Thursday, September 23, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 70: coral honeysuckle

 This is the plant I’ve putting in our potager on a trellis along the perimeter fence as part of my “wall of climbing pollinators.” I’m excited to see how this looks once I have the entire strip of trellises planted and the plants have matured to full blooming.

Coral honeysuckle is a native, unlike the Japanese honeysuckle that is not native and very invasive. We just had to remove a small stand of that from our Poplar Folly fence this year. The native coral honeysuckle is not invasive and in some zones keeps its leaves throughout the year. That would be a nice benefit for screening. 

More info from the NC State plant site:


Lonicera sempervirens, commonly called Trumpet Honeysuckle, is a vigorous twining vine that is primarily native to the southeastern U.S. but has naturalized in many other areas of the eastern U.S.

Trumpet Honeysuckle is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained, neutral to acidic soils in full sun. It will grow in some shade, but best flowering is in full sun and does best in humusy, organically rich soils with good drainage. This plant flowers in mid-spring, and is often non-fragrant. Flowers are always terminal and never axillary as in L. japonica. There is a significant variation in leaf shapes over the growing season. This is a twining vine that needs a support structure and is an excellent choice for a trellis, arbor, or fence. It can also be allowed to sprawl as a ground cover. The plant flowers on new growth, so pruning should be restricted until after flowering.

High nitrogen fertilizer will produce foliage at the expense of flowers. This plant is noninvasive, and it is excellent for natural, low-maintenance areas. This vine is evergreen in the warm winter climates of the deep South.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: There are no serious pest or disease problems, but powdery mildew and leaf spots may occur, particularly in hot and humid summer climates. Watch for aphids.

Fire Risk: This plant has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.  Plants with a low flammability rating should be chosen for areas closest to the house.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 69: hearts a bustin’

 I have a couple of these going into the bird haven space this week. A note - they are beloved by deer so be aware of that when planting. Since these will be inside our perimeter fencing and I’ve not seen deer jumping in since we added the boards with no-climb wire, I think they will be safe. 

More info from NCSU website:

Euonymus americanus 

 This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below

Strawberry Bush is a low maintenance deciduous suckering shrub native to the southeastern and southern states. Its common name derives from the showy warty capsules that split open to reveal red-orange seeds in the fall. Spring flowers are small and non-showy but fall leaf color is a showy red. It has a sprawling form when young but matures to a more upright growth pattern.

It is native to wooded slopes, moist woodland and creek or river areas, and is found in a variety of soil conditions ranging from sandy to clay. The typical range is from New York coast all the way south and across Texas and inland to the midwest from all those points.  

The shrub can be grown in a wide variety of soils, including clay, and tolerates both drought and wet soils to a degree. It tolerates being planted near black walnut trees. It frequently sustains damage from deer that eat the foliage and twigs. Fruits and seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Plant in a woodland naturalized area for best results.   

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 68: dwarf crested iris

 Yesterday I put extra plantings of white wood aster and wild ginger in the shade bed. These have previously been featured in my series, so I won’t add them in again today. I have a few more things to add to this shade bed this year and can’t wait to see the layers these new plants will create in this area.

Today when we get a break in the rain, I’ll be carting a nice grouping of dwarf crested iris down the hill to the bird haven bed. 

When I start thinking about a new garden space I usually do some kind of sketch like this to get a visual of what I’m trying to do.

I sometimes deviate from the original sketch, but it’s always a useful endeavor to think about what I envision eventually being in the space.

More on dwarf crested iris, from NCSU’s plant site:

Iris cristata 

Previously known as:

  • Evansia cristata
  • Iris glumacea
  • Iris odorata
Phonetic Spelling
EYE-riss kris-TAY-tah
 This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below

Dwarf Crested Iris is a native species of Iris that grows in North Carolina. It reaches only 4-9 inches tall and spreads to form a groundcover in its native peaty woodland habitat. It offers an early perennial spring bloom in partly shady areas and grows well in rock gardens and woodland sites.  Following the blooms, the foliage is useful as a ground cover in the woodland shade.

This plant grows best in partial sun to partial shade, preferring rich, well-drained soil. A too rich soil will encourage foliage growth and no blooms. It can tolerate full sun but needs more moisture. Use this plant for a ground cover in partly shady areas of rock gardens, woodland sites or in a perennial border.  It is resistant to damage by deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Slugs and snails.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 66 and 67: two varieties of sweet coneflower

I fell in love with these two varieties of sweet coneflower a local nursery had this fall and I had the perfect place to put them - on either side of the azure blue sage I put in last fall.

The first, Henry Eilers sweet coneflower:

‘Henry Eilers’ sweet coneflower

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'

rud-BEK-ee-ah sub-toe-men-TOE-sahAudio

The unique, finely quilled, 2-inch-wide flowers are what make 'Henry Eilers' stand out from the rest of the coneflowers. The petals sit separate from one another, forming a brilliant, golden yellow starburst around a dark brownish purple cone. The blooms grow on strong, upright, 4- to 5-foot-tall stems in late summer, and are produced in such abundance that you can cut some for bouquets and you'll never even notice they are missing from the garden. The stems are covered with a soft, hairy down, while the leaves have a pleasing vanilla-and-anise scent.

The second one is Little Henry:

Golden yellow quilled ray petals surround deep brown-eyed cones. The unique flowers of Little Henry Sweet Coneflower are produced on many branched sturdy stems beginning in mid to late summer with the show lasting often into fall on well established plants. A compact form of Henry Eilers with sturdier flower stems and an earlier flowering time, Little Henry's poise and uniqueness lend it to use in smaller spaces but it is sure to make a big statement in nearly any garden or landscape. A clump forming, native perennial whose flowers attract a variety of garden beneficials.
Little Henry Sweet Coneflower is more compact than Henry Eilers topping out at about 3-4' high and begins flowering about 2 weeks earlier than its parent. The unique flowers make long lasting cut flowers.
Sweet Coneflower is a vigorous clump forming perennial common to stream banks and moist areas but will do fine in average garden soils. The sweetly scented foliage gives it its common name. Along with 'Herbstonne', the Sweet Coneflower is one of the latest to flower. This perennial Rudbeckia is unusual in that it will grow and flower quite well even under deciduous shade.

The regular ones, as described by the Missouri Botanical Garden:

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: sweet coneflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and brownish purple center disks
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil


Best grown in medium moisture soils that are well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates hot and humid summers and some drought. Appreciates good air circulation. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rudbeckia subtomentosa, commonly called sweet coneflower, is a Missouri native, nonrhizomatous perennial which occurs on moist prairies, along streambanks and in low areas throughout the state. Typically grows 3-5' tall and features daisy-like flowers (to 3" across) with yellow rays and dark brownish-purple center disks on branched stems. Flowers have a mild aroma of anise, hence the common name. Toothed, gray-green leaves (lower leaves are 3-lobed) are downy below. Long summer-to-early-fall bloom period.

Genus name honors Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702) Swedish botanist and founder of the Uppsala Botanic Garden in Sweden where Carl Linnaeus was professor of botany.

Specific epithet means downy below for the hairs on the underside of leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Powdery mildew may appear. Taller plants may need some support, particularly if grown in part shade.


Borders, cottage gardens, prairies, meadows, native plant gardens or naturalized areas. Good cut flower.



What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 65: Night Sky pitcher plant


The pitcher plants finally have a new home! The yellow pitcher plants and the scarlet belles have given it their best shot where I first put them, and I suppose given that they haven’t died and have bloomed each spring, I can consider my planting them a modest success. 

However, they really need a different kind of environment to truly thrive, and they needed more sun than they get once the sweet gum tree leafs out.

It has taken me months to find this container. I wanted a very specific color and shape and when I finally found it online and ordered it, it immediately went on back order. They asked if I would wait until October, and I said yes, but if it couldn’t ship and arrive by mid-month I would cancel the order. Behold, it came very quickly after that and was delivered on a pallet in the back of a huge 18-wheeler that came boldly down our gravel lane. My husband took our truck out and moved it from the back of the big truck into our truck bed. Now we have a new pallet to replace a broken one in the hay stall and the pitcher plants have this new home.

I followed different guidelines from below, mixing 1/2 peat and 1/2 perlite and soaking it down, which took forever. Nor will I be watering with distilled or reverse osmosis water. Now their soil is nicely boggy and all three varieties of pitcher plant are happily moved in. The new ones, Night Sky, are the very large ones you can see in this photo. The other two are small and on the other side. I have room to add a few more in this fall and I may also add something else for added visual interest. 

Here’s more info (also from Growing Wild Nursery) about the Night Sky hybrid:

Sarracenia 'Night Sky' is a stunningly beautiful North American pitcher plant that has gained in popularity after it was featured in Nick Romanowski's excellent book, Gardening with Carnivores.

  • Vibrant colored leaves  
  • Produces lots of pitchers, especially in the fall


  • 24 to 30 in. tall
  • Grows to 12 in. wide over 3 to 5 years 
  • Clump-forming habit 
  • Hardy in USDA hardiness zones 7, 8, and 9

Flowering period

In central North Carolina, flowers open in late April before the new pitchers emerge.

How to grow

  • Full sun
  • Plant in a peat-based growing medium (75% Canadian peat moss to 25% perlite)
  • Keep wet by growing plants with their containers sitting in a tray of water
  • Don't fertilize, they catch their own
  • Only water with rain, distilled, or reverse osmosis water

Care and maintenance

After a hard frost, the tips of the pitchers may turn brown. Trim off the dead parts of the leaf to keep plants looking attractive.

Where to plant

Large tubs and bogs.

When to plant

Scarlet Belle can be planted any time throughout the growing season.

When will my plant flower?

Plants are flowering size and will bloom their first year if purchased before April.

Native habitat and range

The parents of this hybrid grow in bogs and savannas in the southeastern United States.

Source and origin

A hybrid between Sarracenia rubra subspecies gulfensis and Sarracenia leucophylla

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 64: summer sunshine coreopsis

 I put several of these in the lighter shade area of my driveway shade garden this fall, and several more in the much sunnier bluebird box bed, which is on a slight slope that gets a lot of water when it rains.

This gives you an idea of the versatility of this native plant. It will also add some yellow to these predominantly blue/purple beds and also late-blooming forage for pollinators.

Here’s more info on this very cheerful plant, straight from my source, Growing Wild Nursery. :)

  • Summer Sunshine Coreopsis flowering in September
  • Summer Sunshine Coreopsis showing its attractive and sturdy habit
  • Summer Sunshine Coreopsis in a 4 x 5 in. (32 fl. oz.) nursery container in mid-May
  • Summer Sunshine Coreopsis in a 4 x 5 in. (32 fl. oz.) nursery container during the month of September
  • Summer Sunshine Coreopsis in a 4 x 5 in. (32 fl. oz.) nursery container from October through April

Summer Sunshine Coreopsis

Coreopsis palustris 'Summer Sunshine'

Regular price$12

Container size:
4.5 in. wide x 5 in. deep / 32 fl. oz.

Summer Sunshine Coreopsis was the top performer in the Mt. Cuba Center Coreopsis trial. With its disease-resistant foliage and show-stopping floral display, it’s the perfect plant to brighten up the fall garden.

  • Tough and long-lived perennial
  • Compact habit
  • Late-season flowers feed bees and butterflies


  • 30 inches tall and 36 to 48 inches wide
  • Spreads slowly to cover ground and suppress weeds
  • Hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6, 7, 8, and 9

Flowering period

In central North Carolina, flowering starts in mid-September and continues for about six weeks.

How to grow

Sun to partial shade. Very adaptable, preferring moist soil, though will tolerate all but the driest of soil.

Care and maintenance

Easy to look after and care for. Keep watered while it gets established and cut back old flowering stems in late winter.

Where to plant

Flower beds, rain gardens, pond edges, or any site where flooding can occur.

When to plant

Spring through early summer is the best time for northern gardens, while it can be planted in the South anytime the ground is not frozen.


Two to three feet apart when planting in a group.

When will my plant flower?

Plants purchased in spring and summer will flower in the fall.

Native habitat and range

Edges of swamp forests where they can be flooded for extended periods. Coreopsis palustris is native from southeast North Carolina to northeast Florida and is considered rare throughout its range.

Source and origin

Plants are grown from cuttings here at the nursery. The original plant was grown by the late North Carolina Botanical Garden curator Rob Gardner from seed collected in southeastern NC.

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 63: winterberry holly

 It’s fall and I’m putting in new species this year, as well as filling in some existing plant species to add more of a stand of a few things.

I never updated when we put in the winterberry hollies in the newish bird haven garden area, which was created when we fenced in the furthest front corner of the front pasture. The winterberry hollies are now a year old in their new space. 

The horses would often gather in that corner, hanging their heads over the fence, and because of the way the foliage grows there, I couldn’t see them from the porch and would stress that they may have gotten out. So by fencing the corner, we moved them back from that area and gained a new space where we could not only add native plantings, but put in landscaping rock to slow the stormwater stream that can get quite intense when we have a lot of rain. It’s been a space that is mostly barren of anything but the large deciduous trees there, and since it’s shady and also a periodic wet area, it gives me the chance to experiment with a shady site rain garden pollinator and wildlife friendly habitat.

The first thing we put in were the interior to the perimeter fence southern bayberries, in hopes that they will grow tall and offer some screening around that front corner. They’ll also offer food for birds and other wildlife and pollinator forage.

The second thing we put in were the winterberry hollies. These are also very good for pollinators and wildlife, and they offer the added benefit of bright red berries that persist in the middle of winter after the holly has lost its leaves. Who could resist having some built-in holiday decor in the front corner? 

We have red berries forming already this fall, which means we have both male and female plants and hopefully as they mature we’ll get a lot of color and food for the birds.

More about the winterberry holly from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website:

Common Name: winterberry  
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, acidic, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils, but prefers moist, acidic, organic loams. Good tolerance for poorly drained soils including wet boggy or swampy conditions (this species is native to swampy areas of Eastern North America). Winterberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Only fertilized female flowers will produce the attractive red berries that are the signature of the species. Generally one male winterberry will be sufficient for pollinating 6-10 female plants. Flowers appear on new growth. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth appears.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ilex verticillata, commonly called winterberry, is a deciduous holly that is native to eastern North America where it typically occurs in swamps, damp thickets, low woods and along ponds and streams. The form of this plant found in Missouri is Ilex verticillatavar. padifolia, which occurs in “shut-ins”, granite rocky stream beds and sandstone bluffs in only 4 counties in the southeastern part of the state (Steyermark). This is a slow-growing, deciduous shrub with an upright-rounded habit that typically grows 3-12’ tall. In the wild, it often suckers to form large thickets or colonies. Elliptic to obovate, toothed, dark green leaves (2-3” long). Fall color is usually negligible, but in some years leaves may turn attractive shades of maroon. Relatively inconspicuous greenish-white flowers appear in the leaf axils in late spring. Flowers, if properly pollinated, give way to a crop of bright red berries (1/4” diameter) in late summer to fall. Berries are quite showy and will persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) and often into early spring. Berries provide considerable impact and interest to the winter landscape.

Genus name comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities (holm oak and many of the shrubs in the genus Ilex have evergreen leaves).

Specific epithet from Latin means whorled in reference to the arrangement of sessile fruits in pseudo-whorls around the stems.

Common name comes form the quite showy berries that will persist throughout the winter and often into early spring.


No serious insect or disease problems. Occasional disease problems include leaf spots and powdery mildew. Plants do poorly in neutral to alkaline soils where they are susceptible to chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) and often die.


Year round interest, highlighted by the showy display of red berries in winter. Mass or group in shrub borders, foundations, native plant areas or bird gardens. Hedge. Excellent shrub for moist soils in low spots or along streams and ponds. Although an attractive shrub, the species is infrequently sold in commerce because of the many excellent cultivars which generally produce showier flowers and larger, more abundant fruit.