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!

Oct-Dec & still gardening! Peppers & Peas Please

It was warmer than usual, longer than usual in fall of 2017. I harvested peppers and peas until Dec. 8th. It was a great garden year, and it was fun trying new seeds and plants for the first time. New garden beds, seeds, plants, and new adventures to follow for 2018!

Peppers everywhere this year! I grew Tabasco peppers and Early Jalapenos from seed, from Lake Valley Seed Company. The Tabascos took a long time, but we had many, many Jalapenos all year long!

I harvested green bells, orange baby bells, and absolutely no Poblanos. The Poblano bloomed many times, but no peppers.

Beautiful Pea Bloom

My first time growing peas, and I planted late Sept/early Oct. It was hot all fall, so they had trouble getting started, but continued to produce peas until December.

I grew two varieties of Burpee brand peas from seed for the first time- Sugar Daddy and Super Sugar Snap. I learned about the types of peas, Snap vs. Garden. With Garden Peas, the peas inside the pod are the edible part, and you discard the pod. Snap Peas have tender, edible pods. The peas are tiny and tender, and you eat the whole thing pod and all!

I have a small, metal frame greenhouse on the porch for the first time this winter. I put plants from the raised beds in the greenhouse before the first frost, and everything is still alive.  My next post will be about the greenhouse, and the new seeds I’m planting for my 2018 garden!

GA Native Oakleaf Hydrangea, ‘Hydrangea Quercifolia’

I found this Georgia native plant at the Spring 2017 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. Night Song’s Fall Open House & Market is November 18th, 2017.

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!

Organic Herbs & Vegetables, August-September

I will update info and add links on all plants grown this year soon. Here are some pics, and a few details, on the garden happenings the last few months. Whew! Too busy to write much now, but check back soon. I welcome any southeastern gardener’s input, or anyone’s thoughts at all. Thanks!

3rd amazing Basil harvest this year, at least! My husband & I made this & some other herbs & ingredients into my first homegrown, homemade pesto later that week.

But wait … there’s more!

We used almonds instead of pine nuts in the pesto, and it was incredible. I gave it away as a gift, but had some left over. It was one of the most flavorful and delightful mixtures I have ever tasted. Using many fresh herbs from my garden including Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, and Oregano makes me happy. Yay!

Raised Beds, June-August 2017

I will post details on all 2017 plants soon. I am so busy with the gardening work, I haven’t had time to write much. What an exciting garden year!

August brought lots of harvests, and I planted a bunch of new seeds. I will post details about each very soon. I even canned some cucumber and jalapeno pickles for the first time this year.

I am working on a cool season garden for the first time this year with cabbages, lettuces, radishes, pumpkins, mustard greens, peas, and various herbs. I will post soon about those endeavors.

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.

Seeds & Raised Beds 2017

I planted a multitude of seeds this year. I am amazed how many herbs and veggies fit in the two 3′ x 8′ raised, organic garden beds. We will see what survives & thrives in 2017.

Herbs grown from seed:

Parsley, Marjoram, Thyme, Lovage, Basil, Coriander/Cilantro, Catnip, Chamomile, Anise, Summer Savory, & Chives

April 2- the first round of seeds, in shade for a week to acclimate to outside

Veggies:

Peppers-Jalapeno, Tabasco grown from seed. I bought a Poblano (which the deer immediately destroyed), a Green Bell, & an Orange Baby Bell pepper.

Tomatoes: Cherry, Yellow Pear, Early Girl-from seed

Cucumbers-Pickling & Bush Beans- from seed

I started the 1st round of seeds indoors in early March- a few weeks later than usual. Those seeds became the plants above- pic taken before planting in the raised beds in mid April!

April 20th– (a little later than I like) I transplanted the first round, after prepping the beds. I also added a second round of new seeds directly to the soil. The Rosemary, Oregano, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, and Parsley survived the winter.

I added a second round of transplants and seeds in early May. Directly sowed more cucumber, bush beans & more tomato seeds.  I added my organic, homemade compost from the Earth Machine, mushroom compost,  organic pine bark mulch, and native clay soil to both beds.

This year, I have an infestation of what we call tater or pill bugs, (but they have many names). So far, they’ve only munched my cucumber leaves a little. I will leave them alone, as they don’t seem to be doing much harm. They are very interesting creatures, notable for their ability to clean heavy metals from soil.

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.