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Hardiness Zone Map


Actaea

Black Snakeroot

A botanical “Renaissance Man,” Actaea is at home in an informal garden, a refined border or in an arrangement for opening night at the Met. Their ambrosial perfume floats through the air as they illuminate their surroundings. Actaea is happiest in moist, humus-enriched soil and bright shade; otherwise it’s carefree and low maintenance.

An 1805 discovery by German-born Frederick Pursh in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, this superb hard-to-find American native sprouts broad ample-sized foliage, distinctive for its handsome Maple-like appearance. Straight emerald-hued steadfast stems, bearing fragrant creamy white floral candles, tower above a leafy verdant clump. Appalachian Bugbane can be ensconced near Athyrium 'Ghost', where it vows luminous late season accents, deer resistance and easy care.

Blooms July–September

Size: 4' 0" – 4-1/2' high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

A superior South Korean selection recently introduced by Darrell Probst, this compact courtly Actaea furnishes lush verdant layers of jagged-edged, shiny green leaves clasping blackish purple stalks. The dark pearl-shaped buds plus tiny snow-white blossoms embellish tall close-set glittering candles that gracefully herald the season’s end.

Blooms August–September

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Promising three season appeal for the woodland garden, this marvelous soft-looking East coast native is a Dr. Richard Lighty selection from Delaware’s esteemed Mt. Cuba Center. Its handsome glaucous clump of finely cut silvery blue-green foliage hosts small starburst-like creamy white blooms on short stalks in spring and several months later, wondrous round white berries, each tattooed with a distinctive black spot at the tip and poised upon a striking bright red pedicel. Long-lived White Baneberry crafts an exceptional multistemmed ground cover that favors moist well-drained soil.

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Actaea racemosa</i> <i>Actaea racemosa</i>

Long wandlike, creamy white flower racemes seem to dangle and dance on invisible stems above clumps of Astilbe-like foliage. Try this Actaea (Cimicifuga) in a naturalized setting, under a tall canopy at the back of the border, next to leafy Ligularia.

Blooms July–August

Size: 5' 0" – 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Brimming with elegance, this compact dark-hued perennial pays homage to the British horticulturist, who extensively researched this genera’s DNA. Astilbe-style, nearly black and bronzed matte green leaves attire sleek, lanky, midnight-purple stalks beneath spherical deep plum-hued buds and a perfumed showing of long, fluffy white cylinders, donning occasional pink tinges. Guaranteed to lend dashing lacy accents, this straight-backed perennial can loiter amid Astilbe.

 

Blooms August–September

Size: 5' 0" – 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Actaea simplex</i> ‘Atropurpurea’

Grown from seedlings carefully selected for dark, coppery purple foliage, the regal profile of ‘Atropurpurea’ shows its good breeding. A garden dweller with a stately bearing, its sturdy reddish purple stems soar above your head, displaying dense spires covered with round mahogany-hued buds and sweet pouffes of white. Echo this Actaea’s somber tones by bringing it together with Angelica gigas, and let the lime-green foliage of Choisya ‘Limo’ lighten the mood.

Blooms August–September

Size: 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Actaea simplex</i> ‘Brunette’

Noted around town for her purple-black leaves and stems, ‘Brunette’ is sure to turn some heads with her graceful fern-like foliage. At the back of the border, amidst the chaos of summertime greenery, this dark lady’s shadow lingers long before offering up arching racemes of fragrant, slightly blushed white flowers. One of the most sought-after cultivars, ‘Brunette’ is another lovely dark foliage selection of Actaea simplex seedlings.

Blooms August–September

Size: 5' 0" – 6' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 3/4.

Lofty, lean raisin-colored stems culminate in long honey-scented pale pink spires stretching skyward above a refined, Ariel-like mass of sumptuous, serrated chocolaty purple foliage. This coveted garden aristocrat casts a decidedly feminine aspect on Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’s coffee-hued leaves.

Blooms August – October

Size: 5' 0" high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Zone 3/4.

Surprisingly under used, ‘White Pearl’s bright white, bottlebrush-shaped blossoms and large pearly buds will light up a dark setting just like the animated glow of a 4th of July sparkler. Good-sized perfumed flowers unfurl later than most other Actaeas, while their densely set stalks are more arching than Actaea racemosa. Tolerating drier, less rich sites, the deceptively tough wiry stems and finely cut, toothed foliage compose a nimble-looking medium green stand that slowly spreads.

Blooms September–October

Size: 4' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Zone 3/4.

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Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Our featured plant: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’

White-blooming Hydrangeas, Beat-the-heat colors, Summer Shipping!

These easily grown US natives,...

are among our favorite white-blooming deciduous shrubs. Their broad handsome leaves showcase immense, long-lasting summer blooms, which illuminate partly shaded alcoves plus fresh or dried cut arrangements. Well-suited for mixed plantings, shrubby borders and woodland peripheries, they can be planted as easily grown specimens or massed, providing a dazzling pearlescent effect plus a dark leafy textural foil. Both Hydrangeas appreciate adequate moisture, good drainage, an organic-rich top dressing and protection from hot afternoon sun. The Oakleaf Hydrangeas can tolerate sunnier exposures, though need winter shelter in Zone 5 regions, especially when young, while Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ may die back to the ground during harsh winter weather. You may wish to check out our other online Hydrangea offerings, especially our selection of Hydrangea quercifolias.

Need some relief from a hot summer day?

Cool-toned flowers and foliage soothe the senses. White, blue, chartreuse and pale pink as well as creamy yellow shades have a tendency to calm any garden setting, either in the sun or the shadows. Apart from perking up our possibly wilted spirits, these elegant colors give our eyes a serene focal point, while effortlessly blending with just about any hue imaginable. Be sure to incorporate some cool-colored plants amongst your landscape, and relish their beat-the-heat ambience. We hope a handful of these plants will catch your eye and make their way into your garden, so that next summer you’ll enjoy their welcome tranquility!

All of us plant and paper wranglers wish you good health and happy digging!

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