Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Plant Sale Preview: See Fall Beauties in Person

Hedychium coronarium, or white ginger lily.
Photo by Jason Holmes.
By Rose James
Duke T'20

Shopping at Duke Gardens' Fall Plant Sale can require a bit of imagination sometimes: you plant these bulbs near this tree and that shrub, anticipating what they will all look and smell like many months from now.

But for fall beauties, you don't have to wait. Simply take a stroll through Duke Gardens right now, and you can get a preview of some of the delights we'll have waiting for you at our Sept. 30 sale.

Start by following your nose to Osmanthus fragrans, also known as the fragrant tea olive. Visitors can never get enough of this vibrant plant's intoxicating scent, and they always want to know more about it. Native to the Himalayas, China and Japan, this is a hardy plant with an exceptionally long bloom period, up to two months during the fall. It can grow up to 30 feet tall, although the typical height ranges from 10 to 12 feet. You can find fragrant tea olives blooming in various areas of Duke Gardens. If you are near it, you will not be able to miss its amazing smell. You can read more about it in this fall 2016 blog post.

The Osmanthus fortunei will also be featured at the plant sale. It is commonly known as fortune's tea olive, and it produces small, white flowers during the fall. It is a fragrant evergreen that is particularly resistant to deer. Bigger than the typical Osmanthus fragrans, fortune's osmanthus can grow to be 15 to 20 feet tall and equally wide. It does well in sun and shade gardens, and it is drought resistant. If you are looking for a hardy yet sweet-smelling plant to enhance your garden, look no further than the Osmanthus fortunei.

Muhlenbergia capillaris.
Photo by Jason Holmes.
The Hedychium coronarium, called the white ginger lily, is an herbacious perennial native to the Himalayas that flowers from August to October. It is a fan-favorite for showy, fragrant flowers. With blooms said to resemble white butterflies, the white ginger lily is an excellent addition to any garden that gets full sun or partial shade. The lily will grow to be 3 to 6 feet tall with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. It can be found along the banks of North Pond (just south of Yearby Avenue) in the Asiatic Arboretum. Follow your nose, and you are sure to find it.

Another plant currently in its dazzling season is Muhlenbergia capillaris, commonly called pink muhly grass. This is a perennial Asian grass that grows to be 2 to 3 feet tall and equally wide. This is a low maintenance plant that has a gorgeous spread of pink flowers in the fall months. It is a wonderful addition to any garden that gets full sun or partial shade, and when it is not in bloom, it features glossy green leaves and stems, making it beautiful year-round. You can see this grass in the Doris Duke Center Gardens, including on the hillside adjoining the lower parking lot.

Callicarpa cathayana. Photo by Rose James.
If you are looking for color for your garden, you need to check out Callicarpa cathayana -- also called beautyberry, and for good reason. This is a deciduous shrub that grows to be 4 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide. Like the pink muhly grass, the beautyberry is best suited to full sun or partial shade gardens, and it is low maintenance. The real treasure of this plant is its plentiful purple berries, preceded by pink and purple flowers. This plant will attract birds in the fall, when the berries emerge. It is a must-see in Duke Gardens.

We hope your Duke Gardens visit whets your appetite for the vast array of plants we'll have at the Fall Plant Sale. Our expert horticulturists will be happy to talk to you about ideal plants for your garden conditions and gardening style. Duke Gardens members will get 10 percent off all purchases -- you may join in advance or on site. We look forward to seeing you here!

Fall Plant Sale details:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Membership benefit: Duke Gardens members get 10% off! Join now or on site.
Parking: Free.
Pets not permitted
Wagons & boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word on Facebook. Thank you!

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