It’s December here in Georgia, and as the year draws to a close, I’d like to share some of my favorite plant photos and garden views from the last twelve months.
Hellebores, or Lenten roses, are the highlight of my winter garden and they lure me outside while I wait for signs of spring. In January I’ll stop at a garden center to look at seeds and one will inevitably end up in my shopping cart. I keep newly purchased hellebores on a table in my screened porch along with pots of maidenhair ferns so that I can enjoy their blooms all winter.
I love scillas, with their delicately striped blossoms, and they’re perfect for small containers. Of course you can plant them in your garden, but you really need to plant a hundred or more, otherwise they just get lost in the landscape. Note that tiny bulbs, such as scillas, planted in containers should be kept dry during cold, rainy weather to keep them from rotting, so keep them on a covered porch if you can. I’ve learned this the hard way.
I purchased this tulip on a whim a few years ago and I can’t resist ordering it every year. ‘Dance Line’ is gorgeous, with raspberry-colored markings on the palest yellow petals. Tulips are tricky here in zone 8a, so to have good sized blooms I order them for delivery in October, and then refrigerate them for several weeks before they go in the ground. (You can also order pre-chilled tulips.)
This charming dwarf crested iris was given to me by a customer many years ago, and it has romped across the back of my shade garden and into the woods over the last eight years. It is a beautiful plant when in bloom, and is easy to pull up if it threatens to run over its neighbor.
This rhododendron was one of the plants I dug up and brought with me from my previous garden, and her blooms never fail to wow visitors in late spring. She requires nothing from me except a dose of good organic fertilizer in spring and a opening in the tree canopy above her head, which allows a puddle of morning sunshine to reach her all summer.
I’ve never seen this variety of violas and may never find it again, but I fell in love with the cream, copper, and amber tones of the flowers, colors which work so well in my garden.
‘Amber Queen’ euphorbia is a stunner, with fairy-like blooms for weeks on end. If I want to splurge on something pricey at my favorite little plant nursery in the city, it is usually a euphorbia. They are tough, yet so beautiful, and the foliage always looks good no matter what the weather throws at us.
‘Sonic Bloom Pink’ weigela is another spring bloomer that I can’t imagine being without. It gets better every year, and somehow the deer ignore it, which I can’t explain.
Calendula ‘Ivory Princess’, a new favorite, does well for me as long at the temps stay above 20 degrees in the most sheltered area of my garden. If colder weather threatens, I cover them with a plastic bin for the night.
I’m slowly planting this area along a path leading to my shed in the woods behind my house. So far I’ve used native callicarpa, oak leaf hydrangea, stokes aster, ‘Hoogendorn’ holly (a great sub for boxwood), ajuga ‘Tropical Toucan’, helleborus, Christmas fern, aralia ‘Sun King’, and a few types of euphorbia. I’ll keep adjusting until I’m happy with the tapestry of plants.
Cestrum parqui ‘Orange Peel’ is a tropical looking shrub that I saw in Jim Putnam’s garden on HortTube. It went on my wish list immediately. Last fall I was able to purchase one on a trip to Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, and it has been an absolute rock star in my garden. It has grown 3-4 feet in one season (as Jim said it would) and bloomed from summer until the end of October, delighting the hummingbirds. It will die back in winter I’m told, but the frost hasn’t phased it yet.
Eutrochium, a summer-blooming native plant known as Joe Pye Weed, is a workhorse in this area of my woodland garden. A few years ago I planted ‘Gateway’ in the background and this year added ‘Ruby’ (pictured on the right), a smaller selection. I love the bright pink flower heads and shorter stature of ‘Ruby’. This year I also added the Mexican feather grass in the foreground and it looks good with the relaxed vibe of this area.
We’ll end this garden tour with the biggest dahlia I’ve ever grown. I have no idea how flower growers in Georgia produce a decent crop of dahlias, as they don’t like our hot, dry summers, or our soil. I was able to have some success by starting it in a pot and planting it in a very deep raised bed with excellent drainage in late May. While I will never grown a lot of dahlias, it was fun to watch this huge bloom develop in late September, a final hurrah before the cold nights began.
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