ShadyGardens Blog

January 4, 2010

Fragrance in the Winter Garden

Lonicera fragrantissima is an American Native Honeysuckle Shrub that blooms in winter, hence the common name, Winter Honeysuckle. Another nickname for this shrub is Kiss Me at the Gate. I’m not sure how that name came about, but I’m sure it’s an interesting story!

The blooms of Winter Honeysuckle are small but very fragrant, and they simply cover the shrub in January and February, making walks in the garden eagerly anticipated on those warm winter days we often have here in Georgia. My shrubs are already covered with flower buds and I can’t wait to enjoy the aroma! Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, this native shrub should be in any garden if you have the space for it. Lonicera fragrantissima will ultimately reach a height of about 10 feet with an equal spread.

Winter Honeysuckle is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9 and is mostly evergreen. This shrub is also very drought tolerant, making it perfect for Georgia gardens.

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.

September 4, 2009

Native Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden

I am often asked why I focus so much on native plants. Many homeowners really just do not know what a native plant is, so I thought it best to clarify. A native plant is simply a plant type that occurs naturally in a particular area.

Often plants seen growing in abundance on roadsides are mistaken for native plants. The sight of kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle climbing and devouring trees and wooded areas cause new gardeners to turn up their noses at the suggestion to plant native plants. Those plants are invasive exotics and not native plants at all.

Native plants should be planted more often for several reasons:

  • Ease of growing. Native plants require less maintenance. No heavy pruning and no coddling.
  • Pest free, usually. Native plants have been growing with the same insects for years and usually will not die just because of a few bugs. A garden with no pesticides is a good thing!
  • Drought tolerant. Native plants have acclimated themselves to our changing environment and can tolerate whatever conditions a Georgia summer can dish out.
  • Deer-resistant. Yes, most native plants are deer-resistant. Deer will often walk right past a native plant to devour something from exotic lands, such as your prized hosta. Why eat something they see all the time in the woods, when they can try something new?
  • Beauty. A little known fact is that often the native plant is much more beautiful than it’s exotic counterpart. Some examples: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus moscheutos, and Lonicera sempervirens. The image above is Hibiscus coccineus, native to the Southeastern United States. Isn’t it fabulous?

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