Sunday
Jun082014

The June Garden, 2014

Summer has arrived with predictable humidity and temperatures hitting the 90s; but with plentiful rain so far, I can not complain. The June garden is lush with deep green bowers edged with orange, purple, pink, and red summer flowers.

Here is a long view across the arbor by the patio:

A different angle catches the day lilies now in bloom. Planted about 60 years ago, they were here many years before we arrived. The pink flowers belong to Anthony Waterer Spirea:

Here is another view of the day lilies. Behind is a Lady in Red Hydrangea. This plant is the one of the few macrophylla hydrangeas with any blooms this year, following an unusually hard winter.

Anthony Waterer Spirea is one of my favorite shrubs. It is low maintenance, has a beautiful draping form and wonderful summer blooms:

Below are close ups of three hydrangeas currently in bloom:Clockwise from top: Snowflake, Annabelle, and Forever Pink.

Red Cascade Rose always has masses of blooms through the summer:

Here are a few more summer bloomers:Clockwise from top left: 'Tutti Fruitti' butterfly bush with Persian Shield on the lower right, Sedum in front of Day Lily foliage, late blooming Gumbo azalea, Day Lily.

And some pretty foliage and flower combinations for the summer:Clockwise from top left: Persian Shield and Dusty Miller; Leopard Plant, Maidenhair Fern and Variegated Sedge; Anthony Waterer Spirea, Red Knockout Rose and Rosemary; Variegated Hosta, Coleus and Impatiens.

Foliage is a star in my garden in all seasons. These are a few of my favorites:Clockwise from top left: Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Blue Boulevard', Sambucus racemosa 'Lemon Lace', Trident Maple, Hepatica, 'Lady in Red' hydrangea, Cercis canadensis 'Whitewater', Fatshedera, Variegated toad Lily.

Hosta Francis Williams grows in several parts of the garden:

Nothing can beat Tropicana Canna Lily for powerful color through a hot summer:

A tour of the June garden would not be complete without some views of the woodland garden:

Top: Carex 'Everillo' grows in a pot nestled amidst Impatiens. Middle: This variety of Indigofera spreads as a ground cover and has delightful early summer blooms. Bottom: Woodland rabbit; Windchimes in a tree.Nothing like a tour of a summer garden in the Deep South to work up a thirst! Now, how about a cool drink or a slice of watermelon?

Saturday
May312014

Virginia Sweetspire, A Great Native Shrub

I am very pleased with Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica. Several of these shrubs grow on the outer edge of my woodland garden, farthest from the house. I almost forgot about them this year, until their abundant 4 inch long tassels of white blooms caught my attention.

How beautiful, I thought as I examined the mildly fragrant racemes of flowers. I have done little for these shrubs since I planted them a couple years ago. How nice that they rewarded me without any fuss. 

As lovely as the late spring to early summer flowers are, the most outstanding feature of this deciduous shrub is its fabulous autumn foliage. The names of several popular cultivars reflect that attribute, including 'Henry's Garnet' and 'Merlot.'Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet' grows in my woodland garden. I love the gorgeous colors of its fall foliage.

Itea virginica is native to the eastern part of North America, and it reminds me of how little maintenance is required of plants that are indigenous to a region. In the wild, Virginia Sweetspire naturalizes easily. It has an erect form with arching branches. My young Virginia Sweetspire is about three feet tall.It will spread by root suckers and can form thickets. It is an excellent plant for erosion control. The root-sucking habit is more pronounced in moist soil. If one doesn't want the plant to spread, the suckers can be removed easily.

Growing in planting zones 5 to 9, best color and blooms occur in full sun to light shade. It likes well drained soil rich in humus, but it adapts to clay soil and is tolerant of both wet and dry situations once established. Rootball division is the easiest form of propagation. Depending on the cultivar, Virginia Sweetspire will grow from about 2 to 6 feet tall and wide. For most prolific blooms, fertilize yearly. Pruning may be done for shaping or to control size but otherwise is not necessary. Because it blooms on old wood, or the previous year's growth, any pruning should done right after it blooms. Pruning earlier in the year will remove the flower buds. Of course, dead wood may be removed at any time.

Virginia Sweetspire is a great shrub for the woodland or wildlife garden. The flower nectar attracts butterflies and other pollinating insects, its seeds provide food for birds, and the dense mass of leaves offer cover for wildlife.