ShadyGardens Blog

May 23, 2009

Spring Rain is Great for the Garden!

Filed under: aspidistra, azalea, drought, Hellebore, Hellebores, Hydrangea, juniper, native, Oakleaf, Rain, rohdea, spirea, tolerant — shadygardens @ 2:22 pm

Here in Georgia we have enjoyed lots of spring rain! It has been nice to be able to plant so many additions to our garden this year. You see, for the last few years, we have been under severe drought. Summer before last, we lost every single bigleaf hydrangea we had, and they were well-established shrubs we’d had for about 10 years!

Needless to say, we’ve been planting only drought tolerant plants since then. But even drought tolerant plants need water at first to get off to a good start. And water from rain is the best! So each time rain is in the forecast, I’m out there planting again.

Our new plantings consist of the following drought tolerant plants:

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Evergreen Azaleas
  • Native Azaleas
  • Hellebores
  • Rohdea
  • Aspidistra
  • Spirea
  • Juniper

We’ve also planted a number of Camellias, since we’re getting all this rain. They’ll be drought tolerant too, once established. The photo shown was taken at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. A lake is one thing we lack here at Shady Gardens. Perhaps one day we can install one of those manmade lakes…

January 18, 2009

Deer-Proof Gardening in the South

Filed under: Daphne, Deer, deterrant, ga, garden, Hellebore, repellant, resistant, rohdea, rosemary, South — shadygardens @ 8:14 pm

As a nursery owner, I’m often asked how I keep deer from eating the plants. Well, actually I use a number of methods, none of them expensive. Deer fencing is not an option for us, since a fence must surround the whole garden and be 10 feet tall to keep out deer. And it would be impossible for us to spray our whole garden with deer repellent after every rain or watering.

Our large black lab Shadow used to keep the deer away from everything, but now that she’s getting older, she seems to have befriended some of them, lying down with them as they eat.

The best thing to do, since as gardeners, you’ll be planting anyway, is to choose plants deer won’t eat.

A good plant type to use are those with prickly leaves or thorny branches, but deer do have the ability to pick berries and roses in spite of the thorns. I’ve even found where they’ve tasted of my holly shrubs and pyracantha, if you can believe it!

And although it’s true that deer seem to know what is poisonous to them, some plants that are poisonous to us are not so to deer, such as rhododendron and azaleas, for instance.

I hope to share with you some of our experience with this short list of plants that have proved to be not quite so tasty to the deer in our garden:

  • Acuba
  • Aspidistra
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Daffodil
  • Daphne odora
  • Dusty Miller
  • Fatsia Japanica
  • Hellebore, Helleborus
  • Loropetalum
  • Oleander
  • Osmanthus
  • Rohdea
  • Viburnum
  • Yaupon Holly


Also, all aromatic herbs, with the exception of basil, are detested by deer. And the fragrance of rosemary, which is very pleasing to us, seems to have a repellant effect on deer, causing them to go elsewhere in their search of food.

For a list of native plants that aren’t usually food for deer, please visit our other site, Plant Native.

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 26, 2008

The Winter Garden

Filed under: Daphne, drought tolerant, evergreen, Fatsia, garden, Georgia, rohdea, shrub, winter — shadygardens @ 2:17 pm


Since a Georgia winter has frequent warm days, we enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors even in January and February. Although native plants are most important to us, finding native plants that are showy in winter can be challenging. We do have many non-native evergreens in our garden. In addition to the popular choices of Azaleas, Camellias, and Hollies which we all must have, here is a list of some less common plants I’ve found to be truly easy to grow:

  • Daphne odora – Fragrant Winter Daphne – a compact evergreen shrub available with variegated foliage and winter blooms of either pink or white. Extremely fragrant! Drought-tolerant and shade-loving. (Requires very well-drained soil.)
  • Fatsia Japonica, Japanese Aralia, is an evergreen shrub with large hand-shaped leaves. Fatsia sends up a weird looking white bloom spike in winter. Very drought-tolerant. Likes deep shade.
  • Rohdea Japonica, Japanese Sacred Lily or Nippon Lily, is an evergreen groundcover that loves dry shade. Once established, Rohdea is the perfect plant for a Christmas garden, since the insignificant summer flowers turn into large, juicy-looking (but poisonous) red berries just in time for Christmas.
  • Mahonia, sometimes called Grape Holly or Leatherleaf, is one of my favorite evergreens for shade. Mahonia has an irregular growth pattern that I find difficult to describe, so I’ve included a photo above so you can see it for yourself. The prickly holly-like leaves are evergreen, and the plant is most attractive when grown Notice the purple berries on our plants. Very showy yellow blooms appear right around Christmas and last about a month. Since bees come out here in winter, the flowers are well-pollinated so the ‘grape-like’ berries develop by spring. The birds don’t eat them until they shrivel like raisins.
  • Aspidistra elatior, Cast Iron Plant, truly lives up to its common name. Spikey leaves resembling a peace lily or Mother-in-law’s Tongue are evergreen. Aspidistra enjoys deep shade and tolerates drought as if she enjoys it!
  • Hellebore, Lenten Rose, is an perennial/groundcover plant with palmate evergreen leaves. Hellebores display a variety of different colored blooms in winter, often when it’s just too cold to go outside, so plant them in shade where you can view them from inside!

For more information and photos of these plants, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

December 30, 2007

Rohdea: Beautiful Year Round in Dry Shade!

Rohdea Japonica, also known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is a low-growing evergreen plant that is a great substitute for Hosta. Rohdea actually thrives in dry shade gardens, and is not bothered by deer. A native of the Orient, Rohdea should be more widely planted here. Its low-maintenance and tolerance for poor, dry soil make it an easy plant to grow, even for busy gardeners. The 1 foot long deep green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump that will cover a 2 foot area in several years. In late fall the insignificant flower stalks will develop into a 6-inch stalk of bright red berries at the base of the plant–just in time for Christmas! The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels which help to disperse the seed for more plants in the garden. Usually difficult to find in the United States, Rohdea is highly prized in Japan, with some fancy-leaved varieties often selling for thousands of dollars. If you can find it, Rohdea is definitely worth planting in the garden. Rohdea Japonica needs shade and will even grow in very deep shade with little water. This drought tolerant plant is perfect for a xeriscape garden in shade. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.

November 8, 2007

Plants for a Dry Shade Garden: Native and Not!

Filed under: aquilegia, drought, dry, fern, native, nursery, perennial, plant, plants, rohdea, Shady, shrub, shrubs — shadygardens @ 4:39 pm

If you have dry shade in your garden, you know what a challenge it is to find plants that will grow in those conditions. What plants grow well in dry shade? This is a list of some of the plants we’ve found to grow well with little or no supplemental water. As I said, this is just a list, but if you’ll check back often, we’ll add plant profiles as time permits.

Shrubs:
Strawberry Euonymus
American Beautyberry
Native Azaleas – Alabama and Florida (Piedmont is moderately drought tolerant as well)
*The straight species ones have done much better for us—the named hybrid varieties haven’t survived the drought in our garden
Oakleaf Hydrangea
Red Buckeye
Sweetshrub
PawPaw
Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Arrowwood Viburnum

Perennials & Groundcovers:
Asters (Shade-loving varieties, like wood aster)
Ageratum (the hardy perennial one)
Columbine (Aquilegia)
Dwarf crested Iris
Hardy Geraniums
Native Wild Ginger
Solomon’s Seal
Pachysandra Procumbens (Allegheny Spurge)
Pussytoes is a very cute little native plant with fuzzy silver leaves like lamb’s ear.
Rudbeckia (Blackeyed Susan) does surprisingly well in dry shade if the shade is not too dense. We have several patches planted in shade, and they seem to bloom just as well as the ones in full sun. They bloom just a little later in the season when in shade, which works out just fine for me.
Purple Coneflower does equally well in shade.

Ferns:
There really are some ferns that grow just fine in dry shade.
My favorite is Christmas Fern, because it’s a native plant, and it looks a lot like the popular hanging basket fern, Boston Fern.
It looks great all summer, in spite of no rain or supplemental water at all. Plus it’s evergreen.
Autumn Fern isn’t native, but it’s my 2nd favorite, because it too is very drought tolerant and evergreen.
Dixie Wood Fern is a very large fern that is moderately drought tolerant, although it prefers moist soil.
Eastern Wood Fern is an evergreen native fern that grows well in dry woods. It might move into 1st place in our garden, if it continues to do well.

Vines:
Carolina Jasmine/Jessamine naturally occurs most often in dry shady woods. We were lucky to have this one already growing in our woods, and it grows well and blooms in spite of no supplemental water.
Red Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) also usually occurs in the woods but blooms better in the sun. It tolerates dry shade very well, but blooms less in the shade.
Virginia Creeper is a deciduous native vine with beautiful red fall color that is often mistaken for poison ivy.
I won’t mention the non-native vines for dry shade, but there are some. Many of the popular ones are quite invasive. If you need more information on these, let me know.

Since native plants are my favorite, I tend to concentrate most on them, but I’d be telling a story if I said we don’t grow anything else. We do try to avoid invasive plants, but many non-natives provide a lot of easy-care beauty in our shade garden. You really can’t beat these for a dry shade garden:
Acuba
Ajuga
Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant)
Daphne odora
Gardenia (once established)
Hellebores (Lenten Rose)
Holly
Hosta
Mahonia (Leatherleaf)
Pieris
Mondo grass, also a non-native plant, is a great performer.
Pittosporum
Rohdea (Japanese Sacred Lily) – makes a great
substitute for Hosta, since it’s evergreen and deer- resistant.
Pittosporum
Viburnum (there are many types, both native and non-native)
Yew
*In addition to being evergreen and deer-resistant, both the Aspidistra and Rohdea grow well in even very deep shade.

October 31, 2007

Drought Tolerant Plants for Georgia

“Average Moisture” is a term we see often on plant labels and in garden books. Many plants do well with average moisture. If only I had a garden with average moisture! It seems like our drought comes earlier each year. Our garden shows serious signs of stress, since we’re now under severe drought status. Nowadays when I search for new plants, I look for those claiming to be drought tolerant. Once again, I’m drawn to native plants—plants that occur naturally in this part of the country. Many native plants are rare plants, mostly as a result of land development for housing, shopping, and industry, but specialty nurseries have them. Georgia climate poses some problems for many plants—our summers are hot and humid. Most years we receive little rainfall. Yet our winters can be cold. Actually, it’s the extreme temperature fluctuations that cause the demise of many plants in winter here in Georgia. Native plants are accustomed to our temperature fluctuations and our drought. Believe it or not, there are some plants that grow very well in dry soil. For dry shade, look for Columbine, Perennial Geranium, Cast Iron Plant, Rohdea, Carex, Autumn Fern, and Christmas Fern. For dry sun, you’ll be rewarded by Amsonia, Asters, Yarrow, Ice plant and other succulents, Blanketflower, Perennial Sunflower, Blackeyed Susan, Ornamental Grasses, and Red Trumpet Honeysuckle. If you plant some of these drought tolerant plants, you’ll find it easier to have a beautiful garden during this Georgia drought.

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