Home Living in North Georgia

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HOME Living in North Georgia

March | 2018

Get ready to garden

Preparing summer bulbs

Why you should test your soil

Gibbs Gardens goes Japanese


Age healthfully by gardening





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Sooo Succulent


July| August 2015

Plant summer bulbs now


Living in North Georgia

Feel of Japan

24 The Japanese garden is

October | 2017

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On the Cover

The Times’ Healthy Aging Expo is set for March 14. Find information on health, finance and more with demonstrations and guest speakers as well as musical entertainment. PAGE 18

4 | HOME | March 2018

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Succulents Drought-tolerant additions to landscapes, containers By Pamela A. Keene Have you thought about planting succulents in your landscape or in containers to bring a bit of variety to your garden? “Succulents have become a popular trend recently,” says Mildred Fockele, executive director of Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville. “They’re low-maintenance, heat-tolerant and are available in many different varieties.” Characterized by thick, fleshy leaves, succulents store water and can survive extreme drought conditions. Most people are familiar with cacti and aloe, but there are many other types of succulents that can do well in Northeast Georgia and are available in many colors and textures. Some even have blooms. “Succulents are grown for their foliage and occasionally for their flowers,” Fockele says. “The most important thing

to consider is whether they are cold-hardy for our area. Generally, our part of North Georgia is in Zone 7A, but this may vary depending on if you live in an area that has microclimates.” The varieties of succulents offer many choices, including hens-and-chicks, agave, kalanchoe, sedum and stonecrop, plus cacti and yucca. “Box retailers receive large shipments of succulents in the spring, and that’s just the right time to plant them in your garden,” she says. “Groupings of succulents planted in containers add interest to your landscape, deck or patio.” It’s common to plant multiple types of succulents in the same container, using a larger variety as the focal point, then adding smaller cultivars to fill in. “Succulents can be used in rock gardens in a welldrained, sunny part of your yard,” she says. “Think about

Hens-and-chicks with sedum. Photo courtesy Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gainesville March 2018 | HOME | 7

creating a rock garden close to your patio or sidewalk, so that it’s visible to visitors. It can be a great conversation starter because of all the unusual colors and forms of succulents.” Among the choices: Hens-and-chicks, a common rosette-shaped succulent that has a rosette form and reproduces smaller plants clustered around the main plant. “They are easy to grow and most are cold-hardy in our area,” she says. “Sedum, which tend to be lowgrowers, is available in hardy varieties that can be left outdoors in place over the winter. It has small blooms that add interest.” Another succulent that’s similar in appearance, Kalanchoe grows more upright and has larger flowers. It’s more showy than some types of sedum, but it’s not hardy enough to overwinter. “If you’re interested in blooms, one of my

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favorites is dela spurma, also known as ice plant,” she says. “It has small, plump foliage and brightly-colored blossoms that repeat bloom all summer. It’s a good ground cover or addition to a rock garden.” Yucca, with its spear-like leaves, can be a good addition to a landscape. “We have some at the entrance to the garden here and people always comment on the beautiful clusters of white bell-shaped bloom clusters,” Fockele says. “If you’re going to use them in your landscape, be careful about where you plant them because the points of the leaves are very sharp.” They’re evergreen and are available in green and variegated varieties. “As succulents grow in popularity, gardeners have many more options for where and how to use them,” she says. “Just be mindful to read the labels to determine if they will be winter-hardy here. If there’s a succulent you really love that’s not, and you want to plant it outdoors, be prepared to either bring them indoors, or treat them as annuals. Some are so inexpensive that you can afford to simply replace them next year.”

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Botanical Garden ready to blossom Classes and kids’ programs on tap at Gainesville site

By J.K. Devine Photos courtesy ABG Gainesville Nearly five years ago, Lessie Smithgall described the ground-breaking ceremony of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Smithgall Woodland Legacy, as “a dream come true.” The ceremony in April 2013 marked the beginning of Phase I of the newest botanical garden in Georgia. This summer, the Gainesville garden will break ground on its newest section — the children’s garden. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Mildred Fockele, executive director of Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville. "It will be full of places for creative and interactive play." The children's garden will resemble a land filled with dragons, fairies and woodland creatures to inspire imagination in children. Featured areas will be a meadow for the woodland creatures, a fairy garden for the sprits and a treehouse structure. The 2-acre garden also will include a boulder climbing wall, a chase maze and a fort. "The garden will be located on the highest point of the garden where kids can be king of 10 | HOME | March 2018

the hill," Fockele said. With the different areas to build along with a small education pavilion, the Gainesville garden director expects construction to take nine months. She said the plan is to open it to children in the summer of 2019. "The children's garden is great for children to get outside and use their imaginations and play in a fun and safe environment," Fockele said, adding it gets kids away from video games and iPads. "And it is a great way to build future members of the garden and future environmental citizens." The botanical garden, however, is already making strides to galvanize children's interest in the great outdoors. The garden has within it a model train garden, allowing children to play with toy trains from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, according to its website (http://atlantabg.org/learn/kidsprograms#gainesville). It also hosts story time on Wednesday and weekend activities for parents and children. "We currently have discovery stations that are drop-in activities that children can do with

their parents," Fockele said, explaining the stations are manned by garden volunteers. This summer, the botanical garden is offering a half-day summer camp for children ages 4 to 6 on July 19-20. "We are slowly adding programs for children," Fockele said. Kids are not the only ones reaping benefits from the great outdoor world at the botanical garden. Several educational classes, workshops and seminars are available for adults. Events scheduled for March include a plant propagation class, a tulips workshop (painting class) and a container gardening class, according to the garden's website. "We try to tailor classes we have requests for," Fockele said, indicating the Gainesville garden uses Atlanta Botanical Garden in downtown Atlanta as a reservoir of potential classes. "It's nice to have that history and experience to fall back on." The surroundings of the Gainesville botanical garden includes rare, unusual and hard-to-find woodland perennials, as well as many for the sunny border. Woody shrubs and

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seat amphitheater. "It's a beautiful setting to enjoy a concert," Fockele said. "The acoustics are great. Almost all of our concerts are sell-outs." The visitor's center with its larger rooms also provide the perfect plan for business meetings and retreats. Weddings and receptions have also been held on the garden's grounds. With all of its offerings, Fockele said the garden fills a cultural void in Gainesville while allowing the Atlanta Botanical Garden to expand its presence in the region. "Gainesville and Hall County has a great cultural community from the Elachee Nature Science Center, the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids to The Arts Council," she said. "A botanical garden was the one cultural attraction this area did not have." So when Smithgall and her husband Charles donated their 168acre property north of Gainesville as a gift to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Fockele could see the potential. The Gainesville venue, which developed about 5 acres of gardens and three trails, has grown into its own with more planned for the future. "It is great place of great serenity and beauty," Fockele said. For more information, visit atlantabg.org/visit/gainesville.


trees including big leaf magnolia, oakleaf hydrangeas and the evergreen dogwood. Along with the perennials, the garden offers a variety of unusual annuals such as elephant ears, coleus, abutilon, acalypha and begonias, to name a few. Most of these plants were propagated and grown in the garden's greenhouses in Gainesville. The greenhouses are part of the garden's objective for native plant conservation and international plant collection. "So many plants are threatened and in peril on a regional, national and international level, the more we can work with other conservation organizations to save them the better off we will be," Fockele said. While the greenhouses are part of the behind-the-scenes operations, Fockele said the plan is to have guided tours of the conservation areas and greenhouses in the future. Highlighting the beautiful plants in the area as well as exposing and educating the public about them is a major facet of the Gainesville garden, though not the only one. The botanical garden has grown into a major venue for the surrounding area. In the summer, the garden hosts a series of concerts in its 2,000-


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Saving the flora Georgia Native Plant Society is focused on keeping the local wildlife intact while educating others By Michelle Boaen Jameson Photos courtesy GNPS At approximately 800 members strong, the Georgia Native Plant Society has been around for almost 24 years. According to group president Lane Conville-Canney the mission of the organization is “to promote the stewardship and conservation of Georgia’s native plants and their habitats through education and with the involvement of individuals and organizations.” Group events happen throughout the year that include plant sales, educational seminars and workshops. “An annual educational Native Plant Symposium is set for April 7, and fall plant sales, plant rescues, educational workshops and field trips are planned,

12 | HOME | March 2018

said Conville-Canney. The group focuses on native plants, such as native azaleas and rhododendrons, Christmas ferns and American Snowbells. The website defines native plants as “those plants which have inhabited a particular region for thousands of years, arguably plants that were present in a particular area prior to European settlement.” With three chapters throughout the state, the groups can work on saving plants in various habitats from coastal regions to the North Georgia Mountains. According to the group’s website, the purpose of the rescue program is to “relocate native plants that are in the direct path of development. It is a community effort undertaken with the developer’s written permission and with many hours of volunteer labor. Rescued plants go to nature centers, parks, schools, public gardens and backyard habitats.” The website has a complete list of plants on the rescue list as well as photos for identification. You also can suggest a site where native plants need rescuing. How can one become a member? Easy. Just visit gnps.org/getinvolved/become-member. You can work to earn your Native Plant Habitat Certification or you can be an “armchair activist” through donations to the GNPS.

Groups do field work, opposite page, and volunteers can attend educational symposiums, above, or earn certifications, right.


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Can you dig it? Start gardening right with a soil test

By Pamela A. Keene The soil’s the thing that can ensure your plants and landscape flourish and thrive. After all, plants rely on the nutrients in the soil to grow. “A number of factors are at play for plants to grow well,” says Don Linke, Hall County Master Gardener and former president of the 150-member organization, “without getting too technical, different plants need different combinations of nutrients, elements and minerals, and most people may not realize that soil is the starting point in traditional gardening.” The University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension conducts soil tests in the laboratories at the College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies in Athens. You can either pick up test sample bags at your local extension office or go to the website, http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/soiltest123/ Georgia.htm, to order a soil test kit. The official brown-paper sample bags have a place for your name, address and the type of planting for the area. “If you order the soil test kit online, the price includes the postage-paid mailer,” Linke says. “It’s really very convenient. Either way, your results will be sent back to you after a couple of weeks. Then you’ll know what to add to your soil to make your tomatoes flourish or to have the healthiest lawn in your neighborhood.” Here’s how to prepare your samples, using one bag for each growing area or type of plant: n Pick areas that you’d like to test, say for vegetable plantings, annuals or shrubs. n Take a sample from the area by scraping off any mulch, grass or weeds, then digging your shovel about four inches into the ground. 14 | HOME | March 2018

n Take a vertical sample from the side of the hole, getting soil from top to bottom. n Put the sample into a plastic, not metal, bucket and repeat in the same area, eventually collecting four to six separate samples. n Mix them well in the bucket, spread soil on clean white paper to dry overnight, then remove approximately one cup of soil, placing it in

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a clean plastic bag or your brown-paper soil test bag. Repeat in other planting areas, such as lawns, flower beds or vegetable gardens, keeping the samples separate. Different plants require different nutrients and soil acidity to flourish, so it’s important to know how to prepare your soil before you plant. Label each bag with the type of plants you plan to grow. This is very important. If you include your email address, the results will be emailed to you. Take your bagged samples to your local County Extension Office or send them to the lab in Athens, if you’ve ordered the online kit. If you have multiple samples, it will be less expensive to take them to the office because each test will be billed separately. You can ask for recommendations for different crops, but the sample used must be from the same bag. “Once you receive the report, you’ll have a wealth of information to make your garden more productive and rewarding,” he says. For instance, knowing the pH of the soil, whether it’s more alkaline or acidic, can be the difference in blueberries that produce much fruit and those that yield bushelsful. “Georgia’s soil is generally fairly acidic, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically try to adjust the pH by adding lime,” Linke says. “But when you take the time to do a soil test,

you’ll know exactly how to amend the soil in your yard for the types of things you’re growing.” Some plants – like azaleas, camellias and gardenias, plus blueberries and some other fruits and vegetables – prefer a more acidic soil to help them absorb nutrients. However, many plants (and this is where marking the bags of samples with the type of plants you want to grow comes in) need more alkaline soil. This will require adding lime and




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the test will tell you how much per 1,000 square feet. Other amendments and nutrients may be needed as well. The report will let you know. Then, if you have questions, you can call the Hall County Extension office and talk with volunteer Master Gardener who mans the phones Monday through Friday to help the public with their gardening questions. “Now is the best time to do soil testing,” he says. “That will give you enough lead time to get the reports back and amend your soil accordingly and still have several weeks before you plan to plant. It’s a very affordable way to get it right the first time and not waste money on unnecessary soil amendments and fertilizers.” For more information about soil testing and your test results, contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visit http://aesl.ces.uga.edu.

Hall County Master Gardener Spring Garden Expo and Plant Sale Friday, April 6 – 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 7 – 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, Gainesville Adult admission $2 per person No pets, please Annuals, trees, shrubs, perennials, native plants, garden advice. Free speakers: Friday, April 6 11 a.m. – “Great Garden Ferns and Their Shady Friends,” Eleanor Craig, Fern Ridge Farms 1 p.m. -- “Changing Weather: Fact vs. Fiction,” Dr. Rudi Kiefer, Professor of Physical Science, Brenau University Saturday, April 7 11 a.m. – “Why Natives?” Nathan Wilson, Lanier Nursery and Gardens 1 p.m. – “Specialty Gardening: Fairy, Succulent and Water Gardening,” Jean Scharle, Randy's Perennials Hall County Master Gardeners, www.hcmgs.com

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Plant a seed for your health By Michelle Boaen Jameson Everyone knows that getting off the couch and outdoors is all around good for you. But if hiking and biking just aren’t your cup of tea, maybe you should try a little gardening. There are numerous reasons why digging your heels in the dirt can help you age healthfully. Here are a few reasons to slip on a hat and gloves and grow your health: According to gardeninggonewild.com, gardening actually burns calories. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that gardening can burn 330 calories in just one hour. Moderate to heavy gardening can help reduce high blood pressure and also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke according to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Gardening also helps battle osteoporosis. Leaning, digging and stretching all work major muscle groups that build strength. You’ll also get a dose of vitamin D while out in the sun. Just be sure to wear sunscreen! Some scientists say that having your hands in the dirt builds the body’s immune system. The soil is full of microscopic bacteria that is actually good for us.

18 | HOME | March 2018

Oh yeah, did we mention the stress factor? Gardening is one way to reduce stress and boost your mood. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by beautiful flowers? Gardening can also help lower the risk of dementia according to some studies. For more ways to stay active and age healthfully, head to The Times’ South Hall Healthy Aging Expo at The Venue at Friendship Springs on Wednesday, March 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Events include guest speakers from Atlanta Gastro as well as health screenings and demonstrations from Vitamin Shoppe, Moore’s Wealth Management, Judy Paul, Merle Norman Skin Care Class, a fashion show by Belk and entertainment by Justin Terry Music and the Redemption Song Quartet. Learn how to stay on top of your health, your finances, your wardrobe and more. The Venue at Friendship Springs is located at 7340 Friendship Springs Blvd, Flowery Branch. Admission is free.

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Partner with nature to enjoy the great outdoors By Pamela A. Keene Photos courtesy Art of Stone y taking clues from Mother Nature, you can enhance your outdoor living space and add value to your home and property for years to come. The internet’s lifestyle websites offer a plethora of ideas that can fit any budget. “It’s important that you approach any landscape project by first examining the topography of the site,” says Jason Brosche, owner of Art of Stone Landscaping. “If you consider the existing natural elements, you’re ensuring a lifetime of enjoyment with very few, if any, upkeep and maintenance issues.” One of the biggest challenges for homeowners


who want to increase their outdoor living space is dealing with drainage and erosion issues. “Especially in and around Lake Lanier and in the rolling hills of this area; very few lots are flat, and that holds the potential of creating water-related problems down the line,” says Brosche, based in Dahlonega. “There are a number of creative ways to solve water issues that are appealing, look natural and add value to a home.”

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From installing gently sloping outdoor steps to increase lake access to diverting rain-water runoff, dealing with varying terrain can exacerbate water-flow issues. “Many lots are graded and trees are removed when prepping a site to build a home, and if the grade doesn’t conform to the natural slope of the land, it may result in damp basements and crawl spaces or issues with a home’s foundation,” he says. “When trees are removed, the land loses its natural resistance to erosion. The roots help disperse the water as well as keeping the soil from being moved around in heavy rain.” Dry creek beds and retaining walls are often used to manage water run-off. “Using natural rocks and digging a route that follows the natural flow, the water can be diverted away from certain areas of the landscape and directed elsewhere,” he says. Another option is installing a retaining wall of natural or man-made materials. “A retaining wall made of natural or man-made materials can delineate a section of the landscape or create a level area that can be used for gardening, a patio or even a firepit.” Firepit trend heats up Websites like Pinterest offer hundreds of design ideas for fire pits. “They’re becoming much more affordable,” Brosche says. “The styles and technology are constantly evolving as people become savvier about ways to use their outdoor space.” A firepit can be as simple as a rectangular structure of stacked stone in the center of a patio or as complex as a part of a full-blown outdoor kitchen. Free-standing fireplaces and firepits with gas starters or powered by propane make frequent use more convenient throughout the year. They also add ambience and interest to a patio.

“Firepits and outdoor fireplaces work well in North Georgia,” Brosche says. “Lots of people use them yearround as a centerpiece for entertaining and some people even ask for metal swing arms so that they can use a Dutch oven to slow-cook a meal. And of course, there’s nothing better than making s’mores over the open flame, no matter what your age.” Bringing the enjoyment of water to your property Water features are another popular outdoor amenity that can take many forms. “From building a pond for koi and water-loving plants to using the natural slope of the land to add a stream or waterfall, water features can add value to your home,” Brosche says. “Not only do you bring an additional element to your landscape, you’re also creating a multi-sensory experience of sights and sounds to add another dimension to your yard.” Adding moving water to your garden can


A stone retaining wall can be an attractive addition. be as simple as installing a self-contained fountain made from an oversized pottery jug to mapping out a series of ponds and terraces that can be interspersed with steps, seating areas and plants. “With today’s technology, the designs and materials are limitless,” he says. “The main thing is to ensure that your design works with nature to marry your natural landscape with other elements so that it looks like it was always there.” Living on or near Lake Lanier opens a

world of possibilities for enhancing outdoor living space. “By using stone and other natural materials, a brand-new patio or retreat can look like it’s part of the scenery,” he says. “In fact, the most effective additions are those that use elements that exist in the area and complement the natural attributes of the environment.” For more information about outdoor living, visit www.artofstonegardening.com or call 770-519-6372.


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Serenity and Symbolism Gibbs Gardens displays beauty of Japanese landscape By Pamela A. Keene Photos courtesy Gibbs Gardens

Early in his landscaping career, Jim Gibbs developed a love of Japanese gardens, so when he began planning Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground more than 30 years ago, creating a Japanese garden was at the top of his list. Today, the 40-acre Tsukiyama garden is the largest in the United States.

24 | HOME | March 2018

“Most larger world-class gardens have a Japanese garden,” says Gibbs, who founded Gibbs Landscape Company in 1969. He lived in Japan for several years touring gardens there and learning from experts about the nuances and symbolism embodied in these meditative environments. “A Japanese garden is a balance of natural and manmade beauty. By tradition, they have three main elements – water, stones and plants.” He purchased nearly 300 acres in North Georgia in 1985 and began developing more than two-thirds of the land into 16 garden venues

that opened as Gibbs Gardens in 2012. “The plan was to give visitors different garden experiences throughout the year,” he says. “If you came here every three weeks you’d see a different garden every time. We’ve planned our bloom calendar for all-season interest from 20 million daffodils for six weeks in the early spring to the water lilies at our replica of Monet’s bridge in the fall.” The Japanese garden is one of three featured gardens that also include the Manor House and the Waterlily Garden. “The concept features three focal-point gardens in a triangle connected by meandering pathways. People can follow their own paths and, even when we have a large number of guests here, visitors can still experience the gardens at their own pace.”

The Japanese garden at Gibbs Gardens. March 2018 | HOME | 25

Japanese gardens by tradition are created in harmony with nature and Gibbs selected the location early on when planning the 220acre garden destination. “In this area there was a huge spring head, so we created seven ponds with a wandering walk around islands, bridges, boulders and rocks. The natural stone bridge is called ‘Bridge to Heaven.’” Formally called the Japanese Hill and Pond Stroll Garden, the landscape is a multilayered sensory experience. “The sounds of water gently moving over waterfalls and between the ponds provide an audible backdrop for the other natural sounds,” he says. “Light reflects off the water and it’s here that people can stop and quietly meditate to take a break from the distractions of their everyday lives.” The history of Japanese gardens goes back hundreds of centuries, and, in reality, only a few design elements have evolved. One in

particular, adding lanterns, has a practical explanation. “From 300 BC to the 1600s, Japanese gardens didn’t have lanterns, but when they became a place for tea ceremonies, lanterns were added to light the pathways.” Gibbs’ Japanese garden includes 40 stone lanterns hand-made in Japan expressly for Gibbs’ Gardens. Additionally, each boulder was hand-selected to fulfill a traditional representation within the garden. From the cherry trees and azaleas that bloom in the spring to the numerous bonsai that grow there, treasures and surprises fill the topography, no matter the time of year. Gibbs is proud of the bonsai. “We started planting them from the beginning and now some of them are 96 years old,” he says. Symbols abound in the garden, including the boulders that have been strategically researched and place by hand.

“If you came here every three weeks you’d see a different garden every time.” We provide comprehensive dental services designed to help you achieve optimum oral health, which in turn has a positive effect on your overall health.

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“It took us five years to locate the rocks indigenous to this area that reflect the symbolism and they were carefully wrapped in burlap and brought here on flatbed trucks,” he says. “We wanted to be sure that the design elements were authentic. It is by far the most difficult and challenging garden I have ever designed.” In addition to those in the Japanese garden, more than 3,000 Japanese maples of many varieties have been naturalized and planted throughout the woodland property. In 2018, Gibbs is installing another 1,000 grown and nurtured from seedlings on the property and tended for three years in greenhouses. Gibbs Gardens opens on March 1. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors; $10 for children ages 3-17. An annual membership costs $50. To learn more about the Japanese gardens, visit www.gibbsgardens.com or call 770-8948303. The garden’s store offers two DVDs that provide detailed information about the Japanese garden, its creation and symbolism. The website includes an annual Bloom Calendar as well as a listing of special events, concerts and festivals.

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One of the most popular flowering plants in the South is hydrangeas.

Blushing bushes

Bridal wreath spirea in full bloom.

Put some color into your garden with blooming shrubs

By Pamela A. Keene When you drive around Hall County, do you often envy some of the colorful yards you pass by? Truth be told, it’s not that hard to mimic these landscapes by selecting the right kinds of shrubs and planting them in the right conditions. And the good news is that many of these flowering shrubs need very little ongoing maintenance. “You can plan your garden for a succession of blooms all year long,” says Mary Richards, landscape designer and owner of Garden Harmony Design, www.gardenharmonydesign.net, based in Hall County. “Whether your yard is sunny, shady or some combination, there are plants that highlight every season.” Bright-yellow forsythia, also known as “Yellow Bells,” is the first harbinger of spring. They are readily available at box retailers and thrive in a mostly sunny spot. “Forsythia brightens your landscape with little effort,” Richards says. “They like full sun – at least six hours – and they like well-drained soil. A bit of fertilizer in the spring and summer will help deliver more blossoms. They can be pruned or shaped right after they finish blooming.” 28 | HOME | March 2018

Shortly after the yellow bells fade, early-blooming azaleas take over the show. “Some bloom as early as March,” Richards says. “And with the number of native azaleas, hybrids and multi-season encores, you have many choices to extend your bloom season. Just be sure you plant them in the correct space based on their mature size.” Another garden favorite in the South, viburnum provide varied flower forms that range from the football-sized Chinese Snowball to the flatter-blooming doublefile. Some are scented; some also produce berries and colorful foliage in the fall. Look for native varieties to

plant in your garden. Chinese snowballs are excellent to cut and bring indoors. “One of the most popular flowering plants in the South, hydrangeas offer a beautiful show in the summer and you have many varieties that have different bloom forms and bloom times,” Richards says. “Mopheads, the blue, pink or purple ones we typically think of when we think ‘hydrangea,’ like the softer morning light but they do not do well in afternoon sun. Anabelle and Incrediball hydrangeas like a similar environment. “By far my favorites are the Panicle hydrangeas,” she says. “They thrive in full sun, have pyramid-shaped clusters of blooms that in some varieties start out white and fade to pink. Plus, some have colorful foliage in the fall.” She suggests shopping for Baby Lace, Strawberry Vanilla, Limelight or PeeGee panicles for your full-sun garden. Spirea is another flowering shrub that offers many choices for environment and bloom times. “The blossoms, which can range from white to dark pink, are more delicate-looking than hydrangeas,” she says. “They’re a great summer bloomer; just be sure to check the label on the plant for growth habit and bloom time. Gold Mound is very reliable, stays compact and blooms from late June until the first frost. Gardenias are known for their distinctive fragrance and pure-white blossoms. Over the years, plant hybridizers have created numerous choices, from the large-flowered long-blooming August Beauty that can grow up to six feet tall to the diminutive low-growing Daisy that stays around four feet and has single blooms. “Gardenias like full or part sun and have fairly low water needs,” Mary says. “With their glossy deep green foliage, they’re evergreens, so


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they add interest to your winter landscape when so many other shrubs have dropped their foliage. Many types bloom repeatedly throughout the summer.” Getting spring and summer color can be relatively easy, but when it comes to wintertime, Richards suggests another Southern standard – camellias. “The two most familiar types or the sun-loving sasanquas that bloom in the very early winter, and the japonicas, which have larger, more showy blossoms and bloom in December, January and February,” she says. “They’re both evergreens and stand up pretty well to the cold while giving you a bright spot of color when it’s so dreary outdoors.” Spring is a good time to add some color to your landscape, color that will come back year after year by choosing blooming shrubs. “With a little planning and research, you can create an ever-blooming environment that will dazzle your neighbors and passers-by,” Richards says. “Think about your goals and be realistic about what will do best in your yard. I’ve learned over years of designing gardens that the best approach is to look for plants that suit your conditions. We’re fortunate in North Georgia to have so many choices available, from hybrid plants to natives. Sometimes the most difficult part is deciding which plants you like best.”

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Beautiful bulbs

Fresh flowers all summer long

Gladiolus in bloom. 32 | HOME | March 2018

By Pamela A. Keene Tall spikes of colorful gladiolus grace Southern summer gardens and provide long-lasting cut flowers. Stately canna lilies’ orange, red, pink, yellow and striped blossoms rise above large-leafed foliage year after year. Dahlias, some as large as dinner plates, tempt the curious who find it hard to believe they’re real. “So many spring-planted bulbs add color and interest to summer gardens here in Georgia,” says Elaine Kelley, owner of The Potting Shed Nursery in Flowery Branch on Spout Springs Road. “And the good thing about bulbs is that many of them come back year after year without much work.” After the daffodils, which are planted in the fall, finish blooming in February, March and even into April, gardeners have a full palette of choices for summer color that bulbs can provide. “From Oriental and Asiatic lilies and flashy bearded iris to shadeloving caladiums, you really can enjoy many kinds of bulbs,” Kelley says.” The key is to chose wisely and plant your selections in the right conditions. For instance, if a bulb requires full sun, don’t try to force it into a shady spot. You’ll only be disappointed.” Bunches of gladiolus are plentiful in grocery stores once summer arrives, but why not grow your own? The bulbs, in gardeners’ terms they’re called corms, are affordable and can be purchased at area nurseries or in bulk from box retailers. “You can also order them online and may even find a wider selection of colors,” Elaine

says. “The hardest thing about gladiolus is that they tend to fall over because the plants are so tall, and the bloom spikes are heavy. I’ve found that planting them in groups and using peony rings with grids can really help keep them upright.” Plant gladiolus corms in full sun at the back of a cutting garden, then fill in with smaller or shorter flowers in front. Follow package instructions for spacing and depth. She suggests planting groups of them at two-week intervals starting in mid-April to extend the bloom season. Kelley specializes in bearded irises and holds an annual Iris Festival each May at The Potting Shed. “Irises are such beautiful and interesting flowers,” she says. “In full sun, they’ll bloom from the end of April through early to mid-May.” Visitors to The Potting Shed in the spring are greeted by clusters of tall stately irises naturalized

in flower beds with daylilies and perennials. A large iris field at the rear of the property showcases dozens of varieties to select from. “The best time to plant irises is in mid-July to August,” she says. “They’ll bloom for you the next year.” Plant them in well-drained soil in full sun, being careful to position the rhizomes high in the planting hole and just below the surface. “Irises are easy to grow, but to maximize blooms, they should be divided every three to four years.” They require little water, except in extreme drought conditions. Dramatic dahlias have blooms that range from compact ball-types to dinner-plate sized blossoms with spiky petals. Some are daisy-like; others look like forms of chrysanthemums. They are available in a range of colors from pure white to red, pink, purple, burgundy, orange, yellow and splotched/variegated blooms. With more than 20,000


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varieties around the world, dahlias bring a bright spot to the garden with flair. Sometimes confused with zinnias, which are annuals, dahlias are grown from tubers and bloom from July to October. The best planting time is early spring. Select the site based on the growth habit of the variety. Some are only 12 inches tall; others can be as tall as six feet. Taller varieties will need to be staked. Plant in full sun to part shade protected from the afternoon heat. “Mulch them well in the winter to protect the tubers from cold,”

Kelley says. “Dahlias are tender bulbs, and some gardeners actually dig and overwinter them each year.” Asiatic or oriental lilies can bring star-power and fragrance to the garden. “Purchase and plant the bulbs in the spring for same-year blooms,” she says. “The fragrance is distinctive, and they make excellent cut flowers.” True lilies can be planted in containers or directly in the garden. A word of caution: these lilies are not deer-resistant, so you may need to place them closer to your house or on your patio to discourage deer from foraging. They will regrow and rebloom year after year. “Caladiums are one of the few summer bulbs that do well in shade,” Kelley says. “Known for their colorful foliage, they’re typically treated as annuals in our area, or you can dig them when the foliage dies back and store them indoors, then replant them as the spring weather warms.” Dahlias Canna lilies are grown from tubers and like full sun and moist soil. The tall plants have large leaves — either green or stripped variegated — and are topped with clusters of orange, red, yellow or pink blossoms that in some ways resemble the blooms of gladiolus. “The foliage and the flowers provide great garden interest,” Kelley says. “However, cannas can be invasive, so be careful to purchase newer hybrids that are not as aggressive.” For more information about bulbs and their garden cousins, tubers, corms and rhizomes, contact The Potting Shed Nursery at http://www.pottingshednursery.com or call 770-067-9049.

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March 4 Morris Stancil “Gospel Music.” 3 p.m. Cumming Playhouse, 101 School St., Cumming. $15. March 5 A Little Night(hawk) Music Concert Series. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Ed Cabell Theatre, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood. Lego Club. 5-6 p.m. Hall County Library System, Murrayville Branch, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 171, bhood@ hallcountylibrary.org. Free. March 6 The Young Irelanders. The Arts Council Signature Series. 7-9:30 p.m. Pearce Auditorium, 200 Blvd., Gainesville. 770534-2787. $18-80. March 7 Knitters Club. 1-2 p.m. Hall County Library System, Murrayville Branch,

4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 171, bhood@hallcountylibrary.org. Free. March 10 Carly Burruss Band. 3 p.m. Cumming Playhouse, 101 School St., Cumming. $15. Dempsey Dash 5K. 8-11 a.m. Brenau Amphitheatre, 100 Smithgall Lane, Gainesville, kmaddox@brenau.edu. Free. March 12 “Let It Rise!” Gospel Choir Concert. 7:30-9 p.m. Hosch Theatre, John S. Burd Center, 429 Academy St., Gainesville. 770-538-4764. Free. March 13 Nutrition Discussion Group. 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Lumpkin County Library, 342 Courthouse Hill, Dahlonega. March 15 American Red Cross Blood Drive. Noon to 5 p.m. Lumpkin County

Library, 342 Courthouse Hill, Dahlonega. Happy Bookers Book Discussion Group. 1:30-3 p.m. Lumpkin County Library, 342 Courthouse Hill, Dahlonega. Crafty Stitchers Quilting Club. 5:308 p.m. Hall County Library System, Murrayville Branch, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 171, bhood@hallcountylibrary.org. Saint Patrick’s Day Craft. 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Hall County Library System, Murrayville Branch, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 171, bhood@hallcountylibrary.org. Free. March 16 15th Annual Youth Art Month. 5:30-7 p.m. Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville. 770-5362575, paula.lindner@quinlanartscenter. org. Free.

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