There are lots of different gingers to keep straight, starting with a memorable one that was a part of the band of misfits stranded on Gilligan’s Island. Horticulturally speaking, however, ginger refers both to a group of plants in the Zingiberaceae and Aristolochiaceae (birthwort) families. Hardy members of the Zingiber family are plants who mostly flower in the heat of summer, while the wild gingers (asarum) of the birthwort family tend to be mostly winter/spring flowering.
So, while it’s late winter/early spring, let’s focus of the woodland perennial genus asarum, of which we currently grow 86 of the known 177 asarum species/subspecies. In late winter/early spring, we like to remove any of the winter damaged evergreen leaves, which makes the floral show so much more visible. Few people take time to bend down and observe their amazing flowers, so below are some of floral photos we took this spring. View our full photo gallery here.
Look what’s in full flower now in the winter garden!. This dazzling spring ephemeral, Cardamine quinquefolia, is just off the charts amazing for the light shade woodland garden. It has formed a stunning 3′ wide patch in four years in our Zone 7b garden. Hardiness is Zone 6a-8b.
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 (wild ginger) during the winter.
Asarum takaoi ‘Ginba’ below is an old Japanese cultivar that we first offered in 2015, and again this year. We first obtained this in 2003, so that’s only 2 offerings in 16 years. There’s a reason that most nurseries don’t bother with these. At least now, we have been able to build up a stock block for future propagation. We hope you’ll take a peek below the foliage for a truly great floral show. (Zone 4b-8a)
A new asarum that will be coming in another year or so, is our yellow-flowered selection of the typically purple-flowered Asarum ichangense, that we named ‘Ichang Lemon’. It’s in full bloom now, so if you can make it to our Winter Open Nursery and Garden, be sure to take a peak. (Zone 5a-8a, guessing) To learn more about wild gingers in the woodland garden, join us for our free garden chat series, Gardening Unplugged, the second Sunday of our Winter Open Nursery and Garden, May 3 at 2:00pm
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 the tiny upright flower spikes in spring, but you’ll need to slow down for a close look.
We grow a large number of acorus clones in the garden, and would love to offer more if only folks would buy them in larger numbers.
Hellebores are the gems of the winter woodland garden. Hellebores, also known as lenten rose, come in a wide range colors and flower forms, they are deer resistant and drought tolerant once established.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Confetti Cake’
This year we are pleased to offer many new hellebore hybrids from the breeding work of Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Blushing Bridesmaid’
We are continuing to add new hellebores to our website monthly, including selections from our own breeding. Be sure to visit during our annual Winter Open Nursery and Garden, Feb. 24-26 and March 3-5, to enjoy the many hellebores blooming in the gardens as well as selecting a few gems for your own.
Helleborus ‘Pippa’s Purple’ in the sales house with close-up of flower.
Hellebores that will be released for sale shortly – Rose Quartz, Golden Lotus, and French Kiss
Cypripedium, Lady Slipper Orchids, is a genus of woodland garden plants that are among the most desired of all native hardy orchids for sale, despite their often finicky requirements.
Plant Delights Nursery is excited about our bare root shipment of responsibly grown, flowering size, cypripedium orchids we received yesterday. These plants are nursery propagated and not collected from the wild.
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes!
Fall is the best time for planting your hardy lady slipper orchid. Beds should be well-prepared and amended with compost unless you naturally have rich, organic soil. Dig a shallow but wide crater, spread the roots out flat (with eyes pointed upward), cover them with 1″ of soil, and water in well.
Cypripedium ‘Gabriela’ – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes.
You should avoid planting your lady slipper orchid near aggressive groundcovers (such as ivy, vinca or Japanese pachysandra) or near the base of trees or large shrubs due to root competition. Check out this article on Cypripediums for more in depth information.
Cypripedium reginae – healthy bare root liners with multiple eyes.
Other varieties of Cypripedium we just got in for sale include C. kentuckiense, Hank Small, Michael, and Philipp. All plants have been potted to keep the roots from drying out and for shipping, but the mix can easily be removed for fall planting and incorporated into the planting site.
We began growing sacred lilies back in the 1970s, when few people in the US, outside of a handful of fanatic collectors were growing them. The only large scale grower of the green species, Rohdea japonica, was our friends, the late Sam and Carleen Jones of Georgia’s Piccadilly Farms. Despite being very easy to grow, Rohdeas will never be found at most nurseries or garden centers, due to the long production time from both seed and divisions.
We worked for years (pre-Internet and email) to establish contacts in Japan who were willing to sell and ship rohdeas to the US. In Japan, variegated cultivars of rohdeas are highly prized for what most folks think are subtle differences. Most Japanese gardeners grow rohdeas in special decorative ceramic pots as house or patio plants. For many of the nice, variegated rohdea varieties, costs in Japan range from $50 to several hundred dollars, and several thousand dollars each for the special, slow-growing forms.
Some rohdeas multiply reasonably well, while others are ridiculously slow to offset. After several decades, we are finally able to share more of our extensive rohdea collection, although none in large quantities. We have recently added several cultivars to our on-line offerings, with a few more slated for spring.
Think of rohdeas as evergreen hostas…shade lovers that are reasonably drought tolerant, but thrive in slightly moist woodland garden sites. Although rohdea flowers are barely noticable, the large stalks of bright red berries are a lovely highlight starting in late fall and continuing all winter.r
In the ground, rohdeas are winter hardy in Zones 6a-10b. We hope you enjoy adding a few of these very special evergreen perennials to either your woodland garden or collection of patio containers. If you decide to take the rohdea collecting plunge with us, there is a even a Rohdea Facebook group…come join us on-line.
One of the most difficult parts of our job is to try and predict which plants will sell well. We’d like to think that our favorites would also be your favorites, and in some cases that’s true. In others, like Boehmeria ‘Glow Light’, it wasn’t true. We just took this photo of one of our favorite woodland perennials that’s unrivaled for brightening a shade garden all summer long. It’s easy to grow and hardy from zones 6a-9b. So, help us out…why didn’t enough folks buy this amazing plant to keep it in production?
Spring is an amazing time in the woodland garden. We begin the final two days of our spring open nursery and garden with a few photos of some of our seasonal favorites. We hope you can join us this weekend to see these amazing plants in person, but if not, here are some recently taken images.
Here’s photo showing the flower size of Asarum ‘King Kong‘…it’s truly other-worldly…a wild ginger on steroids.Another of our favorite silver-foliage ferns, Athyrium ‘Ocean’s Fury‘…what a star in the woodland garden. We just love the color and texture. If you can’t visit us, we hope you’ll spend time in your own garden this weekend and embrace the joy that plants add to our lives.