March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Loropetalum

It is now March, and our many Loropetalum shrubs are still in full bloom. This has been by far the most spectacular year we've had for Loropetalum. These shrubs have been blooming nonstop since January.

Yes, this has been a weird winter. We had only sporadic cold spells with lots of warm spells in between. Some plants like the Oakleaf Hydrangea and Elderberry that are normally deciduous retained all their leaves throughout the winter. The elderberries even had the odd flower cluster now and then. Plants that normally die to the ground in winter and regrow from the base such as Confederate Rose and Lantana are leafing out from the stems which we never got cut back this year. This is highly unusual. And weird. I never got around to wearing all my sweaters, and my winter coat got out only once.

For more on the lovely Loropetalum, read our other post: January Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Loropetalum.

February Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Star Magnolia

Magnolia stellata is one of my favorite winter blooming shrubs. Often flowers of the Star Magnolia are burned from the frosts of Winter, turning the beautiful white blossoms brown before they can be enjoyed. But not this year! Winter frosts were so few that I enjoyed many blooms on our little shrub this time. 

I wish we could claim this magnolia as a Georgia native, because it grows so well here and is a favorite of Southern gardeners, but Star Magnolia is native to Japan. 

Blooms are large and showy flowers that open in late Winter here in Georgia, before the shrub leafs out. Blossoms come in pink or white. The flowers are sweetly fragrant and more noticeable when the shrub is in full bloom.

Magnolias grow in sun or shade and prefer well-drained soil with regular water. Magnolia stellata needs regular water, especially during hot summer when grown in full sun.

Even if you live no where near Georgia, you can still grow this beautiful shrub, since Magnolia stellata is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

Star Magnolia is a slow grower, but in good conditions it will grow up to 15 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. It can be allowed to grow in its own bushy form, or you can limb it up into a small tree.

February Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Fujino Pink Spirea

One of the earliest shrubs to bloom in our Georgia garden is the lovely Spiraea thunbergii 'Fujino Pink.'

Fujino Pink Spiraea in February
Fujino Pink Spiraea is a beautiful, fine branched spirea that sports masses of pink buds along the stems which open to light pink flowers in late winter to early spring before the leaves emerge. This shrub is a soft, airy plant that looks great massed or as a hedge.

Some spiraeas (also often spelled 'spirea') grow very large, but this is one of the small ones maturing to about 4 feet high and wide, making it perfect for a small garden.

Spiraea thunbergii can be grown all over the United States, as it is hardy in USDA Zones 4 - 9.

For best flowering, grow spiraea in full sun, but we have quite a few that receive only part sun and bloom just beautifully anyway. That's typical for our garden, since summer sun can be too intense for delicate foliage.

Spiraes prefer well-drained soil with regular water, but Fujino Pink Spiraea is drought tolerant once established. As I've said before, no shrub is considered established until it has been planted at least a couple of years.

February Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Hellebores

Since Georgia has many days of nice warm weather in Winter, I'm adding as many winter blooming plants as I can find to our garden. Hellebores are evergreen perennial plants that bloom after Christmas in a rainbow of colors in shades of magenta, rose, mauve, and cream. Some blooms are even speckled. 

Often called Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose, Hellebores aren’t really roses at all, but are in the buttercup family. Hellebore is a very low-maintenance plant that thrives in dry shade—that’s right, dry shade! 

When not blooming, Hellebores have interesting, shiny, dark green foliage with leaves often serrated or even palmate.

It is a long-lived perennial offering years of beauty in the shade garden.

Hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, hellebores require no special care. 

They spread with time, self-sowing to form clumps up to 2 feet across in just a few years. Amend the soil well with organic matter when planting, and you’ll be rewarded with many years of beauty. 

Hellebores are a great substitute for Hosta, but are even better. Hellebores are evergreen and deer proof - the deer will not eat them! 

No matter what you decide to plant in your garden, get out there and enjoy it. And remember to thank God for the rain we’ve received!

March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Coastal Leucothoe

One of the most unusual flowering shrubs in our garden is the Coastal Leucothoe. Also known as Dog Hobble, Leucothoe axillaris is native to the Southeastern United States. Racemes of fragrant white blooms resembling Lily of the Valley dangle from arching branches in early Spring. Leucothoe usually blooms for us in April, but this year Coastal Leucothoe began blooming in March.

Coastal Dog Hobble is lovely on the banks of a creek or pond, especially when massed, if you are fortunate enough to have water on your property. 

Leucothoe prefers some shade, but can take more sun if water is available. 

Foliage on this evergreen shrub consists of coarse pointed leaves that are a deep green. Lovely fall color is a very showy reddish bronze to purple.

Plant your Leucothoe where winter winds won't dessicate the foliage and remember to water regularly in the absence of rain to keep the leathery foliage looking fresh and vibrant.

The arching branches look good along the edge of a path or massed in a shrub border. Leucothoe's small size make it an excellent foundation shrub too if it's not in too much sun.

Mature size is 2-4 feet tall, but Dog Hobble can get much larger in the deep South if water is plentiful. Ordinarily, Leucothoe is a moderately slow growing shrub that will not quickly outgrow its space.

Like many native shrubs, Leucothoe axillaris can be grown in almost every part of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-11. 

Leucothoe is an excellent shrub to help control erosion on a shady bank. 

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for your landscape, Leucothoe is it. There are no disease problems, pruning is not required, and as long as water is available, you can just plant it and leave it for beauty year after year.

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...