Fall, not spring, is the time in this region to clear away dead leaves and branches, to renovate the borders, to start new gardens…. And even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence, A Southern Garden
While the leaves may be turning in some southern gardens, Mobile gardens still have an abundance of flowers to enjoy. In the photo, the large blue flower is plumbago or Plumbago auriculate, while the smaller one, is pigeon berry or Duranta erecta. Both attract a plethora of pollinators. However, pigeon berry may not be suitable for all gardens as the small yellow fruit is toxic.
Click on the following links to learn more about these perennials.
The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before ~ Vita Sackville-West, 1892 – 1962
Baccharis halimifolia, known as saltbush, groundsel, or sea myrtle is a common sight along salt marshes and wetlands in Mobile. A long-lived, salt tolerant perennial, this native woody shrub grows in full sun to light shade, reaching heights of 7-15 feet and widths 5 to 7 feet. Plants produce clouds of creamy white flowers in the fall, providing nectar for migrating Monarch butterflies. While not a commonly planted species, specimens can be used to form screens and buffers, and can be pruned to suitable heights. Learn more about this member of the daisy family at the following links.
Wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera, another evergreen, native species that can be used in the landscape, is also known as southern bayberry and southern wax myrtle. Growing to a height of 20 feet and width of 10-15 feet, this native prefers acid soils in full sun or partial shade. Early settlers boiled the berries, extracting the wax to make bayberry candles. Learn more about this fast growing native at the following links.
The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. Michael Pollan
Meeting nature halfway is easy to do if one chooses to incorporate native plant species in the landscape. Native species, adapted to the local environment, are climate hardy and resistant to pests. Native to the eastern U.S., winged sumac, Rhus copallinum, offers graceful compound leaves, beautiful fall foliage, and fruit for songbirds. In addition to being a host plant for the Red-Banded Hairstreak butterfly, the plant’s red berries can be used to make jelly and “Indian” lemonade. Due to high tannin content, fiber enthusiasts use the leaves for dyeing wool and cotton fibers. While winged sumac is adapted to many soil types, it doesn’t like “wet feet”. So landscapes with well drained soil and full sun to partial shade would be suitable locations for this deciduous native plant. For more information, refer to the following sites. North Carolina Extension Garden Plant Box
Doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, your neighbors are going to talk about you anyway. – Felder Rushing
Natural areas in the landscape can be made more pleasing to neighboring eyes by adding amendments reflecting purposeful planning. Horticulturist, author, and originator of the Master Gardeners program, Felder Rushing, suggests adding benches, pathways, fences and objects signifying thoughtful processes that set aside habitat for wildlife. Wildlife may include pollinators such as native ground nesting bees. Rethinking the need for the highly manicured monoculture called a lawn, will have a positive effect upon the environment. Fertilizers, pesticides and a myriad of other chemicals used on thousands of lawns, find their toxic way into storm drains through runoff. Whatever goes into storm drains goes into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Natural areas with networks of roots and an abundance of organic matter prevent runoff. As Felder says, your neighbors are going to talk about you anyway, so do the environment a favor – adopt the natural landscape idea.
I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend. C. Z. Guest
Hyphoetes phyllostachya, a native of Madagascar, is planted for its colorful foliage. Available in a variety of colors, the polka dot plant does well in shade, can get leggy and may require pruning. Cuttings of this perennial are easily rooted to brighten even more shady, well drained areas of the landscape. The Splash series include pink, white, and red specimens. Learn more about these bright little garden additions at the following links.
The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. — Michael Pollan
Hamelia patens, a native of Florida, is known by several names including Mexican Firebush, Scarlet Bush, Hummingbird Bush and Firecracker Shrub. A hardy, long lived perennial, this drought tolerant, pollinator plant can grow to more than 10′ tall, can be propagated by seed, and prefers full sun to partial shade. The orange-red, yellow tipped tubular flowers are perfect nectar sources for hummingbirds and butterflies. So plan and plant this delightful woody shrub in the landscape. The hummingbirds, butterflies and migratory birds will thank you. Learn more about Hamelia patens at the links below.
“Beyond the harm to local wildlife, any chemicals we used in our garden might end up polluting our well, or run off the property. In a heavy rainstorm, this runoff may end up in nearby Beaver Creek, a tributary to the Brandywine Creek, which runs into the Delaware River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. These kinds of direct connections with the outside world exist in every garden, which is why I think we should always aim, in our gardening practices, to do the least harm and the greatest good.” ― David L. Culp, The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage
Planting native species in the landscape is a win for the homeowner and a win for the environment. Native species, logical choices in avoiding the use of pesticides, are adapted to local climate conditions and require less watering. Illicium floridanum, a broadleaf evergreen shrub, native to the lower southeastern states, requires a shady, moist landscape and rewards the gardener with a rich, spicy fragrance. Learn more about this native at the following sites.
There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. Mirabel Osler
Brushing a hand through the limbs of a rosemary bush will surely bring a smile and an “ah” from the passing gardener. The breath taking aroma, an instant form of therapy, is a worthy reason to include this herb in the coastal garden. A native of the Mediterranean region, the woody perennial was used by the early Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Thriving in sunny locations, the drought tolerant shrub can be propagated by taking cuttings from new growth. Learn more about this fragrant herb at the following links. Wikipedia
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~Walt Whitman
Callicarpa americana or American beautyberry, a southern U.S. native, makes frequent appearances in coastal gardens. Many gardeners quickly remove these visitors, equating them to troublesome weeds. However, some welcome these natives, finding their large serrated leaves and unusual odor a benefit to their gardens. The magenta colored berries also add color and provide food for wildlife. Learn more about this odorous native shrub at the following websites. NC Extension Gardener Toolbox