June Featured Plants

June Featured Plants

June is Perennial Gardening Month, and we’re celebrating all the beautiful blooms in our gardens as we settle into summertime at Cheekwood.

Our garden team has selected their top plant picks in the gardens this month. Use this as your guide as you tour the gardens, and be sure to keep an eye out for the labels in the flower beds to identify them, learn about them, and find inspiration for your own garden.

Turner Seasons Garden, Summer Section, located by the TRAINS!

Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice/ Calycanthus hybrid ‘Aphrodite’

This gorgeous native with large red blooms, which start off maroon and brighten in color as they open (great for arrangements as they are long-lasting), is a hybrid between C. chinensis and C. occidentalis. Sweetshrub responds best in both flower power and stature when grown in full sun, even though her natural habitat is deep within the forest canopy. Calycanthus is found in the wild from Virginia down to Florida. Plant in either sun or shade near an entranceway to maximize your exposure to its fragrance, a spicy apple. Even the bark of sweetshrub is scented and was once used as a substitute for cinnamon. This shrub is also DEER RESISTANT and tolerant of a wide range of soils.

Herb Study Garden: Fragrance and Texture Bed

Chihuly Floribunda Rose/ Rosa ‘Wekscemala’ Chihuly™

The Chihuly Rose was bred by Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses and named in honor of Dale Chihuly, the artist best known for his work with large-scale glass sculptures. When properly maintained- pruned in late February, fertilized and deadheaded regularly- this floribunda rose will bloom from May until frost. It is a true showstopper, like a sunset on a stem, with fabulous deep apricot and yellow coloration, often streaked with lighter yellow ones. Both bees and butterflies are fans.

Bradford Robertson Color Garden Arches

Betty Corning Clematis/ Clematis ‘Betty Corning’

The showy and fragrant blooms displayed on ‘Betty Corning’ are lilac-colored, beginning as petite cups with recurved tips before maturing and opening to show a full flower. Clematis originates from the Greek work klematis, which means “climbing plant”. It is a popular mailbox flower, adorning letter receptacles throughout the U.S., but it is also known to let loose as a groundcover and to become good friends with shrubs like Hydrangea, Fothergilla and even holly by climbing upon their branches. ‘Betty Corning’ originated in Albany, NY and is a cross between C. crispa  and C. viticella. She is guaranteed to flower from May to fall in more temperate climates. Her flowers are slightly fragrant and she can grow to be 6 feet tall.

Shōmu-en Japanese Garden

Japanese stewartia/ Stewartia pseudocamellia

Japanese Stewartia is a picturesque, small statured tree with an oval-pyramidal shape and remarkable multi-seasonal interest and member of the tea family. Small, white, cupped, camellia-like flowers appear in June and persist until July. In the fall, brilliant, truly outstanding fiery orange tonesemanate from the leaves. The branching pattern is delicately horizonal. The bark is exfoliating, and as the tree matures, becomes muscled, standing out in the bare-ness off winter. This Stewartia is most fitting as a specimen tree, reaching a height of 20-40’ in the landscape.

Carell Dogwood Garden: Dogwood Garden (west side)

Plantain Lily / Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’

Multi-year American Hosta Society award winner, ‘Sum and Substance’ is a diva among its kind with expansive heart-shaped leaves and growing up to 5 feet in diameter! Planting this dense-leaved cultivar can be one way to keep the weeds at bay…if you spray enough deer repellant, which many gardeners willingly do. Besides having a lovely shape, the leaves are also glossy, and thick textured. ‘Sum and Substance’ does surprisingly well when exposed to more sun, developing a rich golden leaf tone. The bloom is slightly fragrant and lavender in color.

Historic Martin Boxwood Gardens

Maidenhair tree/ Ginkgo biloba

A lot of people would say that the ginkgo tree is the winner of the fall color category. During other seasons of the year, just the unique leaf alone is stunning, shaped like a lady’s fan. Although a magnificent city park tree, it is perhaps not the best selection for a street with it’s potential height of 80’ and width of 40’. Typically, ginkgo presents no disease or pests issues. It’s heat tolerant and adaptable to many soil types. Its native habitat is China, however, being one of the oldest trees still in existence today (at least 150 million years), it was also native to North America at one time.

Photography by Andrew Bruckse Photography.

Burr Terrace Garden
Japanese Spikenard/ Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’

A thorn-less species, and a somewhat friendlier alternative to A. spinosa, you can find this Aralia’s edible young shoots and leaves underneath the name “udo” on a Japanese food menu. The foliage color of ‘Sun King’ is a bright chartreuse, perfect for adding light and color contrast to shaded garden designs. Flowers are white umbels arranged in panicle-full “spikes” that bloom from July to fall and are a favorite among pollinators. Dark purple berries popular among bird form after flowering. ‘Sun king’ is relatively deer tolerant and naturalizes easily while still behaving itself.

Howe Garden
Phlox / Phlox ‘Minnie Pearl’

‘Minnie Pearl’ appears to be a naturally occurring selection of P. carolina. It was first discovered along a roadside in Kemper, Mississippi by plantswoman, Karen Partlow. With creamy white flowers, it begins blooming early in April, but it is an incredible repeat bloomer and can provide flower interest throughout the summer months. ‘Minnie Pearl’ also exhibits a strong resistance to powdery mildew, which is a common problem within this genus. Reaching a maximum height of 2 feet tall, this selection is a wonderful native and hummingbird favorite.

Wills Garden
Spigelia marilandica / Indian Pink or Pink Root

Spigelia has upward facing, red trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow throats. Native to the southeastern U.S., it is one of the most beautiful star-shaped wildflowers found in our Tennessee forests. To happen upon this stunning flower is an incredible treat, however, they are most impressive when given more sunlight than the deeply canopied woodland they are commonly found. The tubular red flowers are a beacon for all the resident hummingbird and deadheading will encourage a rebloom. Spigelia can cause serious danger when used inappropriately (by ingestion, all parts are toxic), but it is an effective medicinal for treating tapeworm and roundworm when administered with the utmost care.

Weaver Walk Garden
Sweetbay Magnolia / Magnolia virginiana ‘Green Shadow’

‘Green Shadow’ is a conical-oval shaped evergreen magnolia, selected by Don Shadow. It can withstand below freezing temps, though it thrives in warmer climates. The bloom period is long; it’s been known to flower abundantly for more than 4 months with creamy white blooms that emit a lemony fragrance. The sweetbay’s fruit is apricot in color and of definite fall interest. Its foliage features glossy topsides and silvery undersides. This species not only prefers, but absolutely requires acidic soil. Also known as swamp magnolia, this Magnolia thrives in wet soil and warm climates. Gracefully reaching up to 35 feet tall, ‘Green Shadow’ makes a handsome specimen tree.


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