ShadyGardens Blog

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!

September 26, 2008

American Euonymus – Strawberry Bush – Hearts A Bustin

Another very unusual native plant is the American Eunymus. Most commonly referred to as Strawberry Bush or Hearts-A-Bustin, Euonymus Americanus goes unnoticed most of the year. Green stems are attractive in winter, especially to deer. Small greenish yellow flowers in spring are lovely, although inconspicuous, but in late summer the American Strawberry Bush begins to show off.


The common name ‘Strawberry Bush’ comes from the dark red seed capsules that look much like strawberries. The seed pods are showy, especially once the plant is large enough to display a large number of the pods. But when the seed capsules burst open, that’s when they really capture some attention. The pods open to reveal bright orange fruits that are a sharp contrast to the dark red outer shell. Breathtaking, really. That’s where the plant gets its other common name, Hearts-A-Bustin.

And, like many of our native plants, Euonymus Americanus is very easy to grow. Requiring only a little shade and regular water to get established, the American Euonymus is drought tolerant. Unlike other forms of Euonymus, American Euonymus is not invasive.

Found in the woods in the Southeast, the American Strawberry Bush is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

If you like unusual plants, try American Euonymus, or Strawberry Bush. Not usually found in nurseries, but available by mailorder or online at specialty native plant nurseries such as Shady Gardens Nursery.

September 12, 2008

American Beautyberry: Callicarpa Americana

Filed under: Beauty Berry, Beautyberry, Callicarpa, dought tolerant, native plant, native shrub. — shadygardens @ 5:12 pm

One of my very favorite plants of all is the American Beautyberry. One of the showiest of all native plants, Callicarpa americana, displays vibrant purple berry clusters all along the stems at a time when few plants are blooming in the garden.

Insignificant tiny blossoms appear in early summer, berries develop later in summer, beginning to change from green to purple in late August.

The bright purple berries are held tightly in clusters along the stems and between the leaves. The berries really begin to show off as they remain on the stems long after all leaves have fallen from the plant. Although we don’t get snow here, I’ve seen breathtakingly beautiful photos of American Beautyberry with snow and icycles. Wow!

Easy to grow and very drought-tolerant, Callicarpa Americana will grow quite large–up to 10 feet tall and wide, but it is easy to contain as a smaller specimen with just one pruning per year at the end of winter or early spring. Since the plant blooms and forms berries on new growth, you can conveniently prune when your climate begins warming up without sacrificing your berry production in fall.

American Beautyberry makes a lovely specimen shrub but is even more spectacular when massed in groups of 3 or more.

An added bonus is that songbirds like the berries, once they begin to shrivel. I suppose they sweeten a bit as they age.

Foliage is large, bright green leaves that are attractive even without blooms or berries. Deciduous leaves fall at onset of cold weather, leaving the bright purple very showy berries to remain well into winter, often as late as January, depending on climate.

One of the most showy American native plants that I know of, the American Beautyberry is worthy to be planted in every garden. Find one for your garden at http://www.shadygardensnursery.com/.

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