ShadyGardens Blog

December 30, 2007

Fragrant Winter Honeysuckle Gets Me Outside in January!

Filed under: fragrant, fragrantissima, Honeysuckle, Lonicera, native, native plant, nursery, shrub, winter — shadygardens @ 5:55 pm

Lonicera fragrantissima is an American Native Honeysuckle Shrub that blooms in winter, hence the common name, Winter Honeysuckle.

The blooms are small but very fragrant, and they simply cover the shrub in January and February, making walks in the garden eagerly anticipated on those warm winter days we often have here in Georgia. My shrubs are already covered with flowerbuds although we had very little rain here this year. Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, this native shrub should be in any garden if you have the space for it.

Winter Honeysuckle will develop into a large shrub and is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. Red berries form in summer, but they’re so well-hidden behind the leaves that they usually go unnoticed by all but the birds who seem to know where to look.

Rohdea: Beautiful Year Round in Dry Shade!

Rohdea Japonica, also known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is a low-growing evergreen plant that is a great substitute for Hosta. Rohdea actually thrives in dry shade gardens, and is not bothered by deer. A native of the Orient, Rohdea should be more widely planted here. Its low-maintenance and tolerance for poor, dry soil make it an easy plant to grow, even for busy gardeners. The 1 foot long deep green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump that will cover a 2 foot area in several years. In late fall the insignificant flower stalks will develop into a 6-inch stalk of bright red berries at the base of the plant–just in time for Christmas! The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels which help to disperse the seed for more plants in the garden. Usually difficult to find in the United States, Rohdea is highly prized in Japan, with some fancy-leaved varieties often selling for thousands of dollars. If you can find it, Rohdea is definitely worth planting in the garden. Rohdea Japonica needs shade and will even grow in very deep shade with little water. This drought tolerant plant is perfect for a xeriscape garden in shade. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.

December 29, 2007

Fragrant Jasmine

Trachelospermum jasminoides is a very fragrant Jasmine that is known by several different common names. Star Jasmine, known as Confederate Jasmine in the Southeast, is an evergreen plant that can be grown as a vine or groundcover. The fragrance is heavenly in late spring when it blooms most profusely, but the plant will rebloom sporadically throughout the summer. Shiny dark green leaves turn red in winter, adding to the year round beauty of the plant. Trachelospermum Jasminoides is often grown as a houseplant where it isn’t hardy outdoors, but Confederate Jasmine is hardy in USDA Zones 8 -11. Preferring part to full shade, the Star Jasmine makes a great privacy screen when allowed to climb a trellis or fence. It makes a great container plant too, where it will continue to thrive if it must spend the winter indoors. This jasmine is a moderate to fast spreader, yet it isn’t considered invasive. There are no known pests or diseases involving this plant. Confederate Jasmine, or Star Jasmine, would make a beautiful addition to any Southern garden. If you’re interested in purchasing this plant, you will find it at http://www.shadygardens.biz.

Master Gardener Course

Do you love gardening so much that you just can’t get enough of it? Are you eager to learn all you can about all aspects of gardening? Does the thought of giving something back to your community appeal to you? If you’ve said yes to all of these questions, you should become a Master Gardener! You’ve probably heard the term before, but maybe thought you could not go back to school. Becoming a Master Gardener doesn’t require attending college or signing up for a lengthy course. The Master Gardener course is offered yearly, and is conducted by your local County Extension Office. Classes are held twice weekly for about 8 weeks, and a course fee is required. Speakers are very knowledgeable, and come from all over the state, often including professors from your state University. In exchange for all the instruction you will receive, you will be required to perform volunteer hours in some aspect of gardening. Some volunteers prefer to work with children, others find it very rewarding to work with the senior citizens, and some just want to do office work. Whatever your forte, there is something for you to do that will make a difference in your own home town. For more information on how you can become a Master Gardener, contact your local County Extension Service or read more about the Georgia Master Gardener Program online at: http://www.caes.uga.edu/departments/hort/extension/mastergardener/index.html.
Although we’ve received some rain, we do need more, so please continue to pray for rain. Happy New Year!

Hellebores: Winter Blooms in Dry Shade Gardens

Since we have many days of nice warm weather here during the winter, I like to find plants that will bloom in winter. Hellebores are evergreen perennial plants that bloom after Christmas in a rainbow of colors in shades of magenta, rose, mauve, and cream. Some blooms are even speckled. Often called Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose, Hellebores aren’t really roses at all, but are in the buttercup family. Hellebore is a very low-maintenance plant that thrives in dry shade—that’s right, dry shade! When not blooming, Hellebores have interesting, shiny, dark green foliage with leaves often serrated or even palmate. It is a long-lived perennial offering years of beauty in the shade garden. Hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, hellebores require no special care. They spread with time, forming clumps up to 2 feet across in just a few years. Amend the soil well with organic matter when planting, and you’ll be rewarded with many years of beauty. Hellebores are a great substitute for Hosta, but are even better. Hellebores are evergreen and the deer will not eat them! No matter what you decide to plant in your garden, get out there and enjoy it. And remember to thank God for the rain we’ve received!

December 3, 2007

Arizona Cypress Loves the Georgia Drought

As rain continues to remain scarce, we are constantly seeking out drought tolerant plants that will beautify our garden. A couple of years ago, we discovered the stately yet durable Arizona Cypress. We’ve had 2 years of drought here in West Central Georgia. The Arizona Cypress trees are planted in the hottest, driest part of our garden where the soil is nothing but hard clay bricks. The columnar Arizona Cypress ‘Blue Ice’ has continued to grow taller and taller while maintaining its narrow form. We just love it. The blue color of the foliage is just as beautiful as the Colorado Blue Spruce, yet grows much better in our hot Georgia climate. Our Arizona Cypress Trees receive no supplemental water at all. Last year, in the middle of our summer drought, we added two more trees, and they have responded so well to the drought that we think they actually enjoy it! The Arizona Cypress does love the heat—as its name implies, it is a native of Arizona. The Arizona Cypress makes a great hedge or screen, and it is available in both a pyramidal form and a columnar form. Both are equally beautiful and they also make a great living Christmas Tree. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-10, the Arizona Cypress Tree will make a beautiful addition to your garden.

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