Experience has taught me what will thrive here and what won't. The list of trees, shrubs and perennials that have died in this garden is long and the losses have sometimes been expensive. I remember fondly the stunning Sweet Bay Magnolia's that croaked, the red twig dogwood that hated the hot, humid weather, and the many rhododendrons and azaleas that looked stunning for one season and slowly declined until I yanked them out of my misery. I now know better than to rely on any plants that need constantly moist, well draining soil. No way, no how!
|Believe it or not Rhododendron periclymenoides is native to my county and can tolerate dryer soil
|Hamamelis vernalis is native to Missouri not Tennessee
Trust me, even with guidelines, I am not plant deprived. It's only when it comes to evergreen shrubs that I feel stuck. We're supposed to have evergreens right! They give the garden color and structure year round. But, finding evergreens that make sense for my garden has been an uphill battle. My garden's sunny areas can support Juniperus virginica 'Grey Owl'. Like the tree form of Red Cedar, "Grey Owl' has a taproot that can grow through the tiniest fissure in the bedrock to find soil. Heck, if you've driven through Middle TN you've seen them growing straight out of the limestone all along our interstates.
|Ilicium parviflorum is endemic to Florida.
Look at what I found~ Illicium parviflorum 'Florida Sunshine'.
Isn't it stunning?
I saw it across a crowded nursery and it was plant lust at first sight! It had big, bold chartreuse leaves that smelled of anise when bruised. They had two, I bought them both!
|Chartreuse and purple go well together
Those big bold chartreuse leaves were just what my garden needed. I planted it right in front of a new Callicarpa americana. The purple berries and chartreuse leaves will dance beautifully together next fall.
|winter color is nearly parchment
The contrast is wonderful.
Dense shrub form to 8' tall by 6' wide, maybe larger in 10+ years.
Winter shade is recommended to reduce leaf burn, add Permatil to clay soils to help with drainage.
Zone 7 (maybe 6) to 9
adaptable to soil type, I will keep the soil slightly acidic
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.