What a great presentation last week by Joseph Tychonievich at the November meeting of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. He was knowledgeable, humorous and even used his own whimsical drawings to make some of his points. His talk was titled "Great, Non-wimpy Plants You (Probably) Don't know." For the most part, he was absolutely correct. We learned about Daphnes that are not only hardy here but grow better than they do in England! Who knew?
On a more personal note, I finally learned why my Primula pubescens is doing so poorly. It wants sun and well-drained dryish soil — the exact opposite of most Primulas. I really wanted to order some of these Primulas last season but didn't want to chance it since the one I had was fading away.
As a result of Joe's talk, I came away planning to order more Primula pubescens, Epimedium lishihchenii with orange spring foliage and a gorgeous Iris called 'Alley Opps' that will grow in water so I can put it at the edge of the pond.
One of the shade plants that Tychonievich recommended is one I've been growing for ten years, Chinese ginger (Saruma henryi), which is pictured here. I bought mine from the now-defunct Roslyn Nursery and love it. It is about 18 inched tall with a nice mounded shape that is the same width. The leaves are heart-shaped with a fuzzy quality which you can easily see in the image above.
The flowers appear almost all season from May to late September. Listed as hardy to Zone 5, my came through our recent bad winters with no problems. The flowers are a yellow that easily blends with other colors.They also face outward and upward, well away from the foliage so they make a noticeable display.
Mine is growing on the north side of the house at the foot of a 60-year-old crabapple tree. The soil is fairly well-drained but there is lots of root competition from the tree and a row of yews behind it.
Locally, you can find Saruma at Flower Factory. It's a great addition to any garden.