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Celebrate 20 Years of Great Plant Picks

at our 2015 Plant Sale May 1-3

The Friends Sale has been known for introducing new and unusual plants that work in our climate. This year we will look back on some of the exceptional plants introduced to northern New Jersey over the past 20 years and feature a superior selection of exciting plants to add to your garden.

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Top British Garden Designer's Current 'It' Plant

While walking the dogs this week, I listened to a Gardens Illustrated podcast in which Dan Pearson and Fergus Garrett chat about their influences and current trends in gardens. It was a lot of fun, especially because we had the chance to meet Fergus just this past February, but what I wanted to share with you here is Dan Pearson's opinion that the 'must have' plant to have now is the epimedium.

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Something Tall & Handsome in Your Perennial Bed?

Well, if it's not a full-time gardener, then the next best to find there are iris. We'll have iris species that bloom from May into Sept. and some that bloom in June and again in August. The tectorums in blue and white usually are in full flower for the sale. Their stature may be short but the impact of their sweet bloom in your spring garden is enormous. For later in May into June you can choose from a wide selection of siberian and Japanese iris in a variety of colors. See the online plant list available on this page for details.

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Plants to Splurge on This Spring

We are going to have a number of very special trees and shrubs at the sale. In most cases quantities are limited of these almost impossible to find plants. Here is just a partial listing:

Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'

Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'. Yes, this is that incredible white blooming tree lilac you may have seen -- or not, because it's so difficult to source. It grows to 20 feet, blooms at the end of June -- well after other lilacs, and is both resistant to powdery mildew and pesky deer. A stunning statment in any garden.

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Cornus -- a Tree for Your Garden

The common name for cornus is dogwood. These are small trees growing to 20 feet or so and are valuable additions to any small garden or as an understory layer in a larger one.

Cornus florida

Cornus florida is the wonderful native species that blooms for almost all of May with a cluster of tiny flowers that turn into beautiful berries later in the season (read Doug Tallamy on how much robins and other birds thrive on them). The flowers are surrounded by four large bracts that are big waxy petals that are typically misnamed the tree’s flowers. These bracts decorate the tree for almost the entire month of May. Later, there are the colorful red fruits and beautiful orange and red/maroon fall foliage. We have the most disease resistant variety available at this year’s sale: Appalachian Spring.

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Why not foresake forsythia for something better?

Go with that feeling and replace your rangy, humping mass of egg-yolk-yellow shrubbery that’s ugly 11 out of 12 months of the year with something better and much more attractive. Here are some choices to consider:

Witchhazel (Hamamelis species)

Despite another harsh winter, witchhazel has been blooming since February and many varieties are still going strong. These shrubs usually offer lovely yellow or orange scented blooms and bronzy orange fall color. They typically grow to 6-10 feet or more. Many are native and all are cold tolerant and not enjoyed much by deer. We’ll have a couple of special varieties at the sale, February Gold, which is highly fragrant and prized by our grower because of the link between her father and Paul Meyer of the Morris Arboretum (a wonderful destination just a bit over an hour from Morristown). The other is Orange Sunrise, which is a native and gets to be only six feet talk and turns a burnished red in the fall.

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Geum – Avens

Garden Jewels

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G. Mai Tai

Everyone needs a few bright jewels to improve their garden mood.

Geums have charming ruffled flowers that come in a myriad of colors with hot yellow, orange and red blooms that emerge from a basel rosette of fuzzy leaves.

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Herbs Galore

Don’t just pour, grow your own

... refreshing (and lo-cal) summer drinks!

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Mojito Mint

Admit it, we gardeners all do it at least some time, hit that wall in the afternoon after a day of digging when we retreat into the kitchen for a ‘muscle relaxant’ break, preferably on a lot of ice. Well, don’t just pour, when you can grow your favorite elixir this summer!

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Lavender & Digiplexis

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Lavender ‘Phenomenal’

Look at this photo and you can see that the name says it all. Lloyd Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm in PA, introduced this lavender three years ago and everyone has raved about it since then. We’re lucky to have Peace Tree as one of our suppliers so we will have a great supply of this wonderful herb. The shape and hardiness of this lavender is better than any other varieties that can be grown in our area. About the only one who doesn’t like this plant are the deer browsing in your neighborhood.

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Actaea Simplex ‘Atropurpurea Group’ - Tall Dark and Handsome

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Actaea Simplex ‘pink spike’

One charming common name for Actaea Simplex ‘Atropurpurea Group’ (formerly Cimicifuga) is Fairy Candles. Some call it Bugbane which refers to the insect repellent properties of the plant.

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