ShadyGardens Blog

April 25, 2014

Easter Lily: Poison Plant

Filed under: cats, day, Easter, lilies, lilium, Lily, plants, Poison, toxic — shadygardens @ 12:38 pm

Cat lovers, be careful about bringing home an Easter Lily. Several types of lilies are toxic to cats: Tiger Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, and other Japanese Lilies.


Easter Lily



Lilies can cause acute kidney failure when eaten by a cat. All parts are poisonous–even just a nibble of the leaf or flower can result in kidney failure. If you see your cat consuming any part of a lily plant, take him immediately to your veterinarian for emergency treatment.






Lily of the Valley




Lily of the Valley, not a true lily, is dangerous for cats too, but in a different way. Convallaria majalis, causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and possibly even seizures, when ingested.






There is some controversy about whether or not daylilies are poisonous to cats. Not a true lily, hemerocallis species are edible for humans, rabbits, and deer. Both the leaves and the flowers are delicious in salads and taste much like lettuce. 



Hemerocallis Happy Returns Daylily
The ASPCA lumps daylilies in the same category as Lilium species on the toxic plants list, but I wanted to know what scientists believe so I searched a little deeper. The Hemerocallis species does not appear on the Toxic Plant List I found. You should take a look at that list–you might be surprised to find that you have several of the plants on their list. 

Spunky spends a lot of time in the Garden
At any rate, there has apparently not been enough study done to reveal whether or not daylilies are dangerous to cats. 


I do know that some things like aspirin are fine for us to ingest but are poison for our cats. When it comes to our pets, like our children, we are responsible for their safety. When you are unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution. If your pet seems sick after eating one of your plants, take him to the vet immediately along with a sample of the plant or at least the plant name.

April 11, 2014

Native Bees ID Chart

Filed under: bees, chart, description, ID, identification, native, plants, pollination, pollinators — shadygardens @ 1:43 pm

Identifying the bees on the poster “Join the Conversation about Native Bees”
Written by Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D., Interim NAPPC Coordinator, Pollinator Partnership

  1. Macropis nuda. There’s oil in some flowers. Flowers including Spotted       Loosestrife (Lysimachia spp.) produce energy rich and nutritious floral oils which some female bees (Macropis nuda) collect using modified leg hairs like “oil squeegees” to enrich their brood provisions. This happens in some tropical bees (especially the genus Centris) but in the northeastern USA, only in these interesting little Macropis oil bees.
  2. Agapostemon texanus. US sweat bee (a male Agapostemon texanus) is especially colorful. Males of this species have a shiny green/brassy head and thorax but a wildly contrasting black and yellow-banded abdomen. Look for these bees on sunflowers and other common plants in the late spring and summer. 
  3. Peponapis pruinosa. Squash and gourd bees (like our Peponapis pruinosa) are common bees across much of the United States. They are specialist pollinators preferring the pollen and nectar of squashes, gourds and pumpkin flowers. The genus Peponapis is a colorful bee about the size of a honey bee. They are solitary; each female constructs her own nest with no help from kin, and nest a foot or more underground, usually in or near patches of their favorite cucurbits. 
  4. Bombus impatiens. The Impatient Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) is the preferred bumble bee of commerce. Since it can buzz pollinate, while honey bees never do, it is reared in large numbers and its colonies flown to distance localities, greenhouses needing pollinators. Since it does not naturally occur west of the Mississippi, efforts are underway to only allow it to be used in the eastern states as a managed pollinator. Its colors are muted, the yellow hair bands are often more white than a bright yellow. Compare with Morrison’s bumble bee of the western states.
  5. Osmia lignaria. The Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria) is a member of the leafcutter and mason bee family (Megachilidae). Its distribution includes the Pacific Northwest USA where it is a common visitor to fruit trees in gardens and yards. This bee is often first noticed as females searching for just the right size beetle or nail hole in which to nest and raise their brood. Blue orchard bees are specialists on trees in the rose family and superb pollinator of sweet cherries and other orchard crops. They are currently being tested as pollinators of almonds in California. This bee can be very easily provided for by drilling 7-8 mm diameter holes 5 inches deep into scrap lumber. These “bee condos” can be attached to a garden shed, fence or tree. Nesting females will take up residence and you will be rewarded with bountiful fruit harvests. 
  6. Hylaeus sp. Yellow-faced bees (Hylaeus spp.) usually go unnoticed by most gardeners and hikers. These slender black/brown bees are relatively hairless and most think they are wasps. Under a microscope, they are distinctive with a bright yellow face. The only bees natives to Hawaii are a group of these Hylaeus. Due to habitat fragmentation and loss in the Hawaiian Islands, several of these rare native bees have gone extinct, while others are declining. Hyleaus nests in hollow stems. Unlike most bees, Hylaeus carries its pollen and nectar back to the nest internally, inside the crop, or honey stomach.
  7. Habropoda laboriosa. The Southeastern Blueberry Bee (Habropoda laboriosa) is a digger bee (anthophorid in the family Apidae) from southeastern states including Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. This handsome large gray bee is an efficient pollinator of southern rabbit eye blueberries. This is one of the bees, unlike honey bees, which uses sonication, produced by rapid flight muscle contractions, to eject pollen grains from the blueberry flowers.
  8. Xylocopa varipuncta. Males of the Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) are common in the southwestern states. These bees have striking colors, a large golden amber body with long hairs and brilliant green eyes. During the spring, males leave the nest galleries in which they emerged, inside a large log or tree branch and go courting. They establish hovering territories in a non-flowering shrub or tree and release a pheromone, a rose-scented blend of volatiles from within massive thoracic glands. Passing females decide which male to mate with based up his particular bee “cologne.”
  9. Bombus morrisoni. Morisson’s bumble bee (Bombus morrisoni) is one of the most colorful bumble bees found in western and southwestern states. It’s mostly yellow fuzzy body attracts our attention as it visits diverse flowers in gardens and native wildflower areas. This bee is one of several that turns its body into a living tuning fork on plants with pored anthers, like tomatoes or deadly nightshades (Solanum spp.). Other species are managed for greenhouse pollination of tomatoes which require this form of buzz pollination. 
  10. Perdita minima. The smallest bee in the United States is only 2.0 mm (about 1/16th of an inch) long. These small amber colored bees (Perdita minima) in the andrenid family nest in the soil and visit the small white flowers of mat-forming Euphorbiaceae that come up in sidewalk cracks and along dirt roadways in the southwestern states.
  11. Xylocopa virginica. Many gardeners mistake the Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) for a large bumble bee. Although both bees are large and colorful, they are only distantly related, both belonging to the large family Apidae. Carpenter bees collect pollen and nectar from a wide variety of plants, thus they are known as generalist feeders. Large carpenter bees construct their nests inside dead but sound wood. Sawdust scrapings are glued together to form the first “particle board” separating individual brood cells within their long galleries. In the east, X. varpipuncta is a minor structural timber pest, often constructing its galleries in sheds, outdoor beams or fence posts. On the bright side, these bees are amazing to watch at flowers or at their nests, and it takes decades of residency before there is any serious structural damage to support beams. The females reuse the same nesting tunnels year after year. 
  12. Bombus vosnessenskii. The Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnessenskii) is a handsome bumble bee mostly black with a yellow face and prothorax and narrow yellow abdominal band. It occurs in the western states of California, into Nevada, Washington, Oregon and into British Columbia. It does not seem to have been affected, in decline, like the formerly widespread Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis)13. Bombus affinis. The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a bee that was formerly common across large areas of the United States from the Midwestern states to the northeast. It started to become rare in its former ranges after 1997. The reason(s) for its demise are not entirely settled but may include pathogen spillover from European parasites, contamination in the greenhouse bumble bee rearing industry. 
  13. Bombus affinis. The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a bee that was formerly common across large areas of the United States from the Midwestern states to the northeast. It started to become rare in its former ranges after 1997. The reason(s) for its demise are not entirely settled but may include pathogen spillover from European parasites, contamination in the greenhouse bumble bee rearing industry
  14. Megachile sp. Leafcutter bees like this handsome Megachile sp. are members of a very diverse family, the Megachilidae, which includes the leafcutter, resin and mason bees. Females of many of these bees get their name from the pieces of leaves they collect. Have you seen neat circles clipped from the edges of rose bushes or other plants? These leaf pieces are used to line the brood cells; literally the bees are usurping the chemical defenses, against microbes, found in the leaves. Please tolerate some non-harmful cosmetic damage that the females cause and you’ll be rewarded with bountiful harvests in your home garden or orchard.
  15. Andrena cornelli. Miner bees, the family Andrenidae, are represented by the huge genus Andrena, with over 2,000 described species. Females of Andrena cornelli are common spring visitors to the large pink flowers of eastern Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). The cobwebby pollen of these flowers are carried away in strings as brood food by the Andrena females.
  16. Anthophora centriformis. Digger bees, or anthophorids like this Anthophora centriformis are members of the large family Apidae. Anthophora species are large, strikingly colored fast-flying bees that visit tubular flowers like Penstemon (“beardstongue”) in gardens and natural areas. Most digger bees nest in the ground and are solitary, living out their lives without any help, like solitary wasps. 
  17. Nomada sp. The Wandering Cuckoo Bee (Nomada sp.) is a type of digger bee (family Apidae) which does not collect pollen to feed its brood. These colorful and nearly hairless bees are cleptoparasites, or cuckoos in the nest of other bees. Like cowbirds, a female cuckoo bee sneaks her own egg in the nest while the host female is away. Once hatched, the cuckoo bee kills the host egg or larva and consumes the pollen and nectar provisions left by the host female. 
  18. Augochorella pomoniella. Sweat bees like this beautiful metallic green Augochorella pomoniella are members of the large and diverse “sweat bee” family, the Halictidae. This southwestern species is a common resident of Arizona and adjoining states. These bees have sparse hairs and their integument is a shiny metallic green.

The above information was borrowed from The Pollinator Partnership.

February 24, 2014

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Filed under: chinese, Honeysuckle, invasive, Japanese, ligustrum, Lonicera, plants, privet, species, wisteria — shadygardens @ 3:36 pm
National Invasive Species Awareness Week is February 23-28, 2014. Invasive species involves more than just plants, but as you know, plants are my thing. Seeing invasive plants being sold in big box stores to uninformed gardeners is my pet peeve. 

I’ve written about these before, but I despise these invasive plants that are still commonly sold and planted right here in Georgia:

Chinese and Japanese Wisteria should never be planted here

Chinese Privet is dispersed when birds eat the berries




Privet in the garden center might also carry the name Ligustrum, so beware.

For what to plant instead of these invasives, please read Alternatives to Invasive Plants in the Garden.



Japanese Honeysuckle and Japanese Privet photos borrowed from Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area.

February 22, 2014

Arbor Day in Georgia

Filed under: arbor, day, food, Georgia, native, plants, trees, wildlife — shadygardens @ 7:40 pm
The day Arbor Day is celebrated differs from state to state due to climate differences. Georgia celebrates Arbor Day on the 3rd Friday in February. I’m running a day late, since that was yesterday. 


If you know me at all, you know I preach planting native plants, and it’s no different with trees. However, we need to take it a step further. Preserving our native birds and insects depends on planting what they need, and they need diversity.






When choosing a tree for your yard this Arbor Day, look around you. There’s no need to plant another of what you already have. Oaks are popular and they are a good tree to plant, with all those acorns for the mammals. But if you are like us, you probably have oak trees all around you. Take note of not only what you have but also what’s growing in your neighbor’s yard. Try to find something different. But native, of course. You might have to do a little research. Try doing a google search for “georgia native tree.” You could stay on the internet all day if you click every link you find.




The University of Georgia has an excellent publication on Native Plants for Georgia

There are some beautiful native trees you might not have considered. If you don’t already have one, I recommend you pick from these:

Sourwood in Fall



Sourwood, 
Oxydendrum arboreum
White fragrant summer blooms with vibrant red fall foliage. A much better choice than Burning Bush.







American Chestnut – Almost extinct, so if you find one for sale, buy it and plant it.

Red Buckeye in March



Red Buckeye
Aesculus pavia
Red panicle blooms in early Spring   develop large buckeye nuts that are food for wildlife. This tree might bloom as early as February when our Winter is mild. Looks like it will be March this year.





3 Grancy Graybeard Trees massed, Shawmut, AL







Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus
Fragrant fluffy white blooms in early Spring with blackish drupes on female plants. Unfortunately the trees shown here were cut down to make way for the new burger joint.
We love wildlife of all kinds, pollinators, birds, and even deer and squirrels, so I consider them when I choose a new plant for our garden. We enjoy the blooms as much as the bees do, but I like to see berries, nuts, or some other kind of fruit develop later on that is not only beautiful, but food for wildlife. I hope you will also think of the birds and the bees along with furry friends when you choose what to plant for Arbor Day.

February 17, 2014

Plants for Pollination: Helping the Bees Year Round

Filed under: bees, gardens, Georgia, Honeysuckle, jasmine, list, plants, pollination, privet, university — shadygardens @ 3:22 pm
Interested in providing plants for bees year round? I just found a list and thought I’d share it with you. Although the list claims to be “incomplete,” it certainly is a great starting point. Perhaps you will find that you have a great number of these plants already in your garden or growing nearby. This list is for Georgia gardeners, but if you live in another state, you might find a similar list on your state’s university website. I found my list on the website for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.
Unfortunately, some of the plants on this list are very invasive and I would never recommend you plant them. Privet should not be planted in Georgia, but I bet you either have it in your yard or as in my case, on a nearby neighbors property. Privet has escaped into the wild all over the Southeast. Although my neighbor probably did not plant this invasive shrub, it is everywhere.

Also, bloom times on this list might not be the same for you. According to the list Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter Honeysuckle) blooms in April, but it blooms here in January or February, depending on the winter we get.  Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Honeysuckle) is listed for March and April, but this native vine also blooms in Winter here, and has usually finished blooming by March in our area.  These differences are probably because UGA is in North Georgia.

February 9, 2014

Plants for your Garden that Help the Bees

Filed under: attract, bees, garden, plants — shadygardens @ 11:48 am

September 21, 2013

Plants I Wish I’d Never Planted

Filed under: aggressive, freely, grass, grows, invasive, ivy, mint, pampas, plants, quickly, reseeds, self sows, spreaders — shadygardens @ 3:28 pm
If I could do it all over again, I’d plant my garden differently. Early on, when I heard the words “spreads eagerly”, “reseeds freely”, or “grows quickly” when it referred to a garden plant, I grabbed one (or two or three) for my garden. For some of that ignorance, I am paying dearly every single day.

1 6 inch pot has taken over and climbed to
the top of this tall pine tree in just a few years
English Ivy should never be planted directly in the ground. It’s a wonderful plant for containers and hanging baskets, but if you let it touch the dirt, it will take off running and you will probably never subdue it.

Mint. It smells good when you walk on it or touch it or cut it. But if you plant mint in the garden, it will eventually spread all over your yard and probably into the neighbor’s. I used to think it would be okay if you plant it where you can frequently mow, but if you do, it will eventually spread to areas where you cannot mow. That’s what happened to me. I permitted Chocolate Mint to escape its container years ago out beside the greenhouse. It now covers just about every square inch of soil on all four sides of the greenhouse. And once it gets tall and begins to flower, mint is not a very pretty plant. I will never again plant anything in the mint family directly in the ground. Any type of mint is beautiful at the edge of a hanging basket, urn, or any other container like this leaky watering can where it can spill over the side, and that is where mine now resides.

Pampas Grass. Years ago, Pampas Grass became popular here, adding a tropical appearance to areas that are several hours drive from the beach. Giant Pampas Grass is very hardy even with winters much colder than ours. This large ornamental grass starts out nice enough. But it will grow so large over time that it can take over a small or medium sized garden. And when it comes time to prune it, all I can say is OUCH! Paper cuts are nothing compared to the burning cuts you’ll get when you brush up against Pampas Grass. Pampas Grass is not the plant for a family with small children. If you love Pampas Grass and have a garden large enough to plant it where no one will get cut up with the knife-like leaves, then have at it. But Pampas Grass is one plant I wish I had never put in my garden.


May 2, 2013

Selling Plants Online: How to Package Plants for Shipping

Filed under: how to, nursery, online, package, plants, sell, ship — shadygardens @ 5:38 pm

In our previous post, we explored your options for selling plants online. If you missed that post, you might first want to read Selling Plants Online: How to Do It.

Once you have decided what plants to sell online and where you will sell them, you must figure out how to best package the plants so they can reach their destination safely.

We have found the United States Postal Service to be the best fit for our shipping needs, but you might prefer UPS or FedEx. No matter which carrier you choose, every package carrier is harsh on packages sometimes. It is your responsibility as the seller to package your plants safely to protect the plant.

When shipping perishable items such as live plants, it is imperative to use a quick shipping method such as USPS Priority Mail or UPS ground which both take about 3 days to reach their destination. By the way, if you choose to ship with USPS, they offer free shipping materials for shipping with Priority Mail.

Shipping plants bare root is fine during the dormant season, but I prefer to ship plants with the soil ball intact. This means less transplant shock for the plant, and it is important that mail order plants arrive healthy and still moist to insure the plant will adjust quickly to its new home. Shipping the plant with soil ball enables shipping year round, so I am not limited to shipping only during the dormant season.

The plants you decide to sell will be up to you. Once you’ve settled on what to offer, the following steps will help to insure your success as an online seller:

  1. Prepare the plant for shipping by watering it thoroughly and allowing it to drain. 
  2. Prune away any unsightly stems prior to shipping. 
  3. Make sure all plants are labeled, especially if your customer has purchased more than one plant. 
  4. Remove plant from the pot carefully to avoid damage to the plant and its root system. 
  5. Shake off any loose soil but leave soil around the roots. This will cushion the roots and help roots stay moist during shipping.
  6. Wrap soil ball with a few sheets of newspaper and then with plastic or just do what I do and insert the paper-wrapped soil ball into a recycled plastic bag and tie it up completely.
  7. Include in the package growing instructions for the plants you are shipping, whether it is a general planting instruction sheet or detailed to fit the individual plant. By doing this you will save the buyer some time and they will appreciate the way you do business. Also, it will cut down on phone calls and emails asking you questions about growing preferences for the plant. 
  8. If the plant has tall stems wrap the topgrowth in a few sheets of newspaper to cushion them and also to protect them from tangling with the other plants in the package. 
  9. Securely attach the plant to the box by taping the rootball into the box. This will prevent slipping around and breaking of the stems. Taping the rootballs to each other as well as to the inside of the box will help to keep any sliding from occurring. 
  10. Enclose any shipping papers you intend to include – I include a cover letter thanking the customer for their order. This makes sure they have our information so they can purchase from us again. Any personal information about your company just helps the customer feel connected to you.
  11. Securely tape the package closed using package tape. 
You are now ready to ship the plants to their new home.

Check back soon for our next installment of the series on Selling Plants Online: Shipping Methods.

March 28, 2013

Selling Plants Online: How to Do It

Filed under: amazon, ebay, gardens, nursery, online, plants, sell, Shady, ship, walmart, website — shadygardens @ 1:18 pm
Sample of Plants shipped
 from Shady Gardens Nursery
These days, almost everyone is looking for a way to make money online. And if you are a gardener, you might have considered selling plants online.

I’ve done just that for several years. Since I frequently am asked how I ship shrubs, I thought I’d reveal some of my secrets. I don’t fear competition, and I enjoy helping someone who might need their own way to make money as much as I did when I started.

It takes quite awhile to receive traffic to your own website. You might consider trying to sell your plants on an established site first, like ebay. I started out by selling my plants at auction on ebay. Later I opened my own ebay store. Selling plants on ebay was surprisingly lucrative for me at first. This went on for a couple of years, until a few sellers ruined it for everyone else by selling their shrubs too cheap. Don’t undervalue your merchandise. You will never make any money if you sell everything at far less than it is worth. That’s why those sellers are no longer selling their plants on ebay. They put themselves out of business right after they ran everyone else off ebay with their undercut prices. Set your items at a fair price that is not only reasonable for interested buyers, but fair to you. Consider the total cost of growing the plant, the time involved in packaging the plant, and also the cost of supplies and actual shipping. Your time is worth some money too.

I sell plants on Amazon also, from time to time. But there again we must compete with the sellers who are out to undercut everyone else. Also, selling on Amazon is not quite as easy as ebay for a first-time online seller.

Although you might end up building your own website as I did, selling your plants on other established sites can give you the experience you need. Ebay will advertise, and they will help bring buyers to your listings, so you won’t have to.  If you’ve never bought anything on ebay before, I recommend you log on and do that now. That way you’ll learn how ebay and paypal both work. Before doing that though, think about a unique user name related to your new business idea. My user name is ShadyGardens, but you should make yours say something about you or more importantly what you sell. Something catchy or cute is always nice.

Don’t offer a guarantee on your plants beyond delivery. You are not Walmart and you cannot replace plants because the gardener who purchased from you did not properly care for the plants. And while we’re on the subject of Walmart, if the plants you want to sell can be bought at Walmart, there’s no need to even start. No one can compete with Walmart on price. They sell items much cheaper than you can, because they deal with huge volume. Grow and sell plants that aren’t easily found somewhere else, and you will make money.

Check back soon to learn how I package plants for safe shipping. In the mean time, check out our feedback on ebay and Shady Gardens Nursery online store.



January 19, 2013

Landscape for the Birds and Butterflies

Filed under: Berries, birds, butterflies, invasive, landscape, plants, shrubs, wildlife — shadygardens @ 1:29 pm



Attracting wildlife to the garden is a goal for many gardeners. Few things are more relaxing than sitting in a quiet spot, viewing birds flitting around among the plants, locating food, bathing, and dancing around in an attempt to attract a mate.
As gardeners, we look for plants that will bring butterflies to our garden, hummingbirds to our window, and birds to our feeders.
Attracting wildlife to your garden is very simple–birds and butterflies just need a few things to make them happy! When searching for a place to live, animals look for water and food sources, shrubs and brush for safety from predators, and safe places to build nests for raising young.
To attract wildlife into your garden, you must provide what the animals need for survival:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter from predators
  • Safe place to nest and raise young

Water sources are easy to provide. Birdbaths are widely available in garden centers, home improvement stores, discount stores, and even craft and hobby stores. Birdbaths are also easy to make using items found at flea markets and yard sales or purchased terracotta plant saucers. Birds prefer a shallow bowl rather than a deep one. Just remember to place it near a good spot for shelter if the bird needs it, but not too close to a tree or shrub that would provide good hiding spots for predators like cats. Remember to keep the water bowl clean and filled with fresh clean water.
Food and Nesting Sites can also be easily provided. One of the most important things you can do to bring wildlife into your garden is to plant native plants! By doing this, you will provide what birds and butterflies need most: food and shelter. Butterflies will drink nectar from any suitable flower, but each species of butterfly depends on just certain plants for host plants on which to lay their eggs. Some examples are: Milkweed, Asclepias (Commonly known as Butterfly Weed), Dill, Fennel, and Parsley. In fact, herbs attract a number of butterflies and other beneficial insects like ladybugs.
In addition to providing food and shelter for wildlife, when you plant native plants, you’ll be planting plants that will thrive in your climate, thus making gardening with native plants easier than gardening with foreign exotic species.

One other thing to consider when planting foreign species is that many of these exotic plants simply take over and crowd out native plants that are necessary for the survival of our wildlife. Think of how kudzu and privet have taken over in the southeast! One simply has to travel a little way down any highway in Georgia or Alabama to see how these plants have crowded out everything else. When crowding out native plants, they crowd out some of the wildlife species that depend on certain plants for survival.

And what could be more beautiful than a native azalea in full bloom? Nothing smells sweeter than the banana-pineapple scented blooms of our native sweetshrub. Our American native honeysuckle vine with its bright red blooms will attract whole families of hummingbirds, yet won’t take over and pop up all over the community as does the very aggressive Japanese honeysuckle.
I hope you’ll visit again for more plant recommendations to attract birds and butterflies into your garden. In the meantime, drop by our Shady Gardens Nursery online store to see if we have some of the plants you need for your wildlife garden.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.