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Archive for June, 2009

Southern Lady Magazine Celebration

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Some of you already know that I write a bimonthly garden column for Southern Lady Magazine but you may not know that they are celebrating their 10th anniversary with a special event in Savannah, Georgia  on October 9, 10 and ll.  I will be speaking on the subject of gardening on Saturday morning and will also lead a workshop in the afternoon. 

The Seventh Annual Southern Lady Celebration is a weekend event filled with inspirational speakers, delicious food, how-to demonstrations, a shopping tour of Savannah, and lots of fabulous entertaining ideas and tips from the Southern Lady staff.  To register and for more info go to


Designing A Scented Evening Garden

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I have always liked Van Morrison and one of my favorite songs is one he sings called “Moondance”.    Even if you’re not dancing  what better place to appreciate the moonlight  than in the night  garden.  


Now that summer is officially here the best time to work and enjoy being in  my garden is in   the early morning or at the end of the day when I can inhale  the perfume of flowers like flowering tobacco,  that wait for early evening before they open and release their intoxicating scents.  Between busy work schedules and hot, humid days the evening garden is an appealing reward. 

 Whether you are starting from scratch or want to refurbish part of your existing garden to include plants that you can enjoy in the evening,  there are many choices.  Before you head to the nursery in search of night blooming beauties  here are a few  points to consider.

Nicotiana alata (Flowering tobacco)

Nicotiana alata (Flowering tobacco)

  • 1. Make sure that you have easy access to the evening garden. A well lit path that connects the house and garden means you will be more likely to stroll into the garden on a regular basis. Select materials that are comfortable to walk on like soft mulch or flagstone.
  • 2. Site plants with fragrant foliage and flowers near pathways, doors and windows so that you can easily appreciate their perfume.
  • 3. Include a bench or a place to sit and enjoy your landscape at night.
  • 4. An outdoor dining area with lighting is also an option.
  • 5. Remember groups of plants will make more of an impact than individual plants dotted here and there.
  • 6. White flowers will show up the best in the evening light.

Once you have decided on the size and design of your evening garden it’s time to make a plant list. 

For sunny gardens there are a number of trees and shrubs that come to mind. 

One of my all around favorite small flowering trees, fragrant snowbell, Styrax obassia is delight in the garden at anytime of day or night  with its fragrant white flowers in spring, rich green leaves in summer and yellow fall foliage.  The evergreen magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora has large lemony scented white flowers but there is also the native sweetbay  magnolia, Magnolia virginiana australis  a smaller stature tree with mostly evergreen leaves that shimmer in the breeze and flowers that although small are also deliciously sweet. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ and ‘Limelight’ are good choices for sunny sites while Anabelle hydrangeas, Hydrangea arborescens  ’Annabelle’ and oakleaf types, Hydrangea quercifolia are better suited for the woodland.  Variegated plants that  show up well in the evening garden include variegated boxwood, variegated giant dogwood Cornus controversa’Variegata’ and variegated hollies. 


One of the delights of the evening garden are the large number of plants that wait until late in the day to  release their perfume.  What follows is a partial  list of annuals and perennials with fragrant flowers to delight you in the night garden.


Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’- angel’s trumpet

Cestrum nocturnum- night jessamine

Ipomoea alba -moonflower, a vine

Nicotiana alata- flowering tobacco


Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi'

Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi'


Calamintha nepeta nepeta-calamintha

Thymux x citriodorus ‘Aureus’-golden creeping thyme

Phlox divaricata ‘David’- hardy garden phlox

Tracheolspermum  jasminoides   ’Madison’- confederate jasmine


Erica’s pick

Charles Grimaldi angel’s trumpet

Botanical name: Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’

About the plant: This exotic tropical (hardy to Zone 8)  looking plant grows 3 to 6′ or taller,  great in the ground or in containers.  A profuse bloomer with large 8 to 10 inch long fragrant salmon pendant trumpets.  Note: all parts of this plant are poisonous. 

Use in the garden: Great for its long season of bloom, spring through fall.

Place it in the border or in decorative pots.

Planting and Care:  Full sun or part shade with regular water and fertilizer will result in lots of flowers. 

Source: Mail order- Logee’s Tropical Plants, 141 North St., Danielson, CT 06239 toll free 888-330-8038,

A Gardener’s Diary on HGTV

Friday, June 19th, 2009

For all you early risers, “A Gardener’s Diary” is now on Friday mornings at 6:30am EST on HGTV, at least for now. Tricky to navigate their website, they like to keep you guessing. Thanks for watching! I’ll post any changes as soon as I find out about them.

Liven Up the Shade with Color

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Recently while walking in my neighborhood I noticed a colorful combination planted along the edge of a garden  bordering the sidewalk that grabbed my attention.  While the big blue mophead hydrangeas were not unusual the chartreuse  foliage that surrounded them was a surprise.  Masses of  gold and green  variegated sweet flag, Acorus ‘Ogon,’ golden yellow hostas and a selection of coralbells with chartreuse foliage made for a dynamic scene.  But what added the real zing to this grouping  were  bright orange impatiens dotted throughout.  There is nothing quiet about this shade garden which got me thinking about other plants that brighten the shade with their foliage or flowers or both.  It’s worth mentioning here that all blooming plants need at least a minimum of sun for good flower production.  If you have dappled shade or a garden that is in shade for ½ the day, there is no reason that it can’t be colorful too. 


Carex elata 'Bowles Golden'


There are a whole group of coralbells with fantastic colorful foliage that grow happily in part-shade and with lots of moisture some of them will also tolerate full sun.  As a group these coralbells which are the result of crosses with our native Heuchera villosa are more robust and better adapted to growing in heat and humidity.  For chartreuse foliage I like Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ or ‘Pistache’ which is more lime green and supposedly the most stable of the chartreuse types, holding its color even in the heat of summer.     I have grown Heuchera ‘Caramel’ for several years and like its peachy caramel foliage with hints of yellow.  But after talking with Tiffany Jones of McMahan’s Nursery in Gainesville, Georgia, I am excited to try one they grow called Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort.’  This rugged selection from Terra Nova Nurseries has huge fuzzy  leaves that start out cinnamon peach and turn to burnished copper and then amber.  It grows 14 inches high and forms mounds 2 feet across. 


A relative of coralbells, and a villosa hybrid  Heucherella ‘Alabama Sunrise,’ also called foamy bells,  has foliage that changes color with the seasons.  In spring the leaves  start out gold  with red veins.  Then in summer it  greens up before turning shades of  orange pink in the fall.  Combine these coralbells and foamy bells with chartreuse hostas, ferns like the luminous  ghost fern, Athyrium ‘Ghost’ and a few bright colored impatiens and your garden will be vibrant during the hot summer months.    Other bright foliage for the shade garden includes the selection of giant bleeding heart Dicentra spectablilis ‘Gold Heart’which puts on a show in spring and then like other bleeding hearts it goes dormant during the heat of summer.  Combine it with hostas and ferns to help fill the void when it dies back.  Other bright foliage comes in the form of the dainty columbine Aquilegia x ‘Leprachaun Gold’ with green and gold leaves and dark purple flowers.  An old fashioned plant with a new look, the spiderwort known as Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ is a good doer that offers grassy  chartreuse foliage and bright blue flowers for weeks.


Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'

Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'

I have always like members of the genus Carex  and grow a few including Carex Evergold’ with green and white striped grass-like foliage.  I use them as an evergreen  groundcover under my hydrangeas.    One with chartreuse foliage that is new to me and one I plan to add to my garden is Carex elata ‘Aurea’ or ‘Bowles Golden’ as it is sometimes listed.


These plants are among those that can help transform shady areas of your garden into vibrant scenes.  

Bowles golden sedge

Botanical name:  Carex elata ‘Aurea’

About the plant: This golden sedge makes a great accent in the shade garden.  It grows 1 to 3 feet tall and wide.        

Use in the garden:  Combine it with ferns, hostas and other shade perennials.

UGA Trial Gardens Public Open House July 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

A great opportunity to see new plants both annuals and perennials and see how they perform in the South.

Saturday- 8am until 12 noon.