Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is a horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
What’s in Bloom
Fringe Tree Chionanthus virginicus
Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa
Lilac Syringa spp.
Red buckeye Aesculus pavia
Azalea Rhododendron spp.
Carolina rose Rosa carolinia
Firethorn Pyracantha coccinea
Lilac Syringa spp.
Mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia
Sweetshrub Calycanthus florida
Shrubby cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa
Blue Star Amsonia spp.
Columbine Aquilegia spp.
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Peony Paeonia lactiflora
Lily-of-the-valley Convallaria majalis
Yellow corydalis Corydalis lutea
In the Spotlight
Foam Flower for Shade
Shade creates a challenging planting area once trees begin to leaf out. Groundcovers can offer a good solution when dealing with both tree roots and low light areas. One of the best groundcovers is the native foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia) which provides beneficial spring flowers and interesting foliage all season.
Foam flower forms a mound of heart-shaped leaves at 12” high and 18” wide. Though the numerous new cultivars recently created offer many choices of leaf shapes as well as leaf and flower color. Light, airy, white or pink flowers are produced mid-April through May offering valuable early nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. The small, airy flowers appear on 6”- 12” flower stalks that rise above the foliage.
Growing conditions include shade and a well-drained, slightly acid soil. Foam flower dislikes wet conditions, but can tolerate short periods of drought. This native wildflower groundcover spreads by producing offsets on stolons that produce new plants. It is a slower growing groundcover that spreads but is never considered invasive. Growing in zones 4-9, it is totally hardy in our area. Resistance to rabbit and deer browsing add to foam flowers success.
Foam flower can be viewed planted as a groundcover in many areas of the Lasdon Memorial Garden’s Shrub border. Foam flower not only makes a great groundcover, it is a beautiful addition to any shade garden. Look for it on your next visit to Lasdon.