Spring is here! After a long winter, it’s finally time to garden. As usual, the Morris Arboretum Plant Sale will have a fabulous selection to satisfy all your planting needs. Unusual annuals, new perennial cultivars, fabulous woody plants and heirloom roses will make this Plant Sale one you won’t want to miss!
Pantone Color Institute’s 2018 color of the year is Ultraviolet, and in celebration, purple flowered annuals will abound. From cool growing osteospermums to petunias, vanilla-scented Heliotropium “Scentropia”, and evening-fragrant Nicotiana “Deep Purple”, create a purple wave in your garden. See how versatile these selections are to add vibrancy to mixed containers and borders.
Petunia “Night Sky” is heaven on earth, a breeding breakthrough with deep purple flowers speckled white. Every flower is unique, and the speckling varies with changes in temperature. Its mounded, trailing habit makes it ideal for spilling from hanging containers to carpeting garden beds.
Calling all tomato lovers- featured this year is a limited selection of organic heirloom tomatoes locally grown by Peace Tree Farms. Come early for the best selection of eight great varieties such as ‘Great White’ to ‘Black Krim’. You’ll want to add several to your garden, from the more than twenty tomato varieties on offer. Most varieties will be indeterminate, meaning you will harvest fresh from the garden fruits until frost.
Join the air plant craze! Easy care tillandsias, or air plants, will be offered as individuals and as wearable art. No soil is needed, so these quirky, petite plants are quite adaptable; they’ll enjoy summer outside, and will happily join you indoors over the winter.
Funnel-shaped pineapple relatives, the bromeliads, return this year to add a tropical touch to your seasonal plantings. Sporting splotches, stripes, and hot colors, they will accent your outdoor spaces. Kept in their pots, bromeliads make tough, easy care houseplants once the cooler days of autumn approach.
If you are looking for plants that thrive in shade with minimal maintenance once they are established, and that won’t be devoured by the deer or bunnies as soon as they appear in the spring, check out some of the featured offerings at the perennials booth this year.
A Mt. Cuba Center Plant Introduction. Misty Blue white baneberry provides a long season of interest with its white bottlebrush-shaped flowers, deeply cut compound leaves, and its clusters of white berries with brightly colored magenta pedicels in summer. This cultivar has the added benefit of bluish foliage that holds it color all season long. Misty Blue thrives in slightly acidic, moist, highly organic soil in filtered to part shade but it will tolerate drier soils. Throughout the summer, this unusual native woodland plant adds interesting texture and character to the garden, particularly in shady spots.
Imagine delicate wands of small white flowers floating in the late spring breeze and you can understand the informal, ethereal quality that Bowman’s root brings to the garden. This herbaceous perennial grows 2-3’ tall with an upright spreading habit. Green foliage and stems accentuate the panicles of 1” wide, lacy blooms. This Pennsylvania native is typically found at the edge of the woods where it tolerates part shade and competition from tree roots with the help of a layer of organic mulch. Leaves also get a nice bronze-red fall color.
One of the most wonderful species of spring ephemerals are Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Bluebells enjoy rich, well-drained soils where they can form large colonies over time. Growing fast, the flower shoots quickly give way to some of the most beautiful flowers east of the Mississippi. The flowers start off pink and gradually turn over to their famous shade of light blue as they mature. Bees, especially female bumblebees that fly in early spring, will often be seen visiting the flowers. Only the largest bees have the ability to push their way up the tube. The real champions of bluebell pollination are butterflies and moths. The blooms will last for many weeks in early spring (April and May) and will go dormant by mid-summer. Virginia bluebells prefer typical woodland soils and do best with ample moisture.
A member of the Lily family, bellwort is an excellent early-blooming native shade plant for the woodland garden, shaded border front, wildflower garden or naturalized area. It spreads by rhizomes so you can achieve a mass planting look under shade trees or along wood margins in a relatively short amount of time. The bellwort flowers and leaves have a pendulous appearance when in bloom. However, after seeds are set, the leaves of Uvularia take on a different look, somewhat like a needle threading the stem through the leaves.
Bumblebees, Mason bees, Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees feed from the nectar and collect pollen from the flowers which bloom April to May. Bellwort is easily grown in average, well-drained soil in partial to full shade.
Asian saber fern has thick, glossy green fronds which are held upright to form a distinctive vase shaped specimen. Growing between 18” and 24” tall, it is reliably deer resistant and tolerant of deep shade. This beautiful fern is hardy to zone 5, is very easy to grow, and is evergreen through most winters.
At this year’s sale we will have trees and shrubs to fit any gardener’s taste. Whether you have sun or shade, or dry or moist soils, there will surely be something to suit your needs. Among our selections are these staff picks, recommended by several of our gardens for their usefulness in our local area:
We’ll be offering two species of Aesculus this year - red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora). Every year the bottlebrush buckeye in the Oak Allée amazes us with its profusion of white flower spires resembling bottlebrushes in June or July. This is a great summer-flowering shrub for shade, and for preventing erosion as it colonizes with a suckering habit. Red buckeye, on the other hand, has the habit of a large shrub or small tree. It blooms in April or May with panicles of red flowers that are 4-10” long and born upright. These striking flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds.
There are so many new cultivars of redbud on the market now, and we’ll be offering almost 10 different types of them. Redbuds bloom in April and May in a range of colors, from white to all shades of lavender and pink. It’s a delight to see the flower clusters blooming profusely on bare branches in spring before the leaves emerge. Foliage on these cultivars varies from green to chartreuse, apricot, and purple.
This selection of sweetshrub has the deepest purple foliage you can get. Last year we offered other cultivars of sweetshrub, but this year we’re featuring one selected by our friends at Pleasant Run Nursery. It blooms in May and June with unique maroon flowers with a fruity fragrance. Better yet, this burgundy foliage turns yellow and orange in the fall and is deer resistant.
Bring wildlife to your garden with this native spicebush, which attracts the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. Female butterflies rely on spicebush to lay their eggs, and the leaves are the primary food for the larvae (caterpillars). In April, the flowers emerge and are greenish-yellow and aromatic. Come fall, the foliage takes on a beautiful yellow color. This shrub will thrive in full sun and part-shade, but also tolerates heavy shade, clay soil, and deer.
We’ll offer several cultivars of Viburnum, including native and hybrids. Foliage and flowers vary among the group. Some have semi-evergreen dark green leaves, while others drop their leaves yet boast a beautiful fall display of reddish maroon colors. While all the cultivars have white flowers, their fruit set varies. Some have bright red fruit, while others have pink, blue, and purple fruit. Viburnums offer multi-season interest for the sun or shade garden.
Honoring the legendary chef, this rose produces clusters of golden yellow, fully double, 3-inch blooms. Completely covered in blooms all summer, it makes a beautiful and fragrant cut flower. A compact shrub reaching the height of 3 feet, this rose is versatile enough for any garden. It is especially suited to warmer climates because of its heat tolerance and is an disease-resistant, vigorous rose.
This rose displays light yellow, fully double flowers that offer a delicious fragrance. It blooms continually throughout the summer, providing a constant supply of blooms for the garden. It also makes a superb cut flower. With disease resistant foliage, it is sure to be a beautiful addition to any garden.
This pink rose was discovered simultaneously at the Morris Arboretum and at the Conard-Pyle nursery, leading to its co-introduction. THE PINK KNOCK OUT is a sport, a naturally occurring mutation, of the original Knock Out rose. This rose is covered in blooms throughout the summer and its foliage is disease-resistant. A staggering 90 million plants in the Knock Out family were sold by 2015.
This rose's ideal qualities caused the introduction of a whole new class of roses. With pure pink, fully double flowers and perfect form, it is a truly regal rose. To add to its desired qualities, the disease resistant foliage and long life make this the ultimate classic rose.
Offered as a gift to Sir Paul by his record company, this rose's performance lives up to its namesake. Its blossoms are sure to catch your attention with their spicy fragrance. The combination of bright pink flowers and darker reverse with the disease resistant, semi-matte green foliage make it a spectacular plant as it blooms in flushes all summer long.
Clematis are wonderful vines perfect for growing in containers, through trees, on a rose, or up a trellis. This year we will have the ever-popular assorted varieties of clematis 3.5-inch pots that are easy to carry, so you’ll want to stock up on a few! The colors range from white to various shades of purple to deep burgundy. There is something for everyone and our selections will add interest to any and all gardens.
This year we are offering a great plant for your garden, plus many surprises from our surplus of native and exotic plants from wild-collected seed. Our featured dividend plant this year is:
We’re really excited to have our members try this lovely hellebore. Large 3.5” single flowers on 15” stalks begin blooming in late winter. Starting off cream they mature first to a shell pink, then gather hints of green and finally end up a dusty chocolate. The foliage is leathery, evergreen dark blue-green with red veins eventually making a 20” wide clump. Perfect for dry shade and deer-resistant!
We can’t help ourselves! Once again we have an amazing array of surprise dividends. These plants are surplus from seed collection trips and research trials and saved for our members. To avoid disappointment, there are not enough of each type to list, just enough to make it worthwhile to get here sooner than later. When they’re gone, they’re gone!
Collectors Circle Members – Receive 3 dividend plants
Holly, Oak, Laurel Members – Receive 2 dividend plants
All other members – Receive 1 dividend plant
The Delaware Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society will offer a wide range of rock garden plants. Rock garden plants provide a lot of bloom on a small plant. In addition, many of them have distinctive foliage that is ornamental for the full gardening season. Rock garden plants evoke the beauty of high mountain places, yet they can be quite practical for growing in small spaces or difficult areas.
We will be selling some particularly good varieties of some easy-to-grow plants, such as hen-and-chicks (Sempervivum), small sedums, and moss phlox (Phlox subulata). We will also offer some unusual plants: uncommon alpine plants, hard-to-find woodland plants, and a few pitcher plants and other bog plants. For a list, visit The Rock Garden Society site.
In addition to plants, we will be selling hypertufa troughs, which are durable, completely weatherproof containers suitable for displaying rock garden plants or other small plants. We will offer empty troughs as well as pre-planted troughs, which make a great gift.
The Rock Garden Society is open to anyone interested in rock gardening—or just in learning about a wider range of garden plants and techniques. The Delaware Valley Chapter meets monthly in Plymouth Meeting. We also hold garden tours, workshops, and members-only plant sales. For more information or to join, visit the chapter web site.
The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will again hold its annual Plant Sale at the Morris Arboretum this year. Outstanding varieties of large-leaf (elepidotes) and small-leaf (lepidotes) rhododendrons will be offered, as will azaleas, both evergreen and deciduous, and Kalmia (mountain laurels). The plants were selected for their colorful floral display and interesting plant forms and foliage. Native rhododendrons will be available for sale. All are hardy in the Delaware Valley.
Join the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society during the Plant Sale and you will receive a choice rhododendron. Membership in the society features an outstanding quarterly journal, access to annual and regional conferences, and an exciting seed exchange.
The chapter meets at Morris Arboretum with informative speakers, exhibits plants in formal displays at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and maintains a Plants for Members program to make rarely offered rhododendrons available to members. Visit the chapter’s website at gpchapterars.org.
Featured this year is the evergreen azalea ‘Betty Layman,’ with large salmon flowers in late May-early June. One of the Robin Hill Azaleas developed in northern New Jersey, it was named by hybridizer Robert Gartrell for a cherished member of our rhododendron chapter. ‘Betty Layman’ is a recommended “good-doer” for your garden.