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Underused perennials

Posted by gardengal48 PNW zone 8 (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 1, 10 at 12:45

Most gardeners get excited about new plant introductions and we've seen recent examples of some very promising new plants on the horizon. But what about the many, 'been around for generations', hardy perennials that seem to be out of favor/lacking popularity, not widely known or just not grown very much anymore?

What perennials do you grow that fit this category? Maybe we can generate some interest and wider exposure for some of these less well-known or underused great garden additions.

These are a few that I've grown for years but hardly ever see in local nurseries or gardens:

Gillenia trifoliata - Bowman's Root. Native to woodland verges of the eastern US, this tough perennial (zone 4) features clouds of starry white flowers and handsome foliage that takes on fall color. Excellent for cut flowers. Not fussy about soils and ideal for part shade but easily takes full sun in my climate.

Uvularia grandiflora - Merry Bells. A wonderful woodland plant that has taken a backseat to the more widely grown Solomon's Seal. Bright yellow pendant flower appear in spring from a slowly increasing colony.

Dracocephalum rupestre - Dragonhead. Dead-easy groundcover type plant with screaming blue summer flowers over several months. Drought tolerant once established, grows in full sun but doesn't mind midday/afternoon shade, especially in hot climates.

Mukdenia rossii - Crimson Fans. An Asian heuchera relative that is seldom encountered. Fan-like maple shaped foliage is a glossy green during summer but takes on red tones with colder weather. Sprays of dainty white flowers appear in early spring. Part shade or woodland gardens.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Underused perennials

I absolutely love the Gillenia and Uvularia -- both are great plants, and indeed underused, although my guess is that their relative ease of propagation relegates them to the higher end of the gardening world.

A few more that I would add:

Allium (other than the 'Globemaster' types)
Baptisia australis (although hopefully that will change this year)
Knautia macedonica
Nepeta subsessilis
Rudbeckia maxima


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RE: Underused perennials

One that I had at the other house and absolutely loved was Aucuba (Japonica, I think). I was really surprised when I read somewhere that it was considered a very old-fashioned plant, as I had never seen one around anywhere so it seemed quite unique to me.

I think it's only hardy to Z7, and it was borderline for us, but you just could not beat the yellow-polka-dotted foilage for shade interest, and it was evergreen too.


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I have - and like - Uvularia grandiflora. I'll have to look into getting the Gillenia trifoliata. The Mukdenia rossii looks interesting too. What I've found says 'moist woodland' - how moist...? My woodland areas tend to dry out a fair bit in the summer. Any bad points about that dragonhead? The words 'easy groundcover' are often signs of trouble!

Persicaria polymorpha is getting a bit easier to find now but was very hard to find a few years ago and I had to take cuttings to incrase the number I have. I love this plant! It grows tall and upright in full sun but grows well in a fair bit of shade too, although it has a bit shorter, more open habit and flowers a bit less in shade, but still very well worth including in the shadier garden. It's one of the plants I use to tie the sun and shade gardens together.


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RE: Underused perennials

  • Posted by mxk3 z5b/6 MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 1, 10 at 14:56

Oh gosh, the list is so long it would read like a book. In my neighborhood/circle of friends, it seems as though if a plant isn't a hosta, daylily, sedum, coneflower, or daisy, it's "too hard to grow" (insert mumbling icon here).

And y'know - yews aren't the only shrub that will grow in Michigan (I need another mumbly icon...)


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I'll second the motion on Persicaria polymorpha -- good one, woodyoak!


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RE: Underused perennials

  • Posted by whaas 5a Milwaukee (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 1, 10 at 19:45

I don't know how "uncommon" it is but I love my Veronica spicata 'Purpleicious'. Although the spikes can become limp when its in the 90s, I think its superior to any purple flower salvia.

I read that it get only 12" high...well mine are 2' high with the spikes.


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sorry double post...

  • Posted by whaas 5a Milwaukee (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 1, 10 at 19:58

I've been wanting to plant Persicaria polymorpha, but isn't it an extremely agreesive plant.

I'll add Eupatorium 'Phantom' while I'm at it.


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Persicaria polymorpha is a beautifully behaved clumping plant that gets to shrub proportions by June when it starts blooming. It dies to the ground in winter. It does not creep and it hasn't seeded (but I do deadhead because the faded flowers are brown and not so attractive).

It's the tall white stuff at the back of the bed in this (lousy!) photo of the full sun bed.
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And it's the tall fuzzy white stuff at the behind the hostas in this picture of a shady bed.
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com
The shade picture is a month later than the sun one - it blooms later in shade and you can see that it is a much looser-looking plant in shade. It's a fabulous plant but it is big so it takes up a fair bit of room, which could be a problem in a small garden perhaps.


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Your Persicaria polymorpha looks very small compared to mine. Mine grows at least 6 ft tall and some 12 feet wide--enormous. Another Persicaria that is a clumper and is absolutely spectacular and very unknown is P. 'Crimson Beauty'. Gets some 12 feet tall with ivory flowers in September that very quickly turn cherry red--yes, cherry red, not pink. The show lasts for about 3 weeks and looks gorgeous with Miscanthus grasses, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Perovskia. There's a point when the 'Autumn Joy' and the Persicaria are the same color. And when the whole thing is backlit by the afternoon sun...well...


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laceyvail - the full sun one is about 6' tall; the shaded ones are 4-5' tall. The top growth spreads about 4-5' wide but the stems all arise from an 18" or so area for me on the ones that have been in the ground for 5 or more years. The only nursery near me that I can find that has 'Crimson Beauty' says it's P. japonica and I thought the japonica ones were spreaders...? So I'd be a bit worried about that one. How long have you had yours?


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Another persicaria that is not grown much is 'Firetail'. Fantastic long red flower 'tails' that bloom for weeks in late summer. Another plant I rarely see is sanguisorba'Lemon Splash'. Great yellow splashed foilage and thimble-like burgundy flowers in late summer, early fall. Both grow best in consistently moist soil.


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Hmmm plants that have been around for generations and are currently now out of fashion or underused - I can think of a few that fit that criteria:

I love the mentions of Indian Physic & Merrybells - hard to come by but lovely and worth the wait.

Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells) - These are fairly common in older neighborhoods with larger properties and found in drifts and lovely in combinations with different varieties of daffodils. An ephemeral so it dies back like the daffs and tulips and can be a tough sell later in the season in what looks to be an empty pot.

Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star) - There's other species but this is the common one for the midwest. Again, sometimes seen in older neighborhoods. Suffers the same fate as the Bluebells - usually only available after they've gone dormant or are starting to - not a big selling point to consumers but if they only knew!

Anenome sylvestris (Snowdrop Anenome) Spring blooming white anenome (May/June in zone 5), similar in appearence to native A. canadensis but much less aggressive and finer in texture.

Dictamnus albus (Gas Plant) - An oldie but goodie and a real showstopper. Like the peony once established can live undisturbed for years. Very slow to get established though which is oftputting to most who enjoy instant gratification and contact with the plant can irritate the skin if brushed against.

Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard/Red Valerian) - Another oldie but goodie with dark pink almost red flowers.

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger) - An old fashioned tough groundcover outshadowed by more popular and pickier European & Asian Gingers. Although, I like to combine all three for a nice contrast.

Iris cristata (Crested Iris)- Native iris with light blue/purple flowers that also can be used as a partial shade groundcover.

Polemonium reptens (Jacob's Ladder) - This is the plain all green native that can seed into a nice groundcover not the taller and rangier European version (P. caeruleum) that's commonly sold.

Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff) - Another old timey groundcover, I always see this in older neighborhoods but it has been displaced by more popular pachysandra, ivy, vinca & euonymus.


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  • Posted by whaas 5a Milwaukee (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 2, 10 at 20:58

Polemonium reptens...another good one!


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RE: Underused perennials

Lol, I think I know where you got the idea for this post gardengal ;-D

I am afriad I am repeating myself, but here are a few of my top choices for underused plants:

Asplenium scolopendrium- Hearts Tongue Fern. Looks just like the its tropical relative, the birds nest fern, but is super hardy. Mine comes back wonderfully every year.

Hyssopus officinalis- the true hyssop. Semi-woody herb native to the Mediterranean. One of my favorite plants! I have a deep blue dwarf one and pink 'Roseus'. Should be getting seeds for a white one soon ;-)

Scrophularia auriculata 'Variegata'- Water Figwort. Sold mostly as a waterside plant for ponds. Mine does fine in regular garden soil that is just a bit moist. Lovely foliage and adorable (to me, lol) flowers.

Gillenia trifoliata
CMK

Here is a link that might be useful: more underused plants-


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mxk3, haha what you said, "Oh gosh, the list is so long it would read like a book. In my neighborhood/circle of friends, it seems as though if a plant isn't a hosta, daylily, sedum, coneflower, or daisy, it's "too hard to grow" (insert mumbling icon here). And y'know - yews aren't the only shrub that will grow in Michigan (I need another mumbly icon...)"

So true around here, it makes me want to rebel, I do and sometimes get my comeuppance because they don't work. But some do work out, then people stop to ask about/admire them. However there's a reason people stick with those because, except for clipping yews, they're practically no maintenance and reliable. But there are doubtlessly less-well-known ones that are just as easy to grow and little maintenance.

Sometimes I get really pleasant surprises where you'll see something different to the point I want some, too.

I was so glad to be rid of the last yew and privet, never want them again. Privet was a royal pain to have to keep trimmed and weeded and cleaned out underneath. Actually I do like daisies and grow 3 different kinds but am not real keen over echinacea, got some seeds but will probably give most of it away.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the professionally-landscaped look. And some plant their own to look like that or have partial help with it.


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Re P. 'Crimson Beauty'. I think the botanical names are still confused and in flux. I believe my 'Crimson Beauty' was Fallopia when I bought it. Don't worry about the genus or species. If it's true 'Crimson Beauty' it's a clumper. I've had mine 7 or 8 years and have moved it once. Not a root spreader and not one seedling. And if a plant is going to take off in any way, it's going to do it in my sandy soil.

Also re underused plants. I'm not sure that most eastern gardeners are familiar with a number of sages (sold by High Country Gardens) that come into bloom in early summer and bloom until frost. They're billowy and bloom without deadheading--a very different look. Cultivars include 'Wild Thing', 'Ultra Violet', Black Cherry', and there are others. These are great plants. Just don't cut them back until spring--and give them time to resprout. I nearly tore mine out last spring because I was so sure it was dead. And then there was a tiny sprout.


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Well how about Solidago spp., or Goldenrod. Perhaps it has been overlooked because it is so common in the wild and is perceived as weedy. Some people still think it causes hay fever, which is not true, since goldenrod is insect-pollinated. It's Ragweed that causes hayfever - it blooms at the same time and is wind-pollinated.

There are about 100 North American species of Solidago, and some are very pretty and they attract butterflies and bees. I have started several less common species from seed and we'll see how they grow. 'Fireworks' is a lovely cultivar and there may be much potential to develop additional cultivars in this genus.


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Interesting......many of the plants mentioned are very common in my area and quite popular. One is seeing less of the Centranthus in nurseries here as it is pretty invasive and along with dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis) no longer encouraged to plant. Solidago is very popular here and multiple culitvars are offered for late summer color. And Galium odoratum is hugely popular here (not sure why as it is a terrible thug). I'd conclude from this that there is likely some regional bias with regards to used or underused or old fashioned/less common:-)

Woody, if you can grow the Uvularia you can grow the Mukdenia as they share similar growing preferences. My woodland garden was not overly moist, did require regular summer irrigation (we are very dry here in summer) but the mukdenia did fine. And the dragonshead only has a low, spreading habit like most groundcovers but it is a very moderate spreader. Very well-behaved:-)

Chris, not sure what you mean. Coolplantsguy has had several nice threads about new intros......just thought it was appropriate to discuss some older, tried and true but less popular perennials as well. And I love my Scrophularia.....that's a great one to include as I don't see that offered or used much either.


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I was wondering if that might be the case with the mukdenia. I think I could fit one into the same area as the Uvularia so I'll add that one to my shopping list. I really don't need a groundcover for sun so I'll pass on the dragenshead, although it sounds interesting so I'll keep my eyes open for one, just to see what it looks like.


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-gardengal, never mind about that. Just ignore me if ever I end up sounding nonsensical, lol! I do that frequently. ;-)

What sort of situation do you have your Scrophularia ('Variegata'?) planted in? There doesn't seem to be very good information about this plant online. Half of the sites say it is not hardy in z5 (has always been very hardy for me) and others say it is only suitable for wet/pondside areas, while mine thrives in average soil moisture.

I have been thinking about trying a 'Crimson Falls' Mukdenia. Might just have to give in this year and get one.
Oh, by the way, I read somewhere that the name of Mukdenia is being changed to Aceriphyllum. Great, yet another name change to get used to, lol...
CMK


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My scrophularia was just in ordinary soil with ordinary water......did fine. Loved those odd little maroon flowers, as did the bees :-) I've read the same thing about the mukdenia but I'm not holding my breath. It seems to take forever before those name changes take hold and in the meantime, the plants are still selling under the old name. Makes sense, tho, as "aceriphyllum" means acer or maple-like foliage. Personally, I prefer "mukdenia"......it's just got some heft to it :-)


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As we all know, certain plants become "fads" and very popular as a result. Examples right now are echinacea and heuchera. Others can be excellent plants but never achieve the "fad" status. Sometimes it is because they are too aggressive, at least in certain locales. Sometimes it is because they are difficult or slow to propagate, so nurseries have to price them higher. At other times, it is beacause they are just very large plants, and so many homeowners have quite small gardens nowadays.

Rudbeckia maxima does not flower well for me and takes up a lot of space. Galium odoratum spreads underground and is difficult to get rid of. Persicia polymorpha is just too large a plant for me. Knautia macedonica is a biennial, and self seeds a little too much (like many biennials). Hesperis matronalis became a thug in my former garden and self-seeded everywhere. I guess it's a case of "been there, done that". I have grown all of these plants at one time, but only have the r. maxima now. I'm not sure I should even keep that.


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strobilanthes, althea cannabina, zaluzianskya ovata (night phlox) aconitum napellus, gaura lindheimia, dierama pulcherimma, lespedeza, adenophora triphylla, anemone sylvestris, thalictrum delavayii, selinum,incarvillea arguta, rehmannia alata - apols for dodgy spellings


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woodyoak, forgive me if I missed it, but what is that cherry-colored bottlebrush-type plant (looks a little like cat tail only curvy and shorter) in the left foreground of your first photo? You don't specify your zone, so I don't know if it would grow for me but an outstanding plant.

Are those poppies of the same shade near it or something else; if so, what?

It also reminds me of my white Cimifuga which blooms very late in the season after the leaves have fallen, only the blooms on mine are a little longer but curve like that.


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aliska - the bottlebrush flowers are Sanguisorba menzii. The poppy is 'Patty's Plum' past it's prime a bit :-) There are also some columbines in the same color range that bloom with them that aren't showing in that view. The Sanguisorba will seed around - as does the columbine if they are not deadheaded promptly enough! I'm in zone 5. The Sanguisorba is supposed to be hardy to zone 4 I think. My Cimicifuga 'White Pearl' blooms in November about the time we're raking up leaves too - another great plant.


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Lot's of lovelies listed here, a couple that I didn't see (hope I didn't miss them) are veronicastrum and angelica gigas.


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woodyoak, thank you that was quick, made note of it. It might be a little hard to find a US source and should grow in my zone easily from seed then. First up was a Canadian source (Canning) that looked a little more rust colored. In any case, it's a beautiful plant, adds interest and says finches love the seed. The poppy is nice, too, and with the columbine must be a great combo.


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RE: Underused perennials - Cimicifuga photo

Taken October 25 '09. Guess I've been misspelling it. It has kind of pretty foliage but a long wait until it blooms. My sister divided hers and brought it down from Minnesota one July, don't know the specific variety. Was going to dig it out, finally gave it some food and bloomed. It was swarmed with very small bees for a few days, then left. I love it after I saw it bloom. Shortly after, it has pretty pearl-like white pods. Harvested some seeds and winter sowed them but don't know if I'll get anything. Bluestone has one (their new photo looks different or another variety) and also see one that is "pretty in pink".


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hostaholic2 - I don't grow the angelica but Veronicastrum is definitely a favorite here. DH loves to take pictures of it! Here are two of our favorite photos of it:

With Russian Sage:
veronicastrum and Russian sage

With Russian sage and hardy hibiscus:
hibiscus, Russian sage, veronicastrum

(Can you tell I'm tired of winter and wallowing in photos of previous years in the garden to compensate
?! :-)


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Very pretty Woodyoak! Love that 2nd pic.


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May I suggest Limonium Latifolium.

Grown next to Nepeta Walker's Low, these plants reinforce each other, picking up blues, hues and texture. Accidental congruence on my part as I wanted to use the Limonium for cut flowers indoors, also a winner.


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I don't see it offered for sale much or featured in gardens, but I've been very pleased with Silene "Prairie Fire".

A tough and colorful plant for sun, blooming here in July and early-mid August.


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woodyoak, two well three things. I like the Russian Sage in your first photo better because it's different from what I see around here which is feathery. Maybe it is just at a different stage or something.

I've looked all over for Sangrisorba and found one vendor in Canada, nothing in the US for seeds or plants. It wasn't nearly as robust as yours and was more rust-colored, but maybe yours isn't as cherry red as it looks on my monitor. Where did you get yours?

Finally that Veronica in the candleabra form I found quite interesting and stumbled across seeds for that, think that's what it was, at Prairis Moon Nursery when I was browsing through their offerings. Somebody over on Winter Sowing posted some lovely photos, one of which was of a plant called Prairie Smoke. It opens up pink and kind of feathery or plumey, but hers was at the "drooping ball" stage, just lovely and several posters really wanted that, so somebody found a source for that at the above-named nursery aka Geum Triflorum.


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aliska - it's just ordinary Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). It is cut back in spring as it is supposed to be and I do have a tendency to keep it pruned a bit more so it doesn't get excessively tall. Perhaps that's the difference.

I wouldn't think that the sanguisorba would be too hard to find, although I think white ones are more common that the pinky-red ones. I can't remember where I got it - at a local nursery somewhere, not Canning Perennials (I've never been there although I want to go because they're supposed to have a really nice display garden. I have ordered mail order from them - not sure if they ship to the US or not...) Try looking at a good local nursery in the spring. Pinky-reds are one of those colors that the camera has a hard time capturing accurately but the color isn't too far off in the picture. Here's a closer view:
Sanguisorba June 2009

(click on it for a larger image)

The Veronicastrum is Veronicastrum virginicum. Common name - Culver's Root. It should also be easy to find I think.

Another plant I like that is in the same area and in the same color range is Knautia macedonica.

Knaudia and Russian Sage Sept 2009

It's a recent addition to the garden. It is supposed to be hardy in zones 4-9 and is said to be harder to find, short-lived but seeds itself (will have to watch out for that!) Last year it started blooming July 1 and bloomed into October!


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Hmm.. photobucket seems to be not working properly today - I don't use the account often and it increasingly is an annoying site with an excessive number of ads! I think I'll stick to Picturetrail from now on. Here are the pictures again:

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com


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Thank you for your persistence with the photos, woodyoak, gorgeous! You have a good sense of composition with your plants and garden, looks like you don't have room for a whole lot more but might want to look at the purple smoke in different stages, really eyecatching plant. I like the Knautia, too. The pereskovia? (have trouble spelling the official plant names) is easy enough to find, just takes up more room than some plants, good idea to cut it back and don't want the shorter variety. I'll check in the spring to see if any of our nurseries have heard of it. The white does appear to be more common, nothing to compare to the red.

This has been a great thread, have been exposed to plants, especially wildflowers all my life, and it's always refreshing to see something new and different that will grow in my zone. It's sometimes disappointing not to be able to grow something that is easy in the warmer zones, but plants seem to integrate better when you stick with what's hardy to your zone imo.


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I have a feeling I might have listed this a while back, but it is worth a reminder. A member of the pea family,lathyrus, has purple to lavender to magenta flowers. I had never seen it before I came across it in an out of the way nursery.
It is not difficult to grow and I bet most of your gardening friends would not be able to name it.

woodyoak, what a thriving lot of sanguisorba! Is it and the knautia in full sun? I was looking for your zone to see if something else you mentioned might grow for me. But I noticed you haven't included it. If you have a moment you might want to add it to your info because it is helpful to other gardeners who wonder if a plant you grow will grow in their zone.
This is the link, but I think youi'll have to paste it. Sorry, I post links so infrequently I always forget how!
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/peren/msg021245565619.html?1934&pp_user=idabean&pp_ticket=iv0pDZcXQcRKw

Thanks!
idabean


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idabean, that link brings me right back to this thread. To post a clickable link, it's like this:

a href="http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/peren/msg021245565619.html?1934&pp_user=idabean&pp_ticket=iv0pDZcXQcRKw" then /a

Copy and paste the link, add the quotes where I did, and use the arrow tags around the a and /a.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/peren/msg021245565619.html?1934&pp_user=idabean&pp_ticket=iv0pDZcXQcRKw

Or better yet, go to the useful link. There's code I've been wanting to know myself and pretty straightforward, bookmarked it. Use the first link for what I tried to explain and probably failed miserably.

I think you meant to direct the reader somewhere else and made a common error, maybe copied and pasted this thread link?

Here is a link that might be useful: Hyperlink Code


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I'm not sure why my zone wasn't showing - I know I had put it in but it wasn't there so I've corrected that - I hope! It looks like we're pretty much in the same zone idabean... Yes, the knautia is in full sun - more or less. The garage casts shade in that area by 3:30 or so in the summer.


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Great list here. I've got another - Zizia aptera - Golden Heart Alexander. I've only had it a couple of years and I got it as a tiny pot, so I'm still waiting for a big show... I think this year. But even the foliage is nice.


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idabean, do you mean Lathyrus latifolius, everlasting or perennial sweet pea? This is widely naturalized throughout much of North America and is considered a weed in many places (and invasive in a few). It grows wild throughout my area. I'd be very surprised to find it for sale in a nursery (kinda like finding dandelions for sale :-)).

Wendy - thanks for that! Not a plant I had encountered before and always good to learn about new ones. Another plant that is a native but rarely seen on the west coast is Indian Pink or pinkroot, Spigelia marilandica. I love this for the bright color it adds to a woodland garden and the fact that it attracts hummers.

Here is a link that might be useful: everlasting sweet pea


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Gardengal - I agree re Indian Pinks. Wonderful color! But it's an odd plant for me - some years it does really well and some years it never appears at all! I gather it is poisonous. This picture is from 2008 as I didn't see it at all in 2009:
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

The Prairie Smoke that Aliska mentioned looks interesting, although the Geum in the name worries me. I have no geums in the garden because I have a nasty weed pest that is a wild type of geum. So I'm wary of anything with that name! :-)


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woodyoak, I ordered 3 packets of Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke) today. It may be invasive as the lady who introduced me to it over on winter sowing says it self seeds. I don't care. Maybe it will invade out some horrible invasive stuff I've fought for years, can have the whole yard for all I care at this point!

Here are the rest of what I ordered, some of which may be underused perennials. Some most of you know and/or have.

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit); Stylophorum diphyllum (Celandine Poppy) - looks like it might be invasive - Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian); Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells); Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed); Asclepsias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed). They were out of a couple really nice ones I would have ordered, crossed some off my list because may move and want to take my seedlings/certain plants.

I'm not real hopeful I can get the bluebells to do anything, may be tricky to grow from seed, never seen them around here, but have always been enchanted with them. There are other similar blues like them. One gorgeous scene in Ryan's Daughter had a wooded area filled with some blue plant indigenous to Western Ireland.

Some may be misspelled because I just scribbled them down. Most of these look like wildflowers, pretty weeds, or prairie flowers. The celandine isn't much of a poppy but a pretty, silky yellow, and one of my elusive line of ancestors (Sullendine or Solendine) may have taken their surname from that, not sure. I swear that name is spelled a hundred different ways, hard to research! The male line has died out in America insofar as I can tell, old New England family, fell on bad times with TB and such.


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Gardengal,
I need to do my homework because now I'm uncertain about the plant. But it is not the vining sweetpea. It is - at least in zone 5 New England- a perennial about 14 x 18 ", in its second year. I think it looks more like a sub-shrub. Tidy, def. non vining, no sign of re seeding; pinkish, lavender flower, close growing pea-like foliage. Blooms once, early spring. I'll get back to you all, I hope with a picture.
Marie


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lathyrus vernus

gardengal It is Lathyrus vernus; or spring vetchling.
http://www.heronswood.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/_/Lathyrus-Vernus--New-for-2009/productID/c7b3ac21-1d0f-4697-badc-b08cd15fb38c/categoryID/40fe77bd-9037-462f-be43-64cbc827920d/

copy and paste this link and you'll find it at the old heronswood discount parts.


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RE: Underused perennials

Ever since trying it out in my own garden, I've really been pushing Rubus pentalobus at work as a fantastic ground cover that's a quick spreader but without the pushy-invasive-ness that other quick growers have. I put it in a mixed bed of Ajuga, black-and-blue Sage, and a couple other perennials, and it filled everything in while at the same time going around things already growing. And takes the frost with ease. And has gorgeous fall color without losing it's leaves. AND flowers and has berries and attracts wildlife!


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RE: Underused perennials

I have Lathyrus vernus too. It does reseed a little but not too badly. The voles ate most of 2 years ago, so I was thankful for the new seedlings! I hope they are ready to bloom this year. I love the foliage. Any fabaceae foliage is always great IMO.

not a perennial, but speaking of groundcovers... this is a great underused groundcover... paxistma canby is a broadleaf evergreen groundcover. It has adorable tiny dark green foliage and grows about 6-8" tall and spreads slowly. No significant flowers, but a real charmer.


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RE: Underused perennials

The Rubus looks interesting - but not hardy here :-(

idabean - good reminder - I've been meaning to get one of those vetchlings since a friend posted a picture of one a few years ago. I keep forgetting to look for one! I think the 'Spring Melody' one would suit my garden best. I like adding 'out of the ordinary' plants to the garden - but only if they otherwise suit the garden. I see that Heritage perennials has it - I always check there first since many local garden centers carry their plants. If what I'm looking for is not in stock, I know they can easily order it in for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spring Melody


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RE: Underused perennials

Some perennials are underused because they get very large and many people just don't have the room. A few in this category that I like are Acanthus mollis, Aruncus dioicus, Filipendula rubra, and Eremurus.


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RE: Underused perennials

I am new to gardening and want to plant mostly perennials. I don't know any of them by name, trying to learn. I found pictures of perennials on Nature Hills Nursery, but they are expensive. Can I root cuttings from friends gardens, I have a greenhouse. You can see my posting at: "Very new to gardening, lots of questions" in the perennial forum.


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RE: Underused perennials

Many perennials can be grown from seed, but the easiest way is from division of the "mother" plant. It's just about a no-fail method. You have to do a bit of research though, as tap-rooted plants do NOT divide, and trying to do so may kill the original plant. If you have gardening friends in the area, they probably have self-sown baby plants looking for new homes. I know I do. I usually donate zillions to our local horticultural plant sale in the spring. Rooting cuttings is a litle more difficult and slower.
By the way, I really like lathyrus vernus, the original purple one as well as the pink one.


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RE: Underused perennials

I'm from a zone or two below most of you and much of what you talk about can't be grown here unless they are winter protected.
Aliska12000- I grow several varieties of sanguisorba. The pink one Woodyoak has in his pic is I think S.obtusa( Japanese burnet). It bears fluffy rich pink flowers. If it is a deeper colour- more maroon burgandy then I think it is S.officinalis(greater burnet). I also grow the white one S.tenuifolia. I cut all of them down for the winter as it makes for easier cleanup and spring start up.
Woodyoak-great pics and very uplifting when it's snowing out here. I also love the knautia and find when it does self-seed it's more like a "see-thru" plant and I leave them be.
I have several acres and grow a large number of the plants mentioned also only in a more/less controlled setting.
Others not used as much are Flipendula-rubra,purpurea, alba and elegantissima. Some of these travel underground and some remain in clumps. Cephalaria another good "see-thru" plant at 6-7ft tall. I love the soft yellow of the flowers.Any one grow Petasites varigated- nice large leaves. I have not had them become invasive here
I enjoy this site and the info just wish there were more plants from my zone- oh but to dream- or keep creating microclimates, I can grow z4a-b and a few z5 with lots of work.
Take care Lois


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RE: Underused perennials

celtic-07, glad I checked back here. That gives me more to go on, jotted it all down. I found one medium pink, and it's hard to go by photos, but having that nomenclature and patience may pay off. I'd want to hold out for the deepest pink if I can find any; otherwise, anything but the lightest pink would do. Thank you and nice you can grow 3 varieties of it. The alba would be nice, too, as it would bloom earlier than my cimicifuga.

Knowing what to search on was a great help and now see a lot of photos (not vendors) that are not stubby like the one I found at the Canadian nursery.


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RE: Underused perennials

i'd like to add macleaya cordata, plume poppy. georgeous and huge, although pretty invasive. (i killed mine without even trying)
thalictrum aquilegefolium, meadow rue.
chelone obliqua, turtle head
rheum palmatum, ornamental rhubarb

the one i really wanted to mention, i'm drawing a complete blank on. i can picture it, but can't think of the name.


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RE: Underused perennials

How about trilliums and merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) both are natives and seem to be underused around here.
I forgot about the Cephalaria -thanks, I do need to try that one!.... and I nee to grow Thalictrum rochebrunianum again.


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not-quite perennials

.....how bout underused biennials? They seem to get a bad rap and someone always holds that "dies after flowering" over their heads!


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RE: Underused perennials

just remembered the other one i wanted to mention, Lewisia cotyledon


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RE: Underused perennials

There are a lot of choice east coast natives that you never see out west, in nurseries or otherwise, that I would grow if they were available. Galax urceolata and Shortia galicifolia (amongst other Shortias)come immediately to mind. I'm not sure why they're not available-- maybe difficult to propagate or too subtle for mass consumption.

In my own garden I really enjoy Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Floro Pleno' and Ranunculus constantinopolitanus 'Plenus'. They get a bad rap because they're buttercups but neither is invasive and both are gorgeous. Ironically, the one type of buttercup accepted by most gardeners, cultivars of Ranunculus ficaria, are invasive, sometimes ferociously so.

Morina longifolia is another plant that I love but never see anywhere but my own garden.


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RE: Underused perennials

brody, I just recently purchased Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'! And you're correct....it is not an easy plant to find locally. Another one I really like is Anemonella thalictroides, which I moved from my old garden (a 'real' Heronswood plant I didn't want to leave behind). I grew various selections of Ranunculus ficaria in my old garden and yes, they seeded and spread freely. But they offered such a bright, early color and then disappeared completely until the following spring, I didn't mind :-)


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RE: Underused perennials

A favorite of mine Phuopsis stylosa, a great little ground cover. At times gives off a musky scent but very pretty.

Also Persicaria campanulata, had this at one time, would like it again but can't find it, love the foliage on this one.

Annette

Here is a link that might be useful: Phuopsis stylosa


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RE: Underused perennials

Lisa, I think you'll like that plant. It also disappears after flowering, which to me is a good thing because then you can overplant with annuals if you're so inclined. I have Ranunculus ficaria too and you're right, it's not much of a problem because it dies off so quickly but when it can be frustrating when it gets into the crowns of other perennials. I've always wanted to grow Anemonella, especially the named forms, but definitely not easy to find. Maybe mail order?


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RE: Underused perennials

I am just coming onto this thread after a long absence. Some great suggestions here, many of which I have never heard of. I did see mentioned Dictamnus. I agree, a top notch plant, and well worth the wait in getting it established. I also agree that Nepeta subsessillis is a fine addition. My hummingbirds and bees love the bloom and if the seed heads are left to mature, you will soon find them hosting hungry goldfinches.

Oenothera missouriensis is another one that I don't see grown often at least not around here. Not at all invasive like other Oenotheras and blooms all summer with big poppy like yellow blooms near ground level. I love it's sprawling growth habit

Penstemon hirsutus 'Pygmaeus' is another neat little plant for the front of the border. I lost all of mine after 4 years due to an exceptionally wet spring, I think. It does need good drainage. Haven't been able to find any to replace it.

A Persicaria that I have and love is P. affinis 'Border Jewel'. A ground cover that spreads, but not aggressively. Begins blooming in late May/early June with pink spikes that turn dark rusty red as they mature and they last till winter kill. The plant does look a bit ugly in spring till you get as much of the dead foilage raked out as possible and new growth gets going, but I wouldn't be without it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Persicaria affinis


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RE: Underused perennials

Sigh of relief to hear that others have had their Spigelia marilandica appear
sporadically. . .mine failed to appear one year and I was sure I had trashed it,
only to have it reappear again the following season. Gardengal, are you unable to grow this plant in your warmer zone, or did you just mean that it is not common to your region?

Two underused plants that are favorites: Stylophorum diphyllum ('Celadine Poppy'), which I am constantly giving away to folks because they see it in my garden for the first time - and it produces plenty of babies, though I don't find it invasive. The other plant I fell in love with on-line is Kirengashoma palmata. . .and I was lucky enough to have one of our GW contributors share one with me from their Connecticut garden.

Carl


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RE: Underused perennials

Carl, Spigelia marilandica will grow here just fine.......one seldom encounters it is all :-) But a local wholesale grower is now offering it so maybe it will become more widely used. And I love Kirengeshoma too. Can you tell my garden is mostly shade??


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RE: Underused perennials

It appears that the South is underrepresented on this thread (as it all too often is in the Perennials Forum in general), but I'd like to cast a vote for a perennial plant that's a consistently terrific performer across the hot, humid Southeastern United States, but too infrequently seen in nurseries. It's Malvaviscus drummondii (or M. arboreus), usually known by the common name "Turk's cap" or "Turk's cap mallow." It's native to the lower Gulf Coast area, and an old-fashioned garden favorite throughout Zones 7, 8, and 9. In our area, it's wonderfully hardy and versatile, thriving in full, hot sun or partial shade, and in wet or dry soil. It doesn't do much early in the season, which is part of why it's not often found at garden centers, since during their peak sales months of March, April, and May malvaviscus isn't very eye-catching. But it really takes off when the temperatures heat up, creating a nice, bushy, chest-high mound of stems clothed in attractive, heart-shaped bright green leaves. Then, right around the summer solstice, its flowers start opening in the leaf axils all up and down the stems. The flowers are bright redtrue red, like a fire engine or a stop signand are of the form typical of other members of the mallow or hibiscus family, with five brightly colored petals and a prominent adroecium/gynoecium protruding from the center. Each individual flower is about an inch long, not enormous, but they're borne in sufficient quantities to make a spectacular but subtle show, and they're produced pretty much continuously until frost. The flowers are very popular with hummingbirds and a wide range of pollinating insects, but malvaviscus is rarely bothered by any kind of pests. I've occasionally seen whiteflies on them, and this past summer for the first time deer did nibble on a couple of my plants, but for the most part they're remarkably free from problems. So, if you're in a suitable climate, I highly recommend hunting down some malvaviscus for your yard. And if you live in the frozen zones to the north, well, you'll just have to be jealous. ;)


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RE: Underused perennials

All right, I'm jealous ! :o)

But, I've contacted a fellow gardener on the NC coast, and she's going to snag me one and I'll bring it back north after my Aprill visit and see if takes to
"annual" pot culture. . .

Carl


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RE: Underused perennials

Anyone know where I can get a Dictamnus "Alba"? I see the "Purpurea" on occasion but I'd love to get a white one. Or should I give up on getting it in plant form and just start from seed? I've coveted one for years but have all but given up being able to find a growing one.


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RE: Underused perennials

I love Gilenia trifoliata and rarely see it in gardens around here though it is fairly easy to find in the good local nurseries. One thing that surprised me is that this plant grows happily in full sun with moisture and is more compact like that. Very long blooming and give a wonderful airy contrast to so many more "solid" textured plants.

An absolutely wonderful autumn bloomer which is almost never seen here abouts is Rabdosia longituba. Graceful wands of the most blue of blue flowers in October, it is one of the best late fall perennials and I have no idea why everyone would not plant it. Makes a wonderful arching large shrubby perennial in a year or two. Plant it in part shade with a mix of yellow and green and burgundy foliage -- it is sublime.

And I will mention my favorite of the new Agastache introductions of the past several years A. 'Purple Haze'. It is fully z5 hardy (usually listed z6 but has grown fine here through 5 winters -- I have dozens of plants all over the garden). It is like a pinker/purpler more delicate version of Blue Fortune and Black Adder, more delicate in texture, much less rangy and longer blooming than either of these, blooms for a solid 3 months at the end of the season. It takes care if its spent flowers cleanly, needs no deadheading, a total winner Agastache for gardeners z 5 and warmer.


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RE: Underused perennials

Great mentions, david_5311! I'm a big fan of all three, and I can vouch for their excellent performance and garden-worthiness in my zone 7/8 yard in the South as well. I thought your descriptions of them were terrific, and right on the money. Gillenia (or Porteranthus, as I learned it) was of course one of the original plants nominated to start this thread. It's a wonderful woodland plant that looks great and grows beautifully, although deer and rabbits do seem to like it a bit too much sometimes. There's a pink-flowered form of it, too, but I like the white one better. And I've read about a variegated form that someone supposedly had, but I haven't seen it. That could be awesome. Rabdosia is an unheralded star and I, too, have wondered why it's not more widely available. Plant Delights here in NC is now selling a white-flowered cultivar of rabdosia that's particularly nice; I think it "pops" a little more in the autumn landscape than the blue one, but they're both great. I actually have one place in the yard where I have the blue and the white interplanted together. Very nice. And I think you're right about 'Purple Haze' agastache. It's more subtle and subdued than some of the other new cultivars, like the Fortune series, so maybe it's not as eye-catching in a garden center or nursery setting and so doesn't sell as well. But I think it's a better and more versatile garden plant, that flowers for a very long time, blends splendidly with lots of other plants, and is absolutely tough as nails. And, like most members of the mint family, both it and the rabdosia are seldom bothered by critters of any kind. Outstanding.


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RE: Underused perennials

OK so a few more....

The fancy leaved cultivars are great (and have prices to match...) but what is wrong with the species Brunerra macrophylla? This is a great garden plant, true blue flowers, tough as nails, credible foliage, seeds in a friendly way so you can make nice drifts all over your garden. Way under appreciated.

I will look for a white Rabdosia, but I can't imagine that it would be better than the blue form. And true blue it is too, maybe just the slightest purple pink hint, but much bluer than most "blue" garden flowers.

How about a native, Hepatica rotundifolia? Both E NA species occur in my area, H. acutiloba and H. rotundifolia. Both make great woodland garden plants, but here the bigger star is H. rotundifolia. It lives in sandy woods, and it is not rare to find saturated rich blue purple forms that would rival the most beautiful asiatic hepaticas. On a very early sunny spring day, there is no garden plant which could possibly be more cheerful and uplifting than this wonderful native.

Not a native but a fabulous woodlander, Disporum flavens. Tall robust and showy, makes a wonderful garden stand after a few years, the yellow Korean fairy bells is a star of the spring garden, would look great with a large drift of B. macrophylla, and looks credible throughout the season with long lasting foliage and stature impervious to pests.

And maybe one more native praise.....I love ferns, and though there are endless fancy leaf forms, NEVER snub the beauty of the common Lady fern, Athyrium felix-femina. Tough as nails, growing with moisture and wihout, the most graceful of fern foliage, the classic garden fern to contrast with atilbes and hostas and epimediums.......even without any garden design sense, you can create the most magical of woodland gardens by incorporating a drift of 7-15 lady ferns with, well...anything.


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RE: Underused perennials

Glad to hear positive feedback about the Rabdosia longituba since it's on my
short list of "unknowns" that I'm getting when I visit Plant Delights Nursery this
Spring. . .saw a picture of it somewhere and was just captivated by that cloud
of soft blue, and especially appreciate that it's a late bloomer.

One of my favorite late-bloomers is a plant introduced to me last summer
by Variegated Foliage Nursery, an eclectic little operation in central Connecticut, called Leucosceptrum japonicum - long, slender, arching stems with pale yellow, bell-shaped flowers - sort of like a giant version of a dog-tooth violet (Erythronium). . .does that picture work? A long-bloomer, to boot !


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RE: Underused perennials

Since I posted the response above at 14 minutes after midnight, perhaps you
can understand why my description of Leucosceptrum japonicum was totally
absurd - it is NOT at all like a giant version of dog-tooth violet ! Rather, the
soft yellow flowers appear in spikes (more like Salvia) on erect stems - in my
muddled mind I was confusing it with another of my favorites from the Pacific
Rim, namely Kirengeshoma palmata. My apologies if anyone was unduly
scandalized by my sleep-deprived gaffe. . .

Carl


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RE: Underused perennials

Yeah, I have to say, when I saw the description of your leucoscpetrum, I did sort of wonder what the hell you were talking about. I guess I attributed it to something wacky in the water up there in Jersey (either for you, or for the leucosceptrum, or both). Kirengeshoma is a more plausible fit. I haven't seen the variegated kirengeshoma, but I'm sure it's stunning. As a group, kirengeshoma are about as happy in the muggy South as david_5311's brunnera. Both can theoretically be grown here, but realistically, unless they have an exceptionally evenly moist, cool, shady spot, they really suffer in our summers. At least kirengeshoma is vigorous enough that it can be grown as a summer-dormant perennial, returning every spring but disappearing by the Fourth of July. But neither it nor the brunnera can ever really attain the majesty here that they do in a slightly cooler climate, and those two plants are among the (very few) reasons that I occasionally wish I gardened further north.

I hope you enjoy your visit to the Tar Heel State and specifically to Plant Delights in the spring. After having lived and gardened in four other distinctly different regions (Chicago, Philly, Houston, and Tampa), I settled in NC, and have decided that all the way around, it's the best place for horticulture that I've yet been (at least east of the Rockies). We have a nice balance of temperate and sub-tropical conditions here, and the resulting plant palette available to us is simply staggering. And Plant Delights has as nice a cross-section of it as anywhere, both for sale and in their display gardens. People frequently bіtch about their prices, but considering all that they do and the uniqueness of so much of what they sell, I think they generally give good value for what they charge. Like anywhere else, it pays to be a picky and savvy shopper at PDN, but as long as you're not foolish, I think you'll seldom feel ripped-off. I'd bet you'll have a blast there in the spring.

Don't tell Tony I told you this, though, but you really only need to buy two rabdosias when you're there: one blue one and one white one. Like many Lamiaceae, they root very readily from summer cuttings, and from those two parent plants you can easily multiply enough of them to fill your yard (and maybe your neighbors' yards) in just a few years.

david_5311, I didn't mean to disparage the good old blue rabdosia; it's an outstanding and gorgeous plant, and the shade of blue is very striking and absolutely lovely. I've just become even more enamored with the white one, and I do think that it stands out even more so in the jumbled woodland garden in the fall. I think the white flowers really highlight the lacy, feathery architecture particularly well, giving it a textural presence somewhat like that of the gillenia/porteranthus, which is so welcome as a contrast to all of the dark, coarse, heavy textures of so many shade plants. But I love and grow both the blue and the white forms, and I think they're definitely both "underused perennials."

Hepaticas are, of course, justifiably beloved spring woodland ephemerals, and while I think of them as being in a different category from the substantial, structural perennials that have been the focus of this thread, they're certainly delightful and probably underused.

Lady fern is nice, and I value it as a tough, hardy, versatile (and often inexpensive) fern that's consistently pretty and almost definitively fern-y. And of course its astounding range of cultivars run the gamut from spectacular to bizarre, and between them have something to offer any shade garden. Saying that it has "the most graceful of fern foliage" seems like a bit of a reach, though, in my opinion. I think we have a lot more fern options to choose from here in the South than y'all do.

Thank you for mentioning Disporum flavens, though, as I had nearly forgotten about it. What a terrific plant! And so underused! And criminally unavailable, at least around here! In fact, I would plant a lot more of them in my yard and my clients' yards if I knew where to get more of them. So, so, so elegant and subtly beautiful! It just epitomizes the look of a spring woodland garden at its best. And it's a deceptively tough, rugged little plant, too. It prospers in partial sun or pretty heavy shade, thrives equally well in the North and the South, and is just about indestructible once established. Just fantastic. And I think that it's in a category that might be an interesting topic for a new discussion thread: plants whose emerging leaves and flower buds are as attractive or more attractive than their mature leaves and open flowers. I think D. flavens is especially stunning when it's midway through its emergence from the ground in the spring, with its tender, glistening foliage curled around the clusters of plump little flower buds. How can it get any better?

And in other news, how about that hockey game!


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RE: Underused perennials

  • Posted by whaas 5a Milwaukee (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 28, 10 at 21:52

I wish someone would go trhough all these posts and tabulate the votes/suggestions...hmmm, maybe tomorrow.


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RE: Underused perennials

This is a great thread, not only have I not seen some of the plants mentioned, some I've never even heard of. Music to a plantaholic's ears heh heh heh.

Annette


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RE: Underused perennials

Yep, I agree aftermidnight. I'm wondering if Rabdosia longituba would make the grade in the Pacific Northwest or if it would need more summer heat to flower early enough to be worthwhile. Will have to look into that. Agastache 'Purple Haze' sounds like a winner too.


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RE: Underused perennials

Heres the list so far in pretty much in the order of the thread. Several of them had notes in the original mention or in later posts about invasiveness. I did not check spellings, just cut and pasted.

Gillenia trifoliata - Bowman's Root.
Uvularia grandiflora - Merry Bells.
Dracocephalum rupestre - Dragonhead.
Mukdenia (AKA Aceriphyllum) rossii - Crimson Fans.
Allium (other than the 'Globemaster' types)
Baptisia australis (although hopefully that will change this year)
Knautia macedonica
Nepeta subsessilis
Rudbeckia maxima
Aucuba japonica, I think
Persicaria polymorpha
Veronica spicata 'Purpleicious'
Persicaria 'Crimson Beauty'
Persicaria 'Firetail'
Sanguisorba'Lemon Splash'
Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star) -
Anenome sylvestris (Snowdrop Anenome)
Dictamnus albus (Gas Plant) -
Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard/Red Valerian)
Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)
Iris cristata (Crested Iris)
Polemonium reptens (Jacob's Ladder)
Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff)
Asplenium scolopendrium- Hearts Tongue Fern
Hyssopus officinalis
Scrophularia auriculata 'Variegata'- Water Figwort.
Salvia 'Wild Thing', 'Ultra Violet', Black Cherry'
Solidago Fireworks- Goldenrod
Strobilanthes
Althea cannabina
Zaluzianskya ovata (night phlox)
Aconitum napellus
Gaura lindheimia
Dierama pulcherimma
Lespedeza
Adenophora triphylla
Thalictrum delavayii
Selinum
Incarvillea arguta
Rehmannia alata
Sanguisorba menzii
Cimicifuga 'White Pearl'
Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver's Root
Angelica gigas
Limonium latifolium
Silene "Prairie Fire"
Knautia macedonica
Lathyrus vernus - spring vetchling
Zizia aptera - Golden Heart Alexander
Spigelia marilandica, Indian Pink or pinkroot
Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Stylophorum diphyllum (Celandine Poppy)
Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian)
Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed)
Asclepsias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Rubus pentalobus
Paxistma canby
Acanthus mollis
Aruncus dioicus
Filipendula rubra
Eremurus
Sanguisorba obtusa( Japanese burnet)
Sanguisorba officinalis(greater burnet)
Sanguisorba tenuifolia
Filipendula purpurea
Filipendula alba
Filipendula elegantissima
Cephalaria
Petasites varigated
Macleaya cordata, plume poppy
Thalictrum aquilegefolium, meadow rue.
Chelone obliqua, turtle head
Rheum palmatum, ornamental rhubarb
Uvularia grandiflora - merrybells
Thalictrum rochebrunianum
Trillium
Lewisia cotyledon
Galax urceolata
Shortia galicifolia
Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Floro Pleno'
Ranunculus constantinopolitanus 'Plenus'
Morina longifolia
Anemonella thalictroides
Ranunculus ficaria
Phuopsis stylosa
Persicaria campanulata
Oenothera missouriensis
Penstemon hirsutus 'Pygmaeus'
Persicaria affinis 'Border Jewel'
Kirengashoma palmata
Malvaviscus drummondii (or M. arboreus) - Turk's cap mallow
Gilenia trifoliata (AKA Porteranthus)
Rabdosia longituba
Agastache 'Purple Haze'
Brunerra macrophylla
Hepatica rotundifolia & acutiloba
Disporum flavens - Korean fairybells
Athyrium felix-femina - Lady fern
Leucosceptrum japonicum


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RE: Underused perennials

nhbabs, thanks for compiling the list, makes it easier for me to check off all the new plants that I must somehow squeeze into my already full gardens. Some sound like real winners that I simply MUST GET.

Best thread I've seen on here for a while.


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RE: Underused perennials

You also may want to look at Aethionema schistosum, also know as fragrant Persian stonecress. It's not invasive, but it does self sow freely, so make sure you deadhead it if you don't want suckers popping up everywhere.


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RE: Underused perennials

Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke): some one mentioned this and wondered if it was invasive. I have it: for me it has never seeded and never spread. Neat habit. Low mound. Its a really short plant. It blooms very very early and other stuff quickly grows around it and I forget its there. Then next spring suddenly I see it again. I should move it to the foreground.

Thanks everyone for a great list. I need plants for shade and they are really on this thread.


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RE: Underused perennials

Nhbabs, Thanks for taking the time to copy over the list into one post. I've been following this thread with great interest and jotting down notes when I hear about something I haven't tried yet. Your list makes it so much easier! Thanks again!


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RE: Underused perennials

Oh! Another cool groundcover that I forget about all year until I start going over what wintered over and it stands out in the garden, pretty and evergreen;

Gaultheria procumbens. aka Wintergreen. Very basic at a glance; slightly-woody low evergreen growth. Not much to it. Occasionally has pinkish berries. But when you crush the leaves, they smell exactly like strong wintergreen gum! Supposedly the berries are also edible, but I wouldn't know and don't have plans to try that out, but birds love 'em.


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RE: Underused perennials

Hello Everyone,
New to this perennial forum and I like this thread. I have re-arranged the nhbabs's list alphabetically (no spells checked). It would be nice if someone could add the common names and hardiness zones to individuals plants.


Acanthus mollis
Aconitum napellus
Adenophora triphylla
Aethionema schistosum fragrant Persian stonecress)
Agastache 'Purple Haze'
Allium (other than the 'Globemaster' types)
Althea cannabina
Anemonella thalictroides
Anenome sylvestris (Snowdrop Anenome)
Angelica gigas
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Aruncus dioicus
Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)
Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed)
Asclepsias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Asplenium scolopendrium- Hearts Tongue Fern
Athyrium felix-femina - Lady fern
Aucuba japonica, I think
Baptisia australis (although hopefully that will change this year)
Brunerra macrophylla
Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard/Red Valerian)
Cephalaria
Chelone obliqua, turtle head
Cimicifuga 'White Pearl'
Dictamnus albus (Gas Plant) -
Dierama pulcherimma
Disporum flavens - Korean fairybells
Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star) -
Dracocephalum rupestre - Dragonhead.
Eremurus
Filipendula alba
Filipendula elegantissima
Filipendula purpurea
Filipendula rubra
Galax urceolata
Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff)
Gaultheria procumbens. aka Wintergreen
Gaura lindheimia
Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian)
Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)
Gilenia trifoliata (AKA Porteranthus)
Gillenia trifoliata - Bowman's Root.
Hepatica rotundifolia & acutiloba
Hyssopus officinalis
Incarvillea arguta
Iris cristata (Crested Iris)
Kirengashoma palmata
Knautia macedonica
Lathyrus vernus - spring vetchling
Lespedeza
Leucosceptrum japonicum
Lewisia cotyledon
Limonium latifolium
Macleaya cordata, plume poppy
Malvaviscus drummondii (or M. arboreus) - Turk's cap mallow
Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
Morina longifolia
Mukdenia (AKA Aceriphyllum) rossii - Crimson Fans.
Nepeta subsessilis
Oenothera missouriensis
Paxistma canby
Penstemon hirsutus 'Pygmaeus'
Persicaria affinis 'Border Jewel'
Persicaria campanulata
Persicaria 'Crimson Beauty'
Persicaria 'Firetail'
Persicaria polymorpha
Petasites varigated
Phuopsis stylosa
Polemonium reptens (Jacob's Ladder)
Rabdosia longituba
Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Floro Pleno'
Ranunculus constantinopolitanus 'Plenus'
Ranunculus ficaria
Rehmannia alata
Rheum palmatum, ornamental rhubarb
Rubus pentalobus
Rudbeckia maxima
Salvia 'Wild Thing', 'Ultra Violet', Black Cherry'
Sanguisorba menzii
Sanguisorba obtusa( Japanese burnet)
Sanguisorba officinalis(greater burnet)
Sanguisorba tenuifolia
Sanguisorba'Lemon Splash'
Scrophularia auriculata 'Variegata'- Water Figwort.
Selinum
Shortia galicifolia
Silene "Prairie Fire"
Solidago Fireworks- Goldenrod
Spigelia marilandica, Indian Pink or pinkroot
Strobilanthes
Stylophorum diphyllum (Celandine Poppy)
Thalictrum aquilegefolium, meadow rue.
Thalictrum delavayii
Thalictrum rochebrunianum
Trillium
Uvularia grandiflora - Merry Bells.
Uvularia grandiflora - merrybells
Veronica spicata 'Purpleicious'
Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver's Root
Zaluzianskya ovata (night phlox)
Zizia aptera - Golden Heart Alexander


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RE: Underused perennials

Ok, I looked at the list above, and one plant I have tried (and failed)that is of interest is Asclepias purpurascens. Not sure where it came up in the posts above, but I got half a flat from a wholesale nursery and they all failed to grow, planted in multple different locations/conditions. I was going to order seed for our new prairie from Prairie Moon Nursery and the sales person I talked to there said only that it is "tricky". So what is they key to growing this plant? I love milkweeds in general and the butterflies they attract, and this one sure looks beautiful for a naturalistic setting.


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RE: Underused perennials

oops, it got missed...
Aliska12000 mentioned it on Feb 12th's reply. It's some where in the middle of this post....
Common Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca) came into my garden by itself. It grew at very sunny, well drained spot with poor soil where I used to have my Rudbeckia. I never watered it and soil is acidic. In general, could this be applied to other milkweeds? (Although swamp milkweed (A. Incarnata) and other cultivars could be an exception?)


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RE: Underused perennials

I just thought of another one. When I saw sanguisorba, it reminded me of another plant that I'd love to add to my garden. Sanguinaria canadensis "multiplex" or "flore pleno". They're both beautiful cultivars. They do well in a woodland type environment, and even though they bloom for such a short period of time, it's worth it when they do.

Also, I think patrinia is worth growing. It looks a lot like queen anne's lace, only with yellow flowers.

Finally, echium russicum is a nice little perennial. It looks a lot like veronica, only with red flowers instead of the usual purple.


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RE: Underused perennials

Ask me again in the Fall, David, and I might be able to help! Oddly enough,
Asclepias purpurescens was an interesting sounding item that leaped off the
page of my Rare Find Nursery catalog. . .since it's a local nursery, I had the
distinct advantage of being able to ask them about it. . .and they repeated
what their listing stated: "Very tolerant of a wide variety of soils and light levels,
it is easy to grow." So I ordered one - now comes the test ! Incidentally, if
you like milkweeds (I certainly do!), they have another variety, Asclepias
exaltata, which takes some shade and the inflorescenses resemble an overhead fireworks display. . .feeble description: check the link below. . .

Carl

Here is a link that might be useful: Rare Find Nursery


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RE: Underused perennials

The Sanguisorba obtusa is so cute--my mum calls it "Dr. Seuss Flower". Very hardy here in VA. I'd add the Platycodons, forget-me-nots and hollyhocks to the under used category (at least in metro D.C.). Campanula glomerata doesn't seem to be found much here, nor C. takesimana. And for whatever reason, Acanthus and the Aconites don't seem to be popular here. Craziness! They rock.


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RE: Underused perennials

Interesting about the comment about Asclepias purpurascens Carl, I talked to the people at Prairie Moon Nursery in MN about this plant, a native prairie plant, and they suggested that it was "tricky" and needed to be coddled in a nursery bed...I will look forward to your experience. I think the Sanguisorbas in general are underappreciated, the only one I have really grown is S. menziesii and it is lovely in habit and bloom (no, not a rose or a delphinium, but the dancing bottlebrushes lend a great textural note to the border, and after blooming you cut it back for a nice foliage display and sparse rebloom). I have loved the photos I have seen of all of them, but I rarely see any in local nurseries -- and we have good ones hereabouts too.


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RE: Underused perennials

Talking about woodland perennials, I had yellow meadow-rue, Thalictrum flavum glaucum. It was a beautiful perennial. Foliage was stunning, Just like ferns with powdery blue leaves. It had tiny yellow sprays of flower and the scent was amazing. I had it under doppled shade and sadly it survived for couple of winters only.
Another powdery grey or should I say green is Silene uniflora 'compacta' (S. maritima 'compacta') with very unusual flowers and I love it. It never stops blooming and blooms early to late summer all the way...
How about some more alpine garden plants like Euphorbia polychroma (spurge). It has very unusual lime green flowers.


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RE: Underused perennials

Hey, carl18, did you ever get your Malvaviscus (Turk's cap) from North Carolina (or anywhere else)? If so, how's it doing up there in Jersey? I imagine it will love the summers, but as you suggested, overwintering it could be the issue. Just wondering.


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Re: Underused perennials

Hey, carl18, did you ever get your Malvaviscus (Turk's cap) from North Carolina (or anywhere else)? If so, how's it doing up there in Jersey? I imagine it will love the summers, but as you suggested, overwintering it could be the issue. Just wondering.


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RE: Underused perennials

Cody_MI, I have been searching gardenweb for posting on Macleaya cordata, plume poppy
I love large intersting plants and noticed that you are in the same zone as me. I have a giant reed plant(s) as well and I can control it pretty well each year by cutting the roots. Any advice, do you think other than picking the seedlings, do you feel this is a plant that can be controlled with proper attention. Thanks for any advice from people with some experience.


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