Category Archives: Native plants

Gardening For Pollinators

Phlox 'Chattahoochee'I like to feel I’m doing a good job of gardening to attract pollinators. At any rate, my home garden and the ‘Better Late Than Never’ garden across the street from Oak Street Garden Shop seem to have lots of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so I must be doing something right, right??!!??

Butterfly on Parsley Hawthorne Tree

Swallowtail Butterfly on Parsley Hawthorne

Researching pollinator gardening information for a garden talk and workshop recently, in the midst of wading through article after article (There are a lot of posts on honeybees and their decline, and numerous writings on attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.), I came to the conclusion that it basically boils down to this:

Your home and yard, garden, landscape, whatever you call the space that surrounds your home, is your personal ecosystem. The health of it and the pollinators that visit it depend on how you build your soil, what you plant, and how you choose to maintain it. 

So my choices have been to try to have as diverse a plant pallette as possible (I admit, I’m a plantaholic. Who knew that would play right into gardening for pollinators?) and to eliminate pesticide use almost entirely. I’m gratified when I hear of others that are trying to do the same thing.

Snapdragon

Bees love snapdragons!

I use organic soil amendments like PlantTone and Annie Haven’s Moo Poo Tea, have learned to live  with a few holes in leaves, let the ladybugs eat aphids (If they really get too bad, I wash them off with some soapy water.), and practice patience, knowing that most of the time an infestation of insects doesn’t last forever. I take great joy in bopping Japanese beetles off of my roses into a bucket of soapy water early in the morning when they’re most sluggish. I know each year they’ll be back – it’s just part of the garden’s cycle.

If you feel you have a large problem and must spray, start with the least toxic form of chemical control, and understand that even products labeled organic can be harmful to good bugs as well as bad.  ***Always read the label and follow directions carefully!Kris' Garden Late March 2016

I’ve learned that planting large swaths of color will attract bees, and that they prefer blue, purple, white, and yellow. I’ve learned to grow a wide variety of plants, including plants with a scent, herbs in particular. I’ve learned that while double blooms on flowers are attractive to us, they’re not especially useful for pollinators, and that they much prefer single, simple blooms. I’ve learned that flowers that come back from seed that drops in the garden (zinnias, sunflowers, bachelor buttons, larkspur to name a few),  perennials, and any of our native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers are preferable also.

Chionanthus virginicus - Fringe Tree

Chionanthus virginicus – Fringe Tree

Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s not that hard, and actually quite a bit easier, to garden naturally. I have some clover in my grass. And you know what? It’s okay, because I have bees foraging it. Somewhere there’s some great honey in the making!

 

Our last average frost date is mid-April. In the coming weeks we’ll be stocking more and more plants for your pollinator gardens. Here are a few suggestions:

For Butterflies:   Zinnias, Gomphrena, Pentas, Marigolds, Verbena, Asters, Yarrow, Butterfly Weed

For Bees:   Purslane, Mexican Heather, Pentas, Sweet allysum, Bee Balm, Asters, Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Zinnia, Snapdragon, Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Agastache

For Hummingbirds: Cigar Plant, Salvias, Heat tolerant Fuschias, Agastache, Petunia, Hamelia, Lobelia, Bee Balm, Penstemon, NasturtiumsRock Outcrop Kris' Garden Late March 2016

Host Plants For Caterpillars:  Fennel, Parsley, Dill, Carrots, Zinnias, Viburnum, Oak Trees, Cosmos, Milkweed, hollyhocks

These lists are by no means exhaustive, but are meant to be a starting point for your pollinator garden. Some of these plants are best planted in the fall, while others are more heat tolerant.

*** Alabama’s watersheds, rich in animal and plant life, absorb  the brunt of chemical and fertilizer runoff from homeowner and commercial pesticide and fertilizer application. Be mindful that what you (and your neighbors) put in the landscape can adversely  affect these areas and the life in them.

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

I recently learned of an exciting new program called the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Since I love watching all the bees, butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds that come to both my home garden and the  “Better Late Than Never Garden” across the street from the shop, it was great to hear of a national program designed to help preserve them.

Pollinator bee on dahliaThe  National Pollinator Garden Network, encourages home gardeners, cities, community and public spaces  to plant for our all-important pollinators.

So, in your own gardens, plant flowering nectar plants  with your vegetables, add herbs like curly parsley, dill and fennel for caterpillars, basil, rosemary, mint, and lavender for bees, and stay away or at least please minimize the use of pesticides that kill beneficial insects as well as bad bugs.

I’ve learned I’d rather live with a few holes in leaves and a less than perfect garden than not have as many bees, butterflies, and hummers that add so much enjoyment to my personal space.

Rudbeckia, coreopsis, zinnias, purslane, gomphrena...

Rudbeckia, coreopsis, zinnias, purslane, gomphrena…

 

 

 

The National Wildlife Federation, national garden clubs and other organizations are joining in this effort to create a million (or more!) pollinator gardens across the country. I’m planning to register my garden and the “Better Late Than Never Garden”  and hope you’ll join in too!

 

                                                 

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed…

Pollinator Plants For Bees, Butterflies, and More

Perennials include: Anise hyssop (Agastache),  Aster, Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias sp.), Baptisia, Coreopsis, Daylily (Hemerocallis), Dianthus, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.), Bee balm (Monarda), Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium), Blazing star (Liatris), Gaura, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Phlox, Daisies, Yarrow (Achillea), Sunflower, (Helianthus sp.), Goldenrod (Solidago), Coneflower  (Echinacea sp.), Verbena

Butterflies like these cosmos, zinnias and marigolds

Butterflies like these cosmos, zinnias and marigolds

Annuals include:  Zinnia, Sunflower, Purslane, Mexican Heather (Cuphea sp.)  Mecardonia, Salvia, Cosmos, Alyssum, Basil, Nasturtium, Verbena, Lantana, Fan Flower (Scaevola), Gomphrena

For Hummingbirds: Ajuga, Bee Balm, (Monarda sp.), Begonia, Spider Flower (Cleome), Salvia, Cardinal Flower (Lobelia), Lilies, Penstemon

These lists are by no means exhaustive, and don’t include shrubs and trees that are host plants for caterpillars as well. Don’t hesitate to do research into pollinator gardens as you create your own!

Posted by Kris Blevons

A Winter Walk Through A Southern Garden – One Year to the Next

At first glance, it doesn't look like much is going on...

At first glance, it doesn’t look like much is going on…

The garden looked hunkered down and frozen the other day, and well it should, since 10 degrees was a mite chilly for Birmingham, Alabama.

While gardeners in northern climes take the winter off, perusing catalogues and dreaming of a new garden season still months away, usually we in the south, like it or not, don’t have any real down time. I seem to spend much of mine walking through the garden and simply observing and thinking about what needs doing, and, when the temperatures drop down below freezing, I’m more than happy to stay inside.

Mahonia 'Charity', adding it's winter color...

Mahonia ‘Charity’, adding it’s winter color…

For example, I’ve been thinking on and off for over a year now about moving one of the shrub roses from the front bed to the side of the driveway but haven’t quite gotten past the thinking stage yet. I’ve become much more relaxed about things; everything will get done in its own time. Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?
Here’s a bit from a post written last winter with some additional notes about what differences a year can make.

 

The mahonia, a year later, January, 2015

The mahonia, a year later, January, 2015

I see the Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ shrub that’s planted in a very shady spot is blooming. The birds love the blue/purple berries that follow the bright yellow flowers, and we don’t see the pretty fruit  for long. I cut it back quite hard last spring because it was getting leggy. It’s fuller as a result this year, and next year will have even more blooms. (A note: This year, 2015, there are more blooms, and they’re bigger too!)

Chamaecyparis obtusa selections are wonderful for the south...

Chamaecyparis obtusa selections are wonderful for the south…

Groundcovers... Veronica 'Georgia Blue' and a dianthus...

Groundcovers… Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ and a dianthus…

Candytuft, catmint, poppies...

Candytuft, catmint, poppies…

 

 

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Golden Mop’ calls attention to itself out front with some yellow brightness of its own, anchoring the end of the front bed. It has loved this hot, sunny spot, and I appreciate being able to clip it for my holiday decorations. What a beautiful workhorse in the garden! I purchased it (and most of my shrubs and trees) in small pots and have let them grow into their spaces.
More subtle things are happening out front too. The early blooming evergreen groundcover Iberis, or candytuft, is showing its buds, and some are even opening. They evidently don’t look at a calendar or gardening book to tell them when they’re supposed to be blooming! (Update for 2015: definitely not as pretty as last year, but there’s still a smattering of bloom here and there.)

The veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, a white pass-along dianthus, and poppies seem happy, as does the catmint, ‘Walker’s Low’.  The beautiful veronica will be covered with tiny blue flowers in late January into February, just as the poppies begin to fatten up and the violas begin to show more color. If you haven’t planted poppies, pansies, violas, the ‘Georgia Blue’ veronica or candytuft yet, it’s not too late to find a few spots for some. They’ll add some extra and welcome color in your yard this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bed will look much different in future  weeks and months,  but now, in the midst of winter, things are quiet…I must remember this is the season for patience.

daylily foliage...

daylily foliage…

Some daylilys, though, are pushing out new green growth in this warm south facing bed; winter barely keeps them down. A large prostrate rosemary, another that loves this hot spot, is blooming pretty purply blue flowers that the bees adore. (This Rosemary really took a hit during the second snow event of 2014 – I ended up pulling it out early in the summer since it looked absolutely awful.)

 

 

 

 

Spiraea 'Ogon'

Spiraea ‘Ogon’

 

My route has taken me again to the back, where the Spiraea ‘Ogon’ is holding on to its few remaining willowy leaves, and, looking closely, I can see all the little buds along the stem. These will result in pretty white blooms in beautiful contrast with chartreuse new growth this spring. (this year – no leaves, hoping it blooms as well as last year.)

 

 

 

 

 

I walk down another level and there’s one of many small Alabama crotons, looking a bit bedraggled, still with a few silver backed orange leaves. The crotons love this part of my garden – thankfully, since it’s on a rocky slope with great drainage that they prefer.image

 

 

 

 

 

 

sun shining through a miscanthus...

sun shining through a miscanthus…

Farther on, the plumes of a miscanthus show off in the afternoon light. This year, 2015, it looks so sad  I won’t hesitate cutting it back next month. This will also keep all those seeds from wanting to sprout here and there. My Midwestern soul loves grasses… but not everywhere!

I notice this year that the pieris is fat and full of buds – the cold doesn’t seem to have affected it at all, at least I hope it hasn’t. It may be in a favorable microclimate – warmed by the rock outcrop just behind it, and the water below.

The Japanese pieris is full of buds...

The Japanese pieris is full of buds…

 

 

 

 

epimedium spreads slowly...

epimedium spreads slowly…

I make my way across the water and toward the rocks where an epimedium resides in the shelter and shade of a large elm.

I’ll be trimming it’s tattered winter foliage soon in anticipation of the dainty orange flowers that will appear early spring. There is no procrastinating with epimedium; if I wait too long to clean up those tattered leaves, I risk cutting the delicate stems the flowers arise on. These small lessons are often learned by doing the wrong thing at least once. I love all the different epimediums I’ve amassed over the years. They are slow growing, tough shade groundcovers – some evergreen, some not, and all very beautiful, even without flowers!

(Unfortunately the summer of 2014 a woodchuck created some serious mayhem in the garden, eating all the buds of the epimedium and the blue woodland phlox as well. It was so disappointing! I’m hoping this spring is better.)

Edgeworthia chrysantha...

Edgeworthia chrysantha…

One shrub I never prune but let have it’s way, and that always blooms in the winter is the Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paper bush. I see the beautiful buds that have been getting larger all fall; soon they’ll begin to open and their incredible scent will fill the garden. It’s a true gem, holding interest in all the seasons, from it’s long lasting pretty buds to fragrant blooms, interesting bark, and big, bold leaves.

January, 2015

January, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Native cardamine...

Native cardamine…

 

 

I need to end this post soon…Oh, but here, coming up through fallen leaves, is the Cardamine diphylla. I have this native in many spots under the shade of large trees. It will sport pretty white blooms on tall stems in late spring, but it’s  the winter when the foliage is at it’s prettiest. By summer it will have retreated below ground once again. This winter it’s spread even more,  and the pretty green foliage really stands out against the brown leaves beneath it.

 

 

 

Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’

Parney's clusterberry cotoneaster...the cedar wax wings will devour these berries in another few weeks!

Parney’s clusterberry cotoneaster…the cedar wax wings will devour these berries in another few weeks!

 

Carex is another favorite, and here is Carex  ‘Evergold’, spilling from a planter. Look how bright is is in the shade of a Cotoneaster lacteus‘Parney’s Clusterberry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh so fragrant...daphne odora

Oh so fragrant…daphne odora

 

Finally, the daphne odora’s pink buds are getting larger, and soon they’ll open, adding their incredible scent to the whole back garden. This is one that I leave well alone – it needs perfect drainage, and on this slope it seems to be happy. Too much coddling and they are prone to up and dying. So far I’ve been lucky with this one.

The light is beginning to fade and there’s a definite chill in the air; it’s time to go in. There will certainly be more ups and downs with our  weather this winter – that’s a given.  Finally, though,  temperatures will gradually begin to  rise as we make our way toward spring, and each day there will be more to see.  I’m ready.

 

 

 

The Garden Is Waking Up…Don’t Forget To Look Down!

Lenten Roses blooming below the rocks....

Lenten Roses blooming below the rocks….

After this winter’s double polar vortex whammy, I’ve been a little unsure what to expect in the garden. Is the confederate jasmine alive? I scratch its bark; it’s green near the bottom of the vine so I’ll need to cut it back to live wood. Will the black elephant ears that are in the water down by the rock outcrop come up this year? No sign yet but I’m still hopeful. They’ve been there for 8 years at least!

Southern maidenhair fern waking up...

Southern maidenhair fern waking up…

 

 

 

And what about the salvias? My Mexican Sage  is definitely gone, but I see tiny green leaves on the blue Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’. The forsythia sage looks like it is reappearing too. That is a huge surprise.

Tassel Fern croziers beginning to unfurl...

Tassel Fern croziers beginning to unfurl…

 

 

 

As I walk, I see the ferns are finally beginning to awaken, and, amid the blooming lenten roses, the southern maidenhair fern is finally up and beginning to unfurl  dainty spring green fronds.

Japanese painted fern...

Japanese painted fern…

The holly ferns  took a big hit; I’ve cut them back completely. Some are showing signs of life, others aren’t. I see it’s going to be a waiting game. Last season’s winter-tattered  tassel fern fronds  are laying flat on the ground, and I cut them back. The new, coppery-colored croziers will unfurl more each day, reaching for the light. The garden is coming back to life!

Virginia bluebells...

Virginia bluebells…

I’ve wondered if the Japanese painted ferns would make it. Perhaps I worry too much, because now I see  a single frond, and then more. They blend  into the rock behind them, but I know where to search. I’m so happy to see them. There should  be more soon if the changeable March weather doesn’t turn fickle on me.

Bloodroot...

Bloodroot…

Every day I walk through the garden, searching for more – the native wildflowers with names like rue anemone, virginia bluebells, crinkle root, trillium, jacob’s ladder, bloodroot, hepatica, blue woodland phlox. These are the tiny ones, the spring ephemerals that somehow know to begin growing  with longer, warmer days.

Soon I’ll begin to look up in the garden as well. The buds of the viburnums are getting larger, and the spiraeas are  beginning to bloom. I know more and more will vie for my attention. For now, though, I’ll continue to look down, searching for spring.

Spring is coming to the nursery too!  If you’re looking for treasures for your garden or just enjoy stopping by, come in to see our beautiful selection of  shrubs, perennials, native plants and more. It’s a feast for the senses!

Below are the latin names for plants mentioned in this post:

Confederate jasmine – Trachelospermum jasminoides; Black Elephant Ears – Colocasia sp.   Mexican Sage – Salvia leucantha; Indigo Spires Salvia –  Salvia x ‘Indigo Spires’ ; Forsythia Sage – Salvia madrensis; Lenten Rose – Helleborus orientalis; Southern Maidenhair Fern – Adiantum cappilaris; Holly Fern – Cyrtomium falcatum; Tassel Fern – Polystichum polyblepharum; Japanese Painted Fern – Athyrium niponicum; Virginia Bluebells – Mertensia virginica; Blue Woodland Phlox – Phlox divaricata;  Jacob’s Ladder – Polemonium reptans; Crinkle Root  – Cardamine diphylla;         Rue Anemone  – Thalictrum thalictroides; Bloodroot  – Sanguinaria canadensis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More To See On A Winter’s Walk Through A Southern Garden

Enemion biturnatum - False Rue Anemone - January

false rue anemone…

Cyclamen hederifolium - January

cyclamen hederifolium…

January is frigid in many parts of the country and can be a bleak month at best. But it’s also a good time to take a walk through your landscape, observing and planning.  Here are some things I spotted on a short walk recently.

 

Geranium 'Biokovo' - January

geranium ‘Biokovo’…

Native plants like false rue anemone, Enemion biturnatum, are beginning to show through the fallen leaves and promise  pure white blooms this spring. Only the bloodroot is a purer white.   The cyclamen hederifolium blooms are past,  but the pretty mottled foliage is spreading. Here’s some under a native azalea. There are also crocus bulbs interplanted with these cyclamen that will be coming through the leaf litter soon.

 

Selaginella uncinata - Peacock Spikemoss

selaginella…

Perennial geraniums are good, tough plants too. Here the foliage of Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a cranesbill geranium,  is looking quite happy along a rocky slope. It’s a pretty groundcover here and gets enough sun in this spot  to bloom in the late spring. After the white flowers tinged with pink fade, I’ll clip it back to keep it tidy.

 

Acorus variegata - Dry Riverbed - January

acorus variegata…

 

 

A little farther down the slope, and in more shade, is some selaginella uncinata, or peacock spikemoss. This groundcover is closely related to ferns and likes this shaded, moist spot. By midsummer, with enough moisture, it will be a lush, blue/green carpet underneath the trees and sheltered by the rock outcrop.

 

 

 

Below the rock outcrop, and along a dry riverbed, a spring provides water for evergreen acorus. In addition to Acorus ‘Ogon’, a yellow variegated form, here is the Acorus variegata, with a white variegation. Both of these love moisture, and  they spread freely. In February these will get cut back at the same time the dwarf mondo is cut, making  way for new, fresh growth.

Cyrtomium falcatum - Holly Fern - January

holly ferns…

 

Other plants that will need old, tattered, winter damaged fronds cut off next month are the perennial ferns, including  tassel (polystichum polyblepharum),  autumn (Drypteris erythrosora),  and, shown here, holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum). Sure, they’re evergreen, but, by winter’s end, they definitely need  cleaning up.  Wait until at least the end of February to do any drastic cutting back, though,  as the old foliage also helps protect the crown of the plants from cold temperatures.

 

 

 

Itea virginica & Hellebores - JanuaryAbove the water but spreading down the slope toward it, is a planting of Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet’ , still holding the garnet colored fall foliage of its name. Underneath this spreading, suckering, shrub is another common evergreen perennial groundcover, the reliable Lenten roses, helleborus orientalis.

These two have gradually spread over the years, and the itea will also show off it’s dainty fragrant white blooms along arching stems this spring. It is truly an all season shrub, and the long lasting lenten roses blooming under them are good companions. Soon enough  it  will be  time to clip off old, winter damaged leaves of the lenten roses, but not yet.  January is the month to simply observe, taking time to enjoy a quiet walk through the garden on a sunny, chilly day.

 

 

 

 

 

A Winter Walk Through A Southern Garden

At first glance, it doesn't look like much is going on...

At first glance, it doesn’t look like much is going on…

It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m itching to get outside and see what’s been happening in my garden while I’ve been busy with the holidays at the shop. Leaving the house very early and getting home after dark doesn’t give a garden junkie like myself much time to play.

While gardeners in northern climes take the winter off, perusing catalogues and dreaming of a new garden season still months away, we in the south, like it or not, don’t have any real down time. But, since I seem to spend much of mine walking through the garden and simply observing and thinking about what needs doing, winter does seem a tad more relaxed.

Mahonia 'Charity', adding it's winter color...

Mahonia ‘Charity’, adding it’s winter color…

For example, I’ve been thinking on and off about moving one of the shrub roses from the front bed to the side of the driveway but haven’t quite gotten past the thinking stage yet. I’ve become much more relaxed about things; everything will get done in its own time. Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?
So, let’s take a little swing around the yard and take a look at what’s happening.
I see the Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ shrub that’s planted in a very shady spot is blooming. The birds love the blue/purple berries that follow the bright yellow flowers, and we don’t see the pretty fruit  for long. I cut it back quite hard last spring because it was getting leggy. It’s fuller as a result this year, and next year will have even more blooms.

Chamaecyparis obtusa selections are wonderful for the south...

Chamaecyparis obtusa selections are wonderful for the south…

Groundcovers... Veronica 'Georgia Blue' and a dianthus...

Groundcovers… Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ and a dianthus…

Candytuft, catmint, poppies...

Candytuft, catmint, poppies…

Out front, the Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Golden Mop’ calls attention to itself with some yellow brightness of its own, anchoring the end of the front bed. It has loved this hot, sunny spot, and I appreciate being able to clip it for my holiday decorations. What a beautiful workhorse in the garden! I purchased it (and most of my shrubs and trees) in small pots and have let them grow into their spaces.
More subtle things are happening out front too. The early blooming evergreen groundcover Iberis, or candytuft, is showing its buds, and some are even opening. They evidently don’t look at a calendar or gardening book to tell them when they’re supposed to be blooming!
The veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, a white pass-a-long dianthus, and poppies seem happy, as does the catmint, ‘Walker’s Low’.  The veronica will be covered with tiny blue flowers in late January into February, just as the poppies begin to fatten up and the violas begin to show more color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bed will look much different in future  weeks and months,  but now, in the midst of winter, things are quiet…I must remember this is the season for patience.

daylily foliage...

daylily foliage…

Some daylilys, though, are pushing out new green growth in this warm south facing bed; winter barely keeps them down. A large prostrate rosemary, another that loves this hot spot, is blooming pretty purply blue flowers that the bees adore.

 

 

 

 

Spiraea 'Ogon'

Spiraea ‘Ogon’

 

My route has taken me again to the back, where the Spiraea ‘Ogon’ is holding on to its few remaining willowy leaves, and, looking closely, I can see all the little buds along the stem. These will result in pretty white blooms in beautiful contrast with chartreuse new growth this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

imageI walk down another level and there’s one of many small Alabama crotons, looking a bit bedraggled, still with a few silver backed orange leaves. These crotons love this part of my garden on a rocky slope with great drainage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sun shining through a miscanthus...

sun shining through a miscanthus…

Farther on, the plumes of a miscanthus show off in the afternoon light. It will need cutting back next month to keep all those seeds from wanting to sprout here and there. My Midwestern soul loves grasses… but not everywhere!

 

 

 

 

epimedium spreads slowly...

epimedium spreads slowly…

I make my way across the water and toward the rocks where an epimedium resides in the shelter and shade of a large elm. I’ll be trimming it’s tattered winter foliage soon in anticipation of the dainty orange flowers that will appear early spring. There is no procrastinating with epimedium; if I wait too long to clean up those tattered leaves, I risk cutting the delicate stems the flowers arise on.

These small lessons are often learned by doing the wrong thing at least once. I love all the different epimediums I’ve amassed over the years. They are slow growing, tough shade groundcovers – some evergreen, some not, and all very beautiful.

Edgeworthia chrysantha...

Edgeworthia chrysantha…

One shrub I never prune but let have it’s way, is the Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paper bush. I see the beautiful buds that have been getting larger all fall; soon they’ll begin to open and their incredible scent will fill the garden. It’s a true gem, holding interest in all the seasons, from it’s long lasting pretty buds to fragrant blooms, interesting bark, and big, bold leaves.

Edgeworthia buds...

Edgeworthia buds…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Native cardamine...

Native cardamine…

 

 

I need to end this post soon…Oh, but here, coming up through fallen leaves, is crinkle wort, Cardamine diphylla. I have this native in many spots under the shade of large trees. It will sport pretty white blooms on tall stems in late spring, but it’s  the winter when the foliage is at it’s prettiest. By summer it will have retreated below ground once again.

 

 

 

Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’

Parney's clusterberry cotoneaster...the cedar wax wings will devour these berries in another few weeks!

Parney’s clusterberry cotoneaster…the cedar wax wings will devour these berries in another few weeks!

 

And here’s another favorite, Carex ‘Evergold’, spilling from a planter. Look how it adds it’s lightness under the shade of a Cotoneaster lacteus‘Parney’s Clusterberry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh so fragrant...daphne odora

Oh so fragrant…daphne odora

 

Finally, the daphne odora’s pink buds are getting larger, and soon they’ll open, adding their incredible scent to the whole back garden.
These walks always make me feel relaxed. Sure, I see things that need to be done, but usually I see so much more!

By Kris Blevons

 

Summertime is day lily time!

imageThis ‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily’s first bloom in my garden marks the beginning of summer for me. Blooming right around Memorial Day, it is also a reliable rebloomer and the last to bloom at the end of summer – August 22nd last year, to be exact!

Blooms aside, daylilies also add another important element to a garden, particularly in a mixed perennial/annual bed – foliage form.
We talked about the importance of foliage in the garden in an earlier post on perennials…the fountain like leaves of large daylilies can break up the monotony of masses of other plants, and the lily bloom can be placed in contrast to other flower shapes as well.image

Summer is the season for these lovely plants, and the best selection will be available in the coming days and weeks.

After you’ve chosen and placed your daylilies, don’t forget about them. They benefit from an (at least) weekly walk through the garden, to pick off faded blooms. If any leaves are yellow, pull them out as well, to keep plants looking well tended.
imageOnce the bloom period ends, cut the old bloomscapes completely to the ground, tidying the plant. If the leaves begin to look tattered at all, don’t hesitate to take the entire plant and cut all the foliage back by half. Your daylilies will reward you with fresh foliage the rest of the season, and, if they’re rebloomers, you’ll have another round of flowers!image

Divide your daylily when it becomes too large for its spot. This is best done on a pleasant fall day after the heat of summer has finally passed…this chore will be the subject of a future post.

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Phlox divaricata – a must have for the woodland garden!

phlox divaricata in the garden....

phlox divaricata in the garden….

Wild blue phlox, woodland phlox, wild sweet william – whatever name you choose hardly matters. This native wildflower, Phlox divaricata, graces the most beautiful gardens in Birmingham in the early spring – March and April are its time to shine!

Phlox divaricata shown in Kris' spring garden

Phlox divaricata shown in
Kris’ spring garden

 

 

 

Find a spot for this one now, while it’s available, and you’ll add another layer of beauty to your garden too. Once established, it spreads readily, yet is never offensive or thuggish. The soft blue blooms have a delicate fragrance that is a subtle greeting as you walk through the garden…and bees and hummingbird moths love it too.

When it’s finished blooming, you can choose to cut it back, which helps tidy it up for summer. Don’t cut all of it back though, if you’d like it to reseed, popping up in other places in your yard – it will make itself at home!

Phlox divaricata enjoying the spring sun before its shaded by the rose bush...

Phlox divaricata enjoying the spring sun before its shaded by the rose bush…

Wild blue phlox is a denizen of my garden that I welcome wherever it chooses to be. Favored conditions are woodland soil or in a cultivated garden, and filtered or morning sun is perfect for it. But I also have some in a hot, sunny bed, a spot where it receives shade in the hottest part of the year by a large rosé bush, retreating in the summer and letting the rose take center stage..

How could anyone not want such a sweet, versatile, native perennial wildflower?

Phlox divarcata is a happy companion with many woodland plants

Phlox divarcata is a happy companion with many woodland plants

 

**Companion plants to consider include:
Columbine species, including the native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis
Perennial ferns, including Southern maidenhair, Japanese painted, tassel, Korean rock and more
Hellebores (Lenten roses)
Solomon’s seal (variegated or green)
Epimedium –
Other wild flowers, including spigelia, (Indian pinks) asarum (ground cover gingers), rue anemone, bloodroot, celandine poppy, Virginia blue bells, Iris cristata

Pretty pots of woodland phlox are available now...

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Native Plants…Here Are Some Jewels For The Garden!

We’ve gotten in our first shipment of native perennial plants for those of you who’d like to add some of these beauties to your garden. The selection is usually a bit limited, so please come see us now if you’re interested in them.

jacob's ladder...sweet blue blooms will appear in spring...

jacob’s ladder…sweet blue blooms will appear in spring…

 

Blue woodland phlox will spread readily in a woodland garden

Blue woodland phlox will spread readily in a woodland garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plants in stock now include bloodroot, (Sanguinaria canadensis) which have the purest, whitest blooms in early spring…) blue woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) that will slowly spread where it’s happy…  jacob’s ladder, (Polemonium reptans)  Indian pinks, (Spigelia marilandica) that are actually red and yellow!  Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) which will brighten the garden with  bright yellow blooms…and southern maidenhair fern, which handles our heat in stride…(Adiantum capillaris)

Southern maidenhair fern adds a soft texture and light color to a landscape

Southern maidenhair fern adds a soft
texture and light color to a landscape

image

when the bloodroot appears
spring is not far off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above photo shows the bloodroot   just emerging…These are all in quart pots with the exception of the southern maidenhair fern, which is offered in gallon containers. We are so pleased this shipment is from just down the road in Wilsonville, Alabama.

You’ll notice as you walk in our door we have our own southern maidenhair fern growing in the greenhouse out of the asphalt – obviously some spores landed there and took a liking to that spot – so, sorry, it’s not for sale…of course, we’ll  continue to post as new arrivals come in, so stay tuned!

this southern maidenhair fern is growing in asphalt...

this southern maidenhair fern is growing in asphalt…