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Connoisseur Plants – 2009

Connoisseur Plants are rare, new plants or hard to find old favorites, and they are part of the annual appeal and membership drive to benefit the Arboretum's many fine programs and its day-to-day operational expenses. These wonderful plants were sent to those who joined the Friends of JC Raulston Arboretum in 2009 and in December of the previous year at certain higher membership levels.

In 2009, we offered a total of 37 taxa from which our members were able to choose! These plants are no longer available.

Abelia &timesgrandiflora 'Margarita' – variegated glossy abelia Abelia ×grandiflora 'Margarita' (Linneaceae)
variegated glossy abelia
We received this fine textured variegated glossy abelia from our friends at Clark's Liner Farm. The red stems stand out on our plants almost as much as the brightly colored foliage. We haven't grown it for long, but are expecting a tidy, 3'–4' semi-evergreen shrub. We're not sure if this has ever been offered publicly before so this may be your only chance to get it in the foreseeable future. Like all glossy abelia, it will grow in sun or shade and is tolerant of most conditions once it is well-established. Look for pink-tinged, white flowers held by showy rose calyces over an extended period. Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 6

Ardisia crenata 'Beni Kujaku' – coral ardisia Ardisia crenata 'Beni Kujaku' (Myrsinaceae)
coral ardisia
A wonderful Japanese selection of the popular (in Japan at least) coralberry. These seedlings from the burgundy leafed 'Tougen' seem to be identical to the parent with deep burgundy scallop-edged leaves. They will form a small evergreen shrub with pinkish-white flowers and big clusters of glossy red fruit. In colder climates, it is often grown as a houseplant where it thrives in lower light conditions. In the garden, the burgundy foliage, bright red fruits, and small size combine to make this a delightful addition to the shrub border, foundation plantings, or any shade garden. Sun to shade, Zone 7.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 7

Ardisia crenata (ex. 'Beni Kujaku') (Myrsinaceae)
coral ardisia

Aristolochia zollingeriana – Dutchman's pipe Aristolochia zollingeriana (Aristolochiaceae)
Dutchman's pipe
An Asian Dutchman's pipe vine which will quickly grow to 10 or more feet tall given suitable support. It grows wild in dense forests making it a suitable candidate for scrambling through shrubs in a woodland garden. It bears the typical heart shaped foliage of our native Dutchman's pipe and will most likely also be a suitable host for our native swallowtail butterflies. Unusual greenish-brown flowers appear in clusters of three to four and may grow to nearly 2" long. Plants will probably not be top hardy but reports indicate that the roots should be hardy at least to Zone 8 possibly colder.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Begonia &timestaipeiensis – Taipei hybrid begonia Begonia ×taipeiensis (Begoniaceae)
Taipei hybrid begonia
One of the first plants Mark Weathington collected in Taiwan at about 3,300' in very northern Taiwan in 2008, this begonia is a natural hybrid between Begonia formosana and Begonia aptera which was only described in 1999. It was found growing on a rock as an epiphyte but has settled in well to potting soil and should grow fine in the garden. We haven't assessed its hardiness yet, but believe it should survive under high shade outdoors. In colder areas, it will make an outstanding houseplant with its mid-green foliage and pink summer flowers. It propagates easily and a small piece can be brought indoors in the fall as insurance against a cold winter. We'll be interested in hearing reports on hardiness after the winter. As far as we can tell, this has never been distributed anywhere in the United States. For shade, Zone 8 at least.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 4

Betula nigra 'Summer Cascade' – weeping river birch Betula nigra 'Summer Cascade' (Betulaceae)
weeping river birch
We've been growing this weeping form of our native river birch for eight years now and would be lost without it anchoring the left side of the Manooche Cascade at the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center. Plants should be staked upright when young to develop a trunk that will show the typical exfoliating bark of this species. The arching branches will cascade to the ground unless pruned. This has become one of the most distinctive trees at the Arb. and always generates plenty of interest from new visitors. We've only got a few of these to distribute so put your request in early. Sun to light shade, Zone 4, tolerant of wet soils.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 13

Buddleja 'Summer Frost' – butterfly-bush Buddleja 'Summer Frost' (Scrophulariaceae)
butterfly-bush
One of the releases from former JCRA director Denny Werner's breeding program, this butterfly-bush is very different from his compact selections. A much larger shrub with attractive silvery foliage and flower color much different from other lavender forms. In addition to shimmering color of the flowers, the panicles are well branched like the popular 'Lochinch'. This form stands out in a crowd and will serve to cool the hot summer garden. We believe this plant will ultimately prove to be one of the most popular of the larger butterfly-bushes. As of now, it is not available from any source so take this opportunity to get a jump on the rest of the gardening public. Sun, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 19

Cercis occidentalis – western redbud Cercis occidentalis (Fabaceae)
western redbud
The western form of our beloved eastern redbud, this small tree grows primarily in California on dry, rocky slopes. In moister soils, it grows faster than in its native habitat, eventually reaching 20' tall. Like most redbuds, the flowers appear in early spring before the heart-shaped leaves. Flower color is usually magenta, but sometimes paler lavender flowers appear in seed grown plants (such as these). Prune when young to develop good form as a single or multi-trunked tree. Fruit pods, when formed, are attractively purple tinged. Sun to shade, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 6
Number of photographs in J. C. Raulston's slide collection: 1

Cercis racemosa – chain-flowered redbud Cercis racemosa (Fabaceae)
chain-flowered redbud
The elusive chain or wisteria-flowered redbud, this small tree always garners much attention when in flower. Unlike typical redbuds, the flowers of this species are held in dangling racemes as long as 4" and composed of 30–40 flowers. A tree in full flower is truly a spectacular site not soon to be forgotten. Flowers are pale lavender giving the tree a softer look than most redbuds and the leaves are large and heart-shaped. We offered this plant a decade ago and were lucky enough to have a handful to offer again this year. Full sun to shade, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 24
Number of photographs in J. C. Raulston's slide collection: 2

Coriaria japonica subsp. intermedia – Japanese false blueberry Coriaria japonica subsp. intermedia (Coriariaceae)
Japanese false blueberry
One of the finest fruiting shrubs we've seen in years, this hardy plant was collected at over 9,000' feet on Hehuanshan in Taiwan, the highest mountain road pass in southeast Asia. Mature plants have thick, leathery foliage often with a somewhat glaucus, waxy coating. Terminal clusters of pinkish-red fruit turn deep blue as they mature. There are reports that the fruit may be toxic so we wouldn't advise eating them but they will make a beautiful display in the fall garden. Fall will bring burgundy and red tints to the foliage. Full sun, well-drained soil, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 4

Cornus florida 'Suwanee Squat' – dwarf flowering dogwood Cornus florida 'Suwanee Squat' (Cornaceae)
dwarf flowering dogwood
A most unusual and highly-desired form of our native flowering dogwood, 'Suwanee Squat' is the most height-challenged member of this group. It can ultimately grow to six or so feet tall with a spread two to three times as wide although it seems to be in no hurry to reach so high. Ours in the Mixed Shrub Border is only about 18"–24" tall and every bit of 48" wide. It flowers heavily and does not have the contorted leaves so common in the awkward weeping forms of dogwood. We've been told this is tough to grow, but our plant seems perfectly happy in a mostly shaded spot in good soil. Part sun to shade. We only had a few last year so we decided to offer it again due to its overwhelming popularity.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 35

Cornus florida subsp. urbiniana – Mexican flowering dogwood Cornus florida subsp. urbiniana (Cornaceae)
Mexican flowering dogwood
The Mexican form of our native flowering dogwood is similar in most respects to our own beloved symbol of spring. The major difference is the tendency of the flower bracts (the showy white "petals") to remain attached creating little Japanese lanterns of white with the true yellow flowers nestled inside. This flowering characteristic is very uniform and happens year after year for an interesting twist on the eastern flowering dogwood. Excellent red fall color and red fruits are an added bonus. Sun to shade, zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 58
Number of photographs in J. C. Raulston's slide collection: 7

Diospyros lotus – date plum Diospyros lotus (Ebenaceae)
date plum
An Asian relative of our native persimmon, the date plum can grow to nearly 90' in the wild but is more typically 25'–30' tall in cultivation. Glossy, dark green leaves are showy during the summer and highlight the small 3/4" orange fruit which turns brownish purple when ripe. The date plum is dioecious meaning it has separate male and female plants. These seedlings are unsexed but experience has shown that single trees will often produce at least some fruit. At any rate, the blocky bark and handsome foliage make this small tree well worth growing. Sun to light shade, Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Emmenopterys henryi – Chinese emmenopterys Emmenopterys henryi (Rubiaceae)
Chinese emmenopterys
Deciduous, large tree with showy flowers (long panicles with white bracts) appearing in mid-summer over an extended period. The thick textured flowers are intensely fragrant and a tree in full flower will stop even the most jaded plantsman in his or her tracks. This is one of the holy grails of the plant kingdom and these seedlings come from a plant distributed by the JCRA in 1999. Institutions from as far away as Boston (the Arnold Arboretum) and nurseries on the west coast all requested seed. These are strong plants with the typical large glossy foliage and red petioles. Pickup only please.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 110
Number of photographs in J. C. Raulston's slide collection: 6

Ficus erecta – Taiwan tree fig Ficus erecta (Moraceae)
Taiwan tree fig
While some figs are perfectly hardy in central North Carolina, others are completely tropical. We're not sure what to expect from these seedlings from a botanical garden in Taiwan. The seedlings are vigorous with narrow, sage green leaves turning bright yellow and dropping in the fall giving an indication that they may be suited to temperate climates. A larger plant we grow from a different source produces small, bright red figs in a pot in the greenhouse and is very showy—we plan to plant it in a protected spot this spring. Whether you take your chances planting outdoors or grow the fig as a fruiting houseplant, this will add interest to the home or landscape. Please let us know how your plant grows if it is planted outdoors. Sun to part shade.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Fraxinus griffithii – Griffith's ash Fraxinus griffithii (Oleaceae)
Griffith's ash
What an incredible ash! This tree ranges throughout much of southeast China into Japan, India, and the Philippines from low to high elevations. The deep green, glossy, nearly evergreen leaflets are small and rounded on these young seedlings, but will elongate to about 4" as the tree matures and begins to flower with frothy white blooms. This plant is still relatively rarely encountered in the United States even in botanical gardens and arboreta. Trees grown in an open, sunny location will be upright and oval headed with a dense crown. In more shade, trees will be somewhat less dense. Deer resistant, Zone 8 at least.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Hemerocallis yezoensis – Japanese daylily Hemerocallis yezoensis (Hemerocallidaceae)
Japanese daylily
A Japanese species of daylily from Hokkaido with clear yellow flowers closely related to Hemerocallis lilio-asphodelus. The strappy petals and large flowers put on quite a show. The mid-season flowers are lemony fragrant in late afternoon, just in time for those coming home from work. Plant near a porch or deck where the fragrance will scent your evening meal. Sun to part shade, salt spray tolerant, Zone 6 at least.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Hydrangea paniculata 'Yukigeshou' – variegated panicled hydrangea Hydrangea paniculata 'Yukigeshou' (Hydrangeaceae)
variegated panicled hydrangea
We absolutely fell in love with this plant when we received it from our friends at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden. The leaves which are heavily speckled with white are a dead giveaway that this is not your grandmother's hydrangea. Despite the heavy variegation, this has been a vigorous plant for us and can be grown as a medium to large shrub or pruned into a small multi-trunked tree or even staked upright with one stem as a formal patio tree. White flowers in a panicle in summer and pretty good fall color too. Plants will flower on new wood so they can be cut back hard in winter to control size for those of you who are running out of room. Sun to part shade, Zone 4.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 5

Hymenocallis imperialis – spider lily Hymenocallis imperialis (Amaryllidaceae)
spider lily
Back by popular demand. These were so popular last year and we had so few to distribute that we decided to offer it again. Grown in the Lath House since 1997, this wonderful bulb from Mexico has been a reliable performer. Large, white flowers with long, narrow tepal segments in mid-summer give the plant its common name of spider lily while the huge seeds and bulbs give rise to another common name—big fatty. Best in a moist, well-drained location in full sun to part shade. Like most members of the amaryllis family, this is a real show stopper when in flower.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 13

Ilex integra 'Ogon' – golden Nepal holly Ilex integra 'Ogon' (Aquifoliaceae)
golden Nepal holly
The Nepal holly is one of Mark Weathington's favorite hollies with its spineless evergreen foliage and bright red berries. This gold foliaged female form from Japan is especially nice with glossy, vivid yellow foliage on an upright plant. Color is best in full sun, but plants will tolerate some shade. Perfect as a bright focus in the garden or lightening a mixed hedge. This holly will tolerate shearing if needed, but will naturally grow as a dense upright evergreen. Zone 7.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 9

Iris spuria subsp. halophila – Romanian iris Iris spuria subsp. halophila (Iridaceae)
Romanian iris
Divided from our long-lived clump in the Mixed Shrub Border, this is one of our easiest irises. The pale yellow to white petals with deep yellow throated falls dance like ballerinas above the strappy fans of green foliage. Reliably flowering in late April for us, this is always a highlight of the spring. Last distributed by us over 16 years ago, we're happy to be able to share this Romanian species again. Growing from 18"–30" tall, it makes a dramatic statement in a perennial border where it likes average to dry soils. Sun to light shade, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Juniperus horizontalis 'Silver Sheen' – creeping juniper Juniperus horizontalis 'Silver Sheen' (Cupressaceae)
creeping juniper
This excellent addition to the ranks of ground-covering junipers is unaccountably absent from the trade. A knowledgeable juniper expert has pointed out that we may have the only properly identified specimen of this plant around. We think it time to rectify this situation. Silvery-blue foliage in flat sprays is somewhat reminiscent of the more widely grown 'Wiltonii’ but is much more silver than blue. Our plant has been growing in a bit too much shade to show the bright silver and flat habit it displays in sunnier spots. Sun to light shade, Zone 4.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 3

Kerria japonica 'Fubuki Nishiki' – variegated Japanese kerria Kerria japonica 'Fubuki Nishiki' (Rosaceae)
variegated Japanese kerria
Soft primrose yellow flowers tone down the look on this shrub with typically bright gold flowers. The foliage is very lightly and irregularly streaked with white. Green winter stems keep it interesting even after the leaves drop in fall. We are very fond of this arching shrub even more for its delicate buttery yellow flowers than for the interesting variegation. An easy and very tough plant for full sun to light shade in almost any soil. Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Koelreuteria elegans subsp. formosana – Taiwan goldenrain tree Koelreuteria elegans subsp. formosana (Sapindaceae)
Taiwan goldenrain tree
The Taiwan form of the goldenrain tree is similar to the more familiar K. paniculata but with even showier late summer panicles of bright gold and pinkish Chinese lantern-like inflated papery seed pods. It hails from lower elevations and may prove to be tender outdoors. Some forms of this plant have been grown very successfully in Zone 8 gardens and may have more cold tolerance than they are generally given credit. They may also be grown as patio tree where they will flower at a young age. In winter, they should be kept in a cool spot and allowed to go dormant.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Lindera aff. nobelis – noble spicebush Lindera aff. nobelis (Lauraceae)
noble spicebush
Blue-green foliage is held on yellow stems. Flowers are yellow and fruits most likely black. It was collected in China at high elevations and should be perfectly hardy in central North Carolina.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Magnolia laevifolia 'Michelle' – shrubby michelia Magnolia laevifolia 'Michelle' (Magnoliaceae)
shrubby michelia
We've wanted to offer this gem for quite a while, but it has proven difficult to propagate in enough numbers for us to give it away. Talk about an identity crisis, the species was originally Michelia yunnanensis, then Magnolia dianica before finally (maybe) settling into Magnolia laevifolia. The selection was named by Tony Avent for his wife so you know it must be a special plant. This evergreen magnolia covers itself in an embarrassment of 2" white flowers in spring. It also has a tendency to put out more flowers in midsummer and again in the fall. The small, deep green leaves look great all year on the medium to large shrub in full sun or light shade.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 47

Myrica cerifera 'Soleil' – golden wax myrtle Myrica cerifera 'Soleil' (Myricaceae)
golden wax myrtle
Discovered and introduced by North Carolina's own Pat McCracken, this gold-leafed form of our beloved native will tolerate just about any garden conditions you can throw at it from sun to shade and almost any soil. The new growth is bright gold especially in the spring when it first emerges. Sunnier conditions will tend to bring out more of the color. Ultimately, it can grow into a large shrub but if inspiration strikes, it can be pruned into a hedge, box, or even a meatball. This is a patented plant so no propagating and selling this golden gem.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 13

Persea liebmannii – Mexican redbay Persea liebmannii (Lauraceae)
Mexican redbay
Originally distributed as Persea podadenia by Yucca-Do Nursery, these are seedlings from a tree growing happily in Virginia. The evergreen foliage often has a hint of pink along its midrib. Forming an upright, pyramidal tree with large, matte, sage green leaves this plant will add a touch of distinction to the garden. Found in northeastern Mexico and closely related to our native redbay, this 25' tree or large shrub grows naturally on sandy soils, but performs well in typical garden soils. It has taken temperatures down to single digits with out damage.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' – contorted Fuji cherry Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' (Rosaceae)
contorted Fuji cherry
We've only come across a few people in the United States who love the Fuji cherry as much as we do here at the JCRA. After the great plantsman E. H. Wilson saw the tree growing in masses on Mt. Fuji, he was moved to say that there was no lovelier cherry. Early spring flowers on delicate shrubs/trees are always so elegant. This particular form is ideal for the smaller garden since the thin twisted branches rarely attain a height over 8'. White flowers with pink stamens and rosy calyces adorn the plant in late March welcoming the official start of spring. Beautiful fall color offers another season of interest. Grow in full sun for best flowering or in a patio pot as a specimen. Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 12

Prunus laurocerasus 'Batumi Rubies' – upright common cherrylaurel Prunus laurocerasus 'Batumi Rubies' (Rosaceae)
upright common cherrylaurel
Collected by Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden director Todd Lasseigne near Batumi, Georgia, on the coast of the Black Sea, this broadly upright cherrylaurel follows its spikes of white flowers with showy red fruits. This is definitely different than any other cherrylaurel we've seen and a plant in full fruit is quite a sight. Best in full sun where it will grow vigorously into a large shrub but will tolerate a fair amount of shade. A beautiful and tough evergreen for anchoring the corner of a house, adding to a mixed shrub border, or hiding an electrical box. Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 16

Rhus copallina var. latifolia 'Lanham Purple' – winged sumac Rhus copallina var. latifolia 'Lanham Purple' (Anacardiaceae)
winged sumac
What an outstanding form of our native winged sumac with deep purple new growth darkening to burgundy-green over summer and culminating in a crescendo of purple, red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Like most of our native sumacs, this one can form thickets and sucker somewhat especially if the roots are disturbed. These suckers can be easily removed and composted or given to friends if unwanted. If the plant is planted at the edge of a woodland or a more natural setting, the unrestrained plant will create an unforgettable transition from the garden to the natural landscape. Full sun to shade, Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 8

Rubus rolfei – creeping raspberry Rubus rolfei (Rosaceae)
creeping raspberry
One of the best, if underutilized, small scale ground covers for sun or shade. The lobed, green leaves have a wonderful quilted texture and creep close to the ground perfect for weaving around other shrubs or perennials or for covering a bare patch in the garden. Represented mostly in the United States by the cultivar 'Emerald Carpet' and usually sold as R. pentalobus or R. calycinoides, these seedlings are the true species and may actually form fruits in the garden. Small white flowers give way to orange, rather insipid raspberries. Sun to shade, Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 19
Number of photographs in J. C. Raulston's slide collection: 2

Schefflera delavayi – hardy schefflera Schefflera delavayi (Araliaceae)
hardy schefflera
No longer just houseplants, this genus of popular parlor trees are finding their way into the outdoor garden as new species are introduced to commerce. This native of northwestern Vietnam and southeastern China has proven to be a beautiful landscape plant with huge olive green, palmately compound leaves for a very tropical texture. Flower spikes in late summer or fall develop into long clusters of showy black fruits. These plants are seedlings from a mother plant which survived 14°F with no damage in a very exposed location. Plant in sun or high shade and protect from severe cold for a year or two until it is well-established. Zone 8.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 29

Sedum nokoense – Taiwan stonecrop Sedum nokoense (Crassulaceae)
Taiwan stonecrop
Another plant from the JCRA 2008 collecting trip to Taiwan that may never have been offered in the United States before, this creeping succulent hails from very high elevations in the central mountains. Rounded foliage on compressed, creeping stems are equally at home in a dry rock garden and in well-drained ordinary garden soil. The foliage takes on some burgundy tints, especially in winter, and covers itself in bright golden flowers over an extended period in summer. Perfect as a small scale ground cover, growing around stepping stones, or weaving amongst other perennials in a sunny bed. Zone 6 at least.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 11

Sorbus randaiensis – Formosan mountainash Sorbus randaiensis (Rosaceae)
Formosan mountainash
One of the mountain ash types of Sorbus with pinnate leaves, small leaflets, white flowers, and clusters of orange-red fruits. This Taiwan native was collected above Taipingshan at a high elevation. Look for a small tree with brilliant fall color and bright fruits that are held well above the foliage in fall. While Sorbus are not known for their tolerance of our summer heat and humidity, these seedlings may prove to be better plants for the Southeast than many other species. Grow in full sun or very light shade. Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 2

Viburnum obovatum 'Walter's Claim to Fame' – compact Walter's viburnum Viburnum obovatum 'Walter's Claim to Fame' (Adoxaceae)
compact Walter's viburnum
The 2007 drought showed us just how very tough this southeastern native viburnum really is. While many viburnums in the Arboretum's collection struggled all of the V. obovatums sailed along as if nothing was wrong. This form was received by us in 2007 by JCRA friend Michael Dirr. It appears to be a compact form, probably making a mound to 3'–5' tall. Look for clusters of white flowers in early spring although often some flowers will appear anytime from October through April. The mostly evergreen foliage looks great all year, often turning purplish in winter and plants will grow from sun to part shade. Zone 6.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 4

Zauschneria latifolia var. etteri – silver threadleaf hummingbird trumpet Zauschneria latifolia var. etteri (Onagraceae)
silver threadleaf hummingbird trumpet
What a beautiful plant for the dry garden. Mounds of intense silvery thread-leaf foliage are topped by brilliant trumpets of red. As the name and flower color suggests, this plant is a magnet for hummingbirds. Native to the southwest, it generally prefers a sandy soil in full sun here in the Southeast. We're told it is deer resistant, but who knows if our eastern white-tails have been told? Easy to grow in the right spot, don't cut back until new growth emerges in spring to avoid winter rot. Zone 5.
Number of photographs in the Photograph Collection: 23

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