ShadyGardens Blog

March 13, 2014

Camellia, the State Flower of Alabama

Filed under: Alabama, camellia, flower, garden, japonica, sasanqua, shade, state — shadygardens @ 1:21 pm
Although Alabama’s State Flower is the Camellia, this popular Southern shrub is native to Asia. The first Camellias were brought to Charleston, South Carolina, in the late 1700’s by the French botanist Andre’ Michaux. Camellias are one of my favorite winter blooming plants. Camellias are often thought of as the Rose of Winter. There are thousands of different types of camellias, but most often what you see falls into one of two categories: Japonica and Sasanqua.
Camellia Japonica has glossy evergreen leaves and large blooms that may be any shade of white, red, or pick. Some even have “variegated” blooms that are spotched or striped. Blooms which can sometimes be very large come in several forms: single, double, semi-double, or peony type. Flowers hold up well indoors. I like to display them in a clear glass bowl.
Sasanqua Camellias have glossy evergreen foliage too, but the Sasanqua has different characteristics. Blooms are looser and appear more delicate, but the plant itself seems easier to grow. Sasanquas tolerate more sun that the Japanese Camellia, and they grow faster and larger too. 

By having a variety of both Japanese and Sasanqua Camellias in the garden, one can have blooms from Fall all the way into Spring. All camellias prefer some shade. Morning sun is okay, but give your camellias some protection from hot afternoon sun. They are all surprisingly drought tolerant once established, but you’ll need to water regularly the first few years to get your shrubs established.

A good reference book to add to your collection would be Camellias: The Gardener’s Encyclopedia, by Jennifer Trehane.
Although I do love camellias, personally, I think the State Flower should be one that is native to that state. But that’s just me. What do you think?

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.

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.

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.





February 17, 2012

What’s Blooming Today at Shady Gardens Nursery? Camellias

Filed under: bloom, camellia, drought, evergreen, japonica, shade, tolerant, winter — shadygardens @ 3:38 pm
Camellia Japonica (variety unknown-sorry, next time I’ll use indelible ink)
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Camellia in bloom. I was young, and I was new at gardening. I was driving through a residential area in the middle of January when I noticed a large, bushy, green shrub with large red blooms that looked like roses. Believe it or not, it took me a while to find out what it was! You’re probably laughing at me now, but thank goodness I’ve learned a few things about camellias since then. 

Large voluptuous blooms begin appearing in January on Japanese camellias here in our garden. The deep green glossy leaves provide a canvas for the blooms. Since camellias are evergreen, they provide the bones of the garden and also make a beautiful privacy screen if you need it.

A good companion for azaleas, camellias of all types should be planted in abundance in the Southern garden.

Camellias prefer a sheltered site away from drying winter winds. Bright, filtered shade beneath tall trees is ideal. Moist, well-drained soil is best, but camellias are drought tolerant once established. 

Remember that deer will eat the camellia blooms, so consider using a deer deterrent around them. Your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter has plenty of inexpensive deer-deterrent—the all-natural kind. Just ask the attendant which dogs are frisky enough for deer control! 

For additional deer control tips as well as a list of deer-resistant plants, consult Gardening in Deer Country. Please also notice the photos of our organic pest control staff to the right of this post.


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.

May 21, 2011

Ashe Magnolia, Magnolia Ashei: Dramatic Focal Point for the Shade Garden

Filed under: Ashe, ashei, Bigleaf, deciduous, focal, garden, Magnolia, point, shade, Shady — shadygardens @ 1:54 pm
Magnolia Macrophylla, more commonly called Bigleaf Magnolia, is a very rare plant native to the Southeastern United States. It is one of the most beautiful plants I have ever seen. Huge leaves can be up to 18 inches long! The flower is large–up to 6 inches across–and very fragrant. If pollinated, a seedpod will develop that sports very juicy-looking red seeds that are very ornamental, providing food for the birds.

Magnolia ‘Ashei’ is a variety of Bigleaf Magnolia that blooms at an earlier age than others. Shown in the photo above is our own plant with a bloom while only slightly taller than knee high.
Smaller and more bushy than macrophylla, Ashe Magnolia reaches a height of about 15 feet with a spread of about 12 feet, growing in a more rounded form.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 – 9.
Site: Prefers moist woodland soil rich in organic matter.
Light: Partial shade. Tolerates morning sun. (Needs plenty of moisture with more sun.)
Water: Needs regular water.

While some botanists have put this magnolia as a subspecies of Magnolia macrophylla in the past, the new Flora of North America has decided Ashei is a species in itself. It is much smaller & often multi-trunked, blooming at an earlier age (3 to 4 years). Magnolia ashei is the rarest Magnolia in North America.

Magnolia Macrophylla will provide a tropical look to your garden and is at home in any southern style garden. Provide some shelter from wind and hot sun, since the huge leaves are somewhat sensitive.
Source for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.

March 16, 2011

Florida Anise: Small Tree for the Shade Garden

Filed under: Anise, bog, Florida, gardens, nursery, shade, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 4:52 pm
Florida Anise

One of my favorite native plants is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum is usually thought of as a shrub, but actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall. Florida Anise is native to moist wooded ravines of the Florida panhandle and Southeastern Louisiana. 

Shiny evergreen leaves, single trunk, and compact stature with a maximum height of 10 feet make Florida Anise a lovely small tree. 

Leaves have a spicy scent when crushed, much like anise, which is why deer won’t eat it. 

Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, interesting seed pods develop. The large star-shaped seed pods are not a substitute for the culinary anise and are poisonous if ingested, which is probably another reason deer will not eat it. 

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 a little more sun if planted in a boggy area.


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 unusual for your shade garden, Florida Anise is perfect.


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.

Spunky likes sniffing the variegated Florida Anise

If red is not your color, Florida Anise is also available in a white-flowering form and a variegated form with soft pink blooms, as shown above. 

March 21, 2010

Mahonia: Bright Yellow Blooms for the Shade Garden

Filed under: dry, grape holly, leatherleaf, mahonia, nursery, online, oregon, shade — shadygardens @ 9:04 pm
Mahonia is my favorite non native plant. After the cold wet winter we’ve had, I’m excited to see the first blooms in our garden, and each year they appear on the Mahonia first.

Mahonia is an evergreen shrubby plant from Asia. Often referred to as Leatherleaf, this plant has tough green leaves with spines.

Bright yellow blooms appear in winter as early as January, but this year the blooms didn’t open until March due to our prolonged winter weather. Blue black drupes appear in clusters like grapes in spring, lending the common name of Grape Holly.
Mahonia is very easy to grow in the Southern United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9. This evergreen plant prefers shade and well-drained soil. Bloom is not prevented even in the deepest shade. Very drought tolerant once established, Mahonia is an excellent choice for a dry shade garden. 
The growth habit of mahonia makes it a striking architectural feature for foundation planting as well. 

Leatherleaf Mahonia is available online from Shady Gardens Nursery.
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