ShadyGardens Blog

June 2, 2013

Eucalyptus Silver Dollar Tree in the Garden

Filed under: apple, argyle, cinerea, dollar, drought, eucalyptus, fragrant, hot, silver, sun, tolerant, tree — shadygardens @ 1:54 pm
Most of you know that Eucalyptus cinerea, also known as the Silver Dollar Gum Tree or Argyle Apple, is commonly used in floral arrangements. But you might not realize how easy it is to grow your own.



Eucalyptus has very fragrant but also beautiful blue-green foliage with a silvery cast. During cold weather, leaves often turn a rosey burgundy. Eucalyptus makes a great specimen plant, but also looks great massed in groups of 3 or more. Bark is cinnamon-colored and exfoliating, adding to the beauty of the tree.

Warm summer breezes send the fragrance of eucalyptus all over the garden.

Eucalyptus cinerea is an evergreen tree that will grow up to 60 feet tall fairly quickly. 

Eucalyptus cinerea
 Shady Gardens Nursery
This variety of Eucalyptus is hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 11, tolerating light frosts with no leaf damage. When temperatures dipped down into the teens here, our trees showed some damage but quickly rebounded. This species has been known to survive winter in Zone 6, where it will die to the ground and resprout if dead foliage is pruned away. Can also be grown indoors in a large container. Just prune it regularly to keep it the size you want.

Eucalyptus cinerea grows rapidly in an irregular form. Give it plenty of space, because the branching can grow quite wide horizontally–this tree can be up to 15 feet wide. A height of 50 or 60 feet can be expected.

Eucalyptus needs full sun and well-drained soil. Hot dry sun is not only preferred but enjoyed. 

When you plant, amend the soil with soil conditioner and sand to insure the soil is very well drained. Then water once, at planting time. Do not overwater. That’s all there is to growing Eucalyptus in your very own 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!

October 15, 2012

Georgia Drought Monitor

Filed under: county, drought, Georgia, Rain, tolerant, troup — shadygardens @ 2:31 pm
I don’t yet know what I can do with this information, but my despair prompted me to get online to find out if the drought is as serious as I think it is. I found this site which confirms my suspicions:
Georgia Drought Monitor.


Troup County is where we attempt to garden. And sure enough there we are, right there in a section labeled extreme/exceptional. And the “exceptional” section fills up most of Troup County, so I can be sure that includes us. Upon closer examination, I found that yes, of course, we are in that spot. I didn’t really need to see this, because I know when I look at the ground outside that we are suffering.

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.

October 15, 2009

Climate Change: What Can You Do About It?

Climate change–there’s a lot of talk about climate change these days. And there are many skeptics out there. I’m not a scientist, and in this post I will not pretend to know a lot of facts to either promote or disprove the idea of global warming.
I will say this: we’re having some crazy weather! Two and three years ago, Georgia was under a severe drought. Farmers lost their livelihood, garden centers went out of business, and I personally lost most of my bigleaf hydrangeas–shrubs that had been established for several years. Record breaking heat waves and no rain for several weeks at a time is more than many shrubs can tolerate.
This year, on the other hand, Georgia has had more rain than we want! Severe flood damage occurred just a few weeks ago and threatens us again. (Actually, prior to the drought we had a few years ago, we received too much rain. I remember we received so much rain that area creeks and the Chattahoochee River swelled, washing away roads and bridges.) Yes, it’s a fact–Weather patterns do change.
And it’s that thought that brings me to my favorite topic: native plants! I’ve written many posts advocating the use of native plants. If you’ve followed my writings for long, you know that I love native plants for their tolerance to adverse weather conditions including excessive heat, humidity, and drought.
It is for Blog Action Day that I write my thoughts today. Whether you believe our climate is really changing or not, and whether or not you believe Global Warming is a fact or a myth, the right thing for you and me to do is whatever we can to protect our environment. We must protect the environment for our children and for our grandchildren.
These are simple suggestions, and this is what we do here at Shady Gardens:
  • Plant native plants instead of invasive exotics. In a nutshell, native plants will survive drought causing you to use less water when watering plants is restricted. Please read my previous posts on this topic.
  • Use organic pest control methods instead of poisons which can kill more than just the pest you wish to remove. Biological insect control can be something as simple as attracting ladybugs into the garden. ‘No kill’ rodent traps are available providing good results without the use of dangerous chemicals.
  • Use organic fertilizers instead of synthetic ones. Chemical fertilizers can be poisonous, and they really are junk food for the plants. Compost and other organic soil amendments make plants healthier and stronger. Some organic fertilizers like compost tea even help to ward off plant disease.
We are stewards of this great country we live in: caretakers of all that is around us. As gardeners, we must do our part to protect and preserve nature. I hope you will join me in planting native plants that provide homes, habitat, and food for wildlife. And then do nothing to poison the little creatures!
As always, I welcome any questions or comments.

September 4, 2009

Native Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden

I am often asked why I focus so much on native plants. Many homeowners really just do not know what a native plant is, so I thought it best to clarify. A native plant is simply a plant type that occurs naturally in a particular area.

Often plants seen growing in abundance on roadsides are mistaken for native plants. The sight of kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle climbing and devouring trees and wooded areas cause new gardeners to turn up their noses at the suggestion to plant native plants. Those plants are invasive exotics and not native plants at all.

Native plants should be planted more often for several reasons:

  • Ease of growing. Native plants require less maintenance. No heavy pruning and no coddling.
  • Pest free, usually. Native plants have been growing with the same insects for years and usually will not die just because of a few bugs. A garden with no pesticides is a good thing!
  • Drought tolerant. Native plants have acclimated themselves to our changing environment and can tolerate whatever conditions a Georgia summer can dish out.
  • Deer-resistant. Yes, most native plants are deer-resistant. Deer will often walk right past a native plant to devour something from exotic lands, such as your prized hosta. Why eat something they see all the time in the woods, when they can try something new?
  • Beauty. A little known fact is that often the native plant is much more beautiful than it’s exotic counterpart. Some examples: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus moscheutos, and Lonicera sempervirens. The image above is Hibiscus coccineus, native to the Southeastern United States. Isn’t it fabulous?

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.

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…

November 8, 2007

Shady Solutions for a Dry Shade Garden

Filed under: drought, dry, garden, gardening, native, plant, plants, shade, shrub, tolerant — shadygardens @ 4:33 pm

Shade garden can be very challenging, because there are many different types of shade. Shade means different things to different people. Not all shade is the same.
Types of Shade:
Part shade can be very variable. Time of day is very important—whether or not the shade is morning shade or afternoon shade can mean life or death for a plant.
Afternoon shade means the area is shady after lunch, but sunny in the morning.
Morning shade means the area is shady before lunch and sunny in the afternoon. With the heat coming from our summer sun, I wouldn’t even consider this spot to be shade at all.
*Most shade loving plants can tolerate some morning sun, but they cannot live with our hot afternoon sun.
Filtered Shade – This is usually shade beneath large trees that have a high or open canopy, letting in little bits of sun off and on throughout the day. This kind of shade is perfect for a wide range of plants.
Full Shade – Shade all day long. This can be either shade provided by tall trees or a tall wall like a building of some kind. There is still some light for the plants, but plants in full shade receive no direct sun.
Deep Shade – Shade all day long beneath big trees that let in very little light at all. In deep shade the area can seem dark. This is beneath very big trees like oaks. This is the most difficult area to fill, but there are some plants that grow fine here.

In addition to determining what kind of shade you have, it’s important to also consider soil condition. Moisture, or lack of moisture, makes a big difference when choosing plants for a site.
Moist Shade – Most shade-loving plants like moist soil. If you have moist soil or a way to water to insure that your shade garden does have moist soil, you’ll have no problem growing a beautiful shade garden.
Dry Shade – Dry shade is by far the most difficult shade to deal with. Since most shade plants also like moist soil, plant selection for a dry shady area is greatly decreased. This is what I’ll focus on tonight.
Although recent rains have brought back some green to our gardens, we’ve been under a serious drought for quite a while. Several years ago, my husband and I bought a house in a wooded area that had been overgrown and neglected for years. Ever since then, we’ve been been working on a woodland garden using primarily native plants. We’ve tried to come up with an easy way to water this area using our well, but so far, the area remains dry. For this reason, I’m constantly searching for plants that can tolerate dry shade. Dry shade is probably the most difficult soil in which plants can grow, because the shade is made even more dry when large trees are soaking up any available moisture when rain does come, leaving very little for other plants with less aggressive root systems.

When planting in dry shade, it’s very important to amend the soil at planting time. Plants expected to grow in dry shade need all the help they can get, and it’s much easier to spread out your roots in soft pliable soil, even if it’s dry. Woodland soil tends to be dry and full of tree roots, and there’s a lot of competition among plants for what little water there is. Composted cow manure or mushroom compost are my favorite soil amendments.
Mulch is important too, because it conserves moisture in the soil and helps keep the roots cool. Shredded leaves are the perfect mulch for shade gardens, because the leaves will enrich the soil as they break down.

If shade gardening is among your interests, take a look at my other post, Plants for Dry Shade.

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