Signs of season

first_imgBy Jim MidcapUniversity of GeorgiaSpring dashes in like a lion and seems to disappear nearly asfast. But while it’s here, the succession of flowering trees andshrubs provides an array of color and fragrance to enjoy.Each day there’s something new. Each year, special plants appearthat would look great in my own garden. This year, I kept a list.Winter hazel (Corylopsis). The winter hazels aremid-size to large shrubs with fragrant, late-winter toearly-spring blooms. The dainty, pale-yellow flowers hang down 1to 3 inches at each node on the branches.The plants prefer organic, acid soils in partial shade. Thebuttercup winter hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora), issmaller, reaching only 4 to 6 feet tall.Winter daphne (Daphne odora). The winter daphneforms a broad mound covered with dark green, evergreen leaves.Rosy purple buds open into pink flowers from January to earlyMarch. Clusters of tiny flowers cover the ends of every branch,and a spicy fragrance fills the garden.Old plants can get 3 to 4 feet tall and slightly wider. Plantthem in partial shade on well-drained sites. It doesn’t toleratepoor drainage.Redleaf Chinese loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense var.rubrum). The flowering, redleafed loropetalums werespectacular this spring. The reddish pink flowers covered theplants for three to four weeks. The new growth comes out purplishred, with a few extra flowers thrown in.These evergreen plants are adapted to sun or shade. They’redrought-tolerant and pest-free. They get 8 to 15 feet tall andnearly as wide. But all can be pruned to maintain the desiredheight and form. Ruby is the smallest, while the hardy “ZhuzhouFuschia” grows into a multistem tree.Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens). Thisnative, deciduous azalea shows up along stream banks in lateMarch and early April. The reddish purple buds and pink flowersjump out of the woods to grab you before the forest canopydevelops.These fragrant azaleas grow 6 to 10 feet tall and just as wide.They’re at home as understory plants but will grow in full sunwith enough moisture. The early flowers and fragrance make them adelight in the garden.Chinese snowball viburnum (Viburnum macrocephalumsterile). This beautiful viburnum has flower clusters 6 to 10inches across, all sterile, turning from apple green to purewhite. Since no fruit develops, the early-spring flowering lastssix to eight weeks.Plant them in full sun for the best flowering, but they do OK inpartial shade. They prefer acid soils and good drainage. Plantsgrow to 12 to 15 feet but can be cut back to control their size.They usually develop scattered flowers in the fall.Doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var.tomentosum). These are aristocrats in the garden. Thegraceful, horizontal branches are covered with clusters of whiteflowers in spring. A double row runs down each branch, withlarge, sterile flowers circling the outside of each cluster.The dark green leaves are deeply veined and usually turn wine redin the fall. Summer brings a good fruit set that turns cherry redand then black. This viburnum isn’t drought-tolerant. You’ll haveto give it water in the summer. But they do well in sun orpartial shade and reach 8 to 15 feet tall.These are outstanding additions to any garden. You may have tosearch the nurseries and garden centers to find them.(Jim Midcap is an Extension Service horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img