Variegated magnolia and mahonia

If you grow many plants from seed, you already know the chance of finding variegated offspring is actually fairly good..if you have a detailed eye.  Most variegates have little if any commercial value, other than to crazy plant collectors, who will gladly trade their first born for a start.  Still, it's always exciting when these pop-up. Here is our seedling of Magnolia insignis 'Significant Find'...in the ground for several years and unstably stable. Here is our unnamed seedling of Mahonia fargesii in the garden.  Keep your eyes peeled in your own garden and when you visit others.  Read more [...]

New sterile hybrid hellebores for fall – sneak peek

 We are very excited to add four brand new Helleborus niger hybrids (bred with Helleborus x hybridus) to our fall on-line catalog.  These are sisters to the wildly popular Helleborus 'Anna's Red' and 'Penny's Pink', all with outfacing flowers, incredible silver-veined foliage, and no seed. Our supplies of each are very limited.  Helleborus 'Cheryl's Shine' Helleborus 'Dana's Dulcet' Helleborus 'Moondance' Helleborus 'Sally's Shell'   Read more [...]

Lovin’ Leaf and Limb

    We were thrilled to welcome Raleigh based Treecology firm, Leaf and Limb for a volunteer workday at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens (JLBG) recently.  Almost 30 team members showed up with tree equipment to help with pruning, and some woodland canopy opening.  These volunteer work days are also used as a training opportunity for newer Leaf and Limb staffers.  Their crew had recently conducted a similar volunteer day at the JC Raulston Arboretum.  Kudos to a wonderful firm, and our sincere thanks for a job well done.  Read more [...]

New Cascades Butterfly Bushes…not your grandmothers buddleias

Can we have a collective, WOW!  For decades, we've begged plant breeders to use the weeping butterfly bush, Buddleia lindleyana in their breeding.  Although two breeders did so, and we have their F1 (first generation) hybrids in the garden, no one took it to further generations...until now. We are please to help introduce these amazing Hans Hansen/Walters Garden hybrids...the Cascades series of butterfly bushes.  The "Cascades" aren't small like many of the newer hybrids, but instead mature at 6-6.5' in height and width...the 'Empress Wu' of butterfly bushes. When I visited the Walters Garden trials this summer, these insanely showy butterfly bushes emitted an incredibly strong and sweet fragrance, and were loaded with an array of pollinators.  The "Cascades" are truly breakthroughs in the genus buddleia. They come in three colors, pink, lavender, and grand.  Hmmm....didn't know that grand was a color.  The photo above is Buddleia 'Grand Cascade'.  Read more [...]

Cherry Chocolate Chip fun in the garden

It's always cool to have really fun plants in the garden, and few can match this selection of our North American native, Manfreda undulata.  Manfreda 'Cherry Chocolate Chip' is the work of our friend Hans Hansen, who has created some of the finest perennials on the market today.  For us, Manfreda 'Cherry Chocolate Chip' stays evergreen to about 5-7 degrees F, below which temperature it becomes deciduous.  Sun from a few hours to half a day is perfect for this drought tolerant succulent.  I can envision fun landscape ideas using coral or sea shells to create a magical underwater-looking landscape. If you use this in a seascape, please share your images. Now, I can't get my mind off ice cream...back in a few minutes.   Read more [...]

Weather or not…

We had an interesting end of the day Friday, when a microburst/funnel cloud, complete with an abundance of 2.25" hail, passed over the nursery and gardens.  Colocasias were immediately transformed into Monstera deliciosa...aka Swiss Cheese plants. Eighteen irrigation pipes in the nursery were shattered along with the roof of our potting barn.  On the bright side, our compost pile will grow considerably after we finish raking debris.   Our little weather encounter pails in comparison to our gardening friends in Texas and Louisiana, who are beginning the recovery from Hurricane Harvey.  Mercer Botanic Garden just north of Houston was under an 8' deep raging river for 3 days.  Crews are still accessing what will no doubt be catastrophic damage.  We've yet to hear back from our friends at Shangrila Gardens in Orange, Texas, but can't imagine the news will be good since the main feature of the garden is the incredible canal that traverses the garden.   Peckerwood Read more [...]

Redbud love – Cercis ‘Wavecrest’

Our friend Hans Hansen had told us about a redbud he was growing from the former Wavecrest Nursery, that was a cross of Cercis canadensis and Cercis chinensis...a cross considered difficult, if not almost impossible.  I visited last week to get cuttings (yes, it roots), and found a stunningly beautiful small tree with glossy dark green foliage. It has the floral density and trunk flowering of Cercis chinensis with the winter hardiness of Cercis canadensis, enduring Michigan winters of -12F, so far.   Here's a photo Hans shared of it in flower this spring.  Surprisingly, it's never been officially released or named, so we've christened it, Cercis 'Wavecrest' to honor the amazing nursery, where it was discovered as a seedling.  If our cuttings take, we'll work to get this into the trade and in the hands of collectors.  Read more [...]

Allium ‘Milleniunm’ – Perennial Plant of the Year

In 1998, Massacheusetts allium breeder, Mark McDonough share a plant of his newly named Allium 'Millenium' with us to introduce in 2000 to celebrate the new century. After 17 years on the market, Allium 'Millenium' became an overnight success when it was just selected as the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. This is a yuuuge honor as it joins a very select company of award winners.   Allium 'Millenium' is now produced by the 100,000's.  I just took this photo in the production fields of Walters Gardens in Michigan.  All of these were produced from a single quart pot they picked up from us 7 years ago.  Pretty impressive!     We don't feel that breeders usually get enough credit for their amazing work, so here's the man behind Allium 'Millenium', breeder, Mark McDonough of Massacheusetts.  A well deserved congratulations, and thanks for letting us be a small part of this amazing story!   Read more [...]

Rhodophiala bifida ‘White Surprise’…and more

We'll never get tired of growing plants from seed and the anticipation of seeing what unique traits might arise.  This week, we were thrilled to "discover" our first white oxblood lily, Rhodophiala bifida in our research trials.  We deflowered it this week with its own pollen in the hopes of producing more white clones. Fingers crossed.  Below are a few of our other seedling selections that will be coming soon. Rhodophiala bifida 'Hill Country Red' is the industry standard clone In 2017, we released our first clonal selection, Rhodophiala 'Carmencita' Coming in the next couple of years is a very early flowering seed strain with orange red flowers that we've named Rhodophiala 'Red Baron' Here is a still unnamed 2013 seed selection. Here another unnamed selection with nice white central striping. Another lovely pink 2013 selection One final shot.  As you can see, it's easy to get carried away with seedling selections.   Read more [...]

New rain lily – Habranthus ruber

Flowering a new plant for the first time is always exciting, and this week we enjoyed our first Habranthus ruber.  This Brazillian rain lily is quite rare, and probably only a few exist in the US.  We’ve already selfed this to get seed, and we also spread its pollen far and wide to other rain lilies to see what color combinations might be possible. We doubt this will be reliably winter hardy for us in Zone 7b, but it should produce fascinating offspring.