The silverbell is considered to be one of the best native trees for shady sites. It is a low-branching tree best used in shade or woodland gardens where it can reach heights of 30-40 feet with a spread of 20-35 feet. The silverbell prefers moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil.
The Carolina silverbell is another plant that provides year-round interest. In spring, before the leaves emerge, clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers bloom on the previous year’s growth. In fall, the leaves become golden yellow and persist for two to three weeks and, when they drop, unveil the winged seed pods that dangle from the branches. The bark which, on younger trees, is dark with light yellow stripes provides winter interest.
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.
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.