ShadyGardens Blog

June 13, 2013

Alternatives to Leyland Cypress

Filed under: alternatives, Cypress, evergreen, hedge, holly, leyland, Osmanthus, privacy, rose, screen — shadygardens @ 11:57 am

Having been in the nursery business for many years now, we have received many requests for Leyland Cypress. Because of its fast growth rate and thick evergreen needles, Leyland Cypress is commonly planted close together in long rows as a privacy screen. It does make a good screen and very quickly too. However, most homeowners plant them way too close together. Because a mature Leyland Cypress Tree can be 12 to 20 feet wide, it is best to plant them at least 6 feet apart. I have seen local homeowners plant them 2 or 3 feet apart. The trees will grow quickly and just fine until they are wide enough to begin touching each other. Crowding leads to disease and ultimate death, resulting in a large brown dead tree right in the middle of the privacy screen. The University of Georgia has an excellent publication available for free detailing common Diseases of Leyland Cypress.




Rather than offer Leyland Cypress at our nursery and try to educate all on the proper planting techniques, I prefer to offer some more beautiful alternatives to the Leyland Cypress.

While it is true that Leyland Cypress offers excellent screening year round, why plant a tree that is simply evergreen, when you can plant an evergreen that offers additional benefits? Your options are limitless. You can choose from evergreens with berries, evergreens with showy blooms, evergreens with fragrant flowers, or even evergreens with edible fruit. But what I suggest to you is this: why choose at all? I recommend a mixed border. With my plan, you can have privacy, flowers, fragrance, and fruit all, by planting your property line with a variety of evergreen shrubs and trees.
Holly can’t be beat for a privacy screen.

Just make sure you choose one that will grow large enough, as there are many dwarf, low-growing, or compact varieties available. Additionally, not all hollies are evergreen. American Holly is the traditional Christmas Holly with spiny leaves and bright red decorative berries. A native American tree, American Holly is a very dense evergreen tree growing up to 50 feet tall. Chinese Hollies grow large also, and the heavy fruit-set attracts all kinds of birds to the garden. I like Lusterleaf Holly, for its large leaves and voluptuous clusters of red berries. Nellie R. Stevens is a cross between Chinese and English Holly. This fast-growing large shrub will provide privacy in no time, while also displaying large red berries against dark green foliage.

Camellias are a favorite for Southern gardens.


Sasanqua Camellias can grow quite fast if soil is rich and water is readily available. Blooms can be had in many colors and if you plant several different varieties, you can have blooms from September all the way to March. Japanese Camellias provide additional bloom types and colors, and with them you can extend your blooms all the way in to April or possibly even early May. Japonica blooms also make a good flower for taking indoors.

Rosa mutabilis Shady Gardens Nursery
Some varieties of shrub roses can get shockingly large, making them another ideal blooming plant for privacy screenings. Roses are mostly evergreen here in Georgia and Alabama. Knockout Roses are available everywhere now, even at the grocery store. Contrary to what is on the growing tag, they will grow up to 10 feet tall here in just 1 year’s time. Another shrub rose for privacy would be Mutabilis, an old China rose known as the Butterfly Rose. This rose grows very wide, so if you have a neighbor who wants you off her property, plant this one several feet from the property line. Rugosa Rose is one we haven’t got around to planting, but it is on our wishlist. Very thorny, so it will provide a barrier to keep out unwanted individuals. In addition to beautiful fragrant flowers, you and wild birds will be able to enjoy large orange or red rose hips in the Fall.
One of my favorite shrubs of all is Tea Olive. Osmanthus fragrans is so well-loved here that we have planted 6 of them already. When in bloom, our whole garden smells like fresh apricots. Flowers are very inconspicuous, but fragrance is oh so sweet! Osmanthus fragrans blooms heavily in Fall and again in Spring, with sporadic bloom all in between so that you can have fragrance in your garden almost year round. Osmanthus fortunei, also known as False Holly, has prickly holly-like leaves and flowers just as fragrant but that come only in Fall. Osmanthus Orange Blossom has masses of tiny orange flowers that, yet again, are just as fragrant as Osmanthus fragrans.

Orange Blossom Tea Olive also blooms just once a year in Fall, but all 3 of these large growing shrubs provide year round privacy with their dense evergreen foliage that is not usually bothered by any pests or diseases.

Edible plants are gaining in popularity for home-gardeners, probably due to the high cost of produce with the additional threat of food borne illnesses and pesticide contamination on store bought fruits and vegetables. Fruit-bearing evergreens are perfect for a privacy screen. Blueberry shrubs can develop into a nice dense bush when planted in full sun and given plenty of water. While not completely evergreen, blueberries are mostly evergreen in warmer areas of Georgia and Alabama. If citrus is hardy in your climate, Meyer Lemon and Loquat are excellent as an ornamental privacy screen. Fragrant blooms in summer develop into tasty and attractive fruit in winter.

These are just a few of my favorites, but you might also consider Gardenia for fragrant blooms. Evergreen viburnums provide both fragrant blooms and often showy berries too. Loropetalum has deep purple foliage and bright pink blooms in several months out of the year. Actually, I could go on and on. So I will stop here. Go ahead and get started on your beautiful privacy screen and check back soon for some additional recommendations for plants you can add as you’re ready.



This last photo is not my own, and the shrubs are not all evergreen. But isn’t this a spectacular hedge? Actually, the only time this border would not provide a privacy screen is in the dead of winter. And who’s sitting outside then anyway? Not me.

April 22, 2012

Chapman’s Rhododendron: Rare Evergreen Native Shrub

Filed under: chapman's, chapmanii, evergreen, Florida, gardens, native, nursery, rhododendron, Shady, shrub — shadygardens @ 1:33 pm
Rhododendron Chapmanii, Chapman’s Rhododendron
Evergreen Rhododendron Native to Florida
The rarest rhododendron of all might also be the most beautiful! I have grown native azaleas in my garden for years, but I did not even know an evergreen native rhododendron existed until recently.

The beautiful green foliage has a reddish tint in early Spring.

Rhododendron Chapmanii is the only evergreen rhododendron native to Florida, and actually there are only a few evergreen species of rhododendron native to the United States. 

Chapman’s Rhododendron is very rare, and is probably the most rare of all wild rhododendrons in North America. This rhododendron is an endangered species, so if you are lucky enough to find some growing wild, it is illegal to dig them up or disturb them in any way.

The beautiful rose pink flowers appearing in Spring are exquisite. The blooms are borne in clusters and look like bouquets on the tips of the branches.

Chapman’s Rhododendron occurs naturally only in Florida, but it can be grown anywhere in USDA Zones 5b – 8.

Rhododendron Chapmanii prefers dappled shade beneath pines or hardwoods. 

All rhododendrons need well-drained soil, but Chapman’s Rhododendron will need regular water.

I would not give it much direct sun. Afternoon sun would burn the lovely green foliage. 

To obtain this rare native plant for your garden, please visit 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.


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.

April 4, 2009

Hellebores: Deer Proof Groundcover for Shade

Filed under: buy, Deer, evergreen, gardens, groundcover, Hellebore, Hellebores, Helleborus, nursery, online, proof, resistant, shade, Shady — shadygardens @ 2:51 pm

Hellebore, Helleborus, commonly referred to as Lenten Rose, is what I call a perfect garden plant! Rich green palmate leaves look lush even on the coldest days of winter. Blooms begin opening right after Christmas and can be enjoyed right up until the beginning of spring. And if the fact that Hellebores are evergreen and winter blooming isn’t enough for you, would you believe that deer won’t eat it?


Hellebores are very easy to grow. They do enjoy a rich soil, but are very drought tolerant plants. Our modest patch of hellebores is located in an area of the shade garden that we cannot reach with the hose.

Blooms which appear in winter and very early spring are varied in color. They can be white, green, pink, maroon, or even speckled! When the blooms begin to fade, seeds develop. Within a few years your hellebore patch can double in size.

Once the blooms are gone, new bright green new growth emerges. The palmate deep green leaves make a very attractive groundcover up to 18 inches tall.

Hellebores can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it’s hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.

Well-drained soil is best, so amend with compost to make your plants happy.

Try some hellebores in your garden, and they’ll make you happy as well!

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!

November 26, 2008

The Winter Garden

Filed under: Daphne, drought tolerant, evergreen, Fatsia, garden, Georgia, rohdea, shrub, winter — shadygardens @ 2:17 pm


Since a Georgia winter has frequent warm days, we enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors even in January and February. Although native plants are most important to us, finding native plants that are showy in winter can be challenging. We do have many non-native evergreens in our garden. In addition to the popular choices of Azaleas, Camellias, and Hollies which we all must have, here is a list of some less common plants I’ve found to be truly easy to grow:

  • Daphne odora – Fragrant Winter Daphne – a compact evergreen shrub available with variegated foliage and winter blooms of either pink or white. Extremely fragrant! Drought-tolerant and shade-loving. (Requires very well-drained soil.)
  • Fatsia Japonica, Japanese Aralia, is an evergreen shrub with large hand-shaped leaves. Fatsia sends up a weird looking white bloom spike in winter. Very drought-tolerant. Likes deep shade.
  • Rohdea Japonica, Japanese Sacred Lily or Nippon Lily, is an evergreen groundcover that loves dry shade. Once established, Rohdea is the perfect plant for a Christmas garden, since the insignificant summer flowers turn into large, juicy-looking (but poisonous) red berries just in time for Christmas.
  • Mahonia, sometimes called Grape Holly or Leatherleaf, is one of my favorite evergreens for shade. Mahonia has an irregular growth pattern that I find difficult to describe, so I’ve included a photo above so you can see it for yourself. The prickly holly-like leaves are evergreen, and the plant is most attractive when grown Notice the purple berries on our plants. Very showy yellow blooms appear right around Christmas and last about a month. Since bees come out here in winter, the flowers are well-pollinated so the ‘grape-like’ berries develop by spring. The birds don’t eat them until they shrivel like raisins.
  • Aspidistra elatior, Cast Iron Plant, truly lives up to its common name. Spikey leaves resembling a peace lily or Mother-in-law’s Tongue are evergreen. Aspidistra enjoys deep shade and tolerates drought as if she enjoys it!
  • Hellebore, Lenten Rose, is an perennial/groundcover plant with palmate evergreen leaves. Hellebores display a variety of different colored blooms in winter, often when it’s just too cold to go outside, so plant them in shade where you can view them from inside!

For more information and photos of these plants, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

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.

November 7, 2007

Daphne Odora – Fragrant Winter Daphne – for Dry Shade

Filed under: Daphne, drought, dry, evergreen, fragrant, odora, plant, shade, shrub, tolerant, winter — shadygardens @ 3:31 pm

Daphne odora, Fragrant Winter Daphne…mmm—the fragrance is just lovely. If you’ve never had the pleasure of approaching a Winter Daphne shrub in bloom, just imagine a bowl full of fresh lemons, sliced, right beneath your nose. It isn’t an overpowering scent, or strongly perfumey; it’s just a fresh, clean, lemony scent. The first time I saw it, we were at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the shrub was not in bloom. It was so cute, we just had to find one for ourselves, but it took awhile. Daphne is an evergreen small shrub, reaching only 3-4 feet in height, and the leaves are variegated—deep green with a creamy yellow margin around each one. Blooms come in either pink or white. Daphne odora isn’t easily found, probably because it has a reputation for being difficult to grow. Really, it isn’t, if you know what it likes. Daphne will not tolerate wet soil. It needs very little water. That isn’t a problem for us right now, but when it does rain, clay soil will remain soggy, so amend the soil when you plant. Daphne prefers shady conditions. The perfect spot would be beneath large trees on an incline for good drainage. Mix in some soil conditioner or compost and builder’s sand, and plant high—with the top of the root ball slightly above ground level. Then mulch well to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Water the shrub when you plant it, but don’t worry about watering it again. Can you believe it’s that easy? Yes, it is.

Blog at WordPress.com.