Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘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!

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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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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

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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….

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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!

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Arrangements – Happiness On A Rainy Day In The Greenhouse









Recently, on a rainy day, with extra baskets on our hands and plenty of pretty plants at our disposal, these arrangements were the happy result. Rainy days in the greenhouse are the best. When the wind blows and the poly whips across the roof like the sails on a ship, and then the rain starts…there’s nothing like it. That’s when it feels good to work in a greenhouse, the rain rat-tatting on the roof, sometimes so loud it’s hard to hear the phone ring…




But of course there is still work to be done – plants to be tended, orders to be filled, and customers braving the rain to be taken care of. But, between work, there is, shall we say, creative play…

imageAnd there are such pretty things to play with! This time of year, with spring in the air but not quite yet here – this is the time of hydrangeas, calla lilies and sweet alyssum –  the soft colors of Easter mingling and overlapping with the brightness of other, more exuberant blooms of gerbera daisies, ranunculus and the first of the geraniums. So much to work with! So we begin to gather flowers and foliage and perhaps  a few herbs to add their scent, color and texture to the mix.

imageThis post isn’t going to be about design rules, because quite frankly, we sometimes break them. (Maybe we’re just rebels at heart!) No, this is about what feels and looks right to you. And, perhaps it’s more about not being afraid of making a “mistake” – with arrangements, container plantings or your own garden.image


So, here are some of our gifts to you, a few creations on a rainy day in March…while the rain rat-tatts on the roof and the poly whips like the sails on a ship…

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Boxwood Tips From The Boxwood Doctor, Dave Bradford!

boxwoodThis is a portion of Bradford Horticulture’s newsletter. Dave Bradford is a former Birmingham area extension agent. His newsletter would be a good one to sign up for if you’d like timely information for our area! (Now between Oak Street Garden Shop  and the Boxwood Doctor, you should be covered!)

We have a good supply of boxwoods in now if you’re needing some for your landscape. Or, if you’d like us to order some of his boxwood fertilizer for your existing shrubs, let us know and we’ll be sure to get some for you.  We also have pinestraw rolls in stock if you need some to mulch your existing or newly planted boxwoods.


There are plenty of garden projects to do in March.  I talk about Boxwoods often.  Last year I sent out a list entitled “Seven Deadly Sins in Caring for Boxwoods” I’m not sure you can ‘sin’ against a plant. I revised and edited that list:

Seven Deadly Mistakes in Caring for Boxwoods

  1. Planting Boxwoods in the wrong location. Some Boxwood varieties will tolerate a little more sun and heat, but in our area, they all like a little afternoon shade if they can get it.
  1. Planting Boxwoods too deep. They should be planted slightly higher than they were grown in the Nursery and it’s critical that the soil is well drained.
  1. Overwatering Boxwoods. Maybe the most common mistake. Put your hand down into the soil. If it’s wet, cut back on the irrigation. If it’s dry, adjust the irrigation up. Find the right schedule for your soil. Drip Irrigation is a good way to water them.
  1. Applying too much mulch around Boxwoods. They should have about one inch of a good clean mulch. Pine straw is an excellent mulch. Deep mulch causes the Boxwoods to root out into the mulch and that’s not good.
  1. Not feeding and liming Boxwoods correctly. The only way to know what they need is to soil test. Boxwoods like a soil pH of 7.0, which is higher than what most shrubs like. Boxwoods respond well to good nutrition. We have formulated a fertilizer called Boxwood Special Care (BSC). Boxwoods love this stuff and over time they generally look much darker green and healthier.
  1. Poor pruning of Boxwoods. They look more natural when hand pruned. Shearing to prune is best for edging type Boxwoods. Learning to do this is as much an art as it is a science.
  1. Failure to provide good pest management on Boxwoods. Some Boxwoods look good with no pest management, but most of them look more healthy and ‘happy’ on a regular maintenance program. Check out the website to learn more about our Boxwood Program. This program is not a ‘magic bullet’, but Boxwoods on some type of a pest management program tend to look better than those that are not.

Have fun in your garden.


Bradford Horticulture LLC
2004 Madison Circle
Chelsea, Alabama 35043
205 706 3413