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.
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.
- Mophead hydrangeas and perennial Carex 'Evergold' as a groundcover. Hellebores also make a good groundcover for hydrangeas.
- Dogwoods with hydrangeas and Japanese plum yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. prostrata an evergreen groundcover.
- Oakleaf hydrangeas with white flowers and white Japanese roof iris, (Iris tectorum 'Alba' ) half-shade is ideal, good evergreen foliage contrast and white flowers.
- Camellias with Coral bells (Heuchera) planted in front of them.
- Japanese maples under planted with sedum (Sedum tetractinum ) evergreen groundcover hugs ground.
- Perennial to brighten the shade garden, combine with ferns and hostas- variegated Solomon's seal (Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum').
- Perennials for full sun to plant with roses and iris, Arkansas blue star, (Amsonia hubrichtii)offers great texture.
- Limelight Hydrangea, Russian Sage , dwarf crape myrtle and coneflowers-summer color