Actaea

Black Snakeroot

A botanical "Renaissance Man", Actaea is at home in an informal garden, a refined border or in an arrangement for opening night at the Met. Their ambrosial perfume floats through the air as they brighten their surroundings. Actaea is happiest in moist, humus-enriched soil and bright shade; otherwise it´s carefree and low maintenance.

An 1805 discovery by German-born Frederick Pursh in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, this superb hard-to-find American native sprouts broad ample-sized foliage, distinctive for its handsome Maple-like appearance. Straight emerald-hued steadfast stems, bearing fragrant creamy white floral candles, tower above a leafy verdant clump. Appalachian Bugbane can be ensconced near Athyrium 'Ghost', where it vows luminous late season accents, deer resistance and easy care.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 4' 0" – 4-1/2' high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

A superior South Korean selection recently introduced by Darrell Probst, this compact courtly Actaea furnishes lush verdant layers of jagged-edged, shiny green leaves, clasping blackish purple stalks. The dark pearl-shaped buds plus tiny snow white blossoms embellish tall close-set glittering candles that gracefully herald the season’s end.

Blooms August–September

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Promising three season appeal for the woodland garden, this marvelous soft-looking East coast native is a Dr. Richard Lighty selection from Delaware’s esteemed Mt. Cuba Center. Its handsome glaucous clump of finely cut silvery blue-green foliage hosts small starburst-like creamy white blooms on short stalks in spring and several months later, wondrous round white berries, each tattooed with a distinctive black spot at the tip and poised upon a striking bright red pedicel. Long-lived White Baneberry crafts an exceptional multistemmed ground cover that favors moist well-drained soil.

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Actaea racemosa</i> <i>Actaea racemosa</i>

Long wandlike, creamy white flower racemes seem to dangle and dance on invisible stems above clumps of Astilbe-like foliage. Try this Actaea (Cimicifuga) in a naturalized setting, under a tall canopy at the back of the border, next to leafy Ligularia.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 5' 0" – 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

<i>Actaea simplex</i> ‘Atropurpurea’

Grown from seedlings carefully selected for dark, coppery purple foliage, the regal profile of ‘Atropurpurea’ shows its good breeding. A garden dweller with a staid bearing, its stately reddish purple stems soar above your head, displaying dense spires covered with round mahogany-hued buds and sweet pouffes of white.

Echo this Actaea’s somber tones by bringing it together with Angelica gigas, and let the lime green foliage of Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’ brighten the mood.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Noted around town for her purple-black leaves and stems, this ‘Brunette’ is sure to turn some heads with the gentle way of her graceful, ferny foliage. At the back of the border, amidst the chaos of more summery greens, this dark lady’s shadow lingers long before offering up arching racemes of fragrant, slightly blushed white flowers. One of the most sought-after cultivars, ‘Brunette’ is another incredibly lovely dark foliage selection of Actaea (Cimicifuga) simplex seedlings.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 5' 0" – 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Midnight dark, lean lofty stems culminate in honey-scented, long pale pink spires stretching skyward above a refined, Ariel-like mass of sumptuous, chocolatey purple serrated foliage. This splendid garden aristocrat casts a decidedly feminine aspect on Geranium m. ‘Espresso’s coffee-colored leaves.

Blooms August – October.

Size: 5' 0" high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Zone 3/4.

Surprisingly underused, ‘White Pearl’s bright white, bottlebrushlike blossoms and large pearly buds will light up a somber setting just like the animated glow of a 4th of July sparkler. The good-sized ambrosial flowers unfurl later than most other Actaeas, while their densely set stalks are more arching than racemosa’s.

Tolerating drier, less rich soils, deceptively tough wiry stems and finely cut, toothed foliage compose the medium green nimble-looking stand which slowly spreads.

Blooms September–October.

Size: 4' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

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Saturday Strolls & Plant Chats 2018!


Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Our featured plant: Achillea 'Hella Glashoff'

Amazing Achilleas, Invigorate your summer plantings!

Amazing Achilleas…. These sturdy, dependable perennials produce small indivdual blooms that populate broad, flat flower heads, lending welcome horizontal elements to any garden bed. Ideal for bouquets, fresh or dried, the long-lasting blossoms range in color from alabaster to soft yellow and gold, as well as terracotta, pink and sassy red. Cut back their flowers in midsummer and enjoy a fall encore! Spicy scented, attractive fern-like green or gray-tinged foliage cloaks their strong straight stems. Slowly spreading and somewhat drought tolerant, Yarrow seem to thrive on neglect. They can handle low soil fertility plus coastal wind and salt spray. Be sure to check out our diverse on-line Achillea selections!

Invigorate your summer plantings.… A few simple maintenance techniques will help plants appear fresh throughout the upcoming dog days of summer. The addition of a chipped bark mulch or well-rotted compost, applied as a top-dressing, not only reduces water requirements, but generally makes it easier for plants to maintain perky looking leaves and vigorous habits. A July or early August trimming of long-blooming perennials, such as Nepetas and most Geraniums ensures myriad flowers that will keep on coming ‘til the first frost. Featured in this newsletter, you’ll find the fabulous plants that caught my eye as Boobah and I took our morning walk through the nursery and adjacent display borders this past week. Hopefully, you’ll have room to ensconce several of them in a well-traveled spot. Happy Digging!

Digging Dog's August 2018 Newsletter Link

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