On Thursday, April 18th, 2013, the Merry Weather Garden Club traveled to Pike County to join the Concord Garden Club for its 15th annual Lunch and Learn Garden Lecture Series. Held in the unique old Strickland Store, members enjoyed shopping at garden, book, and bakery vendors before lunch with members from Redbud District Garden Clubs and interested gardeners from our area.
Helen Phillips from Garden Solutions in LaGrange was the featured speaker and the program was on the topic of “Year ‘Round Color in the Landscape.” Year around color was not the only approach to landscaping however and she emphasized height variations, colors, texture, and scent to make an interesting garden.
Phillips said that texture in the garden makes the biggest difference of all because texture creates interest. To test for texture she said take black and white pictures of your garden and judge from them whether or not you have variations in texture.
Scent also makes a fabulous experience and the sense of smell is one of the most memorable of the senses. When the senses are engaged, the experience stays in the memory bank. Plants like anise, while pretty, smell like yesterday’s fish left in the sun. Pleasant fragrances come from tea olives, banana shrub, viburnum, scented geraniums, and ground covers like mint.
The basic landscape is evergreen but the homeowner can do better than just meatball shaped hollies surrounding the house’s foundation. Save pockets in the landscape for seasonal surprises: spring bulbs, summer dahlias, lilies, and liatrus, and in the fall spider lilies.
Considerations to use when you mix into the greens are the color of a plant’s bark, the shape of the twigs, the seed heads and whether they stay attached. Another consideration is to find out where plants come from and will do best: Martha Washington geraniums need shade not sun like most geraniums, a grey plant is typically a plant for sunny spots.
An important consideration is to adjust for the view: the garden from a favorite window, where guests drive in, focal points like fountains or sculpture, or from sitting on a porch. Coral bark Japanese maple is stunning in the winter when the leaves are gone. Phillips asked Lynda Woodall to describe the maple to the crowd and Lynda said its red bark was amazing against the snow in winter and like a sculpture throughout the cold season.
Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick is a unique plant with its twisted, curly cue limbs and dangling catkins that make a statement in the garden. Florida Jasmine is great for a slope to provide help with soil erosion and a plus is the early winter bloom. Pieris or lily of the valley shrub blooms late in winter, has great burgundy new foliage with interesting seed heads. Variegated foliage like acuba adds texture and interest and today we have varieties with stripes or dots plus it is still a flower arrangers’ best friend.
Fatshedera is a great climber that needs to be used more. For texture Phillips said you can’t beat a creeping yew. Cast iron plant is a plant that adds texture and the speckled variety makes the plant more useful than for just circling a tree like once common. Holly ferns and autumn ferns are both great for texture as is the pipe plant. Re-blooming azaleas, mountain laurel, and lilac varieties are now made for Georgia and our heat and humidity. The Miss Kim lilac (purple) and Betsy Ross (white) are new lilacs made specifically for our area.
For many, gardening in containers is the way to go. Phillips displayed containers for shade with liriope, needlepoint ivy, caladiums, begonias, and tiarella that were stunning. A container for a sunny spot held white geraniums, lambs ear, euphorbia, white vinca, and Texas sage. Both were beautiful with texture and color and height variations.
The next meeting of the Merry Weather Garden Club is May 7th when the club will view the lady slippers while touring Cochran Mill Nature Center. For more information, contact Gail Coffee.