Verbascum bombyciferum ‘Arctic Summer’

Big ol magical biennial and we couldn’t imagine a garden without it. The first year it produces a large (2′ wide) rosette of huge furry white leaves. They lie flush with the ground. The following year total transformation occurs. A spike from the center of the rosette and soars to 6′ or taller. Its lined densely with furry white buds that pop open to reveal electric yellow soft looking flowers. The inflorescence will often wind this way and that. Even after bloom is through this tower remains spreading quantities of seed all over. Germinates best in open disturbed soil and they will germinate. Move them or thin them in spring. Snow white perennial with oodles of architecture. Full sun and rich, well drained soil. It makes due with less than perfect conditions but this way is the most impressive. Loved by pollinators. Light summer water if it looks like it needs it. Established plants get by with no water.

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Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’

Its been around for a long time and its an introduction that has stood the test of time. This low mounding evergreen perennial is beyond delightful when it alights in masses of deep blue flowers from late February to late April. Each simple blue flower has a small white eye but the effect from a distance is a pool of blue. To 8″ tall and forming large 2′ x 2′ wide patches in full sun in rich to average well drained soil. It excels on slopes and in rock gardens. The new growth that follows is tinted mahogany before become strong glossy green. Cut back by 1/3rd after blooming to create a much denser and ultimately more floriferous plant. Light, consistent summer water. Excellent bold backdrop to early and mid blooming bulbs. We suggest large white Crocus vernus followed by Narcissus ‘Blushing Lady’. Very easy to grow. Long lived for a speedwell.

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Viburnum atrocyaneum var. harryanum

Unique and we think very pretty evergreen Viburnum. Small perfectly round leaves are placed in threes around the stems. In summer the terminal branches host clouds, or cymes I should say of tiny white flowers. They have no fragrance but are pretty  to look at.. Moderately growing rounded shrub of great symmetry to 4′ x 6′ in 7 years. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer moisture. Takes very dry conditions when established. At first glance this does not look like a Viburnum- which is charming. Its a very pretty dense growing first rate evergreen.

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Viburnum henryi

Rare but wonderful evergreen viburnum that has pretty elongated leaves held symmetrically on thick stems. The growth habit is branching in tiers. This displays the lovely foliage as well as the cones of white summer flowers at the branch tip. These turn into red and then black berries eagerly consumed by wildlife. To 9′ tall and 8′ wide in wide vase shape. Part shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. Takes very dry conditions when established. Extraordinarily cold hardy to below 0ºF with no ill effects. Moderately fast growing. SW China.

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Viburnum japonicum ‘Variegatum’

Unusual and actually superior form of this species with large glossy evergreen leaves splashed with yellow. In spring flat corymbs of flowers appear and remind me of lace. Red berries follow but are consumed by birds. This form is not prone to mildew which can afflict the green leaved form. So, we love it for it’s bold leaves that look good year round and easy demeanor. To 8′ x 8′ in 10 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Doesn’t burn in sun. Adaptable. Light summer water once established. Very old specimens get by with no summer water. Excellent year round appearance. Take out  green reversions if they occur. Blooms on wood from the previous season- prune if needed after flowering. Specimen. Nice shrub.

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Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’

We think this is the best form of this winter blooming shrub/tree. Large clusters of pink flowers change to white upon opening. Flowers begin in December and continue to open until March. A very long season of bloom at an important time of the year. The tubular flowers are sweetly fragrant. Tall growing vase shaped shrub to 12′ tall and half as wide. Fall color is soft peach and red and showy for quite a while. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained soil with regular summer water. Great scaffold for summer blooming Clematis. Make this the star of your winter garden. Cut flowers last for a long time in a vase.

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Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’

Really there is nothing like the clove/carnation/sweet fragrance of this shrub in late winter to early spring. The large clusters of flowers begin as pink buds and open to white. Nice bicolor effect along the way. Blooms 3-4 weeks. Evergreen to semi-evergreen to deciduous in arctic places. Large growing shrub that can attain tree like proportions with great age. To 8′ x 4′ in 7 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained sites. Light consistent summer water speeds growth and increases spring flowering. Otherwise relatively drought adapted, especially in shade. Tolerate the most obnoxious sticky clay soils- especially on slopes. Plant where you can pass by the flowers and take a big ol whiff. Very easy to grow. Prune AFTER flowering.

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Viola ‘Tiger Eye’

We grew this just for fun last year and not only was it one of our most talked about plants it became one of our favorites as well. Each yellow/gold/burnt umber flower is intricately and completely marked in black lines. On very close inspection they almost look like a drawing of flowers. And its the most FRAGRANT viola we’ve ever smelled with a sweet perfume that carries quite a distance. Compact hardy annual to 6″ x 6″ for full sun to light shade. Excellent tolerance of cold (down to zone 7) as well as heat. All around its a winner of a viola, for containers, borders etc. Blooms non-stop, removing spent flowers does encourage more. Stop and smell the Violas and then stare at the patterns. Its a trip man.

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Viola corsica

One of the parents of modern violas this perennial is short lived but while its around its never out of bloom- year round. Slender indigo blue flowers are small but profuse on a compact plant to just 6″ tall and barely wider than that. Seeds itself around prolifically…how the seeds find their way so far from the parent plant is natures mystery. It will germinate anywhere – cracks, beneath rocks. Sun, Shade. Very hardy to way, way below 0ºF. Light summer water during the hottest weather. Part shade in nearly any texture soil. Mediterranean wild flower.

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Viola odorata (Parma) ‘Alba Plena’

This cool cultivar of Parma violet can be difficult to stumble upon. We love the plush double white flowers that sends its sweet perfume on the breeze in late winter to mid-spring. Parma violets are basically the Sicilian version of the common sweet violet (Viola odorata). They are not nearly as cold hardy or pernicious as the species and they tend to have much larger more opulent and fragrant flowers. Also, their leaves are distinctively glossy as opposed to matte. This little sweetie forms spreading patches and the long stems are a bit weak for the large double white flowers- they tend to bend. Excellent for small bouquets that you can sniff and sniff. In the garden they need a sheltered position away from the freeze and thaw and harsh conditions in the open. Instead coset them under large shrubs and among ephemeral early perennials such as Anemones, and small bulbs like species Crocus. Part shade- they bloom best with a bit of sun. Regular summer water encourages them to spread. This form seldom sets seed- I don’t think I’ve ever seen seed in fact. Pity. Rare plant.

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