Acanthus mollis offers unusual pink-mauve flower spikes with white interior petals and purple calyces, held 3' to 4' above deeply lobed large shiny leaves. Bear's Breeches grows best in part shade and in a moist protected spot in the landscape. Too much shade will result in less or no flowers. This clump-forming perennial is grown as much for its attractive foliage as for its architecturally bold flower spikes. Native to the Mediterranean region, it flowers in late spring to mid summer with multiple vertical flower spikes. The leaves were the source of the Corinthian leaf motif developed and used as a decoration in ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture.
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. Best sited in part shade and well drained soil. Spinosus means spiny and comes from the stiff spines found on the margins of the leaves that resemble that of the thistle. The spiny leaves served as the pattern for the design on Greek Corinthian columns.
‘Sassy Summer Sangria’ Yarrow has dark red flat flower clumps on sturdy stems with ferny green foliage. The bloom period is extended through the summer months, especially if deadheaded after the initial flowering. Achillea ‘Sassy Summer Sangria’ has the darkest flower color of Walters Gardens’ ‘Sassy Summer’ series, all of which tolerate poor soils and dry conditions; rich soil tends to make plants tall and floppy. Pollinators love Achilleas while deer and rabbits do not.
‘Sassy Summer Silver’ Yarrow is an introduction by Walters Gardens in their ‘Sassy Summer’ series. The soft yellow flower clumps top tall sturdy stems, so Achillea ‘Sassy Summer Silver’ makes a good cut or dried flower. Like its ‘siblings’, ‘Sassy Summer Silver’ tolerates dry, poor soils and is not attractive to deer or rabbits. Deadheading prolongs the bloom period.
‘Sassy Summer Sunset’ Yarrow has deep orange flat flower chumps on tall sturdy stems. The bloom period extends from mid to late summer, especially if spent flowers are removed. Like the other ‘Sassy Summer Sunset’ series, Achillea millefolium 'Sassy Summer Sunset' is tough and resilient, tolerating dry and poor soils. The unusual color combines well with blues and purples.
‘Sassy Summer Taffy’ Yarrow is another showy member of Walters Gardens’ new Achillea series. The flat flower clusters are a deep pink when newly opened, and they mature to a softer pink which makes a bicolored look. The tall sturdy stems make Achillea ‘Sassy Summer Taffy’ a good cut flower as well as a tough long-lived perennial. Deadhead to prolong bloom period.
‘Peter Cottontail’ Yarrow has an unusual flowering habit because the white flowers are not in an umbel, but scattered thickly all over the green clump. Achillea ptarmica ‘Peter Cottontail’ looks like a tight ‘Baby’s Breath’ clump, with the advantage of being deer resistant and tolerant of poor dry soils. This Yarrow reblooms well if deadheaded.
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." It gets the common name Monkshood because the upper sepal of each flower develops into a large, helmet-like structure that somewhat resembles the hood worn by medieval monks. 'Arendsii' stems are unusually thick and are less likely to need support than other Monkshood. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Breed by German nurseryman Georg Arends at his nursery near Cologne.
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. Try massing 'Minimus Aureus' as a groundcover near water gardens to help control erosion. 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 leaves release a fresh citrus scent when pinched or bruised. Clumps of Acorus 'Ogon' will get larger with age as they spread slowly by rhizomes. This Sweet Flag is evergreen so it provides great winter interest. Brighter light lends more golden color, while deeper shade highlights green. Introduced into the US by Barry Yinger.
PRN Preferred: Both salt and wet site tolerant, ‘Ogon’ adds a yearlong splash of chartreuse to the shade garden.
White Baneberry is also called 'Doll's Eyes' because the small white berries end in a black dot making this native (and toxic) fruit resemble the staring eyes of old fashioned dolls. The delicate white flower spikes appear above Astilbe-like foliage in spring, followed by the striking white fruit in summer. The flowers provide pollen but lack nectar. The pollen is collected by short-tongued bees. The berries are eaten by a variety of birds, thereby spreading the seed to other areas. The birds are immune to the toxic effects of the berries. All parts of this plant are poisonous. Actaea pachypoda naturalizes easily in moist but well-drained woodlands.
Snakeroot or Cohosh is a spectacular addition to the late summer flower garden with tall, rocket-like spires of ivory white, fragrant flowers which are held high above the green foliage. The bloom period is longer than a month and insects love it (great for nature photographers). Adds architectural height to the shaded part of the garden. Host plant for Spring Azure. Actaea racemosa is best in moist, shady locations.
Branched Bugbane has fragrant white flowers in late summer, over purplish bronze foliage. Try it combined with chartreuse foliaged plants to really make a impact. 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 mauve pink flowers age to white on tall flower spikes that 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. It was discovered by Marco van Noort in the Netherlands as a seedling of 'Brunette'.
Anise Hyssop, hailing from the Great Plains, is a wonderful native Agastache for use in more natural settings. Ranging from 2-4’ tall with flowers leaning on lavender in color this wonderful upright perennial will seed around in optimal conditions. Like all other Agastache this perennial is an absolute pollinator magnet. The foliage is fragrant and has an anise or licorice scent. Flowers start in late July and continues until late autumn.
‘Golden Jubilee’ Purple Giant Hyssop combines large showy lavender blue flower spikes with stunning yellow foliage. Both the flowers and the leaves are fragrant and attractive all summer, especially if deadheaded periodically. Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’ performs best in well-drained sites, and will self-seed nicely in sunny sites. ‘Golden Jubilee’ is a great addition to perennial gardens and meadows.
'Black Adder' Anise Hyssop has prolific deep blue bottlebrush flowers from mid summer to fall. 'Black Adder' is a cross between A. rugosa and A. foeniculum. Compact habit and excellent hardiness make this a very exciting Agastache. Dry site tolerant with deliciously fragrant foliage. Good drainage is essential for these plants as they will not survive a winter in wet clay soils. They are drought tolerant once established. From Coen Jansen.
'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.
'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. Leaves may be used in potpourris.
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. Great for mass planting to create an impressive bluish purple haze in the garden, hence the name.
PRN Preferred: This fragrant native blooms for a very long period and has an excellent upright flower form.
The deep purple, nearly black shiny leaves of 'Black Scallop' ('Binblasca') Bugleweed have ruffled edges. Deep blue flower spikes appear on Ajuga in late spring. Great for a shade planting where grass is difficult to establish. Plant with other shade lovers and spring bulbs for an impressive show. From Mike Tristram of the UK.
The foliage of Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow' is composed of stunning shades of pink, white and purple, with blue flower spikes adding to the show in late spring. Good for small spaces, containers and rock gardens.
'Catlin's Giant' Bugleweed has bronze leaves that are much larger than other Ajugas, sporting spikes of blue flower up to 8" tall in April and May. 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 dwarf groundcover forming a tight mat of foliage around stepping stones. It came to the US from Italy.
‘Cordial Canary’ is in the Feathered Friends™ Series of showy new Ajugas from hybridizer Chris Hansen. Ajuga ‘Cordial Canary’ has lime-green to yellow ground-hugging foliage which is topped in spring by violet blue flower spikes. Like other Ajugas, ‘Cordial Canary’ thrives in light shade. The chartreuse to yellow foliage is semi-evergreen, so the seasons of interest are long. The running habit makes Ajuga ‘Cordial Canary’ a good addition to mixed containers.
‘Fierce Falcon’ Bugleweed, from Chris Hansen’s Feathered Friends™ Series, produces foliage that is lustrous and such a dark purple that it is almost black. The ground-hugging running habit makes this a great shade groundcover, and Ajuga ‘Fierce Falcon’ is even showier in spring, when the shiny foliage is topped by short cobalt blue flower spikes. Ajuga foliage is semi-evergreen to evergreen, depending on winter conditions, so the running habit of ‘Fierce Falcon’ makes a good addition to mixed pots.
‘Parrot Paradise’ Bugleweed is part of the Feathered Friends™ series hybridized by Chris Hansen. The foliage is a bright combination of chartreuse, bronze and red, topped by cobalt blue flower spikes in spring. Like other Bugleweed cultivars, Ajuga reptans ‘Parrot Paradise’ is an evergreen groundcover for shady locations. The habit is spreading, so it works well in shade as an erosion controller.
‘Pink Lightning’ Bugleweed is a departure from most Ajugas in having short mauve pink flower spikes instead of blue in mid spring. The crinkled leaves of Ajuga ‘Pink Lightning’ are an attractive soft green with creamy white edges, and they are colorful almost all year. ‘Pink Lightning’ was a sport found and introduced by Sunny Borders Nursery of Connecticut. A spring nectar source for hummingbirds and pollinators.
'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 and a more prolific bloom 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.
‘Medusa’ Ornamental Onion gets its name because the green strap-like leaves curl and twist on the ends like Medusa’s hair. The light purple drumstick flowers emerge just above the foliage in late summer and early fall. When the bloom period is finished, you can still enjoy the dry seedheads. Similar in flower color and foliage color to ‘Blue Eddy’, but in a much larger form. Rich in nectar, the butterflies and bees love it but the rabbits and deer absolutely leave Ornamental Onions alone (so far…).
PRN Preferred: The twisty curly foliage is attractive all summer.
'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. Very floriferous and strong upright stems make this an exceptional plant and a great addition to rock gardens, perennial borders and containers. 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.
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. Great of green roofs. Self-seeds vigorously in the garden.
‘Forescate’ Chives have dark pink to lavender round flower heads held on straight stems above the edible tubular foliage. Alliums bloom heavily in summer and are perfect for sunny locations that have deer problems. Allium ‘Forescate’ is an excellent addition to rock or scree gardens (think ‘Beth Chatto’), and deadheading after the bloom period is a good idea because the schoenoprasum cultivars seed easily. A slightly taller, darker, more brilliant pink than the species. Is a effective accent in green roof meadows. ‘Forescate’ is very attractive to many pollinators. One of Roy Diblik’s favorite Alliums.
'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.
‘Blue Eddy’ Spiral Onion gets its name from its foliage, which is a neat bluish gray rosette of swirly flat blades. Allium senescens ‘Blue Eddy’ produces pinkish lavender ‘drumstick’ flowers above the rosettes in late summer through early fall. When the flowers are spent, they leave behind interesting dry seedheads that are a good addition to dried flower arrangements. Allium ‘Blue Eddy’ is excellent in rock gardens, containers and dry sites. Bred by Mark McDonough.
'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.
‘Lavender Bubbles’ Ornamental Onion has deep purple drumstick flowers in late summer and blooming in masses above the blue green twisty foliage. The seedheads remain throughout fall. Both the blooms and the leaves are scented and as a result not touched by deer or rabbits. Hummingbirds and pollinators, however, love Allium ‘Lavender Bubbles,’ which provides a good source of food at an important time of year. ‘Lavender Bubbles’ is a good container plant for sunny locations, and a great addition to rock gardens.
‘Pink Planet’ Ornamental Onion was introduced by Intrinsic Perennial Gardens for its numerous large lilac pink drumstick flowers. Allium ‘Pink Planet’ has blue green flat leaves which are topped by 18” blooms in mid summer. The seedheads turn tan when the bloom season is over, and make interesting dried elements in the fall and winter landscapes. Allium ‘Pink Planet’ was hybridized by Brent Horvath. A good choice for well-drained rock gardens and pollinator gardens.
‘Windy City’ Ornamental Onion is a showy introduction by Brent Horvath and Intrinsic Perennial Gardens. The globular dark purple flowers are held above the green flat leaves on 18” sturdy green stems in mid summer. The seedheads turn tan in the fall and persist well into winter. They make an attractive addition to dried arrangements. Allium x ‘Windy City’ is a good addition to green roofs, sunny balconies and well drained sunny perennial gardens.
‘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. A true tough multi-season plant plus Amsonia hubrichtii produces a latex-like sap that deer tend to avoid. This low maintenance native perennial is a slow grower; it may take 1 to 2 years before it's true beauty is revealed. A showstopper when planted in mass. Full sun and moist, well-drained soils create the best fall color; however, it will grow in a range of light and soil moisture conditions. Native to the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas, where it was discovered in the early 1940's by Leslie Hubricht. 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year, and Dr. JC 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 5-sepaled 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. Repeat bloom may occur in the cooler weather of early autumn.
Anemone x 'Honorine Jobert' is a Japanese Anemone with tall single white flowers, blooming for numerous weeks from late summer into fall. It prefers moist, humus-rich sites, and will make a large clump in time. A vigorous, low-maintenance plant, with dense, compact mounds of basal foliage which grows about 12-18 inches tall, but when in bloom the plants are 3-4 feet tall. It spreads by shallow creeping rhizomes. The flowers are visited by numerous bees and butterflies and make a good cut flower. After flowering concludes, rounded seedheads remain at the end of the stems for additional interest. ‘Honorine Jobert’, was discovered in Verdun, France in 1858. 2016 Perennial Plant of the Year.
‘Jasmine’ (‘IFANJ’) Windflower is one of the Fantasy™ series of compact, floriferous Anemones. The dark pink single flowers start in August and bloom for an extended period into fall. Anemone Fantasy™ ‘Jasmine’ was bred in the Netherlands, by Innaflora BV, the hybridizers of other Pretty Lady™ Anemones. Introduced in the USA by Plants Nouveau.
The semi-double pinkish lavender flowers of 'Pamina' Japanese Anemone appear on compact plants. Flowers bloom late summer into fall often extending to first frost. Planted in mass they make a very display late in the season.
'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.
'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.
'Red Riding Hood' Windflower is an addition to the Fantasy™ series of Anemones, developed by Yoshihiro Kanazawa of Japan. The rose red single flowers cover the compact plants starting in late July and continuing into October with the prolonged bloom period and the strong compact habit, Anemone x Fantasy™ 'Red Riding Hood' makes and excellent late summer to fall container plant.
PRN Preferred: This Japanese hybrid is both an extremely heavy bloomer and a tight compact plant.
'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.
Our native Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis blooms in April and May, producing beautiful downward facing flowers of red and yellow. They hover above the attractive biternate green foliage, and serve as an important source of nectar for hummingbirds on their northern migrations, as well as native pollinators. Aquilegia canadensis seeds itself well in meadows and edges of the woods, and adds a lovely graceful note to spring flower displays. Columbine prefers partial shade conditions but will tolerate more sun with adequate moisture.
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. Use this lovely cultivar in open shade gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Continue to water plants after bloom for a wonderful groundcover of attractive foliage.
Earlybird™ ‘Red Yellow’ Columbine blooms in mid to late spring, producing yellow open petals surrounded by red spurred petals. The flowers face upward and are much larger than the native Columbines. The delicate green foliage of Aquilegia x Earlybird™ ‘Red Yellow’ forms a compact clump and performs best in some shade.
'Sun King' Golden Aralia is a very large showy perennial, producing chartreuse yellow compound leaves which hold their striking color all summer. Foliage retains good yellow color throughout summer unless grown in too much shade. 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.
Part of the SunFern™ series of Wormwood, Artemisia gmelinii 'Olympia' is strikingly similar to what you would expect out of woodland ferns but for tough, sunny locations. The deeply dissected dark green foliage may well fool the novice into thinking it’s a fern but you and I both know this to be something much weirder and more novel.
'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.
'Powis Castle' Wormwood has showy silver foliage with a finely textured appearance, and needs a dry site. The foliage is sharply aromatic. The hybrid was selected by British gardener A. J. Hancock in the late 1960's, and used to line walls and terraces surrounding the castle. Sold to promote the National Trust gardens, it was introduced in 1972 by the National Trusts’ Powis Castle in Wales.
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. Adequate moisture is necessary, pairs well with ferns and hostas in the shade garden, it can also be used in rock gardens due to it diminutive size. 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 it is particularly gorgeous planted in masses. The flowers attract numerous butterflies, pollinators and bees. Aruncus dioicus is dioecious (separate male and female plants). Both flower but the male plants are more floriferous having numerous stamens per flower while the female flower has only 3 stamens. The genus name Aruncus comes from the Greek word for goat’s beard. Best if pruned back after flowering to promote bushy growth.
'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 soft green leaves of Canadian Ginger appear in pairs in spring and are followed closely by weird, hairy, burgundy brown 3-lobed flowers which attracts pollinators such as crawling flies and beetles with its fragrance. It requires high organic matter soil that maintains constant moisture until the plant is established. Asarum canadense spreads rapidly in forest understory sites. Ants carry seeds back to their nests dispersing and creating new plants. Pipevine swallowtail food source. Asarum canadense is a great native groundcover that does well in deep shade and is perfect for a woodland garden or to help with erosion control.
The lustrous green leaves of European Wild Ginger are evergreen and leathery in texture. The flowers are small, inconspicuous 3 lobed burgundy brown hairy oddities which appear in late spring to early summer. Flowers are pollinated by flies and the roots have a mild ginger scent. It is a creeping groundcover that spreads well in shady moist sites.
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. Hardy to zone 6 but may overwinter in zone 5 if protected. Best planted with the crown level to the soil, avoid planting this plant too deep.
Swamp Milkweed is a great addition to wet sites, stream banks and butterfly gardens. Fragrant white-to-pink milkweed flowers appearing in July and August on tall, clump-forming plants. The flat cymes are followed by interesting seed pods. Asclepias incarnata is an important Monarch butterfly nectar source and is an important food source for the larval stage of Monarch butterflies. It tolerates dry sites as well as wet conditions.
‘Cinderella’ Swamp Milkweed is a great native for bogs, ponds and streams. The small bright pink flowers are produced in showy umbels (flat crowns) from July to early fall, providing an important source of nectar and pollen to butterflies and other pollinators. Besides having an attractive vanilla scent, the blooms of Asclepias ‘Cinderella’ make a good long-stemmed cut flower. Like all Milkweeds, ‘Cinderella’ is deer resistant and an important host for Monarch butterfly larvae.
'Ice Ballet' Swamp Milkweed produces fragrant bright white milkweed flowers in flat clumps (umbels) in July and August. An important native host for Monarch butterfly larvae, Asclepias 'Ice Ballet' is an excellent addition to rain gardens, bioswales and moist meadows. The white latex is repellent to deer and rabbits, so the clumps get larger and showier with time. The blooms are followed by the classic milkweed pods which release silky white seeds when ripe.
'Soulmate' Swamp Milkweed blooms in July and August, producing clumps of fragrant mauve pink flowers. Asclepias incarnata 'Soulmate' thrives in moist and wet sites, so it works well in rain gardens, bioswales and wet meadows. Milkweeds are critical for Monarch caterpillars, and many pollinators are drawn to the flowers, Asclepias 'Soulmate' naturalizes well in wet locations because of the airborne milkweed seed production in fall.
Lovely orange and yellow flowers in June and July, followed by small spindle-shaped seed pods which when ripe will open to release silky seeds to be dispersed in the wind. Butterfly Weed is an important plant for butterflies, the leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars and the flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies. Typically grows in clumps 1 to 3 feet tall, and is found in dry, rocky open woods, prairies, fields, and roadsides. It must have a dry site and seeds readily given the right conditions. This species does not have milky-sapped stems. Asclepias tuberosa pairs well with other native plants such as asters, coneflowers and ornamental grasses. Once established Butterfly Weed is very drought tolerant but difficult to transplant due to the large taproot.
Whorled Milkweed is a tough native perennial which serves as a critical food source for all stages of Monarch butterfly development. The delicate white umbel shaped fragrant flowers appear from June through autumn, on top of the narrow leaves. Asclepias verticillata is one of the last milkweeds to go dormant, making it a valuable late season food source for Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars. The common name ‘Whorled’ refers to the way the leaves circle the stems. Because of Asclepias verticillata’s white sap, Whorled Milkweed is not eaten by deer or rodents. The silky seeds are released in fall from the pods (also useful in dried flower arrangements). The fall foliage color is yellow. This species will colonize to form a large patch.
The soft blue flowers of 'Wood's Light Blue' Fall Aster appear on disease resistant foliage in August to September. Bred for compact habit, long bloom period and heavy flowering; it eventually forms a large mat. An important source of late season nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Try it in the front of a perennial boarder of a container. Hybridized by Ed Wood in Portland, Oregon.
'Wood's Pink' Fall Aster has dark pink flowers with yellow centers 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' selections have shown excellent resistance to mildew and rust.
'Wood's Purple' Fall Aster has magenta purple flowers with yellow centers, disease resistant foliage, and blooms August to September. Forms a large mat eventually. Genus name comes from the Latin word aster meaning star for the shape of the flowers. One of the Wood's hybrids.
‘Avondale’ Blue Wood Aster is a late blooming native, producing lots of small light blue daisies with yellow to burgundy centers. Aster cordifolius ‘Avondale’ starts blooming in late August and lights up woodland margins and meadows well into fall. Unlike most other Asters, ‘Avondale’ is relatively deer resistant. The nectar and pollen are both important sources of food for butterflies and native pollinators and the seeds are loved by sparrows and thrushes. Introduced by North Creek Nurseries. (New name is Symphyotrichum cordifolium).
'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' is a low mounding perennial that blooms in September and October. White Wood Aster tolerates a wide range of soil types and handles dappled shade to full shade. Plants form colonies from underground rhizomes and tend to self-seed. Aster divaricatus 'Eastern Star' is a host plant for Pearl Crescent and Checkerspot caterpillars. Found by Roger Rache in a coastal Rhode Island native population, it was first introduced by Canyon Creek Nursery, later grown in our region by Northcreek Nurseries (new name is Eurybia divaricata).
PRN Preferred: More compact than the species, flowers even in dry shade.
‘Snow Flurry’ White Heath Aster is a native groundcover which performs beautifully in late summer and early fall. The short sturdy stems become covered with white daisy-like flowers which attract pollinators and songbirds. Because of its vigorous stoloniferous habit, Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ makes a good erosion control choice. The species name ‘ericoides’ refers to the heather-like appearance. (New name is Symphiotricum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’).
'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. Carl Hesselein's favorite Aster for flower color, disease-free foliage and upright stature in the garden. (New name is Symphyotricum laeve.)
PRN Preferred: Tons of flowers with no staking required. Winner!
'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 improved by cutting plants back to 6" in June. This native selection was found in Holland. (New name is Smyphyotrichum lateriflorum.)
This naturally occurring hybrid of A. spectabilis and A. macrophylla makes a wonderful addition to a wilder looking garden. Lavender blue flowers cover a rosette of large (for asters) heart shaped leaves in fall time. ‘Twilight’ Big Leaf Aster can handle some shade but best flower production is in moist but well drained full sun locations.
Aster novae-angliae 'Alma Potschke' is a New England Aster with showy deep pinkish rose flowers appearing in late summer and early fall. The habit is tall, like the native species which lights up the autumn New England Llandscape, but the vibrant fushsia pink color really stands out. Asters provide a nectar source for butterflies as well as a host plant for their larvae. (New name is Symphyotricum novae-angliae).
The stunning deep purple daisy flowers of 'Purple Dome' New England Aster appear in August on compact upright plants. A wonderful introduction from a wonderful plantsman, Dr. Richard Lighty, and the Mt. Cuba Center. Asters naturally grew in moist prairies and meadows in the eastern US thriving in full sun. Great for erosion control and pollinators love it. Pinch back stems before mid summer to promoter fuller more floriferous plants, this will also control the height and prevent if from flopping. Can self-seed so it is best to cutback after flowering to prevent seedling varieties in the garden. (New name is Symphyotricum novae-angliae.)
'October Skies' Aromatic Aster has medium blue flowers in September and October. 'October Skies' is tolerant of dry, poor soil sites. Plants form low mounding colonies from underground rhizomes. 'October Skies' blooms about 2 weeks earlier than 'Raydon's Favorite'. Loved by butterflies, bees and other pollinators and an important addition to the garden for late fall gardens. A Primrose Path introduction (New name is Symphyotricum oblongifolium).
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. Aromatic Aster is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and can tolerate heat, pollution, and soil compaction. Since it's foliage is fragant it is usually left alone by rabbits, rodents, and deer. 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 with yellow centers which bloom from September through November. A. 'Jin-dai' sports large tropical leaves all summer. Found in Japan by Rick Darke and Skip March. It was discovered at the Jin-Dai Botanical Garden in Tokyo, Japan. It grows shorter than the species, which can reach 7-8 ft. in height. Tatarian Daisy can rapidly spread by rhizome. An exceptional long-blooming, dramatic perennial; looks great in combination with ornamental grasses and Solidago varieties.
Dwarf Chinese Astilbe has pinkish lavender flowers in July, and blooms later than most Astilbes. 'Pumila' is a dwarf plant which spreads more quickly than most other Chinese Astilbes, eventually making a large mat, and tolerates drier sites than many Astilbes.
'Visions' Chinese Astilbe has vivid pink flowers in July, over attractive lustrous foliage, Chinese Astilbe blooms later than the Arendsii hybrids.
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. Chinese Astilbe varieties are noted for having better sun and drought tolerance than most x arendsii hybrids. Flower stalks can remain for additional ornamental interest in the garden.
PRN Preferred: Very tall flower spikes, more drought tolerant.
'Delft Lace' Astilbe is a very beautiful newcomer to the Plume Flower scene, with dark pinkish salmon buds which open up to fragrant apricot pink delicate plumes, set off by contrasting red stems. The dissected foliage is also attractive, with a silvery overlay on the bluish green leaves. It blooms in June and makes an awesome show.
PRN Preferred: The delicate dissected leaves and the colorful flowers are tougher and longer lasting than those of most other Astilbes.
‘Bridal Veil’ Hybrid Astilbe blooms throughout May, with lots of gracefully arching white plumes held above light green fern-like foliage. Astilbe 'Bridal Veil’ is a good addition to a small shade garden, or is lovely in masses in woodland landscapes. Astilbe x arendsii are hybrids, the result of crosses between Astilbe Chinensis, Astilbe Japonica, Astilbe thunergii, and Astilbe astilboides. These hybrids were developed in Germany by George Arends in the 1920s.
'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.
'Erika' Hybrid Astilbe has tall light pink plumes in May and June on reddish stems, bronzy new growth, and an upright habit. An excellent cut flower that lasts and lasts in the vase.
‘Fanal’ Hybrid Astilbe has arching plumes of deep red flowers in June. The bronzy green foliage clumps have delicate dissected leaves, out of which come the upright flower stems. Astilbe x ‘Fanal’ does best in moist cool sites, and makes a good cut flower.
The plumes of 'Peach Blossom' Hybrid Astilbe are peach with pink undertones in May and June over medium green foliage. In general, Astilbes are long-lived perennials that are most comfortable when grown in rich soil and light shade to filtered sun. They will grow in full shade, but will not bloom as prolifically there.
'Red Sentinel' Hybrid Astilbe has red flowers in May and June on red stems over dark green foliage. A dependable heavy bloomer. Perfect in a shady spot with dappled light; prefers moisture so water regularly for abundant flowers and nice foliage.
'Rheinland' Hybrid Astilbe has fluffy clear pink blooms in May and June over a mound of lush green foliage, adding a light, airy quality. A tough, reliable Astilbe.
The dense upright plumes of snow white flowers of 'White Gloria' ('Weisse Gloria') Hybrid Astilbe appear in May and June over dark green foliage. Extremely showy in a mass. It is resistant to rabbits and deer, but attractive to butterflies.
White Astilboides has tall large Astilbe-like white flowers in June, over huge round dramatic leaves that resemble lily pads. Leaves can grow to 2-3' in diameter, and have a have table-like surfaces, hence the species name. Astilboides tabularis pairs well with ferns and hostas. This hard to find plant will be sure to make a statement in any garden. Prefers moist sites. It used to be classified as a Rodgersia.