Arisarum proboscideum

Arisarum proboscideum            Family: Araceae
(ay-ri-SAR-um  pro-bos-SID-ee-um)

Common name: mouse plant; mouse tail plant
Zone: USDA 7 – 9
Height: 4 – 6 in (10-15 cm)   Spread: 18 in (45 cm)
Aspect: part to full shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist; well-drained
Water: moderate; drought tolerant   

Description: An herbaceous, tuberous-rooted, ground-hugging woodland perennial with glossy green, arrowhead-shaped leaves. Flowers are maroon and white with a unique tail-like tip which can stretch to 6 inches (15 cm). The whole floral effect is of a the back end of a mouse diving underground with its tail waving in the air.


Special Notes: Native to Spain and Italy, this plant is related to Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit) which is native to eastern North America. It is winter hardy to USDA Zone 7…Zone 6 if given some protection. This is a spring ephemeral, appearing in early spring and disappearing below ground in the heat of summer.

Flowers are complete… having both male and female sexual organs. Fertilization is accomplished when the flowers attract small fungus gnats which subsequently become trapped within the flower and, in their struggle to escape, they inadvertently spread pollen from the male organs to the female.

Relatively drought tolerant once established. Pest and disease resistant.


In our Zone 7a garden: First signs of emergence start in the first two weeks of spring with tiny green spires of furled leaves appearing. Flower stems and buds show up shortly after. Bloom time begins about the second week of April and lasts remarkably well through to about the end of June. As soon as the heat really begins to ramp up, the whole clump disappears until the following spring.

I should mention…my one clump of mouse plant is situated in almost complete shade. Sun only reaches it in late winter and early spring and number of duration days only extends until the surrounding herbaceous perennials appear and leaf out and the chestnut tree leaves reach out to full canopy limit.


Great Plant Pick (GPP) 2008


Posted on April 2, 2020


Cylcamen coum

Cyclamen coum flowers Cyclamen coum           Family: Primulaceae
(SIK-la-men  KO-um)

Common name: Persian violet, eastern sowbread
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 3 – 6 in (7.5-15 cm)   Spread: 6 in (15 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial sun; shade
Soil: fertile; humus-rich; well-draining
Water: drought tolerant once established

Description: Tuberous perennial with round or heart-shaped dark green leaves which may have some silver or grey markings. Flower colour ranges from white through shades of pink with darker staining at the base of the petals. This is a spring ephermeral…flowering from December through March, depending on region, and going dormant through the summer.


Special Notes: Native to the Mediterranean, this delightful winter-blooming perennial does well as an understory specimen in rhododendron, maple, birch, Douglas fir and western red cedar plantings.

Self-seeding, this plant naturalizes nicely with the help of ants who are attracted to the sugary coating on the seeds. Tiny seedlings start to appear in late fall. Once the plants are established, they are drought tolerant.

Generally, disease- and pest-resistant; deer resistant.


In our Zone 7a garden: I have a slowly increasing patch of Cyclamen coum flowers underneath the Acer campestre, (European hedge maple), which are purely delightful when they come into flower in the middle of winter for us.

This bed in the garden landscape is a difficult one due to the maple roots sucking up all of the nutrients…leaving little for the other plants residing there. Because of this, I am always impressed by the plants who manage to survive such harsh treatment.


Awards: Named by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years.


Caution: Toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.


Posted on February 19, 2020



Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Helhan’ (Loraine Sunshine)

Heliopsis Loraine Sunshine

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Helhan’   Family: Asteraceae
Syn. Heliopsis helianthoides Loraine Sunshine
(hee-lee-OP-sis  hee-lee-an-THOY-deez)
Common name: false sunflower; ox-eye daisy
Zone: 3 – 9 
Height: 2 – 3 ft (60-90 cm)   Spread: 2 – 3 ft (60-90 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: average; well-draining
Water: moderate

Description: An herbaceous, upright growing, perennial. Dynamic lanceolate leaves are white with strong green colouring in the veins. Leaf edges tend to naturally curl upwards slightly. Round, daisy-like flowers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and a bright cheery yellow colour. Blooming period begins in mid-June and lasts through until frost. Good cut flowers. Drought tolerant once established. Powdery mildew can be a problem; allow for good air circulation. Watch for aphids.

Special Notes: Heliopsis spp. are native to the eastern and central regions of Canada and the United States. This variegated hybrid was discovered in a Wisconsin garden in 1992. Blooms of Bressingham took on the propagation and eventually introduced it worldwide.

Tolerant of a range of soil conditions with the exception of very fertile and very poor. The former produces lanky growth with a tendency to flop. Very poor soil conditions will produce a smaller clump with fewer stems.


Heliopsis helianthoides Loraine SunshineIn our Zone 7a garden:Loraine Sunshine was introduced into our back garden about ten years ago and has been greatly enjoyed ever since. At full three foot height and spread, the plant is pure delight when in full bloom and really quite incredible for its long bloom period extending into late fall. Even the tough drought conditions we have been experiencing for the last four summers now have not fazed its floral show. Can highly recommend this Heliopsis cultivar.


Posted on July 25, 2018

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