Last week’s two-day jaunt to Raleigh was billed as a shopping trip to Plant Delights Nursery and the Raleigh Farmers’ Market, preceded by a tour of the JC Raulston Arboretum and a handful of top-notch private gardens. So let’s cut to the chase; here’s what I bought for my shady garden (left to right, top to bottom).
Japanese sedge ‘Sparkler’ (Carex phyllocephala): This eye-catching sedge, with whirls of variegated foliage on 12 to 15-inch tall stems, is custom made to perk up the shade garden, don’t you think?
Chinese reineckia (Reineckia carnea): An evergreen in the same family as aspidistra and lirope, which is tolerant of dry shade and graces the garden with racemes of pink flowers.
Aralia ‘Sun King’ (Aralia cordata): This fast growing (to 3 x 3 feet), deciduous aralia is celebrated for its golden foliage, but also produces spikes of tiny white flowers in summer followed by black fruits.
Dwarf hardy taro (Colocasia fallax): A small, spreading elephant ear with a silver streak down its center vein, perfect for wet soils.
Chinese fern ‘Jade Waterfall’ (Pteris multifida): A spider brake fern with narrow, arching leaves that make a 12 x 15-inch clump of fine-cut foliage. I selected this to grow in lieu of the Japanese forest grass, which has a similar texture.
Evergreen Solomon’s seal (Disporopsis aspersa): Tolerant of deep shade, this evergreen produces tiny flowers in spring with a lemony fragrance.
Aspidistra ‘Stars and Stripes’ (Aspidistra elatior): I spent too much for a little portion of this aspidistra, but I loved its creamy yellow streaks and sprinkling of white dots over the green foliage. In large clumps, it looked fabulous in the Jupiter Level Botanic Garden (at PDN).
Ligularia ‘Giganteum’ (Farfugium): A handsome ligularia with exceptionally large, glossy leaves, which produces tall stalks of bright yellow daisies in October.
Peppermint stick ginger (Alpinia japonica): A hardy ginger with soft, caressable foliage that grows to just 2-feet tall and produces pink flowers, but sadly, no fragrance.
Ginger ‘Green Panda’ (Asarum maximum): Another wild ginger for my little collection, this one produces stunning, 2-inch diameter, black and white flowers in spring.
Toad lily ‘Emperor’ (Tricyrtis formosana): With bold chartreuse foliage featuring creamy white margins, I don’t even care if it blooms.
Hosta ‘Warwick Comet’: Cupped and corrugated round leaves, with a shiny gloss and stunning variegation, make this cultivar an eye-popping standout.
Though the weather was hotter than expected, everyone enjoyed the garden tours too. At JCRA, I was particularly impressed with the recently-opened Asian Valley, and as usual, the Xeric Garden, Lath House, and trial gardens were spectacular.
Many thanks to my friends Jayme Bednarczyk, Beth Jimenez, and Barbara Kennedy, for their help, and to our volunteer guides Genelle Dail, Gail Harris, and Charlie Kidder, for sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge. A second thanks to Jayme for securing invitations to four fabulous private gardens. Here’s a quick look at our fun.