Asarum canadense

2021 – Wild Ginger

Wild ginger is a low-growing and vigorous plant that grows in rich woodlands from Louisiana to Canada. In dense shade, its heart-shaped leaves will appear a velvety, dark green. In the spring, small, dark purple flowers emerge on the underside of its leaves. This is a prolific, deciduous plant that spreads through underground rhizomes to create a lush groundcover. Wild ginger can be incorporated into any shade-loving garden bed.

This herbaceous perennial plant benefits native wildlife in various ways; since it is among the first wildflowers to bloom, its flowers provide nectar and shelter for early pollinators. Additionally, its seeds contain a fatty appendage, known as an elaiosome, that is eaten by ants. By taking the seeds back to their underground homes to eat, ants subsequently disperse and plant them. Wild ginger is also said to be an alternate host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.

Rhododendron atlanticum

2021 – Coastal azalea

The coastal azalea is a deciduous shrub that grows in moist, acidic, sandy soils from Pennsylvania to Georgia. At maturity, it is typically 2-3 feet tall, but can reach up to 6 feet in the right conditions. In the spring, this azalea is adorned with white flowers that are blushed with light pink. These tubular flowers are fragrant and attractive to butterflies and bees.

As its name implies, it is native to coastal regions. However, the coastal azalea can also be a beautiful addition to home gardens with moist, well drained soils. Mulching around the roots can help the soil retain moisture and provide a conducive growing environment. Its spring blooms make a great addition to a partly shaded entrance or border garden.

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium

2021 – Aromatic aster


Aromatic aster is an herbaceous perennial that is found growing on limestone glades, prairies, and open woodlands. It is a small, bushy plant that grows up to 3 feet tall and spreads to form dense colonies. This late-summer blooming wildflower features blueish-purple, daisy-like flowers from August through September. Similar to other asters, the flower center is a bright yellow that matures to a deep red once pollinated

This native plant is visited by numerous pollinators, including bees and butterflies. As its name implies, the leaves and stems are aromatic and emit a balsam-like fragrance when crushed. This is a robust plant that prefers to grow in sunny, dry conditions. In the right habitat, it is quite floriferous and will have numerous blooms decorating its foliage for weeks. Aromatic aster is a versatile plant and can be a great addition to naturalistic and formal gardens alike.

Pycnanthemum flexuosum

2020 – Appalachian Mountain Mint

Appalachian Mountain Mint is an under-used, multifaceted plant. Native to the Southern Appalachians, this plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall and spreads 3 to 4 feet in hardiness zones 6 to 9. Its aromatic, white, tuft-like flowers bloom summer to fall and attract butterflies and other pollinators. The fragrant foliage has a hint of red along the margins and is resistant to deer browsing.

Unlike many other mints, Appalachian Mountain Mint will not take over the garden. It is a clump species and spreads slowly through rhizomes, which is great for helping with soil erosion. Plant in well-drained soils with full to part-sun conditions.

Appalachian Mountain Mint looks nice in naturalized areas, meadows, mass plantings in the landscape, or near vegetable gardens to entice pollinators. Since the flower is showy, it also makes a nice cut flower. To add winter interest to your garden, resist cutting back the spent seed heads. These can add an element of texture to the landscape and are a beautiful addition to dried wreaths and arrangements.

Coreopsis verticiallata

2020 – Whorled Tickseed

Whorled Tickseed is an herbaceous perennial native to Eastern North America. It grows 2.5 to 3 feet tall and spreads 1.5 to 2 feet in zones 3 to 9. Yellow daisy-like flowers appear June through September and are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. Once Whorled Tickseed is established, it can survive tough conditions including full sun, drought, shallow-rocky soil, and deer pressure.

The foliage has an airy, thread-like appearance. Foliage may be cut back in the summer if sprawling occurs or to encourage fall rebloom. Indicative to its name, tickseed is named after the seeds’ resemblance to ticks.

Whorled Tickseed looks nice in naturalized or cottage gardens where it has room move. It self-seeds and spreads by rhizomes. It pairs nicely with other wildflowers, especially those with purple blooms. Its cheery-yellow color looks nice as a cut flower. Popular cultivars include ‘Moonbeam’, which has a paler yellow flower, and ‘Zagreb’ which is more compact and has slightly darker disks.