Archive for May, 2012

‘Helene Von Stein’ Lamb’s Ear Is More Behaved

Stachys byzantina is a dense gray woolly perennial ground cover, which earns it the common name “lamb’s ear”. ‘Helene Von Stein’ is the single best cultivar, displaying larger leaves, and is more heat and humidity tolerant. Sometimes listed as ‘Big Ears’, it rarely produces flowers which may tarnish its lovely silvery gray foliage appearance. Lamb’s ear grows […]

Add Hardy Begonia To Your Shade Garden

Hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) is the only species of begonia which is winter hardy in USDA zones 6-9 (zone 5 with protection). This shade-loving perennial grows 18 -24 inches high and wide, and displays a well-branched mounding habit. Foliage is medium to olive green above and reddish green with red veining beneath. Leaf shape is […]

Northern Maidenhair Fern Appear Delicate But Grow Tough

  Their leaves (called “fronds”) appear delicate, but maidenhair ferns (Adiantum spp.) are reliable long-lived perennials. Northern maidenhair (A. pedatum) thrives in most gardens within USDA zones 3-8, while the Southern counterpart, (A. capillus-veneris), predominates in warmer USDA 7-10. Unfortunately, planting of maidenhairs are not utilized in the Southern Appalachian gardens (USDA zones 6-8). Fronds average 18-24 inches in […]

Protect Autos and Home Siding From Artillery Fungus

Artillery fungus (Sphaerobolus stellatus) deposits small tar-like specks on the siding of your house or on your car finish in early spring or fall. Artillery fungus is a wood-rotting organism living in the mulch around your home foundation. The fungus shoots its sticky, black spore masses as far as 20 feet out away. The tar spots adhere […]

Favorite Mountain Laurel Cultivars

  Shopping for mountain laurels is like sampling sweets at a candy shoppe or ice cream parlour. There are so many great choices. Most plants grow 4-5 feet tall and wide. Most have plant foliage which is lustrous, dark green and leaf spot resistant. All cultivars need minimal pruning and fertilizing once a year. In great […]

Growing Mountain Laurels in Your Landscape

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a U.S. native evergreen broadleaf shrub (USDA hardiness zone 5). Mature sizes range from 5 feet (dwarf cultivars) to 12 feet in height and with equal spread. Over the past 30 years, mountain laurels have so improved, thanks to breeding efforts of Dr. Richard Jaynes*. He has released several dozen […]

Evaluating Weeping Bald Cypress Cultivars

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a large 75 -80 foot deciduous conifer tree. They are long-lived, often 100 years or more. Bald cypress is incredibly hardy from the warm humid Florida swamps to the cold winter temperatures and loamy soils of central Michigan. Bald cypress is tolerant of a wide range of soil and moisture […]

Firethorns Make Good Utility Shrubs

  Firethorn (Pyracantha spp.) is an old- fashion shrub that is making a comeback. Its white flowers makes a lovely presence in spring, followed by dark green leaves in summer, and bright orange or red fruits (berry clusters)  in fall and winter. Firethorn tolerates close clipping and is often utilized as a short 6-8 foot tall privacy screen.   White clusters […]

Variegated Tapioca Plant Thrives In The Summer Heat

Add some tropical flair to your garden with variegated tapioca plant (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’), aka Cassava. Variegated tapioca is a spectacular foliage plant (zone 8 – 11) which excels as summer’s heat and humidity arrives and lingers. Tapioca plant is not likely to be sold in every garden center and you’ll likely need to order one or more on-line. […]

Pinxterbloom Azalea

Pinxterbloom (Rhododendron periclymenoides), formerly R. nudiflorum, is a hardy deciduous azalea native to a large geographic area of the eastern United States. Pinxterbloom naturally grows nearby streams in a light woodland setting, but appears to tolerate dry rocky sites equally well after 2 years established. Shrub heights vary from 4-8 feet. Pinxterbloom spreads by underground stolons and shrubs may become […]