We believe we grow one of the most unique selections of plants available in the state. We attribute this to our passion, perspective, influences, and the fact we grow and seek much of our own and select many of our own named cultivars. Perhaps our plant selection may be as easily identified by what we don’t grow, a portion of which are such popular plants most nurseries would consider it economically untenable not to carry. Perhaps it may be our loss, but we rest assured these plants will be found elsewhere so the customer will not be let down. For now, we stick true to our personal tastes. We believe less is more, and the number of plants we grow reflects this as we have a comparatively small inventory of just over 200 varieties. Each and every plant we carry is heavily scrutinized for its usefulness in creating a naturalistic garden, and for those genera which are particularly distinct and useful, such as Aster, Echinacea, and Sanguisorba, several varieties are available. Our inventory will vary from year to year based on our success in overwintering, propagation, sales, and any new additions or omissions. We carry one-gallon pots for retail sales of all our perennials. The cost is either $12 or $14 depending on the plant. These prices reflect our on-farm, real-time propagation methods, and the difficulty or ease an individual plant may present in this process. Almost all our plants are hardy to at least zone 5. For anyone building a garden from scratch or in the field of garden design, thus looking for a larger quantity of one type of plant, there is the option to buy trays of 15- pint size pots at a more economical price. This option varies from plant to plant and season to season. Some plants are unavailable this way.
Potting soil is made on-site and all plants are potted anew each spring. Due to the nature of our operation, we are particularly susceptible to variations in weather from year to year and strive to have most of our plants available by June 1. Some of these will have had plenty of time to root, others not. Flowering tends to be seasonally correct (not forced) and our sales area provides a seasonal cross-section of flowering succession month by month as occurs here in the state of Maine. We recommend buying plants which have not been shipped from hothouses from the south, (and which are over-fertilized, possibly sprayed with pesticides, etc.) but from local sources who maintain their own stock. Locally grown plants are more likely to survive our local climate and the growing practices can be personally consulted. Our stock is not organic due to our minimum use of a slow-release pelletized fertilizer, yet we do not use any pesticides whatsoever. Furthermore, our lack of shipping and ubiquitous hothouses (one small) keeps our carbon footprint very low. Please recycle any (and only) pots you may have purchased from us for reuse by the nursery. We try to remain as sustainable an operation as possible.
Invasive vs. Strong-growing
We do not carry any plants known to be invasive in the state of Maine. However, we do suggest you pay close attention to the behavior of a plant, particularly prolifically self-sowing plants, to determine your level of comfort with this often useful and sometimes discouraging characteristic. Read the plant descriptions thoroughly in order to educate yourself concerning growth habit and means of reproduction.
Often the term “invasive” is misused for ‘strong-growing’, which many of our plants are. This is their nature, yet they are determinate in growth and will stop once reaching a particular size. Our biggest concern (aside from true invasives) are plants which once established, cannot be completely removed (without the use of herbicides), and regenerate from small pieces of remaining root – indefinitely (think Bishop’s weed or comfrey). Strong-growing plants are often the lowest maintenance if their growth habit is anticipated and they are used in conjunction with other strong-growers. This is one of a few prerequisites in creating a low-maintenance garden (see resource: lists- “Robust and long-lived perennials useful for less-intensively maintained gardens”). Solidago and Asclepias are strong-growing native genera which, given the right species, will dominate a garden in an ‘invasive manner’, yet are known to be very beneficial to wildlife – and are beautiful. They do not seem to mind whether a plant is native or not as they potentially displace it through their on-going growth. Gardeners must decide for themselves if this growth habit is acceptable given their objectives and the size of the planting area, i.e. willing to have a less-diverse planting in order to accommodate particular choice plants.
The North American (Northeast) Aesthetic
Over the years European botanists and horticulturalists have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of useful ornamental plants from North America, particularly those from various grassland habitats of the mid-west. This effort has led to many new hybrids and cultivars being developed in Europe from our own native stock. Beginning late in the 20th century the New Perennial Movement in Europe, led by Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf, brought to the forefront of contemporary garden/landscape design many northeast natives and mid-west prairie plants (forbs and grasses) which we have come to love: Echinacea, Monarda, Aster, Solidago, Eupatorium, Asclepias, and grasses such as Andropogon, Sporobolus, and Panicum, to name a few. Many of these plants owe their claim to fame not only because of their showy and abundant flowers at a time when many European wildflowers are past their height but also for their long-lasting structure which persists well into winter in skeletal form. Many of these plants are also very low-maintenance (thus energy-efficient) (see resources: lists – “Plants with long-lasting seed-heads and/or winter skeleton”). New hybrids and cultivars of North American genera continue to be introduced to the trade on an annual basis. One result of all this is a simultaneous popularity surge in plants which are aesthetically superior and fitting for a naturalistic planting and plants which are wildlife friendly and well-adapted to the state of Maine. We can have a beautiful, low-maintenance, wildlife-friendly garden year-round here in New England due to these developments and our wonderfully useful indigenous flora.
Native vs. Non-native . . . Species, Hybrid, Cultivar
At present our plant selection is roughly half North American and half Eurasian in origin. Because we are very interested in the aesthetic and artistic prerequisite of a plant many non-natives remain part of our selection even though some have little benefit to native insect herbivores. Many do provide food in the form of seed and nectar, however (see resources: lists – “Nectar”). Our selection is leaning more and more strongly toward North American plants every year but will always contain some of both. We believe the inspiration and pleasure found in gardening with novel plants from foreign climes remains a legitimate source of creativity and a necessary addition to making visually stimulating landscapes. But as is becoming more apparent, a balance must be found. This is particularly true for ever-expanding urban and suburban areas lacking in diverse natural habitats and which are therefore less capable of supporting native insects and the food web which rests upon them. Aesthetically speaking, North American genera by in large have some of the most striking and long-lasting forms. Both the Highline in New York City and Lurie Garden in Chicago provide excellent examples of large-scale public landscapes with a majority of natives combined with a minority non-natives (see resources: links – “Naturalistic Public Gardens”). Many natives (considering the whole flora of a region), though beneficial to wildlife, are not ornamental enough to incorporate into highly-visible ornamental landscapes, particularly public ones. Furthermore, many are very aggressive growing/self-sowing and are not compatible with a low-maintenance and diverse planting. What the public generally refers to and admires in a native flora is something akin to a charismatic mega-flora and unknowingly omit the overwhelming majority of less aesthetically pleasing plants which are native. In our opinion, the ideal plant is an ultimately useful plant – ornamental throughout the seasons (dynamic) and edible (part of the local food-web).
Native species plants are the best for supporting wildlife largely because they support native herbivorous insects, the unsuspected top herbivore (not deer or woodchucks) of our local ecological habitats. Focus tends to be on nectar as the greatest attribute of native plants, which is certainly important, though non-natives can provide nectar just as well. Asclepias syrica, one of our native milkweeds, is not only important to Monarch butterflies due to its nectar but even more so because it is the only genus that provides forage for the Monarch butterfly larvae. This is an important aspect of insect-plant relationships: host-plant and larvae have co-evolved and many like the Monarch are specialists. With this in mind, one must understand that to learn to love supporting our native wildlife means learning to love feeding herbivorous insects (and thus carnivorous insects, songbirds, etc.). In order to feed our native herbivorous insects, we must learn to embrace, or at least tolerate, another aspect of ecological, natural, or naturalistic plantings – bug-eaten foliage. Luckily these planting styles are the most accommodating to this occurrence.
Aside from the importance of plant-larvae relationships, we must also bear in mind that spiders play an equally important role as a source of bird food. As carnivores spiders are less particular about which plants they use to ambush their prey, though some are clearly specialists in their use of camouflage. As a result, spiders seem to be much more abundant in an herbaceous planting of garden type than are insect larvae. Below ground, we must consider a whole other realm of organisms. The vast majority of animal life in a garden is contained in the soil, most of which are decomposers such as invertebrate grazers, fungi, bacteria, and the invertebrate predators who feed upon them. All of these creatures rely upon the continual input of decaying organic matter in the form of dead plant material. Thus, we allow the old growth of plants to decay in place where it is readily used by these various creatures. It is true, a messy garden is more conducive to animal life than a tidy one. Vertebrates such as snakes and rodents also rely upon the spacial complexity of a “messy” garden in order to find a suitable and safe niche to hide.
Hybrid plants are crosses between two different species of a genera. These crossings most often result in a variety of spectacular flower colors (think Echinacea and Achillea) but usually the form remains much the same. This is an example of how form is the ‘soul’ of a plant, and perhaps why structure should be the focus of design in our gardens (see resources: lists and terms – “Plants with a long season of interest”). Many hybrids are sterile – they do not produce nectar, pollen or seed. They are dead to pollinators and seed-eating birds (and seed-savers). We try to limit our use of these plants, though they remain the plant industry’s number one money-maker and have thus made it illegal to propagate such plants (without permission) for further sale based on ownership of plant patents. Cultivars are “named” wild species plants that are grown in cultivation. Individual wild plants are selected for outstanding naturally occurring characteristics and are maintained through vegetative propagation (cloning) in order to remain true to type. Cultivars are another major source of new commercial introductions. Yet cultivars are capable of producing nectar, pollen, and seed, and seedlings will often resort to the species phenotype (common physical appearance) if allowed to self-sow. Some cultivars come true to type from seed. We focus largely on both species plants and cultivars because of these factors and because they tend to be the most natural-looking, thus most fitting for our design work.
Nursery Catalog 2019
Herbaceous perennials are the ideal artistic plant-medium for use in naturalistic planting design. They are quick to mature, diverse and dynamic in character, and most importantly, easy to move around and arrange as one inevitably does to fine-tune a design idea. Here we present what we consider an exceptional selection for use here in Maine.
Key – LIGHT: Su (Sun), HSh (Half-shade), Sh (Shade-tolerant)
ACHILLEA, Asteraceae, yarrow
An important genus for the garden, especially because of the unusual inflorescence, a flat pancake-like flower- head whose form is indispensable among the numerous spike and cluster-shaped inflorescence in the garden. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Tolerant of dry low-fertility soils where they spread moderately. May fail to over-winter in poorly-drained soils.
filipendulina ‘Parker’s Variety’
3.5′ / deep yellow / June.-Sept. / Su
A cultivar of the species filipendulina, which is the only one that can truly be considered perennial. Remarkably long lasting structure for arid plantings. Native to the Caucasus Mountains in southeastern Europe.
ACTAEA, Ranunculaceae, baneberry
Indispensable plants for shady spots. Foliage is composite pinnate or bipinnate, and flowers are small white or yellowish on elongated spikes. In the wild these plants grow in damp woods or ravines where the sun seldom shines. In gardens they can tolerate a good deal of sun provided the soil does not dry out. Slowly-spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
6′ / white / July-Aug. / HSh-Sh
A large plant with long, slender white flower spikes on long stems rising above clumps of green finely-cut foliage. Native to eastern North America.
6.5′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / HSh-Sh
A giant plant with dark green foliage tinted purple and elongated flower candles. The white flowers have purple-red calyxes and flower stems. A very strong plant which never collapses. The red of the foliage intensifies in full sunlight. More drought tolerant than other selections. Species native to Russia, China, Korea and Japan.
simplex ‘James Compton’
3′ / white / Sept-Oct. / HSh-Sh
A vigorous, earlier flowering, compact cultivar with bronze-black foliage and creamy-white flower candles.
AGASTACHE, Lamiaceae, giant hyssop
Wonderful garden plants with extremely strong stems and young foliage covered in a purple haze and smelling of licorice. The plants produce flowers over a long period and are frequented by bees and butterflies. Slate gray Juncos, sparrows and finches peck at the seeds throughout the fall and winter. Species plants are often short-lived, so they should be given an opportunity to self-seed. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
3′ / blue / July-Sept. / Su
A hybrid of A. rugosa and A. feoniculum, with shiny foliage and dark spikes covered with true blue flowers. Sterile so not self-seeding, but lasts longer.
ALLIUM, Liliaceae, onion
Ornamental onions, with their more or less spherical inflorescence covered in small flowers, have become very popular in recent years, as this architectural form is unique and indispensable. Allium is the largest genus of all bulbous plants containing hundreds of species including such edibles as onion, leek, garlic, and chives. A fewer number of species create moderately spreading clumps and thus are more useful when used in naturalistic plantings. As well, unlike bulbous alliums, these species keep their attractive grass-like leaves all season and can thus be used more extensively. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
angulosum ‘Summer Beauty’
2′ / pink / July-Sept. / Su
An older, popular cultivar with a pink spherical inflorescence and bright-green strap-like foliage. Adored by pollinators. Distinctive and long-lasting seedheads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. The species is native to a wide region of central Europe and northern Asia.
18″ / light-purple / April-May / Su
Commonly called chives, this bulbous perennial which is often used for culinary purposes is also a useful ornamental. Forms clumps of long, narrow, dark-green grass-like foliage from which arise spherical, clover-like clusters of soft-purple flowers. Well adapted to arid conditions where it will self-sow. Only allium native to both new and old worlds, occurring across much of Europe, Asia, and North America.
AMORPHA, Leguminosae, lead plant
3′ / purple / June-Aug. / Su
Leadplant is a small deciduous, bushy shrub in the pea family, native to well-drained soils of the North American prairie. It has small purple flowers grouped in finger-like racemes and protruding from each flower are bright orange-tipped stamens. Very beautiful small-leafed, pinnate, soft-haired foliage gives it a leaden hue and its common name. Its roots can reach 4 feet deep making it drought tolerant. Particularly attractive when grown within low-growing grasses, much like it is found in the wild. Non-spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Slow to establish.
AMSONIA, Apocynaceae, bluestar
Virtually ideal, long-lived, slowly spreading garden plants with narrow, hairless leaves, racemes of pale blue star-like flowers, and a tidy shrub-like form. Very good structure from spring to late winter with long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Limited self-sowing.
2.5′ / steel-blue / June-July / Su-HSh
The decorative value of this plant is mainly due to the needle-shaped leaves which turn a wonderful shade of orange and yellow in autumn. The small racemes of steel-blue flowers in early summer are an added attraction. Native to the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas.
2.5′ / steel-blue / June-July / Su-HSh
A strong and slow-growing but extremely long-lasting plant which eventually forms solid clumps with elongated willowy leaves. Bears striking racemes of steel-blue star-shaped flowers followed by attractive oblong seedpods. Beautiful autumn coloring is also part of the bargain. ‘Galaxy’ is a Campo di Fiori selection that is particularly striking with its large, deep-blue buds and broad foliage which remains fresh-green into deep fall. Native to Missouri.
ANAPHALIS, Asteraceae, pearly everlasting
2′ / white / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
Pearly everlasting is the one species native to North America. Attractive woolly dark gray-green lanceolate foliage and small papery white flowers born in flat heads. At home in humus-rich woodland soil in half-shade, though found growing in arid railway embankments and amongst grass in beach dunes. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seedheads and/or winter skeleton. Limited spread. A local selection. This plant provides food for the larvae of the American Painted Lady butterfly, which is often seen in the nursery browsing on the foliage.
ANEMONE, Rununculaceae, windflower
This anemone from China and Japan flowers last, grows tallest, and is moderately spreading. They have large deeply-cut foliage and airy racemes of relatively large delicate flowers on long stems. Must be protected during the first winter. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
5′ / pale pink / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
A tall growing cultivar which bears pale pink flowers. Can become rampant on fertile soil.
2.5′ / carmine-pink / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A strong-growing hybrid with deep carmine-pink, semi-double flowers produced over a long period.
ARALIA, Araliaceae, spikenard
5′ / cream / June-July / Su-HSh
The smallest species in the genus from eastern North America. Bears compound leaves and panicles of cream-colored, fluffy, ivy-like flowers followed by shiny black berries. Although it grows best in semi-shade and fertile, moisture-retentive soil, it is remarkably strong and can tolerate poor soil, sun, and drought. It has a limited spread in light shade. Robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
ARUNCUS, Rosaceae, goat’s beard
Indestructible plants that will grow almost anywhere provided they are given time to acclimatize. Their foliage is typical of the rose family, composite and divided, with an inflorescence of cream-colored flowers in elegant plumes. Non-spreading showy plants for the woodland border. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
5′ / cream / June-Aug. / Su-HSh
A very tough plant with attractive divided foliage and large plumes of long-lasting cream-colored flowers. Seedhead is insubstantial. Useful in dry shade. Native to North America.
4′ / cream / June-July / Su-HSh
A breathtakingly beautiful cross between A. dioicus and A. aethusifolius. Bears elegant panicles of small cream-colored flowers on reddish-brown stems. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive long-lasting seedheads and/or winter skeleton.
ASURUM, Aristolochiaceae, ginger
8″ / brown / Mar.-April / HSh-Sh
Moderately spreading plants for deep shade and good woodland soil that does not dry out. Bears kidney-shaped, dark, glossy evergreen leaves with light green veins. The curious three-petal purple-brown flowers remain concealed under the leaves. Ideal groundcover in a woodland setting provided the soil does not dry out. Prefers calcareous soil but tolerant of acidity. More ornamental than our native species. Native to large parts of temperate Europe.
ASCLEPIAS, Asclepiadaceae, milkweed
Plants of North American origin with fleshy lance-like foliage and unique sweet-smelling flowers in loose umbels which develop into large pointed seed pods. More importantly, they are the sole food source for Monarch butterfly larvae. New growth emerges late in spring. All species are native to eastern North America.
4.5′ / pale pink / July / Su
A sturdy border plant with umbel-shaped inflorescence covered in sweet-smelling pale pink flowers which are dark red in bud. The flowers attract many insects and are followed by attractive upright, pointed seedpods. A non-spreading, relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 5 years or less.
incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’
4.5′ / cream / July / Su
A unique white-flowering form of the above species. Comes true from seed
3′ / orange / June-Aug. / Su
Bushy clumps with umbels of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers atop upright to reclining hairy stems, with narrow lance-shaped leaves. Tolerant of dry infertile soils and somewhat slow to establish with a limited spread. This sub-species is also very tolerant of heavier clay soils. It does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, so best left alone. Unlike other milkweeds, this specie’s stems do not exude a milky sap when broken.
speciosa – coming soon
ASTER, Asteraceae, aster
Many aster species have been ignored over time, some of which are very beautiful. Their charming simplicity and abundance of flowers late in the gardening season have brought them into the spotlight once again. Asters are strong plants which thrive almost anywhere. Some varieties must be divided every 3-4 years in spring otherwise the clumps will become too big and the outside flower stalks will collapse. The low-growing bushy varieties do not have this problem. The New England asters can be a bit floppy and are best grown amongst plants of similar height for support. Fairly recently the genus has been taxonomically reorganized following recent DNA-based evidence. We are sticking to the old names for now as the new ones are not yet familiar to the public (or us). As New Englanders, we are charmed to live in a landscape that is host to a plethora and diversity of asters that adorn our landscape for months in the fall. All of these asters are native to the northeast except where noted.
2′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / Su-Sh
A compact aster with narrow heather-like foliage and arching inflorescence covered in delicate, tiny, white yellow centered flowers. Unique habit. Thrives in a sunny dry location where it spreads moderately. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A local selection.
2′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A bushy cultivar with very dark, small, purple-black foliage and an abundance of tiny free-flowering little white blooms with reddish centers. The foliage color ensures the plant is always attractive even when not in flower. Slowly-spreading and self-sowing. A Campo di Fiori selection.
2′ / grey-blue / Sept.-Oct. / HSh-Sh
A particularly tough species with grey-blue flowers and course green foliage. Large silvery bracts remain ornamental through the winter. Useful in dry shade as a slowly-spreading ground cover via rhizomes. A local selection.
novae-angliae ‘Alma Potschke’
4′ / deep bright-pink / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A shorter cultivar of the infamous New England aster with intense bright pink flowers on sturdy stems. Slowly-spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
5′ / bright-pink / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A tall bushy selection with beautiful bright-pink flowers and contrasting bright yellow centers. Slowly-spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A Campo di Fiori selection.
5′ / deep-purple / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A dificult to find cultivar of New England aster with deep-purple flowers. Slowly spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
novae-angliae ‘Honey Song’
3′ / light-pink / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A shorter cultivar with light-pink flowers. Slowly spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
6′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A tall growing plant with inflorescence of creamy white flowers grouped into large flat umbels held on dark red stems. An important plant for the back of the border whose beautiful silhouette persists through the winter. This extremely strong moderately-spreading plant will thrive anywhere. One of the first native asters to bloom. Self-sows. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A local selection.
oblongifolius ‘October Skies’
1-2′ / violet-blue / Aug.-Sept. / Su
Aromatic aster is a bushy, stiff, low-growing plant with hairy stems, small-leaved aromatic foliage, and clouds of medium-small violet-blue flowers. Tolerant of many soil types but particularly happy in arid conditions. Native northeastern and central U.S.
cordifolius ‘Little Carlow’
2.5′ / soft-blue / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A hybrid between two native asters, A. cordifolius and A. novi-belgii, and which is very popular in European gardens but difficult to find here in the U.S. A vigorous mound-forming plant covered in medium sized sky-blue flowers. May need support in fertile, moist soils.
1.5′ / violet-blue / Sept.-Oct. / HSh-Sh
Stiff aster, our most diminutive native aster, occurs locally in dry, sandy, open settings where it forms neat mounds of rough needle-like foliage topped by pretty violet-blue flowers. Native to eastern North America. A local selection.
3′ / deep lavender-blue/ Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
A tough hybrid with striking deep lavender-blue flowers above relatively broad foliage. Very useful in the shade, even in dry conditions.
ASTILBE, Saxifragaceae, false goats beard
Plants with beautiful pinnate leaves and panicles of flowers that look a little like spirea. They have a shallow root system and the slightest lack of water will make their leaves curl up and turn brown. Numerous cultivars have been introduced, yet we have chosen a few with particularly long-lasting architectural qualities and color shades which can be readily incorporated into a naturalistic planting. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to China.
tequetii ‘Visions in Pink’
2.5′ / soft pink / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A recent introduction with compact soft pink plumes.
tequetii ‘Visions in Red’
2.5′ / purple-red / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A recent introduction with compact dark purple-red plumes.
3 / bright purple-pink / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A stiff, upright plant with a long, lightly branched inflorescence. Spreads well but is not rampant. Species native to China.
ASTRANTIA, Apiaceae, masterwort
Unique old fashioned plants that are back in fashion. Attractive glossy and shallowly indented foliage. The flowers are subtly colored bracts (called involucres with umbels) within which the true umbel-shaped flower can be seen. All like cool, fertile, moisture-retentive soil, and performance is strongly dependent on habitat. Slow to moderately-spreading. Some cultivars are prolifically self-sowing. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Native to central and eastern Europe.
major ‘Abbey Road’
2′ / dark purple-pink / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
A recent introduction with dark purple-pink flowers on dark stems.
2′ / antique-rose / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
A particularly vigorous and long-blooming hybrid with antique-rose colored flowers.
2.5′ / cream / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
A cultivar with large cream-colored flowers with large green bracts. Vigorous.
BAPTISIA, Fabaceae, false indigo
Wonderful plants whose popularity has risen dramatically with the recent native plant movement, and which has resulted in numerous cultivars in far-ranging colors. They look a little like lupins (they are related) but have far more verve. These slowly spreading plants reach a ripe old age but take some time to become established. They turn a contrasting black in autumn. Deeply-rooted and drought tolerant. Very good structure from spring to late winter with long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
3.5′ / indigo blue / June / Su
The strong steams bear bluish-green leaves and truly indigo blue flowers. These are followed by fat gray-green pods which turn black in winter. The most cultivated species. Native to much of North America.
australis ‘Lemon Meringue’
4′ / soft yellow / May-June / Su
A hybrid between B. sphaerocarpa and B. australis with soft yellow flowers and stems covered in a smoky haze of anthracite.
4′ / cream / May-June / Su
Tallest of the baptisias with a unique statuesque tree-like habit. Adorned with cream-colored lupin-like flowers in tall and sturdy racemes reaching well above a mound of trifoliate bluish-green leaves. Purple black stems and buds are covered in a whitish bloom. Native to mid-west North America.
sphaerocarpa ‘Screamin’ Yellow’
3′ / bright yellow / May / Su
A cultivar noted for its profuse bloom of bright yellow pea-like flowers in erect racemes that rise well above a mound of bright green trifoliate leaves. Rounded seed pods turn tan-brown when ripe. Native to south-central U.S.
CALAMINTHA, Lamiaceae, calamint
A genus of aromatic garden plants closely related to thyme and mint. The most important feature is the long flower stems on which an airy inflorescence is formed. Tolerant of dry low-fertility soils. Limited spread and moderately self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
subsp. nepeta ‘White Cloud’
1′ / pure white / July-Oct. / Su
A white flowered cultivar of the species, similar to Blue Cloud, yet shorter.
CAMASSIA, Hyacinthaceae, camas
Beautiful bulbs which produce spires of star-like flowers. Suited to naturalizing in moisture-retentive soils where they spread slowly. Dig the plants every four years to separate the bulbs. This will ensure better flower production. Like daffodils, the foliage becomes untidy after flowering, so best situated behind a taller-growing, later-flowering plant. Attractive seedheads add early summer interest. Native to moist mountain meadows from British Columbia to Southern California. Roots used as a food source by many native peoples of these regions.
3′ / deep blue / May-June / Su
A cultivar with hefty spires of deep blue.
CEPHALARIA, Dipsacaceae, giant scabious
8″ / lemon yellow / June-July / Su-HSh
A huge plant with a subtle lightly branched inflorescence full of lemon yellow scabiosa-like flowers above large coarsely indented foliage. Because of its airy appearance, it is also suitable for planting between medium-tall plants. The plants do not collapse when grown in soil that is not very wet. Moderately self-sowing and non-spreading. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Native to the Caucasus.
CLEMATIS, Ranunculaceae, old man’s beard
There are a few perennial Clematis species that never or rarely become woody and which emerge from the soil every spring. However, like the majority of species, they must be provided support, ideally by surrounding shrubs or sturdy perennials. Rich soil is appreciated. Non-spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
6.5 / ceram-colored / June-Aug. / Su-HSh
A cultivar with deeply cut, purple-tinged foliage and stems, and clouds of fragrant, cream-colored flowers followed by decorative seed tails.
COREOPSIS, Asteraceae, tickseed
8′ / yellow / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
An attractive tall species of tickseed suitable for the back of the border. Slender stems with rosettes of narrow, elegantly divided foliage and racemes of small yellow flowers with brown centers. Long stems appreciate support from plants of similar size. Slowly-spreading. Native to North America.
2′ / cream-yellow / June-Aug. / Su
This cultivar of thread-leaf coreopsis is a strong growing rhizomatous perennial which grows in dense bushy clumps, and whose daisy-like creamy yellow flowers appear in dense clusters from late spring to late summer. Beautiful filigreed foliage. Moderately spreading. Tolerant of drought and low fertility. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to eastern US.
DALEA, Fabaceae, prairie clover
2′ / purple-red / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A compact, seed-grown cultivar with fine clover-like leaves and cone-shaped spikes on which, from bottom to top, whorls of purple-red flowers keep on appearing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to central North America.
DIANTHUS, Caryophyllaceae, carnation
Many species belong in this genus of sun-and drought-loving plants with grass-like foliage. Most are plants for enthusiasts that require special care and attention. Here is a stronger wild species.
2′ / hard pink / June-Aug. / Su
The Carthusian pink has long stems, narrow foliage, and clusters of small hard pink flowers which hover airily. It is long-living and moderately self-sowing. Drought tolerant and disliking wet soil. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Europe.
DICENTRA, Fumariaceae, wild bleeding heart
18″ / light pink / May-July. / HSh-Sh
An attractive woodland plant with blue-green fern-like foliage and a long-blooming pendulous inflorescence of light pink heart-shaped flowers. A tough and slowly spreading plant. Seedlings from D. eximia will occasionally produce a white-flowered form and are generally variable in form. Does not go dormant like D. spectabilis. Native to eastern North America
DIGITALIS, Scrophulariaceae, foxglove
Foxgloves are biennials or short-lived perennials that self-seed abundantly in moisture-retentive soil. From a rosette of evergreen leaves formed in the first year, a flower stem grows in the following year, sometimes branched, and thickly covered with thimble-like flowers. After flowering, the plants usually die off. Non-spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
4′ / beige-orange / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
The tall spike-like flower stems are laden with beige-orange flowers veined with brown on the inside. One of the most beautiful and effective plants due to its strong and sturdy structural presence for much of the year. Forms dark green, leathery, ever-green leaf rosettes the first year. Seeds best and abundantly on moisture-retentive soil. Native to Hungary, Romania, Turkey and the Caucasus.
ECHINACEA, Asteraceae, coneflower
Sturdy plants from the North American prairie with spectacular large daisy-like flowers with a distinctive high cone center. They thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. A non-spreading relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 5 to 10 years or less. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
3′ / purple-pink / July-Sept. / Su
A species with long slender stems, purple-pink flowers with graceful and slender folded back petals, and narrow lance-shaped foliage. A very elegant plant that self-sows and which is longer lived and earlier flowering than E. purpurea.
pallida ‘Hula Dancer’
3′ / light lavender-pink / July-Sept. / Su
A seed-grown cultivar with very narrow, reflexed, and tinted lavender-pink petals.
2.5′ / pale lavender-pink / July-Sept. / Su
A sturdy and stockier selection of ‘Hula Dancer’. A Campo di Fiori selection.
Sturdy plants with coarse narrow foliage and large spectacular flowers with long flower rays round a large orange-brown cone-shaped disc. A superior border plant and butterfly tempter. This species flowers well in part shade. Native to much of the U.S.
3′ / pink-red / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
An improvement on Magnus with wide horizontal intense pink-red petals, a large orange-red cone, dark stems and uniform habit. Self-sows. The best seed strain for this color.
3′ / white / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
A seed strain with petals more horizontally held than ‘White Swan’. Self-sowing.
2′ / white / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
Large pure white flowers with a green cone center and a double row of narrow horizontally held petals which are fringed at the tips. Very long flowering and self-sowing (not true to type).
3′ / light peach / July-Sept. / Su
A hybrid between E. purpurea and E. paradoxa, with long narrow petals which are light pink on the outside and yellow underneath, combining to light peachy-pink. Earlier flowering. A Campo di Fiori selection.
18″ / light yellow / July-Sept. / Su
A robust growing, compact, hybrid coneflower with light yellow flowers that fade to cream.
2′ / pink / July-Sept. / Su
A unique species with slightly upturned, widely spaced, narrow pink petals atop rigid hairy stems with narrow dark green foliage. Only known to exist naturally on certain glades near Nashville, Tennessee, and is on the Federal Endangered Species list.
ECHINOPS, Asteraceae, globe thistle
bannaticus ‘Veitch’s Blue’
5′ / purple-blue / July-Aug. / Su
A stately plant with deeply cut somewhat prickly leaves and large spherical flower heads full of small purple blue flowers. Bees, bumblebees, and butterflies avidly visit the flowers. Plants thrive easily on a variety of soils. A non-spreading, relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Moderately self-sowing. Native to southeastern Europe.
EPIMEDIUM, Berberidaceae, barrenwort
Ground-covering plants with wonderful glossy ternate foliage and small four-petal jewel-like flowers in spring. The main ornamental value is the foliage which often remains green or turns an attractive brown or bronze shade in winter. Cut off the leaves in March to make way for the new flowers. Drought tolerant once established. Slow to moderately spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to China, Japan, and Korea.
10″ / lilac / April-May / HSh-Sh
Beautiful spurred lilac flowers above dark bronze colored spring foliage. Foliage disappears in winter.
10″ / sulfur yellow / April-May / HSh-Sh
Both the winter foliage and the young fresh leaves that emerge in spring are red. The flowers are a wonderfully contrasting sulfur yellow.
ERYNGIUM, Apiaceae, sea holly
Unusual members of the umbellifer family in that the flowers are not in an umbel-shaped inflorescence but are crammed together in thimble-like heads. The ordinary leaves and the involucral bracts are often dentate and prickly. Limited spread. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
4′ / white / July-Sept. / Su
This species forms evergreen rosettes of sword-shaped gray-green leaves similar to yucca species. Long leafless sturdy stems bear white spherical flower heads on slightly branched umbel-like clusters. Native to tall-grass prairies of eastern and central North America.
EUPATORIUM, Asteraceae, Joe Pye weed
Large plants with coarse foliage and large umbels of flowers in late summer. All species attract masses of butterflies and bees. Although they are plants of damp fertile soil, they are so strong they will grow almost anywhere. Slow to very limited spreading. Statuesque winter silhouette. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust long-live perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. All the species below are native to eastern North America.
7′ / purple-pink / July Sept. / Su-HSh
Purple stems bear large umbels full of small purple-pink flowers. A statuesque plant for the back of the border.
dubium ‘Baby Joe’
4′ / purple-pink / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
Resembles ‘Atropurpureum’ but far more compact and bears compound panicles of flowers on smaller umbels.
8′ / mauve-pink / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
The tallest cultivar with dark stems bearing large umbels full of small bright-pink flowers. Flowers a bit earlier than others. A Campo di Fiori selection.
fistulosum f. albidum ‘Ivory Towers’
7′ / white / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
This striking white flowering form is a nice change from the usual purple-flowering forms, and indeed compliments them at the back of the border.
FILIPENDULA, Rosaceae, meadowsweet
6′ / bright pink / July-Aug. / Su
The queen of the prairie is a tall plant with magnificent pinnate leaves and masses of bright pink flowers in frothy irregularly shaped racemes. The branches droop under the weight of the flowers but recover after the flowers die off. Seed heads turn to glowing chestnut brown which remain attractive throughout the winter. Requires fertile humus-rich soil that must never be allowed to dry out. Spreads moderately. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to northeastern and central U.S.
GENTIANA , Gentianaceae, gentian
2′ / gentian-blue / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
In the wild, the willow gentian appears in fertile woods and beside streams in the chalk mountains of central Europe. Slightly arched stems with willow-like leaves, bear many so-called gentian-blue flowers over almost their complete length. Plants feel most at home on moisture-retentive chalky soil.
2′ / deep blue / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
The bottle gentian has deep blue flowers that never fully open and which remain “bottle” shaped. Growing best in cool moist, places, they can form large clumps with time, though typically slow to develop. Native to Eastern North America. A local selection.
GERANIUM, Geraniaceae, cranesbill
Easy plants with attractive round leaves that can be lobed or deeply palmate and attractive five-petal flowers. Abundant flowering ground-covering filler-plants. Robust and long-lived plants useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
2′ / true-blue / June-July / Su-HSh
A sturdy hybrid with long sprawling stems full of blue flowers blooming over a long period. Allow the plant to weave into its neighbors naturally where it will reach a greater height, or else see it flop. Slowly-spreading.
18″ / pale lilac / April-June / Su-HSh
An early flowering American species with deeply cut leaves and large pale lilac flowers on long upright stems. One of the prettiest species. Self-sowing. A local selection.
18″ / white / April-June / Su-HSh
A beautiful sparkling white-flowering form of G. maculatum. Self-sow true to type.
sanguineum ‘New Hampshire’
10″ / bright pink / June-Sept. / Su
This compact cultivar is a strong, slowly-spreading, mound-forming plant for full sun. It blooms throughout the summer with an abundance of bright pink flowers. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. Moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to most of Europe and temperate Asia.
18″ / white / June-Sept. / Su
A taller white flowering cultivar. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
2′ / purple-pink / June-Sept. / Su
An extremely strong twining purple-pink cultivar which should be allowed to weave into its neighbors naturally. Slowly spreading and moderately seeding. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
sanguineum var. striatum
8″ / light pink / June-Aug. / Su
A compact mound forming cultivar with light pink flowers with dark pink veins. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens/
14″ / lilac / July-Sept. /Su-HSh
Exceptional orange pink leaves in spring and lilac-colored flowers that appear late for a geranium. Beautiful ground-covering foliage. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. Native to Europe and northern Asia.
wlassovianum ‘Purple Gem’
14″ / bright purple / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
A beautiful cultivar with small bright purple flowers.
GEUM, Rosaceae, avens
rivale ‘Flames of Passion’
1′ / orange-red / April-May / HSh-Sh
Nodding avens has pinnate leaves with a large, rounded, terminal leaf and clusters of hanging flowers in spring. A hybrid with flame orange-red flowers on deep wine-red stems. Although the plants grow in the wild mainly close to streams and springs, it is an exceptionally easy garden plant. With a bit of luck it flowers for a second time in autumn. Moderately-spreading. Native to northern Europe, Canada, and Siberia.
rivale ‘Banana Daiquiri’
16″ / clear-yellow / April-May / HSh-Sh
A new hybrid with medium, clear-yellow, semi-double flowers.
GILLENIA, Rosaceae, bowman’s root
3′ / white / June-July / Su-HSh
Sturdy and bushy plants with long-flowering clouds of white narrow-petaled flowers with red bracts on red flower stems. This plant will grow almost anywhere. Non-spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to eastern North America.
HELLEBORE, Ranunculaceae,Christmas rose
orientalis ‘Apple Blossom’
18″ / bright-green freckled red / April / HSh-Sh
These plants are of invaluable worth in the winter garden. Large bell-shaped flowers above shiny, leathery, beautifully indented leaves that remain green in winter. The flowers remain on the plant for a long period because in reality, they are attractively colored bracts that enclose first the flowers, visible as small scales nectaries, and later the large pod-like seeds. Appreciate rich, fertile soil. H. orientalis is an easy to grow, fully hardy, and richly varied species that appear in the wild around the Black Sea. The plants in cultivation are probably all hybrids. ‘Apple Blossom’ is a local seed strain which is variable, but leans heavily toward producing flowers of bright-green with a pink blush with dark-red freckles. Self-sowing.
HELENIUM, Asteraceae, sneezewort
Garden plants with an old-fashioned air about them. Round tubular centers with wreaths of brightly colored, somewhat fringed petal rays. The darker shades are particularly useful and unique when displayed in the autumn border along fading ornamental grasses. Likes moisture-retentive, fertile soil. Slowly spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to North America
autumnale ‘Blood Red’
4′ / dark red / Aug.-Sept. / Su
Deep red flowers on a compact and sturdy plant. A Campo di Fiori selection.
4′ / red-brown / Aug.-Sept. / Su
A shorter hybrid with red-brown flowers.
3′ / red-brown / July-Aug. / Su
An earlier flowering older cultivar with rich red-brown flowers.
HELIANTHUS, Asteraceae, sunflower
8′ / lemon yellow /Oct.-Nov. / Su
Giant plants from the American Prairie. This cultivar has course green lanceolate foliage and sturdy long stems topped with delicate lemon yellow sunflowers. Non-invasive. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
HEMEROCALIS, Hemerocallidaceae,day lily
Ornamental plants that have been grown for centuries, with attractively arched grassy leaves and large lily-like flowers which come in every color. Each flower lasts for one day only but because there are so many flowers on each stem, and there are many flowering stems, the flowering period lasts for many weeks. The plants are as strong as iron and will grow almost anywhere. Here in Maine discarded clumps have naturalized along the roadsides a beautiful addition to our local summer flora. Slowly-spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to China, Korea, and Japan.
2′ / very pale yellow / May-July / Su
A cultivar with 6 wide very pale yellow flowers with green throats.
18″ / deep grape purple / May-July / Su
Small deep grape-purple flowers with green centers.
18″ / dark red / May-July / Su
Small dark red flowers with yellow -green throats.
2.5′ / cream / May-July / Su
Medium-sized cream flowers with green throats.
HEUCHERA, Saxifragaceae, coral flower
Ornamental plants for shade with rosettes of attractive, palmate indented leaves and small flowers on elongated stems. Humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil is appreciated.
micrantha ‘Palace Purple’
1′ / white / June-July / Su-HSh
The oldest of a flood of cultivars with strongly contrasting dark purple-red foliage.
villosa ‘Autumn Bride’
2′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A species of coral bells native to rocky wooded slopes from Virginia to Georgia and Tennessee. Large triangularly-lobed, velvety light green leaves form a large basal clump. In the fall many slender stems adorn spires full of small white flowers. This species is the most vigorous and hardy. Excellent ground-cover in part-shade. Limited spreading.
HOSTA, Liliaceae, plantain lily
Wonderful foliage plants that hail from Japan. Ideal for architectural purposes whose bold foliage give body to a shaded garden amongst fine-leaved plants. Moist, humus-rich, fertile soil in part shade suits them best.
2′ / white / July-Aug. / HSh-Sh
A classic with smaller rounded and frosted blue-gray leaves and white flowers. Still never surpassed. Slow to moderately spreading. Attractive and long-lasting seed heads.
3′ / lilac / July-Aug. / HSh-Sh
An absolute giant with narrow blue-gray leaves that point arrow-like upwards and lilac-colored flowers on very long stems. This plant needs plenty of space. Slow to moderately spreading.
‘Sum and Substance’
4′ / lilac / July-Aug. / HSh-Sh
Enormous, thick, yellow-green foliage and tall stems with lilac flowers. Slow to moderately spreading.
IRIS, Iridaceae, iris
A familiar genus of plants with many hundreds of species. The flowering period is short but exceptional. The characteristic sword-like leaves remain beautiful throughout the summer. Most irises (I. germanica) cannot cope when combined with plants of the same height or ground-cover plants, as the rhizomes become overshadowed. There are a few species that grow well in normal, moisture-retentive garden soil and which can be combined closer to other plants in naturalistic style.
2.5′ / white / May-June / Su
A very elegant white-flowered cultivar. Slowly spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to northeast Turkey, Russia, and eastern and central Europe.
sibirica ‘Pink Haze’
3′ / lavender-pink / May-June / Su
A cultivar with large soft lavender-pink flowers and bold, long-lasting, sword-shaped foliage. Slow to moderately spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to northeast Turkey, Russia, and eastern and central Europe.
KALIMERIS, Asteraceae, cast-iron plant
3′ / pale purple / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
A sturdy and reliable shrub-like perennial that forms a round hillock covered in long-flowering, large, pale purple daisies with yellow centers. Perfect border plants that fit in everywhere. Limited spreading and self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A Campo di Fiori selection. Species native to eastern Asia, Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan.
KIRENGESHOMA, Hydrangeaceae, Japanese waxflower
3′ / butter-yellow / Sept.-Oct. / HSh-Sh
Shade plants with wonderful, corrugated, sycamore-like leaves. In summer butter-yellow buds are formed which grow very slowly until, in late summer, the large wax-like bellflowers open. The seed capsules, adorned with three needles, remain attractive for a long period. This plant will grow and flower almost anywhere as long as the soil does not dry out. One of the few plants that flower in places where the sun never shines. Slowly-spreading clumps can be slow to establish. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to eastern Asia.
KNAUTIA, Dipsacaceae, scabious
2′ / claret / July-Sept. / Su
Bears magnificent pin-cushion shaped, claret-colored flowers on long wiry stems throughout the summer. A genus of plants closely related to Scabiosa, though generally more robust. Butterflies love them both. It is a non-spreading, relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 5 years, yet which self-sows abundantly in drier conditions. Drought-tolerant. Native to eastern Europe.
2′ / lilac / July-Sept. / Su
Field scabious is an untidy plant with course foliage, wispy flower stems and lilac pin-cushion shaped flowers. Best and least untidy on poorish but not acid soil, or even better in grass which will act as a support as it does in the wild. A genus plants closely related to scabiosa, though generally more robust. Butterflies love them both. It is a non-spreading, relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 5 years, yet which self-sows abundantly in drier conditions. Drought-tolerant. Native to eastern Europe.
5′ / white / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A bushy, upright, clump-forming plant with many rigid, leafy, long stems bearing white daisy flowers. Beautiful amongst late-flowering grasses. Slow to moderately spreading. Native to south-eastern Europe.
LIATRIS, Asteraceae, blazing star
Familiar stiff-looking plants with narrow grassy leaves and long spike-shaped inflorescences. The reddish-purple thistle-like flowers open from the top to the bottom of the stem. Thrive best in fertile, moisture-retentive garden soil, though are drought-tolerant. Slowly spreading and self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
4′ / rose-purple / July-Aug. / Su
A cultivar of L. spicata with long, pointed, cone-shaped spikes. A Campo di Fiori selection. Species native to central and southeastern United States.
spicata ‘Floristan White’
2.5′ / white / July-Aug. / Su
A striking white flowering cultivar. Species native to the eastern United States.
4′ / reddish-purple / July-Aug. / Su
A tall species that strongly resembles L. spicata, but has a longer inflorescence so that the whole plant seems more slender. Native to central and southeastern U.S.
LUNARIA, Brassicaceae, honesty
2.5′ / pale purple / April-June / HSh-Sh
A perennial lunaria with attractive dark green, heart-shaped foliage and racemes of very fragrant pale purple flowers. The flat, silvery, translucent fruits remain on the plant until midwinter. Limited spread and modestly self-sowing. Native to Europe and Russia.
LYSIMACHIA, Primulaceae, loosestrife
2′ / white / July-Sept. / Su
Narrow grey-green foliage and long spikes full of small star-like white flowers. A species from riverbanks in France and Spain that requires well-drained moisture-retentive soil. Unpretentious and well suited to linking the various elements of a planting together. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Non-spreading.
LYTHRUM, Lythraceae, winged loosestrife
3′ / soft pink / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
A North American native species of loosestrife with multiple upright stems covered in small-leaved narrow foliage, and blooming intermittently with small soft pink, perfect flowers with dark pink veining. Prefers moist soils where it self-sows moderately. Attractive autumn coloring. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
virginica – coming soon
MONARDA, Lamiaceae, bergamot
One of the most important garden plant genera with sturdy stems that do not collapse, delightful smelling leaves (Earl Grey tea), and flowers that are plentiful and last a long time. The inflorescence consists of bud-like bundles of calyces from which new lipped flowers keep on appearing from bottom to top. The bracts beneath the inflorescence are an important part of these plant’s beauty. Swarms of butterflies, bees, hummingbird moths, and hummingbirds descend on the plant when in flower. After a few years, some monarda cultivars will begin to degenerate. They then must be dug up and divided, throwing the old center of the clump away and replanting the outer pieces. Though cultivars abound, we have found only these two varieties to be dependable for the long-term. Requires well-drained soil and will not tolerate heavy unprepared clay. All tolerate low-fertility. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Genus endemic to North America.
2′ / pale pink / May-June / Su-HSh
Pale pink, purple-spotted, tubular flowers in whorls and purplish-tinged leafy bracts. Foliage remains attractive longer than other varieties, unaffected by mildew, and turning deep-purple in fall. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. Moderately spreading and self-sowing.
punctata – coming soon
5′ / red / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A hybrid with large whorled heads of red, tubular flowers above light-red bracts and bright-green glossy foliage.
NEPETA, Lamiaceae, catmint
racemosa ‘Six Hills Giant’
3′ / soft blue / May-Aug. / Su
The familiar catmint with soft blue flowers and ribbed gray-green leaves. A little floppy, but useful for weaving in among other plants. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. Limited spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to the Caucasus, Turkey, and northern Iran.
2′ / blue / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
An unusual species from Japan with broad shiny leaves and large inflorescences crammed with blue lipped flowers. Strongly aromatic foliage. Limited spread. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
pedunculatum – coming soon
ORIGANUM, Lamiaceae, marjoram
Wild marjoram is a shrub-like plant with dull green aromatic leaves and branched inflorescences. Loved by many nectar-seeking insects. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. Limited spreading and moderately self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to southwestern Eurasia and Mediterranean region.
1′ / dark pink / July-Sept. / Su
A big cultivar with large dark pink inflorescences and small glossy green foliage. Loved by butterflies.
PARTHENIUM, Asteraceae, wild quinine
4′ / white / May-Aug. / Su
Wooly-looking white flower heads, each with 5 tiny rays, appear in wide, flat-topped, terminal clusters. Aromatic, toothed, dark green leaves. Drought tolerant. Beautiful long-lasting seed heads. Native to eastern United States.
PENSTEMON, Scrophulariaceae, beardtongue
A large North American genus of plants with narrow leaves and flowers on lose spikes somewhat resembling those of foxgloves. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Limited-slow spreading and moderately self-sowing. Drought tolerant. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Native to eastern Canada and eastern U.S.
2′ / white / June-Aug. / Su
Our native penstemon with white bell-like flowers on dark red stems. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A local selection.
digitalis ‘Huskers Red’
2 / white / June-Aug. / Su-HSh
Dark reddish-green foliage and pink-tinted white flowers. Dark red autumn color. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
hirsutus – coming soon
PERSICARIA, Polygonaceae, knotweed
4′ / pink-red / July-Oct. / Su-HSh
A large, bushy, easy-growing, weak-stemmed plant that bears numerous slender pink-red flowering spikes. Color intensifies until the first hard frost. Prefers moisture-retentive, fertile, well-drained soil. Moderately spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to the Himalayas.
4′ / white / July-Oct. / Su-HSh
A slender cultivar with dark green foliage and very narrow white flowering spikes that are sometimes split into two at the top. Prefers moisture-retentive, fertile soil. Moderately spreading. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
PHLOX, Polemoniaceae, phlox
A very familiar plant that grows almost anywhere, but looks its best on fertile, moisture-retentive soil. Relatively small flowers clustered together in large spreading panicles. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
3′ / white / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
Sturdy stems with bright-green lanceolate foliage and panicles of white flowers. Mildew resistant. Appreciates fertile soil. Slowly spreading.
4′ / bright magenta-purple / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
A mildew-resistant cultivar with large clusters of bright magenta-purple flowers.
4′ / lilac-pink / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
An older cultivar with small, pale-lilac pink flowers in pyramid-shaped panicles. Resembles sweet rocket.
4′ / soft-pink / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A cultivar with elegant soft-pink flowers. A Campo di Fiori selection.
paniculata ‘Hot September Pink’
4′ / vivid-pink / July-Aug. / Su-HSh
A mildew-resistant cultivar with large clusters of vivid-pink flowers.
divaricata ‘Blue Moon’
1′ / blue-violet / May-June / HSh-Sh
A spring ephemeral, woodland, ground-covering species with sweet-smelling, abundant blue-violet flowers and lanceolate foliage. A place in semi-shade, and most importantly, soil that never dries out, is essential for healthy growth. Moderately spreading and self-sowing. Native to eastern North America.
POTENTILLA, Rosaceae, cinquefoil
Cinquefoils are a large genus of low-growing strawberry-like plants with characteristic three to five palmate, veined, and toothed leaves and loosely-branched inflorescences with small flowers.
1′ / black-red / June-Aug. / Su
A bushy growing plant with five palmate leaves and masses of small almost blackish-red flowers. Self-sows pleasurably. Native to Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico
PYCANTHEMUM, Lamiaceae, mountain mint
3′ / pale pink / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
A bushy clump-forming perennial with aromatic leaves that smell strongly of spearmint. Dense flat-topped terminal clusters with small, pale pink, tubular flowers (a small version of a Monarda inflorescence). The underside of each cluster is highlighted by a pair of showy silvery leaf-like bracts that are most effective in their appearance when massed. Slow to moderately spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A pollinator favorite. Native to eastern North America. All species have been used for tea.
3′ / white / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
A species of mountain mint with extremely narrow, almost needle-like leaves and terminal clusters of small white flowers. A pollinator favorite. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Native to eastern North America.
RUDBECKIA, Asteraceae, black-eyed susan
A familiar genus of course plants with large yellow daisies with dark cone-shaped tubular centers that provide structural interest after the yellow ray florets have fallen off. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived plant useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
3′ / yellow / July-Sept. / Su
A cultivar that grows into hefty clumps of dark green foliage with erect stems displaying prolific, bright yellow daisies with black centers. Moderately spreading. Species native to North America.
5′ / yellow / Aug-Sept. / Su
A fascinating plant with gigantic, waxy blue, hosta-like foliage and a few long-stemmed, drooping daisies with deep yellow ray-florets and eye-catching long black central cones. Appreciates fertile, moisture-retentive soil. Slowly spreading. Native to central and southern U.S.
5′ / yellow / July-Oct. / Su
A rudbeckia species with gray-green divided foliage and branched stems bearing yellow daisies with black cones. Slowly spreading. Native to central U.S.
RUELLIA, Acanthaceae, wild petunia
1′ / light purple / June-Sept. / Su-HSh
An easy, long-flowering plant with elongated, hairy stems and foliage, and light purple petunia-like flowers. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. Drought tolerant. Native to eastern U.S.
SALVIA, Lamiaceae, sage
5′ / azure blue / Oct.-Nov. / Su
A spectacular gray-leaved species from North America, with long racemes of azure-blue flowers in late fall. Requires support from neighboring plants. Limited spread. Drought tolerant.
Familiar and easy garden plants with tapering, spiked inflorescences and a long and profuse flowering period. If they are cut back the plants will repeat flower in late summer. A relatively short-lived plant with a longevity of less than 10 years. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. Tolerates dry, infertile soils. Native to a wide area of central Europe and western Asia.
nemorosa ‘Blue Hill’
1′ / blue / June-Aug. / Su
A short cultivar which is the closest to pure blue.
2′ / violet-blue / June-Sept. / Su
Extra-long spikes noted for their dark purple stems which are adorned with small violet-blue flowers.
nemorosa ‘May Night’
2′ / deep purple / May-June / Su
The earliest blooming salvia with dense spikes of deep purple flowers.
3′ / lilac-pink / June-Aug. / Su
A tall older variety with very long spikes bearing lilac-pink flowers.
verticillata ‘Purple Rain’
1.5′ / soft-purple / July-Sept. / Su
Wild clary is a low-growing species with soft-purple flowers in whorls around reddish-purple stems, and grayish, textured leaves. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of less than 10 years. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. Native to a wide area of central Europe to western Asia.
SANGUISORBA, Rosaceae, burnet
This is a very undervalued genus of easy and useable garden plants. All the species have attractive pinnate foliage with toothed leaflets. The small knot-like flowers are grouped in spikes or little balls. The shape is in all the species the most important element and is unique and irreplaceable. Many have transparent flower clusters that create another perspective as you look through them to the plants growing behind. All species thrive best on moisture-retentive soil. Limited to moderately spreading and moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
6′ / off-white / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A sturdy plant with gray-green leaves and erect off-white, fluffy flower spikes. The late flowering makes this plant particularly attractive. Native to North America.
2′ / blood-red / May-June / Su
The earliest flowering species with blood-red, erect bottle-brush-like spikes, and beautiful blue-green foliage. Native to north-western U.S.
5′ / black-red / June-Aug. / Su
The greater burnet is a slender, untidy plant with wiry stems and richly branched inflorescences. Creates a mass of pinnate ornamental foliage, primarily clumped around the base of the plant. There is an erect blackish-red flower knot at the tip of each branch. ‘Arnhem’ is sturdier than the species with larger, darker red flowers. Native throughout the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe and Asia.
officinalis ‘Pink Tanna’
2′ / soft-pink / Aug.-Sept. / Su
A shorter and earlier flowering cultivar with a profusion of soft-pink cylindrical inflorescence.
officinalis ‘Blackthorn’ – coming soon
6′ / white / July-Aug. / Su
A white flowering form of the species which is taller and with narrower foliage and even narrower, cylindrical-shaped, pendent spikes. Native to eastern Asia.
SCUTELLARIA, Lamiaceae, skull cap
2′ / gray-blue / Aug.-Sept. / Su
A sturdy North American species with elongated grayish leaves and gray-blue inflorescences. The lipped flowers are soft blue and the bracts, which resemble baseball caps, are gray. A wonderful late flowering plant with beautiful gray seed heads. Slowly spreading and drought tolerant. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Primarily native to the eastern U.S. as well as some parts of the mid-west.
SEDUM, Crassulaceae, stonecrop
A familiar and large genus of succulent rock plants with a few larger species which are much more structural in form. These plants have characteristic umbel-shaped inflorescences which remain structural late into the winter. Non-spreading and drought tolerant. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
telephium ‘Autumn Joy’
2′ / rose-pink / Sept.-Oct. / Su-HSh
Soft green, smooth foliage and large umbel-shaped inflorescences of rose-pink flowers, which remain rusty-brown through the winter. Species native to Eurasia.
2′ / pink / Aug.-Oct. / Su-HSh
The tallest cultivar with red stems, grayish-green leaves, and extra-large umbel-shaped inflorescences full of pink flowers.
1′ / soft ivory-yellow / Aug.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A shorter cultivar with grayish-green leaves and large umbel-shaped inflorescences of soft ivory-yellow flowers.
telephium ‘Red Cauli’
2′ / red / Aug.-Oct. / Su-HSh
A taller-growing slender cultivar with grey-green leaves, red stems, and panicles of red flowers which turn glowing red-brown in autumn.
SMILACINA, Convallariaceae, false Solomon’s seal
2′ / cream / May-June / Su-HSh
This plant looks very similar to common Solomon’s seal with long arched stems and upward-pointing, dark- green, elegant lanceolate foliage. The flowers do not hang under the leaves but are more conspicuously in fluffy cream-colored tufts at the end of the stems. Beautiful red berries follow the flowers and last into the fall. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A local selection.
SOLIDAGO, Asteraceae, goldenrod
A very familiar genus of plants that are native to Maine, but with the majority being too weedy for the garden. None the less, goldenrod can be hard to resist with its wide range of flowerhead shapes and cheerful yellow fall flowers. Thus, we have selected a few local species which are better behaved and unique among the rest. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton.
4′ / bright yellow / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A very attractive solid, bushy cultivar with dark stems and foliage. The pinhead-sized flowers on widely branched panicles are visible from June onwards and after flowering remain decorative. Moderately spreading but not rampant. Species native to North America.
3′ / yellow / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A goldenrod adapted to our coastal sands with smooth, fleshy, lance-shaped foliage and a dense, compact panicle-shaped inflorescence full of comparatively large yellow daisy flowers. Limited spreading and drought tolerant. A local selection.
ptarmicoides – coming soon
STACHYS, Lamiaceae, woundwort
Some of the creeping species with white wooly foliage are familiar. Less familiar are the species belonging to the subgenus Betonica. The distinctive features are their long, ovate ribbed leaves and orchid-like, spiked inflorescences. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
3′ / deep purple-red / June-July / Su-HSh
A cultivar with small dark green, ovate ribbed leaves and long stems with large compact-flowering spikes in deep purple-red. Limited spread. Species native to much of Europe.
2′ / soft-pink / June-Aug. / Su-HSh
A compact cultivar with deep green foliage and long-flowering spikes of soft-pink flowers. Limited spread.
2′ / white / June-Aug. / Su-HSh
A compact cultivar with deep green foliage and long-flowering spike of white flowers.
SUCCISA, Dipsacaceae, devil’s bit scabious
4′ / deep blue / Aug.-Sept. / Su
An erect plant with narrow, dark green foliage and a lax-branched inflorescence of deep blue, pincushion-like round flower heads which attract all kinds of insects. Native to the U.K.
2.5′ / deep blue / Aug.-Sept. / Su
A shorter and earlier-flowering form of the species. A Campo di Fiori selection.
SUCCISELLA, Dipsacaceae, devil’s bit
2′ / gray-blue / Aug.-Oct. / Su
A pretty, fast-growing plant with green lance-shaped foliage and clouds of gray-blue Scabiosa-like flowers in late summer. The plants are slightly rampant, but form the runners on the surface and are easily removed. Very popular with insects. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to southeastern Europe.
THALICTRUM, Ranunculaceae, meadow rue
Ornamental plants with characteristic compound leaves, like those of columbine, and graceful panicle-shaped clusters of flowers. The individual flowers are small but the relatively large tufts of stamens make the flowers even more eye-catching. All species prefer cooler climates and moisture-retentive, fertile soil. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens.
4′ / lilac / April-June / Su-HSh
This plant is effective for the greater part of the year with its distinctive flowers of wide lilac panicles that seem to consist entirely of stamens, purple-black stems, followed by decorative shivering seeds which remain through the winter. Limited spreading and moderately self-sowing. Species native to Europe and temperate Asia, with a naturalized distribution in North America, limited to New York and Ontario.
10′ / pale lilac / June-July / Su-HSh
A sterile cross between T. rochebruneanum and T. flavum subsp. glaucum. Unbelievably beautiful dark bluish-gray foliage in spring and just as unbelievably tall flowering stems with fluffy, pale lilac and yellow panicles. Limited spread. Does not collapse.
flavum subsp. glaucum
6′ / lemon yellow / June-July / Su-HSh
This Spanish subspecies has lovely blue-gray foliage and broad, lemon yellow tufts of stamens. Limited spreading and moderately self-sowing. Native to Spain and northwestern Africa.
6′ / cream / June-July / Su-HSh
This native species resembles T. aquiligefolium, but taller and more graceful, with flattish cream-colored flower heads that remain decorative at the seed stage. A strong grower that is limited spreading and moderately self-sowing. A local selection.
6′ / lilac / June-July / Su-HSh
An extremely graceful plant with delicate, bluish-green, columbine-like leaves composed of tiny leaflets, and lax inflorescences with lilac flowers and tufts of yellow stamens atop dark purple stems. Limited spreading and low self-sowing. Native to Japan.
TRICYTRIS, Tricyrtidaceae, toad lily
3′ / pale pink / Sept.-Oct. / HSh-Sh
A large cultivar with orchid-like, fleshy-textured stems and foliage which is sometimes spotted black. Fleshy- textured, regularly shaped star flowers are an eye-catching pale pink with purplish-red markings. Appreciates moisture-retentive soil where it is slow to moderately spreading. Species native from the Himalayas to eastern Asia, including China, Japan, Philippines, and Formosa.
TRIFOLIUM, Fabaceae, clover
1′ / dark pinkish-red / July-Aug. / Su
Characteristic dark green, trifoliate foliage and attractive, tall, dark pinkish-red inflorescences which are hairy and grayish in bud. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to central and southern Europe.
VERNONIA, Asteraceae, ironweed
8′ / purple-red / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A large late-flowering plant with dark narrow foliage and purple thistle-like flowers in gigantic umbel-like clusters. Prefers moisture-retentive, fertile soil. Slowly spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to the Ozarks of the U.S.
3′ / purple-red / Sept.-Oct. / Su
A short hybrid with upright stems and needle-like foliage topped by showy, umbel-like clusters of bright purple flowers.
longifolia ‘Blue Shades’ coming soon
longifolia ‘Pink Shades’ coming soon
VERONICASTRUM, Schropulariaceae, Culver’s root
Tall, sturdy plants closely related to Veronica. Lance-shaped leaves grow in wreathes along the stems and the long spike-shaped inflorescence adds a strong vertical element to the border. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Species native to the U.S.
4′ / white / July Aug. / Su
Wreaths of dark green lanceolate foliage and long narrowly tapered spikes of little white flowers.
5′ / pale pink / July-Aug. / Su
A cultivar with pale pink flowers and fresh green foliage.
virginicum f. caeruleum – coming soon
ZIZIA, Apiaceae, golden alexanders
3′ / yellow / May-June / Su
Medium umbels of tiny yellow flowers and glossy green compound foliage. A beautiful early flowering native and our only garden-worthy umbellifer. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. An important plant to a number of short-tongued, spring-flying insects. A relatively short-lived plant with a longevity of less than 10 years. A local selection.
These wonderful plants which so frequently dominate open habitats around the world have been loosely regarded and little-noticed in the gardening world, until recently. Their increasing popularity is no mystery. Essential for creating a wild, naturalistic-looking planting, they project themselves uniquely in the way they catch the light, the way they move in a breeze, and the contrast and continuity they bring to a planting through the seasons with their long-lasting structural form. Textured mounds of linear green foliage, beautiful autumn coloring, and long-lasting seed heads extend the season of interest almost indefinitely. A must for every garden.
Cool-season grasses have their greatest impact in the garden in the spring and early summer when many of them flower. Although many of these grasses become dormant during a hot summer, some such as Calamagrostis and Deschampsia retain their dramatic, albeit dead, inflorescences and continue to play an important role in the garden for many months after. For this reason, the flowering season for both cool-season and warm-season grasses also includes the period of seed head interest.
Warm-season grasses do not start growing until much later in the year, typically flowering in late summer and often retaining their dead foliage and seed heads into the winter to great effect. The largest and most impressive ornamental grasses are of this group.
ANDROPOGON, Poaceae, big bluestem
6′ / dark purple-red / Aug.-Sept. / Su
Upright, clump-forming, warm-season grass with lush green summer foliage that turns a rich-orange and coppery-red in autumn. The distinctive three-branched terminal inflorescences are dark purple-red with noticeably bright red pollen sacs. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to North America and south-central Mexico. Once the dominant component of the tallgrass prairie. A local selection.
BOUTELOUA, Poaceae, blue grama
3′ / purple / June-Sept. / Su
Cespitose warm-season grass bearing long, upright oat-like spikelets attached to one side of the inflorescence. These open purplish at first, bleaching to straw color as they age. The basal mound of gray-green foliage turns bronze-purple, orange, and red shades in autumn. Moderately spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to the North American shortgrass prairie which is warmer and drier then the tallgrass prairie region.
1′ / red-tinted / June-Sept. / Su
Cespitose warm-season grass of diminutive, upright stature and curious flowers suspended horizontally, like tiny brushes from the tip of each flowering stem. These are strongly red-tinted at first and bleaching to straw color, often curling as they dry. Can be planted densely to create a low, casual no-mow ground-cover or mowed occasionally. Moderately spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to much of North America.
CALAMAGROSTIS, Poaceae, small reed
acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
6′ / smoky-purple / June-Aug. / Su
Strongly upright, clump-forming, cool-season grass with lustrous deep green foliage and vertical inflorescences of spike-like, fluffy panicles which are smoky-purplish when they first appear. These turn buff colored by August and tighten to slim spikes which remain upright and attractive through most of the winter. Makes a good deciduous screen that moves gracefully in the slightest breeze. Moderately spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Species native to Europe.
4′ / smoky-pink / Aug.-Oct. / Su
Warm-season cespitose grass with loose clumps of bright green foliage and long spike-like, fluffy panicles which are smoky-pink when first open and remain open and feathery even when dry. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Korea.
CAREX, Cyperaceae, sedge
Carex, otherwise known as sedge, is a common sight in our local woodlands. Having been ignored for years, they are making a surge in popularity due to their neat evergreen foliage, and low-maintenance constitution. As a textural groundcover, they are indispensable for woodland-type meadow or matrix plantings where they provide the perfect context from which other showier wildflowers may emerge.
2′ / yellow-green / May-June / HSh
One of many carex species with attractive slender foliage forming a neat spherical mound. The inconspicuous inflorescence, upon close inspection, are yellow-green star-like spikelets. A very useful plant for woodland meadow plantings, with medium soil moisture in part shade. Slowly spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A local selection.
2′ / yellow-green / June-July / Su-HSh
Deciduous, bushy, clump-forming plant with lax stems and uniquely tiered graceful, narrow, tapering foliage and small inconspicuous spikelets which open yellow-green fading to dark bronze. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to central North America.
10″ / white-green / June / Su-HSh-Sh
A charming species with an attractive compact mounding form of soft thread-like green leaves and insignificant whitish flowers on short spikes. Broadly tolerant of varied growing conditions and useful for low woodland meadow plantings. Native to eastern North America.
8″ / blue-green / June-July / Su-HSh
A cultivar of woodland sedge native to the northeastern U.S. and beyond. Clump-forming, producing a neat mound of relatively broad, blue-green, ever-green foliage. Inconspicuous and slender flowering stems. Adaptable to a range of soil types. Prefers light shade but will grow in full sun with adequate moisture. A natural choice for dry-shade.
CHASMANTIUM, Poaceae, sea oats
4′ / light green / Aug.-Oct. / Su-HSh
Broad clump-forming, vase-shaped, warm-season grass with unique broad foliage and pendant panicle branches bearing numerous flattened, oat-like spikelets that emerge light green eventually turning to red-bronze and remaining attractive through the winter. Limited spread and self-sowing. Native to the southeastern U.S.
DESCHAMPSIA, Poaceae, hair grass
Cool-season cespitose grass with long, dark and glossy basal foliage which forms beautiful spherical mounds, and looks good for much of the year. A fine-textured, cloud-like mass of finely branched inflorescences typically open light green and dry to buff, and are translucent and luminous when back-lit by the sun. The inflorescence remains attractive into autumn. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 10 years or less. Non-spreading and moderately self-sowing. Tolerant of poor fertility. Very good structure from spring till late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. Native to cool-temperate parts of North America, Europe and eastern Asia.
3′ / green-bronze / June-July / Su-HSh
A cultivar with inflorescence that open green-bronze and fade to dark bronze.
2′ / green-yellow / June-July / Su-HSh
A shorter cultivar with green-yellow inflorecence that turn flaxen early in summer and, therefore, attract more attention.
2′ / beige-green / June-July / Su-HSh
Smaller, shorter, and finer textured than D. cespitosa. this species is also a clump-forming, cool-season grower native to cool-temperate North America and Eurasia, mostly in the part shade of woodland openings and rock cliffs. Easy to grow on a wide variety of soils including sand. Well-adapted to dry shade. A local selection.
ELYMUS, Poaceae, bottlebrush grass
4′ / green / June-July / Su-HSh
Cool-season grass with loose clumps of foliage and open bottle-brush-like inflorescences initially green and bleaching to light buff, remaining attractive into the autumn. One of the relatively few true grasses adapted to dry shaded conditions, though responds with better flowering in moister soil. Slowly spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to eastern North America.
ERAGROSTIS, Poaceae, love grass
1′ / iridescent pink / July-Nov. / Su
Warm-season cespitose grass with medium green, coarse textured basal foliage and very fine-textured inflorescence creating low clouds of iridescent pink. Very drought tolerant, non-spreading, and moderately self-sowing. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 5-10 years or less. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A local selection.
2′ / purple-pink / June / Su
Clumps of very fine, thread-like, grey-lue foliage. The earliest flowering grass with a delicate purple-pink colored, spiked inflorescence held well above the foliage on slender stalks. Drought-tolerant and useful in low steppe-like plantings. Native to central Europe and naturalized in the U.S. A local selection.
HAKONECHLOA, Poaceae, Hakone grass
1′ / smoky purple / Aug.-Sept. / Su-HSh
Warm-season mat-forming grass with delightful mop-heads of long, arching, graceful leaves which look uniformly combed in one direction. Bears subtle inflorescences of lax, smoky-purple flower panicles. Suitable for use as a ground-cover and historically a favorite container plant in Japan. Requires fertile, moisture-retentive soil. Slow to moderately spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful in less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Honshu Japan.
MELICA, Poaceae, silver spike
2′ / cream-white / May-June / Su
Compact cool-season grass with narrow, medium-green, basal foliage, and upright arching flowering stems, forming graceful fans of white-cream flower spikes that fade to tan, and remain attractive for a month or more. A unique addition to the relatively grass-less spring garden. Prefers moist to moderately dry soil. Partly summer dormant in warmer climates. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 5-10 years or less. Self-sowing. Native to Europe, northern Africa, and southwestern Asia.
MISCANTHUS, Poaceae, silver grass
Well-known clump-forming, warm-season grass with long deep green pendulous leaves with white midribs. At the end of the summer bloom numerous elegant, heavily-branched, finger-like inflorescences, usually opening red or pink-suffused and drying to silver-white. In autumn the foliage turns yellow and orange, and in the winter the whole plant becomes parchment white. Throughout the winter the old flowering stems weather storms, rain or snow, without breaking. Slowly spreading and slow to establish. Some cultivars are self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Japan and southern China and Korea.
6′ / silvery / Aug.-Oct. / Su
Large, free-hanging, silver-white plume-like inflorescences are held high above the foliage and quickly turn very fluffy when dry. Narrow foliage turns rich copper-red and orange in autumn. Quicker than most to establish.
sinensis ‘Grosse Fontane’
8′ / red / Sept-Oct. / Su
A giant fountain that spreads out its broad overhang of unusually long leaves in a vase-shape that does not topple over. The large red inflorescences appear in late summer and then mature to silver.
sinensis ‘Kleine Fontane’
5′ / silvery red-brown / July-Oct. / Su
A fine-textured compact selection with narrow, upright plumes of silvery, reddish-brown inflorescences early in the season. Keeps on producing new flower stems until the autumn, with the young red flowers contrasting with the mature silver ones.
6′ / red-brown / Aug.-Oct. / Su
The bract which surrounds the inflorescence before flowering is strongly ribbed. When the flowers open they are brown-gold and have a shivering look about them, which lasts for some time, standing high above the foliage. The inflorescence quickly turns red then to silver. Foliage often has red or orange autumn color. Quicker than most to establish.
6′ / silver-pink / Sept.-Nov. / Su
A well-proportioned, elegant plant with very upright columnar flowering stems with strikingly beautiful silver-pink inflorescences, a graceful narrow foliage. Quicker than most to establish.
MOLINIA, Poaceae, moor grass
Cool-season cespitose grass which forms tussocks of narrow basal foliage and narrow flower panicles held well above the foliage on slender stalks which may be upright or arching. Foliage turns clear yellow in autumn and the stems often dark purple. Flowers relatively late among cool-season grasses. The species M. caerulea is usually separated into two subspecies, which differ most obviously in their size. The tall forms combine strong sculptural form with graceful response to summer breezes. Perfect specimen plants yet they also fit easily into tightly planted flower borders where their flower stems can rise like fountains above their neighbors. Never obtrusive, as their delicate and diffuse flowers heads are transparent. All are most effective when side-lit or backlit by the sun, especially when positioned against a contrasting background. Flowering stems usually remain attractive and upright through autumn. Non-spreading. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to temperate Eurasia.
caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’
8′ / dark purple-green / July-Oct. / Su-HSh
A cultivar with tussocks of 3 basal foliage, arching stalks, and delicate, loose, pendent inflorescences.
PANICUM, Poaceae, switchgrass
Like many North American prairie grasses switchgrass is a long-lived warm-season grower. Forms clumps of broad-bladed foliage and profuse airy panicles which are often pink or red-tinted when first opening. The flowerheads are large and wide, but because they contain such small spikelets that are spaced far apart, they form a misty and light effect when planted en masse. All parts of the plant are quite sturdy even when dry and dormant, standing through winter. Autumn tones vary from typical yellow shades to deep burgundy. Drought tolerance also varies and is usually better among glaucous-leaved forms with thicker leaves. Effective as a specimen, in masses, or a large container. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. Very good structure from spring to late winter with distinctive and long-lasting seed heads and/or winter skeleton. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to much of North America.
virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’
4′ / tinted-pink / Aug.-Oct. / Su
One of the most erect and upright-growing cultivars with gray-green foliage which never lodges. An especially noticeable airy inflorescence tinted pink.
4′ / red-tinted / Aug-Oct. / Su
The red autumn foliage is one of the most intense and reliable of all cultivars. Green leaves in early summer begin to take on dark red tones by July and turning wholly wine-colored by September. Upright stance, usually remaining so through winter. A slower-growing cultivar.
PENNISETUM, Poaceae, fountain grass
Warm-season, clump-forming grass with spherical mounds of long, narrow foliage from which arise inflorescences of spike-like racemes, usually dense and cylindrical, resembling large, fluffy bottle-brush heads. Foliage turns golden yellow in autumn and the inflorescences remain attractive into early winter. Drought tolerant once established. Slowly spreading and moderately self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Japan and much of southeastern Asia.
3′ / cream / Aug.-Nov. / Su
A cultivar with light cream-colored, bottle-brush-like inflorescences rising 3 above a vase-shaped mound of fine foliage. Foliage turns gold with rich red tints in autumn.
SCHIZACHYRIUM, Poaceae, little bluestem
Warm-season cespitose grass with tussocks of fine- textured foliage ranging in color from bright green to glaucous gray-blue. Fall color ranges from copper- orange to deep purple-red, and winter color can be light straw or strongly orange-red. The inflorescences on slender stems are delicate and relatively inconspicuous until they dry and become translucent and silvery. They remain standing through the winter through repeated snow storms. Shade and excess moisture and fertility will contribute to lax, floppy growth. Tolerant of drought and low-fertility. A relatively short-lived perennial with a longevity of 5-10 years or less. Limited spreading and moderately self-sowing. Once one of the dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie. Native to much of North America.
scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’
2′ / silvery / Aug.-Oct. / Su
A cultivar with gray-blue ribbon-like foliage and conspicuous purple-pink stem joints. Orange-red autumn tones
SESLERIA, Poaceae, blue grass
1′ / cream-white / Aug.-Oct. / Su-HSh
Cool-season grass which forms mats of yellowish-green, almost transparent foliage, that remains fresh-looking, and narrow cream-white spikelets that later turn a contrasting brown. It provides a perfect contrast for illuminating other plants. Tolerant of dry shade but best in fertile moist soil. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to southern Europe and the Caucasus.
SPODIOPOGON, Poaceae, silver spike
5′ / dark red / July-Sept. / Su-HSh
Warm-season, clump-forming grass with relatively broad, bright green leaves which are held horizontally, and reminiscent of bamboo. Numerous, upright, spike-like panicles open dark red and fade to brown. Best in cooler climates. Slow-limited spreading and self-sowing. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. Native to Korea, Manchuria, China, and Siberia.
SPOROBULUS, Poaceae, prairie dropseed
Warm-season, cespitose grass considered to be the most elegant and refined of the prairie grasses. Long and fine thread-like leaves are arranged in upright arching clumps that give the impression of ocean waves when planted en masse, and from which emerge on slender stalks long, elegant and airy flower panicles with a scent reminiscent of cilantro. Foliage turns deep orange in autumn fading to copper through the winter. Slow to establish in cooler climates. Deeply-rooted, drought tolerant, and long-lived. Moderately self-sowing. Native to North American prairies.
3′ / tan / July-Aug. / Su
A taller cultivar selected for reliable flowering in Europe and early flowering in north America.
viridula – coming soon
Much the same way grasses dominate open sunny habitats, ferns dominate the shady woodland floor (along with species of carex). Here in Maine, one must simply take a walk in the woods to discover the possibilities in garden creating. For like grasses, ferns are much less developed in terms of breeding and selection, even though they are the oldest plants on earth. Both grasses and ferns radiate a simple structural beauty which we ask much less of than the average wildflower, whose ephemeral flowers are forced to perform perfectly and luxuriously through continuous breeding. Because the beauty of grasses and ferns is inherent in their long-lasting foliage and form, there is little we need to do to improve upon them. Here we offer a small selection of a few of the best found growing in Maine for creating a naturalistic garden.
DENNSTAEDTIA, Dennstaedtiaceae, hay-scented fern
2 / – / – / HSh-Sh
The perfect ground-covering fern for those looking to establish a very low-maintenance planting in shady medium-moist conditions. Hay-scented fern is colony-forming producing a sea of single, yellow-green, triangular, upright, lacy fronds whose repetition entrances the eye, and is accentuated by emerging trunks of trees. Smells of hay when crushed. Rich coppery-orange fall color. Strong-growing and most suitable for larger plantings. A local selection.
OSMUNDA, Osmundaceae, royal fern
3-6 / – / – / HSh-Sh
One of the most architecturally striking native ferns with bold divided foliage, an upright stature, and tassel-like spore clusters at the tips of the fronds that turn brown as they ripen. Prefers moist to wet soils and will tolerate full sun given consistent moisture. Beautiful autumn coloring. Clump-forming. A robust and long-lived perennial useful for less intensively maintained gardens. A local selection.
POLYSTICHUM, Dryopteradaceae, christmas fern
2 / – / – / HSh-Sh
An evergreen fern which forms medium-sized fountain-like clumps of dark green, large-toothed, lance-shaped, leathery leaves. Dry-medium moisture in well-drained soils. A local selection.
NATIVE FRUITING SHRUBS:
We chose to grow these two selections specifically because they are diverse in their attributes, above and beyond other fruiting shrubs. Not the least is the strength in which each will naturalize in the landscape, given a variety of soil types, without a lot of coddling.
ARONIA, Rosaceae, chokeberry
6-8 x 5-8 / white / April / Su-HSh
Aronia has been deemed one of the new superfruits. Its myriad health benefits and culinary uses have led to a surge in commercial orchard production, in which Galicjanka has been widely planted due to its uniform fruiting habit. In spring clusters of white flowers are followed by black blueberry-sized fruit which adorns this small rounded shrub come late July or early August. The berries are very ornamental, contrasting with the electric-red fall foliage come autumn, until birds have eaten every last one. Aronia is a very adaptable plant that grows in almost any soil type, sun, or half-shade, forming small colonies through suckering growth. Useful as a screen or as a larger structural element in bigger naturalistic plantings. It begins to bear at 3 years. Free of diseases and insects. Native to the eastern U.S.
SAMBUCUS, Adoxaceae, elderberry
6-12 x 6-12 / white / June / Su-HSh
A vigorous multi-stemmed shrub whose large purple buds unfurl to produce wide cymes of little fragrant white flowers, providing an early source of nectar for native pollinators, and when dried, a fragrant medicinal tea. The highly nutritious and medicinal, small purple-black fruit hang in large clusters come late summer, for use in jelly, syrup, pie or wine, or as a treat for birds. Wyldewood is a consistently high-yielding cultivar that is well-adapted to a wide range of soil conditions. Useful in large naturalistic plantings with decorative berries and attractive compound foliage. Low-maintenance and easy growth. Native to the eastern U.S.
NATIVE NUT TREES:
Nuts as a food source are beginning to garner more attention not only because they are nutritious (a big part of the Mediterranean Diet), but also because they provide these foods by means of a long-lived perennial plant. Perennials have many advantages over annuals, one of which is their life-span, yet equally important, they require far less inputs to produce food. They are the backbone, nuts in particular, to the future of sustainable agriculture. These two selections, being native and reliable producers, are our focus. Both have the capacity to naturalize without a lot of coddling. For more information visit the Neohybrid Hazel webpage at our website.
CORYLUS, Betulaceae, neohybrid hazelnut
x americana, cornuta, avellana
8-10 x 8-10 / yellow / April / Su-HSh
Growing hazelnuts has been a special focus of ours for several years, one which we are now feeling confident enough to share. These are interspecific hybrids, which are open-pollinated, and whose characters will vary from plant to plant. In our breeding effort we have focused on saving seed from the very best, most productive parents. Hazels are poised to be a leader in sustainable food production as the plants are very long-lived and whose nuts are more flexible in their use then soy. Rounded vigorous bushes have showy male flowers, a long cylindrical catkin inflorescence which blooms just as the bees are waking up, but are instead assisted by the wind. The female flowers are minute buds in which only the small ruby-red stigmas are apparent, each stigma representing a nut. The nutritious nuts which are said to be 10,000 times more desirable to wildlife than acorns, appear in insignificant quantities as early as 3 years, with heavy production peaking around years 8-10. As production begins to drop, or the bushes become too difficult to manage, one may choose to coppice the whole of the plant in order to reinvigorate the plants productive potential. Coppiced wood may be used as trellising, ramial chips, biochar, or simply wood chip mulch. Most plants will begin to bear again in 2 years time, and a very few may not make the cut. Hazels are very adaptable to a wide range of climatic conditions and a diversity of applications, such as PYO, formal and informal hedges, and wildlife plantings. Beautiful fall foliage for the back of a large naturalistic planting. For more information visit our Neohybrid Hazelnut webpage.
Aside from our own insights and observations into the appearance, growth and use of the many plants we grow, with much appreciation, we have largely depended on many written and online resources to help us bring these things to light, in ways we ourselves have been unable. Furthermore, we recommend you explore these resources for more in-depth information.
Lawrence Newcomb. 1977. Newcomb’s Wildflower Manual. Boston, New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Piet Oudolf, and Noel Kingsbury. 2013. Planting: A New Perspective. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
Piet Oudolf, and Noel Kingsbury. 2005. Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
Piet Oudolf, and Henk Gerritson. 2003. Planting the Natural Garden. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
Piet Oudolf, and Henk Gerritson. 2000. Dream Plants For the Natural Garden. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
Rick Darke. 2007. The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes. Portland, Oregon. Timber Press.
Internet. Missouri Botanical Plant Source. 2014. www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder.
Internet. Wikipedia. 2014. en.wikipedia.org.