ShadyGardens Blog

January 15, 2014

Edgeworthia, Rice Paper Plant: Fragrant Blooms for the Winter Garden

Edgeworthia chrysantha buds beginning to open
If you’ve been searching for something new, exciting, or unusual for your Winter garden, consider Edgeworthia. First of all, what could be more exciting than a plant that blooms in winter? No matter how cold it is outside, Edgeworthia will bloom in the middle of Winter. Plant it near a window so you can view the beautiful blooms from the comfort of your home. 

Edgeworthia’s Winter blooms are not only beautiful, but are also fragrant. Scent is often described as being similar to that of the paperwhite narcissus. However, I find the fragrance to be more similar to cloves. On second thought, plant Edgeworthia near the entrance of your home, so you can enjoy the fragrance of the flowers when you come and go. Or perhaps you could do as I did and get more than one.

Edgeworthia grows wild in China and is related to Daphne odora, and has even been called Yellow Daphne. Also known as Rice Paper Plant, Chinese Paper Plant, and Japanese Paper Plant, Edgeworthia is used to make rice paper. 

There are several species of Edgeworthia, but the most desirable is Edgeworthia chrysantha, since it is more winter-hardy and easier to grow. Edgeworthia chrysantha is a deciduous shrub with very fragrant spherical bloom clusters in late January into February. A large specimen of Edgeworthia chrysantha can be seen growing at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Large elongated leaves are more than 3 inches wide and can be up to 11 inches long. The leaves which resemble plumeria, lend a tropical look to the garden in summer. Thus, edgeworthia contributes beauty and interest even when not in bloom. 

Silver buds form in late summer and early fall, growing larger and larger through the Fall, encouraging my anticipation and excitement. When the leaves are gone, the plant appears to be already in bloom. Then in early Winter, the buds begin to swell and resemble upside down sunflowers about 2 inches across. In mid- to late-Winter, the flower clusters begin opening from the outside in. Deep yellow tubular flowers attract pollinators who happen to be out on warmer days. In Georgia, Edgeworthia blooms in January or February, depending on the conditions for that particular Winter. Blooms last up to 6 weeks.

Edgeworthia chrysantha grows to about 6 feet tall and just as wide.

In China, Edgeworthia grows in full sun, but here in Alabama and Georgia, Edgeworthia chrysantha grows best in partial shade or filtered light. No hot afternoon sun.

Edgeworthia is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10, but Edgeworthia chrysantha tolerates colder temperatures and grows just fine in zone 6. 

Rich well-drained soil and regular water will keep your Edgeworthia plant happy. Be sure to water once or twice weekly during periods of summer heat and drought. Like hydrangeas, Edgeworthia will let you know when it is thirsty – the large leaves will droop and hang limp. With a good soaking of water, your plant will promptly perk up.

Edgeworthia grows rather quickly, and tends to send up new shoots from the base, forming a rounded shrub up to 6 feet tall. In Fall, leaves do turn yellow and fall off, but that just makes the plant ready to show off those extravagant Winter blooms. Attract attention and make your neighbors envious with this unusual and beautiful plant, Edgeworthia chrysantha.

August 22, 2013

Clethra: Sweet Pepper Bush

Filed under: Bush, butterflies, Clethra, fragrant, Hummingbird, native, pepper, pink, ruby, shrub, sixteen candles, Summersweet, Sweet — shadygardens @ 4:50 pm
Clethra is one of my favorite native plants, but more importantly, it’s a favorite plant of butterflies and other pollinators! Clethra alnifolia, better known as Summersweet or Sweet Pepper Bush, is wonderful native plant that blooms in late summer. Obviously the common name ‘Summersweet’ comes from the very sweet-smelling blooms that appear right in the heat of the summer. The other common name ‘Sweet Pepper Bush’ comes from the attractive seed capsules that closely resemble Peppercorns.
The fragrant blooms which are 6-inch long spikes last for more than a month and attract many pollinators.






There’s a Clethra for every garden, since this shrub is available in both large-growing and dwarf varieties. But when I say ‘available’ I realize that Clethra is truly difficult to find in nurseries. Why, I do not know.






My favorite is ‘Ruby Spice’ since I’m a fan of pink flowers, but the white-blooming ‘Hummingbird’ is much sought after, probably due to the beauty of the shrubs planted en mass around Hummingbird Lake at the famous Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

If your garden requires a dwarf shrub, seek out ‘Sixteen Candles’–a more compact plant that seems to have more bloom spikes than possible! The name was given to this plant by Michael Dirr because the upright bloom spikes really do resemble candles on a birthday cake. This plant is truly spectacular!



Whichever you find, you can count yourself lucky to have this plant in your garden. It requires only consistent moisture to keep it happy. (I’m sorry, I do know that consistent moisture is hard to provide in Georgia these days, but if you have a wet spot, a pond edge, a soaker hose, or even, as in our case, stopped up field lines because your wife didn’t know any better than to plant a Weeping Willow in the wrong spot, this shrub is definitely worth the trouble!)






Of course, my favorite online source for native plants is Shady Gardens Nursery.


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.

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.

May 24, 2012

Calycanthus floridus: Sweet Smelling Shrub with Many Names

Filed under: betsy, bubby, Bush, calycanthus, floridus, fragrant, gardens, native, nursery, plant, red, shade, Shady, shrub, Sweet — shadygardens @ 7:49 pm

Calycanthus floridus, Sweet Shrub
Shady Gardens Nursery

Calycanthus floridus has many common names: Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice, Strawberry Shrub, Pineapple Shrub, Sweet Betsy, but my favorite is “Bubby Bush,” since we call our little boy Bubby.

This
beautiful deciduous shrub grows slowly and will eventually form mounds up to 8 feet tall.
As the sweetshrub suckers vigorously, the mounds increase in width and will eventually
form a thicket.

The many common names of Calycanthus floridus refer its aromatic properties. Most of you are probably familiar with the wonderful fruity scent produced by the unusual flowers. Rusty reddish brown or brownish red blossoms are 1-2 inches across. The blooms adorn the plant in Spring and sporadically  throughout the Summer months. Not only are the flowers sweet-smelling, but also the leaves, bark, twigs, and even the roots have a spicy fragrance.

The 4
inch long leaves are rich deep green. Soft and
fuzzy to the touch, they turn bright golden yellow in autumn.

Calycanthus floridus is native to the moist
woodlands of the Southeastern United States. Its range extends from Virginia,
south to Florida, and West to Mississippi.  Sweetshrub is appreciated as a landscape
plant in Europe and deserves more attention from gardeners here in the United States.

Sweetshrub is easy to grow in average soil, is easy to care for, and is
essentially pest-free! Deer do not usually eat Sweetshrub.


Light: Thrives in medium shade or filtered sun.


Moisture: Likes moist soil. Water when dry.
This shrub can survive periods of drought if necessary, but will perform much better with regular water.


Calycanthus floridus can be grown throughout most of the country, as it is hardy in USDA Zones 5 – 9. 


Try drying the flowers, leaves, twigs and bark for use in potpourri.

For an even sweeter fragrance, try Calycanthus
floridus ‘Athens’

– a yellowish white blooming selection favored for its extremely sweet
fragrance.

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.

December 31, 2011

Plant in Winter? Yes, You Can!


January is a great time for planting here in Georgia! Shrubs and trees planted before the arrival of hot weather have a much better chance of surviving the drought. I’m afraid it’s time we all adjust our gardens for the return of the drought each year.


Several years ago, our garden was certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. We are very proud of that, because preserving our environment for wildlife and our children is very important to my family and me.

Not only is preserving wildlife and native plant species important from an environmental standpoint, but native plants are easier to grow, since they are able to thrive in our climate!

In addition to being easy to grow, many of our Native American Species offer other advantages over the imported counterpart.

Consider American Euonymus with the unusual red fruits instead of the more common Euonymus that is invasive. The fruit resembles a hard strawberry until the capsule bursts open to reveal bright orange seeds—food for the birds! (See the photo above.)

American Native Azaleas perfume the garden with a lovely fragrance, while Asian Azaleas have no fragrance at all! And what could be more beautiful than a native azalea in full bloom?

Nothing smells sweeter than the banana-pineapple scented blooms of the native Sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus.

The bright red blooms of our American native honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens, will attract whole families of hummingbirds, yet won’t take over and pop up all over the community as does the very aggressive Japanese honeysuckle.

So as you add new plants to your garden during this great planting time, seek out some of these rare native specimens, and don’t be afraid to plant them now, to give them a headstart before summer! And check back soon for suggestions on how you can improve your garden to help protect your local wildlife.

For more information on these and other plants for your garden, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

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.

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.

June 12, 2009

Swamp Azalea: Rhododendron Viscosum

Filed under: azalea, buy, fragrant, garden, native, nursery, online, rhododendron, sale, shade, Shady, ship, Swamp, viscosum, white bloom — shadygardens @ 1:02 pm

If you like fragrant plants, you’ll want Rhododendron Viscosum in your garden! Most often referred to as Swamp Azalea, Rhododendron Viscosum is a native azalea found in the Eastern United States. Pure white blooms in early summer have a pleasing spicy scent reminiscent of cloves.

Swamp Azalea, as the name implies, is one of the few azaleas that can tolerate periodically wet soil. This plant can grow in regular garden soil, but it does not want to miss out on water. If you can water regularly when rainfall is absent, Swamp Azalea will be easy for you to grow in your garden. Grows very tall near streams.

Rhododendron Viscosum can be grown almost anywhere in the United States since it grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.

Swamp Azalea can be grown in full sun if regular water is available. Otherwise, filtered sun/shade is best.

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