Connoisseur Plants

Connoisseur Plants are rare, new plants, or hard-to-find old favorites. These wonderful plants are being offered to our upper level members, Collector (formlery Sponsor) level and higher..

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.

To submit your selections, please use the form link in the e-mail you received on February 21 from Kathryn Wall. If you need assistance, please e-mail Kathryn at kbwall@ncsu.edu or call (919) 513-7004 Selections should be placed no later than end of day February 27, 2022.

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

2014 Plant Selection

Acer aff. fabri
Faber maple

This most un-maple-like maple was collected by the JCRA as collection number MWC12-784. It was found growing on Shi Keng Kong in the Nanling Mountains. We have tentatively identified it as Acer fabri, the hardiest evergreen maple we grow, but it may prove to be Acer lucidum—a much rarer maple in cultivation.

  • evergreen tree to 20' tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • red flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Agave striata
needle agave

This small agave will fit well into any sunny, well-drained spot in the garden where the thin, sharp-tipped leaves make a tight ball of shimmering blue-green. In mid-summer, a tall, 8' bottlebrush flower spike erupts from the rosette much to the delight of gardeners and hummingbirds alike. We've found this plant to be quite hardy for us.

  • woody lily to 18"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in mid-summer
Container size: 3" pot
Agave striata

Buddleja ×wardii
Kingdon-Ward's butterfly bush

  • flowering shrub to 12'
  • plant in sun
  • pale yellow flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot

Buxus microphylla var. riparia
Japanese boxwood

We received this boxwood variety from our friends at Hillier's Arboretum. It is a small-leafed plant forming a mid-sized shrub with a somewhat more lax and open habit than the typical species. It makes a lovely addition to the garden and is especially nice in a woodland setting.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot

Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Watnong'
spreading Japanese plum yew

Plum-yews are some of the very best conifers for southern landscapes with deep green foliage, great heat tolerance, and very deer resistance. This form selected by the Smiths at Watnong Nursery in NJ is a low spreading evergreen. Our plant is 10 years old and is about 2.5' tall by almost 8' across. Grow in shade to sun.

  • perennial evergreen to 2.5'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
Container size: 4" pot

Cephalotaxus wilsoniana
Taiwan plum yew

This endangered conifer has perhaps unsurprisingly been hard to find in the wild even after three JCRA trips to Taiwan. We originally received the parent of these plants from the Atlanta Botanical Garden's collection. It forms a loose shrub or small tree with somewhat pendant branchlets and deep green, long needles. It will tolerate relatively deep shade and is quite beautiful in a woodland setting.

  • evergreen shrub to 12'
  • plant in sun to shade
Container size: 3" pot
Cephalotaxus wilsoniana

Choisya 'Aztec Gold'

  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot

Cornus controversa
giant dogwood

We collected this dogwood just down from the famed Golden Buddha on China's sacred Mount Emei. What drew us especially to this form were the bright red stalks holding the blue-black fruit. Hopefully these seedling will show the same trait. At any rate, the tiered branching and showy flowers followed by striking fruit make this a beautiful addition to any garden.

  • flowering tree to 40'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Cornus controversa

Cyclamen hederifolium Ashwood Nurseries Silver Leaf Group
hardy cyclamen

When the leaves and flowers are about to go dormant, these brilliant pools of silver will brighten your garden. These plants are especially nice below deciduous trees and shrubs. Expect them to seed politely around your garden, never becoming a nuisance, simply creating more winter interest.

  • deciduous perennial to 4"
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • pink and white flowers in August-October
Container size: 3" pot
Cyclamen hederifolium Ashwood Nurseries Silver Leaf Group

Cyclamen hederifolium var. hederifolium f. albiflorum
hardy cyclamen

Delightful, pink or white flowers emerge directly from the ground each fall followed by dark green silvery patterned leaves. May take a few years to establish, but it will eventually self-seed and become abundant.

  • deciduous perennial to 1 foot
  • plant in part shade
  • hardy
  • pink or white flowers in fall
Container size: 3" pot
Cyclamen hederifolium var. hederifolium f. albiflorum

Dendropanax dentiger
dendropanax

Tony Avent collected this evergreen shrub on our joint Taiwan expedition in 2008 as A1TW-026. It has formed a low mound of yellowish-green foliage that hasn't suffered any winter damage under high shade. We think this plant has real potential as a landscape plant in the Southeast and are happy to be able to offer it here first.

  • evergreen shrub to 6' (we think)
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy semi-hardy
  • greenish-yellow flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Dendropanax dentiger

Dichroa febrifuga (ex. 'Suzuki Variegated')
blue-bead

Container size: 3" pot

Eucomis 'Reuben'
pineapple lily

  • perennial to 18"
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • pinkish-purple flowers in late summer
Container size: 4" pot

Ficaria verna Flore Pleno Group
double-flowered fig buttercup

  • deciduous perennial to 6"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in early spring
Container size: divisions

Fuchsia 'Sanihanf'
Angel Earrings Cascading hardy cascading fuchsia

We've killed more than our fair share of fuchsia over the years. They generally hate both our cold winters and hot summers. This selection from Japan has blown us away in the Lath House where it has formed a clambering, viney-shrub that sprawls through other plants and drips the ballerina-like purple and pink flowers over an extended season. If it dies to the ground in winter, it will pop back up and begin flowering by mid-late summer. Best in some shade.

  • die-back shrub to 3'
  • plant in part sun
  • pink and purple flowers in all season
Container size: 3" pot
Fuchsia 'Sanihanf'

Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart'
variegated Colchis ivy

  • hardy
Container size: cuttings

Heptapleurum aff. minutistellatum
hardy schefflera

We collected this species in 2012 at about 4500' on Shi Keng Kong along the southern slopes of the Nanling Mountains, where it made a distinctive textural element to the mostly broad-leaved forest edges, growing with podocarps, hydrangeas, magnolia, and a host of other exciting plants. We have not grown it outdoors yet but hold out hopes that it will prove hardy based on its associates and elevation. We are not 100% sure of the identification but think this may be the first offering in the U.S.

  • evergreen tree to 15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in winter
Container size: 3" pot

Holboellia brachyandra 'HWJ1023'
Heavenly Ascent sausage vine

In the words of Bleddyn Wynn-Jones of Crug Farms"A very distinct species (HWJ1023), which we collected from Fansipan the highest mountain in Vietnam, with Dan Hinkley in the autumn of 2003. Where this woody-stemmed evergreen, twining climber to 5m long bore parchment-textured dull green conspicuously veined leaves, pale below, composed of 3 broad leaflets. Bearing in April-May separate exceptionally large (for Holboellia) white purple tinted male and female scented flowers, followed by edible sausage-shaped purple-red fruits, when pollinated. Best grown in good garden soils enriched with organic matter, will require a sheltered site out of the coldest winds."

  • evergreen vine to 30'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white with purple base flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Hydrangea anomala subsp. glabra 'Crug Coral'
coral-pink climbing hydrangea

This climbing hydrangea was collected and named by our good friends at Crug Farms in Wales. The 6" wide lace-cap flower clusters are a lovely coral-pink color, quite unusual for a climbing hydrangea. It will cling to walls, arbors, or tree trunks with aerial rootlets. For best flowering, plant where the roots can stay cool but the top is exposed to sun.

  • vine to 15'–20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • coral-pink flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot

Hydrangea serrata 'Kokonoe-yama'
variegated mountain hydrangea

We received this variegated hydrangea from Tony Avent and it has quickly become one of our favorites. It is a delicate-appearing dwarf shrub with leaves heavily speckled leaves. Lace-cap flowers range from blue in acid soils to pink in more basic ones. When landscape designer Richard Hartlage visited the JCRA, this was one plant he couldn't live without. For shady gardens and ideal even for those who normally steer clear of variegated plants.

  • flowering shrub to 3'
  • plant in shade
  • zone 6
  • pink to blue flowers in late spring to early summer
  • white speckled leaves
Container size: 3" pot
Hydrangea serrata 'Kokonoe-yama'

Lysionotus kwangsiensis
west China lysionotus

This elegant little gesneriad has glossy, deep green leaves and 2" long lavender flowers often striped with purple. It grows above 4,000' in western China in forests. It will appreciate a somewhat moist woodland garden setting.

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in shade
  • lavender flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot

Magnolia laevifolia 'Michelle'
shrubby michelia

  • evergreen shrub to 12'–15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 1 gal

Mahonia russellii
Russell's grape holly

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • cream with pink tintr flowers in late winter
Container size: 3" pot

Photinia microphylla
littleleaf photinia

This Crug Farms collection (BSWJ11837) comes from the upper slopes of the mountains of Vietnam. We haven't been growing this for long but are told it has incredible fall color, white spring flowers, and orange-red fruit. We are already impressed with the fine texture of young plants.

  • flowering shrub to 8' (guessing)
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Pittosporum tobira 'Kansai Sunburst'
variegated Japanese pittosporum

This bright cultivar of Japanese pittosporum came to us from Japan. New growth is brilliant yellow before softening to a creamy edge on the evergreen foliage. Fragrant flowers are an added bonus. Reports indicate that this may be somewhat tender. Great in full sun to part shade or in a container that is brought indoors.

  • evergreen shrub to 5'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Pittosporum tobira 'Kansai Sunburst'

Polyspora chrysandra
false camellia

This evergreen camellia relative bears 2" white flowers with gold stamens on a shrubby plant 12'–20' tall. The species can be found at near 8,000' elevation and so may have a good degree of hardiness. Probably best under high shade.

  • evergreen shrub or small tree to 20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in late summer to fall
Container size: 3" pot

Rhododendron ovatum

Container size: 4" pot

Rosa 'Radtreasure'
Tahitian Treasure grandiflora rose

We have absolutely fallen in love with this exceptional rose. It has all the best attributes of a grandiflora rose—the traditional "rose" flower and habit making it great as a cut flower—combined with the toughness of a shrub rose—disease resistance, repeat flowering, strong growth. This is the perfect rose for integrating into any sunny landscape. The foliage even emerges burgundy before turning green and then back to burgundy for much of the winter. Simply outstanding.

  • flowering shrub to 4'
  • plant in sun
  • salmon flowers in all season
Container size: 3" pot
Rosa 'Radtreasure'

Salvia ×jamensis 'Sierra San Antonio'

  • herbaceous perrenial to 30"
  • plant in sun
  • yellow/peach flowers in early summer to late fall
Container size: 3" pot

Salvia oxyphora
Bolivian sage

  • herbaceous perennial to 5' tall
  • plant in full sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red-purple flowers in summer–fall
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'
hybrid sage

  • tender perennial to 2'–3' tall
  • plant in sun
  • pink flowers in spring-fall
Container size: cuttings

Taxus wallichiana var. mairei
Maire yew

The Chinese yew is well suited for southern gardens. It grows to 12' tall and wide after 20 years. If a male pollinator is nearby, it should set red fruits. The large shrub has attractive evergreen needles and orange exfoliating bark. With pruning, it can be kept as a tight hedge.

  • woody evergreen to 12'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Taxus wallichiana var. mairei

Tecoma stans var. angustata
esperanza

This Texas native is not reliably hardy, but in a warm, protected spot, it makes an upright shrub topped with tubular gold flowers continually until frost. We've found it will usually come back if mulched well and the winter is relatively mild.

  • die-back shrub to 5'
  • plant in sun
  • yellow flowers in summer to fall
Container size: 3" pot
Tecoma stans var. angustata

Titanotrichum oldhamii
gold false foxglove

This fuzzy-leaved African violet relative is unaccountably rare in gardens. The dark green foliage makes a nice presence all season long until late summer when flower spikes emerge and grow to 24"–36" tall and display deep golden flowers with a burgundy throat. It is easy to grow and hardy in a woodland garden and brings much-needed color to the late season in a shady spot.

  • herbaceous perennial to 3'
  • plant in part shade to shade
  • hardy to zone 6b
  • gold w/ burgundy throat flowers in late summer to fall
Container size: 3" pot
Titanotrichum oldhamii

Trochodendron aralioides
wheel tree

This evergreen tree is elegant in all seasons with whorls of glossy green foliage held on smooth green stems. Interesting rather than showy terminal flowers and fruits are chartreuse contrasting nicely with the dark foliage. It will make a medium-sized tree in sun to part shade.

  • evergreen tree to 20'–40'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy zone 6
  • green flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Trochodendron aralioides

Vaccinium (evergreen)
evergreen blueberry

We collected this evergreen blueberry in China in 2012 and think it is likely Viburnum bracteatum. At any rate, it was a medium-sized shrub with small tubular white flowers and little blueberries. Intriguingly, the Flora of China notes that is used to stain cooked rice. Probably best with a bit of shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soil.

  • evergreen shrub to 6' (guessing)
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot