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Mysteries solved for the last week of March

by Janet Carson | April 5, 2021 at 10:34 a.m.

While some may think a few of this weeks mystery plants were too easy, we have to remember that there are new gardeners who don't yet know a petunia from a pansy. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Kerria japonica ‘Albiflora’ – while many of you might be familiar with the yellow flowering kerria

or yellow rose of Texas, this creamy white form is a bit more unusual. I had not seen it before I toured a friends garden in Batesville several years ago and he gave me a plant.

It is not as vigorous as the yellow one, but that is ok with me, since the yellow one is a bit too vigorous in my garden.

Kerria comes not just in two colors, but also a single flowered form and a double flowered form.

The single is more showy when in bloom, but it just has one main flush of flowers. The double can bloom sporadically for months. Kerria does best in filtered or dappled sunlight or with morning sun and afternoon shade. My yellow one is in a pretty shady area and it blooms profusely every spring.

Heuchera

– is a popular semi-evergreen perennial for the shade. It is a great companion plant to hosta. The native heuchera or alum root is a green foliaged plant with inconspicuous blooms.

The hybrid heuchera plants cover the gamut with foliage color

and have lovely small pink, red or white flowers.

Coral bells is a common name. It is an easy-care perennial, and with so many color options can add some pizazz to the shade garden.

Nemophila maculata commonly called 5 spot

for the obvious five spots of purple adorning the blooms is an annual wildflower native to California. The plants have hairy compound leaves and bloom in the spring into early summer. In our climate it would prefer some afternoon shade, as temperatures heat up. If it is happy, it can reseed itself. Seeds can be sown in the fall or late winter. Nemophila menziesii or Baby Blue Eyes is one you may be more familiar with.

Sweet Box or Sarcococca

is small evergreen plant from China related to boxwood. It has very fragrant white flowers in late winter to early spring.

Hardy statewide, this shade loving plant is slow growing and quite resistant to deer. When it is young it has a somewhat open habit as you can see in the first picture, but will be more mounded with age.

Mine does bloom, but it is so close to the ground I rarely smell it—nor have I seen any fruit. I have had it for years and it is still small, but is totally carefree.

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