Enjoy video and image highlights of the colorful beauty of our seasons. Follow us for more beauty on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
We raised a big stink in July 2020 with the much-anticipated blooming of our titan arum, Sprout! See Sprout’s amazing transformation in this timelapse video and learn why this rare event in the plant world was not to be missed.
Join 2020 Longwood Fellow Barbara Wheeler as she takes you on a tour of her ten favorite “freaky plants.” From unusual odors to gigantic blooms, these unique plants showcase the wonder of nature.Then meet Barbara, whose career in horticulture has taken her around the globe.
Woodland plants hold a special place for gardeners and anyone that enjoys the peace and tranquility associated with secluded settings. We love them too and have been busy collecting special forms of many different types of shade garden plants from around the world. Here are some of our favorites in this 2020 photo gallery.
The Mayapple, also known as Podophyllum peltatum, is a beloved native plant that occurs naturally in wooded areas in our region. The scientific name refers to the large umbrella-like leaves, below which a waxy white, faintly fragrant flower is produced, typically in May. The common name refers to the small, apple-like fruit that matures in summer and is eaten by box turtles, which also serve as a means of seed dispersal. Mayapple can be a bit of a thug in smaller gardens since it requires ample space to mature.
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ is a hardy and dependable garden plant that combines some of the best features of various species into a single plant. It can form robust patches of large, star-shaped leaves with green, gray, silver, and bronze highlights that look good throughout the season. The bright pink flowers are produced under the leaves and are always a surprise for curious garden visitors.
Podophyllum delavayi (also called Dysosma delavayi) is among the best known of the Asian Mayapples with dramatically colored spring foliage. In cool climates the coloration can last into summer, but fades in our climate as the summer heat sets in. Despite this it looks good throughout the growing season. Like other mayapples these plants thrive in shady gardens.
Podophyllum pleianthum lacks the dramatic emerging foliage coloration of P. delavayi but makes up for it with the size of its extra glossy leaves. This plant can reach nearly three feet tall and wide, with some forms boasting leaves nearly 20 inches in diameter. The large flower clusters beneath the leaves resemble grapes but are malodorous. Easily grown, this plant needs shade to thrive.
A hybrid of P. delavayi × P. versipelle, this plant combines the best of both species – the spring coloration of the former with the gloss, substance, and size of the latter. New to the market, we are testing its adaptability to our region. So far, the results are promising and one day you might see it in the Gardens.
The star of the Mayapples is Podophyllum difforme. As its scientific name suggests, there is great variation in leaf shape, size, and coloration. Our favorites are from a group we received from famed plantsman and former Longwood alumnus Barry Yinger. Plants of his “Starfish Strain” can develop into large, bold clumps that truly look like a sea creature as they emerge in the early spring.
One of the most special shade plants of them all is Paris vericillata ‘Ryokutei’. Not to be confused with the French city, Paris is a genus of plants related to our native Trilliums. This form was selected in Japan and boasts “double” green flowers that last late into the growing season, long after Trilliums and other spring ephemerals have retreated to dormancy.
Variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) is a well-known and durable garden plant, but only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variation in this group of plants. An exciting selection we found in Japan is called ‘Kiyosumi Nishiki’, which is noteworthy for its yellow and green streaked leaves highlighted by red stems. It’s as easy to grow as standard Solomon’s seals.