Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
October, 2009
Regional Report

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Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) is a PHS Gold Medal Plant with unusual needles and sculptural form.

Horticulture Experts Choose Gold Medal Winners

Perennials, shrubs and trees can be pricey. They are valuable investments in our properties, our future, and the environment. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society helps make our choices wiser through its annual Gold Medal Program. A panel of horticulture experts selects winners that exhibit outstanding horticultural and aesthetic appeal and are available to the home gardener.

Joe Ziccardi Jr., coordinator of the PHS Gold Medal Program, announced the 2010 winners this July. The complete listing of plants with profiles and sources is at

The 2010 Gold Medal winners are Clethra alnifolia 'Compacta' (dwarf summersweet), Ilex 'Red Beauty' (Red Beauty holly), Illicium floridanum 'Halley's Comet' (Florida anise), Juniperus conferta 'Silver Mist' (shore juniper), and Styrax japonicus 'Sohuksan' (Emerald Pagoda snowbell).

Looking for a hardy, deciduous, mid-sized, native, low-maintenance shrub that tolerates part sun? Clethra alnifolia 'Compacta' (aka 'Tom's Compact') is a superior variety of summersweet with dark, glossy leaves and a compact, dense growth habit. Uses include the foundation, border, in mass, the shady container, and the naturalized garden. Best planted in part sun, it tolerates all light conditions. 'Compacta' grows about 3 feet high by 4 feet wide and prefers well-drained organic soil. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Come autumn, Ilex Red Beauty (Red Beauty holly) carries exceptionally ornamental berries on a densely branched pyramidal tree with dark glossy evergreen leaves. It is best used as a specimen tree or a well-placed accent plant in sun to part-sun in well-drained acidic soil. It grows to about 15 feet high and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9. For berry production, Red Beauty needs at least one berryless male pollinator within 100 feet; use a blue male holly such as Ilex 'Blue Boy', 'Blue Prince', or 'Blue Stallion'.

Styrax japonicus 'Sohuksan' (Emerald Pagoda snowbell) is a Japanese snowbell with a superior plant habit, large, glossy leaves, and very large fruit. Its larger glossy leaves are sun tolerant; its large white flowers are highly fragrant. It naturally makes a single-stemmed, medium-size tree reaching about 30 feet. It grows best in fertile, well-drained soil in light shade with morning sun. Though sun-tolerant, it should not be planted in a hot, dry location. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Illicium floridanum 'Halley's Comet' (Florida anise) is a head-high evergreen that thrives in shade and part-shade, in moist, well-drained soil. It's touted as a deer-proof shrub native to the southeastern United States. Florida anise has 4-inch, dark green leaves that emit a strong, pleasant fragrance when bruised. 'Halley's Comet' has improved cold tolerance, grows fast. It's large, red, star-shaped flowers bloom in May and can persist into summer. Tolerates dry shade after getting established in the landscape.

Juniperus conferta 'Silver Mist' (shore juniper) is salt tolerant and well adapted for the seashore garden AND urban use. Its dense, compact growth habit qualifies it as a beautiful, year-round, low groundcover. It tolerates heat and drought and is best used in a bright, sunny location with excellent drainage. Hardy in Zones 5b to 9.

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Today's site banner is by nmumpton and is called "Gymnocalycium andreae"