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

2011 Plant Selection

Abelia parvifolia 'Saxon Gold'
golden glossy abelia

Brighten up a small garden with this wonderful selection of abelia. Bright gold new leaves age to lemon-lime and are tipped with bronzy red. Masses of pale pink flowers are produced throughout the growing season. This slow growing, elegant shrub certainly makes a great high-accent and low-maintenance choice for any border or container. Grows best in sun to part shade, and its ultimate size is 3' tall by 4' wide.

  • semi-evergreen shrub to 3' tall by 4' wide
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • pink flowers in all season
Container size:
Abelia parvifolia 'Saxon Gold'

Aucuba japonica (USNA #4)
Japanese aucuba

This aucuba came to us from the U.S. National Arboretum as an unnamed selection in 2004 and we think it's a great garden plant. Thick, glossy evergreen leaves are heavily spotted with gold. This male form of aucuba bears terminal clusters of four-petaled burgundy flowers which are showy in very early spring. It can serve as a pollinator for other aucubas in your garden. Makes an ideal plant to brighten a shady spot. Grows best in light shade to shade, and its ultimate size is 4'–6'.

  • to 4'–6'
  • plant in light shade to shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Aucuba japonica (USNA #4)

Baptisia (lavender)
lavender wild-indigo

We've been growing this unnamed form of wild-indigo found here at the JCRA for quite a few years and remain impressed with its performance and soft color. It makes a full clump of typical baptisia stems to about 24" tall and is topped in March by flower stalks rising just above the foliage bearing masses of pastel lavender pea flowers for several weeks. Every year it gets better and better in the garden. This will be a long-lived favorite for years on end in your landscape. It grows best in sun to light shade.

  • to 30"
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Baptisia (lavender)

Buxus sempervirens (Kew weeping)
weeping common boxwood

This weeping form of boxwood has pendulous tips to the branches forming an upright shrub with none of the formality typical of the genus. Boxwoods are ideal candidates for dry, shady spots in the garden and should be used as woodland plants more often. This plant from the famed Kew Gardens in England was brought to us by garden friend Bobby Wilder.

  • to 8'
  • plant in sun to shade
Container size:
Buxus sempervirens (Kew weeping)

Callicarpa japonica 'Shiji Murasaki'
Wine Spritzer beautyberry

A heavily variegated form of beautyberry with green leaves splashed and speckled white. New growth emerges pink and young stems are pink. Unlike the typical Japanese beautyberries, this form seems to grow somewhat upright and is heavily branched with none of the arching characteristics usually seen. Flowers are pinkish and so far we have seen no fruit set. Our plant has been surprisingly vigorous for the amount of variegation and has not burned in full sun with minimal irrigation. Grows best in sun to shade conditions, reaching an ultimate size of about 6'.

  • deciduous shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • pinkish flowers in early summer
  • variegated leaves
Container size:
Callicarpa japonica 'Shiji Murasaki'

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Perado'
El Dorado variegated blueblossom

Beautiful lime-yellow variegation on dark green foliage provides a striking contrast to the clusters of tiny, medium blue flowers in spring. Drought tolerant once established. This form was discovered in 1996 at Pershore College of Horticulture, Worcestershire, England. Lime-yellow variegation inspired this cultivar to be named El Dorado after the mythical city of gold. Grows best in full sun to light shade conditions, reaching an ultimate size of 8' tall by 8' wide.

  • to 8' tall by 8' wide
  • plant in full sun to light shade
Container size:
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Perado'

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Loenik'
semi-dwarf Hinoki falsecypress

These plants were propagated from cuttings taken from a specimen at Val Tyson's (JCRA plant recorder) garden in Chapel Hill. It's her favorite Hinoki cypress. She received her plant from plantsmen, Paul Jones (Sarah P. Duke Gardens, curator) 14 or 15 years ago. Leaves resemble green coral. New growth is bright green and its has a delicate appearance that adds a Japanese aesthetic to any garden. Discovered in the Netherlands in 1935 as a sport of 'Nana Gracilis'. Grows best in full sun, and it can reach an ultimate size of 8'–10'.

  • to 8'–10'
  • plant in full sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Loenik'

Cornus florida 'Suwanee Squat'
dwarf flowering dogwood

A most unusual and highly-desired form of our native flowering dogwood, 'Suwanee Squat' is the most height-challenged member of this group. It can ultimately grow to six or so feet tall with a spread two to three times as wide although it seems to be in no hurry to reach so high. Ours in the mixed border is only about 18"–24" tall and every bit of 48" wide. It flowers heavily and does not have the contorted leaves so common in the awkward weeping forms of dogwood. We've been told this is tough to grow, but our plant seems perfectly happy in a mostly shaded spot in good soil. We've put this on the list for the last couple of years but we never have nearly enough for everyone who asks for it so here goes again. If you've already received one, please let someone else get it this year. It grows best in partial shade to shade.

  • deciduous flowering tree to 5'
  • plant in partial sun to shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size:
Cornus florida 'Suwanee Squat'

Cornus stolonifera 'Avalon Gold'
gold-leaf redtwig dogwood

'Avalon Gold' adds multiseason interest to any garden. In winter, beautiful, deep wine-red, upright stems are striking on this deciduous shrub. In spring it is covered with creamy white, flat-topped flower clusters held above golden-yellow leaves. Looks especially nice growing with a background of evergreens. The best stem color is on young vigorous plants. 'Avalon Gold' was introduced by Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery (Avalon, Wisconsin). It grows best in sun to part shade conditions, reaching an ultimate size of 8' by 8'.

  • to 8' by 8'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Cornus stolonifera 'Avalon Gold'

Corylopsis glandulifera
golden winterhazel

Mark the arrival of spring with a magnificent display of the pale yellow chains of bell-shaped flowers that cover this deciduous shrub. Flowers have a spicy sweet fragrance and stand out against tan, leafless bark. Still underused, it has a graceful habit and attractive, tidy summer foliage. It is native to Anhui, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang provinances in China. Winterhazels grow well in sun or shade and mostly pest free.

  • to 4'–6'
  • plant in sun to partial shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Corylopsis glandulifera

Diervilla rivularis 'Troja Black'
purple-leaved Georgia bush honeysuckle

This is an exciting new Dutch selection of our native bush honeysuckle. The foliage emerges deep purple and is topped in summer by bright yellow flowers over an extended period This upright growing shrub will grow to about 5' tall and slightly wider. It grows best in full sun to part shade conditions.

  • deciduous flowering shrub to 3' tall × 6' wide
  • plant in full sun to part shade
  • yellow flowers in summer
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly and deer resistant
Container size:
Diervilla rivularis 'Troja Black'

Ehretia longiflora
Chinese koda tree

Strangely enough, this tree is a relative of our native bluebells and of lungworts. It makes a tree to 45' with large glossy leaves. Clusters of white flowers appear in spring making a lovely display on established trees. This plant has not been widely grown in the United States and we are unsure of its hardiness but hope it will prove hardy to zone 7b at least. It grows best in sun to light shade.

  • deciduous tree to 45'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • white flowers in spring
Container size:
Ehretia longiflora

Ephedra fedtschenkoae
joint fir

This is the perfect plant for a container or sunny spot where there isn't much room. Jointed, green stems provide a different texture than other garden plants. This little gem originally hails from the "stans" (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, etc.), so you know it's tough. We received the seed for our plants from Denver Botanic Garden.

  • to 2'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Ephedra fedtschenkoae

Forestiera neo-mexicana
desert olive

If you are looking for an intriguing plant with plenty of character for your garden, well, this is it. Native to the southwestern United States, this deciduous shrub can be grown into a dense hedge or pruned into a twisting, multi-stemmed small tree. In spring,clusters of tiny yellow-white flowers form along bare stems in axils of the previous year's leaves. Birds enjoy the considerable quantities of blue-black berries that female plants produce. Grows well in sun to part shade, dry or moist soils, and only well-drained sites.

  • to 10' by 10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Forestiera neo-mexicana

Gleditsia japonica var. delavayi
Father Delavay's honeylocust

A must have (don't grab) honeylocust that only a priest or rare plant nut could love! A very handsome tall tree native to southwest China, Guizhou, and Yunnan Provinces. Named after Father Père Jean Marie Delavay (1834–1895) who was a French missionary, explorer, and botanist sent to China in 1867. Stems are covered with vicious, often-branched spines from 1"–6" long. Greenish-yellow flowers give rise to long, strap-like beanpods to 20". Grows best in full to part shade.

  • to 35'–60'
  • plant in full to part shade
Container size:
Gleditsia japonica var. delavayi

Glyptostrobus pensilis
Chinese swamp cypress

We've grown this bald cypress relative for many years at the JCRA where it has graced the entrance to the White Garden. Like Taxodium, it is deciduous with soft pale green needles which become smaller and scale-like on mature shoots. In the wild it can grow to nearly 100' and will form cypress knees if grown in or near water. In drier locations, the knees do not form and the growth will be much reduced. The crown is irregularly shaped and typically quite open making it suitable for gardening under and around. The bark peels in attractive gray strips. These are larger plants and available only for pick-up. Grows best in full sun to part shade conditions.

  • deciduous tree to 30'+
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • semi-hardy
Container size:
Glyptostrobus pensilis

Hibiscus 'Holly Springs'
hybrid hibiscus

One of our long-time favorites growing in the Arboretum's Perennial Border is this lovely hybrid hibiscus. It came to the Arboretum as a cutting from Edith R. Eddleman in 1999 and has been a star in the garden ever since. In summer it is covered with large, exotic red blossoms that attract hummingbirds. In fall the erect, leafless stems start out reddish and then fade to a ghostly white in winter. It grows best in full sun conditions, and it can reach an ultimate size of 8'.

  • to 8'
  • plant in full sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Hibiscus 'Holly Springs'

Hydrangea aff. angustipetala
fragrant hydrangea

These hydrangeas are from seed that we collected in Taiwan and we're pretty sure about the identification but may need to see it in flower in the Arb. before we are certain. It should have large lacecaps of white sterile flowers surrounding chartreuse fertile flowers. The flowers appear very early in the season making it the first hydrangea of the season and the flowers are sweetly fragrant as well. Foliage is sharply serrated and attractive through the growing season.

  • flowering shrub to 3'
  • plant in shade
  • yellow with white flowers in spring
Container size:
Hydrangea aff. angustipetala

Hydrangea aff. scandens

This lovely small hydrangea was collected in Taiwan and although we still aren't completely certain of the identification, we think this plant is a winner. It has small, slightly fragrant flowers along the stem and makes a diminutive shrub perfect for a shady garden.

  • to 3'–6'
  • plant in shade
Container size:
Hydrangea aff. scandens

Hypericum patulum 'Variegata'
variegated goldencup St. Johns-wort

Eye-catching thin, green leaves are each outlined with a pure white margin. In summertime, large, bright yellow flowers form on the arching branches making a superb accent. Fast growing and somewhat spreading to about 18". It grows best in full to partial sun conditions.

  • to 3'
  • plant in full to partial sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Hypericum patulum 'Variegata'

Ilex glabra 'Gold Mine'
variegated inkberry

A bright twist on a native plant, this inkberry has glowing gold margins around each evergreen leaf. Plants will form a rounded plant over time and will be happy in full sun to part shade. Small black fruits show up against the foliage much better than in the species. This is a sport from the great garden selection 'Shamrock' so expect a reliable landscape performer. It can reach an ultimate size of 4'–6' by 4'–6', and grows best in sun to partial shade conditions.

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–6' by 4'–6'
  • plant in sun to partial shade
Container size: 3.5"
Ilex glabra 'Gold Mine'

Ilex maximowicziana

This small evergreen tree or shrub is native to a couple of the remote islands of Japan and Taiwan. The foliage is non-spiny resembling a yaupon holly with a deep glossy green surface. This rarely grown holly makes a great garden specimen and should be much more widely grown. It grows best in sun to shade conditions and can reach an ultimate size of 6'–9'.

  • to 6–9'
  • plant in sun to shade
Container size:
Ilex maximowicziana

Ilex pedunculosa 'Frosty Morn'
variegated longstalk holly

'Frosty Morn' is a rare form of longstalk holly with lustrous leaves that are splashed with creamy white and irregularly streaked. Longstalk hollies are named for the long stems (pedicels) that hold their red berries. They are perhaps the most cold-hardy of the evergreen hollies and their leaves have a smooth edge and no spines. This species is native to Japan and China and grows best in light shade to sunny conditions.

  • to 15'
  • plant in light shade to sun
Container size:
Ilex pedunculosa 'Frosty Morn'

Ilex vomitoria 'Dare County'
orange-berry yaupon holly

This selection of our native yaupon holly is distinguished from the typical form by its bright orange berries. It was found on the N.C. coast and makes a great ornamental for the garden as well as a favorite of birds. It fruits best in full sun but will tolerate a fair amount of shade as well and is fine in our heavy clay.

  • woody shrub to 15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Ilex vomitoria 'Dare County'

Ilex zhejiangensis

This is a rare species of Chinese evergreen holly which was only formally described in 1999. It is close cousins with the more common I. cornuta and will have similar bright red fruits. Look for it to make a large shrub or small tree over time. The glossy foliage looks beautiful all through the year and the fruits will attract birds to the garden. It grows best in sun to part shade.

  • to 25'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Ilex zhejiangensis

Indigofera tinctoria
true indigo

This lovely flowering shrub was the original source for indigo dye and was once a highly valuable crop. It is still valuable in the garden for its fine texture, graceful arching habit, and spikes of small pea flowers in late summer. The August flowers are a soft pink and help to cool down the late summer's typically hot garden colors. Plant this with bold textured plants for a lovely contrast. It grows best in sun to part shade, reaching an ultimate size of 5'.

  • to 5'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size:

Jasminum mesnyi 'Gold Tip'
variegated primrose jasmine

The mounding primrose jasmine grows as an arching shrub but can be trained up a support as a vine-like plant. The foliage is mostly evergreen, but may be burned back by cold winter snaps. Large, 2", sweetly scented yellow flowers appear in early spring and sporadically during early summer. This form has its tripartite leaves irregularly margined with bright gold. Best with some protection from hot afternoon sun.

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in spring
  • irregularly gold margined leaflets
Container size:
Jasminum mesnyi 'Gold Tip'

Juniperus virginiana 'Glauca Compacta'
compact blue eastern redcedar

Add stunning blue-green foliage and a compact form to our native eastern redcedar, and you end up with a great plant that is hard to kill. It's well known tolerance of drought and poor soils makes it very adaptable to most tough or neglected landscape situations. Looks really good in a container or as a specimen plant. It grows best in full sun to light shade and reaches 10' in height.

  • to 10' by 5'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Juniperus virginiana 'Glauca Compacta'

Lantana camara 'Citrus Salad'
lantana

This sport was found and named at the JCRA and is a lovely pastel combination of citrus colors which start soft lemon yellow in the morning, and slowly transform to tangerine before becoming pink grapefruit toned. The soft colors work well in most landscapes. Like its parent, 'Ham and Eggs', this is an exceptionally hardy form of lantana that is close to sterile. This is the first ever offering of this plant to the public. Grows best in full sun to light shade conditions, reaching an ultimate size of 5' by 10'.

  • flowering shrub to 5' by 10'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • yellow to pink flowers in mid-summer to late fall
Container size:
Lantana camara 'Citrus Salad'

Lespedeza thunbergii 'Variegata'
variegated bush-clover

This interesting selection was shared with us many years ago by our friends at Brookside Gardens in Maryland. The arching stems emerge from the ground in spring heavily speckled and splotched with white. As the heat cranks up over the summer, the leaves gradually turn pure green. Lavender flower spikes appear in mid-summer and then again in fall offering multi-season interest. Cut to the ground in winter. Typically, it reaches an ultimate size of 5'–6' and grows best in full sun to light shade.

  • to 5'–6'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Lespedeza thunbergii 'Variegata'

Mahonia bodinieri
Bodinier's grapeholly

These plants are from seed collected off of a Mahonia bodinieri in the garden of plantsman Ozzie Johnson. His mahonia however must have been fooling around with one of the many other mahonias in his garden since these seedlings are showing a wide variation in leaf morphology. The mature plant in your garden will be beautiful, but certainly won't be pure M. bodinieri. Look for fragrant, gold, winter flowers, spiny, evergreen, pinnate leaves which take on red and plum winter tones, and an upright habit on these plants. It will grow in sun or shady conditions.

  • to 4'–10'
  • plant in sun or shade
Container size:
Mahonia bodinieri

Orixa japonica 'Pearl Frost'
variegated Japanese orixa

'Pearl Frost' is a selection of a very rarely grown species with simply stunning variegation. The contrast between the grey leaves and their creamy white margins is impressive. This easily grown, deciduous shrub is a member of the citrus family and makes an excellent accent in your border or edge of a woodland. Grows best in light shade to part sun.

  • deciduous shrub to 8'
  • plant in light shade to part sun
Container size:
Orixa japonica 'Pearl Frost'

Parrotia subaequalis
Chinese ironwood

First described in 1960 as Hamamelis subaequalis then not seen in the wild again until 1988 and described from a flowering specimen in 1992 as a new genera, Shaniodendron subaequalis. In 1997, it was moved to Parrotia. It can become a tree to 30' tall but is more typically a large multi-stemmed shrub to small tree. It prefers a moist, well-drained location but seems perfectly adaptable to central North Carolina landscapes. The flowers have no petals, but do have somewhat showy red anthers and mature trees have excellent exfoliating bark. Fall color is orange to burgundy. This tree is virtually unknown to horticulture. Grows best in full sun to light shade.

  • shade tree to 30' tall
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • burgundy flowers in late winter
Container size:
Parrotia subaequalis

Philadelphus sericanthus
Chinese mock orange

This deciduous flowering shrub will make a great addition to any garden and everyone should be clamoring for it. It forms a small to medium deciduous shrub with thin, light green leaves on twiggy branches. In spring it bears clusters of 8–20 snow-white flowers each about 1" across for a mesmerizing display. The flowers are softly fragrant. This rarely grown mock orange is a real winner of a plant. It grows best in full sun to light shade.

  • flowering shrub to 3'–10'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • white flowers in late spring
Container size:
Philadelphus sericanthus

Pittosporum divaricatum
threadleaf pittosporum

A rare New Zealand native that makes a very striking and unusual specimen, especially in a container. It has very tiny, toothed leaves and an unusual rigid, and intertangled branching habit. In spring, it is covered with small, reddish-black flowers. There is simply no other plant available for southeastern gardens that provides the texture that this plant does. A great plant for playing "stump the botanist". It is easily kept at 3'–4' and grows best in full sun to light shade.

  • to to 8' but easily kept at 3'–4'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
Container size:
Pittosporum divaricatum

Pityopsis graminifolia
narrowleaf silk-grass

Irresistible strappy, grey-silver foliage with bright golden 2" clusters of daisy-like flowers in early fall. This tough, evergreen ground cover spreads to form nice patches and is easily grown in the home landscape. This North American native grows best in sunny dry locations, such as, sandy woods, roadsides, sandhills, and pine woods.

  • native winter hardy herbaceous perennial to 1'–3'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • yellow aster-like flowers in fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • silvery grass-like foliage
Container size:
Pityopsis graminifolia

Podocarpus aff. fasciculus
Taiwan yew-pine

We have tentatively identified this plant as P. fasciculus based on descriptions in the Flora of Taiwan. Some taxonomists have grouped this species with P. neriifolius but our plant does not agree well with the description of that species. At any rate, cuttings of this plant were collected in 2009 at nearly 6,500' in west-central Taiwan. New growth emerges rusty red before turning deep green. Based on the elevation this plant was growing, we feel it should be hardy in central North Carolina. Grows best in sun or shade conditions.

  • to 30'
  • plant in sun or shade
Container size:
Podocarpus aff. fasciculus

Pulsatilla patens
pasque flower

Harbingers of spring with simply irresistible bell-shaped, blue-violet flowers. Foliage is fern-like, silvery, and covered in fine hairs. Good soil drainage is essential, so it is best grown in gritty, dry to medium soils. Other Pulsatilla species have done very well in the JCRA's Scree Garden. The species is native to the northern hemisphere. This selection was collected at elevation 6,450'. in Douglas County Colorado.

  • to 12"–15"
  • plant in full sun to light shade
Container size:
Pulsatilla patens

Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Chirimen'
golden Asiatic jessamine

Known as "beautiful gold," this stunning Asian variety of jasmine has leaves that are a deep golden yellow, turning light orange in winter. It will fit in just about anywhere in the small garden, but is especially wonderful for a planter or as a small scale ground cover. Grows best in sun to part shade.

  • evergreen ground cover to <1' as a groundcover
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • creamy white flowers in spring
Container size:
Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Chirimen'

Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki
evergreen viburnum

We collected this viburnum in Taiwan in 2009 where it forms a relatively sizable shrub with large, glossy, evergreen foliage. Loose panicles of white flowers are followed by masses of bright red fruits. We only recently planted this out but expect it to be hardy in central North Carolina based on the other plants growing nearby. These plants are for pick up only. Grows best in sun to part shade, reaching an ultimate size of 10'.

  • hardy
Container size:
Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki

Viburnum propinquum
Chinese viburnum

Chinese viburnum is an evergreen species that screams to be more widely cultivated. Its has rich, leathery, lustrous dark green leaves, and a tight, compact stature. Chinese viburnum will flower late spring to summer with green white terminal flowers that are followed by glistening blue-black fruit in the fall. This is one of our favorite viburnums for fruit and foliage effects. It grows best in sun to part shade and reaches an ultimate height of 6'–10'.

  • to 6'–10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Viburnum propinquum