ShadyGardens Blog

February 3, 2014

February Pruning Tips for Alabama & Georgia Gardeners

Filed under: crepe myrtles, February, hydrangeas, prune, pruning, right, roses, shrubs, spireas, time, trees, when to, winter — shadygardens @ 5:41 pm
When to prune is a question I am asked almost every day. The best time to prune a flowering shrub is usually determined by when it blooms. Typically, a plant that blooms in Spring should not be pruned in Winter. The rule is, if it blooms before May, wait and prune after it blooms. If it blooms after May, that usually means it blooms on new wood, so if it needs pruning, do it in Winter.

Here’s a list of plants to prune in February:
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex)
  • Pomegranate
  • Summer-blooming Hydrangeas such as Annabelle and Peegee
  • Abelia
  • Holly
  • Summer Flowering Spireas like Anthony Waterer and Little Princess
  • Grapes and Muscadines
  • Roses, except the ones that bloom only once in Spring. Examples of roses that should not be pruned in Winter are Lady Banks and Caldwell Pink Climber.

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.

October 26, 2012

Drought Damage in my Georgia Garden

Filed under: Beautyberry, drought, dry, garden, gardens, Georgia, lady banks, mahonia, nursery, Shady, shrubs, tolerant, trees — shadygardens @ 3:31 pm
I took a walk in the garden today to assess the damage the drought has caused thus far. Many of the plants believed to be drought-tolerant have actually suffered quite a bit. I did find a few surprises when I noticed plants that still look great in spite of absolutely no water, so I thought I’d share them with you. 


Lady Banks Rose has not wilted, although she’s been in the ground only one year. I can’t reach her with the hose, so I was a little worried. 

Other shrubs and trees with no wilt are: American Beautyberry, Holly, Paw Paw, Spirea, Arizona Cypress, and Rosemary. 



Established camellias and viburnums look fine, while newly planted ones wilt again every few days and recover only after a deep soaking. 

Mahonia from Shady Gardens Nursery
Although it will plant itself in your garden wherever it likes, Leatherleaf Mahonia never wilts. It provides a rough texture in the garden with its tough evergreen spiny leaves and bright yellow winter bloom sprays followed by dark purple berries that are loved by songbirds. It requires shade. Although it does reseed freely, I do not consider it to be an invasive plant. 

Perennials that still look great are Hosta, Rohdea, sedums, and succulents. Hardy Ice Plant is great for dry sun—rewarding you with flowers that open in full sun even with no rainfall. 

If you decide to add any of these recommended plants to your garden during this drought, remember that no plant is completely drought tolerant the first year, so water weekly in the absence of rain. In other words, water weekly, because obviously, there is no rain!

September 18, 2012

Fall: The Perfect Time for Planting Shrubs

Filed under: azaleas, Blueberries, fall, fothergilla, gardens, hydrangeas, nursery, plant, planting, Shady, shrubs, trees — shadygardens @ 1:25 pm

Fothergilla Mt Airy
In Fall at Shady Gardens Nursery

I cannot say this enough: Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. 

October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! 
Since we are now receiving regular rainfall here in Georgia, you can take advantage of that and be ready to plant when another shower is headed your way.
Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having!


(Reprinted with permission from Plant Native)

November 23, 2011

Filed under: autumn, azaleas, Blueberries, fall, gardens, Hydrangea, nursery, planting, Shady, shrubs, trees — shadygardens @ 1:21 pm
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Autumn weather is cool, making gardening easier on us. In Fall, rain is more dependable, making planting easier on both the plant and the gardener. Here in Georgia, daytime temperatures can still be hot, but our nights are cooler. 

Fall is the best time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! 

So if you dream of a garden as beautiful as that shown in the photo above, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! 

Since we are receiving more regular rainfall, you won’t have to water as often, but you should water your newly planted trees and shrubs anytime it hasn’t rained that week, especially as long as days continue to be hot and sunny. 

Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having!

To order unusual shrubs and trees for fall planting, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

November 7, 2011

Plant Azaleas in Fall instead of Spring!

Filed under: azaleas, canescens, fall, gardens, native, nursery, Piedmont, rhododendron, Shady, shrubs — shadygardens @ 8:21 pm

Rhododenderon Canescens, Piedmont Azalea

Native Azaleas are definitely a spectacular show in Spring, but don’t wait till Spring to plant them! Shrubs planted in Fall have a much better chance to get established and become healthy plants by next summer. 


The American Native Azaleas, species Rhododendrons, are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves for the winter. This defoliation begins quite early in fall, depending on the climate conditions and the variety. Usually the earlier the bloom time in spring, the earlier leaf loss occurs in Fall.  
Fall is the best time to transplant shrubs because they are then dormant. Fall planted shrubs have all winter to become established before time to bloom and grow next year. This is especially important when your plants are received by mail, as is most often true with rare plants like native azaleas.
When planting native azaleas, soil preparation is key. All azaleas prefer well-drained soil. Amend the soil for drainage, especially if your soil is clay.  Prior to planting your native azalea, work in some compost or composted manure and shredded bark to the planting hole. To help insure good drainage, mound up the soil so your azalea is planted high. Be sure that the root collar is slightly higher than soil level so water will drain away when those heavy downpours occur.
 
When planning your native azalea garden, consider the site. Native azaleas naturally occur in the filtered light beneath large trees near stream banks, but will grow in full sun when water is adequate.  They perhaps will bloom more profusely in full sun, but need more water with more sun. 
Make sure you can get water to the plant if drought occurs. Native azaleas are quite drought tolerant once established, however, water weekly the first year or two, as the plant grows in to its new environment.  Also, the blooms buds are formed during late summer on the early blooming varieties, and if your area is prone to a late summer-early fall drought, pay attention to those weekly waterings, so you won’t miss out on your fragrant Spring blooms! 
Finally, obtain some good organic mulch. Azaleas have a shallow root system. Apply a thick layer of any organic mulch such as shredded bark, leaves, or pine straw to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Never cultivate around your native azaleas, since this can damage those shallow roots. 
Once planted, your native azaleas will need water at least once weekly to insure good root development and beautiful blooms for years to come. 
For more information on the beautiful and fragrant native azaleas, visit us at Shady Gardens Nursery.


September 23, 2008

Fall Planting is Best for Azaleas, Hydrangeas, and Most Other Shrubs

Filed under: azalea, Blueberries, drought tolerant, fall, garden, gardening, Georgia, Hydrangea, planting, shrub, shrubs — shadygardens @ 8:13 pm

Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! Since we still are not receiving regular rainfall, you’ll need to water newly planted trees and shrubs once or twice weekly, especially while these hot days continue. Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having, and remember to pray for rain!

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.

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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