New discovery – treasure or trash?

We field quite a few calls each year from folks who think they've just found the next million dollar plant and want to know how to monetize their discovery. Sadly, it's not as easy as it sounds. Take our latest discovery above...a nearly albino form of the hardy orchid, Bletilla striata that popped up here in our propagation department. Despite it looking amazing, does it really have value? Since it is a near albino, growth will be very slow due to a lack of chlorophyll, so that rules it out immediately for quantity production. Will the next division also be equally as variegated or will it go back to green?  The answer is...we don't know. The question then becomes how many people would purchase it, knowing it's going to be difficult to grow and it may never multiply or could revert to green? In cases like this, a venue like EBay could be the best opportunity to match it with someone willing to take a chance. Each plant is different...so what do you think we should Read more [...]

Skirt-lifting time in the woods

While we'll always grow the woodland asarum (wild gingers) for their foliage, we are equally as entranced by their flowers which occur from fall thru spring...based on the species. The only months we haven't recorded asarum flowers in the garden are June-September.  One of our first time offerings this year is a selection we made of the Japanese Asarum kurosawae that we named Asarum 'Saddleback'. (Zone 7a-8b, at least)In late winter, we remove the old foliage in the center of the clump so that we can enjoy the flowers as you can see below.  Most of our asarums start as single divisions, and after 3-4 years, we divide them for the first time, resulting in 5-10 plants.  A second division 3-4 years later yields another 5-10 plants each, for a total of 25-100 plants. A third division is required 3-4 years later to finally have enough to offer. So, from start to commercialization is usually 9-12 years of production time. Tony demonstrates how to divide asarum Read more [...]

Flaccid hemiboea

Back in 2013, we introduced what we thought would be a great seller for folks with a shade garden…another fall-flowering hardy gesneriad, Hemiboea flaccida. Sales were a resounding thud! So, we’re curious why, when it attracts the attention of seemingly every garden visitor during the fall season. The foliage feels like crush velvet, it’s easy to grow, and flowers in the fall, when little else is blooming in the woodland garden.  We’re befuddled. 

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 [...]