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Regional Picks: Plants That Glow – Northeast

Fine Gardening – Issue 176



1. ‘Autumn Moon’ Full Moon Maple


Name: Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’

Usda Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 8 to 15 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; average to moist, well-drained soil

Grow this full-moon maple for its distinctive palmate leaves, which emerge brilliant orange, unfurling to golden yellow. This selection is much more sun tolerant than is typical of the species. ‘Autumn Moon’ is not a fast-growing plant but will eventually mature as a focal point with a rounded form. In fall, the leaf color changes to a deeper orange with red overtones. This maple’s color will be best in a lightly shaded location with morning to midday sun, and it prefers moist, humus-rich soil.


2. ‘Carolina Moonlight’ Baptisia


Name: Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; medium to dry soil

This hybrid of Baptisia alba and B. sphaerocarpa has proven to be a long-lived component in our mixed border. In May and early June, 18-inch spires of buttery yellow pealike blossoms rise above the sturdy, bluish-green foliage, attracting butterflies. Grow ‘Carolina Moonlight’ in well-drained soil, as it is quite tolerant of drought. Another big plus: It’s deer resistant.


3. ‘Golden Angel’ Japanese Shrub Mint


Name: Leucosceptrum japonicum ‘Golden Angel’

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full to partial shade; average to moist, well-drained soil

This bushy mint relative (no, it does not run!) is a shade-loving plant with an attractive presence all season. Its ovate foliage is a glowing lemon yellow all summer, and in fall, creamy yellow bottlebrush spires offer their blossoms to pollinators and butterflies. This plant is easy to grow in humus-enriched soil with adequate winter drainage.


4. ‘Color Guard’ Yucca


Name: Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Zones: 4 to 10

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; average to dry well-drained soil; tolerates drought and poor soil

Gardeners everywhere are rediscovering this plant. Its architectural form and evergreen foliage add bright gold highlights to the garden year-round. In early summer, 5- to 6-foot-tall flowering spikes are bedecked with pendant creamy white “lilies” sought after by hummingbirds. These plants are deer and rabbit resistant, tolerant of drought and the poorest soil, and make handsome container specimens.


Katherine Tracey and her husband, Chris, own Avant Gardens, a specialty nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Photos, except where noted: millettephotomedia.com; Doreen Wynja, courtesy of Monrovia Nursery; Bill Johnson; courtesy of Katherine Tracey/Avant Gardens

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