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Transform Your Shade Garden

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

As spring approaches and trees begin to leaf out, is your shady landscape looking lackluster? Or, maybe where once you had sun, trees have matured and now you have shade. With the right plants and a creative design, shade can be an asset and your garden an oasis, on those hot summer days we experience in Georgia. This can be accomplished by including a variety of plants with interesting textures, colorful foliage and even blooms!

Pair Foliage and Flowers

Shade Garden WalkwayWhen you select a shrub for screening or an evergreen backdrop, think about what you will pair it with. The tough yet elegant Florida Leucothoe,Agarista populifolia, is ideal for screening unsightly views and has a graceful fountain shape. By planting a small Japanese maple in front of the Leucothoe and adding a landscape boulder, you have created a lovely scene that offers interest for months. A clump of iris adds colorful flowers and a vertical accent even after it blooms. Another plant that makes a good companion for Florida Leucothoe is the oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia. The white flowers open in early summer and last for weeks. The ornamental bark, dark brown to cinnamon, looks good year around. And, you don’t have to prune this hydrangea unless it gets too big for the spot you have it growing in.

Variegated Solomon's Seal and CephalotaxusSmall anise tree, Illicium parviflorum, provides bold foliage and grows in sun or shade. With a span of 8 to 10 ft. high and wide, Anise is perfect for an evergreen screen or an informal hedge. It provides the perfect backdrop for shrubs like Annabelle hydrangeas, which bloom in June with large white delicate blooms (4 to 6 inches across and up to 12 inches in diameter). This hydrangea produces flower buds on current season’s growth so each year you should get an abundance of flowers, provided you provide a moist, fertile soil and regular fertilization. For summer color that persists for months, Variegated Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum,’ brightens even the darkest corner with its variegated foliage (leaves up to 6 inches long), soft green leaves edged in creamy white. This perennial will grow in shade or part sun. Other blooming perennials that are happy in the shade include Fringed Bleeding Heart, Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’. With its cherry-red flowers and blue-green delicate looking foliage, this is a good performer.

Right Plant, Right Place
For a foundation planting that won’t require constant pruning to keep it in check,
Japanese plum yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata,’ offers dark green needled foliage. This shrub grows 1 and ½ to 2 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide, ideal for in front of windows. For a contrast, add some autumn fern and you have an elegant duo that won’t threaten to obscure your view (from inside your home looking out to your landscape). For even more color, add Hellebores and early daffodils.

Go Vertical
Whether you train them to frame your front door, or cover an arbor that welcomes visitors to your garden, vines will add vertical interest. There are a number of evergreen vines that thrive in the shade including Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, with glowing yellow flowers in spring and Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Madison,’ also blooming in spring but with white fragrant flowers.

For more ideas on how to transform your shade garden, contact Gibbs Landscape Company and one of our award winning landscape architects would be happy to assist you.

Don’t miss the world’s Largest Daffodil Display in full bloom now at Gibbs Gardens

It’s Time to Plant

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

It’s mid-February in the Atlanta area and although spring doesn’t officially start until March 20th, some daffodils and a few trees and shrubs are beginning to flower.
While the weather can be unpredictable and early blooms may be nipped by frost or turned to mush by a late freeze, conditions during February and March are ideal for planting hardy trees, shrubs and some perennials. (Wait until mid-April to plant your summer annuals.)

By getting a jump on the season, you will put less stress on your plants and your budget. The benefits of adding plants to your garden now are that with the cool weather, plants won’t require as much water as they will once the temperatures begin to heat up and leaves desiccate quickly. Think of it as an easy way to save money on your water bill.

If the structure of a deciduous tree or shrub (the framework without the foliage) looks good now, just imagine how it will enhance your landscape once the leaves appear in a month or so. Remember, you’re investing in a healthy root system, in other words, the underground parts that you don’t see are as important as what you do see.

Tree Pruning
Before you plant, take several photos of what your landscape looks like now.
Ask yourself what you like about your garden and note the changes you would like to make. Make notes too about holes in your landscape where the addition of a shrub or tree would make a difference. Consider not only shrubs and trees but perennials that will complement them. Utilizing an experienced landscape architect will insure the proper textures and combinations for your new garden.

This is also a good time to evaluate your hardscape including paths, edging for planting areas, patios, walls, fences, etc. An effective way to tie your garden to your home is to use materials like the materials that your house is constructed of: brick, stone, wood, etc.

Below are a few combinations of shrubs, trees and perennials that make good garden bedfellows.

1. Mophead hydrangeas and perennial Carex ‘Evergold’ as a groundcover. Hellebores also make a good groundcover for hydrangeas.

2. Dogwoods with hydrangeas and Japanese plum yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. prostrata an evergreen groundcover.

3. Oakleaf hydrangeas with white flowers and white Japanese roof iris, (Iris tectorum ‘Alba’ ) half-shade is ideal, good evergreen foliage contrast and white flowers.

4. Camellias with Coral bells (Heuchera) planted in front of them.

5. Japanese maples under planted with sedum (Sedum tetractinum ) evergreen groundcover hugs ground.

6. Perennial to brighten the shade garden, combine with ferns and hostas- variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’).

7. Perennials for full sun to plant with roses and iris, Arkansas blue star, (Amsonia hubrichtii)offers great texture.

8. Limelight Hydrangea, Russian Sage , dwarf crape myrtle and coneflowers-summer color