Cynthia Druckenbrod. , the Director of Horticulture at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, presented an informative and thorough lecture about perennials, shrubs, trees, and annuals that are natives to our region. They are not only hardy, they are colorful and each adds positive assets to the landscape. Her accompanying pictures showed the following plants growing at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and at her home. The following is a summary of her presentation.
1. `Colchicum autumnale, or autumn crocus, is very hardy and has flowers that are larger than spring crocus. They are a source of colchicine, a medicinal compound used to treat gout.
2. Lycoris radiata is the bright red spider lily that is generally grown in Zone 7. However, it does exist in the Cleveland Gardens because of the proximity of Lake Erie and its moderating effects. Lycoris squamigera is lighter pink and more likely to survive in our area.
3. Tricyrtis formosana “Dark Beauty”, or toad lily is a complex plant and the latest blooming perennial. Tricytris hirta “Lightening Strike” has blooms along every node and are quite lovely. They like partial shade.
2. Persicaria virginiana “Painters Palette”, or knotweed, is an heirloom plant that have large panicles of fuchsia blooms that seed freely.
3. Chrysanthemum Rumba, or hardy mums, usually bloom in October and like partial shade. They are different from most of the mums sold at greenhouses because they are not as compact. Their height can be controlled by pinching back the buds in early summer. This should be done before mid July.
4. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae “Vibrant Dome”, or New England aster, also need to be pinched back for control and likes full sun. Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, or calico aster, likes full shade and blooms in late summer.
5. Dendranthema zawadskii “Clara Curtis” is another hardy mum with striking blooms.
6. Actaea racemosa “Hillside Black Beauty”, or bugbane, do well in full to partial shade. They are native cimifuga and do best if ignored. They have long racemes that bloom in Sept.-Oct. and are 5-6 feet tall.
7. Sedum “Autumn Joy” and Sedum “Neon” both like full sun. “Autumn Joy” is tall but falls over because it is top heavy. Staking this plant helps. “Neon” has been developed to be more compact and upright. Pinching back also helps.
8. Chelone lyonii “Hot Lips” is commonly called turtlehead because of the shape of the flowers. It prefers partial shade and gets to be about three feet tall.
9. Rudbeckia can be a “garden bully”. It spreads rapidly and provides interest in the winter because of the prominent seed heads that attract birds.
Shrubs and Trees
1. Ilex verticillata “Winter Red”, the winterberry holly, is a shrub with bright red berries. Although it does well in partial shade, it produces more berries in full sun. Both male and female plants are needed for berries. Cut branches last 1-1/2 to 2 weeks if brought inside.
2. Viburnum dentatum or arrowwood viburnum has blue berries and colorful leaves. They have been hindered by a European leaf beetle which attacks the plant as a larvae at the beginning of the season and as an adult at the end. This eventually kills the bush and the only treatment which has had some effect is to apply imidacloprid, an insecticide which is poisonous for birds so it is not widely used.
3. Vaccinium corymbosum “Blue Crop”, or highbush blueberry likes full sun. Many cultivars give good berry sets but the highbush is usually the most productive.
4. Rose virginiana is a shrub which produces lots of rose hips, a source of Vitamin C.
5. Calicarpa dichotoma “Issai”, the Japanese beautyberry, has bright green leaves and purple berries. Callicarpa dichotoma “Early amethyst”, the early American beautyberry, is darker green and has blue berries. Both perform well in full sun to partial shade.
6. Helianthus salisifolius “Low Down”, the willow leaf sunflower,has large, daisy-like flowers in the fall.
7. Caryopteris x clandonesis “Sunshine Blue” is also known as blue beard or blue mist shrubs. They have blue blooms in September, prefer full sun, and are good for pollinating insects. However, they often have short lives.
8. Amsonia hubrichtii, the Arkansas blue star, like partial shade. The blue flowers are very tiny but the foliage is stunning. In the autumn, it turns light chartreuse and has a soft, inviting texture.
9. Hamamelis intermedia “Arnold’s Promise” is also known as witchhazel. It has great fall color and is much more striking than a Euonymous alatus “Burning Bush” (an over-used, invasive plant). The witchhazel also blooms in the winter with yellow flowers and has a pleasant scent when brought indoors.
10. Heptacodium miconioides, the seven sons tree, is from Asia and does best in partial shade. It is about 12 feet tall and blooms in the fall. The tree has a striking mottled bark.
11. Rhus typhina, the staghorn sumac, and Rhus chinensis “September Beauty”, the Chinese sumac, are both attractive trees with striking fall color. They grow best in full sun.
12. Lindera angustifolia, the Oriental spice bush, is actually a native plant. It is also a good substitute for Euonymous alatus “Burning Bush”.
Grasses and Annuals
1. Miscanthus sinensis “adagio” performs best in full sun. It develops large, attractive seedheads and good fall color.
2. Muhlenbergia capillaris, also known as Pink Mulhy Grass, is a slow grower, even in full sun. It thrives in the south.
3. Imperata cylindrical, the Japanese blood grass, prefers full sun. It turns to deep red colors in the late fall.
4. Calamagrostis x acutifolia “Karl Foerster”, the feather reed grass, prefers full sun. It grows to about four feet tall and is a very popular ornamental grass.
5. Pennisteum alpecuroides “Rubrum” is known as purple fountain grass. It is a tender perennial and is very soft to the touch. Pennisteum glaucum “Jade Princess” is the millet plant whose seeds are used in bird seed mixes. These are annual grasses.
6. Amaranthus cruentus, the copperhead amaranthus, is six feet tall and showy in a cutting garden in full sun. It is an annual that produces a grain that is similar to quinoa and also a good source of protein.
7. Amanthus caudatus is the heirloom annual, love lies bleeding.
8. Other annuals which provide interesting color in the fall garden are Dahlia “Knockout”, Ipomea “Refried Beans” (Sweet potato vine), Brassica oleracea “Redbor F1” (Kale-3 seasons of interest), Lablab purpureus (Hyacinth bean-stringy beans but edible flowers) and Perilla frutescens (Shiso-used to make red dye and is the color found in pickled ginger which is served with sushi).