ShadyGardens Blog

August 12, 2010

Hot Georgia Summer Takes a Toll on my Garden

Filed under: drought, garden, Georgia, heat, plants, summer — shadygardens @ 4:52 pm
For the last several weeks, temperatures have reached 98 or above each afternoon, and with, most of the time, not a cloud in the sky! This climate can sure take a toll on garden plants–even those famous for loving hot, dry sun. In the last week I’ve noticed that even the butterfly bushes and lantana have wilted in the afternoon heat. That observation prompted me to get my ice water and take a walk through the garden looking for the tough guys. I thought I’d share with you my findings.

Plants not wilted in my garden today:
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Bamboo (where did that come from?!)
  • Cactus (if that ever wilts, I’ll quit gardening!)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Holly
  • Hosta
  • Loropetalum
  • Mahonia
  • Redbud
  • Rosemary
  • Spirea
  • Yucca (lol, you know that will never wilt!)
The plants mentioned above are in parts of the garden not irrigated. The only water they receive is what falls from heaven. As a native plant pusher, I was appalled to see that most of the non-wilted varieties are from foreign lands! It pains me to say that, but I will ponder on it, figuring that perhaps I need to do some research. This part of the country has been prone to heat and drought way longer than I’ve been gardening. Native plants have learned to deal with this weather much better than I have. So I’ll be stepping out in the heat to tour some local gardens I know to be native plant sanctuaries. I’ll have my notepad in hand, and I’ll let you know what I find.

July 18, 2010

Clethra Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies to the Garden in Summer

Filed under: alnifolia, Butterfly, Clethra, Hummingbird, native, pepper bush, ruby, spice, summer, Sweet — shadygardens @ 1:18 pm

If you’re lucky enough to have a moist spot in your garden, consider Clethra alnifolia. Clethra is also known as Summer Sweet or Sweet Pepper Bush.

Blooming in the middle of the hot summer is enough reason to name it Summer Sweet, but I think that common name derives from either the sweet fragrance or the sweetness of the nectar. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators love it as much as you will, and they’ll appreciate you for planting it in your garden.

Once the blooms fade, dark black seeds are visible on the tips of the stems, hence the other common name Sweet Pepper Bush.

There’s a Clethra suitable for just about every garden, since a variety of types are available.

  • Ruby Spice has rosey pink blooms on a large growing shrub up to 10 feet tall.
  • Hummingbird has white blooms on a more compact plant around 3 feet tall. This is the one seen growing around Hummingbird Lake at Callaway Gardens.
  • Sixteen Candles 6 inch long white flowers on a tidy shrub about 4 feet tall.


All Clethra varieties are very fragrant, reminding me of fresh honey.


Clethra is easy to grow, but does need regular water. Perfect around a pond or stream, but you can grow it right in your garden as long as you can water it weekly.


Clethra grows well anywhere in USDA Zones 4-9.


An added bonus is that Clethra displays lovely yellow foliage in fall! 


For Clethra plants by mail, go to Shady Gardens Nursery.

May 23, 2010

Getting the Garden Ready for a Hot Georgia Summer

Filed under: garden, Georgia, summer — shadygardens @ 1:33 pm
Gaillardia at Shady Gardens Nursery
Getting the garden ready for a hot Georgia summer can be easier than you think! 
 
Plant selection is most important—choose plants you know will thrive in your area. Planting trees, shrubs, and perennials native to your climate zone means less work for you, because native plants are accustomed to the difficult conditions our Georgia summers offer. They are better able to withstand our drought, and some native plants even prefer our muggy, humid temperatures! 
 
Always amend the soil with compost or composted manure. Plants are better able to tolerate harsh conditions when they have good soil to live in. 
 
Don’t overlook the importance of mulch.  Apply a thick layer of organic mulch such as straw, bark chips, or shredded leaves to conserve moisture, keep the plant roots cool, and prevent weed growth. Gravel mulch is not suitable for our climate, except in a cactus garden, because it heats up too much in the summer. 
 
Finally, if your budget allows, install a soaker hose or drip irrigation watering system. This will get the water down to the roots where it’s needed with less water waste.

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