Lobelia cardinalis

2006 – Cardinal Flower

Cardinal flower is recognized by its striking spires of red summer flowers contrasted with the dark green leaves. They grow best in moist, fertile, humus-rich soil and in sun or partial shade. They can tolerate flooding but not drought making them suitable for waterside plantings or damp borders.  They will require regular watering if used in a perennial bed.

Cardinal flower blooms from July to September throughout the eastern half of the US. It has a striking, deep red blossom which is pollinated by ruby-throated hummingbirds. In spite of its spirited color, the plant contains poisonous alkaloids and ingestion has caused deaths in humans.

Polystichum acrostichoides

2005 – Christmas Fern

The Christmas fern is a lovely, evergreen fern that offers year-round interest.  It provides a bit of deep green color on gloomy winter days and the fiddleheads, or crosiers, provide interest in spring as they begin to unfurl against the previous year’s leaves.  Its common name is a reference to how early settlers used the evergreen fronds for Christmas decorations, but some believe it may also be because of its Christmas stocking shaped leaves.

The 12 to 18 inch tall fern is fairly adaptable, growing in full shade to part sun and in rich, moist soils to dry, rocky slopes.  It is great for shady woodland gardens and massing along rocky slopes to discourage soil erosion. Christmas fern does not suffer from any serious insect or disease problems.

Tiarella cordifolia

2004 – Foam Flower

Tiarella is a spectacular native plant that gets its common name from the white, foamy-looking flowers. It is an easily grown perennial that can be used as a ground cover in somewhat shaded areas.

This hardy plant has something to offer all year round. In late April it exhibits dense, white, feathery spires that give it a lace-like appearance.  The handsome “maple-leaf” foliage is attractive all summer long, sometimes turning red in autumn. Depending on the variety, the summer foliage can vary from solid, deep green to variegated with dark red markings.  There are also different varieties selected for their growth habit with some being “runners” and others being “clumpers.”  Foam flower is perfect for mixing with lower-growing woodland flowers in moist soil.

Pachysandra procumbens

2003 – Allegheny Spurge

Allegheny spurge, our native pachysandra, has many exceptional features that set it apart from the more familiar Asian pachysandras.  One of the main differences can be seen in the foliage; it has mottled, rounded, gray-green leaves that are held in loose whorls.  The leaves are generally evergreen, but may turn purplish and may exhibit some dieback in harsh winters.  In early spring, the plants form dense spikes of pinkish-white flowers.

Allegheny spurge is generally disease and pest resistant, clump-forming rather than spreading, and is a great ground cover for part to full shade in organic, moist, well-drained soil.

Phlox divaricata

2016 – Wild Blue Phlox
Wild blue phlox or woodland phlox is a slow-growing herbaceous groundcover belonging to the Phlox plant family Polemoniaceae. At maturity, wild blue phlox can reach 12-18 inches in height and 8-12 inches in spread. The opposite, narrow leaves are slightly pubescent just like the stem. One subtle feature to observe is that the leaf tips tend to be blunt. The flower of P. divaricata blooms April through May. The five petaled flowers are shallowly notched. The flowers of wild blue phlox are cross pollinated by bumblebees, swallowtail butterflies, skippers, and moths.

As the common name implies, woodland phlox is native to the deciduous woods which explains why P. divaricata likes to grow in rich, moist, well-drained, average soils with part sun to light or dappled shade. If planted in dense shade, wild blue phlox will not be as floriferous. And that would be a real shame because the fragrant, lavender flowers attract hummingbirds, too. For more flowers, cut back after the first bloom to allow a second flush of flowers to emerge. Wild blue phlox makes an excellent addition to a naturalized perennial garden or to a rock garden. Wild Blue Phlox does not tolerate drought conditions. Additionally, wild blue phlox can be susceptible to powdery mildew, but moist, well-drained soil and good air flow should be able to prevent the fungus from affecting the plant