Fatsia world

We have long been enamored with all plants in the aralia family, in particular those which are winter hardy in our climate. We're trying to collect as many forms of Fatsia japonica as possible, and here are a few from the garden this fall. None of these are available yet, but propagation will be starting soon. Fatsia japonica 'Moseri' - this clone is very popular in Europe, but is rarely seen in  US gardens. Reportedly, it's much more winter hardy than the typical seed-grown material that is produced in Florida. Our plant sailed through last years' bitter winter. This is a fascinating, still un-named clone from the US National Arboretum, where it has endured winter temperatures well below zero. In addition to its winter hardiness, we love the ruffled foliage. Now, we just need a good name. This is a form shared by plantsman Dan Hinkley, when we visited him a few years ago. The thick glossy leaves are very different from anything we've seen. Fatsia polycarpa Read more [...]

Falling for selaginella

We have long loved the amazing selaginellas, but in the fall and winter, the evergreen native Selaginella apoda looks absolutely fabulous. Here it is in the garden, 1st image is in November, 2nd image February, carpeting the ground with a touch-worthy texture.  It's only been known since 1753...surely you've managed to grow one by now!   If you're looking for something taller, the Chinese Selaginella braunii also looks great in the fall and tops out around 1' tall. A few years ago, we were browsing in one of the box stores, and spotted this variegated Selaginella braunii, which came home with us. So far, we haven't been able to get the variegation to be stable enough to offer.  Read more [...]

Guardians of the pet

Here’s a fun combination in the winter garden where we interplanted a clump of the North American native Agave lophantha with a gold-leaf form of the Japanese native Selaginella tamariscina. Both the textural and color combinations are quite eyecathing.  The lesson…create vignettes throughout the garden and don’t be afraid to experiment!

Native green meatballs

While the focus of PDN is perennial plants, we have a strong woody plant focus in our surrounding botanic garden. A plant that’s really impressed us is a very dwarf form of our native yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria ‘Oscar’, that was shared by Mobile, Alabama plantsman Marteen VanderGiessen. This is a photo of our 9 year old parent plant that’s never been sheared, forming a very tight 30″ tall x 44″ wide ball. Just think…native green meatballs with no pruning. We think this is so amazing, we’ve propagated a few to share with you in 2019.

Cast iron makes a return

We now have so many aspidistra (cast iron plants), that there is at least one species flowering virtually every month of the year. Winter still has the most flowering species, and here are a few that are currently blooming in our collection. Most folks don't see the flowers because they either don't know to look or plant their plants too deep, so the flowers form underground. We like to snip off some of the oldest leaves for a better floral show. Aspidistra fungilliformis 'China Star' is a Chinese collection from Jim Waddick Aspidistra tonkinensis is a Dylan Hannon collection from Vietnam...not enough to share yet, but soon. Aspidistra sp. nov. is an Alan Galloway collection from Vietnam.  We thought this was Aspidistra lutea, but we now think it may be a new undescribed species. This one offsets slow, so it may be a couple of years before we can share...hopefully by then we can get this named. Aspidistra vietnamensis...a Japanese selection. Most of the plants in the trade Read more [...]

Cyclamen experiment

When we had our new home built, the design resulted in several potential planting areas under a wide overhang that never sees any moisture...unless something akin to a hurricane blows in. The idea was to keep water/irrigation and mulch away from the wood siding. Cyclamen seemed like a good choice for this difficult spot, so our friends Brent and Becky Heath shared some corms of a hardy form of the normally tender Cyclamen persicum. We laid the corms on top of the soil and covered them with 2" of Permatill (expanded slate that resembles pea gravel), which was then covered by an ornamental layer of river rock. Here are the plants currently after just over 1 year in the ground. The cold last winter burned off all the foliage, but they have all returned. Techniques like this should also work with any of the hardy cyclamen.  Read more [...]

Adore us some acorus

I was just walking through our woodland garden and stopped to snap this photo of one of my favorite perennials, Acorus gramineus 'Minnimus Aureus'. No matter how many new plants hit the market, this will always be a favorite and a plant I wouldn't garden without. The evergreen chartreuse gold foliage remains bright all winter in the shade or part sun garden, so there's no need for a carpet of mulch. Each plant spreads slowly, eventually kniting together to form a solid weed-subduing mat. The fine texture of acorus is a beautiful contrast to bold-textured plants like the aucuba in the foreground. Did we mention that it's deer resistant? Acorus, zone 5a-9b, is moisture loving, but also pretty darn drought tolerant.   Acorus used to reside comfortably in the aroid family, with the likes of peace lilies and jack-in-the-pulpits, but now DNA researchers all reach different conclusions on where it belongs taxonomically and how it is related to the rest of the aroids. Check out Read more [...]

Director of Plant Breeding needed @ NC State

You are all probably aware of our upcoming merger with NC State University, but what you may not know about yet is the Plant Breeding Consortium. NC State has long had a number of world class plant breeding programs including 25 that are currently active, from sweet potatoes to blueberries, to ornamental plants. All of those programs will soon be consolidated under a new PhD faculty position...the Director of Plant Breeding. The University is seeking a world class visionary leader for this new position. The details can be found in the posting announcement  We've got a fabulous Chancellor, (Randy Woodson), a fabulous Dean of the College of Ag and Life Sciences (Rich Linton), and a soon to be constructed $160 million dollar Plant Sciences Center. All we need now is a fabulous Director of Plant Breeding. Is that you or someone you know? Chancellor Randy Woodson (above left) with US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue College of Ag Life Sciences Dean, Rich Linton (left) Read more [...]

Join the flocks and bedazzled.

Here are a couple of favorites from our trials that will be included in our new catalog to be launched January 1. These are the Bedazzled series of Phlox, created by plantsman Hans Hansen, using our native Phlox bifida. Last year, these started flowering for us in late January and continued into April. In the ground, our clumps are only 4″ tall and 2′ wide. These are much more dense that typical Phlox bifida, and much more compact than Phlox subulata. Even before flowering, the evergreen foliage is pristine all winter. The first is ‘Bedazzled Lavender’ and the second is ‘Bedazzled Pink’.