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The Winter Garden

Since a Georgia winter has frequent warm days, we enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors even in January and February. Although native plants are most important to us, finding native plants that are showy in winter can be challenging. We do have many non-native evergreens in our garden. In addition to the popular choices of Azaleas, Camellias, and Hollies which we all must have, here is a list of some less common plants I've found to be truly easy to grow:
  • 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!
For more information and photos of these plants, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

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