Raised Beds & Herbs, Aug. 2019

Just a few quick photos for now, to show the progress these last few months. See my previous post for more details about the plants featured in my beds this year!

More info & links on all these plants to follow soon. I will find some time next month to write about all the great plants that grew in my garden this year. Also working on a post about my Shade Evergreen garden. I planted it this year, in the super shady front yard.

Spring 2019 Photos

See below a few quick photo galleries of my Spring blooming plants from March & April this year. A few old favorites, and some new plants. I work at Cofer’s now, and I haven’t had much time to write, but will soon. My next post will be about the fifth year of raised bed garden planting-which I finally got done this past week.

March

Late March-Early April

mid April

late April

More info & links about these plants and new ones to follow soon.

Ga Native: Woodland Sunflower

Now, for a touch of summer sunshine to warm up these cold, grey days of January. 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.

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.

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: 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.

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!

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.

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.

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.