Itea virginica

2007 – Virginia Sweetspire

The Virginia sweetspire is a deciduous to semi-evergreen, 3 to 5 foot tall shrub commonly found in swamps, wet woodlands and along woodland streams of eastern North America.

It has slightly fragrant white flowers in May when few other plants are flowering. Its medium to dark green summer leaves change to yellow, orange, reddish purple, scarlet, and crimson in autumn.


Sweetspire grows best in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, fertile soils where it spreads to form a mass. It also tolerates drought and is adaptable to different pH levels.

Fothergilla gardenii

2006 – Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf fothergilla, a member of the witch hazel family (Hamamelidaceae), is a hardy plant native to the coastal plains. In the wild, it is often found around bogs or ponds and has interesting features through three seasons of the year. In spring, it has fragrant, white, bottlebrush-like flowers that bloom in April and May. After the flowers appear, the dark green to blue-green summer leaves emerge. Autumn might be the peak season for the dwarf fothergilla as the leaves change to red, orange, maroon or yellow, often all on the same plant!

It is a multi-stemmed, suckering, thicket-forming shrub that grows only 3 to 5 feet tall, a trait that makes it perfect for grouping. Fothergillas are slow growing and require little pruning. They prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils and have the best flowers and fall color when planted in sunny locations.


Ilex verticillata

2005 – Winterberry Holly

One of the few deciduous hollies, winterberry holly produces an abundance of persistent red berries that provide a splash of color throughout winter.
Commonly found in both wooded areas and swampy areas, this holly will grow 6 to 10 feet tall in an upright, spreading manner. They grow best in moist, poorly-drained soils and in full sun to partial shade, though plants in sunny areas produce more berries. These berries only form on female plants and require male plants for pollination. So for best results, be sure to plant a male nearby.

Winterberry hollies are great plants for massing in wet soils or prominently along borders where the berries can be viewed during the winter. They are easy to maintain and have few insect and disease problems.

Rhododendron periclymenoides

2004 – Pinxterbloom Azalea

The pinxterbloom azalea is a native, deciduous azalea that occurs naturally here at the Arboretum.  These shrubs spread via underground stems and can grow to be 8-10 feet tall.  They are extremely adaptable, growing in partial to full shade and in a variety of soil conditions from dry, sandy soils to moist stream banks.  The pinxterbloom is most attractive in the spring, when it is adorned with trusses of 6-12 narrow, fragrant, white to pink flowers.

To see the Arboretum’s collection of pinxterbloom azaleas, follow the Woodland Walk in early May when they are at their peak.

Hydrangea quercifolia

2003 – Oakleaf Hydrangea

The oakleaf hydrangea is a deciduous, mound-forming shrub that grows to a height of 4 to 8 feet with a wider spread. This coarse, irregular plant provides all-season interest. In summer it has large panicles of white flowers that turn pinkish and eventually tan as the season extends into autumn. Plants that get plenty of sun will turn red to purple in autumn and, in winter the cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark stands out against the stark landscape. With proper placement in shrub borders, mass plantings, or as foundation plants, the oakleaf hydrangea will become a favorite in any garden.

Oakleaf hydrangeas prefer moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. They are susceptible to deer damage despite the toxicity of many of the parts of the plant.