ShadyGardens Blog

March 13, 2014

Camellia, the State Flower of Alabama

Filed under: Alabama, camellia, flower, garden, japonica, sasanqua, shade, state — shadygardens @ 1:21 pm
Although Alabama’s State Flower is the Camellia, this popular Southern shrub is native to Asia. The first Camellias were brought to Charleston, South Carolina, in the late 1700’s by the French botanist Andre’ Michaux. Camellias are one of my favorite winter blooming plants. Camellias are often thought of as the Rose of Winter. There are thousands of different types of camellias, but most often what you see falls into one of two categories: Japonica and Sasanqua.
Camellia Japonica has glossy evergreen leaves and large blooms that may be any shade of white, red, or pick. Some even have “variegated” blooms that are spotched or striped. Blooms which can sometimes be very large come in several forms: single, double, semi-double, or peony type. Flowers hold up well indoors. I like to display them in a clear glass bowl.
Sasanqua Camellias have glossy evergreen foliage too, but the Sasanqua has different characteristics. Blooms are looser and appear more delicate, but the plant itself seems easier to grow. Sasanquas tolerate more sun that the Japanese Camellia, and they grow faster and larger too. 

By having a variety of both Japanese and Sasanqua Camellias in the garden, one can have blooms from Fall all the way into Spring. All camellias prefer some shade. Morning sun is okay, but give your camellias some protection from hot afternoon sun. They are all surprisingly drought tolerant once established, but you’ll need to water regularly the first few years to get your shrubs established.

A good reference book to add to your collection would be Camellias: The Gardener’s Encyclopedia, by Jennifer Trehane.
Although I do love camellias, personally, I think the State Flower should be one that is native to that state. But that’s just me. What do you think?

March 6, 2014

Did our Severe Cold Winter kill the Bugs?

Filed under: Alabama, cold, freezing, Georgia, mosquitoes, severe, ticks — shadygardens @ 4:26 pm
When temperatures were in the 20’s, teens, and even the single digits so many times this Winter, I felt like it would kill off some of the bugs. I’ve heard many people say, “At least we won’t have so many mosquitoes, ticks, and flies this summer!”


Our Birdbath stayed frozen for days
Well, I’m afraid that just isn’t so. Ask any old-timer, and they will tell you the bugs will still be here when temperatures warm up. I didn’t have to ask an old-timer, because early this morning I found a tick latched on under my clothes. And it has been cold outside this week! 
My father told me of a spider he observed from his front sitting room window during the coldest period this Winter. When night time temperatures were 7 degrees and day-time warm ups crept just to the 20’s, the spider remained curled up in a ball, appearing to be lifeless. But when the weather warmed up, the spider would slowly begin wiggling as if waking up from a long nap. Once he seemed satisfied that it was sufficiently warm enough to get to work, the spider would get busy rebuilding his web. 
According to entomologist Xing Ping Hu, research professor with Auburn University, the reason insects are so resilient is that they have adapted strategies for surviving the cold. Hu pointed out that both of our coldest states, Alaska and Minnesota, are bothered by mosquitoes during the summer, so why would mosquitoes be affected by the freezing temperatures in Alabama and Georgia? Yellow Jackets are the only insect population that might be affected here, because they are susceptible to the cold. (See AL.com). That will probably be good news to all the runners who were stung during the Boy Scout Troop Trail Trek in West Point last Fall.

June 15, 2011

Rescue K9-1-1 Needs Your Help!

Filed under: Alabama, animals, dog, K911, no kill, pet kill, rescue, shelter — shadygardens @ 2:46 pm

America's Favorite Animal Shelter Contest - help your animal shelter win $15,000 - vote today!

June 6, 2010

Alabama State Wildflower: Oakleaf Hydrangea

Filed under: Alabama, Hydrangea, native, Oakleaf, quercifolia, shrub, state, wildflower — shadygardens @ 1:50 pm
Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea
I am glad to learn that my favorite native shrub, the Oakleaf Hydrangea, is the State Wildflower of Alabama. Since I was raised in Alabama and we now live in Georgia very close to the Alabama state line, I am naturally drawn to plants native to Alabama.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very easy to grow, tolerating a wide variety of conditions. This deciduous shrub is native to the southeastern United States.
Hydrangea quercifolia gets its common name of Oakleaf Hydrangea from the large leaves shaped like those of our mighty oak tree. Deciduous foliage turns red in autumn and later falls from the plant but can hang on for quite a while when grown in shade during a mild winter. Once foliage falls from the plant, cinnamon colored exfoliating bark adds to its beauty.

Large blooms appearing in panicles in May and June last all season. Blooms begin white in color but change gradually to a rosey pink or purple and finally age to a soft brown persisting into the winter. Blooms are also quite long lasting as a cut flower.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea will grow large and can reach a size of about 8 feet tall and just as wide. 
This deciduous shrub is not picky about soil, even tolerating heavy clay, but grows best in well-drained soil with moderate moisture. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very drought tolerant once established and was the only hydrangea that bloomed in our garden during the severe drought of 2008 and 2009.
Hydrangea quercifolia can be found growing wild in all areas of Alabama, making it the ideal choice for the official wildflower of the state of Alabama.

April 9, 2010

Plant Sale Benefit for Food Bank of East Alabama

Filed under: Alabama, Auburn, East, Food Bank, gardeners, native, Opelika, plant, sale — shadygardens @ 2:55 pm
Just one area of plants for sale at the Plant Sale 2009
The Plant Sale Benefit for the Food Bank of East Alabama will be Sunday, April 18, 2010. All proceeds go directly to the Food Bank. The Food Bank of East Alabama has been providing groceries to needy families in the Opelika-Auburn area since 1993.

More than 300 different plant varieties will be available. You can pick from a large selection of annuals, bedding plants, herbs, perennials, shrubs, native plants, and even trees.

This is the 9th year these gardeners have held this particular sale. I was tickled to go last year for the first time. I must say I was caught off guard with the large number of varieties of plants and the prices. Both my children had to help me carry plants. They enjoyed helping me pick out new plants for our garden. Unfortunately I could only fit so many plants in the car and still be able to take my children home with me, so I finally had to leave. This year, I plan to go more prepared with a larger vehicle.

Plants I saw last time were healthy, well-cared for, and ready to go directly into the garden. The selection was so large that it was difficult to narrow down my purchases enough to fit in my small trunk.
In addition to the many lovely plants offered at more than reasonable prices, gardening experts will be available to answer any questions you might have.

If you can be in the Auburn, Alabama, area on April 18, 2010, you will not want to miss this plant sale. I know I can’t wait! For more information and directions, go to Gardener’s Plant Sale.

August 4, 2009

Rhododendron colemanii: Red Hills Azalea Discovered Growing Wild in Alabama

Recently I learned of a newly discovered deciduous azalea native to Georgia and Alabama called the Red Hills Azalea. Rhododendron colemanii ‘Red Hills’ is a wild azalea that grows in the Red Hills region of South Alabama and eastward barely into Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. This newly discovered species is one of the tallest, most richly colored, and most fragrant of all the native azaleas. The late blooming flowers (usually May) can be any color from pure white to deep pink or even yellow or orange.

Red Hills azalea seems to prefer cooler bottomlands near creeks and streams. I’d suggest siting this plant in the shade of tall hardwoods and providing regular water.

If you’re looking to add to your collection of rare native azaleas, you’ll want to check out this one. To purchase this plant, click here.

April 26, 2009

Alabama Azalea

Filed under: Alabama, alabamense, azalea, buy, drought tolerant, native, nursery, online, rhododendron — shadygardens @ 2:06 pm

Lovely white blooms in April have a spicy lemon scent. The Alabama Azalea is native to East Alabama. A native plant rarely found in the wild, Alabama Azalea is is usually found growing in poor, rocky soil. The Rhododendron Alabamense is a hardy, drought tolerant native azalea that will grow well anywhere in the Southeastern United States.

Blooms are white with a yellow blotch. Too bad computers don’t have ‘scratch & sniff’, because the blooms smell so good–kind of lemony and spicy!

Alabama Azalea is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9.

April 16, 2009

Plant Sale Benefit for the East Alabama Foodbank

Filed under: Alabama, Auburn, Food Bank, plant, sale — shadygardens @ 4:07 pm


If you’re anywhere close to the Auburn, Alabama, area, you won’t want to miss this plant sale! It’s for a good cause–all proceeds go directly to feeding those in need. Red Bee Balm (monarda didyma) shown in the above photo is one of many plants for a hummingbird garden that are for sale at the Gardener’s Plant Sale.

More than 250 plant varieties will be offered. Most of the plants were grown from seed and cannot be found anywhere else!

The plant sale will be held Sunday afternoon, April 19, 2009. For complete information as well as a map to help you find the sale, please visit http://gardenersplantsale.org/.

April 11, 2009

Plant Sale Benefit for East Alabama Food Bank Sunday April 19, 2009

Filed under: Alabama, Auburn, benefit, East Alabama, Food Bank, plant, sale — shadygardens @ 1:17 pm

If you’re anywhere close to the Auburn, Alabama, area, you won’t want to miss this plant sale! It’s for a good cause–all proceeds go directly to feeding those in need. Red Bee Balm (monarda didyma) shown in the above photo is one of many plants for a hummingbird garden that are for sale at the Gardener’s Plant Sale.

More than 250 plant varieties will be offered. Most of the plants were grown from seed and cannot be found anywhere else!
The plant sale will be held Sunday afternoon, April 19, 2009. For complete information as well as a map to help you find the sale, please visit http://gardenersplantsale.org/.

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