Sun King and other late summer beauties

The floral display of ‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, below) is of minor consequence, though the small, satellite shaped flowers are interesting and certain to attract bees. ‘Sun King’ is most remarkable for its brightly colored yellow foliage, and its size, growing nearly to six feet tall. I notice little difference with the shrub-like perennial growing in part sun, or shaded beneath branches of a wide spreading Japanese maple, other than growth is slightly stunted in the deeper shade. 

Summer, and particularly late summer, has been kind to the garden. Consistent rainfall has been most beneficial, but there are no complaints about the lack of severe heat. In the worst of summers, ‘Sun King’ will scorch with part sun exposure, but not this year. Few plants in the garden show signs typical of late summer except flowers, berries ripening on beautyberries, hollies, and dogwoods, and foliage of dogwoods has just begun to change color.

The oddly named ‘W-Ho-ping Toad’ toad lily (Tricyrtis formosana var. grandiflora ‘W-Ho-ping Toad’) grows vigorously, with a more open form than other, more common toad lilies. While ‘Sinonome’, ‘Miyazaki’, and ‘Samurai’ are most commonly available, other cultivars are found only from specialty growers. The common cultivars are excellent to start your collection.
A mutation with a branch of mixed white and purple berries on this purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) did not return this year. Beautyberries are unremarkable shrubs through most of the year, with clusters of small flowers that are minimally ornamental. However, in shade to part sun beautyberry is exceptional from late summer until frost.
The choice between white beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Albifructus’) and the purple berried shrub is a personal preference. Both are vigorous shrubs that are best placed to the side of the garden so they do not stand out through much of the year when they are plainly green. Most years, after typical winter cold beautyberries must be pruned to eliminate dead branch tips. With the warm winter this year, no pruning was necessary.
Canyon Creek abelia grows vigorously and flowers prolifically. Its habit is upright and loose. There are many abelias with more compact forms, but none with more abundant blooms.
‘Summer Ice’ daphne grows vigorously in full to part sun. Here, it is planted in part shade which slows it down a bit, and decreases flowering, but only a little. While daphnes have a well deserved reputation for being finicky, ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Eternal Fragrance’ seem to be the easiest of the lot. Both flower from early spring until frost.
‘Eternal Fragrance’ daphne is beginning its fourth or fifth period of flowering, with scattered flowers at all times in between. This daphne started to flower in late winter and will continue until freezing temperatures.
‘Othello’ ligularia grows in shade beside one of the garden’s ponds. Its foliage is attractive, but unfortunately, it is placed so that it is hidden from view.

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