Another of our favorite early summer plants is the amazing southeast US native Dichromena colorata (aka: Rhynchospora colorata). Known by the common name, white-top star grass/sedge, this tough-as-nails groundcover can be found inhabiting moist ditches from NC to Texas. The floral show last for 1-2 months, depending on weather. Here, we have it growing in regular garden soil (sandy loam) amended with compost, and irrigated regularly. White-top sedge does spread, but not aggressively. Regardless, we’d recommend keeping away from nearby wimpy growers, which would be quickly consumed. Hardiness is Zone 7a and warmer.
Carex conica ‘Hime’ has been in horticultural commerce for many decades, and remains a superb woodland garden sedge. The evergreen species Carex conica is native throughout Japan, where it occurs in woodland conditions. This variegated selection that goes by an array of names such as ‘Snowline’ and ‘Marginata’, but Carex conica ‘Hime’, which translates to “princess” seems to the the correct cultivar name. The tight 10″ tall x 20″ wide clumps of narrow white-edged leaves are topped with this fascinating floral show for us in early March. In 35 years of growing this, we have yet to see a single garden seedling.
Please join me in welcoming our newest JLBG team member, Dr. Patrick McMillan. I’ve known Patrick for 30 years, going back to his days as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, and long before he became a legend in the plant world.
We’ve followed his amazing journey, most recently as Director of Heronswood Gardens in Washington. Prior to that, he was Director of the SC Botanical Garden and Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson since 2000. Patrick was the Emmy Award winning host of the renown PBS series, Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. Patrick is a highly-respected botanist/naturalist, who has won far too many awards to mention, but we’ll let Patrick tell you a bit more about himself and why he decided to partner with JLBG.
My first experience with Juniper Level and Tony was sitting at the kitchen table in 1991, the inaugural year of Plant Delights Nursery, talking about Asarum and star-struck by Tony’s knowledge and passion that has continued to grow into one of the world’s premier gardens and nurseries. In those days I dreamed of the opportunity to work alongside such talented horticulturalists and intrepid explorers.
My love of plants and all things slithering, creeping, crawling, and flying came at a very early age. I can’t remember a time when my life wasn’t centered on them. Fast forward 31 years and I found myself sitting at the same table reminiscing about the past, marveling at how far JLBG has grown, and stirring excitement for the future. I am so enthusiastic about joining the staff at JLBG, learning from the lifetimes of incredible knowledge and skill that is assembled among the employees and sharing my own experience, passion, and knowledge to bolster the mission and the horticultural and conservation accomplishments of this magical place.
I’m probably best described as a plant nerd. I have never met a plant I didn’t love. Every plant has a story and each is connected to our lives and the lives of the biodiversity upon which we all depend. Much of my horticultural experience and focus in South Carolina and at Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Washington has been focused on generating and supporting insect, bird and other wildlife diversity in the home landscape.
My philosophy of natural community gardening and the generation of life is a fairly simple one based on filling every space with life – diversity generates diversity. My exploration of the plant world has taken me from pole to pole and over every continent except Australia. I was trained as a sedge taxonomist but my interests include anything with cells. I’ve described new species ranging from ragweeds to sedges and begonia.
I also believe strongly that our greatest gift is sharing knowledge and I have worked as a lifelong educator. You may also have seen me on your local PBS station, where for 15 years I wrote, hosted, and produced the series “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan” – distributed by American Public Television. Conservation, preservation and generation of life is at the core of my life’s mission and I can imagine no better place to be nested within than JLBG. I hope to meet you soon and share some hearty plant nerd conversation.
Just captured the wonderful gold-foliaged Carex ‘Everillo’ in full flower by our front grotto waterfall…what a great landscape plant!
Sweeping sedge is in full flower in the garden today. The North American native (Canada south to Florida and west to Texas) Carex bromoides swept us off our feet! This delightful small evergreen sedge forms a 6″ tall x 30″ wide, delicate-textured patch of green hair-like foliage. Although it prefers moist to mucky wet soil, ours has fared beautifully in well ammended compost. Carex bromoides is a favorite meal food for a number of butterfly and skipper caterpillars, wood ducks, grouse, and several songbirds, which in turn eliminates any need for fertilizers. We think you’ll really love Carex bromoides, either as a solitary specimen or in mass.
Evergreen (and evergold) perennials are a great addition to your garden. They add texture, color, and form during the winter months when many perennials go dormant. Carex ‘Everillo’ not only adds texture and form with its thin leaves and weeping habit, but it also brightens woodland or lightly shaded garden with its bright gold color. Everillo also works well in planters paired with seasonal color such as pansies.
Carex ‘Everillo’ holds its color brightest with some morning sun and pairs nicely with blue agaves and other plants with colorful foliage.
Here is a picture of Carex ‘Everillo’ in our sales house ready to ship to you. We have extended our shipping until December 9, and you can also pick up at the Nursery, so you still have a chance to light up your garden or mixed planters for the holidays.
We were delighted this week to welcome Irish nurseryman/marketer Pat Fitzgerald. This was the first time we’d met in person, although we’ve corresponded on-line for years. We had a wonderful time walking through the gardens and sharing our excitement about new plants on the horizon. Pat is best known for his amazing line of carex that he’s developed, with more in the pipeline. Here are a few you’ll see if you visit during our final two Summer Open Nursery and Garden days today (Saturday 8-5), and tomorrow (Sunday 1-5).
We’ve been growing Carex ‘Silk Tassel’ for nearly three decades and it is one of our woodland ornamental grasses. The very narrow variegated leaves are an absolutely delightful texture, although it’s hard to photograph well. Here’s our latest attempt to capture it as the new growth emerges in the garden this week.
We’ve raved about the gold-foliaged, evergreen Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’, but always for the foliage. Today, we want to rave about its amazing floral show. Here are photos from the garden taken yesterday as it sports its late-winter flowers. We trim the old foliage back to better enjoy the show
Here’s a combination shot from the gardens at Juniper Level today, featuring one of our favorite perennials, the evergreen Carex ‘Everillo’…love the foliage color and the texture. In light shade or morning sun, the golden color holds all season. In more shade, the foliage turns more chartreuse green in the summer.
One of our favorite native plants is in full flower in the garden…the unusual white-topped sedge. Dichromena (Rhynchospora) latifolia makes a slowly spreading patch that resembles a carex until the odd white flower spikes occur in mid-summer. Although it usually is found in seasonally flooded sites, we have found it also makes a great specimen in all but the driest garden sites.
Greetings from Plant Delights where we hope the march toward colder weather finds everyone’s garden ready for winter. We’d like to start by sharing a few recent changes at Plant Delights, including our long-time Shipping and Customer Service Manager, Dianne Austin who decided to leave NC and return to her Texas roots to be near her family. We’d like to publicly thank Dianne for her eight years of dedicated service to Plant Delights customers. Dianne’s position was filled by her eight-year assistant at PDN, Virginia Meehan, who many of you have already had the pleasure of meeting, both by phone and at open house. Because of the continuity, we anticipate a seamless transition.
We’d also like to welcome our new grower, Julie Leonard, who joined us full-time when Candice Eckard departed to join her family business. Julie was previously a grower at Raleigh’s Campbell Road Nursery, after graduating from Kansas State’s horticulture program. We’d also like to welcome our newest full-time addition to the Plant Delights family, Karen Kwitnieski, who is joining us as our first IT and Marketing Administrator. Karen has been a faithful volunteer in our Garden Division for the last six years, so we’re sure her new hat will be feel quite different. Last, but not least, we also welcomed a new youthful member of our Plant Delights feline family this fall, with the addition of Jasper. Jasper is the friendliest kitten we’ve ever had, so if you haven’t met him on our Facebook page, we hope you’ll do so in person during our next open house in February.
We’ve also spent the last several months working behind the scenes on some major IT changes, including a completely redesigned website. The new website incorporates many of your suggestions including a plant encyclopedia of all past PDN offerings. While our website will officially change over to the 2013 catalog on December 31, it doesn’t appear that the redesigned site will be ready and fully tested by then, but it will be on the way shortly after that time. We hope you’ll continue to send your website suggestions, including letting us know what e-commerce sites you like the best, what features you like the best, and which sites you find the easiest to use. Our goal is to make your PDN web experience the best possible that our back-end system will allow.
Although our plant shipping season is winding down with this our last week until mid-February, we will still have gift certificates available for those hard-to-buy-for gardeners in your family. As a goodwill gesture, we are also suspending the $4 gift certificate handling charge for the remainder of the year. You can order gift certificates on-line.
We’ve just finished writing the spring print catalog, which is now in layout, and are now working on writing descriptions for many additional plants for the on-line version. We are so thankful to be able to list some very cool and very rare plants that we simply can’t propagate in large enough numbers to justify placement in the printed copy. So, you’re probably wondering what delights the new catalog will contain, so we thought we’d give you a sneak peek of a few that will appear in the spring 2013 catalog. First, is a Plant Delights introduction, Asarum maximum ‘Shell Shocked’, that we think is just amazing. Next is the absolutely incredible Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’…a golden leaf woodland sedge. Check out Amorphophallus paeoniifolius ‘Thailand Giant’…an unreal giant voodoo lily selection from our friend Alan Galloway. While we’re taking giants, how about our amazing South African introduction, Zantedeschia ‘Swartberg Giant’…truly incredible. We finally have enough to share of the amazing gold leaf lily-of-the-valley, Convallaria ‘Fernwood’s Golden Slippers’. How about Brian Williams’ amazing black leaf Colocasia gigantea hybrid, Colocasia ‘Noble Gigante’. These are just tiny sample of the fun that awaits in the new catalog. So, is that drool I see or are you just foaming at the mouth?
Throughout the season, we get great feedback on the plants we offer. This year, we learned that two of our offerings actually were incorrectly named. The Brugmansia that we offered as Brugmansia ‘Antique Lace’ turned out to be Brugmansia ‘Betty Marshall’. Although we spend lots of time verifying that the name we purchase the plant under is correct, this one slipped by us. Both clones are similar, but thanks to brugmansia experts, we now have this one named correctly.
Additionally, the plant we originally purchased years earlier as Amorpha nana turned out to be a similar species, Amorpha canescens. We have both of these errors corrected on the web. Both are still great plants and the differences are minor, but if this causes anyone a problem that has received these plants, please let us know and we’ll issue you a credit or refund.
It’s been quite a month for crazy weather since our last newsletter with the impacts of Hurricane Sandy affecting many of our friends and customers in the Northeast US. As reports came in, we have attempted to keep you up to date on our Facebook page. Our friends at RareFind Nursery got hit twice…once by Sandy, then again by the nor’easter that followed shortly after. Although Sandy didn’t cause major damage for RareFind other than a power outage, the nor’easter dumped 10″ of snow along with a second power outage. The snow resulted in significant tree damage, so cleanup there continues.
At Plant Delights, we’ve already had a nice fall cool down and winter low of 25 degrees F, so far. We’re actually hoping for a cold winter, as we haven’t been able to gain any winter hardiness insight over the last three years because of such mild winters, consequently the number of plants we list as Zone 8 has grown much too large. We also curse the cold temperatures when we have to pay the greenhouse heating bills that unfortunately go hand in hand with the cold weather.
In news from the world of plant people, we welcome horticultural personality and garden designer Chris Woods back to the east coast. Chris was the founding director and beautiful mind behind the incredible public gardens at Chanticleer in Pennsylvania. In 2003, after 20 years at Chanticleer, Chris moved to the West Coast to explore new adventures. Unfortunately, Chris never found a position where he fit as well as he did in Pennsylvania. After stints at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, VanDusen Botanical Garden, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, Chris was recently named the new Director of the Pennsylvania Hort Society’s Meadowbrook Farm, just north of Philadelphia, PA.
Chris’s hiring, coincided with the forcing out of longtime director, John Story, who was subsequently hired as General Manger of Peace Tree Farms, a well-known wholesaler horticulture producer in the region.
Last month saw the loss of another horticultural pioneer, but one that most folks didn’t know about. Ying Doon Moy, 83, passed away near his home near Houston, TX. Dr. Moy, as he was known, was born in Hong Kong, and taught school there before moving to Chicago in 1979. A year later, Dr. Moy was hired by the San Antonio Botanic Garden in Texas as their Director of Research, where he spent them majority of his US career. A few of his introductions that we have offered are Hibiscus ‘Moy Grande’, Hedychium ‘Dr. Moy’, and Hedychium ‘Moy Giant’. After a brief retirement, Dr. Moy, then age 80, was hired by the Mercer Arboretum near Houston to start a new breeding program there, focusing on hardy citrus. Dr. Moy is survived by his wife Lisa, two sons, and four grandchildren. Job well done!
Finally, if you’re a serious plant geek, really bored, have no social life, or just can’t bring yourself to cut the television on, check out this amazing new book on the woody plants of China.
Till next month….see you on Facebook
I have to begin the newsletter with a congratulations to American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery from just a few minutes up the road in Garner…well done! We wish him and all the other top contestants well as they embark on their musical careers…hope some of ‘em have an interest in gardening as well.
No doubt you’ve also heard about the tornado outbreaks this year, including the one that hit all around PDN in early April. While PDN escaped without any damage, such was not the case for other area nurserymen. Three area wholesalers took huge hits, Watson’s Nursery in Sanford, Lee and Sons in Four Oaks, and Cyn-Mar in Pine Level. All are rebuilding under very difficult financial circumstances. If you are able to help these nurseries recover, donations of money and other items can be handled through the NC Nursery and Landscape Association at http://www.ncnla.com/
After years of declining attendance at the NC Nursery and Landscape Association’s Summer Show in Charlotte, the decision was made to move the show around the state starting this year. The first version of the revamped show will take place in Raleigh from August 17-19, and we are very pleased to be included as one of the tour stops. Nursery tours are a new part of the nursery show, and there will be three different tours to choose from; a retailer tour, a nursery production tour, and a landscape tour. Although we could fit in all of the categories, we will be a part of the nursery production tour on August 19. Folks are already very excited about the new show format, which we hope will bring more visitors from around the country. If you work in the plant industry, be sure to put this on your summer 2011 schedule. You can find out more HERE
On the national nursery scene, now that the giant Hines Nurseries has emerged from bankruptcy, they have begun to sell off their assets…as I predicted last month. Hines has signed a letter of intent to sell the facilities and lease the land for both it’s 420 acre Texas operation in Fulshear (near Houston) and its 40 acre Arizona operation in Chino Valley to the formerly bankrupt, but now restructured Color Spot Nurseries…sort of incestuous, don’t you think?
I always like to check out other retailers, especially the box stores to see what they are offering. This spring, I visited one box store and found that 50% of their perennial offerings aren’t adapted to our climate. As is usually the case during my current visit last weekend, I found both good and bad. First, delphiniums should not be sold in our part of North Carolina in late May…even as annuals. Ditto for fuchsias…unless they are the heat tolerant types, which these weren’t. In the ornamental grass display, there were some nice selections, but annual varieties were mixed in with the perennial grasses. Only when you read the mice type on the tags do you notice that certain plants cannot drop below 30 degrees. One of my favorites was the nice display of Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, which was a completely different plant, Colocasia ‘Burgundy Stem’ with a leaf that will never turn black. With all the problems, they did have a great selection of vegetables. As always, I can’t stress enough to shop with folks you trust or become a vigilant consumer.
One of my pet peeves is the overuse of growth regulators to make plants in a retail setting look like something they aren’t. While growth regulators certainly have their place as a labor saving tool in ornamental plant production, they are often used to misrepresent how a plant will perform. A key for growers to be able to sell plants to garden centers and box stores, is their ability to keep the plants at a certain height in order to fit them on the shipping racks and make them look nice in the store displays. While most growth regulators will wear off later in the season, it is very important for you to check the tags of the plants you are thinking of purchasing and look at the mature height to see if the plant in question will truly fit your needs. With that said, I’ll share a recent conversation shared by nurseryman Lloyd Traven below.
Conversation at Lilytopia yesterday, among 10,000 STEMS of incredible Oriental lilies, many with 12 flowers each a FOOT across, and 4+ feet tall: “What growth regulator can I use to get these less than 18″ tall, including pot?” Response from bulb breeder—“WHY would you want to do that? The flowers will shrink to 5″, they won’t last, and the customer will think they are short varieties.” Blank stare from box store grower– “I need to fit these on a shipping rack, 3 layers minimum, all the same height and size and bloom stage.” “Maybe you should look for another product to force into a mold. We worked hard to make these magnificent, and you will make them ordinary.”
While I’m sharing funny things, I enjoyed a purported conversation between a yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava) and a white top pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla), overheard recently on a carnivorous plant forum…”Leuc, I am your Flava.”.
If you’re ever put in charge of securing speakers for a gardening event, a new website may help make your job much easier. http://www.GreatGardenSpeakers.com. is a new site assembled by a group of garden speakers to be a complete resource to help folks find, contact, and hire garden speakers. There is even a place on the site where you can rate and comment on your favorite speakers, just like when you buy products from the web. Since the site is fairly new, there isn’t a tremendous number of comments, but you could greatly help others by adding your comments to both your favorite and least favorite speakers.
PDN is unfortunately losing one of our next door neighbors, who are needing to sell their home due to family issues, so if you’d like to live next door to PDN, check out their listing below…we are obviously looking for nice people who like plants! Click to View
One of the biggest gardening curses these days is the overpopulation of deer. While I’ve always advocated a hedge that deer won’t eat (i.e. Nellie Stevens holly) or a black plastic deer fence, some folks just desire a more dramatic solution, and others seem to just need something to complain about. So, for those of you who don’t have enough drama in your lives, check out Team Backyard Bow Pro. Team Backyard Bow Pro is a national organization of ethical, licensed bow hunters that work with landowners (especially farmers) to solve deer damage problems, while feeding the hungry. Trust me…there’s nothing better than hosta-fed venison.
One of the great joys of Facebook is that we can now share favorite garden plants when they are at their peak at PDN. This year, for example, we have five agave (century plants) that will be flowering soon. We’ll post more on Facebook as they open, and times that folks in the area can come by and see them in person. Be sure and check out all the cool things happening in the garden in real time on our Facebook Page!
It’s been a fun spring in the garden, with so much going on, it’s hard to describe it all. I’m writing more of the e-newsletter on our back patio to be closer to the plants, and of course, for inspiration. One of the down sides in spring, however, is the deafening cacophony of out-of-tune frog species that begin their evening serenade just as dusk settles. Tonight, I was enjoying the first chorus of dueling frogs near my chair, when in the middle of a solo, one voice went suddenly soprano, then silent. I looked up to find our cat Zirconia with a “not me” look on his face, all the while a giant white belly and two narrow legs dangled from his much too small mouth. So, are frogs considered seafood?
We’ve had another amazing year of amorphophallus flowering in the garden, and because of having so many species in flower at once (apologies to the neighbors…please don’t call the Department of Environmental Resources Air Quality Unit) we’ve been busy with our pollinating brushes. Who knows what hardy amorphophallus hybrids might be in your future. Of course, remember that most species don’t flower and produce a leaf stalk in the same year. The amount of energy required to produce the flower stalk is about all the tuber can stand in one season. Visit our Amorphophallus page!
Crinum season is just getting into full swing as more and more selections open daily. This year, we’re keeping a flowering time log, which we will post at seasons end. Crinum ‘Mrs. James Hendry’ opened this week with its tall spikes of amazingly fragrant flowers, and the giant Crinum ‘Super Ellen’ just sent up its first flower scape this week. Nearly all of the wonderful striped-flower Crinum x herbertii flowers are open now, so it’s a virtual kaleidoscope of color in the garden. Remember that many of the crinums are much more winter hardy than you think, with many performing just fine into Zone 5, so be sure check out our extensive offerings of these hard-to-find passalong gems. Visit our Crinum page!
The wonderful hybrid echinaceas are back up and the flowering show is just beginning. The first to open for us is Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’, followed by Echinacea ‘Maui Sunshine’ and Echinacea ‘Gum Drop’ with Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’ not far behind. As we’ve mentioned before, the key to being successful with the new echinaceas in the ground is well-drained soils, especially in the winter months. In containers, they are much more iffy, as the potting soils tend to hold too much water. Visit our Echinacea page!
While everyone is enamored with “flowers”, I hope you won’t forget the wonderful textural plants of the garden, such as one of my favorites…the genus carex. Carex, or sedges as they are often referred to, are ornamental grasses primarily for shade. Most sedges are evergreen, and their ability to blend with other woodland plants is legendary. Carex come in an array of textures, from the wide-leaf Carex siderosticta to the narrow-leaf Carex morrowii v. temnolepis. Although many folks don’t notice the flowers, they are quite fascinating. Many species of carex are spring bloomers, and here, they are actually in full flower now with fascinating stalks of tiny tan flowers. Whether your conditions are moist or dry, sun or shade, you can find a carex that fits your spot. Maybe one day, we’ll actually have enough interested folks to start a carex chat group. Visit our Carex page!
There are so many other cool plants that I could go on for pages, but instead, I’ll cover these on Facebook, so be sure to become a fan! We’ve also added a few new plants to the catalog , most in limited supply, so check ‘em out at Added May 26, 2011
Remember that you can now follow the Top 25 Best Sellers live at http://www.plantdelights.com/top25.asp
The 2001 catalogs were mailed on Wednesday January 3. If you don’t receive your catalog before too long, let us know and we will try again. Local catalogs will be recieved first (usually 2-4 days). After this, customers along the I-95 corridor will begin to see there catalogs arrive (usually 4-7 days). Large cities in the midwest seem to be next (7-14 days). Other large US cities seem to take 7-21 days, and smaller more remote areas should be all delivered by the end of January. We hope you will enjoy the new format, and we welcome your comments either way.
At the end of January, orders received so far are on another record pace. While we still have plenty of most items, a few thing are already suffering from “depleted stock syndrome” Three items are out of stock, due to disease related crop failures, Carex ‘Island Brocade’, Carex ‘Silk Tassel, and Lachnocaulon anceps. We apologize for this problem, but will make these items available again as soon as possible.
As with most other nurseries, this winter has been rather trying, due to our very cold weather. While we have not experienced temperatures below 11 degrees F. (as of 1/7/01), we have been consistently cold…three consecutive weeks when we didn’t get out of the 30’s. While the plants are hopefully faring fine, many things will be later to break dormancy, and our heating bills have gone into orbit. Last year, we were paying .62 per gallon for propane, and this year, it is at $1.80, and still rising. So, what can you do to help? Perhaps sending extra chocolates would be a good start!
Thank goodness, we have seen less middle-of-the-night greenhouse temperature alarms this year, thanks to our superb facilities manager Larry Blakeman. Trust me, there is nothing quite so enjoyable as being awakened 4-5 times during the night and early morning, staggering out to a frozen greenhouse, then trying to replace a gas valve or heater motor….while watching your plants freeze to death! This is a nursery owners’ idea of living on the edge.
Okay, time to pack up for another road trip…be sure to check out the schedule of talks, and I hope to see you on the road this season…if you can’t get by the nursery for a visit!
Top 20 List, February 1, 2001
1 Lobelia ‘Cotton Candy’
2 Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara’
3 Gaura ‘Pink Cloud’
4 Agave parryi subsp. huachucensis
5 Lysimachia clethroides ‘Geisha’
6 Athyrium filix-femina ‘Frizelliae’
7 Veronica ‘Royal Candles’
8 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
9 Sabal minor ‘McCurtain’
10 Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’
11 Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenway’
12 Muhlenbergia capillaris
13 Colocasia ‘Black Magic’
14 Hippeastrum x johnsonii
15 Tanacetum vulgare ‘Isla Gold’
16 Salvia chamaedryoides
17 Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’
18 Yucca shottii
19 Canna ‘Pacific Beauty’
20 Verbena peruviana
21 Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Bulgaria’
22 Yucca thompsoniana
23 Zantedeschia ‘White Giant’
24 Yucca rostrata
25 Amorphophallus konjac
26 Hibiscus ‘Moy Grande’
27 Dicliptera suberecta
28 Vinca minor ‘Illumination’
29 Colocasia antiquorum ‘Illustris’
30 Veronica ‘Buttercup’