ShadyGardens Blog

September 24, 2009

Xeriscape Gardening with Companion Plants

Filed under: drought, gardens, Georgia, low maintenance plant, moist, moisture. soil, nursery, plant, Rain, Shady, wet — shadygardens @ 5:51 pm

Georgia gardeners are becoming increasingly concerned about water conservation due to recent extreme droughts. But since lately we’ve received a little bit too much rain here in Georgia, I considered a practice we’ve tried to stick to here in our garden for a few years now: Companion Planting. Now I’m not talking about  what you might be thinking–companion planting as laid out in organic gardening books to promote heavy yields in the vegetable garden. What I’m talking about is simply planting moisture loving plants all together, to make watering easier with less waste. 

Shown in the photo above is Helianthus angustifolius Gold Lace, our native American Swamp Sunflower, with Colocasia Black Magic. What a striking contrast, and they both enjoy the soaking rains we’ve received lately.

Choose moisture lovers wisely and sparingly. Then place them in groups, preferably where the occasionally received rain water collects, but certainly where you can reach them easily with a hose.

For a list of plants that enjoy wet soil, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

January 7, 2008

Italian Arum for the Winter Shade Garden

An unusual perennial I enjoy seeing in the winter garden is Italian Arum. Just as the Hostas disappear for the winter, the beautiful deep green leaves of Arum Italicum emerge. The variegated leaves are arrow-shaped and very unusual, sometimes growing quite large—up to 12 inches long on mature plants. Italian Arum is a tuberous perennial, which is probably why it is so hardy and tolerant of the drought so common in Georgia. The leaves are variegated green and white and last until May. Mature plants produce an Arum-type spathe in spring followed by bright red berries that remain on the stalk even after the leaves have disappeared. Italian Arum forms a nice clump of leaves about a foot tall, and is a great companion plant for any perennial that dies down for the winter. It grows well with hosta, ferns, and hellebores. As the hosta leaves emerge, Italian Arum will go to sleep for the summer, storing energy for an even better show the next fall. An added bonus is that deer will not touch Arum Italicum! To purchase this plant, please visit www.shadygardens.biz. I hope you’ll enjoy the warm spells we have in between the cold snaps by getting outside, and remember to pray for the regular rain showers to continue!

December 30, 2007

Rohdea: Beautiful Year Round in Dry Shade!

Rohdea Japonica, also known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is a low-growing evergreen plant that is a great substitute for Hosta. Rohdea actually thrives in dry shade gardens, and is not bothered by deer. A native of the Orient, Rohdea should be more widely planted here. Its low-maintenance and tolerance for poor, dry soil make it an easy plant to grow, even for busy gardeners. The 1 foot long deep green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump that will cover a 2 foot area in several years. In late fall the insignificant flower stalks will develop into a 6-inch stalk of bright red berries at the base of the plant–just in time for Christmas! The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels which help to disperse the seed for more plants in the garden. Usually difficult to find in the United States, Rohdea is highly prized in Japan, with some fancy-leaved varieties often selling for thousands of dollars. If you can find it, Rohdea is definitely worth planting in the garden. Rohdea Japonica needs shade and will even grow in very deep shade with little water. This drought tolerant plant is perfect for a xeriscape garden in shade. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.

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