Irish Moss forms an evergreen mat of mossy foliage that is covered with tiny white flowers in May and June. Prefers good drainage.
Coral Bark Willow ('Chermesina') has stunning orange to red bark coloration in winter on its first year stems, so in order to keep it looking its best, this is a Salix which needs to be cut back hard every spring. The summer foliage is the classic narrow green willow leaf we all know, but its color in the winter landscape will really stand out. Originally introduced from Germany. Wet site tolerant.
'Mt. Aso' Japanese Pussy Willow has beautiful bright pink male catkins appearing in March and April. The fuzzy flowers slowly elongate as they open, ending up almost 2" long by the time the pollen is exposed. Pussy Willows make great cut branches for forcing in January and February, and 'Mt Aso' is a particularly showy form. It is named for Japan's largest active volcano. Cut back the branches to 2' every 2 or 3 years to maintain good catkin production.
PRN Preferred: The prettiest and most showy of the Pussy Willows.
'Swizzlestick' Corkscrew Willow has twisted, upward-reaching orange-yellow stems that display themselves beautifully in fall, winter and spring. The narrow green leaves are attractive all summer, turning yellow in the fall. Salix 'Swizzlestick' thrives in wet locations and is also salt tolerant. The original plant was found and named by Darryll Probst, who saw it on a roadside and took cuttings. Cut back hard in spring to promote attractive new branches. They also make a great addition to cut flower arrangements.
PRN Preferred: Really fantastic as winter cut branches, for both color and structure.
'Black and Blue' Anise-Scented Sage starts blooming in July and continues until the first frosts. The showy flowers are a deep cobalt blue, set off by black calyces. They are produced in great numbers on long spikes above shiny green foliage. Like other large flowered Salvias, 'Black and Blue' is an amazing hummingbird and Sphinx Moth magnet. Give it plenty of room in the late summer garden, as it is a sprawler. With lots of mulch, Salvia 'Black and Blue' has been known to overwinter in Zone 6 and 7.
'Caradonna' Hybrid Sage has violet-blue flowers on tall dark purple flower stems, making a very showy combination. From Zillmer Plants in Germany and introduced into this country by super plant dudes, Dale Hendricks and Ron Strasko while at North Creek Nurseries.
PRN Preferred: Heidi's favorite Salvia because the tall dark purple spikes are so showy.
The showy pink and white flat topped cymes on Sambucus nigra Black Lace® ('Eva') appear in June, contrasting vividly with the lacy purple-black foliage. From the renowned plant breeders at East Malling, England. Profits from cutting back periodically to prevent legginess.
Common Sassafras is a lovely small native tree that is hard to find in the trade because of the difficulty moving it B&B. We grow it in containers for that reason, and love its variable multi-shaped leaves. The flowers appear in early April and are an attractive chartreuse-yellow, making a show before the leaves appear. The fall color varies from yellow to orange-bronze. The root bark has been used traditionally to make an interesting tea or root beer. If you have a mature female tree, be sure to look closely at the summer fruit, which is one of the prettiest we've ever seen, with red pedicels and orange-yellow bases on purple fruits, looking like match-sticks. Prefers good moisture and organic matter. Sassafras, like Betula, is a pioneer species, so it performs well in disturbed sites.
'Carousel' Little Bluestem is a more compact version of our lovely native grass, with beautiful blue-green summer foliage which turns amazing shades of purple and bronze in fall. The delicate seedheads appear in August and September, and are especially showy when backlit by evening sunlight. Plant in excellent drainage for the best performance. Found by Donald Boehm of Illinois, and introduced by Chicagoland Grows®, so you know it's cold tolerant. All Little Bluestems attract butterflies when in bloom and songbirds when in seed.
‘Standing Ovation’ Little Bluestem is an exciting new introduction by those talented folks at North Creek Nurseries. The steel blue blades are wider than most Little Bluestem. With thicker stems, the habit is reliably upright throughout the summer, fall, and winter. The summer colors of blue with hints of purple turn to spectacular shades of lavender, red, and orange in the fall. The airy seedheads are beautiful, especially when backlit by afternoon light, and the light tan winter color is displayed impressively on the upright strong stems. We find that it tolerates more irrigation than we expected, although its ideal conditions are those of dry sterile sites. One of the native plants chosen by Piet Oudolf for the newly planted meadow garden at Delaware Botanic Gardens.
Pink False Hydrangea-vine has pale pink lace cap flowers in mid summer on a slow-growing woody vine. Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Roseum' is soon to be called a Hydrangea. Foliage is a clean dark green.
'Blue Spruce' Stonecrop grows in a mat of silvery-blue narrow foliage reminiscent of blue Spruce needles. The small yellow flowers appear in July and this Sedum must have a dry, well-drained site. Semi-evergreen.
'Dragon's Blood' Sedum or Stonecrop is an excellent groundcover for sunny dry locations. The orange-bronze succulent foliage spreads out to form a tight evergreen mat. Useful for lining paths, rock gardens and gentle dry slopes, Sedum 'Dragon's Blood' even tolerates dog traffic. The flowers appear in late summer in attractive clumps of rose red, providing food for bees and other pollinators. As the days shorten, 'Dragon's Blood' takes on darker red foliage coloration.
Wild Stonecrop is an unusual Sedum in that it is shade and tolerates more moisture than most Sedums, as well as native. The green succulent foliage is fine, often forming dense groundcover mats. The delicate starry white flowers hover above the leaves in April and May, attracting butterflies and native pollinators. Like other stonecrops, Sedum ternatum is deer and rabbit resistant.
'Autumn Joy' ('Herbstfreude') Showy Stonecrop has rose-pink flowers, blue foliage and needs a dry site to perform best. The spent flowerheads remain an attractive tan rose color. Sedum x 'Autumn Joy' was introduced by Georg Arends of Germany. Our favorite common name for it, 'Pink Broccoli', comes from writer Ruth Clausen.
'Dazzleberry' Stonecrop was developed by Chris Hansen, and is the original cultivar of Sunsparkler® Series. The semi-evergreen foliage makes a beautiful blue-green mat, over which hover the vivid raspberry-pink flower clusters. Sedum x 'Dazzleberry' blooms from mid summer into early fall. Because of its long season of interest, 'Dazzleberry' makes an excellent plant for mixed containers, as well as a good groundcover for sunny dry locations.
Autumn Moor Grass is a good adaptable short grass that produces chartreuse-green fine foliage topped by delicate creamy seedheads in late summer. It is happy in both sun and partial shade, and tolerates dry sites. Most effective in large sweeps in the landscape, especially since Sesleria stays green well into late fall.
Sisyrinchium angustifolium 'Lucerne' has blue flowers with yellow eyes and blooms most of the summer. This Blue Eyed Grass tolerates dry and salty sites very well and the flowers only open on sunny days.
'Fireworks' Rough Stemmed Goldenrod has bright yellow flowers in late summer on a compact slowly spreading plant. Selected by Ken Moore of the NC Botanical Garden and introduced by Niche Gardens. Try Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' as a cut flower; it is great! An important source of seed for winter birds.
PRN Preferred: This is an indistructible native, excellent on dry barren slopes. It can also take wet feet (but not a wet crown).
'Golden Fleece' Goldenrod has golden-yellow flowers from mid August to October over semi-evergreen foliage. This Solidago spreads to form a tough adaptable groundcover with some shade tolerance. Another wonderful introduction from the Mt. Cuba folks. Winter birds eat the seeds.
The lemon-yellow flowers of 'Little Lemon' Goldenrod appear in late summer over extremely compact, finely textured foliage. Solidago x 'Little Lemon' was bred originally as a good florist pot plant.
PRN Preferred: Colorful long lasting flowers on a tidy, compact plant.
The new leaves of 'Sem' False Spirea emerge orange-red, set off by chartreuse yellow older foliage in spring and early summer. Large fluffy white panicles start in July when the foliage has turned a uniform light green. Texture of plant is light and airy with delicate pinnate leaf form. Suckering habit.
'Tor' Birchleaf Spirea is a little-used tough plant with several attractive attributes. The white flowers appear in compact dome-like clusters in May, above increasingly dark green clean foliage. The foliage turns to lovely shades of gold, bronze, and red in fall, and is one of the showiest Spireas by far for fall interest. Our friend, John Story first brought it to our attention for its fall color, and since it is deer-resistant as well as very hardy, it deserves more usage.
'Anthony Waterer' Spiraea has new growth that emerges reddish-purple in spring, turning to light green in summer and wine-red in fall. Flowers are rose-red and bloom for an extended period starting in June. Summer trimming increases the flower show. 'Anthony Waterer' shows good salt tolerance.
Magic Carpet™ Spirea has deep pink flowers that start in May and continue through summer if trimmed after blooming. The new red foliage ages to chartreuse. It has great fall foliage, in shades of yellow and orange. Introduced by David Tristram of the U.K.
'Neon Flash' Spirea has rose-red flowers in May through July with new foliage emerging with a purple tinge before turning green in summer. It reblooms well, especially if trimmed after blooming. An improved form of Anthony Waterer, it was introduced by Barry Yinger and Brookside Gardens.
Double Play® Blue Kazoo® ('SMSMBK') Spiraea produces dusty blue foliage, with bronzy new growth in spring and early summer. The delicate white flower clusters are produced in May and June, and make an attractive compliment to the bluish green leaves. In the fall the foliage of Spiraea media Double Play® Blue Kazoo® takes on attractive shades of red. A recent introduction from Spring Meadows, this Spiraea would be useful as a colorful low hedge or as a foundation plant.
'Ogon' Spirea has white flowers in March and April, with small narrow bright yellow leaves which turn to bronze in fall, odd but showy. It does best with repeated pruning. The deer resistance is excellent. This is our favorite Spiraea by far.
Vanhoutte Spiraea is a classic Victorian garden staple, blooming reliably every year is April and May, while adding graceful arching green branches to the landscape in summer. When in bloom in mass, Spiraea x vanhouttei looks like "a cresting wave of white", to quote our sister Louise Gross. Blooming on new growth, Vanhoutte Spiraea performs very well to periodic trimming, and can be used to make a tough but showy hedge, as well as a stand alone specimen. The small leaves are fine textured and very clean. Resulting from a cross between S. trilobata and S. cantoniensis.
Prairie Dropseed is a green clumping grass with airy delicate panicles held high above the foliage. The fall color is a wonderful orange, changing to cream in winter. It is extremely tolerant of dry sites, and it has a wonderful flowery fragrance to boot when planted in mass. An important seed source for winter birds.
PRN Preferred: What other grass combines beautiful airy seed panicles, showy fall color and great fragrance?
'Hummelo' Alpine Betony was named after Piet Oudolf's hometown. The low growing rosette of textured green leaves is topped by showy spikes of lavender-pink flowers in mid summer for an extended period. Stachys 'Hummelo' is a tough, carefree beauty and used extensively on the High Line Park in NYC. If you haven't gone there yet, go soon!
A fast growing shrub with delicate maple-like leaves, Cutleaf Stephanandra makes a very tough groundcover for banks, masses and shady locations. The new growth is bronze, turning to a clear light green. Flowers are an inconspicuous ivory-white in June. Daryl Kobesky was struck by its perfect use as a bank stabilizer at U.V.A.
Korean Stewartia features white Camellia-like flowers which appear in June. Based on our experience, the flower of S. koreana is more upright and slightly larger than S. pseudocamellia. Stewartia has exfoliating bark in shades of tan and gray and beautiful burgundy-red fall foliage. A wonderful plant in all four seasons.
Japanese Stewartia is almost identical to Stewartia koreana in habit and exfoliating back characteristics. The only difference we have observed is that Stewartia pseudocamellia's lovely white flowers appear somewhat later in June, and are a little bit smaller. The Camellia-like flowers are accented by showy yellow stamens, and are produced for several weeks. They are a source of pollen for a number of native pollinators, and are followed by interesting printed brown seed capsules in fall. The fall foliage is shades of yellow, red and purple, and the patchy multi-colored bark is beautiful all winter.
'Peachie's Pick' Stokes Aster was found by Mississippi plants woman Peachie Saxton. Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick' is a compact version of this long blooming native, with large lavender blue flowers. Stokes Asters flower virtually all summer, especially when spent blooms are deadheaded. When established, Stokesia Peachie's Pick is surprisingly drought tolerant and overwinters best in well drained locations.
'Evening Light' Japanese Snowbell is an exciting new color break for this lovely small ornamental tree. The leaves emerge for a glossy purple in spring, followed be graceful hanging white bells. The growth habit is slow, resulting in an upright, vase shaped tree which fits well into small, sunny spots in the garden. When Styrax 'Evening Light' is in bloom, pollinators flock to the fragrant flowers. Found as a chance seeding by Henry Kolster of the Netherlands.
Proud Berry™ ('Sophie') Coralberry is an improved version of Amethyst™ Coralberry, bred by Catharina Hoekstra-Arisz of the Netherlands. This lovely upright shrub produces round neat foliage in shades of blue green, which makes an attractive backdrop for the pink bell-shaped flowers in late summer. The showy large berries are produced in fall in vivid shades of pink. The color deepens as the weather cools, and the remaining fruit often provides food for birds in late winter. Symphoricarpos Proven Winners® Color Choice® Proud Berry™ fruits most prolifically after an early spring pruning.