ShadyGardens Blog

May 21, 2014

Cherokee Rose: Georgia’s State Flower

Filed under: cherokee, China, flower, Georgia, native, plant, rosa laeveigata, rose, state — shadygardens @ 12:56 pm

Probably because the Cherokee Rose is Georgia’s State Flower, I am often asked if we grow it. Most have been disappointed or even shocked when I told them that we did not. 

Since it is Georgia’s State Flower, one would assume the Cherokee Rose is native to Georgia, but this plant originally came from China. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although our specialty is plants that are native to these parts, we grow many plants that are native to Asia. However, we do have to be careful with Asian plants, since many can be very invasive here (kudzu, honeysuckle, and wisteria), but that’s a separate post.

If the Cherokee Rose is not native to this state, you might be wondering how in the world it became Georgia’s State Flower. And furthermore, how did it come to be called the “Cherokee Rose”? There is an interesting legend behind that.

One of our nation’s earliest nurserymen, Thomas Affleck, introduced Rosa laeveigata and sold it to landowners all over the South in the 1800’s. Since that time, Rosa laeveigata has naturalized all over the state of Georgia. One of the saddest things in history to me is the removal of Cherokee families from their land in Georgia when they were forced to march on foot all the way to Oklahoma. This tragic relocation of the Cherokee became known as the “Trail of Tears.” According to the legend, every time a tear hit the ground, a rose grew in its place. That rose was Rosa laeveigata, later to be called the Cherokee Rose.

In 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated as the State Flower of Georgia with the support of the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs. Often confused with Rosa bracteata, the McCartney Rose, the Cherokee Rose blooms in Spring and is not invasive.

The Cherokee Rose is a vigorous climbing rose with ferocious thorns, but can be pruned and grown as a hedge. Large white flowers with yellow centers cover the plant in March or April.

Having learned this interesting piece of history, we might decide to produce this beautiful rose after all. If for no other reason than to remind us of an important event in history that should never have happened. Nowadays it seems everyone has something to grumble about. Oh, “Woe is me,” they seem to be saying. Well, imagine if you had been a Cherokee, back in 1838.

Look for us to have Rosa laeveigata in the future. Hopefully in the mean time, I can learn to spell it.

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.


June 13, 2013

Alternatives to Leyland Cypress

Filed under: alternatives, Cypress, evergreen, hedge, holly, leyland, Osmanthus, privacy, rose, screen — shadygardens @ 11:57 am

Having been in the nursery business for many years now, we have received many requests for Leyland Cypress. Because of its fast growth rate and thick evergreen needles, Leyland Cypress is commonly planted close together in long rows as a privacy screen. It does make a good screen and very quickly too. However, most homeowners plant them way too close together. Because a mature Leyland Cypress Tree can be 12 to 20 feet wide, it is best to plant them at least 6 feet apart. I have seen local homeowners plant them 2 or 3 feet apart. The trees will grow quickly and just fine until they are wide enough to begin touching each other. Crowding leads to disease and ultimate death, resulting in a large brown dead tree right in the middle of the privacy screen. The University of Georgia has an excellent publication available for free detailing common Diseases of Leyland Cypress.




Rather than offer Leyland Cypress at our nursery and try to educate all on the proper planting techniques, I prefer to offer some more beautiful alternatives to the Leyland Cypress.

While it is true that Leyland Cypress offers excellent screening year round, why plant a tree that is simply evergreen, when you can plant an evergreen that offers additional benefits? Your options are limitless. You can choose from evergreens with berries, evergreens with showy blooms, evergreens with fragrant flowers, or even evergreens with edible fruit. But what I suggest to you is this: why choose at all? I recommend a mixed border. With my plan, you can have privacy, flowers, fragrance, and fruit all, by planting your property line with a variety of evergreen shrubs and trees.
Holly can’t be beat for a privacy screen.

Just make sure you choose one that will grow large enough, as there are many dwarf, low-growing, or compact varieties available. Additionally, not all hollies are evergreen. American Holly is the traditional Christmas Holly with spiny leaves and bright red decorative berries. A native American tree, American Holly is a very dense evergreen tree growing up to 50 feet tall. Chinese Hollies grow large also, and the heavy fruit-set attracts all kinds of birds to the garden. I like Lusterleaf Holly, for its large leaves and voluptuous clusters of red berries. Nellie R. Stevens is a cross between Chinese and English Holly. This fast-growing large shrub will provide privacy in no time, while also displaying large red berries against dark green foliage.

Camellias are a favorite for Southern gardens.


Sasanqua Camellias can grow quite fast if soil is rich and water is readily available. Blooms can be had in many colors and if you plant several different varieties, you can have blooms from September all the way to March. Japanese Camellias provide additional bloom types and colors, and with them you can extend your blooms all the way in to April or possibly even early May. Japonica blooms also make a good flower for taking indoors.

Rosa mutabilis Shady Gardens Nursery
Some varieties of shrub roses can get shockingly large, making them another ideal blooming plant for privacy screenings. Roses are mostly evergreen here in Georgia and Alabama. Knockout Roses are available everywhere now, even at the grocery store. Contrary to what is on the growing tag, they will grow up to 10 feet tall here in just 1 year’s time. Another shrub rose for privacy would be Mutabilis, an old China rose known as the Butterfly Rose. This rose grows very wide, so if you have a neighbor who wants you off her property, plant this one several feet from the property line. Rugosa Rose is one we haven’t got around to planting, but it is on our wishlist. Very thorny, so it will provide a barrier to keep out unwanted individuals. In addition to beautiful fragrant flowers, you and wild birds will be able to enjoy large orange or red rose hips in the Fall.
One of my favorite shrubs of all is Tea Olive. Osmanthus fragrans is so well-loved here that we have planted 6 of them already. When in bloom, our whole garden smells like fresh apricots. Flowers are very inconspicuous, but fragrance is oh so sweet! Osmanthus fragrans blooms heavily in Fall and again in Spring, with sporadic bloom all in between so that you can have fragrance in your garden almost year round. Osmanthus fortunei, also known as False Holly, has prickly holly-like leaves and flowers just as fragrant but that come only in Fall. Osmanthus Orange Blossom has masses of tiny orange flowers that, yet again, are just as fragrant as Osmanthus fragrans.

Orange Blossom Tea Olive also blooms just once a year in Fall, but all 3 of these large growing shrubs provide year round privacy with their dense evergreen foliage that is not usually bothered by any pests or diseases.

Edible plants are gaining in popularity for home-gardeners, probably due to the high cost of produce with the additional threat of food borne illnesses and pesticide contamination on store bought fruits and vegetables. Fruit-bearing evergreens are perfect for a privacy screen. Blueberry shrubs can develop into a nice dense bush when planted in full sun and given plenty of water. While not completely evergreen, blueberries are mostly evergreen in warmer areas of Georgia and Alabama. If citrus is hardy in your climate, Meyer Lemon and Loquat are excellent as an ornamental privacy screen. Fragrant blooms in summer develop into tasty and attractive fruit in winter.

These are just a few of my favorites, but you might also consider Gardenia for fragrant blooms. Evergreen viburnums provide both fragrant blooms and often showy berries too. Loropetalum has deep purple foliage and bright pink blooms in several months out of the year. Actually, I could go on and on. So I will stop here. Go ahead and get started on your beautiful privacy screen and check back soon for some additional recommendations for plants you can add as you’re ready.



This last photo is not my own, and the shrubs are not all evergreen. But isn’t this a spectacular hedge? Actually, the only time this border would not provide a privacy screen is in the dead of winter. And who’s sitting outside then anyway? Not me.

April 12, 2012

Kerria: Japanese Thornless Rose or Yellow Rose of Texas

Filed under: bloom, double, garden, Japanese, japonica, kerria, nursery, rose, shade, Shady, spring, Texas, thornless, winter, yellow — shadygardens @ 4:19 pm
Every year without fail, one of the first plants to bloom in our garden is Kerria Japonica. Whether you call it Kerria, Japanese Rose, Thornless Rose, or the Yellow Rose of Texas, we can all agree that this plant is spectacular in the early Spring garden. 

Often blooming before Spring has really arrived, Kerria keeps on blooming for well over a month, and then slips in more flowers off and on throughout Spring, Summer, and early Fall as long as it’s happy.

It doesn’t take much to make a happy plant out of Kerria Japonica. Kerria grows well in either sun or shade. Provide well drained soil and regular water, and she will reward you with more blooms each and every year.

Blooms are a bright golden yellow. Our garden is fortunate to have two different varieties of Kerria. Pleniflora has double yellow blooms that resemble pompoms. Shannon blooms are single and look like the flowers of a true rose. 

Kerria Japonica is available online at 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.

February 8, 2009

Privet Is An Invasive Plant! Don’t Plant It In Your Garden!

Filed under: alernative, invasive, plant, privet, rose, viburnum — shadygardens @ 2:44 pm

Many invasive plants are still commonly sold and planted here in the Southeast. One still popular but very invasive plant that should not be planted in your garden is the Chinese Privet. Once planted, this invasive shrub is difficult to eradicate. Privet produces tiny berries by the hundreds that are eaten by birds and planted all over the neighborhood. Very soon privet begins popping up in nearby woods and meadows, developing tight thickets that crowd out native plants. I find it ridiculous that privet is still so widely sold and recommended for hedge plantings.

Privet is often chosen at garden centers when the homeowner is looking for a privacy hedge or evergreen shrub that is easy to grow. There are many better choices out there, since just about any plant is better than privet. For alternatives to privet, try visiting your local native plant nursery or a locally owned nursery. There you will find a knowledgeable nurseryman that would have suitable alternatives to privet.

Some plants to consider instead of privet:

  • Viburnum – some species are evergreen, most produce large flowers in spring and showy berries in fall, as shown in the above photo. There are both native and non-native varieties.
  • Roses provide showy blooms and easy care, if you choose a carefree shrub rose. In addition to beauty, the thorns on most shrub roses can provide a barrier for intruders if that’s your goal.
  • Holly. Whether you choose an American native variety or not, holly provides berries and beautiful foliage. Some species are evergreen and even variegated. Holly is a favorite of birds as a food source and nesting site.

When planning a hedge, I always suggest a mixed shrub border rather than a long row of the same plant. A mixed shrub border can provide beauty and interest 12 months a year, and with variety, you can provide food and shelter for birds and other desirable wildlife. Plants with berries should be included as a food source, and birds love to build nests in thick bushy shrubs with spines or prickly leaves. When you have a variety of plantings in your garden, you are contributing toward diversity that is important for preservation of the environment.

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!

October 28, 2007

Native Plants vs Exotics

Many popular landscape plants are actually invasive plants that are moving into our natural areas and crowding out native plant species. Once established, these plants are capable of strangling trees and covering up native plant species on which many of our beneficial insects and wild animals depend for their survival. This change to our environment could drastically alter our eco-system.
Most of these popular invasive species have a native counterpart that is much more desirable in both appearance and behavior!
Listed below are some commonly planted invasive plant species with some alternatives.
Chinese Tallow Tree (Popcorn Tree) is prized for its fall color, but is one of the worst invaders into our forests because of the rapidly dispersed seed. It is a lovely tree, but consider these alternatives:
Sassafras – a native small tree with beautiful fall color and large unusually-shaped leaves. It is easy to grow and tolerant of a variety of growing conditions.
Serviceberry – another native tree noted for its spring flowers and fall color with the addition of beautiful berries which are food for the birds.
Fothergilla – yet another native American tree/small shrub with showy, sweet-scented, white bottlebrush flowers in spring, and excellent fall foliage in shades of orange, red, and burgundy.
Viburnum – there are many varieties, both native and non-native, that are lovely, consisting of beautiful, showy blooms and many also have berries in shades of white, blue, pink, and red that provide wildlife food, and some ending up with beautiful fall foliage, while others are evergreen—yet they are never invasive!
Sourwood cannot be beat in my opinion. It’s my favorite native tree, because in addition to beautiful maroon foliage in early fall, Sourwood has fragrant blooms in early summer that look and smell like Lily of the Valley!
Chinese Privet is a highly invasive species that is all over the South! The plant is rapidly spread by birds who eat the small dark berries. Privet is very difficult to eradicate, since it’s still sold and planted in enormous proportions. It can be found in almost every landscape. In my opinion, it isn’t even very pretty, and I don’t know why people plant it, unless it’s because it’s evergreen. There are certainly many superior alternatives to this pest. I could go on an on with a list, but any fine, textured evergreen would be better. Here are just a few suggestions:
Hollies are excellent with dark green glossy leaves and beautiful berries in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Dwarf yaupon holly is a native holly with small leaves giving a fine-textured appearance.
Yew is a lovely evergreen plant that is available in a variety of forms.
Viburnums are available in small-leaved varieties such as Davidii, Compactum, or Sandankwa.
Itea, Virginia Sweetspire, is a lovely shrub available in large or dwarf-growing sizes. Sweetspire has fragrant bottlebrush blooms in spring and one of the showiest fall color displays of any shrub, native or not!
Japanese Honeysuckle appeals to many gardeners due to its fast-growing habit and its sweetly scented blooms, but the fact that it’s fast-growing is what has caused it to take over the South! Japanese Honeysuckle is one of the most common nuisance plants, yet it is still sold in garden centers everywhere!
Red Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, is one of the best hummingbird magnets I know of, with its large red tubular flowers that come year round in my garden. (There are a few blooms on mine now in January here in West Central Georgia!)
Carolina Jessamine is an evergreen vine native to the Southeastern US that produces tubular yellow blooms in late winter to early spring.
Confederate Jasmine (Star Jasmine) is an evergreen vine with sweetly-scented white star-shaped flowers.
Lady Banks Rose comes in 2 colors—white blooming which is very fragrant, and yellow blooming which is not. Both varieties thrive with neglect, and the largest, oldest rose bush in the country is a white Lady Banks Rose growing in Tombstone, Arizona! That should give you an idea of how easy it is to grow. That bush is over 100 years old!
American wisteria, yes, I did say wisteria!!, is a native vine that is just as beautiful as the Chinese and Japanese wisteria, but is not invasive at all. The blooms are very fragrant. You might see it sold as Amethyst Falls wisteria, but don’t be afraid to plant it. Avoid Chinese and Japanese wisteria, because I can show you how it’s taking over much forestland in Alabama and Georgia, strangling and pulling down trees, much like kudzu.
Clematis is available in many varieties, both native and non-native species.
Passionvine is another native perennial vine with very showy, large purple flowers and attractive, edible fruits. This vine will self-sow, but never crowds out its neighbors.
I hope you will consider some of these suggestions, and plant native plants instead of invasive exotics. I truly recommend native plants for every garden, but there are some other plants that have earned respect with their ease of growing and ability to do well without invading our natural areas. Just, whatever you do, don’t plant any more invasive exotics! Where ever you live, when you plant native plants, you will be helping to preserve our environment as it is, for our wildlife neighbors and for our children.

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