Plants of the Week: May 1
Loropetalum chinense is a small evergreen shrub in the witch-hazel family, Hamamelidaceae. Similar to their relatives in the genus Hamamelis, their cruciform flowers feature long, strap-like petals that roll up in cold conditions. According to the Missouri Botanic Garden’s Plant Finder, the binomial name Loropetalum comes from Greek roots meaning “strap” and “petal” referring to the long, thin rectangular shape of the four flower petals.
The name Emerald Snow ® is a registered trademark for the cultivated variety L. chinense ‘Shang-White’. Sometimes called the Chinese fringe flower, probably due to the flower’s superficial resemblance to those of Chionanthus virginica. A few small specimens of Loropetalum chinense can be found along the access drive between Parrish Hall and the Lang Performing Arts Center. photo credit: R. Robert
Paeonia ‘Black Panther’
Though fleeting in flower, peonies can be some of the most lavish and exotic hardy flowers in mid-Atlantic gardens. They range in size from half-dollar coins to dinner plates with a wide variety of complex floral anatomies and color combinations. The hybrid tree peony Paeonia ‘Black Panther’ is no exception to how magnificent some members of this genus can be.
This cultivar exhibits complex doubled flowers that are deep burgundy in color offset and highly contrasted by the bright, canary-yellow androecium. Reportedly P. ‘Black Panther’ is one of the many hybrids resulting from breeding work by Arthur Percy Saunders in the late 1940s with the Tibetan tree peony Paeonia lutea. This can be found in the Harry Wood Garden. photo credit: R. Robert
I always try to take time to appreciate the simplicity of the white, green, and tawny color scheme of the Metasequoia allee that runs between Kohlberg Hall and the Lang Performing Arts Center. The milky variegated arum leaves and Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ along with other small accent plants make a wonderful contrast to the backdrop of fallen deciduous needles of Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
Also in bloom is the subtle false-lily-of-the-valley, Speirantha convallarioides. A slow, rhizomatous spreader, Speirantha emerges with new leaves resembling a smaller version of Convallaria majalis.
At this time of year, it sends up a raceme of star-shaped, white flowers similar to those of its succulent relative Sansevieria. Taxonomically, Speirantha convallarioides is arguably a synonym for Speirantha gardenii which belongs to the asparagus family Asparagaceae. photo credit: R. Robert