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Hypericum or St. John’s Wort is a family of plants with more than 400 species. Some of them are annuals, some are perennials or groundcovers and some are shrubs. Some are evergreen and some are deciduous. While most people planted hypericum for the showy yellow flowers,

the new shrub varieties are grown more for the long-lasting and showy seed pods. You may recognize the berries from a floral bouquet you have received, since they are used by florists as well as gardeners. Hypericum has been around for a long time, and is considered a medicinal plant by some. The plants have been used to treat wounds and also to treat depression. I used to say if you were sad, go roll around in your hypericum groundcover and you will feel better!

Several new shrub varieties of hypericum are available at local nurseries.

The Mystical series has red, orange

or yellow berries depending on variety and a new series from Monrovia nursery is FloralBerry with resulting fruit in red, creamy yellow and deep pink fruits. Most of these shrub hypericums are compact plants, growing no more than 3-4 feet tall and wide with yellow blooms in late spring and early summer, followed by these fabulous berries. They do well in full sun to partial shade, but do prefer a well-drained soil.

Sourwood – Oxydendrum arboreum

is a member of the Ericaceae family, so it is related to azaleas and blueberries. It is a beautiful small specimen tree that has these lovely, fragrant flowers

that open in early summer which the bees adore. In addition to showy flowers, it has one of the best fall colors of any tree with vibrant shades of red or purple.

It is a slow growing tree with a mature size of 25-30 feet tall with only a 20-foot spread. Like most members of the Ericaceae family, it likes an acidic, well-drained soil. It does best in full sun but will tolerate a little shade. The scientific name for sourwood comes from the Greek words oxys (acid) and dendron (tree) and refers to the sour taste of its leaves. The leaves are used as a thirst-quencher by hikers and mountain climbers, and were once brewed to make a tonic. The tree is native to the US but not found in the wild in Arkansas.

Browallia

is grown as an annual in Arkansas shade gardens. I have heard it called Sapphire or Amethyst Flower, and even bush violet, but I have always called it Browallia. It is in the nightshade family, along with tomatoes and eggplants.

Native to Colombia, this is a low growing plant with dark blue to purple flowers.

There are some pink varieties as well. It needs consistent moisture, but won’t tolerate soggy soils well. Fertilize monthly during the growing season to keep it blooming. It should bloom from frost to frost.

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