ShadyGardens Blog

May 28, 2014

Rare White Spider Lilies: Hymenocallis coronaria

Filed under: Uncategorized — shadygardens @ 1:32 pm
Hymenocallis coronaria Shoal Lilies at Flat Shoals Creek

Hymenocallis coronaria Shoal Lilies at Flat Shoals Creek

This weekend we had the opportunity to visit a local property that is blessed with the very rare Hymenocallis coronaria. We call them Shoal Spider Lilies, because they are growing in Flat Shoals Creek, but this same plant is called Cahaba Lilies in Alabama, since they are growing there in the Cahaba River.

These Flat Shoals Lilies, as I call them, bloom only once a year. The blooms last 2 or 3 weeks, depending on the weather. This year, they bloomed a little later than normal because our winter was so reluctant to leave.

Hymenocallis coronaria resembles an amaryllis and is in the same family. Large white blooms about 3 inches wide are quite showy and held above tall stems. Foliage is strappy, like a lily.

 

The Shoal Lilies grow in full sun in the fast-moving water of rivers and large creeks.

The flowers attract a variety of pollinators but are especially enjoyed by the Pipevine Swallowtail.

Hymenocallis coronaria is found in only 3 Southern states: Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. This lily species is threatened due to several practices caused by us humans. The damming of rivers has caused the greatest threat, but pollution of the rivers caused by development, logging, and mining as well as poaching have also played a part in the reduction of Shoal Lily populations. Poaching is when an individual takes a plant or animal and sells it or uses it to his own advantage without consideration for the actual animal or plant itself. When a plant is listed on the threatened or endangered list, one should not dig it to take to his own garden or sell to others. This is practice is wrong and I believe punishable by law.

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day is the Day Set Aside to Remember Those Who Died for Our Country

Filed under: country, day, died, Memorial, remember — shadygardens @ 1:05 pm

Memorial Day is a Day to Remember the Brave Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives for our Freedom

Filed under: day, Memorial, remember, soldiers, Veterans — shadygardens @ 12:50 pm

May 21, 2014

Cherokee Rose: Georgia’s State Flower

Filed under: cherokee, China, flower, Georgia, native, plant, rosa laeveigata, rose, state — shadygardens @ 12:56 pm

Probably because the Cherokee Rose is Georgia’s State Flower, I am often asked if we grow it. Most have been disappointed or even shocked when I told them that we did not. 

Since it is Georgia’s State Flower, one would assume the Cherokee Rose is native to Georgia, but this plant originally came from China. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although our specialty is plants that are native to these parts, we grow many plants that are native to Asia. However, we do have to be careful with Asian plants, since many can be very invasive here (kudzu, honeysuckle, and wisteria), but that’s a separate post.

If the Cherokee Rose is not native to this state, you might be wondering how in the world it became Georgia’s State Flower. And furthermore, how did it come to be called the “Cherokee Rose”? There is an interesting legend behind that.

One of our nation’s earliest nurserymen, Thomas Affleck, introduced Rosa laeveigata and sold it to landowners all over the South in the 1800’s. Since that time, Rosa laeveigata has naturalized all over the state of Georgia. One of the saddest things in history to me is the removal of Cherokee families from their land in Georgia when they were forced to march on foot all the way to Oklahoma. This tragic relocation of the Cherokee became known as the “Trail of Tears.” According to the legend, every time a tear hit the ground, a rose grew in its place. That rose was Rosa laeveigata, later to be called the Cherokee Rose.

In 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated as the State Flower of Georgia with the support of the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs. Often confused with Rosa bracteata, the McCartney Rose, the Cherokee Rose blooms in Spring and is not invasive.

The Cherokee Rose is a vigorous climbing rose with ferocious thorns, but can be pruned and grown as a hedge. Large white flowers with yellow centers cover the plant in March or April.

Having learned this interesting piece of history, we might decide to produce this beautiful rose after all. If for no other reason than to remind us of an important event in history that should never have happened. Nowadays it seems everyone has something to grumble about. Oh, “Woe is me,” they seem to be saying. Well, imagine if you had been a Cherokee, back in 1838.

Look for us to have Rosa laeveigata in the future. Hopefully in the mean time, I can learn to spell it.

May 17, 2014

Bumble Bees are in Trouble Too!

Filed under: bumble bees, decline, endangered, honeybees, native, pollinators — shadygardens @ 7:11 pm
We often hear about the decline of the honeybee due to overuse of pesticides, herbicides, loss of habitat, and Colony Collapse Disorder (a general term used to express the decline of the honeybee population due to bees leaving the hive to die for reasons we do not know.) But did you know our native bumblebees are in trouble too? Honeybees are not the only pollinator in trouble. Our native bumblebees have faced a sharp decline all across the United States. The loss of bumblebees would severely affect our nation’s ecosystem, not to mention our farming system and our food supply.




Bumblebees love our Native Buttonbush,
Cephalanthus occidentalis

As a child I would sit on the back door step and watch bumblebees for an hour or more. The beautiful buzzing little bees just fascinated me. I think the reason there were so many bees there is because it was the only spot in the yard where lots of clover and other wildflowers grew. The bees loved it, and so did I. I enjoyed watching them, but I did not know then how important they are.



Bumblebees are more important to our environment than the non-native honeybees. Bumblebees pollinate native plants and wildflowers that produce seeds for birds and other wildlife. Bumblebees are the most important pollinators for many of the crops we depend on like blueberries and tomatoes. I just learned that farmers actually depend on bumblebees to pollinate crops grown in a greenhouse like peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. Wow! That is fascinating.

According to the Xerces Society, several species of the North American Bumblebee are on the verge of extinction. The main cause of bumblebee decline is the overuse of pesticides which kill not only the bad insects but also pollinators like the bumblebee.

You might be thinking, “Yes, but what can I do about it?”

Well, first of all, don’t use pesticides. Let nature take its course. If you don’t spray pesticides on your grass, flowering plants, and shrubs, birds and good bugs like Lady Bugs will take care of the problem naturally.

Secondly, plant flowers. Any kind of flowers. Bumblebees are not picky–they will visit any and every flower available to them. So just plant what you like. Try to have flowers available for them in every season. Here in the mild climate of Georgia, bumblebees are out from late winter to late fall. I’ve even seen them buzzing around on a warm day in January when our Mahonia was in full bloom.

There might not be much you can do about some some problems occurring in our environment, but this is one area where your actions can definitely make an impact.

If you are interested in trying to identify which kind of bumblebee you are seeing in your garden, take a look at BumbleBee.Org.

April 25, 2014

Easter Lily: Poison Plant

Filed under: cats, day, Easter, lilies, lilium, Lily, plants, Poison, toxic — shadygardens @ 12:38 pm

Cat lovers, be careful about bringing home an Easter Lily. Several types of lilies are toxic to cats: Tiger Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, and other Japanese Lilies.


Easter Lily



Lilies can cause acute kidney failure when eaten by a cat. All parts are poisonous–even just a nibble of the leaf or flower can result in kidney failure. If you see your cat consuming any part of a lily plant, take him immediately to your veterinarian for emergency treatment.






Lily of the Valley




Lily of the Valley, not a true lily, is dangerous for cats too, but in a different way. Convallaria majalis, causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and possibly even seizures, when ingested.






There is some controversy about whether or not daylilies are poisonous to cats. Not a true lily, hemerocallis species are edible for humans, rabbits, and deer. Both the leaves and the flowers are delicious in salads and taste much like lettuce. 



Hemerocallis Happy Returns Daylily
The ASPCA lumps daylilies in the same category as Lilium species on the toxic plants list, but I wanted to know what scientists believe so I searched a little deeper. The Hemerocallis species does not appear on the Toxic Plant List I found. You should take a look at that list–you might be surprised to find that you have several of the plants on their list. 

Spunky spends a lot of time in the Garden
At any rate, there has apparently not been enough study done to reveal whether or not daylilies are dangerous to cats. 


I do know that some things like aspirin are fine for us to ingest but are poison for our cats. When it comes to our pets, like our children, we are responsible for their safety. When you are unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution. If your pet seems sick after eating one of your plants, take him to the vet immediately along with a sample of the plant or at least the plant name.

April 20, 2014

Easter Blessings from Us at Shady Gardens

Filed under: cross, Easter, God, Son — shadygardens @ 12:54 pm

April 19, 2014

Easter Egg Dyes Made from Garden Vegetables and Kitchen Spices

Filed under: beets, cabbage, color, dye, Easter, eggs, homemade, natural, onion, skins, spices, vegetables — shadygardens @ 12:34 pm
Easter has always been an important day for my family. The true meaning of Easter is of course to remember the resurrection of our Lord. Many families miss church on Easter Sunday to get ready for that big family Easter egg hunt, but we never did. 

Many fond memories are in my heart as Easter approaches. I think of my dear late Mother even more on Easter, because she enjoyed it so much. Mama always made sure we had new Easter clothes to wear to church on Easter Sunday, even if she did not. She taught us the true meaning of Easter. And although the “Easter Bunny” did visit us each year leaving us lots of goodies in our Easter Basket, he left me my very first big Bible, reminding me that Jesus, not the Easter Bunny, is what Easter is all about. In our Easter basket every time, along with the candy, was a couple of dyed Easter eggs. 

When I got older, Mama let me help her color the Easter eggs. And when my children were old enough, she taught them. We’ve always used the store bought egg dying tablets or food coloring. But a few years ago I ran across the idea of using vegetables and spices from the kitchen instead. 

Now I adore anything homemade! Coloring eggs with vegetable scraps is fascinating to me. But when you think about it, it really makes sense. Take beets, for instance. They stain anything they come in contact with, from cutting boards to kitchen counters to fingers. But there are other vegetables that will work and some spices have concentrated color that makes a wonderful dye. 

The original color of the egg will alter the effect, in that darker eggs will yield a deeper or even a different color. Since our eggs now are several different colors because we have different breeds of chickens, I can’t wait to see what we end up with after they are dyed.
Here’s a list of foods and spices along with the color egg they will give you:
  • Beets make white eggs pink or brown eggs maroon
  • Red or Purple Onion Skins make lavender or red eggs
  • Yellow Onion Skins make white eggs orange or brown eggs rusty red
  • Purple Cabbage makes white eggs blue but brown eggs green
  • Spinach makes eggs green
  • Cumin makes eggs yellow
  • Turmeric makes yellow eggs
  • Paprika makes orange eggs
To make the dye, shred the vegetables and add 4 cups of the shredded vegetables to 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature, cover, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until a deep color is achieved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before straining the liquid. 



With spices, add 2 tablespoons of the spice to 1 quart of water. It is not necessary to boil the spice and water mixture–simply heat through and allow to steep. Colored teas will also work. Just steep as you normally would for drinking. 

To help the eggs soak up the color, stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the dye before using. 



(Once, I got the bright idea to save myself a step and I boiled the eggs in with the vegetables. That didn’t work for 2 reasons: the white of the egg was dyed too but also the eggs were too hard, so don’t do that.)

A single dipping will not color your eggs much with this dye. The eggs will need to soak for awhile. I lay my eggs in a single layer in a glass casserole dish and pour the colored liquid over the eggs making sure they are submerged in the homemade dye. Refrigerate. Allow the eggs to stay in the liquid as long as it takes to achieve the color you want. Taking a few out at different stages will give you different shades of the same color.

After the eggs are dyed, drain and dry them well with a paper towel and rub them with a little vegetable oil so they will really shine.

April 14, 2014

Troup County Master Gardeners Plant Sale & Swap

Filed under: county, gardeners, Georgia, LaGrange, Master, plant, sale, swap, troup — shadygardens @ 11:57 am
Saturday, April 26, 2014
9am until 2pm

Location: Agriculture Building on Vulcan Materials Road, 
LaGrange, Georgia – off Highway 27, across from Sam Walker Drive
  • Perennials for sun and shade
  • Vegetable Plants
  • Native Plants
  • Shrubs
  • House Plants
  • Groundcovers
  • Spring Annuals

Buy locally grown plants, grown by local gardeners, that will thrive in your garden.

Get answers for your difficult gardening questions.

Swap divisions of your plants at the exchange area, no money needed.

Proceeds from sale funds local Master Gardener projects and scholarships.

Open to the Public!

The Troup County Master Gardener Volunteer Program is provided by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.

April 12, 2014

Gardening Help for this Unpredictable Georgia Weather

Filed under: date, frost, Georgia, Rain, seeds, sow, weather, when — shadygardens @ 2:33 pm
Have you ever wished that you had made a record of how much rain you received over the past month? Have you ever wondered if your soil is warm enough in your garden to sow seeds?  And before planting peppers and tomatoes, we all need to know the date of our last expected frost.


If you live in Georgia, there is a way you can find out all that and more. Just go to the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network. Follow the link and you will find this map which is clickable so you can select the weather station closest to you.

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