Category Archives: Uncategorized

We’re Here, and on YouTube Too!

Many of you might know by now that we’ve taken the dive into YouTube, with some help from Harry Long and his excellent marketing firm 81Shop. He’s enabled us to have quite a few videos out there for you to check out.YouTube Screenshot

We have tried to have a bit of everything, from the “Plant of the Week” to planting tips, to design ideas. We hope you’ll take a look and Subscribe!YouTube Screenshot

Here are a few screen shots from our channel. If you’re interested you can get there by clicking on the YouTube button on the home page here on our website. 

Thanks for watching!


By Kris Blevons

More Holiday Inspiration – Arrangements, Flowers and Greens – Part 2

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl...

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl, filled with rieger begonias, amaryllis and ferns…

Simply hydrangeas...

Simply hydrangeas…




Holiday Arrangement - Close-Up- Lady Slipper Orchi, Air Plants

Lady slipper orchid…

The greenhouse is literally overflowing with so many flowers we’ve had to move most of them onto the tables outside.




Holiday Arrangement

Traditional red poinsettias…

Holiday Arrangement -  Shooting Star Hydrangea,Amaryllis, Curly Willow

With curly willow, cinnamon sticks and cut greens…









Many of these holiday flowers – hydrangeas, amaryllis, paperwhites, azaleas, stephanotis, flowering jasmine, and cyclamen – prefer the cool temperatures.  It works out well, unless temperatures drop below freezing; then the nursery carts are loaded up and they’re moved back into the warmth of the greenhouse.

Phalaenopsis orchid in mercury glass with cut greens and berries...

Jamie added cut greens and berries to this phalaenopsis orchid in a Mercury glass container…

Orchids and air plants...

Orchids and air plants…









Holiday Arrangement - Amaryllis, Shooting Star Hydrangea, Fantail Willow

Amaryllis, hydrangea, jasmine…


Holiday Orchid Arrangement with Phalaenopsis Orchids and Jasmine

A gift of orchids and jasmine…

There it’s a riot of color, with orchids seemingly in every nook and cranny, trays of ferns and other foliage plants in abundance, and of course, poinsettias too.  It’s a crazy, slightly chaotic time of the year!





The two weeks prior to Christmas find us focused on projects big and small in the design area, and there’s not much time for anything else.

A tiny pot with cut greens...

A tiny pot with cut greens…




We’ll put plants in just about anything, including porcelain and glazed bowls, mercury glass containers, pots of every size and shape, jardinieres, wooden boxes, dough bowls, silver pieces and everything else imaginable. You can too!




Miniature Conifers – Just Right For Miniature Gardening and More

It has been quite some time since we’ve had dwarf shrubs and tiny pots of conifers available, and, with the rise in popularity of miniature and container gardening, I decided it was time to see what might be worth getting in for fall miniature gardening projects. Truthfully, these aren’t just for that purpose but can also be used in containers, and all of them are suitable for the garden too.Miniature Garden with Dwarf Evergreens

With this in mind I placed the order with a very reputable grower in the Northwest. And, even though they’re from quite a distance both in miles and climate, I’m hoping these selections will work here as well. I worked with the salesperson to find the best possible plants for the Southeast, and these cultivars are interesting and not too expensive if you’d like to give some a try.

The day finally came when they arrived, and each one was unpacked and watered, then placed in flats and set into the nursery. I found time the other day to put together a couple of miniature gardens as examples of what can be done with these diminutive offerings. The small evergreens really add a sense of reality to a miniature landscape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido';Cotoneaster microphyllus 'Thymifolius'; Ilex cremate 'JerseyJewel'; Juniperus communis 'Miniature'; Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Thowell'Here also are pictures of a couple of groupings I pulled together to give you an idea of what is available as of October, 2014. In the first picture, left-right and front-back, they’re as follows:

Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’: This tiny dwarf Chinese or lacebark elm should only grow 1″-2″ a year. It’s much sought after for bonsai, trough, and miniature gardens, and its bark exfoliates with age. It may grow to just 1′ tall over a period of 5 years.

Cotoneaster microphyllus ‘Thymifolius’: Thyme leaf cotoneaster. This tiny version has red berries just like its larger relative, and it’s branches can be trained upright to form “trees” in a miniature garden.

Ilex crenata  ‘Jersey Jewel’:  A holly with unique structural form, this one is also good for rock gardens.

Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’: A slow-growing ( 2″-4″ a year) bluish-green juniper with a narrow growth habit. Also good for rock gardens in part shade. Mature height is 3′  and 1′ wide.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Thoweii’: A narrow upright specimen, it will grow roughly 3″-6″ a year. It matures into a fairly narrow tree. Errant branches can be pruned to maintain the spire-like shape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R; Juniperus pfitzeriana 'Golden Joy'; Juniperus horizontalis'GoldStrike'; Taxus cuspidata' 'NanaAurescens'; Chmaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea'; Juniperus communist 'Gold Cone'; Cryptomeria japonica 'Twinkle Toes'Interesting choices, right? Here’s another grouping, again L-R and front-back:

Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Golden Joy’: This juniper has a spreading habit and will get larger, increasing in size by 3″-6″ a year. Still, an interesting choice for a container until it outgrows it; then find a place for it in the landscape.

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Gold Strike’: Vivid yellow foliage on this spreading juniper makes quite a statement in a container. This one will need protection from our hot summer sun; give it some shade, especially in the afternoon. It’s a slow-growing, spreading dwarf juniper with a mature height of roughly 6″ and ultimate width 6″ in 10 years.

Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’: The new growth of this dwarf spreading (3′-4′) selection of Japanese yew is golden, hence the name ‘Aurescens’. Growth rate is estimated at 3″-6″ a year and ultimate height is 2′. Best grown in part shade, where foliage color will be a bit more chartreuse. Please be sure you have really good drainage if you try to grow this yew since it won’t tolerate wet, poorly drained soil.

Left: Juniperis communis 'Miniature' Right: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido'

Left: Juniperis communis ‘Miniature’ Right: Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’: New growth on this golden dwarf Hinoki  cypress  is a vibrant yellow, and the growth rate is 3″-5″ a year. It’s a beautiful specimen for containers or the small garden, rarely growing larger than 3′, with an upright, irregular, pyramidal habit.

Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’: Eventually this juniper will reach a height of 3′-5′ but has a narrow growth habit of only 1′-2′.

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Twinkle Toes’: A selection with very tight, congested foliage, it has a conical shape and irregular habit. An interesting specimen at its mature height of 2′-3′.

I don’t know about you but more than a few of these are now on my “want to grow” list, whether it’s in a miniature garden,  a pretty pot, or placed in a special spot in the landscape. Best of all, the pots are really small, so there’s no major hole digging to do!

We will have these in stock until they sell out; so, if you’re interested, come in and take a look soon. If you miss out on this selection, next spring will be your next chance!

Neonicotinoides and What You Should Know…

imageNeonicotinoides…a long word and one you may not be familiar with. However, it describes a class of chemicals found in many of the garden products you may have in your garage right now.  We want to give you more information about this because, even though they’ve been approved by the EPA, independent studies have found links between these systemic insecticides and harm to honeybees, with  research suggesting these chemicals may make honeybees more susceptible to parasites and pathogens. These chemicals work systemically, that is, being taken up through the roots of various plants you may be spraying or applying granular products to. We hope the links below will be helpful in your understanding of this issue.

Look HERE for an interesting discussion on this topic from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

Look HERE for a link to the latest study on this from Harvard University.




It’s Time To Enter The Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Metal PumpkinsHalloween will be here soon, and Saturday, October 26th, we’re having a Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Entry is free – just stop in the shop and  pick up an entry form  October 1st – October 21st. Pumpkins for carving and pie pumpkins for painting will be sold at a discount, and materials for painting and carving will be provided.

Oak Street Garden Shop

Time:   9am – 5:30pm
Carving/Painting:  9am-4pm
Judging/Awards:  4pm – 4:30pm
Lighting:  5pm – Contestants take their pumpkins home at 5:30.

There Will Be A Winner And A Second Place Finisher In 4 Age Groups:

Painted Pumpkins: Children (Parents, please accompany and supervise  your child.)
Group 1: Ages 5-8
Group 2: Ages 9-11

Carved Pumpkins:
Group 1:   Middle School – Ages 12-14
Group 2:   High School –    Ages 15-Adult

We hope many of you will want to join us in the fun!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


A Living Wreath With Plenty Of Wow!

living wreath...

living wreath…

This living wreath Jamie planted the other day has plenty of WOW factor, doesn’t it? She incorporated a very cool bromeliad plant, Cryptanthus ‘Black Mystic’,  and an annual trailing foliage plant used a lot in sunny containers – silver dichondra. The round, silvery foliage of the dichondra “echoes” the lighter markings in the cryptanthus beautifully. A third plant in this mix is streptocarpella, an open growing plant with airy blue flowers.

The wreath is made using a two piece metal form that is lined with green sheet moss and filled with a good, light potting soil. We use Fafard – a good soilless mix containing NO fertilizer or moisture holding products. Once all the plants are inserted into holes poked through the moss, additional moss is used to firm the plants in and the wreath is watered well to settle the soil. It’s been hanging in our bright greenhouse for a few weeks now and is settling in nicely!

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls...

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls…

The cryptanthus also plays well with succulents – the foliage form is such a nice contrast with the roundness of other plants. You can see an example of this in the photo here…even there it has a bit of that “wow” factor!

We’ve gotten in more of these wreath forms if you’d like to try your hand at them, and we have more of the cryptanthus if you’d like one for yourself. They are really eye catching and so easy to care for.  We’ll show you in more detail how to make one of these wreaths in a later post – or, if you’re in the area, let us know if you’d like us to make one for you!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Perennial To-Dos For A Great Garden…

Perennial chrysanthemums benefit from being cut back once or twice or they tend to get lanky with fewer blooms.

Perennial chrysanthemums benefit from being cut back once or twice or they tend to get lanky with fewer blooms.

May and June are key months to keep an eye on your perennials as they’re coming up and (hopefully) growing like gangbusters.  A few tasks to do now involve some summer perennials and many of your late blooming fall plants. Of course, the  following tips are not something you have to do, but are only suggestions gleaned from my gardening experiences through the years. Remember, gardening is not one-size-fits-all!

Do you have summer phlox in your garden? Now is the perfect time to selectively thin your clumps, especially if they’re large. (If they are outgrowing their space or haven’t been blooming well, divide them this fall.)

To thin your summer phlox, simply reach into the clump and pull out the smallest stems. This effectively allows better air circulation – which in turn leads to a healthier clump less prone to mildew problems. At the same time, cut back by half some of the remaining stems. A longer bloom period will be the result…

Perennial sunflower - just about to be cut back in late May.

Perennial sunflower – just about to be cut back in late May.

Asters in front of Texas sage in late May after their first cut-back. Hedge shears do a great job quickly!

Asters in front of Texas sage in late May after their first cut-back. Hedge shears do a great job quickly!








For more blooms on your late blooming perennial sunflowers, salvias, asters, Joe pye weed and chrysanthemums,  now is the perfect time to get in the garden and cut them back – if you have large areas, use a hedge clipper and cut them back by half. (Hedge clippers – the old fashioned manual ones –  work best on asters and perennial mums.) When you cut a stem, it will respond by creating two stems, so you’ll have a fuller, shorter plant with more flowers later.

Perennial sunflower getting cut back. It will create two stems here - more blooms!

Perennial sunflower getting cut back. It will create two stems here – more blooms!

Now you don’t have to do this, (I’m not the garden police!) and, if you don’t, they’ll just be taller and bloom earlier in the fall, growing to their full height in your garden.
I do like cutting mine back now though. I also make a second cut-back on half the clumps about a month later. This effectively “staggers” the bloom time – those not cut back this second time will bloom first, and be a bit taller, and the plants that are cut back the second time will bloom a bit later.  More blooms, longer! It’s a win win!

Late blooming Salvia madrensis - forsythia sage...cut back at least 3 times during the growing season.

Late blooming Salvia madrensis – forsythia sage…cut back at least 3 times during the growing season. Shown here just beginning to bloom – this will turn into a mass of yellow salvia blooms…

Many southern gardeners say “Don’t cut late blooming perennials back after July 4th”.

Rule breaker that I am, I have cut perennial mums, asters and sunflowers back as late as mid-July and had no ill-effect. But I like extending my blooms well into fall – it’s one of my favorite times of the year!

Perennial sunflower - 'Marc's Apollo' beginning to bloom in mid-September...

Perennial sunflower – ‘Marc’s Apollo’ beginning to bloom in mid-September…




Above all, enjoy your garden – after all, that’s what you planted it for, right? Hopefully by following these tips you’ll be able to enjoy it even longer!

***One of my absolute favorite reference books on perennial gardening is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by my friend, Tracy DiSabato-Aust. If you enjoy perennials and gardening, this is a must have!!!


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


A Real (And Really Big!) Clam Shell Planted With Succulents..

imageimageWOW! A customer brought this in the other day and I was the lucky one that got to plant it up! This clam shell is the real deal…a beautiful, large piece of natural art that had found its way to us.

Before it was even planted, I was bringing customers back to the work area to take a look at how amazing this natural container was.

Here it is, planted with various succulents, all sharing quarters quite comfortably in its large confines…flapjack kalanchoes, sedums, hen and chicks, sedeveria, and rhypsalis all create a tapestry of color and texture that compliment the white, smooth inside and rough outer portion of this very large clam shell.image


We’ve seen many replicas of clam shells lately; in fact, we’d been discussing this for quite a few weeks now – the proliferation of the clam!

This real one, unexpected and  quite wonderful, really was the icing on the cake. It’s also the type of thing that makes this job so much fun!

If you like succulents, take a look at this post for more inspiration – they are incredibly diverse plants to work with!


A Hedge of Hollies and Wax Myrtles…A Peek At Billy’s New Yard

imageSome of you may know that the owner of Oak Street Garden Shop, Billy Angell,  recently moved into a new house on Euclid Avenue  – quite visible to all of you who live in the area! Coming from his old house at which he’d created an extensive woodland, cutting, vegetable, and herb garden was quite a drastic change. This yard is nice and flat, but that was pretty much it. Now, if you know Billy, you also know that a nice, flat yard is one thing, but he needs a few plants out there too!

Billy's newly planted holly hedge

Billy’s newly planted holly hedge

He’s only been there a year or so, but already there are shrubs going in around the perimeter of his corner lot. His vision is to create a mixed border of hollies, magnolias, viburnum and wax myrtle for the outer edge, to screen the road and the back of his property His plans for the rest of the yard will unfold for all to see…and we’ll be watching!

Here are some pictures of the beginning of his new landscape: He invites any of you to come by and take a look at the shrubs he’s planted so far, many of which we have in stock now. These include:

Southern Wax Myrtle: This is a beautiful screening shrub. He’s using this on the back and side of his property to compliment the neighbor’s already large wax myrtle hedge. The only warning about wax myrtle is that the stems are brittle and they will break if we get heavy, wet snow (Rare, but it could happen!) You also need to be aware that they do sucker, so if you don’t want them to spread, remove suckers as they form.

The neighbors established wax myrtles show the size Billy's will get...

The neighbors established wax myrtles show the size Billy’s will get…

Hollies: These are large, and will grow 20′-30′, effectively screening his property from the busy road. They are drought resistant once established and are a haven for wildlife, creating nesting sites,  as well as food for birds.

Three of Billy’s favorite hollies planted along the streetside are ‘Nellie Stevens’, Emily Bruner’, and ‘Mary Nell’. These are all hybrids created by crossing two old hollies, Ilex cornuta and Ilex latifolia. The results are these excellent plants, bred for hardiness, berry production and growth habit.

‘Foster’ holly, is another that Billy has chosen for his landscape. This is another old holly developed by Mr. Foster, a plant breeder for Fraser’s Nursery of Birmingham many year’s ago.

'Nellie Stevens' and 'WillowLeaf' hollies

‘Nellie Stevens’ hollies

All of these hollies (and more), are available now for you to try in your own landscape…Billy invites you to come by and look at his if you’d like to see what they look like as they grow.

He pointed out that we also have one ‘Miss Patricia’ holly left in stock at this time – he has used it in the border but commented that it would be beautiful in a large container.





Perennials – Plant Some Now!

Mexican sage, Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara'

First things first…what is a perennial? Well, a perennial is any plant that will be with you for the long haul – some will disappear completely during the coldest months of the year and reappear with the first warm days of late winter.

Herbaceous perennials have a specific bloom period when they offer their largest show, then continue to grace the garden with their foliage the rest of the season. Or, their foliage will be the show through the summer and their bloom time will be in fall.

French hollyhock - Malva sylvestris

French hollyhock – Malva sylvestris

However and whenever they bloom though, please understand that for the majority of their life you’ll be looking at the shape, texture and color of their leaves. When you’re deciding where to place them this is one of the most important things to remember!

Perennial salvia leans over a carpet of thrift (Creeping phlox) in this border...

Perennial salvia leans over a carpet of thrift (Creeping phlox) in this border…

Used well, perennials are a wonderful addition to a landscape filled with trees, shrubs and annuals. They add their period of bloom and, when grown well, should get larger with each season. (We’ll talk about dividing your perennials in another post.)

However, perennials are not no-maintenance plants. Some, like Japanese aster, thread leaf coreopsis, catmint and dianthus need shearing back after bloom. Others, such as daisies, coneflowers and rudbeckias appreciate general dead-heading (Cutting off individual blooms.) to keep them blooming longer. When they’ve finally played out the entire stems need to be cut to the ground. Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, benefits from deadheading blooms if you don’t want it to reseed. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on it, so deadhead below the bloom only.

Still others benefit from being cut back by at least half early in the season to control height, or this can be done with half the plant to create a staggered bloom time. Many late season bloomers fall into this category. These include many of the tall salvias, perennial sunflowers, tall rudbeckias, pink muhly grass and joe pye weed (Eupatorium). These late blooming perennials are quite beautiful in combination with perennials grasses.

Summer phlox is one that benefits from up to half its stems being cut back early in the season. This promotes good air circulation, which in turn helps to prevent mildew problems on the leaves.

when the ligularia on the left and the iris aren't in bloom, it's the foliage contrasts that will capture your attention...

when the ligularia on the left and the iris aren’t in bloom, it’s the foliage contrasts that will capture your attention…




None of these tasks is difficult, and, if they’re done a little at a time, your plants will look well tended and cared for.

If you’re in the Birmingham area, please stop in and take a look at the perennials in stock now. The selection of plants is excellent!

Some favorites for part sun to full sun:

Iris – Japanese, Siberian, Louisiana, German  and our native copper iris
Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’, and many others
Summer Phlox – Phlox paniculata  ‘David’, ‘Franz Schubert’,  Common Purple (mildew resistant)
Daisies – Leucanthemum (formerly Chrysanthemum sp.) ‘Becky’ daisy
Japanese aster – Kalimeris pinnatifida
Day lilies (many) – Hemerocallis                                                                                                     Rudbeckia fulgida – Black-Eyed-Susan  Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’
Echinacea  – purple coneflowers ‘Magnus’, ‘Pow Wow White’, many others
Salvias – Salvia leucantha – Mexican sage, ‘Indigo Spires’, ‘Mystic Spires’                                          Dianthus – many…the old standby is ‘Bath’s Pink’                                                                            Creeping phlox or thrift – Phlox subulata

Favorites for light shade to full shade:
Hostas (of course!)
Woodland phlox  –  Phlox divaricata
Solomon’s seal (green or variegated) – Polygonatum sp.
Japanese painted fern -Athyrium nipponicum
Autumn fern – Dryopteris erythrosoris
Tassel fern – polystichum polyblepharum
Indian pinks – Spigelia marilandica
Aspidistra – cast iron plant
Carex (many)

Don’t let the latin names intimidate you!  They are just the best way of knowing for sure what you are asking for. Common names, though easy to remember,  can bring on even more confusion when there’s more than one plant with the same name…at any rate, try a few perennials in your garden soon – you’ll be hooked in no time!



This is just the beginning of the perennials that are out there. Ask us for advice if you need help choosing – we’re happy to advise you on the right choices for your garden. And, if you’re adventurous, try one even if you’re not sure if your spot is exactly right – plants don’t always follow the rules!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Annuals And Perennials – What’s The Difference?

Annual…Perennial…It’s okay if you can’t seem to remember which is which – that’s our job! So, for all of you that are perennially (haha) confused and would like to finally get it straight, here’s the scoop:

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 3.54.53 PM

annual bedding plants…

Annual: one of those go-to plants that you put out each year – for example in your planters – (annually) a geranium, or begonia perhaps. Annuals give you a lot of bang for your buck in one fell swoop – but, when they’ve exhausted their blooming period, they are finished, kaput, done. This also applies to fall plants such as pansies and violas. We call them cool season annuals because their blooming period – (before they’re finished, kaput, done,) is the cool season, or winter. Cool season annuals just can’t take the heat, so when they’ve given it up we plant out summer annuals – think zinnias, begonias, caladiums, coleus, fan flower…all the pretty plants we buy in our frenzy of spring fever.

So, maybe that helps a little bit? Put another way, you plant annuals in the Birmingham area annually (each year – spring and fall.) Some annuals for spring/summer planting become available early in the spring and others show up a bit later and really need the heat turned up to do well. Annuals also provide lasting color – useful for the long summer season…typically, annuals in the Birmingham area begin to play out and look “tired” by mid-August though, even with the best of care. August is one tough month!



Caladium 'Aaron', a great choice for sun or shade

Caladium ‘Aaron’, a great choice for sun or shade

Here’s a small sampling of some great annuals for Birmingham and surrounding areas – this is just the tip of the iceburg, however. For more inspiration, check out our Facebook page too, or better yet, stop in!

Dragonwing begonias – sun or shade, with adequate water they get huge!
Caladiums – traditional shade plant, now many selections are available for sun too. Pretty mixed with asparagus or other ferns, begonias, Sunpatiens, torenia or any other flowering annual that compliments the color of their leaves. They’ll do best if you wait to plant in garden beds until the ground is warm, usually by May.

Coleus – beautiful colors! Another that used to play only in the shade, now many varieties are used in full sun plantings. Very useful as an accent foliage in beds or containers, they can get very large! It’s quite easy to keep them at whatever size you’d like, though. Simply pinch when young or cut them back if they get out of hand! Check the tag for sun tolerance.

Gomphrena – This one may not be familiar to you. A heat lover, it has globes of purple, orange or sometimes pink flowers, and is long lasting and tough. It never looks like much in a pot so you’ll have to trust us on this one – but if you do, you won’t be sorry …and they’ll still look good in August!

narrow leaf zinnias come in white, yellow, orange and a mix...

narrow leaf zinnias come in white, yellow, orange and a mix…

Gomphrena & narrow leaf zinnias in a hot, sunny bed

Gomphrena & narrow leaf zinnias in a hot, sunny bed










Zinnias – There are many varieties of zinnia from the tiny flowered narrow leaf zinnia to the more open Profusion and Zahara zinnias, and they all love the heat. Don’t be afraid to cut them back if they become rangy mid-summer. If you do, they’ll also still be looking good in the latter part of the season.

Vinca – this one is the absolute easiest, most fool proof annual to use for a lot of color in hot spots. Plant them and don’t baby them with too much water. They’ll reward you with loads of pretty blooms in clear colors. There’s also a trailing vinca as well. As with caladiums, don’t plant too early in the ground.

Sunpatiens and New Guinea impatiens – these are the types of impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew which is affecting bedding plant and double impatiens in our area. They are only available in larger pots, but you don’t need as many of them since you can space them further apart in your beds. In containers they make quite a show too!

white pentas still looking fresh in this late summer photo

white pentas still looking fresh in this late summer photo

Pentas – the butterflies love pentas and these come in so many colors. Bright red, white, light and dark pink, lilac – there’s a color for everyone! To maintain pentas, you need only keep them deadheaded – keeping the old blooms cut off. If you haven’t tried these, you’re in for a treat!

Lantana – The old stand-by for sun and heat. There are many good selections of lantana now and growth habit varies – some will get enormous, (tall and wide) while others will stay more mounding and compact, so always check the tag for size. Particularly nice for planters are the trailing varieties which come in bright yellow, white and lavender. They take a while to take off, but once the heat sets in they spread like crazy!

heat loving lantana...

heat loving lantana…







This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia...

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia…


Angelonia – Sometimes called summer snapdragon because of the shape of the bloom, angelonia is a good choice to add some height in beds and containers. Strongly upright in growth, but loose enough to not look stiff, it’s a welcome addition to our summer plant palette. Hybridizers have been working overtime improving color, bloom size and heat tolerance, making these beauties one of the newer go-to plants for summer plantings, adding shades of purple, pink, lilac and white.

Persian shield...

Persian shield…







Strobilanthes/Persian Shield – This foliage plant is an excellent annual, like the caladium, that is useful as a foliage accent in plantings. In the ground or in pots, it is gorgeous!

Rex begonias...

Rex begonias…

Rex Begonias – Another great foliage accent in many leaf patterns. Good for shade planters primarily. Technically a houseplant, but I couldn’t resist putting another foliage option in this post!

We’ll discuss perennials (they’re the ones that come back if they’re in their happy spot.) in a future post. Meantime, maybe there are one or two annuals on this list you haven’t tried – maybe it’s time!




– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



‘Kent’s Beauty’ Ornamental Oregano – It’s Here!

'Kent's Beauty' oregano adds a trailing element to this orchid arrangment from last December...

‘Kent’s Beauty’ oregano adds a trailing element to this orchid arrangment from last December…

Remember the pretty gray/silver leaved plant with the pretty pink blooms we had at Christmas and also into January?

The silver/gray foliage adds a nice accent to container plantings...

The silver/gray foliage adds a nice accent to container plantings…








It was an ornamental oregano called ‘Kent’s Beauty. Forced into bloom for the holidays by growers on the west coast, we have it now from local growers – admittedly much smaller and not blooming – yet!

Here it is, trailing in this planter in full sun...

Here it is, trailing in this planter in full sun…

If you plant this little one now though, you’ll have the same pink blooms this summer on a trailing plant that works well in containers and window boxes.

This oregano plays well with other sun loving plants, including zinnias, sun coleus (it looks especially nice with a contrasting dark leaf) pentas, angelonia, gomphrena and of course, other herbs.

It might be smaller, but it's the same plant to put in your pots now!

It might be smaller, but it’s the same plant to put in your pots now!

Always use light potting soil (we carry Fafards and plant all of our containers with it) water regularly especially during the hottest months, and cut it back when it has bloomed itself out – you’ll still have the pretty foliage.



Just be sure to remember the name because your friends will ask!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


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...

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


The Market – Our Red Table Produce Is Back!

Not quite Alabama tomatoes (it's only April!)

Not quite Alabama tomatoes (it’s only April!)

The market is beginning to happen again! Dená has begun to check out the availablility of fresh vegetables.  So…the  red market tables out front have had some early Florida tomatoes (It’s not quite time for the Alabama ‘maters yet.) that are really quite tasty. Strawberries have looked pretty and been flavorful too – it’s the perfect time for those beauties!

Fresh, organic eggs!

Fresh, organic eggs – so delicious…








Shannon Blount has been keeping us stocked with her fresh, organic, and very delicious eggs. She even has chickens named after Billy (Well, that one is a rooster…), Kris, Jamie and Pinkie – one Saturday she’ll bring them by for a visit!




The very prettiest lately have been the baby Vidalia onions. Dená found a yummy sounding recipe you might want to try – it’s really easy.


Vidalia Onion Pie


3 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (9-inch) prebaked deep-dish pie shell
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.

Put the pie pan on a sheet pan. Line the bottom of pie crust with the onions.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and the flour together to combine. Add the milk, sour cream and salt. Mix well and pour over the onions. Garnish with the bacon and bake until firm in the center, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Read more at:
Vidalia Onion Pie

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


A Look At The Nursery – Come See!

We’re at the beginning of the new planting season and thought it would be nice to give you a glimpse of the nursery…for those of you familiar with us, you know things come in and go out just as fast – if you see something you think you could use, it’s really best to make up your mind quickly! Of course, we’re always happy to take your name and number and call you if we’re out of something that can be reordered.

Beautiful pots of 'Tuscan Blue' rosemary...

Beautiful pots of ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary…


The rosemary has been beautiful – this is one herb that does so well for us here in the Birmingham area…it’s happy in the ground and in containers.  It’s just a big,  beautiful, edible shrub!  Plant it in full to at least half day of sun and give it excellent drainage and you’ll have a winner on your hands.

The tables under the lath house are filling up with bedding plants...

The tables under the lath house are filling up with bedding plants…


We’re beginning to get serious about stocking bedding plants. While our last average frost date here is mid-April, we are pretty much there, though many of you are just now seeing the pansies at their peak. Enjoy them, and when they’ve given out in the heat, replant with your summer bedding plants. Container plantings are usually the first to suffer as a result of higher temperatures, especially if they dry out at all. We’re beginning to get in everything you’ll need for pots, hayracks and more…shipments come in just about every day but Monday!

The nursery is divided into distinct areas. All of the shrubs are against the fence on the inside of the lath house  and on the end toward the alley.

Annuals and tropicals are out front on the tables and steps, and also in the middle area under the lath house on tables.

Perennials and groundcovers are against the greenhouse on tables and on the ground.

Herbs and veggies are on the end toward the street and side garden. The fresh fruits and vegetables are on the red tables as you enter toward the greenhouse door…and the U-Pot-It bench is against the greenhouse as well. We know it can get very overwhelming to come in and see so much in a relatively small area, so hope this helps…

Happy Spring!

What A Great Coreopsis!!! ‘Full Moon’ Is One You Should Try…

A mainstay of perennial gardens, many of us have a love/hate relationship with coreopsis. Other than the native species, many seem to be difficult for folks here. The taller, earlier ones need constant deadheading to look their best,  and the smaller flowered, wispy foliaged (verticillatas)  need cutting back as soon as their initial bloom is done to keep them looking neat.

Coreopsis 'Full Moon'

Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’

A couple of years ago I bought this coreopsis for the shop, hoping the flower color and the plant would work well here. I’m happy to say it  has been an absolutely wonderful addition to my hot, sunny front bed, consorting quite happily with roses, daylilies, Mexican sage, rosemary, yucca (Yes, it’s very hot!), gaura, green santolina, mecardonia, Mexican heather, and various other heat loving plants.


With annual red gomphrena, ornamental blueberry,  yucca, and hypericum shrubs -  Kris' front bed

With annual red gomphrena, ornamental blueberry,
yucca, and hypericum shrubs – Kris’ front bed

In fact, I sent pictures of it in various stages through the summer to one of my local growers, and, with each picture, a note saying, “Please grow this so I can pass it along to other Birmingham gardeners!” Well, I’m very happy to say she did, and we have Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ available from our local wholesaler  right down the road in Alabaster!

Coreopsis 'Full Moon' in Kris' front bed with annual purple angelonia

Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ in Kris’ front bed with annual purple angelonia



I honestly can say this Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ bloomed in my garden from June through the hottest part of summer and only started to wane in August – an unbelievable bloom time for a perennial. The color is a soft, buttery yellow like ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis, but the foliage is more substantial and the flowers themselves are much larger.These are available now if you’d like to try one or more!

Coreopsis 'Full Moon' is a winner!

Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ is a winner!









Tip:  A great way to get even longer bloom from a perennial like this is to cut it back by half early in the season, and even better is to cut half of your plants back by half. That way the stems that haven’t been cut back bloom first. Those you cut back will bloom a bit later, thus extending your bloom period. Look at this post for more information on this technique – happy gardening!




More Cork Bark Planter Inspiration – We’re Having Fun!



The last post on these cork bark pieces was an inspirational hit for many of you, and, since we’re having so much fun with them, I wanted to share some more photos. We’ve reordered them a couple of times because they’ve become so popular. And what fun to plant!!


The first post  focused on succulents, herbs and air plants – perfect for hot dry spots or areas that are hard to tend. The ones shown here are more woodsy in feel, very much in keeping with the bark material.

imageThe tall one that Jamie planted utilizes houseplants which work very well in shaded areas through the summer, and some perennials. This piece will take filtered sun and clipping of the houseplants to maintain the balance of the planting. A pot was inserted in the bottom, planted, and then soil filled to the top, filling the opening all the way up to create a cool vertical piece.

imageIn the next planting, I took 3 of the flatter, rounded pieces and actually “stacked” them at angles, creating planting pockets and  different levels and an overall shape I was pleased with.  Next, perennials, including tassel ferns, ‘Metallica’  and ‘Burgundy Glow’ ajuga, golden and peacock selaginellas, Scotch moss and Carex ‘Evergold’, were added,  creating sweeps of color and wispy trailers over the edges. An added bonus is that all of these plants are perennial and can be used in your landscape as they outgrow the container.

imageBoth of these have been lined before planting but will drain over the edges in the case of the stacked pieces and down through the bottom of the planting in the tall piece. We picture them in areas of restful shade, adding their green presence to  woodland surroundings…We hope you enjoy our creations as much as we enjoyed making them!




More Select Shrubs And Vines Available Now!

On a recent walk through the nursery in the last post, we highlighted leucothoe, oak leaf hydrangeas, Osmanthus fragrans, the sweet tea olive,  and Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’.

Burkwood viburnum

Burkwood viburnum

Viburnum burkwoodii blooms smell heavenly!

Viburnum burkwoodii blooms smell heavenly!

We continue our tour of durable southern shrubs and vines with Viburnum burkwoodii, Burkwood viburnum. This is an early blooming deciduous (losing its leaves in the winter) shrub. It begins to bloom in March, with pink buds opening to extremely fragrant, medium size blooms with a fairly open form. Pruning may be done after bloom to open it up or control its 8′-10′ size.

Virburnum opulus - snowball viburnum

Virburnum macrocephalum – snowball viburnum

snowball viburnum blooms start out lime green, then turn white

snowball viburnum blooms start out lime green, then turn white










Another viburnum, Viburnum macrocephalum,  or Snowball Viburnum, is often commented on when it’s in full bloom in the Birmingham area. Its blooms really do look like big snowballs (some also mistake them for hydrangea blooms, but this shrub blooms much earlier.) The buds, when forming, are a beautiful green. They mature to white, unscented blooms, but impressive nonetheless! This deciduous shrub will grow to 20′ with a rounded shape, but can also be pruned to create a tree form as well.

There are countless spiraeas that begin to leaf out in early spring and have many tiny blooms along arching stems – Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ has beautiful golden leaves too, (Ogon means yellow.) This is a lovely 3′-5′ shrub that will do well in a sunny spot.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’


Fragrant, yellow blooms cover the native
Carolina jasmine in the spring








A native vine in plentiful supply now is Gelsemium sempervirens, Carolina jessamine. This evergreen vine has fragrant, bright yellow blooms usually beginning in March. It is a twining vine, so you will need to give it a trellis to climb on (it’s quite useful for hiding ugly chain link fencing.) Cut it back after it blooms if you need to control growth.

In a future post we’ll talk about the varieties of hollies available – and post pictures of some hollies and other shrubs that  owner Billy Angell is planting in his new landscape….

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Select Shrubs To Plant Now!



Here are a few highlights from a walk through the nursery to showcase some favorite southern shrubs, though these are just a few of many!

Tough and durable, we start with a shade garden stalwart, leucothoe, a wonderful evergreen screening plant that reaches 8′-10′. Cut stems are long lasting in flower arrangements, and it’s utilized by Birmingham florists throughout the year, culminating in gorgeous additions to holiday arrangements. The long arching stems are quite graceful, and some companions include azaleas, pieris, mountain laurel and hydrangeas, just to name a few.

Oak leaf hydrangea lights up a woodland path...

Oak leaf hydrangea lights up a woodland path…



If you live in Birmingham and have an area in your landscape with some afternoon shade (though they tolerate sun with adequate water) you really should have an oak leaf hydrangea or many! With their dramatic, oak leaf shaped leaves, white blossoms fading to pink, and gorgeous red fall foliage color, they add year round interest – not to mention beautiful winter bark and form. A must have! Or, you might prefer the ‘Nikko Blue’ french hydrangeas? We have those too!

Osmanthus fragrans, sweet tea olive

Osmanthus fragrans, sweet tea olive


Sweet tea olive, Osmanthus fragrans, has a bloom you might miss while walking through the garden, but you won’t miss their fragrance! A broad leaf evergreen growing 8′-10′ (sometimes taller) these are best situated where their unbelievable fragrance can be enjoyed – near your home, which also will offer cold protection, and in a spot that offers some sun. Enjoy their blooms fall, winter and spring and sporadically through the summer.

Osmanthus 'Goshiki' is useful as a cut stem in holiday arrangements....

Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is useful as a cut stem in holiday arrangements….

Another Osmanthus we have now  is the yellow variagated false holly, ‘Goshiki’. This is one tough plant – useful for those hot spots in the yard where you’d like an evergreen shrub that grows to roughly 6′ and almost as wide. This is another that is beautiful used as a cut specimen in floral arrangements any time of the year. It’s very prickly though! (Hence the name, false holly…)

Osmanthus 'Goshiki' this is a tough shrub!

Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ this is a tough shrub!









In addition to those listed above, we have a very good selection of hollies and gardenias in stock. Take a walk down to the end of the nursery near the pinestraw and you’ll see the selection. Have a question about them? Billy loves hollies and is very well versed on them – he’d love to help you!

We’ll continue our tour of tough shrubs and vines in our next post..meanwhile, take a look through your landscape – maybe you could you use one of these southern gems too!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone