ShadyGardens Blog

January 3, 2012

A Native Garden in Winter

Filed under: American, Cypress, gardens, Georgia, holly, jasmine, native, nursery, pachysandra, plants, Shady, source, yucca — shadygardens @ 6:14 pm
Gelsemium sempervirens – Carolina Jasmine

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!
  • Carolina Jasmine, Gelsemium sempervirens, also known as Carolina Jessamine, begins blooming often as early as December. Profuse bloom in winter hides the leaves, which are evergreen in most of the South. This easy to grow vine will climb anything or can be grown as a spreading groundcover, but it is never considered invasive.
  • 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.
  • 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 endured for the last few years.

Source for these plants: Shady Gardens Nursery.

January 22, 2010

Winter Garden in Georgia with Native Plants

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 choose 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. 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. The top photo shows Golden Sword Yucca in its January splendor.

In addition to being beautiful year round, these plants offer the added benefit of being drought tolerant and perfect for xeriscape gardens, which is an important asset to consider during today’s uncertain water conditions!

January 26, 2009

Alternatives to Invasive Plants in the Garden

My gardening goals have changed much over the years. In the beginning I was enticed with plant descriptions such as ‘fast growing’, ‘prolific spreader’, or ‘reseeds freely’, envisioning a lush garden covered with beautiful plants after minimal monetary investment and less work.

Perhaps it was when I enrolled in the Master Gardener Class that I learned of the dangers of planting invasive plants, but it should have been obvious to me sooner. I need only to step outdoors to view the rampant spread of the very aggressive Japanese Honeysuckle. Every time I drive my children to school, I see hillsides overtaken with Kudzu.

Now I view planting invasive exotic plants as down right wrong. Aggressive plants like Kudzu can completely take over a whole field in little time, even killing large trees by blocking sunlight and stealing the very little water we get during drought common to this part of the country.

So as you plan additions to your garden this year, take a moment to investigate a plant’s reputation before adding it to your garden.

To offer a little assistance, here’s a short list of invasive plants that are still bought, sold, and planted, along with a more environmentally-friendly alternative:

  • Japanese Honeysuckle – Plant our native honeysuckle instead, Lonicera sempervirens, commonly referred to as Red Trumpet Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle.
  • Japanese Pachysandranda – Instead, try our native Pachysandra Procumbens, which is variegated, offering much more beauty than the plain green invasive one.
  • Privet – Well, there are many alternatives to Privet. Anything at all would be better. For a non-invasive hedge, consider holly, viburnum, shrub roses, or camellias.
  • Wisteria – Yes, we even have a native wisteria that’s much better than the very invasive Chinese or Japanese Wisteria. Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ is available in many nurseries and home improvement stores. Before buying wisteria, check the label. If it merely reads ‘Wisteria,’ stay away from it. If it’s Wisteria frutescens, it’ll be labeled as such.

December 26, 2008

Drought Tolerant Plants for Georgia

Recently here in Georgia, we have received plenty of rain. For that, we are very thankful. But it is wise to make provisions for drought to return, and plant wisely when planning our gardens. Below you will find a list which includes plants we are successfully growing in our garden with no supplemental water. Some are native, some are not.
Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant)
Callicarpa americana (Purple Beauty Berry)
Carolina Jessamine
Daphne odora (Fragrant Winter Daphne)
Hellebore (Lenten Rose)
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Oxalis (Wood Sorrell)
Pachysandra Procumbens
Pomegranate
Rhododendron austrinum (Florida Flame Azalea)
Rhododendron alabamense (Alabama Native Azalea)
Rohdea Japonica (Nippon Lily/Japanese Sacred Lily)
Sedums
Spirea
Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria-Not invasive!)
For more information on
any of these recommended plants, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

November 6, 2007

Dry Soil Groundcovers: Pachysandra, Rudbeckia, and Many More!

I love groundcovers. There’s just something about them that makes me want to have every one I see. Groundcovers can be an important addition to our Southern gardens. They act as a living mulch, helping to conserve moisture around trees and shrubs. Many groundcovers are evergreen, so they add beauty to the garden in every season. There are groundcovers that bloom, and even groundcovers that make berries! Groundcovers can be found that thrive in sun, shade, and even the most difficult dry shade. Whether your taste for plants leans toward the exotic, like Hellebores and Rohdea, or if you prefer native plants, such as native ferns, consider adding them beneath the shrubs in your garden. There are many native groundcovers that are evergreen, and some even produce berries, like Mitchella (Partridgeberry). Groundcovers like creeping phlox can help control erosion. Good groundcovers for sun include the sedums, ice plant, and rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan.) Certain rose varieties also make excellent groundcovers. Beware of groundcovers that can take over the garden, seeming to eat other plants alive, crowding out everything else. Instead of invasive English Ivy or the popular Japanese pachysandra, try our native pachysandra, Allegheny Spurge. Or if it’s a vine you’re after, plant Crossvine, Carolina Jasmine, or Lonicera sempervirens—all native vines that will not overtake your garden.

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