Asclepias tuberosa

2015 – Butterflyweed

Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterflyweed, is a species of milkweed that has both extremely attractive flowers as well as important ecological values. As a larval host for the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) and Queen (Danbaus gilippus) butterflies, this plant is vital for their life cycle. Butterflyweed also serves as a great nectar source for honeybees and a variety of native bees.

This tuberous, native perennial can grow 1.5 to 2 feet tall, making it great for the edges of perennial wildflower beds. Clusters of orange flowers bloom from June through August. Butterflyweed grows best in full sun and dry to moist soil although it can withstand drought and still performs well in poor soils. Just like most milkweeds, this species can be susceptible to aphids, but it is deer resistant. This milkweed is native from Maine to Florida, and west to Utah and California, leaving it native to all but 6 of the contiguous United States. It is hardy in zones 3-9.

Echinacea purpurea

2015 – Eastern Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea is more than a popular perennial.  This prominent member of the Aster family inhabits meadows across a majority of the eastern half of the United States.  Being native from New York south to Florida, and west to Colorado and Texas, this perennial is hardy in zones 3-8.

The genus “echino” comes from the Greek word meaning hedgehog, directly describing the spiny center disk.  Surrounding the central disk of this flower are the beautiful drooping purple ray flowers.  The most robust plants grow in full sun, but they can withstand part shade as well. Dry, well-drained sandy soil is where Echinacea purpurea will be best suited. Reaching 3-5 feet in height, while spreading 1.5 to 2 feet, this perennial adds color all summer long as it continues to bloom June through August if deadheaded.  The seed heads left at the end of the blooming season will allow for additional plants to self seed into your garden, create winter interest, and act as a great food source for seed-eating birds such as goldfinches.

Aronia arbutifolia

2015 – Chokeberry

Chokeberry is an attractive multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that maintains great horticultural interest throughout the seasons.  Beautiful corymbs of showy white flowers appear in April, and the leaves change to a bright red color as fall arrives.  The glossy red fruits ripen in the fall and persist well into winter.  These fruits are edible, but so incredibly tart that they may cause you to choke, rightfully earning this shrub’s common name as Chokeberry.  Even the birds wait until it frosts for them to sweeten.  Although it can withstand part shade, plant the Chokeberry in full sun for best fruit production.

Chokeberry is a member of the Rose family and grows from Maine south to Florida, and west to Texas.  It is hardy in zones 4-9, reaching 6-10 feet high while spreading 3-6 feet, developing into a vase shape in maturity.  This shrub tends to sucker and form colonies.  It can tolerate a wide range of soil types and it can withstand relatively wet conditions, as it often grows near wetlands.  Currently there are differences in the accepted scientific names.  The plant is sometimes referred to as Photinia pyrifolia, although here at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens we accept and use Aronia arbuitfolia as its official name.

Research Nursery at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Celebrates 20 Years of Growing

March 1, 2015  – Over 20 years ago, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Executive Director, Harold Sweetman, germinated seed from special hand-pollinated hybrid crosses and open pollinated evergreen azaleas. When seed is collected from open pollinated flowers, the insects do all the work. With over 1,000 different named cultivars of evergreen azaleas in the gardens at Jenkins, there is a unique possibility for interesting new hybrids. As is the case with many flowers, the location and morphology of the female pistol and the male pollen bearing anthers is such that flowers usually are not self-pollinated. We only know the seed parent plant and may never know the pollen parent but this serendipitous event can be magical.

After growing seedlings in the nursery at Jenkins for more than 20 years, several azaleas have been evaluated and are worthy of propagation and official registration of a cultivar name with the Royal Horticultural Society in England. Our annual gala, Spring Blooms: A Lavish and Leafy Celebration on June 6, will be the first naming opportunity for plants from the research nursery. We hope you will join us for this event that will feature a rare live auction for the naming rights of new cultivars of azaleas and rhododendrons.