7 Sun-loving Perennials for a Pollinator Garden

A pollinator garden uses specific plants to draw pollinators-like bees, wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds to a specific area.

My 7 favorites for full sun beauty, and pollinator draw in my garden are:

1. Echinacea

This simple Southeastern native Purple Coneflower is one of my all time faves. It keeps the bees very happy, and a smile on my face all summer.

Bee & Echinacea

Pollinator planting is especially useful for me because I also grow vegetables in my raised beds, and the nearby pollinator garden helps draw more pollinators to my veggie blooms-therefore increasing my yields! I also try to pick plants that have beautiful blooms, or are Georgia native plants, or both.

2. Buddleia

Butterfly Bush-not to be confused with Butterfly Weed a native plant, is not a native plant & some people are very against the use of this plant at all. But I think one is ok, as long as you mix them with other native perennials the pollinators can also enjoy.

This variety, ‘Buzz Magenta’ is a dwarf, compact variety that doesn’t take over your whole yard, and the butterflies love it.

3. Agastache

One of my favorite new herbs, and therefore found all over my garden is the deer proof wonder Anise Hyssop. Delightful, long blooming, anise scented leaves, and pollinators all year make this a superstar favorite.

4. Lantana

‘Sonset’ Lantana oozes summer heat & the colors cant be beat. I bought three of these native, gorgeous, drought tolerant, pollinator magnets while working at Cofer’s last year, and they are one of my favorite plants, ever.

There are a very small lantana-unlike that ‘Miss Huff’ showoff. These are 3-4 feet max and stay smaller if keep minimally pruned. Their flower color changes throughout the day, from emerging morning yellow, to evening petals featuring more orange and supposedly pink hues, but I’ve never seen pink on mine just orange and yellow?

5. Gallardia

Another beautiful US native plant. These blooming beauties are very charming, and bloom profusely all season, especially if deadheaded from time to time.

6. Goldsturm Rudbekia

This Goldsturm variety is spectacular. It is blooms everywhere. I am impressed with its growth and spread in just one year. A beautiful plant that needs little maintenance and will fill an area with light and pollinators.

7. Abelia

Finishing off this pollinator plant list is one of my few shrubs that is a huge pollinator draw. This ‘Edward Goucher’ pink blooming Abelia variety is always humming with bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and others all season long, from first blooms in May until chilly fall nights.

E. Goucher Abelia, Echinacea Purpurea, Blue Eyed Grass, Nelly Moser Clematis, Peppermint, Gallardia

With a delicious honeysuckle smell (same family), it makes sense how much activity happens here. This one over is 8 feet tall, but newer varieties are much smaller and are more compact like ‘Kaleidoscope’. Most other varieties are white blooming.

Check out this fantastic resource from USDA US Forest Services web publication.

“Gardening for Pollinators”

Happy Gardening!

Ga Native: Woodland Sunflower

Now, for a touch of summer sunshine to warm up these cold, grey days of winter. It took a good bit of searching online to finally identify this particular sunflower growing under one of my huge white oaks as, Woodland Sunflower or ‘Helianthus Divaricatus’. I knew it was some type of sunflower or aster, but wasn’t sure exactly which. I was able to identify it thanks to the multi branching blooms, the size of the plant,  the appearance of the blooms and leaves, and photos of different varieties online at the USDA’s plant ID website. 

This plant has a spreading habitat, and fills the shady area under the great oak. It does get some afternoon sun here, and the plant seems happy to take over the whole area. The long lasting summer blooms make the lackluster foliage as it dies back bearable. This sunshine yellow perennial returns early every year, and since it grows about 2-3 feet tall it makes a great plant for height at the back of a shady bed or border.

I saw many of these native Woodland Sunflowers while visiting the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park, in Mountain City, GA. I will write more about that amazing adventure in an upcoming post. I visited 10 state parks in Georgia in 2018, and am working on articles about hikes at those parks, and the plants I found along the way.

GA Native Oakleaf Hydrangea, ‘Hydrangea Quercifolia’

I found this Georgia native plant at the  Night Song Native Plant Nursery plant sale. This is the second year I’ve gone to the plant sale/open house/farmer’s market in Cherokee County, Georgia.

I finally put the Oakleaf Hydrangea in the ground a few weeks ago. This post focuses on the challenges and triumphs of the process-including finding the right location, extreme summer drought and heat, and a little history of the plant.

I have written about William Bartram in previous posts, like my Finding Buffalo Creek project. He was the first to “discover”, and write about the Hydrangea Quercifolia (and many other native plants), in the 1700’s. I also wrote previously about another of the Bartram plants I brought home last year, one of them is known as the Ben Franklin Tree, aka ‘Franklinia Altamaha’.

The Official Site of the Bartram Trail Conference Library page provides further reading links on John and William Bartram. I also consulted the Georgia Native Plant Society.

Today, and the plant already looks greener! Hoping it will acclimate before it gets colder, and be back next year bigger and better.

I am excited to see what happens with this beautiful native plant. Fingers crossed the deer don’t find it there, and that it makes it through the winter into next season. Maybe it will bloom next year. Also, I think the leaves should change from green to red this fall-which hasn’t happened yet. Looking forward to changes, and new growth in the future!

Atlanta Botanical Garden

The ‘Imaginary Worlds’ installation at The Atlanta Botanical Garden had just opened when my husband, mother-in-law, and I visited on May 5th, 2018.  Plants are used to comprise the outer ‘skins’ on the figures. The exhibit is very creative, structurally interesting, and particularly beautiful to me, due to my love of plants.

We first enjoyed an open sun garden bursting with Poppies & Daffodils, Irises, & so many kinds of beautiful blooms. There were chairs set up for a wedding, and a bride taking photos above the garden area. What a lovely & gorgeous place for a wedding! I have not yet identified all of the flowers I took photos of, but will in the future.

Poppies and Wow!

The company that created the ‘Mosaiculture’ exhibit for the Atlanta Botanical Garden is International Mosaiculture of Montreal.  There are some cool photos & video of their work on their website.

I was fascinated by this interesting new art form. I had not experienced plants this way before. This style of using various plants on the outside of a structure is very different than topiary, and added another layer to my enjoyment of plants as functional art.

In addition to the Mosaiculture installation, we also really were amazed by the Fuqua Orchid Center & the Conservatory. I could do any entire separate post on orchids, so I will just include some photos I took for now. The orchids were breathtaking.

I didn’t get a single photo of the edibles garden, unfortunately. I was so glad they included an edible garden, and I remember in particular the espaliered apple trees, the paw-paw tree, and the yellow blooming cabbages as standing out.

I think these tendrils are epiphyte roots, but not sure & will identify later. It was surreal to walk under the super long, thin strands that fell from very high up in the building.

The Oakleaf Hydrangeas were absolutely outstanding, and there was a strong smell of  Jasmine throughout much of garden. The Canopy Walk offered a unique perspective high up in the tree canopy, and the stroll was like a dream come true for a tree and forest lover like me. The entire afternoon was truly a delightful experience, and I can’t wait to return.

Purple Coneflower

The summer garden work is over, and this crazy fall heat wave has broken. Now, I have time to catch up on writing about the plants that bloomed for the first time this year.

Georgia Native Plant, Zone 7b, Echinacea Purpurea, Giant Purple Coneflower,
‘Echinacea Purpurea’

One of the spectacular native plants I bought at NightSong Native Plant Nursery’s Plant Sale last year, the Giant Purple Coneflower or ‘Echinacea Purpurea’, bloomed from June through August. There were five blooms total, and I recently cut off the dried seed heads to save for planting next year. I planted it in a 6 inch container last year, and am transplanting to in ground location today! (October 12th, 2018)

I found some fascinating info at my favorite wildflower site, US Wildflowers. The photos on this site are fabulous, and this site is an incredible free resource for plant identification.

Also, Southern Living has a great article by Gene B. Bussell on Purple Coneflower, detailing new hybrids being created, along with their uses in the southern garden.

I moved the plant from the container to the in ground location, where it will get good southern sun exposure. I will also be able to see the blooms through the deck railing. I transplanted on October 12th. All the leaves are gone now, but hopefully it will return next spring! I sprinkled one seed head all around the base of the plant, and saved the other four for planting next spring.

GA Native: Dwarf Crested Iris ‘Iris Cristata’

This native Iris, Iris Cristata came from the Night Song Native Plant Nursery plant sale, in Spring 2017. I thought it died last summer, but it came back early this Spring and bloomed two times!

I placed the rhizome on top of a ridge of dirt at the front of the bulb bed, sandwiched between the huge 2-3 foot tall bearded Irises. The Iris Cristata is super tiny, at about 6-10 inches tall.

The Georgia Native Plant Society is a great resource for information on Georgia’s native plants.

2018, GA, Zone 7b, Iris Cristata
Picture from last week. Only about 6-8 inches tall. Lots of new growth since blooming

I have a few new posts in the works about the new 3rd raised garden bed, and all the plants and herbs I am growing this year. Also, a great post to come soon about the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I was super excited to visit the gardens there for the first time, on May 5th, 2018.

Georgia Trees & Shrubs – Pruning & Maintenance 2018

Crabapple –

My husband & I pruned heavily with the new polesaw, in Spring 2017. The Crabapple has filled out beautifully since the great pruning, and the smaller size and shaping fits the front of the house much better. 

I identified this crabapple tree as a Centurion variety. Thanks mostly to the Colorado State University Extension Crabapple Identification page & Southern Living. I also looked at pics online. I didn’t know there are so many different varieties.

Abelia- 

Prune twice per year. First prune heavily in early Spring & then again in late Summer if necessary to shape prune. They smell so good, probably due to being related to honeysuckle. I love, love this shrub. Blooms from May til frost!

Dave’s Garden gives more details about this gorgeous plant.

Gardenia-

Only bloom on Old Wood, so I usually prune lightly in the Spring before blooms emerge in May. I don’t have the heart to cut the beautiful, fragrant flowers while they are open. I prune after it blooms, if not before.

Gardenia

I pruned the huge gardenia last week finally -early May 2018. See pic below. No blooms yet, and lots of fill in growing to do this season. It will help stimulate new growth and make a healthier shrub in the future.

Zone 7b, Georgia, Gardenia
After the great pruning. Looks a little sparse, but will fill in.

Loropetalum-

I prune every few years as needed in the early Spring. I pruned heavily in early March of 2018, but it is still very big, and has crossing branches. This shrub needs a major cut back again either later this year or next spring, maybe both.

Loropetalum March 2018 Before pruning, currently blooming

This post by Walter Reeves on pruning Loropetalum makes me laugh about the “needs little pruning” statement. Mine always has a natural look, especially now immediately after pruning, but I would like a more rounded appearance eventually.

Tools used: Long Pole Saw, Long Handled Loppers, Hedge Trimmers, Greenworks Chainsaw- this is new, and awesome. Quiet & No Gas & Powerful.

2018 Delaware Valley White Azalea. Not a native azalea, but beautiful!

I didn’t prune this azalea this year, but included it because it was spectacular this Spring. I will posts pics and details soon about all the great Native Plants I have planted in my landscape the last few years, like the Native Azaleas & Oakleaf Hydrangea. I love the Georgia Native Plant Society’s website for information on Georgia Native Plants. Also Raised Beds, Seeds, and 2018 Garden post to follow soon!