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.
Asarum arifolium (Native: SE US)
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Plant Delights Nursery and JLBG focuses on preserving genetic germplasm
through ex-situ conservation and assembling complete collections of specific
plant groups. This aides in conducting scientific and taxonomic research to
clarify mis-information and nomenclature issues in the industry.
One of these specialty collections is Aspidistra, also known as cast iron plant. JLBG’s collection currently contains 32 species, 109 unique clones and 12 unidentified species.
Aspidistra tonkinensis - Hannon formAspidistra lutea - Mai Chau form
Aspidistra is a group of evergreen woodland perennials typically grown for their foliage and unique variegation. Many people never notice their flowers, which are borne at ground level, below the foliage. Here are some flower images from the garden this week.
Aspidistra elatior 'To Ryu Mon'
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Tony's first encounter with hardy cyclamen was in the garden of the late Rachel Dunham of Cary, NC in the 1960s. He was amazed to see what he thought was a rare perennial, seeding all through her woodland lawn and was immediately struck by how tough cyclamen were, and obviously, how easy they were to cultivate. This started him on a lifetime of cyclamen fondness. Here is some of Tony's insights on growing hardy cyclamen.
Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen hederifolium are the most commonly grown garden species with C. hederifolium blooming in the fall before the foliage emerges and C. coum blooming in the winter. Here are a couple of images of C. hederifolium blooming in the garden.
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Amorphophallus are exotic plants in the aroid family, famous for their bizarre flowers and whose odor leaves no doubt as to why they are also called corpse flower or Voodoo lily.
Some varieties are tropical, while others are perennial in temperate zones. Here are some images of hardy amorphophallus in the garden.
Amorphophallus henryi with purple stems
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In flower now at Juniper Level Botanic Garden (JLBG) is the newest published species of toadshade, Trillium delicatum, which became official last week! Trillium delicatum, which from a distance could be confused with Trillium decumbens hails from central Georgia, where it's found growing in floodplains. DNA studies found that it is more closely related to the Alabama-centered Trillium stamineum.
This leaves only fifteen more potentially new species in the Southeast US that are currently being studied for future naming...pretty exciting times.
As an ex-situ conservation garden and since we do not endorse sales from plants collected in the wild, our JLBG propagation team are working to make this available from seed, so keep your eyes peeled.
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?