ShadyGardens Blog

November 22, 2013

Confederate Rose is Really a Hibiscus

Filed under: blooms, buy, Confederate, flowers, gardens, hibiscus, large, Mutabilis, nursery, October, order, pink, rose, September, Shady, ship — shadygardens @ 2:39 pm
Confederate Rose is a very tall perennial
that grows like a shrub in most of the South. Near the coast it will leaf out on old stems, but in most areas, the tops will die back, and the
plant will regrow each spring from the base.

Despite their popularity and
ability to thrive in the Southeastern United States, Confederate roses are not native to
the United States but come from China. They thrive in the South anywhere that they have
time to open their very late flowers before fall frost. This species is a
popular passalong plant not usually available in your local nursery
.

Height varies from about 8 feet in the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama to about 15 feet on the coast.

Confederate Rose is an eye-catching foliage plant even before bloom, with large, soft, gray-green maple shaped leaves. Large blooms four to six inches wide open in September or October. Both double and single flowering forms are available. It is the changing of the bloom color that gives the plant its botanical name, Hibiscus mutabilis. The blooms open as a very soft pink and darken gradually to a deep pink the third day after opening. When in full bloom, the plant appears to have 3 different colored flowers all on the same bush.

Confederate Rose grows best in full sun or part shade. Although average garden soil is fine, the plant will grow larger and bloom more in good fertile soil.  As with all plants in the hibiscus family, Hibiscus mutabilis needs regular water to grow and
perform well, but can withstand drought. Water whenever you see the large leaves droop.

Once winter frosts burn back
the foliage, the entire plant can be cut back to make the garden more tidy.
This can be done any time during the winter or early spring. Near the coast,
you can let the stems stay if you don’t mind the plant becoming very large,
since Confederate Rose will resprout from current branches where winters are
mild. Even when the plant is cut to the ground, it will become 10 feet tall by summer’s end. You cannot make this plant stay small and compact, no matter what you do. Confederate Rose is meant to be a flamboyant, voluptuous focal point in the garden. Make sure you plant it where the large size can be appreciated.


Sources for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.


August 22, 2013

Clethra: Sweet Pepper Bush

Filed under: Bush, butterflies, Clethra, fragrant, Hummingbird, native, pepper, pink, ruby, shrub, sixteen candles, Summersweet, Sweet — shadygardens @ 4:50 pm
Clethra is one of my favorite native plants, but more importantly, it’s a favorite plant of butterflies and other pollinators! Clethra alnifolia, better known as Summersweet or Sweet Pepper Bush, is wonderful native plant that blooms in late summer. Obviously the common name ‘Summersweet’ comes from the very sweet-smelling blooms that appear right in the heat of the summer. The other common name ‘Sweet Pepper Bush’ comes from the attractive seed capsules that closely resemble Peppercorns.
The fragrant blooms which are 6-inch long spikes last for more than a month and attract many pollinators.






There’s a Clethra for every garden, since this shrub is available in both large-growing and dwarf varieties. But when I say ‘available’ I realize that Clethra is truly difficult to find in nurseries. Why, I do not know.






My favorite is ‘Ruby Spice’ since I’m a fan of pink flowers, but the white-blooming ‘Hummingbird’ is much sought after, probably due to the beauty of the shrubs planted en mass around Hummingbird Lake at the famous Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

If your garden requires a dwarf shrub, seek out ‘Sixteen Candles’–a more compact plant that seems to have more bloom spikes than possible! The name was given to this plant by Michael Dirr because the upright bloom spikes really do resemble candles on a birthday cake. This plant is truly spectacular!



Whichever you find, you can count yourself lucky to have this plant in your garden. It requires only consistent moisture to keep it happy. (I’m sorry, I do know that consistent moisture is hard to provide in Georgia these days, but if you have a wet spot, a pond edge, a soaker hose, or even, as in our case, stopped up field lines because your wife didn’t know any better than to plant a Weeping Willow in the wrong spot, this shrub is definitely worth the trouble!)






Of course, my favorite online source for native plants is Shady Gardens Nursery.


September 28, 2012

Callicarpa Americana: American Beautyberry

If you like berries, American Beautyberry belongs in your garden. Callicarpa Americana, the American Beautyberry, is a deciduous shrub native to the Southeastern United States.

In early summer, tiny lilac flowers appear in clusters close to the stem. By autumn the flowers turn into bright magenta-violet purple berries. The beautyberries are ¼ inch drupes and packed tightly together in clusters that encircle the stem. Leaves usually turn a pale yellow shade in September and begin falling off the shrub soon after. Once the leaves are gone, the shrub is left with vividly purple berries encircling the bare naked stems until birds eat the berries sometime during the winter.

Callicarpa American Beautyberry
Shady Gardens Nursery

Callicarpa Americana is sometimes referred to as French Mulberry, although I cannot figure out why. I think the name American Beautyberry says it all. 

The Beautyberry is very easy to grow, thriving in any well-drained soil and even adapting to very poor soil. Plant in dappled shade beneath large oaks and pines. The edge of the woodland is ideal. 
Beautyberry is very drought tolerant once established, but water once or twice weekly the first year or two. After that, supplemental water is unnecessary, except perhaps in extreme drought. If the plant gets full sun, it will need more water.

Beautyberry can be grown in most areas of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 6-10.
Beautyberry is eye-catching either when massed or when planted as a single specimen in a woodland garden or shade garden. Callicarpa is great for a low maintenance natural garden where it contributes year round beauty and food for wildlife. Spring flowers and beautiful fall fruit make this an attractive landscape plant. Use it in semi-shade under tall pines or in full sun where foliage will take on a not unattractive yellow-green color that combines interestingly with the brilliant violet fruits.
Prune back severely in late winter for best berry production. I just cut back branches so all are about the same size and let my bushes grow large. However, Beautyberry can be kept small with an annual pruning in late winter or early spring. This shrub can be cut back as short as 4-6 inches tall every winter with no harm to the plant and without sacrifice of the berries.
To be sure your shrubs are loaded with berries, plant more than one of these beautiful plants.
And if purple is not your color, you might want to try one of the more rare forms.
Callicarpa Lactea has white berries instead of purple. I have encountered many a gardener requesting this shrub for their night garden. Plants with white berries or white blossoms really stand out at night while most other colors are barely visible. Additionally, white reflects the light from the moon. Can you imagine how lovely White Beautyberry would be in the floral arrangements for a Fall wedding? 


If you are partial to pink, you are in luck, because a rare pink-berried form has been discovered. Known as Callicarpa Sautee, it is named for the area in Florida where it was found. The Pink Beautyberry is perhaps the most rare form of all beautyberries. 

Once you see Callicarpa Americana loaded with berries, you will want one for your own garden.

April 14, 2012

Oconee Azalea: Rhododendron Flammeum

Filed under: azalea, flame, flammeum, gardens, nursery, oconee, orange, pink, rhododendron, Shady, speciosum — shadygardens @ 1:13 pm

We are very excited about the newest plant to our garden this year. Oconee Azalea is a deciduous native azalea with brightly colored blooms in several different hues. I have spent several years searching for this shrub.

Since it is unethical and often illegal to dig plants from the wild, we have been looking for a wholesale source for this plant in order to also offer it to other native azalea lovers.

Rhododendron Flammeum,
formerly known as Speciosum, is commonly referred to as the Oconee Azalea and the Flame Azalea. Flammeum is a deciduous azalea native to the Piedmont region of
Georgia and South Carolina.

Also often called the
Flame Azalea, Rhododendron Flammeum displays bright flame-colored blooms in brilliant
shades of apricot, coral, pink, orange, red, or yellow. Sometimes different
shades even appear on different branches of the same shrub!

This species is all about
variety. Not only can bloom color vary greatly, but growth habit can differ
from one plant to another.  The Oconee
Azalea ranges from a low mounding shrub to a tall tree-like form of 6  feet or more.

Blooms are not fragrant
and appear usually sometime in April, after the Piedmont (Canescens) but before
the Swamp and Alabama Azalea.

Flammeum can tolerate
summer heat in gardens of the Deep South.

Hardiness:
USDA Zones 6 – 9.

Site:  Part shade or filtered sunlight. High shade beneath tall hardwoods & pines is ideal.

Moisture: Regular water is best for optimum blooms and growth for year round beauty. Most azaleas are drought tolerant once they’ve been in the garden a few years.

Soil:
Well-drained soil on the acidic side is important for all azaleas and
rhododendrons. Amend the planting soil with compost or soil conditioner at
planting time, especially if you have clay soil.

*Mulch well
to retain moisture and keep the roots cool. 
Azaleas have shallow roots close to the surface of the soil, so do not
cultivate the soil after planting. 

A low groundcover beneath azaleas serves two purposes. Not only does a colorful groundcover accent the azalea, but also it will help to discourage weed growth. 

For more information on the Oconee Azalea as well as many other species Rhododendrons, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

January 26, 2012

What’s Blooming Today at Shady Gardens?

Filed under: Daphne, drought, February, fragrant, gardens, nursery, odora, pink, shade, Shady, shrub, tolerant, winter — shadygardens @ 2:19 pm
Daphne Odora Aureomarginata Pink Shady Gardens Nursery
Daphne odora is in full bloom today at Shady Gardens Nursery. 

Blooming in the middle of winter is just one special feature of Daphne Odora, lending this plant the common name of Winter Daphne. This shrub is also referred to as February Daphne, since blooms often appear during the month of February. 

Another favorite attribute of this plant is the reason for one of its other nicknames–Fragrant Daphne. The strong lemony scent permeates the winter garden even in cold climates. 

The evergreen variegated foliage is attractive year round, making it a beautiful addition to floral arrangements. 

The characteristic you might be most interested in is that Daphne odora is very drought tolerant. These plants have proved to be hardy in our hot Georgia climate even through several weeks of record summer heat and no rain. 

The only problem I have discovered with Daphne is that the roots will rot if allowed to remain wet for a prolonged period. When planting, site on a slight mound or hill and work in lots of organic matter to the planting hole to insure that the soil drains quickly. 

Daphne odora adapts well to containers, but be sure the pot has a drainage hole and no saucer beneath the pot to hold water. Terracotta or cement containers work very well, as they drain more quickly.

Daphne odora is a plant for every garden with a little shade.

October 5, 2009

Fall Garden Plants

Filed under: American, Beauty Berry, fall, garden, muhly grass, pink, Shady Gardens — shadygardens @ 4:43 pm
Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I just love the cool, crisp air which makes walking in the garden so much more enjoyable. I enjoy Fall gardening for the same reason—it’s cooler. I am a sucker for a fall-blooming plant.  I’m always on the lookout for something new, and I thought I’d share with you some of my findings. 
Pink Muhly Grass is hard to find, but when you see it, you’ll love the pink fluffy plumes that arise from the foliage in September. This plant is beautiful when planted in mass, but also makes a great specimen. Muhlenbergia capillaris is it’s botanical name, and this plant looks great with fall blooming asters. 
Perennial Ageratum is another eye-catcher with its bright lavender blooms that return each year in September. 
Berries tickle me as well, because I know they’ll bring birds into the garden. One of my favorites is American Beautyberry with its deep magenta berries that are in clusters wrapped around the stem. The berries hang onto the stems even after the leaves have dropped, providing interest on into the winter. If purple isn’t your thing, a rare white form and a pink form can be found in specialty nurseries. 

Fall is upon us, and fall is the best time to plant these beauties, so make your plans now for the best gardening season of all—Fall!

July 18, 2009

Four Oclock: Fragrant Blooms for the Evening Garden

If you like fragrant plants, the old-fashioned Four Oclock will be one of your favorites. Small pink blooms scent the garden with their sweet perfume every evening during summer. Mirabilis jalapa is a shrub-like multibranched perennial plant that emerges each spring from a large carrot-shaped tuber. The common name Four Oclock comes from its fascinating habit of opening its blooms around 4 oclock in the afternoon. That alone is enough to intrigue me, since I have a natural interest in plants with unusual traits. Although it’s called Four Oclock, in our garden Mirabilis actually opens her blooms around 5:30 pm, perfuming the air right about the time it begins to cool off enough to sit in the shade on the patio.

Four Oclock is very easy to grow. Easy to please, four oclock can be grown in sun or shade. Our plants get morning sun and afternoon shade, but four oclock grows equally well in full shade with a reasonable amount of water. She’s not a water hog, but good soil with regular water will keep the plant looking healthy and green with plenty of those fragrant blooms. Just so you’ll know, plants in our shade garden get very little water, yet still bloom and multiply with profusion. Plants in the sun that receive occasional water perform just about as well as those in dry shade. The few Four Oclocks we have in dry sun are just surviving.

I can’t really describe the fragrance–it’s just a sweet, pleasant scent that invites me to relax outdoors. You might not notice the scent until your plant gets large with many blooms. And if you’re never outdoors in the evening, well…you’ll just miss out entirely.

Another important feature of the fragrant Four Oclock is that hummingbirds just adore it! The hot pink blooms are tubular and full of nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. You’ll further enjoy sitting on the patio observing the tiny creatures flitting about around the plants.

Four Oclock dies to the ground with the onset of winter in colder zones, but re-emerges again in late spring. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-11, mirabilis can be grown anywhere in the southern half of the United States.

I must tell you also that Four Oclock is definitely a reseeder. Toward the end of summer you’ll notice small black cannonballs on the plants and the ground beneath. Those are very viable seeds. If you’ve had no luck growing Four Oclock from seed, that’s because these very hard seeds need a cold treatment to break them. It’s best to plant them in fall, but most gardeners don’t think about it then and seeds often are not available in the big box stores at that time of year. You’ll have nearly instant gratification if you go ahead and purchase a tuber instead. Heavy black carrot-shaped tubers will send up a stem very quickly after planting in warm summer soil. Four Oclock tubers are available for summer shipping from Shady Gardens Nursery.

June 26, 2009

Althea: Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon

Once again I found myself a discouraged gardener because all that wonderful rainful we’d been receiving has come to a screeching halt! I’m not sure when it rained last here, but I know it’s time to begin praying again when I take a walk through my garden. Yesterday as I looked with sadness at all the wilted plants, I was impressed with the fluffy blooms and dark green leaves of Althea ‘Blushing Bride.’

Althea is a beautiful name to me, but this shrub is also known as Hybiscus syriacus. I like to refer to this plant by its common name of Rose of Sharon, since that is my name, but whatever you call it, Althea is a wonderful garden shrub for the south. Even when not in bloom, the foliage is attractive, remaining green and bushy even during the severe drought to which our Georgia summers are prone. Blooms can be anywhere from a crisp snow white to a dark pinkish red. Single blooms with a red eye are common but single-color blooms are available, and double blooms are spectacular.

As shown in the photo, ‘Blushing Bride’ is particularly beautiful with its soft pink fluffy double blooms that resemble carnations.

What amazes me most about Althea is its obvious tolerance for dry conditions. The name Hibiscus usually indicates a love for water and full sun. In my garden, Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon seems to prefer afternoon shade. We have been unable to offer supplemental water to the plants in our woodland garden, yet we have several Altheas that have not only survived, but they have thrived during this drought. Leaves remain deep green and blooms arrive at just about the same time that outdoor temperatures are unbearably hot. Lucky for me, I’ve planted some of these shrubs close enough to the house to be viewed from a window!

Rose of Sharon can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Tolerant of not only drought, but also heat, air pollution, and salty air, Althea is so easy to grow that every garden should have it! Since Althea is available in just about every color, you can find one suitable for your garden. These heirloom plants are hard to find in the nursery however. They do root easily from cuttings, if you know someone who’ll let you ‘take a piece.’ Send me a message if you want me to help you find one.

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.

January 1, 2008

Daphne Odora: Rare Shrub for Winter Bloom

Filed under: aureomarginata, bloom, blooms, Daphne, dry, fragrant, garden, gardening, nursery, odora, pink, shade, variegated, white — shadygardens @ 2:29 pm

Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find! Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers–right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you’ll love it!


Daphne Odora Aureomarginata PINK

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