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All-American Asimina triloba

We’re giddy with excitement about our containerized pawpaw patch that’s full of mature, fruit-bearing-aged trees looking for their forever homes. These mature specimens are loaded with the odd-looking bronze-purple flowers that are, apparently, being actively pollinated when our backs are turned. Night-pollinating beetles and daytime flies, most likely, are the culprit for the tandem emergence of the tiny, fingerlike baby fruits that likely give this native tree several of its other common names: dog banana, Indian banana, and false-banana, to name a few. The immature fruits do, in fact, resemble tiny bananas, while the mature fruits have a texturally similar pulp that could be likened to the soft innards of an overly ripened banana. Exotic looking, large, edible fruits grow in clusters of 4-5, and are an important nutrient-and-fat-dense food source for various mammals such as squirrels, black bears, raccoons, and opossums. Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to harvest some of the fruits for yourself to enjoy in baked goods, ice cream, and even summery mixed cocktails.

April Brilliance

To celebrate the arrival of April, we’re taking a deep dive into a spring-blooming favorite, Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – but don’t let the name fool you. This versatile multi-stemmed shrub (or tree form, if you so desire) is so much more than just a flowering, fruiting, bird-beloved ornamental specimen. As the offspring resulting from the cross of its North American native parents, Amelanchier laevis and A. arborea, ‘Autumn Brilliance’ apple serviceberry seems to inherit the best of both worlds.

Bloomin' Blues to Buzz About!

Usually, various hues of green represent the true arrival of spring – from the budding of deciduous trees, shrubs, and vines, to the emergent basal foliage of many perennials, the livening of semi-evergreen grasses, and the fresh flush of new growth on broadleaf evergreens. Mingled amongst the emerald, chartreuse, Kelly, forest and hunter greens, rare jewel tones of sapphire, indigo, cobalt, lapis and azure bring an unexpected curiosity to the garden. Typically, it is our native Mertensia virginica, Virginia bluebells, and even blue-flowering Aquilegia canadensis selections that come to mind for this specific and rather scrupulous palette.

Primavera de Pieris!

Viva la Spring! We made it, folks. It might not feel like it, what with the evening and early morning temperatures dipping into the 20’s and 30’s, but before we know it our long-johns and insulated jackets will be replaced with loose, breathable linens and our skin will be kissed (or burnt to a spectacular crimson if you’re like me) by the summer sun. One of the first indications that spring is in fact underway is the emergence of the pendulous, tiny bell-shaped flowers that decorate the apexes of Pieris japonica’s evergreen branches, emitting a delicate and pleasant fragrance as they waver gently in chilly early spring breezes. Sure, most of the time Japanese andromedas are the functional evergreen shrub that works as a hedge, specimen, foundation planting – you name it. But it’s only for several weeks of the year that we get to enjoy its lovely, lethal little blooms. So, this week, we’re plunging into Pieris.

New Website Launch

Right in time for spring, we bring you the brand spankin’ new Pleasant Run Nursery website! We know how many of you love and utilize the classic layout and helpful plant descriptions, resources, and availability updates that you’ve relied on for many years since our first launch. All of the same features you know and love are now amplified in a visually engaging format, including more interactive features that allow you to curate your plant lists and orders as you see fit.

Just Juniper Things

How could we try to get through the rest of the winter without having at least one week dedicated to an all-time-classic conifer? The humble juniper, a staple in gardens and landscapes throughout the world, is no stranger to even the least knowledgeable plant people. The aromatic, evergreen needles, similarly fragrant, glaucous blue berrylike cones, and universally widespread range makes Juniperus perhaps one of the most recognizable genera in the plant kingdom. Why are junipers so special, though? It’s just a coniferous evergreen, after all – why and how have they developed such a loyal fanbase throughout horticultural history to become not only a landscape standard, but a collector’s item? Surely, there must be something beyond the branches that has enchanted and bewitched folks for centuries. Well, buckle up, buckaroos, because this week we’re going on a Juniperus deep dive.

Flowers & Fragrances of February

Believe it or not, there’s quite a bit to see around the Nursery right now – we have perennials gently emerging from their winter slumbers, pushing tentative basal foliage above the soil line, and winter-blooming shrubs performing their annual routine. If you know where to look, there are wintry happenings subtly making themselves known in preparation for what we are anticipating to be a very busy spring season. While the weather is still (kinda) cold and the trees remain bare, let’s take a look at some of the fun findings from this week in production.

Presidential Plantings

In probably what will become the longest-winded way of saying “we’re closed on Monday, February 19th”, we thought, what better way to celebrate our founding fathers than by delving into some of the plants that define the gardens surrounding the White House. A continual, communal project amongst almost each of the 46 presidents in office, it can be said that plants and gardening are non-partisan activities with a shared enthusiasm nationwide, regardless of political affiliation.

Edgy Edgeworthia chrysantha

With so many of our plants currently working up their energy below the soil level, it might seem like there isn’t a whole lot to look at – unless you know exactly where to look, or you happen to be a big fan of winter garden specimens. One such specimen, Edgeworthia chrysantha, with its unique, delicately fragranced flowers coming into bloom, is quite the spectacle. Paperbush, as it’s commonly known, always seems to be a huge hit when it goes on the road with us to trade shows, attracting the attention of seasoned horticulturists and young, eager landscape architects alike.

Growing for Groundhogs

Hopefully you’re not waking up today in a Bill-Murray-style cyclical nightmare of the day before, but if you are, then you’ll be happy to know that this week, we’re helping you to kick the groundhog blues. With Punxsutawney Phil acting as the commanding officer of our Solstice/Equinox crossover, farmers, gardeners, horticulturists, and the seasonally-depressed alike, all eagerly await the emergence of the chunky brown mammal and his lack of a shadow signifying the early arrival of spring. Unfortunately, groundhogs tend to get a bad wrap in our industry, known for destroying carefully planned installations and decimating a plethora of plant material. In an effort to boost your knowledge, and dare we say, appreciation, of groundhogs, this week we’ll be exploring the tunnels and burrows of these sordid critters.

Petal Power: Peace, Love, & Peonies

As we get a handle on what we’re growing in 2024, amongst the new selections we’re offering, we also have some oldies-but-goodies in our midst. With Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’ named the 2024 Perennial Plant of the Year, “peach-fuzz” (PANTONE 13-1023) dubbed Pantone’s 2024 Color of the Year, it almost seems fitting that 1-800-FLOWERS would follow up with the “P” theme and hail Philodendron and Peony as their 2024 Plant and Flower of the Year. Lucky for us, we’ve been on the peony train for a while. This week, ahead of the looming spring and the time-of-the-peony, we’re gonna do a deep dive into the history, cultural uses, and landscape needs of our petally pals.

Wild and Wonderful Winter

It may be hard to look past the bare branches and brown seedheads as anything other than mundane landmarks of the winter hellscape. 

Very Berry Verticillata

If you know us at all, you were probably expecting a showcase on Ilex verticillata, winterberry holly, at some point this season. Well, here it is! Without fail, our winterberry hollies are in full fruit around the Nursery – our stock crops are still a little young, and thus light on fruit, but we’ll get into that shortly. In the meantime, let’s check out some little-known Ilex verticillata facts along with pictures of some specimens that have either been intentionally planted, or volunteered themselves, around the Pleasant Run property.

Steadfast & Stalwart Semi-evergreens

Happy December! Wow, what a year it’s been! It’s hard to believe we’ve rotated through the seasons and we are once again at the cusp of an entirely new calendar cycle. Despite many of the festivities that we all have to look forward to this month, it’s right about the time of year where things start to look a little bleak and everything begins to turn inward. People are busy gathering tinsel, poinsettias and evergreen trees to decorate their homes. Obviously, evergreen conifers and even broadleaf plants like hollies have quite a presence this time of the year, and that’s not just because they smell and look nice. 

Beyond the Garden Gate

…Step by step from town to town, sweet like justice: gardens are a queen, gardens take all my friends to the summit, gardens are the plot on the green, blooming straight home to me…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, and more specifically the last week, then Taylor & Travis have probably been monopolizing your screen time. You probably thought you were safe here, in the comfort of the weekly Pleasant Run email. “Surely, the crossover between horticulture and Taylor Swift has to be minimal,” you think to yourself wearily, eyes heavy from scrolling through endless feel-good videos of a pop icon finally living out her fairy tale dreams. Guess again!

Brawn & Beauty: Plants of the Badlands

In honor of the brave folks who put their lives on the line to protect our vast and beautiful country, from the amber waves of grain to the purple mountain majesties, this week we’re doing something a little bit differently. Without the unwavering fortitude and valor of our Veterans, American citizens might not be able to enjoy some of their country’s most spectacular natural parks and landscapes, amongst other things. There’s a lot to celebrate this weekend - with November 10th marking the 45th anniversary of Badlands National Park’s official designation as a national park, we’re praising some of the special species that make up this diverse and ecologically critical habitat. Let’s start with some quick facts about the Badlands and what makes them so special.

Flowers of the First Frost

The precipice of winter is upon us: this week, we saw our first hard frosts of the season, greeting us each morning as a shimmering blanket of delicate ice crystals clinging to any greenery that remains. The sun seems to be scarcer and scarcer by the day, barely peaking above the treetops as the first vehicles begin rolling down the driveway and already threatening to set by the time our doors close for the evening. The inevitable truth is that winter is coming, and it’s predicted to actually, maybe, be a REAL winter, snow and all. From the day of this email being written, there are exactly 48 calendar days left before winter’s arrival. But before that happens, let’s bask in the remaining days of autumn for a little while longer: starting with our first inaugural Pleasant Run Pumpkin Carving Contest, which kicked off Halloween a little bit differently this year.

Fall Planting Facts & Fiction

Last week, we discussed the science behind the rainbow of colors that adorn our trees, shrubs, and some of our perennials this time of year. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, many people don’t know that autumn is a fantastic time to get things planted. In our mild winters here in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s not uncommon to be popping plants into the ground all the way up until the first frost – and these days, we’re sometimes able to extend that timeframe even further. So, this week, we’re bringing you a boatload of invaluable information about the dos and don’ts of fall planting (plus, of course, some pertinent and timely pictures to get your brain noodling about some potential candidates for your next project).

The Art of Senescence

As with all cycles of life, everything must come to an end. Some things go out softly like a candle flame, others in a chaotic blaze of glory. Autumn is a time of slowing down, of things beginning to move inwardly for the winter; autumn is a reminder that all things are transient, ever-evolving from the richest and most spirited of life’s delights to eventually undergo the process of inevitable, quiet decay. While this sounds a bit ghastly, in reality renewal, regrowth, and regeneration are not possible without the turning of tides, so to speak. It may seem like there is a larger metaphor at work here, and you’d be right in thinking so. After all: trees lose their leaves to protect themselves through harsh environmental conditions and to continue their growth process the following year, much like we human beings sometimes must shed some of the outgrown parts of ourselves in order to persevere through difficult moments and come out stronger on the other side.

Double, Double, Soil and Rubble…

Although the witches in MacBeth were known to use yew and poison hemlock in their wicked brew, they could have considered several other plants with high toxicity characteristics that are perfect for spiritually infiltrating the souls of Scottish monarchs… uhh… that are perfect for jazzing up the landscape with their beautiful (but somewhat deadly) ornamental features. While we don’t necessarily recommend nibbling on random leaves and berries that visually appeal to you without knowing exactly what they are, here are three plants that you most definitely do NOT want to experiment with culinarily that still make for lovely specimens in the garden.

Flowering Fall Favorites

With fall festivals, haunted hayrides, bonfire gatherings and shorter daylight hours upon us, the Nursery is once again beginning to brim with color. And we’re not just talking about the pending foliage changes on our various trees and shrubs (although that’s pretty great, too). It’s time to celebrate a few last hurrahs for our fall flowering favorites here at Pleasant Run. Now’s the time to be planting, and what better to use than some beautiful late bloomers to wow and intrigue onlookers? This week, we’re going to talk about five of our seasonal favorites that are currently showing us what they’ve got, starting with an oldie-but-goodie: Viburnum macrocephalum.

What the Hellebore?

It’s almost Halloween, so you know what that means – it’s time to get ready for the holiday season! While you’re stocking up on Twix and Snickers bars for the neighborhood kids, most of Corporate America is already glittering with multi-colored string lights, sparkling tree ornaments, and jolly ol’ yuletide merriment. We figure if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. After all, the holidays will be here before we know it, so the least we can do is get you prepared for all of your winter projects with our massive stock of hellebores.

Breaking the Grass Ceiling

For the longest time, grasses, sedges, and rushes weren’t thought of as particularly ornamental in comparison to the innumerable flowering perennials, shrubs and trees that have proven their worthiness in endless gardens worldwide. Luckily, the native plant renaissance and efforts such as Mt. Cuba Center’s Carex Garden Trial have piqued the interests of not only horticulturists, but the general public, when it comes to the incorporation of our spectacularly strappy friends into the ornamental landscape. No longer do we live in a world where Pennisetum and Miscanthus dominate the retail shelves. Slowly, those old-timey grasses are being edged off of their pedestals not only for having questionable spreading habits but, let’s be honest, there are much cooler grasses out there. Sort of like the handful we’ll be talking about this week. So, let’s strap in and take a look at some of these a-maize-ing selections! (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Autumnal Awakening

It’s here! Chilly nights, chunky sweaters, candied apples, roasting bonfires, pumpkin spice everything… but lest we forget the late season blooming plants that add an extra bit of the ol’ razzle-dazzle to the fall landscape. What better to contrast the plentiful reds, oranges, and bronzy greens of Autumn than seasonal golden yellows and diverse purples? Besides: purple is a classic Halloween color, and yellow is an Autumn mainstay. Why not play it up this time of year and really lean into seasonal color palettes? Don’t worry, this week’s helpful guide to fun Fall flowers will do exactly that!

Send in the Skippers

Right on the back of butterfly week, we want to pay homage to some of the quickest workers of Pleasant Run Nursery – the skippers. True to their name, these flighty little creatures have been keeping the nursery alive with movement as they skip from flower to flower, hungrily snatching up nectar from a variety of plant material. One thing’s for sure: the skippers seem to have some favorite nectar plants, based on the abundant populations that can be observed watching certain crops for only a few moments. While the list could probably go on, this week we’re going to highlight only a handful of flowering showstoppers that the skippers can’t seem to stay away from, starting with Heliopsis helianthoides.

Beckoning the Butterflies

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone! It’s hard to believe that we made it through summer so quickly, but here we are. While we get ready for what is sure to be an incredibly hectic fall season, the Nursery is aflutter with butterflies of all sorts. This week, we’re going to touch on some ol’ timeless classics that can be found flitting about this time of year, including everyone’s favorites, the Monarchs and the Swallowtails. We’ll also dive into perhaps a slightly lesser known, but incredibly common native species, the Pearl Crescent butterfly. Let’s ogle some pictures and learn some fun butterfly facts, shall we?

Wet Loving Natives

You may or may not have been blessed with a fair amount of summer precipitation lately. Despite this year’s earlier drought, we’ve been making up for the rain loss with near-nightly summer storms. In honor of the rain gods, this week we’ll be talking about a handful of natives that prefer moist soil conditions, and the integral ecosystem services that each is responsible for.

Tropical Tricksters

With the dog days of summer upon us, many of us are craving a break from the humidity and bustle of getting ready for fall. However, what better to celebrate these muggy, hot days than by highlighting some tropical-esque perennials? If you can’t get away this summer, have no fear – we have just the right selections to bring a tropical feel to your landscape. So, hop on the safari bus and let’s get exotic!

Picturesque Pinks of Summer

This time of the year, yellows and pinks dominate the landscape. Carnation, flamingo, bubblegum, baby pastel, and Barbie-appropriate hues create a pattern of cohesive pink shades throughout the Nursery gardens and production houses. So, this week, we’re paying homage to only a handful of the poppy pink palettes that we offer, ranging across shapes, sizes and species.

National Moth Week

Happy National Moth Week! We hope you’ve been celebrating by exploring and tracking down your local moth populations, à la Steve Irwin. If not, don’t worry – we camouflaged ourselves with moss and sticks, hunkered down beneath some decaying logs for an afternoon, and managed to creep around long enough to get these shots in celebration of the national holiday. Enjoy!