Scutellaria incana as seen at Mt. Cuba.
Scutellaria incana in the shade of a nearby tree.

I’m always looking for perennials that will do well in dry shade and I found one in several gardens while out on tour. Scutellaria incana (Hoary Skullcap), an American native, is a beautiful shade of blue and grows two to three feet high but only one to two feet wide on rhizomatous roots. Generally speaking, when planting in dry shade, we gardeners are delighted when the plant wants to spread.

Pycnanthemum virginianum with Rudbeckia in prairie garden

With the interest in both native plants and meadow/prairie plants, I saw a perennial with which I was not previously acquainted. It is Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia Mountain Mint). It’s a bit taller than Pycnanthemum muticum and has green leaves but white flowers but seemed to be a good neighbor to other such plants. Although the literature says that it I a native of moist soils, the ones I saw were growing just fine in dry soil which also helps to keep its aggressive habit in check.

The stars of this vignette were Coleus ‘Roman Red’, Agastache (possibly ‘Mango Tango’), and Plectranthus.

At the end of one day, we visited Longwood Gardens, long known for its spectacular annuals displays. I was particularly entranced by a small garden that featured a peach, orange, and silver palette.

Asarum europaeum planted in a radiating pattern.

At the end of another day, we visited Chanticleer, one of the most creative gardens I’ve ever toured. As I’m sure you know, Asarum europaeum (European Ginger) has glossy, evergreen leaves but, sadly, spreads very slowly even though it is used as a groundcover. At Chanticleer, it was planted in a radiating pattern under a very old tree.

The yellow foliage of Begonia ‘Canary Wings’ will brighten any shady corner.

Next year, I will be imitating a combination for a container in partial shade that features Begonia ‘Canary Wings’.

Spigelia ‘Little Redhead’ being grown in full sun at a perennial nursery.

One of the valuable tidbits I learned was that Spigelia ‘Little Redhead’ will grow in full sun as long as the soil is somewhat moist. I’ve always grown it in part shade where it blooms for most of the summer. Knowing that I can grow it in sunny spots is a bonus.

It was a wonderful week – seeing old friends, meeting new ones, going out on tour, listening to some fascinating lectures, being refreshed. But always great to come home and share with you.