Acanthus mollis offers unusual pink-mauve flower spikes with white interior petals and purple calyces in July, held 3' to 4' above large shiny leaves. Bear's Breeches needs a shady, moist protected spot in the landscape.
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.
The bright yellow flat flowers of 'Moonshine' Yarrow appear in mid to late summer above ferny silvery gray foliage. Salt and dry site tolerant, Achillea x 'Moonshine' is a Blooms of Bressingham® selection.
The cobalt blue flowers of Azure Monkshood appear in late summer and early fall. Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii' blooms for a long period, and Dr. Alan Armitage says "it's the best late flowering Monkshood in cultivation."
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.
‘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.
'Black Adder' Anise Hyssop has prolific deep blue bottlebrush flowers from mid summer to fall. Compact habit and excellent hardiness make this a very exciting Agastache. Dry site tolerant with deliciously fragrant foliage. From Coen Jansen.
'Blue Fortune' Anise Hyssop has blue flowers mid summer to fall, and fragrant foliage. From the Trompenberg Arboretum in Holland. Agastache bloom time is prolonged by dead heading. Loved by butterflies and other insects.
Kudos™ 'Yellow' Anise Hyssop starts blooming in June and will continue to flower almost all summer. The fragrant yellow flowers are produced in dense spikes over disease resistant fragrant green foliage. Pollinators love these beautiful flowers, and deadheading after the original flush will keep them coming all summer. Sharp drainage is critical to overwinter.
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.
'Catlin's Giant' Bugleweed has bronze leaves that are much larger than other Ajugas, sporting blue flower spikes in late spring. A rapid-spreading evergreen groundcover.
'Chocolate Chip' ('Valfredda') Bugleweed has tiny purplish chocolate foliage with violet-blue flower spikes in late spring. This Ajuga makes an excellent groundcover around stepping stones. It came to the US from Italy.
'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.
'Rising Star' Garden Chives combines beautiful blooms with edible grayish green foliage. The spherical flowers are lavender purple, and bloom from late spring to early summer. The spent flower heads are also attractive, and can be added to dried flower arrangements. Like other edible chives, Allium 'Rising Star' will seed itself readily in not deadheaded. This ornamental Onion is totally deer resistant, and we introduced by Intrinsic Perennials.
'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.
'In Orbit' Ornamental Onion blooms from June to September, producing large 3" globular flowers of lavender purple. The "Drumstick" blooms are 16" tall over green, deer repellent foliage. 'In Orbit' Allium is a very attractive cut flower, and the spent flower heads make a lovely addition to dried flower arrangements. Pollinators flock to all Alliums when they are in bloom.
Allium x 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. We are grateful to Mark McDonough for helping us with the confusing nomeclature.
‘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 x lusitanicum '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 loves using ‘Summer Beauty’, and told us he had first seen it thriving in someone’s driveway.
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.
'Storm Cloud' Blue Star is the prettiest Amsonia we have seen, with large terminal clusters of bright sky blue star shaped flowers set off by almost black stems, the stems are particularly showy as they emerge in the spring, looking like thin black Asparagus, The narrow leaves open to an attractive dark green. Amsonia 'Storm Cloud' was found in moist shade in Alabama by those extraordinary plantsmen, Tony Avent and Hans Hansen, and they picked a particularly apt name for this beautiful native.
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.
Anemone x 'Honorine Jobert' is a Japanese Anemone with tall single white flowers, fall blooming. It prefers moist, humus-rich sites, and will make a large clump in time. 2016 Perennial Plant of the Year.
The semi-double pinkish lavender flowers of 'Pamina' Japanese Anemone appear on compact plants. Fall blooming and showy.
'September Charm' Japanese Anemone has a silvery cast to its tall pinkish rose single flowers. One of the hardiest of the Anemones, it expands gradually to make an impressive group. Fall blooming.
Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns' is a dwarf selection of our native Columbine that has a lot of flower power. 'Little Lanterns' Columbine has downward facing flowers of red and yellow in April and May, a favorite for hummingbirds.
'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.
Goat's Beard has large white Astilbe-like flowers in June, held well above the plant. It prefers moist, shady locations and is particularly gorgeous planted in masses.
'Chantilly Lace' hybrid Goatsbeard blooms in late spring and early summer, producing masses of airy creamy white sprays above the attractive green foliage. Aruncus 'Chantilly Lace' is an excellent addition to shade gardens, with strong vigor and increasing clump size over many years. This showy native is part of the Proven Winners® perennial program, from Walters Gardens.
The large shiny dark green leaves of Chinese Ginger have heavy silver mottling. The interesting burgundy brown flowers are found beneath the leaves. It is semi-evergreen and slow growing. Prefers a dry site.
'Wood's Pink' Fall Aster has dark pink flowers over disease resistant foliage. It blooms August to September and forms a large mat eventually. One of the Wood's series, and an Aster which will eventually spread to make a large patch.
'Wood's Purple' Fall Aster has magenta purple flowers, disease resistant foliage, and blooms August to September. Forms a large mat eventually. One of the Wood's hybrids.
'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' Aromatic 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.
Dwarf Chinese Astilbe has pinkish lavender flowers in July, and blooms later than most Astilbes. Makes a large mat eventually, and tolerates drier sites than many Astilbes.
'Visions' Chinese Astilbe has vivid pink flowers in July, over attractive lustrous foliage, late blooming.
PRN Preferred: Better drought tolerance than most other Astilbes, perfect choice for dry shade. Compact variety.
‘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.
'Visions in Red' Chinese Astilbe has reddish pink blooms in July held up by reddish stems and bronzy green foliage. Later blooming than most Astilbes.
'Visions in White' Chinese Astilbe blooms in June and July, producing dense creamy white spikes over glossy green foliage. 'Visions in White' is exciting because of its good tolerance for drier conditions. Like other Astilbe chinensis cultivars, 'Visions in White' extends the bloom time for Astilbes into early summer. Excellent for shade gardens and woodland edges.
The tall purple flowers of 'Purple Candles' Chinese Astilbe appear in June. Late blooming and relatively dry site tolerant.
PRN Preferred: Very tall flower spikes, more drought tolerant.
‘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.
'Cappuccino' Hybrid Astilbe produces dark bronze lustrous foliage in early spring, topped by airy white flower spikes in May and June. The combination is remarkable, and would be showy in mixed spring containers. After the flowers have faded, the leaves take on green hues for the rest of the summer. This exciting new color breakthrough would be an excellent addition to shade gardens.
'Deutschland' Hybrid Astilbe has lots of white flowers in May and June above light green leaves. A vigorous selection for shady spots, with a strong delightful fragrance.