Spring Plant Sale: Something Old, Something New!

By Amy Howansky

We are excited to add new features to the Arboretum’s long-established and perennially popular Spring Plant Sale.

This May, visit the “Bulb Bar.” Grab a baggie and select your choice of bulbs, corms, or tubers. Mix and match options to create a small display near your front door or choose several bulbs of the same type to begin a collection that can be expanded by visiting the Bulb Bar again at the Fall Sale.

Collecting specimens of a single type can be a fun way to choose plants for the landscape. To create a lilac display like the one at Landis Arboretum, select from our new “Lovely Lilacs” category, which showcases plants of different heights and colors. We will offer two or three different species or cultivars each spring so that you can install a preferred specimen or, over time, amass an impressive collection.

Because of our connections with specialty growers and nurseries, we will offer limited numbers of “Rare and Unusual Specimen” plants. Try out a dwarf evergreen or an interesting shrub with variegated leaves. We hope to expand this category at future sales, and we welcome requests.

Many homeowners have limited space for plants. It can be daunting to decide which plants will fit under a bay window or squeeze next to a sidewalk. Make the decision easier by inspecting our new collection of “Small Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces.”

Weigela florida
Weigela florida

Weigela florida is a much-loved flowering shrub, but many cultivars are too tall or sprawling for restricted spaces. The cultivar ‘My Monet’ remains about 12” tall and 18” wide, a perfect choice for edging a sidewalk. It flowers pink in May/June, like other cultivars of the species, but the real attraction is that each leaf displays blotches of pink, white, and green from the new growth in spring, through the summer, and into the autumn. It prefers full sun, and sometimes attracts hummingbirds.

Since many of our members have asked for help in selecting plants to attract pollinators and birds, we are adding a “Pollinator Plant” category, which will feature two or three special plants that provide nectar, pollen, seeds, or nest-building materials:

Veron­i­cas­trum vir­ginicum
Veron­i­cas­trum vir­ginicum

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ (Culver’s root) flowers in July/August with soft pink candelabras on red-tinged foliage, which creates an overall plant size of 3’ – 4’ tall by 2’ – 3’ wide. It tolerates zones 3 – 8 in full sun to light shade. Though it can take several years to establish, it will provide nectar or pollen for bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Bap­tisia aus­tralis
Bap­tisia aus­tralis

Baptisia australis (false indigo) forms a round mound of foliage with tall spikes of showy flowers above. Hardy in zones 4a – 9b, it tolerates full sun to part shade, but some cultivars perform better with more sun. After flowering, the spikes transform into interesting seed pods. Baptisia is deer-resistant, but attractive to pollinators when flowering at the end of spring into the early summer. Gardeners report that long-tongue bees, short-tongue bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will visit the flowers, but in my experience it is usually the long-tongue bumblebees that monopolize the plant and provide long hours of viewing entertainment. We will feature the Baptisia cultivar ‘American Goldfinch,’ which sports yellow flower spikes on a 3’ – 4’ tall shrub that can spread 4’ – 6’. Also, look for ‘Pink Lemonade,’ with stalks of yellow flower buds that change to pink and then lavender, creating stunning, multi-colored spikes on a plant that grows 4’ tall by 4’ wide.​

PLEASE NOTE: There will be limited supplies of these featured plants, so your best bet at getting one is to come to the Members Only Pick of the Pots Sale (POPS) on Friday, May 17, 4:30 to 6:30 PM . Get first crack at plants, enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and receive the members’ 10% discount on your plant purchases. Not a member? Don't worry - you can join at the gate!

We have always had experts at the sales to help with plant selection, but now we are adding “Tiny Talks,” which are free info-sessions about a single plant or topic. Modeled after “Tailgate Talks” used in the landscaping industry, these informal mini-classes are five to ten minutes long, and may include a brief slideshow or a short walk in the perennial garden. Executive Director Fred Breglia will share plant installation techniques, and horticulturalist Amy Howansky will give specifics about featured plants.

If you have an interest in herbs, join Gert Coleman in the Library on Saturday, May 18th at 10:30 AM. In this hands-on program, learn what herbs go with what foods and how to use herbs and spices to enhance your health. Members: $10/person; non-members: $20/person.

Spring 2019

Volume 37 , Number 1

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