by Mike Ecker, Director of Horticulture  |  fall plant sale long

Plant Sale & Garden Fair will soon be here and Arboretum staff are already prepping and planning for the sale happening May 17.  Each year we continue to update and improve our offerings and it always seems to end successfully… more, I suspect, from dedicated buyers and diversity offered than by any magic on our part.  And lots of diversity this year!  Too much to list them all in a blog, but a few highlights for which I have a special affinity:

First, evergreens – upright white fir, Abies concolor ’Pyramidalis’ high on my list with one in my landscape. How it has avoided becoming someone’s Christmas tree, I don’t know.  Blue, upright, tightly congested foliage and fast-growing. A real vertical accent that looks great by itself or with other conifers.  Other evergreens I’ve found a site for in my garden: Gold Spangle sawara false cypress, a bright yellow, broadly conical form acting as exclamation in the border and a visual screen for my three-season porch; Beanpole Anglo-Japanese yew performing just as the name describes – another vertical accent, only dark green.  Even though not evergreen, at this time I may as well mention hybrid Rhododendron periclymenoides x R. prinophyllumalso in my garden.  Pink flowers with intense fragrance of wild phlox that I can’t walk by without stopping to enjoy.

Another special plant offered this year never failing to wow those with a botanical affinity: dwarf European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus ’Columnaris Nana’ is a very compact, dense, slow-growing tree that works well aesculus flava5with conifers because of its conical shape.  Looks sheared without ever having been touched by pruners!

How about buckeyes?  red flowers Aesculus pavia, yellow flowers A. flava, greenish white flowers A. glabra Ohio buckeye (not the best ornamental tree, but hey, we’re Buckeyes!)

Lots of evergreens – bun-like dwarf mounds like Pine Glenn Norway spruce, Eagle Rock white spruce, Guldemond’s Dwarf eastern hemlock.  First two are miniature, hemlock is compact – 20 year-old plant only about 6′ tall and wide.  Again, no pruning! Have you ever admired the large Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus-draconis’, dragon’s-eye Japanese red pine, near Dawes Lake?  Now’s your chance to nab one at this sale and put a bright yellow pinus densiflora 'Oculus-draconis'2and green banded pine in your front yard.  Won’t the neighbors be jealous?

Or perhaps you’re attracted to maples – Japanese maples ‘Trompenburg’ with dark purple-red foliage all summer, ‘Ryusen’ one of few, true weeping maples, or hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium - name describes leaves resembling hornbeam Carpinus - great for stumping “plant know-it-alls” trying to guess what it is).  Sure doesn’t look like a maple at first glance.

A few flowering shrubs are a double blooming rhododendron ‘Autumn violet’; beach plum, Prunus maritima, which I’ve enjoyed covered in white flowers (the shrub not me), then the excellent tasting fruit in late summer; ‘Ruby Spice’ summersweet, a 6′ deciduous shrub with late, fragrant, butterfly attracting dark pink flower spikes.

And how could I leave out dogwoods?  Vigorous ‘Summer Fun’ kousa dogwood with white and green foliage in summer, pink and red in fall, or kousa ‘Wolf Eyes,’ a cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'2challenging plant to establish but well worth the effort.

Be sure to peruse the Plant Sale Inventory List & hope to see you at the Sale!  For more information click here.