Tag: PS-15

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.

Cornus kousa

After the native dogwoods finish their display, the cornus kousa start blooming and their bloom usually lasts through June. We have several new and different varieties at this year’s sale: Summer Gold has white bracts and striking yellow variegated foliage. Then we have two white variegated foliage dogwoods that we’ve carried before but that continue to be among our favorites: Miss Santomi with blush pink flower bracts and Wolf Eyes, which is smaller and slower growing than most. It has brilliant variegation that shines in a shady corner. I’ve also seen it used effectively in large urns at the Mansion in May in Far Hills a few years ago. The last kousa is ‘Kristen Lipka’, which is an amazing weeping form. A final great thing about the kousa dogwoods is their big raspberry-like fruit that, although seedy, tastes like banana. It’s a special treat for my dogs and me, but we do leave most for the birds.

Cornus hybrids

Then, overlapping the bloom of the floridas and kousas are the Rutgers hybrids, known for their disease resistance and large blooms. We have several new ones: Rosy Teacups, which has pink blooms as adorable as it’s name; Variegated Stellar Pink, which has light pink bracts and white variegated foliage; Celestial Shadows, developed by the well known dogwood breeder Don Shadow, who gave it the botanical hybrid name of ‚ÄòMichael Steinhardt’. Mr. Steinhardt is a benefactor of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and has the most amazing, not-to-be missed garden in Mt. Kisco that is part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program. Plan to spend the whole day when you go.

== Patti Millar & Ilona Ontscherenki, Co-Chairs

Shady Ladies

Thalictrum ‚ÄòElin’

My yard is dominated by large trees of varying types. Oaks, hickories, maples, white pines; beautiful majestic beings that provide coolness in summer and protection from harsh winter winds. As a gardener, I have learned that while the shade these trees provide limits my choices from plant lists, I can still create a beautiful garden where soft colors weave in and out and create an atmosphere of coolness, serenity and calm.

One important technique to achieve visual interest in the shade garden is variation in elevation. I love Thalictrum ‚ÄòElin,’ with its height up to seven feet and its soft, lacy leaves. Purplish stems topped with lavender flowers and blue-green foliage give color variety as well as height. ‚ÄòElin’ will be happiest with a few hours of sunlight. Find a spot under a high tree canopy and you will be rewarded by her charms.

A. pachypoda ‚ÄòMisty Blue’

Another vertical plant is Actaea pachypoda ‚ÄòMisty Blue,’ also know as white baneberry or Doll’s Eyes. This eastern U.S. native forms a mound of almost blue tinted foliage with stalks of white flowers in the spring, reaching 2-3 feet. When the flowers fade, small white fruits with distinctive black dots in the center form on the stalk, thus the name ‚ÄòDoll’s Eyes.’ The fruit is readily consumed by birds but the entire plant is highly resistant to deer.

H. americana Dale’s Strain

Moving down to lower level plants, every shade garden needs to have heuchera, and one of the best is Heuchera americana Dale’s Strain. Also derived from a native plant, Dale will benefit from a higher canopy. The plant can grow to a foot tall, with white flower stalks of up to 24″ tall. But it is the beautiful marbled foliage that makes this plant stand out in the garden.

You don’t have to rely only on pachysandra as a groundcover in the shade garden. Pulmonaria, particularly a variety such as ‚ÄòSilverado’ with its silvery leaves, is a great substitute. Don’t forget all the many varieties of epimedium, with its dainty foliage, and about as trouble free a plant as you can find. And plant breeders have been providing us with new varieties of Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa, with varieties such as Beni Kaze, All Gold, and Macra.

And, all of the above are deer resistant. What more could a gardener ask for? Go forth, plant, and while others wilt in the heat, revel in the glory of the shade garden.

==Sally Hemsen, President, Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum

Yes You Canna!

Canna Lucifer

Yes, you can add pizazz to your garden with Canna, Caladium and Colacasia.

The strong focus on spring flowering bulbs in our gardens can overshadow the many wonderful choices of summer flowering bulbs that will perform quite well here in an increasingly hot New Jersey.

Cannas bring tropical splendor and architectural interest to summer borders and they also flourish along the damp margins of a pond. These bold plants feature clustered, flaglike blooms in a brilliant array of colors. They are deer resistant, easy to grow and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

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