April Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Week 3

Michelia figo

Banana Shrub, Michelia figo, is a large-growing evergreen shrub in the Magnolia Family. Banana Shrub enjoys shade and regular water. Blooms are highly fragrant and really do smell like bananas. The petals are the color of a banana peel but with a burgundy center. A large bush will fragrance the whole garden and cause your friends to go on a search for the source of the scent.

Calycanthus floridus

A native shrub blooming in my garden this week is Calycanthus floridus, most often referred to as Sweet Shrub, but also known as Sweet Betsy, Bubby Bush, and Pineapple Shrub. Blooms are very fragrant, but the fragrance can vary from one bush to another. Some don't have much of a scent while others will. There's a reddish brown blooming species and a yellow blooming cultivar. The yellow blooming 'Athens' is said to be much more fragrant that the species.

Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine is a vigorous native vine often confused with Trumpet Creeper/Trumpet Vine/Cow Itch, but it's a different plant altogether. Bignonia capreolata is an evergreen vine with orange to red blooms like the flames of a fire. Hummingbirds love it even more than I do. Blooms are fragrant, but we seem to disagree with eachother on what the flowers smell like. Some say they smell like curry, but others insist it's mocha. Crossvine needs a strong support but is not invasive. Native to the Southeastern United States.

Aesculus pavia

Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, is my most favorite native tree. This small native tree grows with a shrubby habit and is native to the Eastern United States. It naturally occurs in shady woods but when grown in full sun, the flowers are huge red and yellow spikes that are showy from a great distance. Red Buckeye is one of the first plants to bloom when the hummingbirds return in the Spring. This buckeye is drought tolerant and very easy to grow.

Native American Proverb

Treat the earth well. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors--we borrow it from our children.

April Blooms in My Georgia Garden: Week 2

Piedmont Azalea

Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron cansescens, is a native azalea found in the Piedmont region of Alabama and Georgia. This plant has many common names. Piedmont means "foot of the mountain" which is where this native azalea is usually found. Hoary or Wooly Azalea is another common name, coming from the hairs in the tubes of the flowers. Sweet Mountain Azalea has to be because of the sweet fragrance of the blooms on this azalea that enjoys growing in the mountains. This shrub is often called Wild or Bush Honeysuckle, because the blooms look and smell like those of the honeysuckle vine. There are a few other common names which I cannot understand. But this is one plant that belongs in your garden.

Florida Flame Azalea
Blooms on the Florida Flame Azalea, Rhododendron austrinum, can be just as varied as those of the Piedmont Azalea. Flowers on the Florida Flame Azalea, as the common name suggests, are the colors of a flame and can be anywhere from pure yellow to pure orange, or anywhere in between. This one has flowers that are reddish orange and yellow. Florida Flame Azalea lights up the garden when in bloom. Although the native azaleas naturally occur in the shade of a woodland, Florida Flame azalea will bloom much more profusely when grown in full sun. By the way, although as its name implies, Florida Flame is native to the state of Florida, but you might not ever see it growing wild there. This deciduous Azalea is rare and endangered, so purchase it from a native plant nursery.

Lonicera sempervirens John Clayton

Our John Clayton Honeysuckle, a named cultivar of the native wild honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, is showing out early too--ahead of the species known as Coral or Red Trumpet Honeysuckle.  The native honeysuckle is just as easy to grow as Japanese Honeysuckle, but it is not invasive, and this vine will not plant itself all over your whole neighborhood.

Viburnum Korean Spice

Viburnum carlesii Korean Spice blooms are beautiful--round flower clusters in the snowball arrangement consist of pink buds that open into white flowers with a yellow center. I wish computers had a "scratch and sniff" feature, because the Korean Spice Viburnum has a wonderful fragrance.  Like most viburnums, Korean Spice will grow very large over time, up to about 6 feet tall and just as wide. It is lovely at the back of the flowerbed or in a mixed shrub border. In Fall, the foliage turns a brilliant red and bright red berries develop. Here in Georgia, give this shrub partial sun, and it will grow very well for you.

April Blooms in My Georgia Garden

Well, today is April 2nd, and the garden is literally exploding with blooms. Most of the plants that bloomed in March are still in bloom, but new flowers are opening every day. Each time I go out, I find that another bud has opened. I sure do love Spring! Here's what's blooming in my Georgia garden today.

Kerria japonica Plena

Kerria, often called Japanese Thornless Rose, is a deciduous perennial that grows more like a large shrub. And I do mean large. The double-flowered Kerria Japonica 'Plena' beside the greenhouse is over 7 feet tall. It is covered with bright yellow blooms that resemble pompoms. Kerria likes regular water and will bloom quite well in shade, but this one receives morning sun. And as for water, it gets sprinkled every single day, since I must water daily all the container plants I have out there for sale. We also have the single blooming Kerria japonica 'Shannon', but it's still trying to get established, as it was planted just last year. I'm told there is a white blooming Kerria, which I have yet to obtain.

Lady Banks Rose is another early Spring blooming plant available in either yellow or white blooms. Lady Banks Rose blooms just once a year, but when she does, it is spectacular. Blooms on Lady Banks are smaller than the typical rose, but there are several flowers to a cluster, and when in bloom, one can hardly see the leaves for the flowers. Speaking of leaves, Lady Banks is mostly evergreen here in Georgia, losing most of her leaves only during severe winters. And unlike Kerria, which is truly thornless but not really a rose, Lady Banks Rose is a true thornless rose. As if that were not enough, Rosa banksiae is quite drought tolerant and will still bloom even when grown in a good bit of shade.

Fothergilla Mount Airy
Some of the cutest blooms in my garden are on the Fothergilla. We have the large Fothergilla major 'Mount Airy'. A common name is Witch Alder - I'm not sure why. Fothergilla enjoys regular water, so the one near my greenhouse has been growing rapidly. Fothergilla is a rare and endangered American native plant found in the mountains and piedmont areas of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. We grow our own, or obtain some from a friend who also grows this wonderful plant. Blooms are white bottlebrush type flowers that are sweetly fragrant. I fall in love with Fothergilla again every Fall, when the leaves appear to light on fire with colors of yellow, orange, and red.

Leucothoe axillaris

Leucothoe is an evergreen shrub that would be lovely beside a creek or a pond, which I do not have...Leucothoe axillaris is planted near the fence, also near the greenhouse, where it can get plenty of water. This species will ultimately be about 4 feet high, which will be almost tall enough to hide that unattractive fence. Also known as Fetterbush, Dog Hobble, and Coastal Leucothoe, this shrub grows best in part sun with regular water. The blooms remind me of Lily of the Valley, as they are very fragrant white bell-shaped blooms that hang in clusters from the stem.

Illicium floridanum

Florida Anise is a large-growing evergreen shrub that is, as the common name suggests, a native of Florida. Every part of Illicium floridanum, Florida Anise, is fragrant--the blooms, the foliage, and the stems. I love any evergreen shrub that also blooms, but flowers on the Florida Anise are very unusual. Red, star-shaped flowers appear all over the bush in Spring and if the plant likes its location, sporadic blooms will appear on and off throughout the summer. This is another shrub that likes water. Our largest one is planted where I seldom water, so it pouts when the summer drought shows up, reminding me to stretch a hose out there. So last year, I planted another Florida Anise behind the greenhouse, where I run the sprinkler every day. I am excited to see how fast this little bush will grow. 

Vaccineum ashei

Blueberries are in full bloom too. I am tickled with the thought of how many blueberries we will have this year. This is one shrub that appreciates all the rain we've had. Bumblebees are all over the rabbiteye blueberries planted behind the greenhouse. It's hard to beat the birds to the berries. It helps to plant them in a high traffic area or an area where you spend a lot of time, so you can pick and eat blueberries as they ripen, before the birds have a chance to get them. It also helps to plant as many blueberry shrubs as you have the space for. That way you have enough berries to share with the birds and squirrels. Although I seldom see this, blueberries make an excellent foundation shrub. The shrubs will eventually be thick enough to provide a little privacy if planted around a porch or patio. Although blueberries don't need pruning to promote more fruit, they can be pruned to a certain size if necessary. Blooms are pretty, and in Fall, the leaves turn a burgundy red, adding to the beauty of the Fall landscape.

June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Oakleaf Hydrangea

This time of year our garden is always bursting with blooms, but this year has been a little different. Due to a very mild winter, everythin...