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.

2020 Plant Selection

Actinidia arguta (variegated)
variegated hardy kiwi

A kiwi vine grown for its attractive white, marginal variegation as well as its sweet fruit. The foliage just gets showier each year. This plant will flower in late spring, and if you have both a male and a female plant in proximity to each other, then the female will produce edible fruit that are smaller but slightly sweeter than the grocery store kiwi. Full sun to part shade, Zone 4.

  • decidous vine to 25'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
  • edible fruit, variegated foliage
Container size: 3" pot
Actinidia arguta (variegated)

aff. Chirita
hardy gesneriad

The genus Chirita is a gesneriad from China with fuzzy African-violet-like leaves and tube shaped flowers. This plant might just be a Chirita. Or it could be a relative such as Primulina or Henckelia. We have not figured that out just yet but now that it is in flower we should be able to key it out. In any case, it is pretty … a tight rosette of fuzzy gesneriad leaves and pale pink tubular flowers atop 6" stems. This could be a garden plant or a houseplant for you. We collected this seed in China in 2017 where we found it growing on rock faces at high elevations (MWZ17-094). Drainage is key to survival. Likely best in part sun to light shade on a slope or in a trough. Part sun, zone 7 we think.

  • herbaceous perennial to 6"
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • pale pink flowers
Container size: 3" pot
aff. Chirita

Aucuba japonica 'Mr. Wonderful'
dwarf Japanese aucuba

This dwarf 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. the original plant is not quite 2' tall and 3' wide. Glossy evergreen leaves (6" long × 2" wide) 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 female Aucuba specimens in your garden. Makes an ideal plant to brighten a shady spot. Grows best in light shade to shade.

  • evergreen shrub to 2' × 3'
  • plant in light shade to shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Aucuba japonica 'Mr. Wonderful'

Begonia 'Chandler's Hardy'
Shangri-La hardy begonia

Beautiful palmate olive-green leaves with silver spots are followed in the late summer by pale pink flowers. Prefers plenty of mulch and a moist location. A Shayne Chandler collection from China.

  • herbaceous perennial to 15"
  • plant in shade
  • root hardy
  • pink flowers in summer to fall
Container size: 3" pot
Begonia 'Chandler's Hardy'

Begonia aff. palmata

Collected by plant explorer Dan Hinkley (DJHM 13008) on the slopes of Mt. Phonganrazi at 9,000' elevation during a 2013 trip to Myanmar. Beautifully marbled leaves. Winter mulch suggested.

  • herbaceous perennial to 16"
  • plant in shade
  • semi-hardy
Container size: 6" pot
Begonia aff. palmata

Buddleja loricata
mountain sagewood

Everyone needs an evergreen butterfly-bush! This South African shrub bears tough, corrugated leaves all year through. The deep sage green leaves are highlighted by silvery hairs covering the stems and undersides of the leaves and the small flowers are very pleasantly fragrant.

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–5'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • creamy-white flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Buddleja loricata

Buxus sempervirens 'Angel's Gift'
Variegated Boxwood

This boxwood came to us from Angel's Gift Farm nearly a decade ago. We think it is among the best variegated boxwoods available with a wide, creamy white margin around each leaf. It has been an unnamed selection and as we distribute it for the first time ever we've named it for the originator. Our original plant is growing in full sun.

  • evergreen shrub to 3'–5'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • greenish yellow flowers in spring
  • deer resistant
Container size: 1 qt
Buxus sempervirens 'Angel's Gift'

Buxus sempervirens 'Emerald Gumdrop'
common boxwood

We've been watching this super dwarf boxwood for nearly 20 years and thinking, "Do we need another dwarf boxwood?" The answer is yes when it appears to be superior to much of what is available. These plants have shown great resistance to leaf miners and other insect and disease issues, grow squatly upright like a gumdrop. Our original plants are about 24" tall and nearly as wide.

  • evergreeen shrub to 24"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
  • glossy dark green foliage
Container size: 1 pt
Buxus sempervirens 'Emerald Gumdrop'

Buxus wallichiana
Himalayan boxwood

This dark green, evergreen shrub is an attractive candidate for southern gardens with its nice foliage and tolerance of shady growing conditions. Add the unusually large-sized leaves and you have a highly textural shrub that can be used to add to a subtropical-like planting in your garden.

  • evergreen perennial to 8'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Buxus wallichiana

Camellia japonica 'Korean Snow'
Japanese camellia

A super hardy camellia with pure white single flowers. This is easily hardy into zone 6b and likely colder. From a wild population in a very cold part of Korea.

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in winter to early spring
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
Container size: 1 qt
Camellia japonica 'Korean Snow'

Camellia sasanqua 'Ogonba'
sasanqua camellia

A gold leaf form of this popular landscape shrub that the JC Raulston Arboretum first acquired back in 2007 from Hawksridge nursery.

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • pale pink single flowers in fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
Container size: 3" pot
Camellia sasanqua 'Ogonba'

Camellia sinensis 'Silver Dust'
variegated tea

A small-leafed form of tea camellia with foliage heavily speckled with white. The variegation makes this a slow growing plant, ideal for gardens without much space. Small white flowers typical of the species. 4' to 5' tall by 3' to 4' wide in 10 years.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy to zone 7b
  • white flowers in fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
Container size: 3" pot
Camellia sinensis 'Silver Dust'

Ceanothus ×delilianus 'Henri Desfossé'
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. Although few of the blue ceanothus or California lilacs perform well in the hot, humid Southeast, this hybrid grows well for us due to it's white-flowered East Coast parent C. americanus crossed with the blue C. coeruleus.

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

Comanthosphace japonica 'Gin Santo Naka Fu'
silver Japanese shrub mint

(aka Leucosceptrum japonicum) A shrubby Japanese mint relative grown for its attractive foliage which is not unlike shade coleus. Slowly spreads to form a 5' wide colony in 5 years. If the foliage gets damaged, just cut the stems to the ground and it will re-flush with fresh foliage. The cultivar name 'Gin Santo Naka Fu' is japanese for 'silver with middle spot' which describes this cultivar well. Spikes of late season yellow–white bottlebrushes add to the show but the foliage is always the star. Part sun to shade, zone 5.

  • deciduous shrub to 3'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy to zone 7
  • yellow flowers in fall
  • deer resistant
  • colorful foliage
Container size: 3" pot
Comanthosphace japonica 'Gin Santo Naka Fu'

Cryptomeria japonica 'Lemonade'
Japanese cedar

Typical cryptomeria form that is distinguished by pale yellow new foliage. A pyramidal tree up to 20' in 10 years. Introduced by Cedar Lodge Nursery in New Zealand in 2009.

  • pyramidal evergreen conifer to 20' × 7'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 1 pt
Cryptomeria japonica 'Lemonade'

Cyrtomium caryotideum

The collecting day in Shaanxi province started with a massive display of mesmerizing whirligigs presumably left up after the golden week national holiday. It got even better when we found this showy holly fern (MWZ18-050) with 20" long blue–green fronds. We'll look to identify it as it matures. Shade, zone 7 at least.

  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Cyrtomium caryotideum

Disporum cf. bodinieri
fairy bells

Disporum is a rare deciduous groundcover perennial for shade that is popular among the horticultural cognoscenti. Related to Polygonatum it has a similar albeit smaller habit of upright stems lined with flowers in spring that are followed by black fruits in summer. This specimen was collected by JCRA director Mark Weathington on his 2014 trip to China (MWC14-1103). We are not quite sure if this is D. bodinieri or D. megalanthum.

  • spreading herbaceous perennial to 1.5'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
  • blue-black fruit in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Disporum cf. bodinieri

Drimiopsis (Kampersus striped)
striped false hosta

Pale green leaves with dark green longitudinal stripes. New to cultivation from northern South Africa. Taxonomists have not determined the species yet. Plants grown in part shade grow taller than in sun. Flowers are not showy.

  • herbaceous perennial to 6"–12"
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • tender
  • white flowers in late spring
  • striped leaves
Container size: 3" pot
Drimiopsis (Kampersus striped)

Emmenopterys henryi
Chinese emmenopterys

This is a deciduous, large tree with showy flowers (long panicles with white bracts) appearing in midsummer over an extended period. The thick textured flowers are intensely fragrant and a tree in full flower will stop even the most jaded plantsman in his or her tracks. The JCRA gets regular requests for seed of this lovely tree from across the globe. It typically takes more than a few years to see the flowers but these cutting grown plants from our tree should come into flower sooner than a seedling would.

  • deciduous tree to 30'–40'
  • plant in sun to partial shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer
  • exceptionally fragrant
Container size: 1 pt
Emmenopterys henryi

Ficus johannis subsp. afghanistanica 'Silver Lyre'
Afghan fig

Tony Avent of Plant Delights describes this plant as: Sean Hogan's extremely vigorous, silver leaf selection of Afghan fig, We think this probably represents a hybrid with the edible fig, Ficus carica. The upright woody stems quickly reach 20' tall and 10' wide … our plants reached 8' tall and 8' wide in 18 months. Each upright trunk is clothed with 4" long, snowflake-shaped, silvery green, sandpapery leaves … quite different from other green-leaf clones we have grown. The tiny figs are edible. We have never had any winter hardiness issues.

  • deciduous tree to 20'
  • plant in sun
  • 7b to 10b
Container size: 3" pot

Gardenia jasminoides (variegated, double flower)
variegated Cape jasmine

A gardenia flower is one of the most heavenly scented flowers in the plant kingdom. On a warm day in early summer just a few plants will perfume an entire garden. This unnamed cultivar has double flowers and leaves that are variegated with a green center and cream edge.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • semi-hardy
  • white flowers in early summer
  • incredible scent
Container size: 3" pot
Gardenia jasminoides (variegated, double flower)

Hydrangea lobbii
evergreen hydrangea

This evergreen (yes, evergreen) hydrangea doesn't even look like a hydrangea with its elongated fleshy leaves. It forms an upright shrub, our plant growing happily in the shade of our Lath House, and flowers in winter with lace-cap flowers bearing exceptionally large, white outer florets. Although it appears that this plant is not fully hardy in zone 7b (our plant has burnt to the ground in the past), this should be an exceptional plant in warmer zones.

  • upright evergreen shrub to 3' × 4'
  • plant in part sun
  • semi-hardy hardy
  • white flowers
  • fruit in winter to early spring
Container size: 3" pot
Hydrangea lobbii

Ilex opaca 'Canary'
yellow berried American holly

A cultivar of the N.C. native holly tree that features clear lemon-yellow berries. Adaptable to almost any climate and soil type in the eastern United States from the mountains to the coast. Fruit are enjoyed by the birds and flowers by pollinators. In time, a substantial handsome specimen plant. Sun to part shade, zone 5.

  • evergreen tree to 15' to 30'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy to zone 6
  • white flowers in spring
  • clear, lemon-yellow fruit
  • attracts birds
Container size: 1 qt
Ilex opaca 'Canary'

Lycoris ×albiflora 'Phil's Gold'

Tony Avent of Plant Delights describes this Lycoris as: (aka: Lycoris ×elsiae) a hybrid of Lycoris aurea and Lycoris radiata from Lycoris breeder, Phil Adams. The 21" cinnamon stalks emerge in mid-September, soon topped with six or seven frilly light butter-yellow flowers, highlighted by a central peach stripe down each petal. Light shade helps protect the foliage during periods when the winter temperatures drop below 12°F.

  • to 21"
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • 7b to 9b
  • in late summer to early fall
Container size: bulb

Lycoris radiata var. radiata 'Fire Engine'

Tony Avent of Plant Delights describes this Lycoris as: 'Fire Engine' begins flowering for us in late August with magnificent heads of heavily ruffled, fire engine red flowers. The most unique feature of this form is the purple-black 20" stalk that supports the flower.

  • to 20"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in late summer
Container size: bulb

Lycoris radiata var. radiata 'Modern Japanese'

Tony Avent of Plant Delights describes this Lycoris as: flowers for us with terminal heads of seven or eight brilliant, orange-red, lacy flowers atop 2' scapes, starting in early September, and is the last of the Lycoris radiata cultivars to flower.

  • to 24"
  • hardy
  • orange-red flowers in late summer
Container size: bulb

Lycoris ×straminea 'Strawberry Lemonade'

Tony Avent of Plant Delights describes this lycoris as: 'Strawberry Lemonade' is a plant we originally obtained from plantsman Jim Waddick in 2000 … that's proved exceptional and vigorous in our trials, with an unrivaled flower density. The 22" tall stalks are topped with peach-flushed buds, starting in mid-August (North Carolina), which open to creamy white flowers with a salmon flush to the petal backs. Over a few days, the flowers transition to a lovely salmon-peach.

  • to 22"
  • hardy
  • creamy white transitioning to salmon-peach flowers in late summer
Container size: bulb

Muehlenbeckia axillaris 'Tricolor'
creeping wire vine

New growth is heavily mottled with white and pink on this small scale evergreen ground cover. The youngest leaves have pink highlights.

  • creeping evergreen shrublet to 4"–6" tall by 30" wide
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
  • variegated foliage
Container size: 3" pot
Muehlenbeckia axillaris 'Tricolor'

Oxalis bowiei
Cape shamrock

A charming little perennial that emerges in fall with large (for an oxalis) three-lobed leaves that are quickly topped with large (again for an oxalis) hot pink flowers. The leaves will hang around until spring and then disappear for the summer. A pretty rock-garden plant.

  • ephemeral herbaceous perennial to 8" tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy semi-hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Oxalis bowiei

Pittosporum tobira 'Spring Bouquet'
Japanese pittosporum

The new growth on this evergreen shrub emerges in the spring almost completely white, slowly turning green. The cultivar was named by Ted Stephens of Nurseries Caroliniana because from a distance the white leaves look like a flower bouquet. White flowers are fragrant as well. Sun to light shade, zone 7.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'–8'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • fragrant white to yellow flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Pittosporum tobira 'Spring Bouquet'

Punica granatum 'Silver Surfer'
twisted pomegranate

This JCRA introduction bears irregularly curled and variegated foliage which highlights the rich orange flowers. Edible fruits follow the crepe paper flowers. It is an easy and drought tolerant shrub with long season appeal. Sun to light shade, zone 7.

  • flowering deciduous shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • orange flowers in summer
  • edible fruit in fall
Container size: 3" pot
Punica granatum 'Silver Surfer'

Rhododendron ×pulchrum (Matsuda gold)
variegated pretty rhododendron

The foliage of this semi-evergreen azalea emerge gold and provide a bright contrast to the magenta flowers. Over time, the foliage color fades to green. Shade, 4' tall.

  • semi-evergreen shrub to 3'–5'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • magenta flowers in spring
Container size: 6" pot
Rhododendron ×pulchrum (Matsuda gold)

Sinningia 'Arkansas Bells'
sinningia

'Arkansas Bells' sports pinkish-red tubular flowers on stalks that are taller than other sinningias. Its flowers have a pleasant, fruity scent and are a delight to hummingbirds. This amazing African violet relative thrives with cactus and agaves. Only winter hardy to 5°F, but is also makes a wonderful container plant.

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy to zone 8
  • pink flowers in early summer to fall
Container size: 1 pt
Sinningia 'Arkansas Bells'

Spiraea japonica 'NCSX1'
Double Play Candy Corn Japanese spirea

The foliage emerges brilliant red before becoming pumpkin orange and then bright gold. Red flowers start in early summer and are great for pollinators Deer will leave this candy corn alone as well.

  • deciduous shrub to 2'–2.5'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in all summer
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly and deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Spiraea japonica 'NCSX1'

×Sycoparrotia semidecidua 'Purple Haze'
sycoparrotia

An intergeneric hybrid between Sycopsis sinensis and Parrotia persica that should be grown for its blazing foliage. Before it leafs out in the spring, ×Sycoparrotia produces delicate red flowers on bare stems. In spring, the reddish-purple leaves begin their season-long show turning turn every color you can imagine from scarlet-red, bright-orange, golden-yellow to purple in the autumn. This purple haze will get "all in your brain." Sun to part shade, zone 6b.

  • tardily deciduous tree to 12'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red flowers in spring
  • purple foliage in spring
Container size: 3" pot
×Sycoparrotia semidecidua 'Purple Haze'

Viburnum ×globosum 'Jermyn's Globe'
viburnum

This hybrid Viburnum was found and named at Hillier's Nursery in England. It makes a dense, round, evergreen shrub which can eventually grow quite large but can be kept pruned to a smaller size. Wavy, deep green leaves are topped in spring by white flowers followed by blue berries which often persist until the following spring. Good in sun or shade, zone 6.

  • evergreen flowering shrub to 10' tall × 10' wide
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 1 gal
Viburnum ×globosum 'Jermyn's Globe'