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.

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