Five Fabulous Fall Flowers

#1 Salvia

*For Summer into Fall blooms & Pollinator Draw*

Hummingbirds love salvias, and so do the bees & butterflies. Salvias are members of the Mint family Laminaceae- as classified by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plants Database. There are many other spectacular members of this extensive family. I have developed quite a fondness for many of them. The mint family is my absolute favorite plant family to grow in my herb, and flower gardens. They are all truly delightful, and very useful. Also, most importantly for me-Extremely Deer Resistant!

Erica Glasener is a super horticulturist & writer focusing on gardening in Georgia. Check out her article, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, on Salvias for Georgia.

I love them all! The more salvia the better for me so here’s More info from Lady Bird Johnson Center on Salvias.

#2 Eupatorium

*For Understated Elegance*

Pictured below is Eupatorium fortunei– which is a non-native, Asian Eupatorium

Monarch Butterfly on Eupatorium bloom
Monarch butterfly on 
Eupatorium fortunei 'Pink Frost', October.

Eupatorium fistulosum, which is also known by the much less fancy name of

Joe Pye Weed is the dark leafed, non-variegated, native variety of the variegated leaf ‘Pink Frost’ Eupatorium above.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area of Georgia’s website has a nice photo & entry on the native Joe Pye Weed. These native plants can be used to rehabilitate moist environments that have been taken over by invasive species in the past. They are also noteworthy for their long standing herbal usage.

I took the photo above of the ‘Pink Frost’ Eupatorium at Cofer’s Home & Garden-where I was employed. Then, I bought the plant, because I found it so charming. If its good enough for monarchs, its good enough for me. The plant has been happy here in my backyard since transplanting from the container-except either deer or rabbit have eaten it to nubs several times. Surprising, as these plants are supposed to be critter resistant & poisonous. It has recovered both times, but not blooming this fall, yet.

#3 Pansies and Violas

*For Simple Beauty, and Awe-inspiring Hardiness*

Pansy vs. Viola-it’s complicated. They are really the same plant, but the viola is a more ancient form, and the pansy has been cultivated from the viola.

This entry about Violas and Pansies from New World Encyclopedia could help clear things up, but like I said before, it’s complicated.

They are so tiny & charming & bright and survive freezing temps and bloom all winter. Need I say more? Ok, more. October to April will be filled with blooms to brighten your day. There will need to be some deadheading to accomplish this, but it is worth it. Pansies and Violas are Deer candy; I keep them on the porch.

#4 Osmanthus Fragrans

*For Versatility, Fragrance & Evergreen-ness*

One of the most delicious smelling plants in the world! This picture of an interesting Tea Olive-the more common name for Osmanthus, is from a courtyard garden in Charleston. The plant was grown in a container, and then trained onto a wall using an espalier technique. This technique is described under Specialty Pruning in UGA’s extension publication titled Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape.

Sadly, I don’t yet have a Tea Olive in my landscape! Thanks to Clemson University Cooperative Extension for these details on Osmanthus Fragrans. I can smell them at work at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia several times per year, in the Spring & Fall. I always stop and delight in inhaling their delicious scent on the wind. This year I’m getting one!

#5 Camellia Sasanqua

For Mythical Beauty, Cool season blooms, & Evergreen

Don’t even get me started on how much I adore camellias. Well maybe just a bit about the beautiful fall blooming smaller camellia, Camellia Sasanqua. Their blooms are not quite as large and showy, and the leaves and plants in general are smaller than Camellia Japonica, or other Camellia varieties.

Norman Winter, the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia, has written an excellent article on the use of Camellia Sasanqua, and Japonica, in the southern landscape.

Sasanqua camellias are just as charming as Japonicas, and can bloom and thrive in situations where other camellias will not do as well. They do accept more hot southern summer sun, and are faster growing. In addition they are more compact and bushier than other camellia varieties.

Came home today 11-10-2020, and saw my ‘White by Gate’ Camellia Japonica is blooming for the first time!!! I bought this plant in Charleston last December. Southern Living has an excellent article, by Steve Bender which gives “A Brief History of the Camellia.”

Camellia Japonica ‘White by the Gate’ Wow!

It is interesting that I acquired this camellia in Charleston. The city is known as the predominant entry point for camellias, as well as the epicenter of early camellia hybridization, in the United States. The bloom on ‘White by the Gate’ is packed tight with petals-it is spectacular.

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!

Gardens of Charleston

I didn’t know this first visit to Charleston would be our last trip for awhile. It was a spectacular city, and the gardens were incredible.

There were Holly Ferns, Cyrtomium falcatum growing from the brick walls everywhere. One can see why they are considered invasive. My husband Hal & I spent an entire day walking all around in the city. We left bustling downtown, walking along King Street full to the brim with commerce and shops. Then, onto the parks along the waterfronts. The Battery Park was interesting, but the gardens glimpsed through the gates along the way were magical.

The College of Charleston was otherwordly, and there were Resurrection Ferns-according to my friend Issac, covering every tree branch and trunk on the live oaks. The pictures I took don’t do justice to the spectacular gardens there. They’ve had some time to grow.

There were huge spectacular Fatsias down by the waterfront at the Battery Park.

Thanks to Sheldon, at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, for identifying this plant for me as Cassia Augustifolia. They were draped languidly (even in December) over the walls of gated courtyards, and along the cobbled sidewalks and streets.

I’ve chosen the Magnolia as the transition plant between the city and country gardens further inland.

Magnolia captured by Spanish Moss-not moss at all!

Camellias at Magnolia Gardens

This is the last Romantic style garden in the US. Romantic means wild and free feeling, and seemingly untamed in this context. They have the largest collection of camellias in US.

Ashley River

This is my 100th post! Next post will be about the spring raised bed and in ground vegetable garden planting!!!

Camellia Sasanqua, October Magic ‘Orchid’

Camellia Sasanqua, October Magic, Southern Living, Orchid, Zone 7b, Georgia
Camellia Sasanqua ‘October Magic’ Series Orchid

I received this very special plant as a gift from my Mother-in-law, Margaret. She is so thoughtful, and kind, and generous. She had this beautiful plant delivered to me, in memory of my Dad, Kenneth. He passed away at the age of 92, in early Nov. 2018. I could go on about him for hours. He was a teacher, a pilot, a gardener, a WWII Navy veteran, a great father, and a person of the highest possible honor and integrity. He loved gardening, growing vegetables, and canning and preserving them. And, he was really knowledgeable and skilled at it all.

The History of the Camellia is a very old, and quite magical story. I found a great wealth of information at the American society for Camellias website. They are located in Fort Valley, Ga.

Camellias like dappled shade, but will tolerate some sun. They hate wet feet. Plant them high, and keep them away from areas that are too wet.

This Camellia named October Magic ‘Orchid’ is from a collection by Southern Living. This camellia is a Camellia Sasanqua, in contrast to a Camellia Japonica. Japonicas are larger plants, with larger leaves, and much larger blooms. They bloom later in the winter and into the early spring. Blooming from about January- March. Sasanquas are smaller shrubs that have more profuse blooming, but not as large blooms. They also bloom earlier in the season-from say October to January.

Wow, what an amazing plant. My new favorite, and it will always remind of my Father, and of my Mother-in-law, and the love of family.

This is a photo of a Camellia Sasanqua October Magic Orchid variety with delicate pink and white petals.

I found a bit of folklore from Japan regarding the Camellia. It is said the spirits, and Gods come down from heaven to make their earthly home inside the camellia blossoms, when they visit those on earth. I hope that Dad and Mom will have many Camellia blossoms to choose from should they ever come to visit me. Their spirit lives on also in my love for gardening, vegetables, and all the astounding gifts nature provides.

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.

Ga Native “Sweet Shrub” ‘Calycanthus floridus’

The shrub of many names known as Sweet bubby, Sweet shrub, Carolina allspice, Spice shrub, & Spice bush lives in the eastern US, and is a native plant to Georgia.  I remember from my youth the scent of sweet shrub (as it was known to us in the mountains of Southwestern NC).

Your nose leads you to the unassuming sweet shrub. You see the dark burgundy tasseled flower pods. The perfume permeates the air, a unique, deep aroma. Reach out, rub the burgundy pods to release more amazing fragrance – unlike anything else on earth I have smelled so far. Tangy and pungent, but sweet and spicy.

Spring 2017 Ga Zone 7b Sweet Shrub, Spice Bush, Native Plants
Spice Bush, Sweet Shrub, Sweet Bubby-early Spring 2017

Researching this post, I discovered a wealth of info about these fascinating plants. More info than I can address in this one post, but I will follow up with this plant. I bought the one pictured last year at a native plant sale, in late April. I planted it in a mostly shady spot, under a huge hickory facing southwest – with the hickory’s shady protection from the scorching afternoon sun.

I was excited when leaves appeared early in March. I thought the plant died in the extreme drought of fall 2016, but it returned!

Georgia, Zone 7b, native plants, sweet shrub, sweet bubby, spice shrub
Sweet shrub pic taken today 5-23-17. No blooms yet, but getting bigger!

I wondered if the plant was used medicinally, as many native plants were, and still are.  I discovered that this plant does have Toxic alkaloids. Use caution. The Cherokee are known to use it for some medicinal properties. It may also have been used as a wolf poison.

I don’t remember the dried fruits/seed pods George Ellison discusses in his article, “Sweet bubby bush,” from the “Smoky Mountain News” online. I eagerly await their arrival to refresh my memory.

Ellison also talks about ladies putting blossoms in their bosoms (bubby morphed from boobies) for perfume. I don’t remember them being in bosoms, but it probably helped cover the odor of snuff on the wind. Granny Hazel would dry them out, then put them in sachets for drawers, or bowls of potpourri.

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!

Wildflowers @ Panther Creek

My husband Hal and I chose an amazing day to go on the 7 mile round-trip hike to Panther Creek Falls. We hiked the moderately difficult trail at the mid/end of May 2017. It was 90 degrees that day, but deep in the woods by Panther Creek, the air was significantly cooler and mostly shady. I took pictures of the many azaleas, mountain laurels, and unidentified wildflowers along the path.

Snow white Mountain Laurel growing alongside Panther Creek Falls in Northeast Georgia May 2017
Mountain Laurel

I found many flowers blooming- too numerous to go into detail about each one, in this post. Below is a photo gallery of some of the flowers I identified with a brief description for now. I will talk more about each of these incredible native plants in later posts.

pink native Azalea growing by Panther Creek in northeast Georgia May 2017
Pink native Azalea

Panther Creek Falls

I went to Panther Creek Falls once about twenty years ago, but this time was truly an unforgettable experience. The first time I visited, I was just getting started on my nature observation and writing journey.  I had no idea then how much I would learn about the ecology, native plants, and ecosystems of this beautiful state. I am thankful to be able to enjoy the natural beauty here. My pictures don’t quite capture the scale or grandeur of the awe inspiring scene. Seeing the falls in person again was special, and worth the hike.

Azalea- Jewel of the Southern Garden: Native & Non

White Azalea 2017 Georgia zone 7b
2017 Closeup “Delaware Valley White” Azalea

azalea white 2016
This year is spotty blooming, so here is the pic I took last year on April 21, 2016

Through the process of writing & researching this post, I made some lovely connections to my past, and some new roads into the future. I started to post some pretty pics, and talk about the white azalea in the front yard. I found myself thinking about my Mom Alawayne and her love of the native, wild azaleas that grew around our home, in the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina.

I wanted to find her favorite wild azalea. A brilliantly orange beauty we hunted the mountainsides for on every walk or drive. They are rare and magical. When you encounter a towering, wild, native azalea, a moment is taken to honor the blooming beauty. They stand very tall in my memory- not much like the lower growing bush above. The flowers too are quite different, with flowers in clusters and longer stamens. Mom & granny Hazel called them wild honeysuckle. Well, Mom’s “wild honeysuckle” is ‘Rhododendron calendulaceum’ or the “Flame” azalea. (links to a photo from ARS Website)

The photo is from the Middle Atlantic Chapter ARS Species Study Group’s website – a fantastic azalea identification tool. As a bonus for me, there is info. and pictures of the Flame azaleas from Macon Co. North Carolina. They kinda resemble the honeysuckle with the extended stamens, but are not related. Also, there is a “Honeysuckle azalea” to make things more confusing. But the Flame azalea is not the same as the Honeysuckle azalea.

Native Azaleas vs Non Natives

The native to the East Coast azaleas are deciduous-they lose their leaves in the winter, but not the evergreen cultivars like the ‘Delaware Valley White’ or the ‘Formosa’ magenta one below-which are originally from Asia.

I have identified these varieties to the best of my ability, but if I am wrong please let me know! Deer don’t seem to like them at all. The leaves are poisonous. But the deer definitely eat my rhododendron leaves? Since azaleas are in the Rhodo family that seems odd. Butterflies seems to like them.

hot pink azalea Georgia Zone 7b with butterfly wings extended
pic from 2015 ‘Formosa’ magenta azalea/butterfly

The ‘Delaware Valley White’ bloomed this year on March 28th- a full 3 weeks earlier than last year. Must be the warmer winter and mild early spring.

Future post Teaser. These two “Southern Indian (or Indica)” cultivars were created at a place called Magnolia Plantation. I’ve just discovered the pre-Revolutionary location has an incredible “Romantic Garden”- one of the only ones left in the US. I am going there, and will document my garden findings soon!

See the link below to the University of Georgia’s Extension Offices Publication

Selecting and Growing Azaleas (B 670)

hot pink azalea Georgia zone 7b
‘Formosa’ magenta Azalea 2015

This is an incredible and comprehensive guide. I’m very thankful for the great resources provided by UGA about gardening in Georgia.