ShadyGardens Blog

January 11, 2013

Winter Honeysuckle: Fragrance for the Winter Garden

Filed under: bloom, fragrant, fragrantissima, Honeysuckle, Lonicera, shrub, winter — shadygardens @ 4:31 pm
Lonicera fragrantissima blooms small but fragrant

Lonicera fragrantissima is a large evergreen 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 on warm winter days even more special. 
We have received plenty of rain so far this winter, which could be the reason my shrubs are covered with so many flower buds. Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, this 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. 
Although I have received one complaint that Winter Honeysuckle should not be sold due to its invasive nature, I haven’t found that to be a valid complaint, since my large shrubs might produce only one or two seeds each per year, at most. However, before planting this in your garden, you might want to check the Invasive Species list for your state, which might be different from our situation here in drought-prone Georgia.

April 12, 2012

Kerria: Japanese Thornless Rose or Yellow Rose of Texas

Filed under: bloom, double, garden, Japanese, japonica, kerria, nursery, rose, shade, Shady, spring, Texas, thornless, winter, yellow — shadygardens @ 4:19 pm
Every year without fail, one of the first plants to bloom in our garden is Kerria Japonica. Whether you call it Kerria, Japanese Rose, Thornless Rose, or the Yellow Rose of Texas, we can all agree that this plant is spectacular in the early Spring garden. 

Often blooming before Spring has really arrived, Kerria keeps on blooming for well over a month, and then slips in more flowers off and on throughout Spring, Summer, and early Fall as long as it’s happy.

It doesn’t take much to make a happy plant out of Kerria Japonica. Kerria grows well in either sun or shade. Provide well drained soil and regular water, and she will reward you with more blooms each and every year.

Blooms are a bright golden yellow. Our garden is fortunate to have two different varieties of Kerria. Pleniflora has double yellow blooms that resemble pompoms. Shannon blooms are single and look like the flowers of a true rose. 

Kerria Japonica is available online at Shady Gardens Nursery.





February 17, 2012

What’s Blooming Today at Shady Gardens Nursery? Camellias

Filed under: bloom, camellia, drought, evergreen, japonica, shade, tolerant, winter — shadygardens @ 3:38 pm
Camellia Japonica (variety unknown-sorry, next time I’ll use indelible ink)
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Camellia in bloom. I was young, and I was new at gardening. I was driving through a residential area in the middle of January when I noticed a large, bushy, green shrub with large red blooms that looked like roses. Believe it or not, it took me a while to find out what it was! You’re probably laughing at me now, but thank goodness I’ve learned a few things about camellias since then. 

Large voluptuous blooms begin appearing in January on Japanese camellias here in our garden. The deep green glossy leaves provide a canvas for the blooms. Since camellias are evergreen, they provide the bones of the garden and also make a beautiful privacy screen if you need it.

A good companion for azaleas, camellias of all types should be planted in abundance in the Southern garden.

Camellias prefer a sheltered site away from drying winter winds. Bright, filtered shade beneath tall trees is ideal. Moist, well-drained soil is best, but camellias are drought tolerant once established. 

Remember that deer will eat the camellia blooms, so consider using a deer deterrent around them. Your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter has plenty of inexpensive deer-deterrent—the all-natural kind. Just ask the attendant which dogs are frisky enough for deer control! 

For additional deer control tips as well as a list of deer-resistant plants, consult Gardening in Deer Country. Please also notice the photos of our organic pest control staff to the right of this post.


October 27, 2011

Annabelle Hydrangea: A True Southern Belle

Filed under: annabelle, arborescens, bloom, flowers, Hydrangea, native, shrub, white — shadygardens @ 5:55 pm
Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle
Annabelle Hydrangea is a selection of our native American hydrangea, Hydrangea Arborescens.

Despite what you might think when you observe the delicate appearance of Annabelle, she is one of the most versatile hydrangeas in the garden. Much hardier than Hydrangea macrophylla, Annabelle grows well in colder areas of the North as well as the deep South. Since she is hardy in USDA Zones 3-10, Annabelle can be grown all over the United States.

Huge showy white blooms can be up to 10 inches across and can literally cover the shrub in early summer.

Annabelle blooms on new growth, which is good news for those of us here in Georgia where late frosts can prevent macrophylla hydrangeas from blooming at all. If spent blooms are removed, Annabelle will display a second bloom in late summer.

Annabelle Hydrangea depicts qualities that one might expect from a true Southern Belle: quiet beauty, reserved gracefulness, and an unobtrusive nature.

Annabelle is dependable with her bloom. She can be trusted to bloom even in the hottest of summers and during our most severe drought. Buds will form no matter how cold the winter and no matter how slowly spring arrives.

Annabelle hydrangea does not require any sun, and blooms quite well in the shade beneath large trees.

Fall is the perfect time for planting all shrubs, including Annabelle Hydrangea. 

September 30, 2009

Fall Planting: Shubs that Will Flourish!

Filed under: azalea, bloom, blueberry, buy, fall, garden, gardens, Hydrangea, nursery, online, plant, Rain, sale, Shady, ship, shrub — shadygardens @ 2:02 pm
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. 
October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! 
Since we are now receiving regular rainfall here in Georgia, you can take advantage of that and be ready to plant when another shower is headed your way.
Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having!

July 18, 2009

Four Oclock: Fragrant Blooms for the Evening Garden

If you like fragrant plants, the old-fashioned Four Oclock will be one of your favorites. Small pink blooms scent the garden with their sweet perfume every evening during summer. Mirabilis jalapa is a shrub-like multibranched perennial plant that emerges each spring from a large carrot-shaped tuber. The common name Four Oclock comes from its fascinating habit of opening its blooms around 4 oclock in the afternoon. That alone is enough to intrigue me, since I have a natural interest in plants with unusual traits. Although it’s called Four Oclock, in our garden Mirabilis actually opens her blooms around 5:30 pm, perfuming the air right about the time it begins to cool off enough to sit in the shade on the patio.

Four Oclock is very easy to grow. Easy to please, four oclock can be grown in sun or shade. Our plants get morning sun and afternoon shade, but four oclock grows equally well in full shade with a reasonable amount of water. She’s not a water hog, but good soil with regular water will keep the plant looking healthy and green with plenty of those fragrant blooms. Just so you’ll know, plants in our shade garden get very little water, yet still bloom and multiply with profusion. Plants in the sun that receive occasional water perform just about as well as those in dry shade. The few Four Oclocks we have in dry sun are just surviving.

I can’t really describe the fragrance–it’s just a sweet, pleasant scent that invites me to relax outdoors. You might not notice the scent until your plant gets large with many blooms. And if you’re never outdoors in the evening, well…you’ll just miss out entirely.

Another important feature of the fragrant Four Oclock is that hummingbirds just adore it! The hot pink blooms are tubular and full of nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. You’ll further enjoy sitting on the patio observing the tiny creatures flitting about around the plants.

Four Oclock dies to the ground with the onset of winter in colder zones, but re-emerges again in late spring. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-11, mirabilis can be grown anywhere in the southern half of the United States.

I must tell you also that Four Oclock is definitely a reseeder. Toward the end of summer you’ll notice small black cannonballs on the plants and the ground beneath. Those are very viable seeds. If you’ve had no luck growing Four Oclock from seed, that’s because these very hard seeds need a cold treatment to break them. It’s best to plant them in fall, but most gardeners don’t think about it then and seeds often are not available in the big box stores at that time of year. You’ll have nearly instant gratification if you go ahead and purchase a tuber instead. Heavy black carrot-shaped tubers will send up a stem very quickly after planting in warm summer soil. Four Oclock tubers are available for summer shipping from Shady Gardens Nursery.

April 5, 2009

Florida Anise: Evergreen, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant!

Filed under: Anise, bloom, blooms, Deer, evergreen, Florida, garden, native, nursery, proof, red, resistant, shade, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 3:04 pm


One of my favorite native shrubs is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall.

The evergreen leaves are dark and shiny. Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, large star-shaped seed pods develop–very unusual.

Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.

Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take more sun if planted in a boggy area.

If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.

Illicium floridanum is not the culinary Anise used as a spice–Florida Anise is poisonous if ingested, which is why deer won’t eat it.

Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them.If you’ve been searching for something a little less common than a camellia or gardenia, Florida Anise is perfect.

December 30, 2008

Native Plants for the Winter Garden

Filed under: bloom, evergreen, garden, gardening, Georgia, native, native shrub., plant, winter — shadygardens @ 2:11 pm


Since a Georgia winter has frequent warm days, we enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors even in January and February. Finding native plants that are showy in winter can be challenging.

We do have many non-native evergreens in our garden, but we find it important to plant native plants whenever possible. After much searching, I have come up with a few suggestions of American native plants you should add to your winter garden:

  • American Holly, of course for the berries!
  • Pachysandra Procumbens, often referred to as Allegheny Spurge, is a non-invasive groundcover that develops a silvery mottling to its leaves in fall and winter.
  • Lonicera fragrantissima begins blooming in January with sweetly fragrant and delicately beautiful blooms as shown in the above photo. This large growing shrub is commonly referred to as Winter Honeysuckle.
  • Evergreens are an important addition to any garden. One I like in particular that looks just as good in winter as any other time of year is Arizona Cypress.
  • Yucca provides spikey interest year round and provides contrast in the garden. I like ‘Golden Sword’ for its bright yellow stripes appearing like sunshine in the garden.

In addition to being beautiful year round, these plants offer the added benefit of being drought tolerant, which is an important asset to consider after the drought we’ve had!

January 1, 2008

Daphne Odora: Rare Shrub for Winter Bloom

Filed under: aureomarginata, bloom, blooms, Daphne, dry, fragrant, garden, gardening, nursery, odora, pink, shade, variegated, white — shadygardens @ 2:29 pm

Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find! Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers–right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you’ll love it!


Daphne Odora Aureomarginata PINK

December 29, 2007

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!

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