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Archive for January, 2012

January in the Garden

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Temperatures for the past few weeks have been mild here in my Zone 7 garden.  We have had a good bit of rain and I still need to groom and cut back lots of plants  before spring gets here.  So far, it appears that many plants are making an early appearance starting with snowdrops that bloomed back in December.  Hellebores are stars at the moment and I am beginning to see a few daffodils.  This is also a great year for Daphne odora and its various selections.  I am growing two right now, Daphne odora ‘Alba’ planted on a slight slope and Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata,’ a selection with white flowers in a container.  You can’t beat it for its fragrant flowers which are  sweet and lemony, all at once.  If you’ve ever grown daphne then you have probably grown it before.  What I mean is for some reason daphne can do what I call (I heard this term somewhere) the daphne death dance.  Young and even mature plants up and die for no apparent reason.  The solution for this problem is to buy another daphne (remember, evergreen and fragrant winter flowers) and try again.  With this in mind, I am happy to report that a daphne I gave to my friend Julie (she thinks it was in 1992) continues to thrive in her garden today.  Daphne’s are known to prefer a well-drained soil but this is no guarantee that they will prosper.

Daphne odora 'Aureo-marginata' in garden designer David Ellis garden

Daphne odora 'Aureo-marginata' in my friend Julie's garden, she took the photo and her son shows just how large the plant has grown

Daphne odora 'Alba' in my garden, small but fragrant

If you seek winter fragrance and are not a plant snob, Mahonia bealei is reliable and hardy from Zone 7 to 9.  I know this because it was a dominant plant in my landscape when we purchased our current home over 6 years ago.  A stalwart shrub, it thrives in the shade and has tough spiny evergreen leaves.    I still have more than I want of it and as time and my budget allow, I plan to replace the majority of them with other shrubs.  Still, in December through February I  appreciate its yellow sweetly scented blooms especially  in other people’s gardens when I’m out walking our black lab.     If I were going to plant a mahonia it would be Mahonia ‘Soft Caress.’    This smaller and more diminutive mahonia is great in the garden or in containers and as the name suggests, the shiny evergreen foliage is soft to the touch.

Other plants of note this month include the buds of  Edgeworthia papyifera, the Chinese rice paper plant, colorful bark of many different trees, fuzzy  buds of deciduous magnolias, winterberry with brilliant red fruits (deciduous hollies)  and foliage of Angelica keiskei which I see offered by Plant Delights , a mail order nursery in Raliegh, NC.   One note here about this Angelica, Plant Delights describes it as an evergreen rosette of foliage.  Mine is evergreen until summer heat sets in and then the foliage disappears for a few months, only to return when the weather cools off.  Because of this you may want to underplant with a low creeping evergreen groundcover. 

Edgeworthia papyifera buds in January 2012

Helleborus x hybridus in my garden, Jan 2012

Call with your Garden Questions

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Call tomorrow, Saturday, January 14, 2012.  I’ll be on the radio filling in for my friend and coauthor Walter Reeves, on the Lawn and Garden Show, WSB AM750, from 6am to 10am.   Call with your gardening questions–  404.872.0750 or 1.800.972.8255 

Viburnum macrocephalum in my garden, spring 2011

The Winter Garden

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012


Magnolia buds in January

I have been thinking about how much I enjoy deciduous trees in the winter landscape. Here in Atlanta, Georgia, Zone 7, the weather today is in the 60’s but temperatures are predicted to dip down to the 20’s by the weekend.  Then I’m certain we will have more mild weather followed by periods of cold, this is our winter.  While I enjoy winter blooms, especially,  Daphne odora, Helleborus x hybridus and the Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume, deciduous trees never disappoint.  Some have colorful bark while others offer striking silhouettes or curious forms like Harry Lauder’s walking stick, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ which only looks good in the winter when one can appreciate its twisted branches and catkins.   In the autumn I was charmed by the fruits of Taxodium distichum .  In January, these same fruits take on a new look.   Below are some of the plants that I enjoy at this time of year. 

Taxodium distichum fruits in January

Acer japonicum in January


Stewartia pseudocamellia bark in January

Wisteria at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC

Edgeworthia papyifera buds in January

Fruit Tree, Vine and Berry Bush Sale

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

LSU Gold Fig


On Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 10am to 12 noon, gardeners have the opportunity to  choose from 32 varieties of fruit trees, vines and berry bushes for  purchase .  The  location for this sale is the Atlanta Community Food Bank , 970 Jefferson St. NW, Atlanta.  This third annual sale benefits the Atlanta Local Food Initiative ( ALFI ).  Over 5000 fruit trees and shrubs have been planted as a result of this sale over the last two years.  ALFI will once again donate fruit trees to an area school to plant a children’s orchard.  For more information or to pre-order visit

Among the offerings are apples, pears, figs, pawpaws, pomegranates, persimmons, kiwis, blueberries and more. 

Diospyros kaki 'Pendula' in November

Callaway crabapple

A Gardener’s Diary

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Leyland Cypress topiary, Pearl Fryar's garden, photo by Erica Glasener

I am often asked if past episodes of “A Gardener’s Diary” can be purchased.  I am always sorry to say no, HGTV owns the show and does not offer it for sale.  I am happy to report that you can now watch past episodes on Hulu.  Here is the link, , Happy Viewing!

Bob Reese in his camellia garden, Jacksonville, Florida photo by Erica Glasener

Join me on A Garden Lovers Journey to England and Paris

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Winter is here but before you know it spring will arrive and it will be time to get out in the garden and plant.  Make your plans now to join me on a tour to England,  May 19-27, where we will visit Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, private gardens in London and more.  There is also an option of continuing on  to Paris for a few days.

Rosa 'Veilchenblau'