ShadyGardens Blog

June 2, 2013

Eucalyptus Silver Dollar Tree in the Garden

Filed under: apple, argyle, cinerea, dollar, drought, eucalyptus, fragrant, hot, silver, sun, tolerant, tree — shadygardens @ 1:54 pm
Most of you know that Eucalyptus cinerea, also known as the Silver Dollar Gum Tree or Argyle Apple, is commonly used in floral arrangements. But you might not realize how easy it is to grow your own.



Eucalyptus has very fragrant but also beautiful blue-green foliage with a silvery cast. During cold weather, leaves often turn a rosey burgundy. Eucalyptus makes a great specimen plant, but also looks great massed in groups of 3 or more. Bark is cinnamon-colored and exfoliating, adding to the beauty of the tree.

Warm summer breezes send the fragrance of eucalyptus all over the garden.

Eucalyptus cinerea is an evergreen tree that will grow up to 60 feet tall fairly quickly. 

Eucalyptus cinerea
 Shady Gardens Nursery
This variety of Eucalyptus is hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 11, tolerating light frosts with no leaf damage. When temperatures dipped down into the teens here, our trees showed some damage but quickly rebounded. This species has been known to survive winter in Zone 6, where it will die to the ground and resprout if dead foliage is pruned away. Can also be grown indoors in a large container. Just prune it regularly to keep it the size you want.

Eucalyptus cinerea grows rapidly in an irregular form. Give it plenty of space, because the branching can grow quite wide horizontally–this tree can be up to 15 feet wide. A height of 50 or 60 feet can be expected.

Eucalyptus needs full sun and well-drained soil. Hot dry sun is not only preferred but enjoyed. 

When you plant, amend the soil with soil conditioner and sand to insure the soil is very well drained. Then water once, at planting time. Do not overwater. That’s all there is to growing Eucalyptus in your very own garden.

October 27, 2012

Dry Fall in Georgia – Can I Plant Anything Now?

Filed under: drought, dry, fall, Georgia, planting — shadygardens @ 2:05 pm
Well, folks, it certainly looks like we are in for a dry Fall here in Georgia. This really puts a damper on my Fall planting plans. Each year, I look forward to Fall, because this is the time of year that I can plant shrubs in the outer stretches of our garden. I cannot reach these parts of my garden with a hose, so I usually wait for rain to be in the forecast, and then I hurry out there with my shovel and shrubs. Earlier this week, according to our local meteorologist, we had a 20% chance of rain for today. I thought the day I had been waiting for was finally coming. Yesterday, that chance of rain was removed from our forecast. So far this Fall, I have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for that rain that just has not come. 



A rain shower every two or three weeks does not constitute regular rainfall that should be coming this time of year. I remember cold rainy days in October during my younger years. Back then, I did not enjoy that weather, because I had not yet discovered the joys of gardening. It seems like once I fell in love with plants and the gardening bug really bit me hard, the droughts came. And every single year I become more and more discouraged when I walk out into the garden. 

Our soil looks more like bricks I could use to build a potting shed than something in which to plant a shrub. This is the result of record-breaking intense heat along with a drought that has been going on for years. While we did receive nice rain showers in Spring this year that stirred up my excitement, received rain never caught up with our need. We began summer with a rainfall deficit.

What will I do? The only thing I can do is wait for rain…

October 26, 2012

Drought Damage in my Georgia Garden

Filed under: Beautyberry, drought, dry, garden, gardens, Georgia, lady banks, mahonia, nursery, Shady, shrubs, tolerant, trees — shadygardens @ 3:31 pm
I took a walk in the garden today to assess the damage the drought has caused thus far. Many of the plants believed to be drought-tolerant have actually suffered quite a bit. I did find a few surprises when I noticed plants that still look great in spite of absolutely no water, so I thought I’d share them with you. 


Lady Banks Rose has not wilted, although she’s been in the ground only one year. I can’t reach her with the hose, so I was a little worried. 

Other shrubs and trees with no wilt are: American Beautyberry, Holly, Paw Paw, Spirea, Arizona Cypress, and Rosemary. 



Established camellias and viburnums look fine, while newly planted ones wilt again every few days and recover only after a deep soaking. 

Mahonia from Shady Gardens Nursery
Although it will plant itself in your garden wherever it likes, Leatherleaf Mahonia never wilts. It provides a rough texture in the garden with its tough evergreen spiny leaves and bright yellow winter bloom sprays followed by dark purple berries that are loved by songbirds. It requires shade. Although it does reseed freely, I do not consider it to be an invasive plant. 

Perennials that still look great are Hosta, Rohdea, sedums, and succulents. Hardy Ice Plant is great for dry sun—rewarding you with flowers that open in full sun even with no rainfall. 

If you decide to add any of these recommended plants to your garden during this drought, remember that no plant is completely drought tolerant the first year, so water weekly in the absence of rain. In other words, water weekly, because obviously, there is no rain!

October 15, 2012

Georgia Drought Monitor

Filed under: county, drought, Georgia, Rain, tolerant, troup — shadygardens @ 2:31 pm
I don’t yet know what I can do with this information, but my despair prompted me to get online to find out if the drought is as serious as I think it is. I found this site which confirms my suspicions:
Georgia Drought Monitor.


Troup County is where we attempt to garden. And sure enough there we are, right there in a section labeled extreme/exceptional. And the “exceptional” section fills up most of Troup County, so I can be sure that includes us. Upon closer examination, I found that yes, of course, we are in that spot. I didn’t really need to see this, because I know when I look at the ground outside that we are suffering.

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.


January 26, 2012

What’s Blooming Today at Shady Gardens?

Filed under: Daphne, drought, February, fragrant, gardens, nursery, odora, pink, shade, Shady, shrub, tolerant, winter — shadygardens @ 2:19 pm
Daphne Odora Aureomarginata Pink Shady Gardens Nursery
Daphne odora is in full bloom today at Shady Gardens Nursery. 

Blooming in the middle of winter is just one special feature of Daphne Odora, lending this plant the common name of Winter Daphne. This shrub is also referred to as February Daphne, since blooms often appear during the month of February. 

Another favorite attribute of this plant is the reason for one of its other nicknames–Fragrant Daphne. The strong lemony scent permeates the winter garden even in cold climates. 

The evergreen variegated foliage is attractive year round, making it a beautiful addition to floral arrangements. 

The characteristic you might be most interested in is that Daphne odora is very drought tolerant. These plants have proved to be hardy in our hot Georgia climate even through several weeks of record summer heat and no rain. 

The only problem I have discovered with Daphne is that the roots will rot if allowed to remain wet for a prolonged period. When planting, site on a slight mound or hill and work in lots of organic matter to the planting hole to insure that the soil drains quickly. 

Daphne odora adapts well to containers, but be sure the pot has a drainage hole and no saucer beneath the pot to hold water. Terracotta or cement containers work very well, as they drain more quickly.

Daphne odora is a plant for every garden with a little shade.

October 17, 2010

Georgia Drought is an Annual Event–What Can You Do About It?

Filed under: drought, dry, native, plant, soil, Water — shadygardens @ 2:37 am
Delosperma nubigenum
As our climate here in Georgia becomes more hot and dry, it is important to make wise choices when considering plants for the garden. Inadequate rainfall again this summer caused many of our newly planted garden additions to die. 
If you don’t want to be faced with those same results again every single 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 a lot 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. By the way, some of these recommendations are actually native to the Southeast!
    Delosperma cooperi
  • 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 (shown in the top photo) 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: Blanket Flower
  • 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.
  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • 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!
  • Crossvine: Bignonia capreolata
  • 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.
    Red Buckeye: Aesculus pavia

    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 will always be a summer drought and plant some of our beautiful native American plants that are even more accustomed to the heat than we are!

August 27, 2010

Hot Georgia Summer in my Garden Part 2: Some Plants Look Great!

Filed under: drought, Georgia, heat, Passionvine, redbud, watering restrictions — shadygardens @ 3:34 pm

Recently I complained of plants wilting in this hot Georgia summer with no rain. I promised to let you know when I find some native plants who have held up to this heat with no wilting so far. We have still received no rain, and there isn’t really any rain in the forecast. I decided to check only in areas that I know have received no supplemental water – only rainfall. (Rain…what is rain?)

Passiflora Incarnata – Passion Vine

The following native plants look surprisingly beautiful in spite of temperatures in the upper 90’s and no rain:

  • Passiflora – Passion vine or Maypop
  • Lonicera fragrantissima – Winter Honeysuckle
  • Redbud
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Agave
  • Blueberries (established plants that were planted a few years ago)
Oakleaf Hydrangea at Callaway Gardens

With some plants, wilting or not depends on the site–those in shade look great but the ones receiving some direct Georgia sun are wilted pitifully:

  • Callicarpa americana – American Beautyberry
  • Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • American Holly

In recent years, mainly due to the drought that has lingered here in Georgia, I have been planting in my garden more species native to the Southwest. Arizona Cypress and Agave are two plants that are not native to our area but grow beautifully here with absolutely no supplemental water. 

Arizona Cypress looks this good this in every season!
If you’re in an area where watering restrictions keep you from planting in your garden, consider looking for some of the plants I’ve mentioned. They will not disappoint you!

August 12, 2010

Hot Georgia Summer Takes a Toll on my Garden

Filed under: drought, garden, Georgia, heat, plants, summer — shadygardens @ 4:52 pm
For the last several weeks, temperatures have reached 98 or above each afternoon, and with, most of the time, not a cloud in the sky! This climate can sure take a toll on garden plants–even those famous for loving hot, dry sun. In the last week I’ve noticed that even the butterfly bushes and lantana have wilted in the afternoon heat. That observation prompted me to get my ice water and take a walk through the garden looking for the tough guys. I thought I’d share with you my findings.

Plants not wilted in my garden today:
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Bamboo (where did that come from?!)
  • Cactus (if that ever wilts, I’ll quit gardening!)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Holly
  • Hosta
  • Loropetalum
  • Mahonia
  • Redbud
  • Rosemary
  • Spirea
  • Yucca (lol, you know that will never wilt!)
The plants mentioned above are in parts of the garden not irrigated. The only water they receive is what falls from heaven. As a native plant pusher, I was appalled to see that most of the non-wilted varieties are from foreign lands! It pains me to say that, but I will ponder on it, figuring that perhaps I need to do some research. This part of the country has been prone to heat and drought way longer than I’ve been gardening. Native plants have learned to deal with this weather much better than I have. So I’ll be stepping out in the heat to tour some local gardens I know to be native plant sanctuaries. I’ll have my notepad in hand, and I’ll let you know what I find.

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!

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