Tasmanian Angel

Acanthus mollis ' Tasmanian Angel'

Acanthus mollis ‘ Tasmanian Angel’

Experienced gardeners long for more exotic selections than those found in their local nurseries. So they order plants from growers who specialize in seldom seen species and cultivars.
One of these growers is Herronswood Nursery in Willow Hill, Pa. Each January, I receive its catalog and expectantly unlock its treasure chest of pages, eager to glimpse the botanical jewels inside, a number of which are described below.
Upon opening the Herronswood catalog, I encounter the eye-popping Acanthus mollis `Tasmanian Angel.’ Even the ordinary Acanthus mollis, commonly known as bear’s breech, is extraordinary.
This plant is unforgettable on account of its enormous, deeply scalloped leaves. Normally, they are dark green but, in the case of the `Tasmanian Angel’ cultivar, they are marked with generous splotches of white. The flower spikes of bear’s breech, ramrod straight and up to 5 feet in height, are normally white and tan, yet display a frosty pink color on `Tasmanian angel.’
When it is not in bloom, bear’s breech is all foliage. It is a shade-loving perennial whose leaves grow directly out of rhizomes, which are semi-underground bulblike structures. As soon as its leaves begin to lose their characteristic sea-green sheen, they should be snapped off at ground level. Soon, fresh leaves will begin to emerge. Bear’s breeches are the most generous, yet humble, of garden plants.
They offer up distinctively sculptural leaves and naturalize slowly but surely in the shade garden, yet are never in need of fertilizer, and are eager to regrow as soon as their faded foliage is removed. Keep shredded bark or leaf mulch around bear’s breech to deter snails and slugs.

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