by Coen Jansen of the Netherlands.
Lady's Mantle blooms in May and early June, producing attractive but subtle chartreuse yellow flower clusters above its dense foliage. The fuzzy leaves are green with a hint of blue, and since the leaf hairs repel water, it beads if water form on the velvety leaf surfaces to add a soft silvery look. Alchemilla mollis performs particularly well in shady woodland settings, where it will often seed as well as divide, forming an attractive tough groundcover.
'Thriller' Lady's Mantle blooms in May and June, producing airy delicate chartreuse yellow flowers held above fuzzy bluish green leaves. 'Thriller' has somewhat larger pleated leaves than the species, and like all Alchemilla mollis, the hairy leaves repel rain water so that the foliage has attractive silver water drops on if after a gentle rain. 'Thriller' performs best in shady, moist conditions.
'Millenium' Ornamental Onion blooms in July and August, producing lots of 2" purplish lavender round clusters of flowers like drumsticks on 15" stems. The onion scented leaves are glossy and strap-like, making a thick clump from which the long lasting blooms arise. Many insects and butterflies feed off them but deer and rabbits will not touch them. All Ornamental Onions do well under Black Walnuts. Allium 'Millenium' is the product of Mark McDonough's hard work with Ornamental Onions. 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year.
PRN Preferred: A long blooming selection with clean foliage, simply stunning in bloom.
'Sugar Melt' Ornamental Onion produces pale pink globular flower clusters in July and August, above tubular green leaves. Deadheading increases the bloom period, and prevents excessive seedling production. Alliums are easy to divide in fall, and the small bulbs lend themselves well to naturalizing, since they eventually result in large clumps. The flowers and leaves have the scent of onions or chives, and will not be eaten by deer or rabbits.
‘Summer Beauty’ Ornamental Onion produces a quantity of flat refined strap-like leaves in spring, topped by soft pink round umbels on long stalks starting in June. Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ continues blooming almost all summer, and the dried round seedheads add interest to the winter landscape as well. Try them spray painted cool colors (as our good friend Simple does), or added to dried arrangements. Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm introduced ‘Summer Beauty’ after finding it thriving in someone’s driveway.
Allium cernuum, or nodding Pink Onion, is a tough deer resistant bulb plant which is crowned by multiple pink flower umbels. The blooms appear above the green strap-like leaves in July and August. These are followed by attractive tan seedheads. The clumps increase in size as time goes on and the bulbs can be divided and spread to make a lovely addition to short meadows in mid summer. Self-seeds vigorously in the garden.
'Snowcap' Chives produces delicate white flowers above tubular foliage in early to mid summer. The bloom period is prolonged if Allium 'Snowcap' is deadheaded, which also keeps it from seeding itself in flowerbeds. The leaves are edible (this is a cultivar of edible chives), but are not touched by deer or rabbits. Alliums are bulbs, so 'Snowcap' is easily divided when dormant. A Mark McDonough introduction.
The delicate light blue flowers of Arkansas Amsonia appear in May. It also has stunning orange and yellow fall foliage. This tough multi-season plant can handle a broad range of site conditions. 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year, and Dr. J.C. Raulston's favorite perennial.
PRN Preferred: Excellent fall foliage display, makes an impact when planted in mass.
Snowdrop Anemone or Windflower blooms in April, with single white flowers on delicate stems above the dissected green foliage. The single flowers have showy yellow anthers in the cupped center and are lightly fragrant. Anemone sylvestris spreads by rhizomes to make an attractive underplanting groundcover, and is an excellent naturalizer in woodland settings. The lovely flower display is followed by interesting wooly seedheads.
Wild Swan™ ('Macane001') Hybrid Windflower was found in Scotland as a chance seedling at Elizabeth MacGregor's nursery. She chose it for its outstanding hybrid vigor and its beautiful single white flowers. The backs of the petals have a light violet strip up the midrib, visible as the flowers move in the breeze. Anemone x Wild Swan™ will spread to form a large clump and blooms from late summer through fall. It was named a winner of the 2011 Chelsea Flower show.
'Cinderella' Windflower is another compact beauty from the Pretty Lady™ series of Anemones. The flowers appear in August and September, with thick textured single soft pink petals. Anemone 'Cinderella' has thick short flower stems so the blooms do not flop. Blooming for an extended time in mid summer to early fall, this introduction from Plants Nouveau also produces interesting fluffy white seedheads after flowering.
'Pocahontas' Windflower is a lovely compact introduction from the Pretty Lady™ Series of Anemones. The large double flowers are a bright bubblegum pink, making quite a show in July, August and September. The blooms are followed by cottony white seedheads in the fall. Anemone 'Pocahontas' is a heavy bloomer, so it is showy in the front of a mixed boarder and in late summer containers. The strong stems make 'Pocahontas' a useful cut flower, as well as resistant to flopping.
'Lucky Charm' Windflower blooms in September and October, with dark pink single flowers held on dark purple stems. The foliage is a dark green, often with purple and plum undersides to the leaves. Native pollinators and honeybees love the pollen which provides much needed sustenance in fall. Each plant of Anemone x 'Lucky Charm' will slowly spread to make a compact mounded clump eventually, making it a great candidate for naturalizing in moist shady sites.
PRN Preferred: A more compact mound with tons of flowers. We love that the undersides of the foliage has a purple cast.
'Sun King' Golden Aralia is a very large showy perennial, producing chartreuse yellow compound leaves which hold their striking color all summer. The 2' tall white flower spikes appear in late summer, and are followed by purplish black berries. Barry Yinger found this Aralia in Japan (in a department store's garden section!) and brought it to the US. This is a great plant to light up the back of shady perennial beds.
'Silver Mound' Artemisia is one of the most striking examples of silver leaved perennials. The fine, feathery foliage makes a tight cushiony mound in dry sites, and retains the attractive habit throughout the summer if periodically given a light trim. Artemisia 'Silver Mound' does bloom periodically, but the flowers are insignificant and should be removed to maintain the silver cushion look. The low compact size of 'Silver Mound' makes it a good candidate for rock gardens and summer containers.
Miniature Goat's Beard has delicate Astilbe-like spikes of creamy white above deeply cut green foliage, blooming in June. Dr. Alan Armitage feels that Aruncus aesthusifolius is more heat tolerant than the bigger Aruncus, and he's right, from our experience here in New Jersey. Miniature Goat's Beard often produces attractive fall foliage in shades of bronze and purple.
'Eastern Star' White Wood Aster is shorter than the species and has dark burgundy stems to set off the white daisy-like flowers better. 'Eastern Star' blooms in September and October, and tolerates poor soils. An introduction from Canyon Creek Nursery from a plant from coastal Rhode Island (New name is Eurybia divaricata).
PRN Preferred: More compact than the species, flowers even in dry shade.
'Bluebird' Smooth Aster has lots of showy bluish violet flowers in late summer and early fall over clean foliage. 'Bluebird' is a great introduction from the Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware. Ranked as the #1 Aster in an evaluation study at Mt. Cuba Center. Strong stems do not need staking if cutback somewhat in June. (New name is Symphyotricum laeve)
PRN Preferred: Tons of flowers with no staking required.
'Lady in Black' Calico Aster is an unusual native Aster because the foliage is just as showy as the flower display. The narrow leaves start the summer as a deep plum or purple, gradually changing to bronze when 'Lady in Black' blooms in late summer and early fall. It becomes covered with delicate white daisies with rosy pink centers, complimenting the dark foliage and attracting all types of butterflies and other pollinators. The open habit can be impproved by cutting plants back to 6" in June. This native selection was found in Holland. (New name is Smyphyotrichum lateriflorum.)
'October Skies' Aromatic Aster has medium blue flowers in September and October. 'October Skies' is tolerant of dry, poor soil sites. A Primrose Path introduction (New name is Symphyotricum oblongifolium).
PRN Preferred: Shorter height and denser growth than the species. Long bloom time.
Masses of delicate clear blue flowers appear on 'Raydon's Favorite' New England Aster in September and October. 'Raydon's Favorite' is tolerant of dry, rocky sites which makes sense because it was found in San Antonio, Texas by Raydon Alexander. One of famed plantsman, Rick Darke's favorites (New name is Symphyotricum oblongifolium).
PRN Preferred: A consistantly excellent performer.
Aster tataricus 'Jin-dai' is a Tatarian Daisy with bluish lavender flowers which bloom from September through November. A. 'Jin-dai' sports large tropical leaves all summer. Found in Japan by Rick Darke and Skip March. An exceptional long-blooming, dramatic perennial, with a spreading habit.
KICKIN™ 'Lavender' ('06-51-1') New England Aster (Symphiotrichum) is a very showy bloomer from August through September. A selection by Kientzler of the Netherlands, this native Aster combines a great quantitiy of lavender daisies with yellow eyes, over a tight compact habit. Aster KICKIN™ 'Lavender' performs best in sites with good air circulation and minimal overhead irrigation.
‘Visions in Pink’ Chinese Astilbe has upright soft pink flower spikes in June and July. Because of the density of the blooms, the flower display is very impressive. Astilbe chinensis cultivars have lustrous dark green foliage, and are more dry site tolerant than earlier flowering Astilbes. The excellent deer resistance makes this a wonderful addition to the woodland garden.
‘Bridal Veil’ Hybrid Astilbe blooms throughout May, with lots of gracefully arching white plumes held above light green foliage. Astilbe 'Bridal Veil’ is a good addition to a small shade garden, or is lovely in masses in woodland landscapes.
PRN Preferred: Flower spikes are very large and full.