- Daphne odora - Fragrant Winter Daphne - a compact evergreen shrub available with variegated foliage and winter blooms of either pink or white. Extremely fragrant! Drought-tolerant and shade-loving. (Requires very well-drained soil.)
- Fatsia Japonica, Japanese Aralia, is an evergreen shrub with large hand-shaped leaves. Fatsia sends up a weird looking white bloom spike in winter. Very drought-tolerant. Likes deep shade.
- Rohdea Japonica, Japanese Sacred Lily or Nippon Lily, is an evergreen groundcover that loves dry shade. Once established, Rohdea is the perfect plant for a Christmas garden, since the insignificant summer flowers turn into large, juicy-looking (but poisonous) red berries just in time for Christmas.
- Mahonia, sometimes called Grape Holly or Leatherleaf, is one of my favorite evergreens for shade. Mahonia has an irregular growth pattern that I find difficult to describe, so I've included a photo above so you can see it for yourself. The prickly holly-like leaves are evergreen, and the plant is most attractive when grown Notice the purple berries on our plants. Very showy yellow blooms appear right around Christmas and last about a month. Since bees come out here in winter, the flowers are well-pollinated so the 'grape-like' berries develop by spring. The birds don't eat them until they shrivel like raisins.
- Aspidistra elatior, Cast Iron Plant, truly lives up to its common name. Spikey leaves resembling a peace lily or Mother-in-law's Tongue are evergreen. Aspidistra enjoys deep shade and tolerates drought as if she enjoys it!
- Hellebore, Lenten Rose, is an perennial/groundcover plant with palmate evergreen leaves. Hellebores display a variety of different colored blooms in winter, often when it's just too cold to go outside, so plant them in shade where you can view them from inside!
Each day we let them out of the greenhouse which serves as a night time shelter from predators. The chickens scratch around all day long, eating bugs and fluffing the mulch.
One day we decided that our garden was just too much work for two chickens, so we added the Fun Girls, Daphne and Skippy. Together they wander around the garden all day long, keeping insects under control.
Last summer we noticed a definite reduction in the number of Japanese Beetles. I'm certain that is a result of the chickens' enjoyment of them the previous summer. The chickens would rush to my side each time I walked near the arbor where grape vines grow. At that time the vines were covered with Japanese Beetles, and if I tapped the vine, what seemed like hundreds of the pests would drop to the ground. I wish you could have heard the clucking of the chickens as they enjoyed each one!
In addition to providing eggs and helping with insect control, chickens are a great hobby, offering amusement and fun in the garden for children and adults. In other words, the chickens make me laugh. I just get tickled when I see them running to catch up with the others when one finds something tasty!
As we dealt with the drought during the past few years, we've come upon a few tips for survival, and I thought I'd share them with you:
- Conserve water every way you can. Save water for later use by leaving a bucket in the shower or fill buckets from leftover bath water to use for watering plants. Install a rain collection barrel to collect rain now while it's plentiful.
- Amend the soil with compost. Well-amended soil retains water better, and plant roots are better able to move freely through the soil to reach available water and nutrients, making for healthier plants ready to fight the drought.
- Plant drought tolerant plants! If you must have some of the plants that are less able to cope with water shortages, plant them close together in a spot where you can easily water them with reclaimed water.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Apply a thick layer--up to 4 inches thick--of a good organic mulch. Don't use things like gravel unless you're growing cactus. And it turns out that mulch made from recycled tires could be cancer-causing, according to a report from Environment and Human Health Inc http://www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/). Good organic mulch not only retains soil moisture and protects roots, but also breaks down in time, enriching the soil.
Remember to check back soon for my suggestions on drought tolerant plants for your Georgia garden.
|Lilacs enjoy alkaline soil|
When selecting blueberry plants for your garden, look for Becky Blue, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, or Woodard. For a good crop of berries, you will need 2 or more different varieties for cross-pollination.
Although blueberry bushes normally occur in the woods, more berries will develop when the plants receive at least half a day of sun and plenty of water.
The planting hole is important for getting the plant off to a good start. An effective planting method is to dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and the same depth. Mix the soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, and peat moss. Place the plant in the planting hole and fill the hole completely with water before filling in with soil. After filling in around the roots with the amended soil, water again, and apply a thick layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.
Water weekly. You’ll be eating blueberries every year, as long as you get to them before the birds do!
- Seed Savers Exchange - http://www.seedsavers.org/
- Renee's Garden Seeds - http://www.reneesgarden.com/
Winter is also a good time to have your soil tested. Soil tests can be purchased at most home & garden stores, but a more accurate result can be obtained from your local county extension service. In addition to more detailed and reliable soil nutrition levels, the report from the extension service will tell you exactly what you need to add to make your soil better! For complete instructions on soil testing, you can view the online publication:http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/C896.htm or just drop by your local County Extension Office to pick up a soil testing bag with instructions. You'll be charged a small fee when you take your soil sample back to the office where it will be sent to your state university for testing.
However you decide to spend the rest of your winter, I hope you'll enjoy those nice days and take a walk through your garden as you dream of how much more beautiful it will be this year with regular rain. (I’m optimistic!)
Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find in nurseries. Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers--right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you'll love it!