Connoisseur Plants

Connoisseur Plants are rare, new plants, or hard-to-find old favorites. These wonderful plants are being offered to our donors.

Please note that several plants are available in very limited quantities. For some plants, we don't know the full range of hardiness, only how it has behaved at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Sometimes, we cannot find any information in our references on a particular taxon. This does not mean that the plant doesn't exist, perhaps just that we are staying one step ahead of published information. One of the purposes of the Arboretum is to test new plants for suitability to the southeastern United States. By growing some of these "new-to-us" plants in your own garden, you can be a part of this evaluation process. Feedback from you is invaluable!

Happy choosing, and thank you for your continued and invaluable support of the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Note: The distribution year listed below is the year the plants were awarded. Members request them early the following year. Ands they're picked up or delivered shortly thereafter.

2019–2020 – Closes March 8 – Check Your E-mail for a Message from Kathryn Wall

2006 Plant Selection

Acer ×freemanii (variegated form)
variegated Freeman maple

You will marvel at this one of a kind variegated maple. This selection comes from Pat McCracken, owner of McCracken's Nursery (Zebulon, North Carolina), who currently calls it "Jose's Variegated," after the propagator at Taylor's Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina) who discovered it many years ago. It has very unusual leaves that are distorted, gray-green in the center, and have a thin white outline. Sometimes there are uneven patches of dark green on the edges of the leaf. Easy to grow in full sun to part shade. Our plant originally came from Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina) and is now over 8' tall. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Acer ×freemanii (variegated form)

Acer rubrum 'Snow Fire'
tricolor red maple

This new red maple cultivar is simply stunning with its mottled white, pink, and green leaves. It was discovered in southwest Virginia by Norman Beal, Raleigh plant enthusiast, and is a Woodlanders Nursery (Aiken, South Carolina) plant introduction. This semi-dwarf maple is deciduous, slow growing, and should be planted in a location with part shade. It can sunburn if planted in full sun. Height 3' to 6'. Hardy in USDA Zones 5–9. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Acer rubrum 'Snow Fire'

Buddleja marrubiifolia
woolly butterfly-bush

Yes, a native species of Buddleja. Now you can grow a Buddleja in your garden, and in good conscience still attend native plant society meetings. Unlike most species, which are native to Asia and South Africa, woolly butterfly-bush is native to the hot, dry climates of Texas and northern Mexico. It's quite distinct from the butterfly-bush commonly seen in commerce, B. davidii. This multi-branched shrub is 3' to 5' tall and wide. Leaves are about dime sized and silver-gray. New flowers emerge golden yellow, changing to orange with age. Easily grown in well-drained soil, and tolerant of drought and heat. (quart container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Buddleja marrubiifolia

Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Unraveled'
weeping common boxwood

This incredibly cool, new boxwood cultivar is unlike any other you have seen before. Its habit is outreaching and arching, a bit loose compared to other boxwoods. Best described as the "non conformist of the common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)."

  • evergreen shrub to 4'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • evergreen shrub flowers
Container size:
Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Unraveled'

Callicarpa acuminata
Mexican beautyberry

You can thank the late Texas plantsman, Lynn Lowery, for collecting this unusual beautyberry in Mexico. Like other beautyberries (Callicarpa), this deciduous shrub is grown for its arching branches of berries in late summer to fall. Fruit color is best described as a super dark wine, nearly black. at the JCRA the fruit remains on the plant late into the season. Plants can reach about 6' to 8' tall. Plant in full sun to light shade. (4" container)

  • to 6'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Callicarpa acuminata

Callicarpa americana 'Berries and Cream'
variegated American beautyberry

Callicarpa means beautiful fruit/seeded (kallos = beauty and karpos = fruit) and we certainly agree. 'Berries and Cream' describes this selection quite well. Throughout each leaf is a nice creamy marbled pattern. You can also expect the typical large bright purple berries common to Callicarpa americana. Harp's Farm Nursery (Fayetteville, Georgia) is the originator of this plant. (4" container)

  • deciduous shrub to 5-8 feet
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • in August–September
Container size:
Callicarpa americana 'Berries and Cream'

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet'
variegated white beautyberry

Be one of the first to enjoy 'Duet', a brand new cultivar just released in November 2006 from the U.S. National Arboretum, in cooperation with Tennessee Technological University. Simply gorgeous variegated leaves are medium green and have distinct yellow margins. a unique introduction, since this is the the first stable variegated plant found in the genus. Look for clusters of small, white fruit in late summer on this low maintenance plant. In four years, it produces a plant slightly more than 3' tall and wide. Performs best in light shade. Hardy in USDA Zones 5–8. (4" container)

  • fruiting shrub to 3'–4'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • pink-white flowers in early summer
  • white margined foliage
Container size:
Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet'

Camellia japonica 'Kujaku Tsubaki'
peacock Japanese camellia

Peacock Japanese camellia is one of the most unusual and striking selections of camellia. It has a semi-weeping growth habit with long, narrow dark green glossy leaves, resembling a willow. Eye catching, red, tubular flowers are flecked with white and appear in mid to late spring. Growth rate is slow. a good choice for a container or specimen plant. These plants were grown from cuttings given to the JCRA courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina). (4" container)

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in part sun to shade
  • zone 7
  • red with white markings flowers in late winter
  • Narrow, willow-like leaves and unusual tubular flowers
Container size:
Camellia japonica 'Kujaku Tsubaki'

Ceanothus ×delilianus 'Henri Desfossé'
French hybrid ceanothus

This beautiful, compact, deciduous shrub has received the Royal Horticulture Society award of Garden Merit. a profusion of small, blue flowers appear on upright panicles beginning in spring, and can last throughout the summer. Ceanothus are drought tolerant and require a well-drained soil. This hybrid is a cross between C. coeruleus × C. americanus. These plants were grown from cuttings kindly donated to the JCRA by Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina). (4" container)

  • flowering shrub to 3'
  • plant in sun, well-drained soil
  • hardy
  • blue flowers in all summer long
Container size:
Ceanothus ×delilianus 'Henri Desfossé'

Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. koreana 'Korean Gold'
golden Korean plum-yew

This upright evergreen shrub has charming, bright golden new growth fading to green with age. The arboretum's specimen was planted in 1988 and is now over 6' tall and nearly 6' wide. Plant in a sunny location for best color. Like all other Cephalotaxus, golden Korean plum-yew is tolerant of shade, sun, drought, and deer. Hardy throughout North Carolina. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. koreana 'Korean Gold'

Cercis chingii
Ching's redbud

This hard to find Chinese native is the earliest of all the redbuds to flower in spring. a wonderful small tree with large, bright, purplish-pink flowers clustered densely on stems. It has a rounded form and can reach 10' to 15' tall. This vigorous grower is deciduous and will perform best in sun to partial shade in a moist, but well-drained soil. Makes a fine addition to any garden. (quart container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Cercis chingii

Cercis glabra
smooth redbud

Smooth redbud (C. glabra) is a stellar spring performer, and the subject of many photographers that visited the JCRA. One of the earliest flowering, upright-vase-shaped redbuds in the JCRA, it is remarkably floriferous with rose-magenta flowers virtually covering the tree beginning in late February. Flowering lasts a full four weeks, beginning before and persisting well after its large leaves emerge. It has whitish bark and is multi-stemmed, ultimately reaching 15' tall. This taxon was previously known as C. yunnanensis, and it is a native of China.

  • hardy
Container size:
Cercis glabra

Deutzia gracilis 'Duncan'
Chardonnay Pearls slender deutzia

Chardonnay Pearls™ was selected for Garden Design's "Way Hot 100" list in 2006. This wonderful, small shrub has vibrant lime-yellow foliage. In spring, it's covered with pure white, pearl-like buds that open into delicate, white star shaped flowers. It's a compact shrub only 20"–36" tall and 18"–24" wide. Great choice for the shrub border, perennial border, smaller gardens, and even containers. This easy to grow, deciduous shrub performs best in a site with partial shade and medium moisture. These plants were kindly donated by Proven Winners® ColorChoice®. (quart container)

  • to 2'–3'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Deutzia gracilis 'Duncan'

Dichroa febrifuga
evergreen false-hydrangea

Every gardener should find a place for this beautiful member of the hydrangea family. Clusters of star shaped, blue flowers emerge from showy, round, pale blue buds from late spring through early summer. In autumn, bright indigo-blue berries persist on this small, evergreen shrub for many months. Our seven-year-old plant has performed well in the shade of the Lath House and is now 2' tall and 5' wide. Our friends at Forestfarm (Williams, Oregon) say that it is hardy to 10°F (USDA Zone 8a), so some winter protection may be needed in the Raleigh area. Various groups have reported that D. febrifuga can be hybridized with some species of true Hydrangea. Imagine a hydrangea with attractive blue fruit! One can only dream. (4" container)

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–6'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • blue flowers in early summer
Container size:
Dichroa febrifuga

Ficus afghanistanica
Afgan fig

This unusual fig tree is closely related to the familiar common fig (Ficus carica), but is native to Afghanistan and Iraq. In its native homeland, it forms a large, deciduous tree, but here expect a muti-branched large shrub or small tree. Edible fruits are smaller than the common fig, Ficus carica. Performs best in full sun with average moisture and is drought tolerant. Test this great plant's hardiness along with us. It's cold hardy to at least 8°F, and possible lower. Some protection may be needed in the Raleigh area, USDA Zone 7b. These plants were grown from cuttings kindly donated to the JCRA by Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina). (4" container)

Container size:
Ficus afghanistanica

Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri
Texas firewheel

We are proud to be able to offer this rare and Federally endangered plant, Texas firewheel, native only to the East Texas Piney Woods area. These plants have been propagated from specimens at the JCRA. You are probably familiar with the typical Gallardia species (blanket flower) with yellow-orange petals. The variety winkleri ranges in color from white to purple. The form we are offering has white petals with a hint of pink near the base of each petal and a dark center. It is a tough perennial with flowers reaching 2' tall summer through fall. Best in full sun and most likely a well-drained location. USDA Zones 7–9. These are only available to members in North Carolina. Federal law prohibits the shipping of endangered plants across state lines. (4" container)

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in sun, well-drained soil
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer–fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • needs good drainage
Container size:
Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri

Hypericum fasciculatum
sandweed St. John's-wort

This delightful selection forms a very upright plant with bright green, small, heath-like leaves, held tightly against the stems. Attractive, bright yellow (1/2" diameter) flowers cover this plant in late summer. Although the name is the same, do not confuse this plant with the prostrate form offered as a Connoisseur Plant in 2004. At the JCRA, look for this plant on your left as you walk down the sidewalk to the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center. It is cold hardy, likely through Zone 7. Requires full to part sun. (4" container)

Container size:
Hypericum fasciculatum

Hypericum lissophloeus
smoothbark St. John's-wort

A very rare St. John's-wort that you may enjoy growing and testing along with us. This species is endemic to Bay and Washington counties in Florida, and is currently listed as endangered. Woodlanders Nursery describes it as: "Rare tree-like hypericum. Graceful evergreen to 10'. Needle-like leaves. Well-drained sandy soil or occasionally flooded sandy pond margins." In Florida, it forms a shrub to 13' tall with bright yellow flowers in June to October. These are only available to members in North Carolina. Federal law prohibits the shipping of endangered plants across state lines. (4" container)

Container size:
Hypericum lissophloeus

Ilex 'Cherry Bomb'
U. S. National Arboretum hybrid holly

Large bright red berries hang from this uncommon evergreen holly from fall to spring. Dark green leaves are glossy with smooth, non-prickly edges. A hybrid between I. 'Nellie R. Stevens' and I. integra made before 1960 by William F. Kosar at the U.S. National Arboretum (Washington, D.C.). Popular in Texas, this slow growing holly, is low growing, 3'–4' tall and 3' wide, and grows well in our area. It can ultimately get to 12' × 12'. Prefers sun or part shade and a moist, well-drained soil. These plants were grown from cuttings kindly donated by Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina). (4" container)

  • evergreen shrub to 8'–10'
  • plant in light shade to shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Ilex 'Cherry Bomb'

Lepechinia hastata
false salvia

This hardy Hawaiian native is an unusual sage relative, relatively unknown in our region. Hummingbirds can't resist this perennial's 4' tall flower spikes of reddish-purple flowers produced late each summer. Large, felty leaves are aromatic when crushed and are not a favorite of deer. A great late summer addition to the garden border. It is easy to grow, quite drought resistant, and performs best in full sun. Described as "amazingly winter hardy in North Carolina" by our friends at Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina), who kindly donated cuttings. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Lepechinia hastata

Metasequoia honshuenensis
big-cone dawn redwood

Another species of dawn redwood is an intriguing thought. According to the JCRA former assistant director, Todd Lasseigne, this new species name was validly published in Journal International Conifer Preservation Society in 2000. Quoting the TROPICOS database, "A large tree, clear of branches for 35' from the ground. A species once native to southern Japan (Honshu), extinct in the wild, yet cultivated in central China and elsewhere. Note: huge cones, huge seeds, huge peduncle length, species apparently retains needles longer than the Chinese species." Needle color and characteristics differ from the common dawn redwood. In 10 years, it reaches 12' tall and 5' wide. Full sun is required. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Metasequoia honshuenensis

Osmanthus ×fortunei 'Variegatus'
variegated Fortune's osmanthus

This unusual and very hard to find, evergreen shrub has one of the most attractive variegation patterns to be found. Gray-green leaves are set off by creamy white margins. Leaves can also be splashed or mostly creamy white. Small white flowers are extremely fragrant. This hybrid of O. fragrans and O. heterophyllus receives its fragrance from one parent and attractive leathery, "holly-like" leaves (2" to 4") from the other. Although both parents are large, the ultimate size of this slow growing plant is unknown. Hardy in USDA Zones 7a through 9b. These were propagated from a plant kindly donated by Nurseries Caroliniana (North Augusta, South Carolina). (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Osmanthus ×fortunei 'Variegatus'

Philadelphus 'Manteau d'Hermine'
mock-orange

Unlike its larger cousins, this is a superb dwarf mock-orange for the front of the border or small garden. Honored with the Royal Horticultural Society's prestigious Award of Garden Merit, it is an easy to grow, deciduous shrub with clusters of double, creamy-white flowers in summer. It's heavily scented with orange-blossom fragrance and has an arching mound habit. After flowering, prune shoots back to a strong bud. On older plants, encourage new growth by removing some of the oldest branches yearly. Performs best in well-drained soil and with full sun to partial shade. Reaches 2.5' tall and 5' wide. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Philadelphus 'Manteau d'Hermine'

Pinus taeda NCSU Dwarf Group
dwarf loblolly pine

We are proud to be able to offer these true to type seedlings, propagated from seeds collected from the JCRA's dwarf loblolly pine collection. Few others exist in the world, with propagation still remaining the biggest challenge. The JCRA's dwarf loblolly pines are unique and were derived from seeds collected from witch's brooms on loblolly pines in the 1960s. They are slow growing and produce beautiful, small sized trees with dense, rounded crowns. Full sun. (quart container)

  • evergreen tree to 30' (slowly)
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Pinus taeda NCSU Dwarf Group

Platycrater arguta
tea of heaven

This charming, little, hydrangea relative is a must for every shade or woodland garden. In late summer, clusters of nodding, white flowers appear on stems to about 18" tall and are very attractive on the background of the slender, bright green leaves. Native to China and Japan, our plant, originally received from Heronswood Nursery, is situated near the entrance to the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center in a moist setting where it receives some protection from the hot afternoon sun. May need some winter protection, since various references state hardiness to Zone 8. (4" container)

  • deciduous shrub to 4'
  • plant in part shade to part sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in July-August
Container size:
Platycrater arguta

Punica granatum 'Eight Ball'
pomegranate

This unusual pomegranate produces attractive fruit that are nearly black. Selected for its unusual fruit, hardiness, and large size at Plant Delights Nursery, this clone has survived a winter with temperatures as low as -9°F. Flowers are orange. This deciduous shrub grows best in full sun. Hardy in USDA Zones 7–10. These plants were grown from cuttings given to the JCRA courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery (Raleigh, North Carolina). (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Punica granatum 'Eight Ball'

Pyrrosia hastata
felt fern

This cool and funky semi-evergreen fern is native to northeast Asia. It has a felty leaf underside and fronds that will curl up to conserve moisture during periods of drought. Leaves arise from short, creeping rhizomes that form a clump to about 6" tall. Grows naturally on rocks and needs a well-drained soil, especially in winter. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Pyrrosia hastata

Rhododendron (collection)
rhododendron collection

We will select three of the four plants listed below for you to receive. Counts as two Connoisseur Plants choices.
R. reticulatum – lavender, purple flowers; early to late midseason; 3' tall.
R. tashiroi – pink; midseason; much branched shrub; 4' tall.
R. weyrichii
– orange, red; midseason; shrub or small tree; 5' tall.
R. yunnanense
– white, pink, lavender; midseason; erect, shrub; 5' tall.
Perform best in dappled shade. Soil should be well-drained, pH of 5 or less, and contain plenty of organic matter. (4" container)

Container size:
Rhododendron (collection)

Serissa japonica 'Kyoto'
Japanese snow rose

This intriguing, small, evergreen plant has tiny leaves clustered densely and tightly held against its stems. Flowers are light pink to white. The Arboretum's specimen has been growing in the Lath House since at least 1991 and is now nearly 3' tall and wide. It branches more freely and is more open than 'Sapporo'. Its wiry stems give an attractive Oriental appearance to this evergreen shrub. Grows best in full sun to part shade. (4" container)

  • woody evergreen to 3 feet
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • light pink to white flowers in mid to late summer
Container size:
Serissa japonica 'Kyoto'

Serissa japonica 'Sapporo'
Japanese snow rose

‘Sapporo' is the most cold hardy of the Serissa cultivars and is a favorite of several JCRA staff members. Growing in the Lath House since 1988, it was moved three years ago to an area of full sun behind the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center and is now 2' tall. This evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub has tiny, deep green leaves, and produces tons of little, white, funnel shaped flowers from spring to fall. Its many upright stems give it a very pretty and fine texture. (4" container)

  • evergreen shrub to 2'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring–fall
Container size:
Serissa japonica 'Sapporo'

Spiraea crenata
scalloped spirea

A rare, one-of-a-kind offering, indeed. These plants were propagated from specimens collected (as cuttings) from Asia at the Kazbegi Ecological Center, Nation of Georgia by Todd Lasseigne while he was JCRA assistant director. It has dainty, small, deciduous leaves on arching branches, clusters of white flowers, and orange-red fall color. After five years, it is 5' tall and 6' wide. Its native range is from southeast Europe, east to the Caucasus and Altai Mountains. It grows on open stony slopes and in shrubbery within the steppen and forest-steppen zones. Test this one along with us. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Spiraea crenata

Spiraea japonica 'Nana'
dwarf Japanese spirea

This adorable, dwarf, mounding shrub is just perfect for those with limited space and is easy to grow. An outstanding, little deciduous shrub, it has received the Royal Horticultural Society's prestigious Award of Garden Merit. Reaching only 1.5' tall and 2' wide, it makes a good choice for use in the front of the border or in a container. Tiny leaves are only a half inch in size and attractive, dark pink flowers cover the plant in mid- to late-summer. Performs best in full sun, well-drained soil, and medium moisture. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Spiraea japonica 'Nana'

Ulmus minor subsp. minor 'Pendula'
weeping smoothleaf elm

This rare and unusual weeping smoothleaf elm is rarely offered in the nursery trade. It is a fast growing, deciduous tree that should be staked. It will make a nice specimen, and if given plenty of room, it will develop into large weeping specimen. Performs best in full sun and in wide range of soil types. Hardy in USDA Zones 5–7. (4" container)

  • to As staked
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Ulmus minor subsp. minor 'Pendula'

Viburnum plicatum 'Pink Sensation'
pink Japanese snowball viburnum

‘Pink Sensation' is a show stopper each spring, but a very difficult plant to find in the nursery trade. Dense clusters of pink flowers cover this plant and catch the eye of most people walking near the brick parking circle at the JCRA. This attractive, deciduous shrub has a broad, rounded form and can reach 6' tall and wide. In the fall, the foliage turns lovely reddish purple. No serious disease or insect problems. Performs best in average, well-drained soil in full to part sun. Some say that this cultivar may be synonymous with V. plicatum 'Roseace' or 'Kern's Pink'. Zones 5–8. (4" container)

  • hardy
Container size:
Viburnum plicatum 'Pink Sensation'

Weigela florida 'Verweig'
My Monet variegated dwarf flowering weigela

This little plant leaves a big impression. A new release for 2007, My Monet™ adds long lasting color to semi shady areas year after year with colorful green, cream, and pink foliage. This deciduous shrub is a low mounded, dwarf plant, reaching only 12"–18" tall and 24" wide. Expect bright pink flowers each spring. Use in containers, the front of the perennial border, or as an edging plant. Best in partial shade and medium moisture. These plants were kindly donated by Proven Winners® ColorChoice®. Photographs provided www.provenwinners.com. (quart container)

  • flowering shrub to 4'–6'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • pink flowers in spring
Container size:
Weigela florida 'Verweig'