ShadyGardens Blog

April 16, 2009

Florida Azalea: Rhododendron Austrinum

One of the brightest and showiest of all native plants in the spring garden is definitely the Florida Azalea.

Blooms appear in early spring and can be anywhere from bright yellow to a dark reddish orange. Rhododendron austrinum is deciduous so plant it among your evergreen azaleas and it will really stand out!

Blooms are very sweetly frarant, so you might want to plant one near your garden bench to enjoy as you relax.

As the name implies, Florida Azalea is native to Florida, but grows well anywhere in the Southern US and in zones as cold as USDA Zone 6.

Rhododendron Austrinum in on the endangered species list, so do not dig it up for planting in your garden if you find a specimen in the woods. Florida Azalea is propagated and sold by native plant nurseries, so you can purchase container grown plants for your garden.

Florida Azalea will eventually grow into a large tree-like shrub up to 10 feet tall. When found in the wild, it naturally occurs in woods beneath large deciduous trees, but flowers much more profusely when grown in full sun. Drought tolerant once established, but needs regular water to become established. Bloom buds on this spring blooming shrub are formed in late summer, right when we have our yearly drought, so water regularly during August and September to ensure good flowering in spring.

Let me know if you have trouble finding this plant in your area, because we have plenty! You can purchase them in our online store Shady Gardens Nursery.

March 31, 2009

Piedmont Azalea

Piedmont Azalea is definitely one of the loveliest blooming shrubs in the South. And the fact that it is a native plant means it should be planted in every southern garden (in my opinion!)

The Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens, is native to the Piedmont region of the Southeast, making it suitable for growing anywhere in Georgia.

The fragrant blooms can be anywhere from a vivid pink to a soft pink or even a pinkish white. Blooms appear in very early spring before the leaves on this deciduous shrub.

Although Piedmont Azalea naturally occurs in the warm southern United States, it is hardy to areas as cold as USDA Zone 5.

All azaleas prefer well-drained soil, so you should amend your soil with soil conditioner or composted bark to improve drainage if your soil is clay.

Native Azaleas are usually found growing in the woods but will bloom more profusely in full sun as long as water is adequate.

Bloom buds are formed in late summer and early fall, so pay close attention to watering during this time. When a native azalea fails to bloom, lack of water during bud formation is usually the culprit.

Native azaleas are drought tolerant once established, but water weekly the first year or two to make sure your plant gets a good start.

June 30, 2008

Honeysuckle & Plumleaf Azalea: Blooms In Late Summer

By the end of summer, many plants have grown tired of providing blooms for our garden. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find plants that will fill in this difficult time with flowers. A diligent gardener can find quite a few plants that bloom in late summer.

You’re probably familiar with Black-eyed Susan and Butterfly Bushes, providing the garden with blossoms this time of year no matter how hot it gets, attracting butterflies by the hundreds. You’ve seen Japanese Honeysuckle on the side of the road, or perhaps you’re even plagued with its invasive qualities in your own garden.

But have you seen our native Red Trumpet Honeysuckle? Lonicera sempervirens is a non-invasive evergreen vine that blooms almost year round, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and many other beneficial insects. Grow it as a groundcover, let it climb an arbor or trellis, or train it to cover a fence. You’ll be rewarded with blooms from spring to fall, and I’ve even seen blooms on mine in December! It will grow in sun or shade, but flowers more profusely in full sun.

For the shade, try Lobelia cardinalis, our native red Cardinal Flower, loved by hummingbirds. This perennial prefers moist soil, but can be grown in regular garden soil with supplemental water.

If you have a woodland garden, try the beautiful Plumleaf Azalea, an American native azalea made famous by Callaway Gardens. Rhododendron prunifolium is a rare deciduous azalea with bright red blooms in late July and August. Plumleaf Azalea prefers a cool shady spot with regular water.

Perennial hibiscus continues to offer up showy blooms in several colors right up until the onset of cold weather. There are many hybrid forms of our native perennial hibiscus, but my favorite is Hibiscus coccineus, often referred to as Swamp Hibiscus or Texas Star Hibiscus. It has attractive foliage in addition to the beautiful flowers. When I look at the blooms, it’s hard for me to believe that instead of coming from Hawaii, this plant is a native of the Southeast!

And for a little later on in the season, consider adding Swamp Sunflower, a good companion for perennial hibiscus, since they both share a love for sun and water. Helianthus blooms in September with large, bright yellow flowers on tall stems up to 10 feet tall! I hope you’ll try some of my suggestions in your late summer garden as you strive to make your garden more beautiful year round.
For more information on any plants mentioned here, contact us at
Shady Gardens Nursery.

May 25, 2008

Rhododendron arborescens – Sweet Native Azalea

Rhododendron arborescens is definitely one of my favorite native azaleas. Usually called the Sweet Azalea, because of the very sweet fragrance, Rhododendron arborescens can bloom anytime between May and August. The blossoms are usually white and can be flushed with pink.

Arborescens is a large growing plant, reaching heights of up to 12 feet tall at maturity, when conditions are right.

Give this plant regular water, especially during periods of drought. The Sweet Azalea prefers a semi-shaded spot with well-drained slightly acidic soil. One plant can perfume the whole garden when in bloom. R. arborescens is hardy in USDA Zones 4 – 7, so plant one for yourself if you’d like to enjoy a wonderful fragrance while relaxing in your garden!

For information on purchasing this plant, visit http://shadygardens.biz/.

March 30, 2008

Native Azaleas Brighten the Shade Garden

Each year at the beginning of spring, I eagerly anticipate the blooming of our native azaleas. Available in a rainbow of colors–pink, yellow, orange, white, or red, these plants are superior to any other plant, in my opinion. A member of the Rhododendron family, native azaleas are deciduous, and some varieties bloom before leafing out in very early spring. Most of the American native azaleas are fragrant too, with a very pleasant but not overpowering honeysuckle scent. Another important feature is that most of the Native Azaleas are drought tolerant, once established. (‘Once established’ is the key though, since no plant is established the first year!)
The first to bloom in my garden is the elegant Florida Flame Azalea, Rhododendron Austrinum. Drought tolerant, once established, this plant really lives up to its common name, because the blooms can be any shade of yellow or orange, or even a little of both–yes, the colors of a flame! As the name ‘Florida’ implies, the Florida Azalea is well able to tolerate any heat our Georgia climate can dish out.
Blooming at about the same time is our own native, the Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens. Beautiful pink blooms in late March or early April are exquisite.
If you love Alabama like I do, you’ll love the very rare Alabama Azalea, Rhododendron Alabamense, with its lovely white blooms coming a little later in spring. This plant is native to East Alabama, and is rarely seen in the wild anymore due to land development in that area. We’re fortunate to have a local grower with a love for native plants to propagate this delightful shrub. If you find it in the wild, please don’t try to dig it up to move to your own garden. Several varieties of the native azaleas are endangered plants, making it illegal to remove them from the wild.
Most native azaleas do not root easily, so they must be grown from seed! I admire the well-known Mr. Ernest Koone for having the patience to grow these beauties, because I do believe it’s important to preserve our native plants.
The native azaleas are becoming more and more difficult to find in nurseries, but can be purchased through mailorder. For more information on the different varieties currently available, check back regularly to read updated profiles of native azaleas with their bloom times and unique characteristics.
To purchase some of these rare plants, go to http://shadygardens.biz.

October 28, 2007

Deer Proof Your Garden the Easy Way

Filed under: eucalyptus, herb, Herbs, native azalea, native plant, nursery, plants, rosemary, tree — shadygardens @ 6:33 pm

Since opening the nursery, I’ve been asked many times, “How do you keep deer from eating your plants?” Well, I have several suggestions that worked for me, and they are surprisingly simple.
1. The 1st recommendation is obvious–plant things the deer don’t like! Deer prefer nice tasty leaves, and not leaves with fuzz or strong odors. Deer love hosta, pansies, and daylilies–if it’s edible for people, deer like it too! They don’t like herbs, except for basil. There are many desirable plants the deer will not eat. For instance, anything poisonous, such as Foxgloves, Florida Anise, or Daffodils. Other deer-resistant plants are: Ageratum, Iris, Barberry (they usually won’t eat anything with thorns), Buddleia, Mock Orange, Spirea, Lilacs, Dogwood, Magnolia, Boxwood, Holly, Leucothoe, Pieris, and Yucca. See, there are many plants deer won’t eat–although when they get truly hungry, they’ll taste of anything!
2. I know you also want to grow many plants that deer do like; as gardeners, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the few plants deer won’t eat. Deer will eat just about anything, when they are truly hungry. So go ahead and plant what you like, even if the deer like it too, and do what we did…Several years ago, my husband planted our first weeping willow tree. The deer just would not leave it alone! Every time the little tree managed to grow a new little shoot, the deer gobbled it right up. The poor little tree just couldn’t get ahead! Until I encircled it with a few aromatic herbs that the deer find distasteful: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and lots of Chrysanthemums. The deer then decided to move on to other plants! That little tree has grown to supply me with many new trees to sell at my nursery!
3. Build a tall fence. Deer can jump very high, so your fence would need to be at least 10 feet tall. This can get pricey, especially if your garden is large.
4. My final and most successful recommendation is this: Get a big dog! A little cute dog won’t work, but a big dog that loves to chase wildlife will keep the deer from eating your prized plants. You want one of those playful, hunting dog types–ours is a big black Lab.
She works herself to death keeping the squirrels off the birdfeeders and the deer from my garden. Of course she does a little damage–she tramples plants sometimes, and she digs a hole when she believes a chipmunk would be tasty, or when she smells a rat. And when she was a puppy she chewed a little bit, but she never did as much damage as a family of deer can do in a single night!
I don’t recommend those expensive, smelly deer-proofing products. I have been told that they really work, but they are expensive! You’ll be planting anyway–and everyone needs some aromatic plants like Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Thyme, Oregano, and of course, Mums! So plant aromatic plants all around your garden, and then start looking for a great big dog. Go to the pound and ask them, “Who’s the friskiest dog you have?” (That’s the kind you need–a playful hunter with a loud bark!) Take him home and love him. By the way, the big dog will eat alot, but I believe feeding him will still be cheaper than buying all that Deer-repellant spray!
By following my suggestion, you will have done 2 wonderful things: (1) Saved a dog’s life, and (2) Saved your garden
!

October 27, 2007

Native Plants for Your Garden Landscape

Filed under: garden, native azalea, native plant, plants, wildlife — shadygardens @ 6:43 pm

“What’s so great about native plants?” might be a question you are asking these days. In recent years there has been much discussion about native plants on TV gardening programs and in gardening magazines, due to our increasing drought and concern for the preservation of wildlife. Native plants are a wise choice, because they have acclimated themselves to current growing conditions and can withstand the increasing drought, heat, and humidity our Georgia climate throws at us each summer. The beauty of native plants makes them very desirable, and the ease of growing them makes common sense! They require much less care and water than imported plant varieties. Also, in a time when we’re becoming more concerned about preservation of our native wildlife, native plants should be more widely planted because many of our native plants are important food and nesting sites for wildlife. So instead, a better question might be, “What native plants should I plant this year?”

Plant Blueberry Azalea and Hydrangea Shrubs in Fall

Filed under: blueberry, native azalea, native plant, plants, rabbiteye, shrub — shadygardens @ 6:30 pm

Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! Since we still are not receiving regular rainfall, you’ll need to water newly planted trees and shrubs once or twice weekly, especially while these hot days continue. Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having, and remember to pray for rain!

Dry Climate Gardening

This time of year has always been my favorite time to work in the garden. I want to plant pansies, mums, and beautiful, crunchy, purple kale! But if you’re like us, the recent rains didn’t soften up the soil any, so digging a garden bed is almost impossible. I just can’t plant anything in the soil we have right now. If the showers you received were not as much as you’d hoped (I was praying for a monsoon), there are still some things you can do to make your garden more beautiful! One very important task that can be done any time of year is to improve the soil. We look forward to the falling leaves, because we chop them up with our lawnmower and spread those on all of our garden beds. If you’ll add composted manure to your beds, earthworms will be attracted to break down all the organic matter to improve the nutrition in your soil. This will lessen soil compaction and will also make it easier for the rain we do receive to reach the roots of your plants. You can sprinkle composted manure and chopped up leaves right on top of the beds around your plants—no need to work it into the soil. This should be done every fall anyway. Landscape supply companies also have available a double-ground mulch that is excellent for improving soil texture, and it’s a beautiful dark brown color that makes the plants look better, retains moisture, and keeps the roots at a more consistent temperature during heat waves and cold spells. If you’ve contemplated adding some hardscape to your garden, now is a great time to build an arbor or rock wall. The cool weather will be pleasant while you work. Then when the rain comes, consider planting a beautiful native vine like Red Trumpet Honeysuckle or American Wisteria at the base of your arbor instead of an exotic vine that will require lots of water and pruning to keep it from taking over! You know, native plants don’t require as much water—they’re used to whatever our Southeastern climate has to offer. When you thank God for the rain we received last week, ask him to send a little more!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.