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Zenobia pulverulenta

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Zenobia pulverulenta

dusty zenobia

Dusty zenobia is a deciduous to semi-evergreen upright spreading shrub suitable for smaller garden settings.  Growing 3-6’ tall, this open multi-stemmed shrub displays leathery foliage on gracefully arching branches, terminating in clusters of white, bell-shaped, fragrant flowers.  Naturally found in bogs and wet areas, it will perform well in average to dry garden soils as well.  Best fall color, in shades of orange, yellow, red and purple is displayed in full sun, though this plant is tolerant of light shade.  Zenobia pulverulenta combines nicely in a bog setting with Sarracenia purpurea or Spiranthes odorata and in the garden with Rhododendron atlanticum ‘Marydel’, Dicentra eximia and Heuchera villosa.

Viburnum acerifolium | Mt. Cuba Center
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Viburnum acerifolium

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Viburnum acerifolium

maple-leaved viburnum

A subtle beauty in the spring garden, maple-leaved viburnum develops creamy-white, lacey blooms that provide a valuable nectar source for pollinators.  Viburnum acerifolium is an adaptable, upright to spreading deciduous shrub that will grow in dry to moist, acidic, loamy to clay soils.  It grows well in sun to partial shade.  In autumn, black fruits mature and feed migrating birds. Foliage hues of smokey-burgundy to pinkish-purple transform this shrub into an eye-catching display in autumn. Ranging from 3-6’ tall, this shrub mingles well with Halesia tetraptera, Cornus florida, Polystichum acrostichoides, Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Uvularia grandiflora and Symphyotrichum lateriflorum.

 

Zizia aurea | Mt. Cuba Center
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Zizia aurea

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Zizia aurea

golden Alexanders

The flat-topped yellow umbels of golden Alexanders, consisting of up to 20 individual tiny flowers and similar in shape to Queen-Ann’s-lace, are the primary highlight of this carefree species. It is a rugged colonizing plant, with simple heart-shaped basal leaves and compound, deeply toothed leaflets on stems growing 2-2½’ tall. Zizia aurea is found in moist woodlands, meadows and thickets and is best suited to an informal setting in full sun to light shade in average, well-drained soil. Plant at the edge of a meadow with Erigeron pulchellus, Geranium maculatum, Phlox pilosa ssp. ozarkana, Solidago caesia, Amsonia tabernaemontana, and Packera aurea.

Prosartes lanuginosa | Mt. Cuba Center
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Prosartes lanuginosa

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Prosartes lanuginosa

yellow mandarin

The beauty of yellow mandarin lies in its architectural, elegant branching structure and strongly veined light green leaves, rather than in its floral display. Located at the tips of stems 2-3’ in height, the nodding, greenish-yellow, bell-shaped flowers are partially hidden beneath the foliage. These are followed by reddish-orange berries. Yellow mandarin grows best in moist, acid to neutral soils in shade to partial shade. Especially attractive when dense colonies have become established, it combines well with Phlox divaricata, Viola striata, Phacelia bipinnatifida and Tiarella cordifolia.

Podophyllum peltatum | Mt. Cuba Center
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Podophyllum peltatum

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Podophyllum peltatum

mayapple

Although very common in our rich moist woodlands, this underused deciduous ground cover is one of the first signs of spring, carpeting the ground in emerald green foliage. Concealed beneath the 8-12” tall umbrella-shaped leaves is a nodding, solitary white flower followed by a yellow, apple-like berry. Other parts of the plant are poisonous. In June, mayapple begins to go dormant and can be cut back. It forms a large mass and is best grown with ferns for textural contrast such as Phegopteris hexagonoptera, Dryopteris goldiana and Polystichum acrostichoides. Also grow it with late summer blooming Eurybia divaricata and Solidago flexicaulis which will occupy the space when mayapple goes dormant.

Phlox stolonifera | Mt. Cuba Center
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Phlox stolonifera

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Phlox stolonifera

creeping phlox

In full bloom, Phlox stolonifera blankets the ground in a cloud of dainty lavender flowers. These fragrant flowers appear on 6” upright clusters and are also available in shades of white, pink, and purple. Creeping phlox forms a loose mat of low-growing, evergreen foliage that spreads quickly to cover large areas. Creeping phlox likes woodland conditions where soils are moist and well-drained as well as slightly acidic. While it prefers partial shade, creeping phlox can tolerate more sun if kept moist. Combine Phlox stolonifera with your other favorite spring blooming woodland plants including Tiarella cordifolia, Trillium luteum, Rhododendron vaseyi, Trillium flexipes and Sanguinaria canadensis.

Phlox pilosa ssp. ozarkana | Mt. Cuba Center
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Phlox pilosa ssp. ozarkana

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Phlox pilosa ssp. ozarkana

Ozark phlox

Ozark phlox is a beautiful spring phlox worthy of wider garden use. Its attractive pink to magenta flowers appear from late spring to early summer on 12-20” tall stems. The fragrant flowers of Ozark phlox are a valuable butterfly nectar source. It grows well in half to a full day of sun and spreads slowly underground among other garden plants to form an attractive mass. Cutting back the flower stems after bloom makes for the best appearance. Ozark Phlox could be used in a rock garden, in the front of a perennial border, or in a native meadow planting. It grows well with Schizachyrium scoparium, Andropogon virginicus, Packera anonyma, Penstemon digitalis, Baptisia alba, and Rudbeckia hirta.

Phacelia bipinnatifida | Mt. Cuba Center
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Phacelia bipinnatifida

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Phacelia bipinnatifida

purple phacelia

Purple phacelia, a relatively unknown biennial, can be used to quickly cover a large area in a sea of foliage and flowers. The divided leaves grow to a height of 5” the first summer and linger until late fall. The following spring, they re-emerge, culminating in 12-15” tall plants covered with masses of purple flowers that last for about a month. Purple phacelia readily self-sows thereby assuring a continuous display. It tolerates most soil types and grows best in part shade. Stylophorum diphyllum and Polystichum acrostichoides complement purple phacelia. Fall bloomers like Solidago caesia and Symphyotrichum oblongifolium provide a color contrast mingling with the green leaves of purple phacelia.

Penstemon calycosus | Mt. Cuba Center
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Penstemon calycosus

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Penstemon calycosus

long-sepal beardtongue

This herbaceous perennial is deserving of greater use in the garden because of its cultural adaptability. Long-sepal beardtongue tolerates a variety of conditions from filterd shade to full sun and moist and well-drained to dry soils. Flowers are produced in terminal panicles and each individual flower is 1” long, snapdragon-like and ranges in color from light violet to purple. Plants can grow 1-3’ tall and roughly 2’ wide. The foliage is lance-shaped, semi-glossy, medium green and has finely saw-toothed edges. Use with Spigelia marilandica to extend the season of bloom or use with Heuchera americana ‘Dale’s Strain’ and Amsonia ciliata for a pleasing foliar combination.

Packera aurea | Mt. Cuba Center
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Packera aurea

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Packera aurea

golden ragwort

Golden ragwort is an easily grown garden plant with large clusters of yellow flowers that brighten shady areas of the spring garden. The large clusters of ¾” daisy-like flowers grow on stems 1-3’ above basal leaves. The foliage forms an effective groundcover in shady, moist to dry woodlands. The plants spread readily by seed and underground roots, forming large colonies. Golden ragwort can grow in the woodland garden or a shady perennial border among Eurybia divaricata, Polystichum acrostichoides, Dryopteris marginalis, Amsonia tabernaemontana and Phacelia bipinnatifida.

Pachysandra procumbens | Mt. Cuba Center
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Pachysandra procumbens

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Pachysandra procumbens

Allegheny pachysandra

Pachysandra procumbens is an attractive native groundcover with its mottled, evergreen foliage and fragrant white bottlebrush-shaped flowers in early to mid-spring. It spreads slowly to form a dense carpet 8-10” tall. Allegheny pachysandra performs well in a variety of soils from moist to dry and a range of soil pH as long as it is growing in partial to full shade. This woodland plant is also considered by many to be very deer and drought resistant. Pachysandra procumbens is a versatile plant that makes a lovely companion for many plants including Hydrangea quercifolia, Leucothoe fontanesiana, Rhododendron vaseyi, Phlox divaricata, and Polemonium reptans.

 

Oxalis violacea | Mt. Cuba Center
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Oxalis violacea

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Oxalis violacea

violet wood sorrel

Oxalis violacea is a spring flowering bulb that goes dormant in summer and then reappears with a surprise second bloom in the fall. This delicate ephemeral plant features attractive clover-like grey-green leaves with purplish mottling and undersides. The 5-petaled flowers are lavender to purplish-pink on 4-8” tall stems. This plant slowly colonizes in deciduous shade in either loamy or clay soils. Oxalis violacea requires an edge of the garden bed with low competition from other plants. The thin strappy leaves of Sisyrinchium angustifolium and Carex digitalis contrast nicely with the clover-like foliage of wood sorrel. Pair this with other violet blooming plants like Dodecatheon amethystinum.

Neviusia alabamensis | Mt. Cuba Center
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Neviusia alabamensis

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Neviusia alabamensis

snow-wreath

Neviusia alabamensis is an excellent native for screening in the home yard. The simple alternate leaves hang on until late fall and are among the first to unfold in spring. The white stamens of the petal-less flowers provide a delicate spring show. Flowering most profusely in full sun, snow-wreath will tolerate heavy shade and is very adaptable, thriving in heavy clay or well-drained soil. During winter the 3-5’ tall, gracefully arching cinnamon colored branches are lovely and frequently hold a bird’s nest left over from spring. When grown near Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba, the tawny colors of the winter leaves interplay with the stems of the snow-wreath.

Monarda didyma | Mt. Cuba Center
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Monarda didyma

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Monarda didyma

scarlet bee balm

The brilliant red tubular, two-lipped flowers of scarlet bee balm, arranged in dense terminal clusters, are highly attractive to hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. This 2-4’ tall, clump-forming perennial grows best in sunny or lightly shaded locations in moist soil that has been enriched with organic matter. The foliage, when bruised, has a spicy fragrance and is prone to powdery mildew. This can be controlled by providing adequate moisture, thinning for good air circulation, and selecting mildew resistant cultivars. Scarlet bee balm is an excellent companion in the perennial border for Penstemon digitalis, Echinacea purpurea, Veronicastrum virginicum, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Andropogon virginicus.

Mitella diphylla | Mt. Cuba Center
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Mitella diphylla

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Mitella diphylla

bishop's cap

The charm of bishop’s cap lies in its dainty white ¼” flowers with fringed petals held on 8-16” tall racemes above basal foliage reminiscent of maple leaves. The petite flowers are widely spaced and occur above a pair of opposite leaves on the flowering stalk. After flowering, each capsule splits to display shiny black seeds held in a tiny cup. Bishop’s cap flourishes in rich, moist to fairly dry organic soil in partially shady locations. Its rhizomatous growth makes it useful as a groundcover for small areas. Ideal companions include Maianthemum canadense, Actaea rubra, Uvularia perfoliata, Adiantum pedatum and Dryopteris hexagonoptera.

Maianthemum racemosum | Mt. Cuba Center
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Maianthemum racemosum

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Maianthemum racemosum

false solomon's seal

False solomon's seal is an attractive herbaceous perennial with an upright arching form and creamy white, terminally-borne billowy flowers produced in spring. The flowers are followed in summer by glossy red berries that persist well into autumn. False solomon's seal grows to 24” tall and has lanceolate, medium-green leaves that alternate along the stem and can become butter yellow in autumn. Maianthemum racemosum requires slightly acidic, average to moist organic soils and partial shade to perform best. It grows well with Phlox stolonifera, Podophyllum peltatum, Geranium maculatum, Dryopteris intermedia, Carex grayi and Asarum canadense.

Magnolia virginiana | Mt. Cuba Center
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Magnolia virginiana

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Magnolia virginiana

sweet bay

Grace your patio path with the pleasing lemon-scented fragrant blossoms of this multi- stemmed, small tree. Blooming sporadically, the solitary 2-3”, creamy white flowers are followed by small red fruits which are highly valued by a variety of wildlife. The shiny leaves are semi-evergreen, cast with silver on the underside. Sweet bay’s loose, open, upright habit provides a lovely vertical element in the garden. Naturally growing in moist to wet acid soils, it will thrive in medium to heavy clay. Sweet bay prefers filtered shade to sun. It makes a handsome companion for Matteuccia struthiopteris, Chelone lyonii, Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, Ilex glabra, and Clethra alnifolia.

Lonicera sempervirens | Mt. Cuba Center
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Lonicera sempervirens

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Lonicera sempervirens

trumpet honeysuckle

Trumpet honeysuckle is an attractive woody vining plant with showy clusters of 2” long, crimson tubular flowers. It is quite vigorous, growing from 10-20’ tall and is easily trained on a trellis, arbor or fence. The attractive bluish leaves are deciduous in the north but evergreen in warmer climates. The plant blooms heavily in late spring then sporadically until fall. It prefers well-drained, evenly-moist soil and produces flowers most profusely in full sun. Hummingbirds love the flowers, so try growing trumpet honeysuckle with plants that give a succession of bloom to attract these beautiful birds. A few companions include Aesculus pavia, Aquilegia canadensis, and Spigelia marilandica.

Lindera benzoin | Mt. Cuba Center
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Lindera benzoin

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Lindera benzoin

spicebush

There’s no doubt that spring has arrived when the woodlands are filled with the soft yellow haze of spicebush in bloom. Lindera benzoin is a multi-stemmed, irregularly rounded understory shrub that reaches 6-12’ tall with foliage and stems that are aromatic when bruised. After blooming, spicebush fades into the woodland and comes to the forefront again in fall with dazzling yellow foliage. Female plants produce showy red fruit. Spicebush does best in partial shade, but will tolerate full sun with adequate moist soils. It is best used when naturalized in the woodland garden with companions such as Mertensia virginica, Sanguinaria canadensis, Polystichum acrostichoides, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, and Callicarpa americana.

Jeffersonia diphylla | Mt. Cuba Center
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Jeffersonia diphylla

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Jeffersonia diphylla

twin leaf

Twin leaf offers an early spring display of pure white blossoms and unique two-part leaves said to resemble the wings of a butterfly. It prefers well-drained, alkaline soils in light to moderate shade but is easy to grow in a wide variety of woodland conditions. Jeffersonia diphylla is quite drought-tolerant once established. Though the 2” flowers last but a few days they are quickly replaced by an attractive seedpod that accompanies the 12-18” tall, 4-6" double-lobed leaves earning this plant its common name, twin leaf. Twin leaf combines well with other early flowers such as Dicentra cucullaria, Podophyllum peltatum, Delphinium tricorne, Viola striata and Enemion biternatum.

Iris cristata | Mt. Cuba Center
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Iris cristata

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Iris cristata

dwarf crested iris

The colorful blooms and easy culture of dwarf crested iris make it a valuable addition to the shady native woodland garden. In mid-spring, this attractive perennial groundcover is a mass of pale to deep violet blooms that reach 4-6” in height. Its 5-6” sword-like leaves arise from small rhizomes, that quickly spread, to form impressive colonies with a unique textural quality. Iris cristata does well in average, well-drained woodland soils in shade to partial shade and, once established, is dependably drought-tolerant. It complements other woodland plants such as Phlox divaricata, Uvularia sessilifolia, Geranium maculatum, Hydrastis canadensis, and Trillium luteum.

Hydrophyllum virginianum | Mt. Cuba Center
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Hydrophyllum virginianum

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Hydrophyllum virginianum

Virginia waterleaf

Virginia waterleaf is an easily maintained, 1-2’ tall groundcover with attractive, pinnately compound leaves and clusters of violet, pink or white tubular flowers with protruding stamens. In early spring, the foliage appears water-marked with small patches of white. This quality fades to a solid green that remains so throughout the growing season. It blooms after most other spring wildflowers have faded. It thrives in filtered to partial shade in moist, rich loamy soil. Suitable companions include Polemonium reptans, Phacelia bipinnatifida, Erythronium americanum, Podophyllum peltatum, Dryopteris intermedia, and Caulophyllum thalictroides.

Hydrastis canadensis | Mt. Cuba Center
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Hydrastis canadensis

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Hydrastis canadensis

goldenseal

This deciduous herbaceous perennial is a delight both in flower and fruit. The delicate flowers of goldenseal are quite distinctive, composed of numerous showy cream-colored stamens without petals borne above prominent leathery lobed leaves. As summer progresses, red raspberry-like fruits develop atop the 10-15” tall plants and persist for several weeks. Goldenseal grows best in partial shade to shade of rich moist soils but will tolerate periodically dry conditions. This classic wildflower grows best with a range of plants including Claytonia virginica, Trillium sulcatum, Anemone americana, Anemonella thalictroides, Jeffersonia diphylla, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Dicentra cucullaria.

Hydrangea quercifolia | Mt. Cuba Center
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Hydrangea quercifolia

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Hydrangea quercifolia

oakleaf hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea is one of the most useful native shrubs for the garden. With its unique deeply lobed, oak-like leaves, large white flower clusters, and attractive exfoliating bark, oakleaf hydrangea is impressive when massed or used as a specimen. Its mature size ranges from 6-10’ tall with a similar spread. The 8-12” wide leaves turn red to deep purple in autumn and the flowering bracts persist throughout the season. It excels in regular garden soil in part shade to full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. Hydrangea quercifolia grows well with a variety of other companions including Heuchera villosa, Pachysandra procumbens, Itea virginica, Fothergilla major and Rhododendron flammeum.

Heuchera americana | Mt. Cuba Center
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Heuchera americana

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Heuchera americana

American alumroot

American alumroot adds a unique foliage element to the perennial garden. The heart-shaped, 3-5” wide basal leaves are variable in color though frequently green with maroon mottling. The small, yellow-green flowers are borne in airy panicles on 2’ tall stalks. Thriving in sun to part shade, this plant is very drought tolerant and grows well in most soil types if they are well drained. Heuchera americana is a quick growing and almost evergreen groundcover that is a suitable size for use in the rock garden or as a color accent in the woodland border. Companion plants with pink, red or burgundy features contrast nicely with its mottled leaves. Grow American alumroot with Trillium sulcatum, Cystopteris bulbifera and Dicentra eximia.

Helonias bullata | Mt. Cuba Center
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Helonias bullata

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Helonias bullata

swamp pink

Swamp pink is one of the first spring perennial bulbs to bloom. Long before the first leaves of spring emerge, the bottlebrush-like clusters of tiny fragrant pink flowers, with striking contrasting blue anthers, are produced atop 1-2’ tall stalks. The evergreen leaves, arranged in a basal rosette, are lance-shaped and can grow up to 10” long. Helonias bullata grows best in partial shade to light shade in acidic soils that are constantly moist to soggy. Swamp pink is an excellent companion to Andromeda polifolia, Rhexia virginica, Woodwardia areolata, Spiranthes odorata, Caltha palustris and Sarracenia spp.

Gillenia trifoliata | Mt. Cuba Center
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Gillenia trifoliata

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Gillenia trifoliata

Bowman's root

Imagine delicate wands of small white flowers floating in the late spring breeze and you can understand the informal, ethereal quality that Bowman’s root brings to the garden. This herbaceous perennial grows 2-3’ tall with an upright spreading habit. Green foliage and stems accentuate the panicles of 1” wide, star-like blooms. Gillenia trifoliata thrives in fertile, evenly-moist soil and grows equally well in part shade or full sun, although it prefers a little shade in the hottest part of the day. This is a wonderful plant to use in mass plantings or in the border with other natives such as Penstemon smallii, Penstemon calycosus, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Lilium canadense, and Silene virginica.

Geum lobatum | Mt. Cuba Center
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Geum lobatum

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Geum lobatum

lobed barren strawberry

Geum lobatum is a rare herbaceous perennial that is surprisingly easy to grow. Because it is only grows 6-8" tall and spreads by runners, it makes an ideal groundcover. Lobed barren strawberry thrives in soils that are acidic, evenly-moist and well-drained. Although thriving in partial shade, it tolerates sunnier locations with adequate moisture. The evergreen foliage turns burgundy in the winter, followed in spring by fresh green leaves. Dainty, somewhat inconspicuous, petal-less yellow flowers emerge in early spring. Lobed barren strawberry makes a fine companion for Rhododendron vaseyi, Kalmia latifolia, Leucothoe fontanesiana, Carex flaccosperma and Hexastylis arifolia.

Geum fragarioides | Mt. Cuba Center
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Geum fragarioides

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Geum fragarioides

barren-strawberry

Barren-strawberry is a carefree, semi-evergreen groundcover with strawberry-like dark green foliage and delightful yellow flowers in early to mid-spring. It grows 3-6” tall, tolerates partial to light shade and a wide variety of soil types as long as they are well-drained. Geum fragarioides spreads slowly by rhizomes to make an excellent non-aggressive groundcover. Despite its delicate appearance, this plant is tough and has foliage that remains clean and attractive throughout the growing season. Barren-strawberry makes a nice companion for Neviusia alabamensis, Rhododendron periclymenoides, Viburnum acerifolium, Eurybia divaricata, Uvularia grandiflora, Geranium maculatum and Carex digitalis.

Geranium maculatum | Mt. Cuba Center
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Geranium maculatum

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Geranium maculatum

wild geranium

Wild geranium is a beautiful, easily grown perennial wildflower for use in the naturalistic woodland garden. The 1¼” wide pink to magenta flowers are delicately colored and veined. They rise on a sturdy stem above attractively textured palmate leaves. This reliable, clump-forming perennial grows from 12-24” tall and 18” wide. It is easily established in moist, well-drained soils and spreads moderately by seed. To perform best wild geranium prefers partial shade to shade. In the shady border or woodland garden, it naturalizes well with Rhododendron calendulaceum, Phlox divaricata, Thalictrum dioicum, Osmunda claytonia, Diphylleia cymosa, Trillium spp., and Dryopteris intermedia.

Dodecatheon meadia | Mt. Cuba Center
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Dodecatheon meadia

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Dodecatheon meadia

shooting-star

Shooting star is among the finest spring perennial wildflowers with its clusters of white to magenta pink flowers borne atop 12-22” stalks in mid-spring. Its flowers have the unusual trait of developing strongly reflexed petals that appear like wind-blown umbrellas or tiny “shooting stars”. Broad, emerald green basal rosettes of leaves long persist only into mid-summer and become dormant. Shooting star is best situated in rich, well-drained, acid to neutral soil in filtered to partial shade. It combines well with other spring wildflowers such as Sanguinaria canadensis, Trillium grandiflorum, Enemion biternatum, Jeffersonia diphylla, Chrysogonum virginianum, and Claytonia caroliniana.

Dicentra cucullaria | Mt. Cuba Center
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Dicentra cucullaria

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Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman’s-breeches

Attractive clusters of unusual white flowers and feathery, blue-green, finely cut foliage make Dutchman’s-breeches a delightful early spring garden companion. The white to pale-pink blooms are shaped like old-fashioned pantaloons and are borne on a succulent stalk 6-8” above the foliage. This beautiful spring ephemeral groundcover happily spreads under a deciduous woodland canopy in well-drained rich, moist soils that are slightly acidic to neutral. As early summer approaches Dicentra cucullaria goes dormant, providing an excellent opportunity for later emerging perennials to replace them including Thelypteris noveboracensis, Hydrastis canadensis, Adiantum pedatum, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Asarum canadense

 

Cymophyllus fraserianus | Mt. Cuba Center
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Cymophyllus fraserianus

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Cymophyllus fraserianus

Fraser's sedge

Fraser’s sedge is an unusual evergreen sedge with diminutive white, bottlebrush-like inflorescences in early to mid-spring that add a unique appeal to the garden. This woodland dweller excels in well-drained, highly organic, and acidic soils in shade. The 2” wide and 10” long, deep green leathery leaves persist through the winter into early spring when this distinctive sedge sends up sweetly-scented flower scapes. Fraser’s sedge grows best when sited on shady slopes beneath evergreen trees such as Pinus strobus and Tsuga canadensis. It makes an excellent companion for Medeola virginiana, Hexastylis shuttleworthii var. harperi, Anemone americana, Thalictrum thalictroides, Trillium grandiflorum, Mitchella repens, and Kalmia latifolia.

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ | Mt. Cuba Center
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Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’

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Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’

Moonbeam whorled tickseed

Coreopsis verticillata ’Moonbeam’ wins accolades from gardeners not only because it is easy to grow but because the interesting, needle-like foliage is covered in pale yellow flowers for much of the summer. It forms an open mound 18” in height and spreads by rhizomes to about 24” wide. It is adaptable to many soil types, with the only requirement being that the site is well drained. Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ grows well in full sun or light shade, is pest free, and butterflies love it. Pruning after flowering will encourage further blooming. The primrose-yellow, daisy-like flowers look fabulous with a variety of plants including Stokesia laevis, Echinacea purpurea, Bigelowia nuttallii, and Eurybia divaricata.

Coreopsis auriculata | Mt. Cuba Center
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Coreopsis auriculata

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Coreopsis auriculata

lobed tickseed

Coreopsis auriculata is an easily grown stoloniferous perennial with 1-2”, golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers. Its handsome dark green foliage is evergreen, low growing, and each leaf is lobed at the base. Lobed tick seed grows best in consistently moist, acid to neutral soil and is intolerant of drought. Its compact habit and tendency to spread, but not aggressively, makes it a good groundcover choice. Plant Coreopsis auriculata in a lightly shaded woodland location or at the front of a shady border. The following plants make suitable companions: Cardamine diphylla, Silene virginica, Solidago caesia, Geranium maculatum, Chamaelirium luteum, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Allium tricoccum.

Caulophyllum thalictroides | Mt. Cuba Center
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Caulophyllum thalictroides

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Caulophyllum thalictroides

blue cohosh

Blue cohosh is valued for its attractive bluish-green foliage and ornamental navy blue fruit rather than for its small greenish-yellow flowers. It is a refined plant, 1-3’ tall with stems originating from a branching rhizome and thrice-compound foliage comprised of lobed leaflets. The flowers are followed by attractive indigo blueberry-like fruits arranged in clusters. These persist and provide early autumn interest even after the foliage has declined. Plant in rich, moist, well-drained acid to neutral soil in light shade. Suitable companions include Arisaema triphyllum, Asarum canadense, Tiarella cordifolia and Trillium erectum.

Cardamine diphylla | Mt. Cuba Center
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Cardamine diphylla

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Cardamine diphylla

two-leaf toothwort

Two-leaf toothwort produces handsome clumps of 3-lobed basal foliage very early in spring. These are followed by white, bell-shaped flowers arranged in small terminal clusters on a 6-12” tall stem bearing two opposite leaves. The leaves typically go dormant in early summer but may reappear in fall. Grow in rich, slightly acid woodland soil in shady conditions. Combine Cardamine diphylla with Trillium erectum, Iris cristata, and Dicentra eximia for a naturalistic display. It makes a nice groundcover under Cornus florida, Rhododendron periclymenoides and Hydrangea quercifolia.

Caltha palustris | Mt. Cuba Center
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Caltha palustris

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Caltha palustris

marsh marigold

The conspicuous bright yellow, buttercup-like flowers of marsh marigold brighten the edges of ponds, stream banks and bog gardens in early to mid-spring. Its glossy green, kidney-shaped leaves grow to 12-18” and the entire plant can die to the ground by mid-summer. Caltha palustris performs best when planted in full sun to filtered shade in wet, humus-rich soils. Associated woody plants include Acer rubrum, Betula alleghaniensis, and Fraxinus nigra. Herbaceous companions might include Symplocarpus foetidus, Arisaema triphyllum, Lobelia siphilitica, Chelone lyonii, Dryopteris celsa, Osmunda regalis, Woodwardia areolata and Thelypteris palustris.

 

Calopogon tuberosus | Mt. Cuba Center
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Calopogon tuberosus

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Calopogon tuberosus

grass-pink

Grass-pink is a delightful orchid that has a graceful, willowy stem up to 18” tall, bearing multiple pinkish-magenta, sweet smelling flowers with gold and white “beards” at each tip. The leaves, originating from a corm, are narrow, grass-like and appear with the flowers in early summer. Grass-pink thrives in acidic soil whether it be a wet sunny meadow or a bog garden. Nursery propagated plants are now available for gardeners. Companion plants include Helonias bullata, Spiranthes odorata, Lysimachia terrestris, Sabatia kennedyana, Vaccinium macrocarpon, Thelypteris palustris, Woodwardia areolata, and carnivorous plants such as Dionaea muscipula and Sarracenia spp.

Astilbe biternata | Mt. Cuba Center
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Astilbe biternata

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Astilbe biternata

false goatsbeard

False goatsbeard is the only species of Astilbe that is native to North America. In contrast to the more familiar species, it is a strikingly bold, coarse-textured, 3-6’ tall plant. Hundreds of small, creamy-white flowers are borne in feathery pyramidal panicles. These are held above large, divided leaves, which usually end with a three-lobed terminal leaflet. This last feature distinguishes false goatsbeard from true goatsbeard, Aruncus dioicus, which has an unlobed terminal leaflet. Provide rich moist soil in partial shade and use as a background plant. Companion plants providing contrasting textures include Asarum canadense, Carex plantaginea, and Heuchera americana.

Aruncus dioicus | Mt. Cuba Center
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Aruncus dioicus

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Aruncus dioicus

goatsbeard

Goatsbeard is handsome, clump-forming plant, typically 3-4’ tall with attractive plume-like spikes of small creamy-white flowers held above bold, pinnately compound medium green leaves. Male and female flowers appear on separate plants. It is easily grown in average, humus-rich, well-drained soil in part shade. Use goatsbeard as a shrub-like background plant in the border, for screening, in moist areas along streams and ponds, or as a cut flower. Plant goatsbeard with other low maintenance perennials such as Asarum canadense, Spigelia marilandica, Adiantum pedatum, Trillium erectum, Polemonium reptans, Arisaema triphyllum and Mertensia virginica.

 

Aronia arbutifolia | Mt. Cuba Center
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Aronia arbutifolia

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Aronia arbutifolia

red chokeberry

Red chokeberry is a multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with several seasons of interest and deserves greater use in the garden. It bears numerous clusters of attractive small, white, flowers in spring. In autumn it produces a fabulous display of glossy red fruit and brilliant red fall foliage. This colonizing shrub grows 5-10’ feet tall and about 4’ wide. It performs well in full sun to filtered shade and grows well in a variety of soil types. Aronia arbutifolia is also tolerant of wide ranges in soil moisture from wet to dry. Red chokeberry integrates nicely with Amelanchier obovalis, Chionanthus virginicus, Itea virginica, Lobelia cardinalis, Magnolia virginiana, and Ilex verticillata.

Anemone acutiloba | Mt. Cuba Center
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Anemone acutiloba

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Anemone acutiloba

sharp-lobed liverleaf

Sharp-lobed liverleaf is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom and a welcomed harbinger of spring. The dainty and white, pink or purple flowers appear before the new leaves on fuzzy 4-6” tall stems. It is a low-growing perennial with pointed, 3-lobed, leathery, semi-evergreen leaves that emerge soon after flowering. Sharp-lobed liverleaf thrives in rich, moist but well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in moderate shade. Suitable companions in a woodland or shady rock garden setting include Thalictrum thalictroides, Heuchera americana, Mitella diphylla, Tiarella cordifolia, Cardamine laciniata, Trillium stamineum and Trillium grandiflorum.

Amsonia ciliata | Mt. Cuba Center

Amsonia ciliata

fringed bluestar

This long-lived, multi-stemmed perennial provides loose panicles of light blue, star-shaped flowers and a soft texture in the garden. The stems of fringed bluestar are clad in narrow, needle-like foliage and grow 2-3’ tall and as wide. This clump forming plant performs best in an average to dry, well-drained soil. Fringed blusestar also performs nicely in a woodland edge setting in partial shade as well as in dry open rock garden settings in full sun. For the best impact, fringed bluestar should be massed or grouped. It is a pleasing foliar companion with Pycnanthemum flexuosum, Stokesia laevis, Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’, Hydrangea quercifolia, Delphinium exaltatum and various native grasses.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Foliage Character: Deciduous
  • Flowering Period: Mid-Spring, Late Spring
  • Flower Color: Blue
  • Summer Foliage Color: Green
  • Fall Foliage Color: Yellow
  • Fruit/Seed Color: Tan
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: Full Sun, Partial Shade
  • Soil Moisture: Dry, Average
  • Soil pH: Adaptable
  • Soil Type: Sandy, Gravel-Loam
Amelanchier obovalis | Mt. Cuba Center

Amelanchier obovalis

coastal serviceberry

Coastal serviceberry offers several attributes including a dwarf, yet open spreading habit, that makes it a good candidate for the smaller scale garden. It grows well in moist to dry, acidic, loamy soils in part shade to full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The 3-4’ multi-stemmed shrub features 2” long finely-toothed, medium green, oval leaves. In late April, the shrub produces 1” white flowers followed, in June, by edible red berries which birds heartily enjoy. Amelanchier obovalis is a distinctive shrub that performs well when massed in the garden with Neviusia alabamensis, Heuchera americana, Tiarella cordifolia, Pachysandra procumbens, Chrysogonum virginianum, and Clematis glaucophylla.

  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Foliage Character: Deciduous
  • Flowering Period: Mid-Spring
  • Flower Color: White
  • Summer Foliage Color: Green
  • Fall Foliage Color: Green, Orange, Yellow
  • Fruit/Seed Color: Blue-Black, Red
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: Full Sun, Filtered Shade
  • Soil Moisture: Dry, Average, Moist
  • Soil pH: Acidic, Adaptable
  • Soil Type: Sandy, Gravel-Loam, Loam
Symphyotrichum ericoides var. prostratum 'Snow Flurry' | Mt. Cuba Center

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. prostratum 'Snow Flurry'

Snow Flurry white heath aster

Typically growing 4-6” tall, this herbaceous perennial is a prostrate form of the 3' tall species.  At first glance it resembles a spreading dwarf juniper with its rigid sprawling stems and notable linear, stiff leaves. Late summer to mid-autumn flowering, the yellow centered, ½” wide, white, star-shaped flowers cover the entire plant at peak bloom. Snow Flurry white heath aster will tolerate some shade but prefers full sun and dry, well-drained soil.  This plant is ideal for the front of the perennial border and is an excellent candidate for the rock garden. It makes an excellent companion for Silene virginica, Aquilegia canadensis, Opuntia humifusa, and Amsonia ciliata var. tenuifolia.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Foliage Character: Deciduous
  • Flowering Period: Late Summer, Early Fall, Mid-Fall
  • Flower Color: White
  • Summer Foliage Color: Green
  • Fall Foliage Color: Green
  • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown, Tan
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: Full Sun, Filtered Shade
  • Soil Moisture: Dry, Average
  • Soil pH: Adaptable
  • Soil Type: Sandy, Gravel-Loam, Loam
Asclepias purpurascens | Mt. Cuba Center

Asclepias purpurascens

purple milkweed

Purple milkweed is an attractive and robust herbaceous perennial plant reaching 2-4’ tall producing attractive terminal clusters of purple flowers from late spring into summer. It tends to be a clumping plant that spreads less aggressively than other milkweed species.  The large, oval, leathery foliage of purple milkweed also develops pinkish accents on the margins and along the leaf veins. This milkweed performs well in partial shade to full sun and prefers moist well-drained soils unlike some species that are more drought tolerant.  Purple milkweed is an excellent meadow companion that combines well with Gentiana clausa, Schizachyrium scoparium, Veronicastrum virginicum, and Liatris spicata.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Foliage Character: Deciduous
  • Flowering Period: Early Summer, Mid-Summer
  • Flower Color: Pink, Purple
  • Summer Foliage Color: Green
  • Fall Foliage Color: Green
  • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown, Green
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: Full Sun
  • Soil Moisture: Average, Moist
  • Soil pH: Adaptable
  • Soil Type: Loam, Clay
Zigadenus glaberrimus | Mt. Cuba Center

Zigadenus glaberrimus

southern camas

Southern camas is an underused perennial which produces attractive waxy star shaped flowers in mid to late summer and is a perfect addition to the bog garden. The basal leaves are sword-shaped and are 3-5” tall arising from a short rhizome. From the center of the rosette, it produces a showy panicle of off-white flowers borne on a 3’ stalk. In fall the leaves, stalk and seed capsules become a very attractive reddish brown and persist through winter. Zigadenus glaberrimus thrives in acid bogs in full sun. Grow with other bog loving plants such as Spiranthes odorata ‘Chadds Ford’, Rhexia mariana var. mariana, Andromeda polifolia, Sarracenia purpurea, and Woodwardia virginica.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Foliage Character: Deciduous
  • Flowering Period: Mid-Summer, Late Summer
  • Flower Color: White
  • Summer Foliage Color: Blue-Green
  • Fall Foliage Color: Brown
  • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: Full Sun
  • Soil Moisture: Moist, Wet
  • Soil pH: Acidic
  • Soil Type: Boggy
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