Plant of the Week

Plants of the Week: November 20

Ilex x _Whoa Nellie_ JTB (1)

Ilex ‘Whoa Nellie’

A brief and sudden cold-snap has decimated much of the tender greenery on Swarthmore’s campus. Thus, I’ve been looking for any bright pops of color to cheer me up before winter really sets in. Tucked away on the south side of the Cotswold Frats close to the train tracks is a small specimen of the Ilex cultivar ‘Whoa Nellie’.

This cultivar was named by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in honor of the (I.cornuta x I. aquifolium) hybrid ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ from which the sport was cut. ‘Whoa Nellie’ boasts a consistent new-foliage variegation of …

Continue reading »

Plants of the Week: October 16


Illicium mexicanum_003 RMAIllicium mexicanum ‘Aztec Fire’

Mexican anise

Hidden in plain sight at the corner of the Wister Center, this tiny Illicium mexicanum is still pumping out beautiful red blooms well into October. With the bloom time extended from spring to autumn, compared to our native Illicium which blooms only in spring, the large, red, protruding flowers of I. mexicanum can be enjoyed alongside the plump brown seed pods throughout the growing season.

Though this particular I. mexicanum ‘Aztec Fire’ at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College is maybe a foot tall, this cultivar can grow to be 8 feet tall …

Continue reading »

Plants of the Week: October 9

October 12 2017 RHR 015

Wikstroemia trichotoma

The small, rare Wikstroemia shrub is a unique addition to any garden. Currently a member of the mezereon family Thymelaeaceae and from eastern Asia, it was once ranked as a member of the genus Daphne which, along with Edgeworthia, is in the same family. Wikstroemia along with a few other genera of plants were historically used for making Washi paper which is of Japanese cultural significance.

In the wild, it is a small shrub that grows in open forests, shaded places, and along roads. The genus name honors Swedish botanist Johan Emanuel Wikström of the late 1700s, while

Continue reading »