Plants of the Week: December 18

January 6 2015 RHR 271

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Each year the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awards plants of exceptional garden merit through their Gold Medal program. In 2001 they awarded three plants, one of which, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, is featured in the Gold Medal garden near Alice Paul and David Kemp residence halls.

Commonly called the “smooth hydrangea,” and less commonly “sevenbark,” H. arborescens is an  Eastern North American native deciduous shrub with large, fluffy corymbs of white flowers that bloom in late summer. The cultivar ‘Annabelle’ was selected for its even larger, denser flowers, which dry and persist through winter and offer dense, tan, cloud-like,

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Plants of the Week: December 11

Vernonia lettermannii seed heads (1) J WC

Reclusive botanist George W. Letterman was twice offered Harvard professorships. He declined the “temptation” preferring the woods around his one-room log cabin. Fellow botanists and scientists came from far and wide to botanize with Letterman.

Vernonia lettermannii, currently in the midst of scattering this season’s seed in the Biostream, is but one plant named in Letterman’s honor. Vernonia is a large genus with upwards of a thousand known species and subspecies.

Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ is a favorite at the Arboretum. Originating in Dr. Allan Armitage’s trials at the University of Georgia, this cultivar was selected for its vigorous …

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Plants of the Week: November 20

Ilex x _Whoa Nellie_ JTB (1)

Ilex ‘Whoa Nellie’

A brief and sudden cold-snap has decimated much of the tender greenery on Swarthmore’s campus. Thus, I’ve been looking for any bright pops of color to cheer me up before winter really sets in. Tucked away on the south side of the Cotswold Frats close to the train tracks is a small specimen of the Ilex cultivar ‘Whoa Nellie’.

This cultivar was named by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in honor of the (I.cornuta x I. aquifolium) hybrid ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ from which the sport was cut. ‘Whoa Nellie’ boasts a consistent new-foliage variegation of …

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