What’s of Interest
By Doug Davis, SGG Executive Director
This season’s flowering train left the station a couple of weeks late. Cooler temperatures in late February on through March have delayed flowering of several early blooming plants. The result is a rather compressed bloom period with many of the ‘early’ plants vying for attention with mid-season types. For you, the visitor, this means extra innings. Wait, that’s a baseball term.
What I mean is that there is a lot to see for your visiting dollar now and over the next few weeks. In addition, while we had cool weather, we did not experience any significant winter damage. Despite how some of you may feel about rainfall, we’ve also been most encouraged at the recent trends of more normal amounts of precipitations.
Daylilies – Need we say more? Well, yes we should as the Garden has many varieties of this popular perennial (one of several that “thrive on neglect”). Scattered through the perennial garden, and in a different genera, are Crinum (Milk’n’Wine Lilies), and Aurelian Lilies. These perennials are easy to mistakenly include with the genus for daylilies, Hemerocallis which has its roots in the Greek word meaning beautiful for a day. Although a rose is a rose is a rose, the same is not necessarily true of a lily. Not to worry as they are all lovely to look at here in their various homes.
Variegated Solomon’s Seal – The lovely green and white foliage on this Oriental perennial is striking and the plant is a very responsible, well-behaved spreader. Read that as NOT INVASIVE! Here, the best planting is just above the Camellia Garden amongst the Native Azaleas.
Spigelia marilandica – Indian Pink, but really ought to be called Indian Red and Yellow. This striking native perennial is planted in the Rock Garden above the water feature. It is especially pretty just now with upright facing, red flowers with yellow throats.
Bonsai Display – With recent donations from Dr. Gilbert and others, our collection has become much more impressive. If you haven’t been to the Garden lately, the improvements in this area alone are worth a trip. One expert has declared us as the “second best collection in the Southeast”. (Second to the wonderful display at the North Carolina Arboretum). Like the car rental company, we may be second, but we are trying harder!
Poliothyrsis sinensis (Chinatree) – but we call it the “Polio tree”)—One of the Garden’s more unusual trees is coming into flower now with its large, white, fragrant panicles. Located in the upper part of the water feature area.
Roses – A necessary redundancy worth repeating each year as they continue to be spectacular. Almost 100 types populate the Rose Garden and are lovingly maintained by our volunteer group, the Rose Warriors. (Which is what one has to be when confronted by thorns and such high maintenance plantings.)
Kousa (Chinese) Dogwoods – As with our natives, the white portion of the ‘flower’ is actually a modified leaf called a bract. Same thing is true with another popular plant—poinsettias. In both cases, the actual flower is a small yellow green part at the center of those modified leaves. Several specimens of Kousa are scattered throughout the Garden. Just now, the evergreen form Cornus kousa angustata is magnificent.
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ (Ninebark) – Already flowered, but the lovely reddish purple foliage is stunning just now. Located in the island planting at the parking area, next to the specimen holly. The foliage is a pleasing contrast to its neighbor Kaleidoscope Abelia . . .
Selaginella ‘Peacock’ – This fern ally with its iridescent blue green foliage always attracts a lot of attention from guests. A lovely groundcover standing no more than 4” high and looks like a fern but is actually one of the many lovely Selaginellas. Two substantial plantings in the Garden—one along the path past the bust by Howard Taikeff and the other, just past the ‘D’Or’ Holly at the green bridge across from the Carriage House. GPS locates not available at this point.
Gather’n’Grow Vegetable Garden – personally, I’ve always thought that there are few plantings more lovely than a vegetable plot in late spring to mid-summer. Varied textures and insect life are only exceeded by the fact that much yumminess is born amongst the foliage. Our second season with this interactive garden is growing dirty hands and happy hearts!
Hostas – They’re scattered everywhere throughout the grounds both in groups and singly. Wonderful specimens of all types. In my opinion, one of those plants that generally look better before flowering. They are also the equivalent of Oreo cookies for our local deer population. Anyone favor venison?
Dicentra scandens ‘Athens Yellow’ – a subtle, but impressively lovely yellow flowering climbing vine located above the water feature and to the left of the path as one heads to the Tea House. This plant is planted in a happy embrace with our native Clematis crispa.
Spiraea ‘Anthony Waterer’ – the prettiest of the Spireas . . . a couple of groupings exist here, but the biggest one is next to Carl Andre Davidt’s sculpture ‘Man in the Moon’ near the Rose Garden.
Itea virginica – Virginia Sweetspire – one of our native shrubs with two excellent seasons of value. Great spring flowering and lovely fall color where it gets adequate sunlight.
Black Snakeroot or Cimicifuga racemosa – I’m not sure how it got that common name, but both the foliage and the flowering on this native plant are engaging. Native to the mountain regions of the South, another common name ‘Bugbane’ refers to the reputed insecticidal properties this plant contains. On the path to the Tea House. Which path, you might say? You’ll have to figure it out or ask one of us.
Arisaema or Jack-in-the-Pulpit – Dr. Gilbert acquired a collection of this Oriental version of our native Jack. Some have already flowered while some are in full bloom. On many the stalk that holds the mottled foliage is stunning with many reaching heights of 24 to 30”.
Oakleaf, Mophead, Climbing and Lacecap Hydrangeas – June without hydrangeas would be like July 4th without fireworks . . . it just wouldn’t seem right. Come see our newest addition, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle’ , a beautiful sport from our native type. Located behind the Hiram Butler home.