Right on cue for Easter, the bare branches of Dogwood trees are filled with their signature creamy blooms. This small native tree only grows to about 20 feet high. Dogwoods prefer part shade. Morning sun is best.
This year seeing Dogwood blooms on my trees is special. About 10 years ago, I planted three seedlings. However I put them in too much shade under three huge oak trees and they never flowered. Last year, those oaks died and after they were removed, morning sun began to filter in. For the first time, my Dogwoods are loaded with blooms and that part of my yard looks just like I had hoped all those years ago. Sometimes nature is a better gardener than humans.
The spicy-sweet scent wafting through the yard signals that the Sweetshrub, or Carolina Allspice, is in bloom. This native plant grows wild along the east coast from Pennsylvania to Northern Florida and west to Mississippi. Sweetshrub can tolerate full sun but part shade is much better. The one in the pictures is a true native--it somehow escaped the bulldozer when my house was built. Lucky for me--it's nice to have such a lovely fragrant shrub in my yard.
It's Dogwood season here in Georgia--they're blooming everywhere. Most have drifts of snowy white flowers, but there are pink varieties, too. I spotted this beauty in my neighbor's yard. It's a young tree that bloomed for the first time this year.
The Dogwood is hardy in zones 5-9, growing up to 25 feet high and just as wide. In the wild, this native tree grows under the forest canopy and thrives in rich, moist soil. So pick a spot with filtered shade or afternoon shade and water it if conditions are especially dry.
I have four white Dogwoods which are beautiful, but now I have a serious case of Pink Dogwood envy. I love the distinctive rosy color of the petals and really want one for my own. Who can blame me??
How do squirrels know the exact moment to plunder? The serviceberries have ripened and this little pest is the first to gorge. Although I'd prefer that birds get the succulent berries, there's no stopping a squirrel.
The four goslings and eleven ducklings are still doing well. However, watching the ducklings has caused me to rethink my attitude toward this untidy part of my yard, a marshy area covered with grasses, Cattails, and weeds. Why the ducklings? Last year I had the landscaper cut back the whole area in late winter. The marsh looked cleaner, but there were no ducklings the following spring. I was going to do the same this year, but persistent rains made the area too wet to work in. This spring we have ducklings.
Coincidence? I don’t know, but it’s enough to make me question the wisdom of mowing the marsh. The tall grasses and weeds provide concealed nesting areas for ducks and seeds for birds. Even the invasive Cattails serve a purpose—ducklings swim among them for cover while foraging. The boggy area doesn’t conform to the suburban ideal of a manicured yard, but there is beauty in the marsh’s wildness.
I know that other, less savory, creatures inhabit the marsh, like rodents and snakes, but they’re part of nature, too. And it gives
them a place to call home that’s far from my house.
Even though I still dream of beautiful flower beds and a pristine lawn stretching to the lake, a manicured marsh wouldn’t seem like an improvement to the birds, waterfowl, and other creatures. The natural look is here to stay!
This glorious puffy cloud of is the Grancy Graybeard in full bloom! Known also as a Fringe tree, this native plant thrives in woodlands from Pennsylvania to Florida and west to Texas and Arkansas. The name comes from the spiraling feathery blooms, which resemble a gray beard. It’s a small tree, growing only to about 20 feet, which attracts insects while flowering with a light fragrance.
When I was a little girl, my family always took a trip to the Smoky Mountains in springtime. I remember what a thrill it was to see the distinctive white haze of the Grancy Graybeard in the woods. Seeing my very own Grancy Graybeard in bloom always brings back happy memories of those trips.
I love the way Nature cascades spring-flowering trees to give us a couple of months of beauty. Here in Georgia the first to bloom is the Bradford Pear. As that tree fades, the other fruit trees--Cherries, Crabapples, Peaches, and Plums--burst into bloom. Then it’s time for the Mayhaws and Serviceberries. Those trees have now lost their blooms, so it’s the Canada Red Select Chokeberry’s turn to shine.
This chokeberry variety is a fast-growing native tree that reaches only 20-25 feet high. In Spring it sprouts bright green leaves followed by racemes of lovely white flowers. After the blooms fade, the leaves turn a deep maroon for the summer. Chokeberry blooms attract butterflies and bees and the small red fruits that follow are a favorite of birds and wildlife.
The Chokeberry blooms signal that the spring-flowering tree season is almost over, but there’s one more yet to go. Stay tuned for the lovely Hawthornes!
The azaleas are in full bloom now, but none is quite as eye-catching as this orange Exbury Azalea. Set against a bank of hot pink blooms, this one really brings some amped-up color.
Exbury Azaleas are members of the rhododendron family and many are native to the Eastern U.S. There are pink, white, and orange varieties. There’s also another Exbury azalea in the yard which blooms a little later than this one. I call it a “true native” because it was here before the house was built and somehow managed to survive the bulldozer. I could say that it’s one lucky plant, but I’m really the lucky one to have such a survivor in the yard.
If you're looking for a hardy tree that's sensational in all four seasons and attracts birds, the Serviceberry is the answer. In spring, clusters of delicate white flowers cover the tree followed by bright fruit that birds love. In fall, the lush green leaves of summer turn to striking gold and red. In the dead of winter, shapely branches lend interest to an otherwise bleak landscape.
There are many varieties of serviceberries. The pictures above are the blossoms of the Princess Diana serviceberry. The Princess Diana is about 20 feet high after twelve years. It’s thrived despite being mauled by a beaver two years after I planted it.
These are flowers of the Autumn Brillance Serviceberry. I'm so excited because this is the first year the trees have flowered, even though they're the same age as the Princess Diana. The two Autumn Brilliance didn't do well in the first location. The ground was too hard and dry so I transplanted them about 8 years ago. The trees took off but the new location was too shady. Now they're tall enough for the upper branches to get more sun.
Serviceberries aren't that common here in Georgia, but they should be. Every yard needs one of these versatile trees. The birds agree with me, too.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Eagle Cam 2014 This camera streams the activities of the eagle nest located 110 feet up, in a tree on the grounds of the US FWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.