- Holly - there are many forms of holly, both native and non-native. Most hollies are evergreen, but there are some deciduous species available. Berries are usually red, but orange or bluish black berries can be found.
- Viburnum - Cranberry Bush exhibits bright red berries in fall and also bright red foliage!
- Callicarpa americana - Native American Beauty Berry certainly looks exotic with its vibrant purple berries in September, but surprisingly it is a native plant found growing in the Southeast. Yes, I know, purple is not red, but I had to throw that one into the list, since American Beauty Berry is always my favorite.
Success with blueberries depends on several factors:
- Choose the right variety for your climate
- Pick the right site or location
- Plant in fall
- Amend your soil
- Water regularly
The best site for growing blueberries is full sun. Blueberries can also grow in partial sun or even shade, but more berries will be produced in full sun.
In Georgia, Fall is the best time for transplanting shrubs, including blueberries. They can also be planted in winter or early spring with much success, but blueberries planted in summer will require much care and watering to survive.
Unless you are very fortunate, your soil will need amending. Georgia soil is most often clay which does not drain well. Mix in compost or composted manure and shredded composted bark.
Water regularly, at least once weekly.
I’ve always planted as though we’re in USDA Zone 8, although many of my master gardener friends have told me we’re in zone 7. Our garden does have a sheltered location. We probably have a microclimate since our property slopes to the south, providing our plants with protection from those cold north winter winds.
But what zone are we truly in? Drastic changes in average low temperatures over the last several years have caused many to believe the USDA Hardiness Zone map is out of date. The last update occurred in 1990. A new map was proposed in 2003, but rejected. The National Arbor Day Foundation decided to go ahead and update their map anyway, and it’s worth taking a look at. They used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to formulate the new map. According to them, the changes in average low temperatures have changed so much that planting zones would change by as much as two zones!
I’ve noticed myself for years that several of my "houseplants" return each summer in our shade garden. Among them are spider plant, split-leaf philodendron, and butterfly plant.
Well, anyway, according to the new Arbor Day Foundation hardiness zone map, we’re now in Zone 8!
You can take a look at the map yourself, by going to www.arborday.org. This new information gives us many more plant choices for our garden!
Take a look at the photo of our Red Buckeye Tree blooming today--October 16, 2009.
- Plant native plants instead of invasive exotics. In a nutshell, native plants will survive drought causing you to use less water when watering plants is restricted. Please read my previous posts on this topic.
- Use organic pest control methods instead of poisons which can kill more than just the pest you wish to remove. Biological insect control can be something as simple as attracting ladybugs into the garden. 'No kill' rodent traps are available providing good results without the use of dangerous chemicals. (You need the Mice Cube!)
- Use organic fertilizers instead of synthetic ones. Chemical fertilizers can be poisonous, and they really are junk food for the plants. Compost and other organic soil amendments make plants healthier and stronger. Some organic fertilizers such as compost tea actually help to ward off plant disease.
Fall is upon us, and fall is the best time to plant these beauties, so make your plans now for the best gardening season of all—Fall!
- Ease of growing. Native plants require less maintenance. No heavy pruning and no coddling.
- Pest free, usually. Native plants have been growing with the same insects for years and usually will not die just because of a few bugs. A garden with no pesticides is a good thing!
- Drought tolerant. Native plants have acclimated themselves to our changing environment and can tolerate whatever conditions a Georgia summer can dish out.
- Deer-resistant. Yes, most native plants are deer-resistant. Deer will often walk right past a native plant to devour something from exotic lands, such as your prized hosta. Why eat something they see all the time in the woods, when they can try something new?
- Beauty. A little known fact is that often the native plant is much more beautiful than it's exotic counterpart. Some examples: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus moscheutos, and Lonicera sempervirens. The image above is Hibiscus coccineus, native to the Southeastern United States. Isn't it fabulous?
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!
|Bignonia capreolata 'Crossvine'|
Hibiscus coccineus is very easy to grow. It grows well near a pond or stream, and really enjoys a soggy spot. We have no pond, stream, or soggy spot in our garden--our Hibiscus is located in ordinary garden soil (that means dry hard clay in Georgia language). Admittedly, I do water it on occasion, but it grows bushier each year--we've had it several years now.
You can grow Hibiscus coccineus if you live anywhere in the south and as far north as USDA Zone 6!
Even before blooms begin in summer, Texas Star is a spectacular presence in the garden. Palmate leaves resemble Japanese Maple foliage and even have a reddish tinge.
Blooms are showy red star-shaped flowers appearing throughout summer and into Fall. The flowers can be up to 6 inches across!
Hibiscus coccineus dies down to the ground in winter but re-emerges in spring. By mid-summer this hibiscus will be 6-8 feet tall and look more like a shrub than an herbaceous perennial.
Texas Star Hibiscus does need full sun to bloom well, and you'll need to water it weekly when rainfall is absent. Also a regular application of compost or composted manure will keep it growing well for you.
Swamp Azalea, as the name implies, is one of the few azaleas that can tolerate periodically wet soil. This plant can grow in regular garden soil, but it does not want to miss out on water. If you can water regularly when rainfall is absent, Swamp Azalea will be easy for you to grow in your garden. Grows very tall near streams.
Rhododendron Viscosum can be grown almost anywhere in the United States since it grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.
Swamp Azalea can be grown in full sun if regular water is available. Otherwise, filtered sun/shade is best.
One might think that it would need cooler temperatures, since it grows naturally in the northeast, but Marydel has proven herself to be quite tolerant of our Georgia climate.
Lovely white blooms in April have a spicy lemon scent. The Alabama Azalea is native to East Alabama. A native plant rarely found in the wild, Alabama Azalea is is usually found growing in poor, rocky soil. The Rhododendron Alabamense is a hardy, drought tolerant native azalea that will grow well anywhere in the Southeastern United States.
Blooms are white with a yellow blotch. Too bad computers don't have 'scratch & sniff', because the blooms smell so good--kind of lemony and spicy!
Alabama Azalea is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9.
Blooms appear in early spring and can be anywhere from bright yellow to a dark reddish orange. Rhododendron austrinum is deciduous so plant it among your evergreen azaleas and it will really stand out!
Blooms are very sweetly frarant, so you might want to plant one near your garden bench to enjoy as you relax.
As the name implies, Florida Azalea is native to Florida, but grows well anywhere in the Southern US and in zones as cold as USDA Zone 6.
Rhododendron Austrinum in on the endangered species list, so do not dig it up for planting in your garden if you find a specimen in the woods. Florida Azalea is propagated and sold by native plant nurseries, so you can purchase container grown plants for your garden.
Florida Azalea will eventually grow into a large tree-like shrub up to 10 feet tall. When found in the wild, it naturally occurs in woods beneath large deciduous trees, but flowers much more profusely when grown in full sun. Drought tolerant once established, but needs regular water to become established. Bloom buds on this spring blooming shrub are formed in late summer, right when we have our yearly drought, so water regularly during August and September to ensure good flowering in spring.
Let me know if you have trouble finding this plant in your area, because we have plenty! You can purchase them in our online store Shady Gardens Nursery.
One of my favorite native shrubs is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall.
The evergreen leaves are dark and shiny. Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, large star-shaped seed pods develop--very unusual.
Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.
Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take more sun if planted in a boggy area.
If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.
Illicium floridanum is not the culinary Anise used as a spice--Florida Anise is poisonous if ingested, which is why deer won't eat it.
Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them.If you've been searching for something a little less common than a camellia or gardenia, Florida Anise is perfect.
The Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens, is native to the Piedmont region of the Southeast, making it suitable for growing anywhere in Georgia.
The fragrant blooms can be anywhere from a vivid pink to a soft pink or even a pinkish white. Blooms appear in very early spring before the leaves on this deciduous shrub.
Although Piedmont Azalea naturally occurs in the warm southern United States, it is hardy to areas as cold as USDA Zone 5.
All azaleas prefer well-drained soil, so you should amend your soil with soil conditioner or composted bark to improve drainage if your soil is clay.
Native Azaleas are usually found growing in the woods but will bloom more profusely in full sun as long as water is adequate.
Bloom buds are formed in late summer and early fall, so pay close attention to watering during this time. When a native azalea fails to bloom, lack of water during bud formation is usually the culprit.
Native azaleas are drought tolerant once established, but water weekly the first year or two to make sure your plant gets a good start.
Dwarf Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, is one of the most showy native plants in our garden. Blooming very early in late winter or early spring, the large red panicle blooms are visible from a great distance, attracting hummingbirds as they return from their trip down south.
The Red Buckeye is among the first of the woodland plants to reawaken in spring, sending out tender new leaves as early as February. Lavish flowers appear early too, usually sometime in March for us.
The large luscious blooms attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to the early spring garden. The Red Buckeye begins blooming at a young age when only about 3 feet tall. Red panicle blooms are up to 6 inches long!
This deciduous tree is the perfect specimen for the edge of a woodland, offering a focal point to draw you into the garden. It is especially lovely when underplanted with early spring blooming wildflowers.
The palmately compound leaves are deep green and keep their attractive tropical look all season long.
Red Buckeye is very easy to grow. You will enjoy this lovely little tree in your woodland garden!
Several weeks ago we were saddened with the loss of Skippy after a lengthy illness. Skippy was a good chicken. Our chickens are really just pets. We eat the eggs but never the chickens.
Although Skippy was never much of an egg layer, she certainly did her part as a member of our Insect Control Team. Skippy was the only hen that would not put up with Barney's foolishness (you know how roosters are!) We will certainly miss her.
One of the favorite sellers of plants on ebay is now selling on her own site outside of ebay! "AWESOME ITEM - VERY PLEASED WITH TOTAL TRANS. & HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS EBAYER!!!!" "The important thing is that the selections are unique & quality excellent!" "Shipment was fast and plant was better than expected, thanks!" "One of my favorite sellers. Beautiful healthy plants." "Will buy from this seller again and again ..." Those are just a few of the feedback comments left for shadygardener. You can read more about shadygardener's feedback on ebay. If you've been searching for native plants, there is a good selection on ebay. But if you'd rather not purchase on ebay, you can go directly to shadygardener's online nursery site: Shady Gardens Nursery. Plants will be promptly shipped directly to you at a great price, and if you're looking for something not listed in the current inventory, they'll try to find it for you!
Our garden is much too large to make pesticide application affordable, but we did try that, before the chickens joined our family. We just can't remember to apply insect repellent every time we go outside, and that also gets expensive when you spend all day outdoors as we do.A few years ago when our little girl received an Easter gift of 2 baby chicks, we thought that might help. And really, it has...some. But after my husband was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, we realized the seriousness of the situation. It terrifies me to know that one of my children could encounter that dreaded disease that leads to a life of joint problems.
Last fall an adored friend of ours gave us a gift for which we are very grateful. He hatched out for me 4 Guineas! (He hatched them in an incubator.) I've been told ticks are a favorite treat for guineas, and they will eat hundreds of them. We're so excited, and we'll let you know in the summer if we see a decrease in the number of ticks latched on to our tender areas!
I must tell you that I don't know much about Guineas, but I have found a wonderful site that is a wealth of information on Guineas, including some very entertaining photos and captions. It's worth your time to take a look at Guineafowl.com. I don't know the author personally, but on her site you can learn all about guineas, because after all, she wrote the book on Gardening With Guineas! (Yes, really--you can order it from her website!)
Privet is often chosen at garden centers when the homeowner is looking for a privacy hedge or evergreen shrub that is easy to grow. There are many better choices out there, since just about any plant is better than privet. For alternatives to privet, try visiting your local native plant nursery or a locally owned nursery. There you will find a knowledgeable nurseryman that would have suitable alternatives to privet.
Some plants to consider instead of privet:
- Viburnum - some species are evergreen, most produce large flowers in spring and showy berries in fall, as shown in the above photo. There are both native and non-native varieties.
- Roses provide showy blooms and easy care, if you choose a carefree shrub rose. In addition to beauty, the thorns on most shrub roses can provide a barrier for intruders if that's your goal.
- Holly. Whether you choose an American native variety or not, holly provides berries and beautiful foliage. Some species are evergreen and even variegated. Holly is a favorite of birds as a food source and nesting site.
When planning a hedge, I always suggest a mixed shrub border rather than a long row of the same plant. A mixed shrub border can provide beauty and interest 12 months a year, and with variety, you can provide food and shelter for birds and other desirable wildlife. Plants with berries should be included as a food source, and birds love to build nests in thick bushy shrubs with spines or prickly leaves. When you have a variety of plantings in your garden, you are contributing toward diversity that is important for preservation of the environment.
- Japanese Honeysuckle - Plant our native honeysuckle instead, Lonicera sempervirens, commonly referred to as Red Trumpet Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle.
- Japanese Pachysandranda - Instead, try our native Pachysandra Procumbens, which is variegated, offering much more beauty than the plain green invasive one.
- Privet - Well, there are many alternatives to Privet. Anything at all would be better. For a non-invasive hedge, consider holly, viburnum, shrub roses, or camellias.
- Wisteria - Yes, we even have a native wisteria that's much better than the very invasive Chinese or Japanese Wisteria. Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls' is available in many nurseries and home improvement stores. Before buying wisteria, check the label. If it merely reads 'Wisteria,' stay away from it. If it's Wisteria frutescens, it will be labeled as such.
Shadow, or large black lab, is getting older, taking more naps and chasing deer less. Actually, I have observed her lying down on a soft bed of leaves while watching deer forage right beside her! We accept that though, since she is a very good dog.
Still, we'd like to enjoy the investments we've made in our garden. Plants can get expensive. So what do we do about it? Getting rid of the deer is not an option for us. Fencing must be at least 10 feet tall and surround the whole garden to be effective. Deer deterrant sprays are too expensive and are just temporary, having to be resprayed after every rain or watering.
The best option we've come up with is to plant things deer do not eat. Many of the plants disliked by deer come with a strong fragrance which will fool the deer into thinking there's nothing there they want. For every plant they like, we try to plant one they don't.
Unfortunately, many of our native plants are tasty to deer. Afterall, God created a food source for the animals when he made the animals. If you have the space, you might just want to plant plenty of the plant, hoping when they eat, they'll leave some for you to enjoy.
But there are a few easy to find native plants deer don't like, and here's a list to give you some ideas:
- Butterfly Weed
- Native Ferns
- Mountain Laurel
- Witch Hazel
Azaleas and rhododendrons rarely need pruning anyway. I prune away only damaged or dead wood on azaleas. That should be done anytime damaged or dead wood is observed, to prevent disease.
Most of the native Azaleas bloom in spring, and they bloom on old wood. That means that the flower buds for this spring have already formed. Pruning now will remove those flower buds. If you need to control the size of your native azaleas or just want to shape up your plant's form, wait until after the blooms fade and prune then.