GA Native: Dwarf Crested Iris ‘Iris Cristata’

This native Iris, Iris cristata came from the Night Song Native Plant Nursery plant sale. 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 raised garden beds, and all the plants and herbs I am growing this year.

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.

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.

April Irises 2017

Like their namesake in Greek Mythology, Iris- “the messenger goddess”, or “the rainbow goddess,” these beautiful flowers deliver the message that Spring has arrived, in all the colors of the rainbow. I only got a few bloom colors this year, and I am thrilled to have them!

My friend generously dug them from her garden two years ago, and I transplanted them here. One purple bloomed the first year- from over a dozen transplants. Then, this year three purples bloomed, and an absolutely gorgeous pinky, mauve beauty. I’ve not looked up the varieties yet, but wanted to post this while they are blooming (except the Dutch iris- bloomed earlier this month).

I enriched the heavy clay soil with my organic, homemade compost and fallen leaf mulch. I followed directions from The American Iris Society’s website on planting the rhizomes. They take a little time getting settled in, but are worth the wait for the spectacular flowers.

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.

Growing Bearded Iris in Georgia

beardedpurpleirisblog1

This Bearded Iris traveled a long way to get here, and bloomed the first year after transplant! The season grew so busy this year, that I didn’t get these pics posted this Spring. My friend in Raleigh dug up two paper grocery bags brimming with iris rhizomes last year from her garden.

I brought them home, and planted a few groups in different sunny spots. Walter Reeves’ website  walterreeves.com discuses when and how to divide iris rhizomes. I also found the American Iris Society’s detailed instructions about how to plant and grow iris very helpful.

beardedpurpleirisblog2

The only one that bloomed this year was this regally dark and majestic purple beauty. I posted in the past about my Dutch Iris -which is planted in the same area. They are similar, but the bearded iris is larger, has more frilly flowers, and more striking foliage. The American Meadows All About Irises page contains helpful info about the kinds of irises, their histories, and how to purchase and grow them. I am so happy to have them growing here. As a bonus, the deer and squirrels don’t seem to find them tasty.

Transplanted Daffodil Bulbs

I dug up a closely crowded cluster of daffodil bulbs in the fall of 2014. After letting them dry out in the garage over the winter, I planted them in my “bulb bed” in the backyard which already contains Dutch Iris and Iris, in the early spring of 2015. They grew last year, but no blooms as expected.

2021-You can also plant them in the fall when you did them up. In fact, that is the way I do it now. Didn’t need to store them.

This year, blooms! Somewhat early, due in part to the warmer than average weather, and lots of rain. The heads are so heavy on this variety, they seem to have a hard time standing up straight.

daffynew1

The American Daffodil Society has a fantastic website and DaffSeek is an amazing identification tool. There are at least 25,000 different registered hybrids of daffodil! The photo below is a much smaller variety that is in desperate need of dividing. I will dig up some of the bulbs this fall and transplant them to other sites in the yard next year.

daffynew2

Japanese Maple

Thoughtfully gifted from my father-in-law, at Christmas time a few years ago, this maple sizzles in the fall. This one soars to over 8 feet tall already, with more growing ahead.

Many varieties of Japenese Maple are found around the world.

This lovely tree thrives in USDA Zone 7b, in full sun facing southwest.

maple2blog2015

This one came from Gibbs Gardens-which is truly an incredible natural sanctuary located in Ball Ground, Georgia. There are over 220 acres of gardens! Prepare for your mind to be blown by the exquisiteness, which includes an authentic Japanese Garden.

mapleblog2015