ShadyGardens Blog

March 28, 2014

Attracting Hummingbirds the Natural Way

Filed under: Aesculus, attracts, buckeye, gardens, hummingbirds, nursery, red, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 12:34 pm
Many of you put out hummingbird feeders every Spring, having to remember to keep them clean and filled all summer long and into early Fall. I prefer to provide food for hummingbirds the natural way–with plants.

By the way, did you know that because of the high energy of the hummingbird, he eats up to 3 times his body weight every single day?
Hummingbirds can visit as many as 20 flowers in just one minute. In order to have enough food, they must visit hundreds of flowers every day. Woa! That’s a lot of flowers!
Quite a few native plants can provide nectar for the voracious appetite of the energetic hummingbird. We have planted Red Salvia, Turk’s cap Hibiscus, and Red Trumpet Honeysuckle in our garden. But one of my favorite native plants is very important for the early arriving hummingbirds.
The Red Buckeye Tree, Aesculus pavia, blooms in March, or even late February when the Winter is mild. Since the Red buckeye naturally occurs in the edge of a woodland surrounded by large trees, it usually looks more like a bushy shrub. When planted out in the open, it can become a specimen tree up to 25 feet tall. Like most plants, the Buckeye Tree will produce many more blooms when grown in full sun.
March is a great time to plant the Red Buckeye. You won’t see it at the big box stores. Look for it at your local nursery that sells native plants. Young seedlings will begin blooming when less than 3 feet tall.
Your Red Buckeye Tree will become quite a focal point when covered with the large red panicles that come in early Spring. Plant it where all can see and enjoy it.
Source for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.

July 26, 2010

Georgia Drought is Here Again!

Filed under: buckeye, drought, Georgia, red — shadygardens @ 2:52 pm

After a spring with plenty of rainfall, summer has definitely been summer here in Georgia! One of the Red Buckeye Trees in our garden has lost every single leaf! It is still living however. Many of our native plants are accustomed to this annual drought to which the southeast is prone. Leaf loss can be simply a survival tactic–plants will defoliate and sort of hibernate when conditions become too difficult and will spring back to life when moisture levels and temperatures are more to their liking. Some plants will actually put on a whole new crop of leaves in September. If plants in your garden appear to be dead, you can check for signs of life by simply scratching the bark with your fingernail. If you see green, your plant is still alive!

October 16, 2009

Aesculus pavia: Red Buckeye Bloom in October!

Filed under: Aesculus, buckeye, buy, gardens, nursery, online, pavia, red, sale, Shady, ship — shadygardens @ 3:37 pm

Speaking of climate change, this crazy weather causes unusual phenomenon in the garden!

Take a look at the photo of our Red Buckeye Tree blooming today–October 16, 2009.

The Red Buckeye normally blooms in March here. This particular tree has a few other bloom buds getting ready to open within the next few days. I hope that doesn’t mean it won’t bloom in March, when I will be searching for signs of spring.

March 21, 2009

Red Buckeye – Native Plant for Hummingbirds

Filed under: Aesculus, buckeye, Callaway Gardens, dwarf, gardens, native, nursery, online, pavia, red, Shady, tree, woodland — shadygardens @ 2:47 pm


Dwarf Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, is one of the most showy native plants in our garden. Blooming very early in late winter or early spring, the large red panicle blooms are visible from a great distance, attracting hummingbirds as they return from their trip down south.

The Red Buckeye is among the first of the woodland plants to reawaken in spring, sending out tender new leaves as early as February. Lavish flowers appear early too, usually sometime in March for us.

The large luscious blooms attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to the early spring garden. The Red Buckeye begins blooming at a young age when only about 3 feet tall. Red panicle blooms are up to 6 inches long!

This deciduous tree is the perfect specimen for the edge of a woodland, offering a focal point to draw you into the garden. It is especially lovely when underplanted with early spring blooming wildflowers.

The palmately compound leaves are deep green and keep their attractive tropical look all season long.

Red Buckeye is very easy to grow. You will enjoy this lovely little tree in your woodland garden!

January 18, 2009

Gardening In Deer Country

Filed under: buckeye, Deer, deterrent, garden, gardening, gardens, Magnolia, native, plant, plants, resistant, sedums, shrub — shadygardens @ 7:31 pm

As lovers of animals, we welcome all wildlife into our garden, even deer and squirrels. We enjoy seeing the squirrels run and play among the oak trees and we like it when we awake to watch deer eating fallen acorns early in the morning fog. What we do not like, though, is taking a walk in our woodland garden to find that the deer have apparently enjoyed an all night buffet in our hosta bed, or enjoyed the tender buds of our blueberry bushes that held bloom buds that would have ultimately developed into juicy berries for our children.

Shadow, or large black lab, is getting older, taking more naps and chasing deer less. Actually, I have observed her lying down on a soft bed of leaves while watching deer forage right beside her! We accept that though, since she is a very good dog.

Still, we’d like to enjoy the investments we’ve made in our garden. Plants can get expensive. So what do we do about it? Getting rid of the deer is not an option for us. Fencing must be at least 10 feet tall and surround the whole garden to be effective. Deer deterrant sprays are too expensive and are just temporary, having to be resprayed after every rain or watering.

The best option we’ve come up with is to plant things deer do not eat. Many of the plants disliked by deer come with a strong fragrance which will fool the deer into thinking there’s nothing there they want. For every plant they like, we try to plant one they don’t.

Unfortunately, many of our native plants are tasty to deer. Afterall, God created a food source for the animals when he made the animals. If you have the space, you might just want to plant plenty of the plant, hoping when they eat, they’ll leave some for you to enjoy.

But there are a few easy to find native plants deer don’t like, and here’s a list to give you some ideas:

  • Buckeye
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Coreopsis
  • Iris
  • Native Ferns
  • Magnolia
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Sedums
  • Verbena
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yarrow

The deer-resistant plant list can be lengthened if you consider adding some non-native, yet non-invasive, plants to your garden. Herbs are great, since their scent is not a favorite of deer. Rosemary has helped us alot, making a great companion plant for our native dry roadside garden. For a list of non-native plants you should consider, please visit our other site, Gardening Shady Style.

February 12, 2008

Drought Tolerant Plants for Georgia Native Plant Gardens

As our climate here in Georgia becomes more hot and dry, it is important to make wise choices when considering plants for the garden. Necessary watering restrictions imposed last year caused many of our newly planted garden plants to die. If you don’t want to be faced with those same results again this year, consider plants that actually enjoy hot, dry growing conditions. My husband jokingly states that we live in the ‘Desert Southeast.’ Well, there really seems to be alot of truth to that new nickname, so we’ve added several plants to our garden that originate in the desert southwestern US. Plants from that region are accustomed to hot, dry climates with poor soil and most will adapt well to our climate here. Southwestern native plants need well-drained soil, though, and for the most part, Georgia soil is heavy clay. Some soil improvements will be necessary to help those plants survive here. Now, bear with me for a moment–I know you’re thinking I’m about to suggest you install a cactus garden, but I’m not. Most of the time when we think of the gardens of Arizona, we think only of cactus and yucca, but there’s more out there than that. I’ve compiled a list of garden worthy plants that deserve consideration for Georgia gardens, along with photos to show you how beautiful they are. Some of these recommendations are actually native to the Southeast!

  • Delosperma comes in several varieties with different foliage and bloom color, but my favorite Ice Plants are cooperi and nubigenum. Delosperma cooperi has rather large purple flowers resembling asters on a ground-hugging succulent plant. Delosperma nubigenum has sunny yellow flowers resembling daisies on a very low-growing succulent with jelly-bean shaped leaves that turn red with the onset of cold weather.
  • Gaillardia, often referred to as Blanket Flower or Indian Blanket, has blooms all summer long that, as the nickname implies, have all the colors of an Indian Blanket. The blooms are quite large and bright, visible from a distance, making this plant ideal for roadside gardens. Some even have ruffly or double petals!
  • Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan) and Echinacea (Coneflower) are probably already in your garden, but seek out some of the new colors which are hard to find but unusually beautiful.
  • Ornamental grasses will provide movement in the garden as well as foliage contrast. The blooms which are usually in the form of a plume or seed head offer additional beauty at the end of the season and also food for some of our native birds! An unusual native grass we grow in our garden, Muhlenbergia capillaris or Pink Muhly Grass, goes unnoticed all year until September when billows of pink cotton candy appear above the foliage–simply spectacular!
  • Bulbs tend to be more drought tolerant, so if a native plant forms a bulb, you can usually count on it surviving a drought and returning when more favorable conditions return. One of my favorites is a California native plant, Dichelostemma, commonly referred to as Firecracker plant. This plant is available in either red or pink blooms and likes dry summers! Other drought-tolerant native bulbs are Solomon’s Seal and Rain Lilies. Zephyranthes candida sends up lovely white blooms usually right after a good rain shower, which is the reason for its common name.
  • Amsonia is a native perennial that really looks like a grass to me. In early summer blue flowers are lovely, but in my opinion this plant is most beautiful in fall when the foliage turns the brightest of gold.
  • Baptisia also has many seasons of beauty–soft blue-tinted foliage appears in spring, vivid blue flowers are next, then large seed capsules that turn black in late summer. Wow!
  • Vines are needed in every garden for that vertical interest, and my absolute favorite of all is the very drought tolerant Cross Vine, Bignonia capreolata. Not to be confused with the also beautiful Trumpet Vine which can be invasive if not controlled, the Cross Vine is much easier to manage. And instead of just plain orange blooms, Bignonia has blooms that resemble a flame–yellow, orange, and pinkish red all on the same flower! Shaped like a trumpet, the blooms are a favorite of the hummingbirds here.
  • I wouldn’t be discussing native plants if I didn’t mention my very favorite native tree, the Red Buckeye. Unlike other buckeyes, the Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, grows well in dry soil. The huge red bloom panicles appear in very early spring even before the leaves, and provide food for the hummingbirds just as they are returning from their winter vacation.

    These plants tolerate our winters as well as our hot, humid summers, as long as the soil is well-drained. So as you plan for new additions to your garden this year, remember there’ll be a drought and plant some of our beautiful native American plants that are even more accustomed to the heat than we are!

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