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Georgia Drought is Here Again!

After a spring with plenty of rainfall, summer has definitely been summer here in Georgia! One of the Red Buckeye Trees in our garden has lost every single leaf! It is still living however. Many of our native plants are accustomed to this annual drought to which the southeast is prone. Leaf loss can be simply a survival tactic--plants will defoliate and sort of hibernate when conditions become too difficult and will spring back to life when moisture levels and temperatures are more to their liking. Some plants will actually put on a whole new crop of leaves in September. If plants in your garden appear to be dead, you can check for signs of life by simply scratching the bark with your fingernail. If you see green, your plant is still alive!

Clethra Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies to the Garden in Summer

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.

Humane No Kill Mousetrap: Mice Cube Safe around Children and Pets

Our concern for animal welfare is apparent upon visiting our garden. Most of our pets were just dropped off here and we let them stay. Even critters often thought of as a nuisance are welcomed here to a degree. My husband, normally thought of as a tough guy policeman type, has been teased for being too tenderhearted toward mice and spiders, and has many times caught them indoors, carried them out to the briars, and let them go safely on their way.



Several months ago, mice became a problem in the greenhouse. Small little field mice can do much damage quickly, munching on simply everything! One would think mice would not be a problem here with 3 cats! But then it's hard for them to catch mice 
during their sleep.

That's when I discovered the Mice Cube. I couldn't believe how well it worked! And it's chemical free! 
The Mice Cube is a small clear plastic rectangular container with a trap door on one end. The mouse can enter to eat the bait, but cannot exit, since the door opens inward only. Our bait is a cheezit with peanut butter spread on one side. Within just a few hours we had caught a little guy who we safely deposited at the fence. The next morning we found 2 little mice inside.

The only problem we've seen with the Mice Cube is the cats--If one of them gets to it before we do, they let the mouse out, and then we have to catch it again!

To find out how you can purchase Mice Cube, click here.

Hibiscus: Choose Native for an Easy, Beautiful, Low Maintenance Garden

Every summer many, many people purchase the Tropical Hibiscus to place on their patio, porch, or around their pool. While it is true that the Tropical Hibiscus is beautiful and really does lend a tropical look to the garden, it will die to the ground with the first frost unless you live in the sub-tropical states. And if you've ever tried overwintering one indoors, you know how difficult that can be!

Instead, consider our American Native Hibiscus varieties. There are several, and in my opinion they are much more beautiful than the Tropical Hibiscus. Our native hibiscus is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows to shrub size each summer.

Hibiscus coccineus has bright red star-shaped blooms all summer on tall stems. This native hibiscus is known by many common names, among which are Texas Star Hibiscus, Swamp Hibiscus, and Swamp Mallow. The Swamp Hibiscus loves consistently moist soil but grows well in my garden with only a weekly watering. Hibiscus coccineus is beautiful even when not in bloom, having reddish-tinged green leaves shaped like maple leaves. Some visitors have claimed it looks like marijuana, but I can't say for sure, since I've never seen a marijuana plant. Perhaps they're telling on themselves! What do you think?
Hibiscus coccineus at Shady Gardens Nursery


'Very spectacular' is the best description for Hibiscus moscheutos or Swamp Mallow. Blooms are the size of a dinnerplate! See for yourself:
Hibiscus moscheutos growing alongside Rudbeckia Goldsturm

Hybridizers have developed many types and colors, but all are beautiful and any one would be a show piece in your garden.

The native hibiscus is so easy to grow that it would be a shame not to have one in your garden. Hibiscus coccineus is hardy as cold as USDA Zone 6 and Hibiscus moscheutos is happy in even colder temperatures found in USDA Zone 4! Wow! They are deciduous plants but will return in May each year with no special care.

For more information on availability of the hardy native hibiscus, contact us anytime at Shady Gardens Nursery.