It is the first day of summer and all the Mountain Laurel is coming to an end. Deep in the woods this magnificent plant (Kalmia latifolia for those insisting on proper nomenclature!) puts on quite a show and my heart always jumps a bit whenever I come across a grove shimmering in the forest. Certainly one of the most beautiful native flowering shrubs and a flower that cannot be ignored. In the woods north of East Hampton it is not unusual to find shrubs reaching 10 to 15 feet tall.
There are an endless amount of cultivars but the straight variety is still my favorite. Plant in dappled shade for best results and prepare to be patient - you might get 3 feet out of it in 10 years. Grows throughout the east coast from Maine to Florida.