Amsonia (aka: bluestar) are one of the best temperate genera (18 species) of blue-flowered perennials for the spring garden. We’ve offered quite a few different species and selections through the years, rotating them in and out as propagation successes allow and as sales dictate. All but two of the species, (Amsonia orientalis from Europe and Amsonia elliptica from Asia) are North American natives. Most are extremely drought tolerant, while others like Amsonia rigida and Amsonia tabernaemontana can tolerate very wet soils.
Amsonia montana is a commonly grown plant of mystery, having just appeared in horticulture, but never been documented from a wild population. A few of the amsonia species have flowers so pale blue that they appear white in the garden with only a hint of blue on the flower corolla. Amsonia are quite promiscuous in the garden, so if you grow more than one species nearby, you will have hybrids from seed. We hope you’ll explore this amazing genus of perennials.
While exploring the garden yesterday, I was admiring the cardinal flowers, Lobelia cardinalis, in the bog garden. Most of the flowers were red, there were a couple that were more magenta and a few blooming white .
And then several feet away there was one that was a bicolor. Not sure who was the baby-daddy and who was the baby-momma, but we like the results! What happens in the bog garden stays in the bog garden.
There are many great garden-worthy native plants that are under utilized, not readily available, or not even on the radar of many gardeners. If you aren’t familiar with, or haven’t grown these native beauties, you should get acquainted!
Erigeron is native to all states East of the Mississippi and forms flat evergreen rosettes that are slowly stoloniferous and form a tight mat. In spring, the rosettes are topped with 10″ stalks of light pink daisies. Average-to-dry garden soils in light shade is perfect.
Carex radiata is found in eastern North America from Canada to Alabama. ‘Halifax’ is a fine-textured selection we encountered while hiking in Halifax Co., NC. The evergreen 8″ x 8″ mound is a stunning textural addition to the woodland garden and is a great contrast to bold textured woodland plants such as hostas and hellebores.
Engelmannia peristenia is a monotypic genus (only one species) that has proven ridiculously easy to grow. The clumps of fuzzy green leaves are topped from spring into summer with 2′ tall flowering stalks of small yellow daisies. When the flowering stalks begin to fade, simply whack ’em back to the ground and let the flowering continue!
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.