ShadyGardens Blog

March 28, 2014

Attracting Hummingbirds the Natural Way

Filed under: Aesculus, attracts, buckeye, gardens, hummingbirds, nursery, red, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 12:34 pm
Many of you put out hummingbird feeders every Spring, having to remember to keep them clean and filled all summer long and into early Fall. I prefer to provide food for hummingbirds the natural way–with plants.

By the way, did you know that because of the high energy of the hummingbird, he eats up to 3 times his body weight every single day?
Hummingbirds can visit as many as 20 flowers in just one minute. In order to have enough food, they must visit hundreds of flowers every day. Woa! That’s a lot of flowers!
Quite a few native plants can provide nectar for the voracious appetite of the energetic hummingbird. We have planted Red Salvia, Turk’s cap Hibiscus, and Red Trumpet Honeysuckle in our garden. But one of my favorite native plants is very important for the early arriving hummingbirds.
The Red Buckeye Tree, Aesculus pavia, blooms in March, or even late February when the Winter is mild. Since the Red buckeye naturally occurs in the edge of a woodland surrounded by large trees, it usually looks more like a bushy shrub. When planted out in the open, it can become a specimen tree up to 25 feet tall. Like most plants, the Buckeye Tree will produce many more blooms when grown in full sun.
March is a great time to plant the Red Buckeye. You won’t see it at the big box stores. Look for it at your local nursery that sells native plants. Young seedlings will begin blooming when less than 3 feet tall.
Your Red Buckeye Tree will become quite a focal point when covered with the large red panicles that come in early Spring. Plant it where all can see and enjoy it.
Source for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.

September 27, 2012

American Euonymus: Strawberry Bush, Hearts a Bustin

Filed under: American, Bush, bustin, euonymus, fruits, gardens, hearts, native, nursery, orange, red, seedpod, seeds, shade, Shady, strawberry, woodland — shadygardens @ 4:15 pm
Eunonymus Americanus Strawberry Bush
Shady Gardens Nursery
It would be hard to find a more unusual and interesting shrub than the American Strawberry Bush. A native plant of the Eastern US, Euonymus Americanus is a thin little shrub with
narrow, opposite leaves, green stems and tiny, inconspicuous flowers that give
way to peculiar crimson red fruits that look like strawberries. As the fruits mature, they burst to reveal bright orange seeds, which is the reason for the common name Hearts a Bustin.

The Strawberry Bush usually
reaches about 6 feet tall, and has a loose, sprawling habit with thin,
wiry, spreading branches and an open, airy form. There are usually several main
upright stems arising in a stoloniferous clump. The twigs are distinctive green stems that stay green in the winter too.   The springtime flowers are very inconspicuous,
with five greenish yellow petals.

The fruit is a
warty red capsule about 1 inch across that resembles a strawberry. When ripe,
the capsule splits open to reveal four or five bright orange seeds that really
stand out against the deep red capsule. Strawberry Bush is an important food source for
white-tailed deer, turkeys, many songbirds, and other wildlife.

Strawberry bush prefers a rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. This shrub does well in shady situations, even tolerating deep shade. Drought tolerant once established.

Euonymus Americanus can be grown in most of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

American strawberry bush is best
used in naturalistic settings, in the shade of larger shrubs and trees. But be
sure it’s close to the path where the interesting (and beautiful) fruits can be
appreciated! 

A specimen covered with hundreds of bursting red hearts is a
remarkable sight. In autumn, the leaves turn shades of orange and red before
falling. In the winter, the leafless green twigs and stems are structurally
interesting. Strawberry bush will naturalize under ideal conditions, forming
loose, open clumps of sprawling green stems, but it would never be considered
invasive or even moderately aggressive.

You might want to plant more than one, since deer will graze not only on the fruits and leaves but also the green stems.

May 24, 2012

Calycanthus floridus: Sweet Smelling Shrub with Many Names

Filed under: betsy, bubby, Bush, calycanthus, floridus, fragrant, gardens, native, nursery, plant, red, shade, Shady, shrub, Sweet — shadygardens @ 7:49 pm

Calycanthus floridus, Sweet Shrub
Shady Gardens Nursery

Calycanthus floridus has many common names: Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice, Strawberry Shrub, Pineapple Shrub, Sweet Betsy, but my favorite is “Bubby Bush,” since we call our little boy Bubby.

This
beautiful deciduous shrub grows slowly and will eventually form mounds up to 8 feet tall.
As the sweetshrub suckers vigorously, the mounds increase in width and will eventually
form a thicket.

The many common names of Calycanthus floridus refer its aromatic properties. Most of you are probably familiar with the wonderful fruity scent produced by the unusual flowers. Rusty reddish brown or brownish red blossoms are 1-2 inches across. The blooms adorn the plant in Spring and sporadically  throughout the Summer months. Not only are the flowers sweet-smelling, but also the leaves, bark, twigs, and even the roots have a spicy fragrance.

The 4
inch long leaves are rich deep green. Soft and
fuzzy to the touch, they turn bright golden yellow in autumn.

Calycanthus floridus is native to the moist
woodlands of the Southeastern United States. Its range extends from Virginia,
south to Florida, and West to Mississippi.  Sweetshrub is appreciated as a landscape
plant in Europe and deserves more attention from gardeners here in the United States.

Sweetshrub is easy to grow in average soil, is easy to care for, and is
essentially pest-free! Deer do not usually eat Sweetshrub.


Light: Thrives in medium shade or filtered sun.


Moisture: Likes moist soil. Water when dry.
This shrub can survive periods of drought if necessary, but will perform much better with regular water.


Calycanthus floridus can be grown throughout most of the country, as it is hardy in USDA Zones 5 – 9. 


Try drying the flowers, leaves, twigs and bark for use in potpourri.

For an even sweeter fragrance, try Calycanthus
floridus ‘Athens’

– a yellowish white blooming selection favored for its extremely sweet
fragrance.

December 31, 2011

Plant in Winter? Yes, You Can!


January is a great time for planting here in Georgia! Shrubs and trees planted before the arrival of hot weather have a much better chance of surviving the drought. I’m afraid it’s time we all adjust our gardens for the return of the drought each year.


Several years ago, our garden was certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. We are very proud of that, because preserving our environment for wildlife and our children is very important to my family and me.

Not only is preserving wildlife and native plant species important from an environmental standpoint, but native plants are easier to grow, since they are able to thrive in our climate!

In addition to being easy to grow, many of our Native American Species offer other advantages over the imported counterpart.

Consider American Euonymus with the unusual red fruits instead of the more common Euonymus that is invasive. The fruit resembles a hard strawberry until the capsule bursts open to reveal bright orange seeds—food for the birds! (See the photo above.)

American Native Azaleas perfume the garden with a lovely fragrance, while Asian Azaleas have no fragrance at all! And what could be more beautiful than a native azalea in full bloom?

Nothing smells sweeter than the banana-pineapple scented blooms of the native Sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus.

The bright red blooms of our American native honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens, 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.

So as you add new plants to your garden during this great planting time, seek out some of these rare native specimens, and don’t be afraid to plant them now, to give them a headstart before summer! And check back soon for suggestions on how you can improve your garden to help protect your local wildlife.

For more information on these and other plants for your garden, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

July 26, 2010

Georgia Drought is Here Again!

Filed under: buckeye, drought, Georgia, red — shadygardens @ 2:52 pm

After a spring with plenty of rainfall, summer has definitely been summer here in Georgia! One of the Red Buckeye Trees in our garden has lost every single leaf! It is still living however. Many of our native plants are accustomed to this annual drought to which the southeast is prone. Leaf loss can be simply a survival tactic–plants will defoliate and sort of hibernate when conditions become too difficult and will spring back to life when moisture levels and temperatures are more to their liking. Some plants will actually put on a whole new crop of leaves in September. If plants in your garden appear to be dead, you can check for signs of life by simply scratching the bark with your fingernail. If you see green, your plant is still alive!

October 16, 2009

Aesculus pavia: Red Buckeye Bloom in October!

Filed under: Aesculus, buckeye, buy, gardens, nursery, online, pavia, red, sale, Shady, ship — shadygardens @ 3:37 pm

Speaking of climate change, this crazy weather causes unusual phenomenon in the garden!

Take a look at the photo of our Red Buckeye Tree blooming today–October 16, 2009.

The Red Buckeye normally blooms in March here. This particular tree has a few other bloom buds getting ready to open within the next few days. I hope that doesn’t mean it won’t bloom in March, when I will be searching for signs of spring.

August 4, 2009

Rhododendron colemanii: Red Hills Azalea Discovered Growing Wild in Alabama

Recently I learned of a newly discovered deciduous azalea native to Georgia and Alabama called the Red Hills Azalea. Rhododendron colemanii ‘Red Hills’ is a wild azalea that grows in the Red Hills region of South Alabama and eastward barely into Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. This newly discovered species is one of the tallest, most richly colored, and most fragrant of all the native azaleas. The late blooming flowers (usually May) can be any color from pure white to deep pink or even yellow or orange.

Red Hills azalea seems to prefer cooler bottomlands near creeks and streams. I’d suggest siting this plant in the shade of tall hardwoods and providing regular water.

If you’re looking to add to your collection of rare native azaleas, you’ll want to check out this one. To purchase this plant, click here.

April 5, 2009

Florida Anise: Evergreen, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant!

Filed under: Anise, bloom, blooms, Deer, evergreen, Florida, garden, native, nursery, proof, red, resistant, shade, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 3:04 pm


One of my favorite native shrubs is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall.

The evergreen leaves are dark and shiny. Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, large star-shaped seed pods develop–very unusual.

Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.

Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take more sun if planted in a boggy area.

If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.

Illicium floridanum is not the culinary Anise used as a spice–Florida Anise is poisonous if ingested, which is why deer won’t eat it.

Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them.If you’ve been searching for something a little less common than a camellia or gardenia, Florida Anise is perfect.

March 21, 2009

Red Buckeye – Native Plant for Hummingbirds

Filed under: Aesculus, buckeye, Callaway Gardens, dwarf, gardens, native, nursery, online, pavia, red, Shady, tree, woodland — shadygardens @ 2:47 pm


Dwarf Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, is one of the most showy native plants in our garden. Blooming very early in late winter or early spring, the large red panicle blooms are visible from a great distance, attracting hummingbirds as they return from their trip down south.

The Red Buckeye is among the first of the woodland plants to reawaken in spring, sending out tender new leaves as early as February. Lavish flowers appear early too, usually sometime in March for us.

The large luscious blooms attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to the early spring garden. The Red Buckeye begins blooming at a young age when only about 3 feet tall. Red panicle blooms are up to 6 inches long!

This deciduous tree is the perfect specimen for the edge of a woodland, offering a focal point to draw you into the garden. It is especially lovely when underplanted with early spring blooming wildflowers.

The palmately compound leaves are deep green and keep their attractive tropical look all season long.

Red Buckeye is very easy to grow. You will enjoy this lovely little tree in your woodland garden!

November 7, 2007

Antique Shrub Roses for A Carefree Rose Garden

Filed under: antique, Beauty, Butterfly, Carefree, Cascade, China, drought, dry, garden, gardens, Georgia, Mutabilis, nursery, red, rose, Shady, shrub, shrubs — shadygardens @ 6:18 pm

Now that our weather is cooling off a bit, roses are beginning to give us another great show. Even the most popular repeat blooming roses often bloom sparingly during our summer heat. I don’t blame them—I don’t think I’d bloom either! But roses, like us, enjoy this time of year, because the temperatures are more to their liking. Mutabilis Rose is one of my favorites. Sometimes called the Butterfly Rose, because the multicolored blooms look as if a flood of butterflies have landed on it, Mutabilis Rose is an antique rose from China. Single petals open yellow, change first to orange, then to pink, and finally turn crimson, with these different colors on the bush at the same time! Mutabilis Rose is almost thornless and retains its glossy green leaves with no spraying. Carefree Beauty is a large growing shrub rose with huge, fluffy double blooms to match. The pure pink blooms are more vivid during the cooler fall season. This rose literally blooms until the first frost, and I’ve had buds on mine in winter. Blooms are large—up to 5 inches across. Red cascade is classified as a miniature rose, but that’s because of its small leaves and flowers. This rose is certainly not miniature in size or flower power! Once established, Red Cascade is simply covered with blood red double blooms from spring to fall. It makes an excellent groundcover for steep banks but is equally beautiful climbing on a fence or trellis. These roses really bloom continuously all summer, but the fall show is simply spectacular and very welcomed in my garden. If you’re too busy to spray roses, try one of these—they are truly trouble free. Fall is an excellent time to plant roses, because the roots will have plenty of time to become established before next summer’s heat wave. Since we still are not receiving enough rainfall, remember to water regularly after planting, as long as Georgia continues to remain under extreme drought. At least it’s cooler. Enjoy Fall!

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