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Pic of the Day - Magnolia virginiana var. australis 'Green Shadow'

The pure white flowers are deliciously fragrant. Few trees have as good a pedigree as this magnolia.  Plantsman Don Shadow of Shadow Nursery in Tennessee selected this plant from a large batch of seedlings he grew out from the late Dr. J.C. MacDaniel, a prolific plant breeder from the University of Illinois.  Magnolia virginiana var. australis 'Green Shadow' makes a neatly oval outlined tree to about 30' tall by about half as wide.  The clean, green foliage with silvery backs is highlighted by virginal white flowers to 3" across over an extended period from spring well into summer.  The heaviest flowering is early in the season but sporadic flowers appear for up to 4 months.  The sweet, lemon scented flowers are followed by curious bulbous reddish fruit which can actually be quite showy.  This is one of the fastest growing of the southern (var. australis) types of sweetbay magnolia we've grown here at the JC Raulston Arboretum.  This tree is reliably evergreen through USDA hardiness zone 7 but can be grown in much colder climates.  Magnolia virginiana grows naturally in swampy soils and while perfectly happy in drier spots, it also tolerates permanently and seasonally wet locations and makes a great specimen in rain gardens.

Multi-stemmed and low-branched trees can be especially attractive.

Pic of the Day - Weigela florida 'Caricature'

The foliage of this weigela is both lightly margined with white and heavily puckered and contorted. Flowering weigela is an old-fashioned shrub that can be found growing in many mature shrub borders and gardens.  There is nothing old-fashioned about this oddity though.  Creamy white margins on each leaf are only the beginning.  The foliage is curiously puckered and contorted with the central green portion growing larger than the constricting white margin.  The overall effect is actually quite nice with a mound of foliage that sparkles in the sun and adds quite a bit of texture to the garden.  Light pink, tubular spring flowers fade to white for a two-toned flower show.  The puckered foliage seems to keep this plant somewhat more compact so expect Weigela florida 'Caricature' to grow to about 5' over time, perhaps larger in rich soils.  Prune immediately after flowering to control height if desired and grow in full sun to very light shade for best flowering.

The puckered foliage gives a nice textural element to this shrub.


Pic of the Day - Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Morioka Weeping'

The gracefully weeping form needs plenty of space.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum or katsura tree makes a lovely large shade tree.  This gracefully weeping selection with bluish-green, heart-shaped foliage adds grace to the garden.  For best results, stake the stem up to about 6' before allowing the branches to cascade down.  The growth will continue to go up while branches weep down.  In the fall, the foliage turns apricot-gold with orange and burgundy highlights.  As an added bonus, the foliage gives a sweet scent of burnt sugar after early fall frosts.  Over time this tree will grow to about 20'-30' tall and half as wide.  Plant in full sun to very light shade.  There are some other weepers in the trade like 'Amazing Grace' and 'Tidal Wave' that are equally as beautiful.

Pic of the Day - 'Maruyama Sunago'

The new growth emerges pure white before turning green. We love Ardisia japonica at the JC Raulston Arboretum and try to collect every form we can.  Japanese ardisia makes a woody ground cover that spreads by underground rhizomes.  Small pink, nodding flowers are carried under the foliage and give rise to brilliant red fruits.  This new selection from Japan has vivid white new growth in spring.  The evergreen foliage slowly turns light green but each new flush emerges white throughout the season.  Ardisia needs shade and will grow even in very deep shade, preferably in moist, organic, well-drained soils.  In central NC, it will often die to the ground in winter and can be killed outright in severe winters.