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.
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??
I was admiring the Canada Select Red Chokeberry tree and spotted this Tiger Swallowtail butterfly enjoying the nectar. A blooming Chokeberry means that Spring flowering tree season is almost over. It's one of the last trees to flower, but worth waiting for.
This fast-growing native tree sprouts bright green leaves in Spring followed by racemes of delicate white flowers. After the blooms fade, the leaves turn a deep maroon for the summer. Chokeberry blooms attract butterflies and lots of bees. The small red fruits that follow are a favorite of birds and wildlife.
I didn't know anything about the Chokeberry when I asked the local nursery for a tree that would attract birds and butterflies. It's certainly does that, but I had no idea that the Chokeberry would provide four seasons of enjoyment for me, too.
We've been eagerly awaiting springtime here in Georgia and it seems that overnight the flowering trees have burst into bloom. The Flowering Crabapple tree (above) in my front yard is a glorious cloud of fuchsia that can be seen all the way down the street.
The Mayhaw, which I'd given up for dead a couple of years ago, rebounded nicely and is loaded with dainty white flowers and tons of pink buds.
The Princess Diana Serviceberry tree is in full bloom. Each delicate blossom will become a succlent berry. Birds love Serviceberries and swarm the tree when they ripen in May.
The Thundercloud Purple Plum is covered in lavender flowers followed by inky purple foliage making this the most spectacular tree in the yard.
And of course, what Georgia yard would be complete without a peach tree? This Elberta Peach sports lovely pink blossoms, each of which will become a peach. Too bad I won't get any--the deer nab the fruit as soon as it ripens. But I get to enjoy the Springtime show so I'll be content with that.
There’s hope for spring. The Saucer Magnolia, also known as the Japanese Magnolia or Tulip Tree, is in full bloom. This deciduous magnolia looks sensational with its leafless branches covered in saucer sized blooms that are white inside and pink or purple outside.
Hardy in zones 5-9, the Saucer Magnolia prefers moist (not wet) acidic soil and full sun to part shade. Even though it isn’t considered drought tolerant, my tree weathered several years of drought without a problem.
This beautiful tree grows up to 25 feet high and can be cultivated in a tree shape with a single trunk or more shrub-like with multiple trunks. My Saucer Magnolia was a single trunk which kept getting taller and taller until it blocked the view of the lake. Two years ago, my landscaper recommended cutting it down, then when new shoots emerged, let 3 or 4 develop into trunks. He assured me it wouldn’t die, but I was a little skeptical.
As you can see, it worked. The Saucer Magnolia now has 4 healthy trunks and is covered in blooms. I’m sure it will continue to grow taller, but pruning will be much easier. Now this lovely tree will continue to herald the coming of Spring.
Even with us still seemingly stuck in winter, the yard is poised for Spring. The Pieris just burst into bloom. This shade-loving shrub sports clusters of tiny flowers that resemble those of the Lily of the Valley. In fact, that’s its nickname—Lily of the Valley shrub.
Pieris is hardy in zones 5-9 and can thrive in dry conditions and Georgia’s unforgiving red clay soil. Last year I planted seven of these evergreen beauties under the canopy of the Crabapple tree in my front yard. The soil in that shady spot is rock-hard and crisscrossed with tree roots. Everything I’d planted there before, such as hosta, impatiens and coleus, either died or was eaten by the deer.
Amazingly, the delicate pink blooms tell me the Pieris shrubs actually like living in the shadow of the Crabapple. I’m glad I didn’t give up—sometimes it just takes a while to find the right plant for a bad location.
It's been a rough winter by Georgia standards. Weeks of sub-freezing temps and a snowstorm battered my plants. However, when I walked around the yard this afternoon, I saw lots of signs that Spring may not be far away. Daffodils are sprouting all over the yard and the Mayhaw tree is loaded with magenta buds.
The Saucer Magnolia's branches are heavy with fat buds.
Sword-shaped Iris leaves are showing.
Even though Catnip is an annual, this perky green patch somehow looks unaffected by the miserable winter.
And today with mild temperatures, Rusty the stray cat enjoyed a serene morning by the lake.
After some pretty brutal weather (for Georgia, that is), today was amazing--60 degrees and sunny. With a day like that, who'd want to stay indoors? Since many plants should be pruned when they're dormant, I hauled out my trusty red pruning saw and lavender loppers and did some winter pruning.
I began by cutting back the two big Chaste trees to about 2.5 feet. They were due for a major prune this year. Those trunks are 2-3 inches in diameter so my arm will probably be sore tomorrow from hacking away with that pruning saw.
Then I moved on to the Butterfly Bush, Rose of Sharon, Bald Cypress, and Beautyberry bushes. When I was finished, I had this huge pile of limbs and another one the same size on the other side of the yard.
The Hibiscus and Cat's Whiskers overwintering in the garage were looking pretty ragged, so I decided to let them enjoy the sunshine,too.
Tommorrow is supposed to be cold again--temps in the 40's and very windy. It'll be a good day to stay inside and admire how tidy the yard looks after my day in the sun.
The thick, tangled branches of hollies are especially attractive to birds that nest in trees, providing protection from the elements and cover for the nestlings. The Yaupon continued to grow wildly throughout the summer and I wanted to cut it back, but waited, not wanting to jeapordize another nest. Besides, December is the perfect time to severely prune hollies. So, this week I had all my tree pruning done and for the first time saw the intricate Cardinal nest that almost wasn't. Pruning will be done on time from now on!
The Bald Cypress has really bounced back from a severe mauling by the last beaver that lived in the lake. About this time four years ago, the furry lumberjack took up residence in the lake, built a little pond, and wreaked havoc with my landscape. He felled the beautiful Bald Cypress tree and stripped it bare. I was sure the tree was dead. Here’s the sad picture.
But nature is resilient and you can see that the Bald Cypress didn’t die—it’s full and lush. For the first time ever, it’s produced fruit, too. These little grey-green globes will thicken and turn brown as they mature. Very few birds can crack the tough hull to get to the seed so it isn’t a favorite food.
This lovely tree is a deciduous conifer that grows 50 to 70 feet tall. It does well in wet areas like the marsh and all the rain this summer helped the Bald Cypress recover. Of course, the tree won’t be as stately as it was before. Now it resembles a bushy Christmas tree. Seeing it, though, makes me think about that beaver. Now that the marsh is overgrown with wild willow trees and sycamores, he needs to return and tidy up.
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.