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November Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Pink Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass at Callaway Gardens
when my Children were small
The most beautiful of all the ornamental grasses to me is Muhlenbergia capillaris, usually called Pink (or Purple) Muhly Grass.

When not blooming, Pink Muhly Grass just disappears into the background. No one would notice it at all. But in late Summer or early Fall when the pink to purple seed heads develop, all I can think is WOW! 

Usually Pink Muhly Grass comes into bloom in September but is blooming much later this year, I'm guessing due to the drought. The plants are just now in full bloom. Everything has behaved differently this year. As I wrote in my last post, we've had no rain in our Georgia garden in more than two months. None. 

That just goes to show you what a tough plant this is. Most ornamental grasses are truly easy to grow, requiring nothing special in the way of soil or water. But most ornamental grasses just don't appeal to me. I love flowers.

Pink Muhly Grass gives me the look of flowers in the big beautiful fluffy clouds that look like cotton candy held high above the foliage. When in bloom, Pink Muhly Grass can be in excess of 3 feet tall. This plant is truly spectacular in the Fall garden.  And by the way, Muhlenbergia capillaris comes in White too. What I mean is there is white blooming form, but to me it is not so eye-catching.

Muhlenbergia is a clumping grass so it will not spread all over your garden. It is a very well-behaved plant native to the Eastern United States, and is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10. 

Muhly Grass also attracts beneficial insects. I'm not sure why, but ladybugs like it. 

Muhlenbergia capillaris needs very well-drained soil, so I recommend mixing in some compost when you plant it. And although it is drought tolerant once established, water it weekly during its first Summer in your garden.
 
Pink Muhly Grass is spectacular enough to be a specimen plant, but I like the drama of a large mass of them, if you have the space. It is particularly lovely if you can plant at the top of a hill where it will be backlit by the sun.

November Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Osmanthus fragrans, Sweet Tea Olive

Osmanthus fragrans
I've been anxiously awaiting the blooms on my Tea Olives ever since Fall arrived. We've been under a severe drought here in Georgia for a couple of months now. Most of our plants are suffering, and many have refused to bloom. Some established shrubs and trees might even die. 

But there she is, my Tea Olive, blooming anyway. I admit, the blooms are not as plentiful as usual, but they are still there, and I can smell their sweet fragrance. 

Osmanthus fragrans is one of my favorite evergreen shrubs. When in full bloom, my whole garden smells like fresh apricots! 

Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu'
I must say Osmanthus fragrans is one of the easiest plants to grow. This evergreen shrub grows very large over time and does well in full sun to part shade. Not picky about soil, the tea olive tolerates clay soil and is drought tolerant (once established.) 

The most sensational bloom is in fall, but Osmanthus fragrans blooms sporadically year round. The fragrance is most notable in the evening on warmer days. Blooms are so tiny that you'd never suspect the heavenly fragrance is coming from them!

An exception to that is Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu', which has showy clusters of the tiny blooms--still with that same sweet fragrance.

Osmanthus fragrans 'Aurantiacus'
Orange Blossom Tea Olive
Evergreen foliage is a rich green that holds up well in floral arrangements. 

Osmanthus fragrance is hardy in USDA Zones 8-11, but is often seen in Atlanta which is Zone 7. Can withstand temperatures down to 10 degrees with no foliar damage.

Although we have some blooms on the Osmanthus shrubs that have been in the garden several years, I fear the we'll see no blooms this year on our Orange Blossom Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans 'Aurantiacus.'

November Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Sasanqua Camellia

Right in the middle of the Fall harvest season not much thought is given to flowers. This is the time when our homes and front porches are decorated with hay bales, pumpkins, and scarecrows.  Fall or Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons, and I love decorating with the usual harvest items like pumpkins and gourds. But I still want to see flowers in my garden.

Sasanqua Camellias give me just that. Available in many bloom colors, Sasanquas bloom reliably in the Fall every year. 

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Camellia in bloom. I was young, and I was new at gardening. I was driving through a residential area when I noticed a large, bushy, green shrub with large red blooms that looked like roses. Believe it or not, it took me a while to find out what it was! You’re probably laughing at me now, but thank goodness I’ve learned a few things about camellias since then. 

It wasn’t until attending the Master Gardener Course that I learned of the Sasanqua Camellia. Sasanquas are early bloomers, usually blooming October – December, so there is less chance of frost damaging the blooms. The fall blooming Sasanquas make great holiday decorations and gifts. Sasanqua camellias seem to be faster growing and are often larger growing than Japonica. Dwarf Sasanquas are available too--great for small gardens or even containers. Some varieties bloom so profusely that the blooms hide the foliage! 

Sasanqua Camellias prefer a sheltered site away from drying winter winds. The blooms are more delicate than those of Japonica Camellias. Bright, filtered shade beneath tall trees is ideal. Moist, well-drained soil is best, but camellias are drought tolerant once established. 

Although our garden has received no rain in over 8 weeks and Troup County is under a severe drought , the Sasanquas are beginning to bloom anyway. 

Remember that deer will eat the blooms on all camellias, so consider using a deer deterrent around them. Your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter has plenty of inexpensive deer-deterrent—the all-natural kind. Just ask the attendant which dogs are frisky enough for deer control! 

October Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Spider Lily, Lycoris radiata

Lycoris radiata is most often referred to by one of its common names. We always called them Spider Lilies, but in other parts of the South, it is known as Hurricane Lily, since it blooms at the height of Hurricane Season. Each summer we are plagued here in Georgia with a drought that goes on for weeks (if not months), and in September we'll finally get a drenching rain. It is after that good soaking rain that Spider Lilies pop up in old gardens of the South. This year, we did not receive that soaking rain at all, so the Spider Lilies finally bloomed without it--in October.


Lycoris radiata blooms have extremely long anthers that give them a "spider-like" appearance, hence the common name Spider Lily. Once the flowers fade, dark green basal leaves appear that look much like liriope (or "monkey grass", as it usually called around here.) Its leaves will stay green all winter here in Georgia, absorbing nutrients from the sun to convert into energy for the next summer's blooms.

Lycoris radiata is hardy only in the Deep South, in USDA Zones 7-10, but it is still easy to grow. Like other members of the Lycoris family, it tolerates any soil in either sun or shade and needs no supplemental water to thrive. 


I have only the red blooming Spider Lily, but it also can be found in white. I'm still looking for some.


All species of Lycoris should be divided or transplanted only when dormant, so as not to interrupt its bloom and growth. Early summer is the optimum time for this task. Once the foliage has withered, it is safe to dig the bulbs.

Lycoris does extremely well beneath large established trees.

The flowers make excellent cut flowers and hold up well in a vase, lasting for several days in a floral arrangement. 

And one more thing: Deer won't eat your Spider Lilies!

October Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Asters

Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' in October
If you see me when I come home from pretty much anywhere this time of year, you'll find me unloading at least one mum. I bring one home almost every time I go to the store. But where do they end up? Well, I do plant them of course. But they just don't last very long in my garden here in Georgia. Our summers are very hot and dry. This year, the drought has extended into Fall. This is the driest Fall I can remember. We haven't had any rain at all in over 2 months.


Unlike Chrysanthemums, Asters, will live on for years, in spite of the drought we usually suffer here in Georgia. There are many Fall blooming Aster varieties to choose from, and I intend to add them all to my garden! There are asters for full sun and asters that will bloom well in shade.

Symphyotricum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite' is covered with lavender daisy-like blooms every Fall in September and October. The aromatic foliage reminds me of mint and deer do not like it.

Butterflies and other pollinators love all varieties of aster. In mid-Fall, most other flowers have finished blooming, but the Fall asters are just getting started. Most aster plants are just covered in flowers this time of year. Asters make excellent cut flowers, lasting a long time in a Fall floral arrangement.

Our native asters are much easier to grow than chrysanthemums. Once established they are quite drought tolerant, thriving on sunny hillsides even in the midst of a drought. Asters tolerate just about any soil--dry, clay, or sandy.

This native plant can be grown anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8. Most asters like full sun, but there are asters that bloom even in shade.

This year The Garden Club of America named Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite' as the 2016 Plant of the year, so it definitely deserves to be in your garden.

The only negative I can think of with Raydon's Favorite is that it will grow quite tall and flop over if it isn't pruned early in the summer. I am bad about forgetting to prune.

August Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Peegee Hydrangea


One of the most spectacular shrubs in my Summer garden has got to be Hydrangea paniculata.

Usually referred to as Peegee Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata is the latest bloomer in the hydrangea family.

Peegee Hydrangea is also often called the Tree Hydrangea, since this shrub grows as large as a small tree, reaching up to 20 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. Hydrangea paniculata is beautiful when "limbed up" into a tree form, with the lower limbs removed as shown in the photo. 

Blooms of Hydrangea paniculata are large white flower clusters in panicles at the end of the stems. These pointed bloom clusters are at least 8 inches long, but can be up to 18 inches and so heavy that they weigh down the branches, forming a lovely weeping effect. The bloom clusters open greenish white and mature to a creamy white, finally aging to a beautiful shade of rose by Fall.

Although this species will ultimately grow into a small tree about 20 feet tall, dwarf cultivars are available that mature at about 5 feet high.

Hydrangea paniculata can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9.

Peegee Hydrangea grows well in part to full sun but flowers best with all day sun and regular water. This hydrangea is much more tolerant of sun than other hydrangeas. In the deep South, some afternoon shade is appreciated. 

Hydrangea paniculata is quite drought tolerant once established, but regular watering is ideal for good flowering, especially in the deep South where summer heat is extreme and drought is common. Water weekly if your Peegee Hydrangea is planted in full sun.

Tardiva Hydrangea is a Peegee Hydrangea with glossy green leaves and creamy white panicle blooms that are held upright on the bush. Tardiva blooms a little later than the other cultivars, usually in mid to late August here in our Georgia garden. The creamy white blooms age to a purplish pink. This hydrangea will grow large, at least 15 feet tall.

Chantilly Lace is a dwarf Peegee Hydrangea, maturing at about 5 feet tall. This hydrangea has a very long bloom period lasting from mid-July into Fall. Blooms change gradually from creamy white to pink and finally to purple. Chantilly Lace is more cold hardy, surviving in USDA Zones 3 through 8.

Another dwarf hardy Peegee is Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' which has huge bloom clusters shaped like a football. The flower panicles open very green in the summer but change to various shades of pink, red, and burgundy by summer's end. Blooms can persist on this plant even through frosts of Fall. The large rounded panicle blooms make an excellent cut flower and florists love using them in arrangements both fresh and dried. Limelight Hydrangea is a little larger growing dwarf, reaching up to 8 feet tall at maturity, but it can be kept smaller by pruning in winter once the blooms are no longer beautiful.

Hydrangea paniculata is great used as a single specimen in a mixed border, but I have seen them massed in a large landscape making a spectacular show for the late Summer garden. Remember the natural weeping appearance when in bloom and space widely, allowing that weeping form to show off without appearing crowded. The larger growing paniculatas should be planted about 10 feet apart, while dwarf cultivars can be grown closer together. Space Chantilly Lace and Limelight 5 to 7 feet apart for the best show. If you'd like to limb up your Peegee Hydrangea as a tree, just remove the lower branches as they appear. 

With so much variance is size and such ease of care, surely you can find a spot in your garden for the very lovely and hardy Peegee Hydrangea!

June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush Buckeye in June
Bottlebrush Buckeye really showed out in our garden this summer. Multitudes of rain fell during the month of June, and our little bushes just loved it.

Aesculus parviflora is usually referred to as Bottlebrush Buckeye because the huge blooms do resemble large white bottlebrushes. Aesculus parviflora is a lovely native plant with bright green palmately compound leaves and fragrant white bottlebrush blooms up to 1 foot long in summer.

This plant has a spreading habit that under ideal conditions will grow wider than it is tall. When I say ideal conditions, I mean moist soil in full sun. We have one such plant, pictured in this post. But Bottlebrush Buckeye is quite tolerant of drought. I know this because we have one that I should have planted in a better spot, as it has been growing in full shade with no supplemental water for years. That one is pitifully leggy and has never bloomed until this year, after all that late Spring rain we had, when it rewarded us with one bloom. I was appreciative, but apologetic. I did not know what I was doing when I planted that one.

The huge white bloom panicles on the Bottlebrush Buckeye attract butterflies and many other pollinators. 

This lovely shrub can grow up to 12 feet tall and spread to about 15 feet wide.

If you are lucky enough to have a pond or a stream, that is this buckeye's native habitat. It will tolerate a constantly wet bog, but grows well in any garden with regular water. If grown in full sun, it will need more water. You'll get the largest most beautiful blooms in full sun with regular water or wet soil.

May Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Oakleaf Hydrangea


Oakleaf Hydrangea
 in Late Spring at Callaway Gardens
I know I've written this many times, but the Oakleaf Hydrangea is my very favorite hydrangea, for several reasons. Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly called the Oakleaf Hydrangea, is beautiful all the time.  

In summer, large blooms appear that attract much attention. The panicles of white blooms appear in May. These creamy white blooms can be quite large, depending on the cultivar. Blooms on 'Alice' can be up to 12 inches long, which makes for a spectacular display.



Late Summer Blooms
at LaGrange College
By late summer the white blooms change to a rosey purplish pink, hanging on into fall. 

In fall, the leaves turn a rich mahogany red, contrasting beautifully with the then dried rosy brown flower stalks used by many in floral arrangements. 

Oakleaf Hydrangea Fall Foliage
 at Shady Gardens Nursery

In winter, the branches exhibit lovely cinnamon colored exfoliating bark, and the large flower buds already forming are attractive. In spring, the new leaves are a reddish purple. So you see, Oakleaf Hydrangea is truly beatiful in every season!


Hydrangea quercifolia is much easier to grow than other hydrangeas. The fact that it is native to the southeastern United States is probably the reason for that. It’s accustomed to our summer droughts, making it more drought-tolerant than other hydrangea. It isn’t picky about soil. And Oakleaf Hydrangea can take more sun than most other hydrangeas.


Oakleaf hydrangea is one of our most beautiful American native shrubs, and should be in every garden.

May Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Mock Orange

Philadelphus coronarius
Sweet Mock Orange or English Dogwood
Blooms are spectacular this year on my Philadelphus coronarius, most often referred to as Sweet Mock Orange or English Dogwood. Our established shrub is completely covered with the fragrant dogwood-like white blooms.

Philadelphus coronarius is a deciduous shrub that grows quickly into a large shrub, so give it plenty of room. 

Because of our very mild winter, Mock Orange bloomed a little earlier than usual this year. Usually blooming in late May, the Mock Orange reached its peak bloom the first week of May here in our Georgia garden.

The white flowers with 4 petals smell like orange blossoms, hence the common name Mock Orange and resemble blooms on the Dogwood Tree. Leaves are tender and dark green. On the Sweet Mock Orange, even the bark is lovely, which is exfoliating and orange-tinged. 

This large growing shrub will eventually be up to 12 feet tall and just as wide with a rounded habit, so it's perfect at the edge of the property. 

Philadelphus coronarius can be grown in full sun to light shade, but ours is in pretty much full shade here in Georgia. It might get a little peak of morning sun, but I don't think so. 

Although rich fertile soil is best, our soil is hard clay, and our large shrub gets no supplemental water. This year we received more than enough rain during the Winter and Spring, which might be why our plant showed out so well this time.

Mock Orange is a popular old-fashioned shrub in the Southeastern states, and although it might look delicate, it can be grown in most of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4-7.

If you want a hedge of Mock Orange, for Summer privacy perhaps, space them about 5 feet apart for good screening. The shrubs will quickly grow to fill the space. 

If pruning is needed, do so immediately after blooming by removing old canes at the base and cut back remaining branches to create a rounded shape. If your space allows it, don't prune your Mock Orange at all. 

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Fruit Shrubs and Trees

Before we can feast on the fruit from our growing collection of fruiting shrubs and trees, we get to enjoy the flowers. Some of the prettiest flowering trees in the South are fruit trees. 

Blueberry Flowers
Blueberry Bushes have cute little white blooms in clusters that attract pollinators. Blueberry Shrubs are all-around attractive, really. In Spring you have the blooms against newly developing blue-green leaves. In mid-spring the blueberry fruits develop, beginning as green drupes that gradually ripen into dark blue juicy fruits loved by people and wildlife. Attractive foliage remains until Fall when leaves turn all shades of orange, red, and burgundy. Some or all foliage remains into winter, depending on the temperatures of that particular winter or which part of the country you are in. Blueberry Bushes are gaining in popularity as the word gets out about how nutritious the fruit is and how easy the shrub is to grow. Homeowners are even incorporating Blueberry Bushes into their flower beds and foundation plantings. I've seen a few local businesses adding Blueberries to their commercial landscaping. How exciting!

Crabapple Trees have been used in landscaping for years. The flowers are beautiful, covering the tree canopy with loads of flowers in various shades of pink. But many Crabapple Trees produce a fruit that is not only loved by wildlife but edible for humans as well. 

Peach Trees are not known for being easy to grow. Some maintenance is required. But when you bite into that beautiful peach and feel the juice running down your chin, you know it was worth all that work. 

Plum Trees are beloved by children everywhere. We love to eat the plums either green or ripe, if we can get to them before the squirrels do. 

Our Ponderosa Lemon tree is huge. Originally purchased as a Meyer Lemon, this tree produces huge lemons that have a rough, knotty skin that is very thick. The fruit is very sour and the juice is great for a marinade. When I looked up recipes to decide what to do with the abundant fruits, I found that ours was not a Meyer Lemon after all, but a Ponderosa. Oh well, I'll keep looking for the hardy Meyer Lemon I guess.
Nanking Cherry in Bloom

Our newest fruiting plants are the Bush Cherry or Nanking Cherry. Not usually grown around here, the Nanking Cherry Bushes are growing well, and we are getting lots of fruit from them this year. These bushes will grow to be about 10 feet tall and just as wide, and they produce a small red cherry that is tart and delicious. 

We have other new fruit trees that haven't yet bloomed or produced fruit, and I intend to add as many new fruiting plants as I can until I run out of room.

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Lady Banks Rose

One of the easiest roses of all to grow is the Lady Banks Rose. Rosa banksiae is a thornless rose producing soft fluffy blooms in early Spring. Lady Banks Rose is almost evergreen here in Georgia, if temperatures don't drop below the 20's. 

Lady Banks Rose is drought tolerant and disease resistant by nature. This lovely rose tolerates poor soil too.

Lady Band Rose is an easy care rose that is thornless and almost evergreen here in Georgia. It is a climbing rose that is beautiful growing on a pillar, arbor, fence, or trellis. 

Although Lady Banks blooms only once a year, in Spring it is absolutely covered with small fluffy double blooms.  Blooms are slightly fragrant and come in either yellow, Rosa banksiae 'Lutea', or white, 'Rosa banksiae 'Alba plena.' 

Rosa banksiae originated in China but was introduced to Europe in the early 1800's.  Lady Banks was very popular in the Southern United States during Antebellum times and was usually found on old plantations of the South. The largest rose in the world is a white blooming Lady Banks Rose that was planted in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1885. 

Plant your Lady Banks Rose in full sun for best bloom. This is a fast-growing strong rose that will quickly become very heavy, so plant it near a very strong support. Those inexpensive little trellises at the discount store will not work.

Lady Banks Rose is evergreen in USDA Zones 8-10, but is hardy in colder zones 6-7 where it will lose its leaves in winter. Banks Rose is said to withstand temperatures down into the teens, but we have single digit temperatures every so many years and our established plants lived through that. 
Once established, Lady Banks Rose is quite drought tolerant, but be sure to water regularly the first few years. Lady Banks is somewhat hard to find in nurseries, so you don't want to have to try to replace it.

Lady Banks, unlike many other roses, can be grown near the beach since it tolerates salt spray.

Lady Banks is not bothered by diseases and pests that infect most roses, so you won't need to spray at all.

If you don't have an arbor or trellis, Lady Banks can be grown as a free-standing shrub rose, but must be drastically pruned yearly to keep it in check. If pruning is needed, do so immediately after flowering. 

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Japanese Kerria

Kerria japonica 'Plena' or 'Pleniflora'
One of our most sought after plants for early Spring bloom is the Japanese Kerria, often referred to as the Japanese Thornless Rose. Vibrant golden yellow blooms are visible from a great distance. The long green stems of Kerria japonica 'Plena' are absolutely covered with bright yellow flowers that look like pompoms. We also grow a single blooming Kerria known as 'Shannon.' 


Kerria is an arching, shrub-like perennial that sends up many suckers forming a thicket of green stems that remain green even into the winter. Although leaves fall off after the first frost, the green twiggy mass is attractive.

Give Kerria plenty of room to grow, since it will be 5-7 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide at maturity. Kerria loves water, and it will grower larger and larger with ample water. 

Kerria japonica 'Shannon'
Kerria likes some shade, and will bloom quite well with no sun at all. However, regular water is needed for Kerria to grow well. We have a couple of plants in shade that receive no supplemental water, and they need to be moved. We seldom see a bloom on those. If water is available, Kerria 'Plena' will bloom profusely in early Spring and then sporadically throughout the Spring and Summer. 'Shannon' blooms only once, in Spring.

Kerria Japonica looks like a tropical plant but is quite easy to grow and is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. That's amazing to me.

Kerria is very popular in Georgia and the Southeastern Unites States, but it is seldom found in nurseries, and we cannot keep it in stock.

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Flowering Quince

When the bare branches of Flowering Quince burst into bloom, I know spring is coming soon. We grow 4 different varieties of Flowering Quince, and all of them are spectacularly showy when in bloom.  Flowering Quince is now in full bloom in our Georgia garden, but flowers began opening well before winter was over. 


Quince Toyo-nishiki
Bright red blooms of the Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince are the first to open in our Georgia garden. Soon after, the salmon-pink flowers of Cameo appear. Scarff's Red is another red blooming Quince that has an upright habit and is nearly thornless. Scarff's Red is a large shrub up to 10 feet tall. Jet Trail is a low-growing Quince with white blooms. My favorite Flowering Quince is Toyo-nishiki with its white, pink, and red blooms all on the same plant. This is another large Quince up to 6 feet tall at maturiy.

Flowering Quince is a thorny shrub that is an excellent barrier plant if you need that quality in a plant. Some varieties bear a small crop of 2-3 inch fruits much like an apple that can be made into jelly, but I never see more than 3 or 4 fruits on my small plants. Birds and other wildlife will eat the fruits, so I just leave them.

When not in bloom, Flowering Quince sort of disappears into the landscape with its scraggly branches, but when in bloom, it will knock your socks off. Birds love to build their nests in the protection of the spiny stems. 

Flowering Quince is one of the most drought tolerant shrubs we grow. We have several plants in our roadside garden bed that I cannot water at all. 

Plant your Flowering Quince in full sun for good flowering. I mistakenly situated some of my Quince plants in too much shade where they have not grown or flowered well.

Noteworthy Features of Flowering Quince:
  • Red-flowered quince attracts hummingbirds
  • Virtually maintenance-free
  • Attracts wildlife
  • Drought tolerant
  • Edible fruits in summer
  • Winter blooms
Everyone in the United States can have Flowering Quince in the garden, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4-10.


March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Eastern Redbud

One of my favorite trees is the Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis. In very early Spring, deep pink/purple buds develop all along the stems before the tree leafs out. When driving along country roads I see these purple budded trees covering the edge of the woods all over Alabama and Georgia. 

The Redbud Tree is one of the loveliest native trees, growing wild all over the Eastern United States as far North as New Jersey and as far West as Texas.

Since Redbud is a small tree, it is beautiful near the patio even as a foundation tree, but also at the edge of the woodland. The Redbud Tree is beautiful even when not in bloom. Leaves are heart shaped and the tree has a graceful habit that is at home in any landscape style. Redbuds are usually multi-trunked, so do not prune away multiple trunks. As a matter of fact, prune your Redbud as little as possible, removing only cross branches immediately after bloom, to allow your tree to grow naturally.

Redbud Trees can be grown all over the country except for the Northwestern States where summers are too cool for them. Redbud is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

Mature Size is anywhere from 20-40 feet tall. 

Plant your Redbud Tree in either full sun or part sun. An excellent spot is in morning sun with afternoon shade at the edge of a woodland or naturalistic garden. 

Great companions for the Redbud Tree are Carolina Jessamine and Dogwood Trees which bloom about the same time. 

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: White Chinese Fringe Bush

I wish you could smell the fragrance coming from our White Fringe Bush, Loropetalum chinense, also known as Chinese Fringe Flower. As you can tell by the bloom, it is in the Witchhazel family.

Pink-flowered Loropetalum has been widely planted around the Southeastern United States in the last several years, used in almost every commercial landscape in Georgia. And for good reason! The many different cultivars are beautiful in every season of the year. But here in my Georgia garden, I also love the white blooming form. Although it doesn't bloom as many times per year as the purple-leafed variety having pink blooms, when in bloom, the White Fringe Bush is absolutely covered with fragrant spidery flowers! (I can't believe I called something "spidery" in a complimentary way, but only when I'm speaking of a flower.)

Although Loropetalum thrives in full sun, my White Loropetalum is planted in almost full shade, and it still blooms in a spectacular fashion.

Although I've read that the white-flowering form of Loropetalum was introduced to the United States during the 1800's, it didn't become popular until after the purple leafed varieties were introduced in the 1980's. 

White blooming Loropetalum is just as easy to grow as its purple leafed (and pink blooming) relative. Full sun to light shade will promote plentiful blooms. 

Mature size is large, 10 or more feet tall and just as wide.  Loropetalum can be allowed to grow as a huge shrub, or it can be limbed up into a tree form, depending on your space.

I have not seen this shrub wilt even in the severest drought or the hottest summer.

Loropetalums grow very well in the Southern parts of the United States, as they are hardy in USDA Zones 7-10.

I do not know the cultivar of my White Fringe Bush, since information I find online describes heights of 4 feet and ours is in excess of 6 feet tall.  That doesn't matter to me. All I need to know is what I see when I look at it in bloom in March every single year. 

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Forsythia

Known by many as  the harbinger of Spring, Forsythia explodes with bright yellow blooms in very early Spring, or sometimes even in late Winter here in Georgia. Forsythia blooms reliably every single winter, no matter what the weather conditions have been. I have seen the blooms of Forsythia open as early as January or February, or not until March, depending on what kind of Winter we are having.

Forsythia is a deciduous shrub that blooms in late winter or very early Spring with bright yellow blooms that open before leaves appear. The common name, Yellow Bells, seems fitting, because the blooms do look like yellow bells dangling along the stems. 

Although Forsythia is widely grown in gardens all over the Unites States, it is native to China. 

Forsythia blooms well even in shade
Bloom seems to be most prolific when grown in full sun, but we have a few plants growing in the woods where the bright golden yellow blooms are visible from a distance and draw attention to the woodland garden.

Forsythia does not self-sow and become invasive in the landscape, but stem cuttings root easily if you want to make more plants for your garden.

Forsythia grows very large over time (8-10 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide), so
give it plenty of room. The cascading branches are lovely when allowed to grow naturally with no pruning. Stems will root themselves when allowed to touch the ground, and this is an easy way to get more Forsythia plants. Pruning isn't necessary or desired, except to remove old woody growth or dead wood. When pruning, remove old branches to the ground, making room for the growth of new stems. This should be done in Spring, immediately after flowering, since Forsythia will bloom next Spring on the stems from the previous year.

Forsythia, also known as Golden Bells, can be grown in most of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10.

Forsythia is a fast grower, so you can start with a very small plant. The Forsythia shrubs in our garden have proven to be very drought tolerant and are growing in poor soil that was not amended at planting. 

Forsythia is a great shrub for forcing bloom indoors before it would bloom outdoors. I like to cut long stems in early January and place them in a large vase of warm water. I can watch the buds develop into blooms that will open indoors much earlier than they would outside, reminding me that Spring is coming!

Loropetalum Zhuzhou 
Purple Loropetalum is a beautiful companion for Forsythia. Not only do they bloom at the same time, but even the foliage will provide nice contrast in the garden--Loropetalum with its purple foliage is striking against the bright green leaves of the Forsythia. You'll have to imagine this vision, since I failed to get a photograph of the two together when in bloom. 










March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Japanese Magnolia

One of the showiest trees in our Spring garden is the Japanese Magnolia. Also known as the Saucer Magnolia or the Tulip Tree, this magnolia is a multi-stemmed spreading tree that often looks more like a very large shrub. 

The white, pink or purple blooms are very fragrant and appear in early Spring, usually in March. Large fuzzy flower buds are formed in winter and will begin opening  as early as February during a prolonged warm spell. 

Japanese Magnolia is easy to grow, but it loves moisture, so water it deeply during Summer droughts. Plant your tree in full sun for the showiest bloom.



March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Bridal Wreath Spiraea


One of the earliest shrubs to bloom in our Georgia garden is Bridal Wreath Spiraea. The variety we grow is S. cantoniensis ‘Lanceolata’, which is absolutely covered with double blooms that look like tiny white roses. The blooms appear all along the stem, also resembling stems of Baby's Breath, which is common of floral arrangements. I have used Bridal Wreath stems similarly in my floral arrangements when the shrub is in bloom. 

Bridal Wreath Spiraea is very easy to grow. For the showiest bloom, plant in full sun where the large-growing shrub has plenty of room to grow. The arching stems will ultimately reach up to 6 feet tall and just as wide.

This spiraea can be grown in most parts of the United States, as it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9b. 

Spiraeas are known to be very drought tolerant, and the one in our roadside garden gets no supplemental water at all. The soil in that bed is very hard clay.

May Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea
 at Shady Gardens Nursery
There's nothing more beautiful right now than the lacy blooms of our Climbing Wild Hydrangea. Decumaria barbara is known by several different common names. You might know it as Wood Vamp, but it is our native Climbing Hydrangea.

Decumaria is a deciduous vine native to the Southeastern United States. Climbing Hydrangea is truly in the Hydrangea family. (Don't confuse this plant with another sharing the same common name. Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is not native to the United States but originates in Asia and blooms a little later in the season.) Decumaria barbara clings to its support with aerial roots, and it will attach itself to a tree or wall without any additional support.

Lacy  clusters of fragrant white hydrangea-like blooms smell just like fresh honey. Blooms appear in late Spring or early Summer on climbing vines. Decumaria makes a fast-growing groundcover too, but it will not bloom unless allowed to climb. Blooms are solely fertile and smell wonderful.

This easy to grow native vine is not invasive and can be allowed to climb a tree with no danger of it smothering the tree as wisteria does. The delicate aerial rootlets won't harm your tree or wall. 

Plant Native Climbing Hydrangea in shade. Decumaria barbara appreciates protection from hot sun and will bloom in full shade. It enjoys moist soil and naturally occurs in the wild on the banks of streams and rivers. It will grow very quickly in rich soil if watered regularly.

Climbing Hydrangea is a good addition for wildlife in woodland gardens. The thick vines provide good cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals. The fragrant flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators. 

Decumaria barbara is native to Georgia woodlands but can be grown anywhere in USDA Zones 7-11.






April Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Weigela

Weigela florida with Red Blooms
Our Weigela behind the greenhouse is absolutely covered with blooms today.  This red-blooming bush has rosy red flowers all along every stem.

Weigela florida is an old-fashioned shrub that covers itself in Spring with tubular blooms that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Give your weigela plenty of room because it will grow quickly to a large size. Don't fret if you have a small garden with not enough room for such a voluptuous shrub--dwarf cultivars are available.

Weigela can be grown just about anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4 - 8.

Although culture requirements listed in books and online recommend full sun, weigela needs part shade here in Georgia. If you are in the Southern states, Weigela will enjoy morning sun only. Hot afternoon sun will scorch the leaves. I usually recommend planting Weigela along with your azaleas, camellias, and hydrangeas, as they like similar garden conditions.

Weigela florida 'Variegata'
Both Pink and White Blooms on the
Same Shrub
The plentiful blooms appear in April and May and can be white, pink, or Red. One of our shrubs, Weigela florida 'Variegata' has both pink and white blooms on the same shrub amid variegated foliage. 

If pruning is needed to maintain a rounded form, do so immediately after flowering.

Weigela is excellent in the shrub border mixed with other shrubs, but also makes an excellent specimen plant  and mixes well with native shrubs in natural areas. 

Weigela is not native to the United States, but is considered to be an Antique or Heirloom Plant that was introduced here in about 1860.