Shade Shufflers

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.

Thomas Jefferson

Neomarica gracilis, a clumping herbaceous perennial, is more commonly known as walking iris, fan iris, or apostle’s iris. This long limbed lithesome beauty thrives in zones 9-11. However, it will also do well in mild Mobile winters. If temperatures dip, damaged leaves will need snipping in the spring. Plants earn the name, walking iris, by producing plantlets on the flower stalks. The stalk, often mistaken for a leaf, bends to the ground where the plantlet takes root, grows into a mature plant, flowers the next spring, and produces plantlets. And off they go! Native to tropical areas of Central America, these productive plants require shade to part shade and moist soil. In addition to garden beds, large containers and hanging baskets will house these okay to pass-along plants. Learn more at the following link. Walking Iris

More Than A Houseplant

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

While the common Pilea cadierei, or aluminum plant, is known by many gardeners as a houseplant, it also deserves a place in Mobile gardens as a striking outdoor plant. A native of southeast Asia, this perennial grows to a height of 12 or more inches and is a perfect filler in shady beds. It also does well in containers. Withstanding mild winters, leggy plants will require trimming back in the spring. Stick the cuttings in a bucket of potting soil and roots will appear in a less than a month. Learn more about this worthwhile addition by clicking on the following link. Aluminum plant

Exotic Drama

God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.

Francis Bacon

Fatsia japonica, a tropical native, is a favorite for many southern gardeners. Its lobed, shiny, leathery leaves are stand outs, adding exotic elegance to shade gardens. Needing annual pruning to maintain shape, this lovely produces clusters of white flowers and berries that are eaten by birds. It grows well in zones 8-11 and can also be used as a house plant. For more information about the beauty click on the following link. Fatsia japonica

Persistent Perennials

“Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.”

Eudora Welty

Purple heart, a native of Mexico, is an easy to grow plant well suited to the southern garden. This perennial can be used in beds, hanging baskets, and pots. Pinching/removing plant tips will make baskets and pots fuller. If bed containment is desired, frequent pruning is necessary. However, pruning sheers aren’t needed; shoots break easily. Throw them into the compost pile and new plants will quickly take root. Plants die back in freezing temperatures and purple leaves reappear in the spring. Purple heart is one of those plants that is okay to pass along. Learn more about this plant by clicking on the provided link. Purple heart

Native Joy

Oakleaf Hydrangea

“Plants are our food, oxygen, and medicine. Some even say they are one of the most pleasurable experiences on earth! From the flowers to the trees and the seas filled with coral dreams; the earth’s natural flora has inspired and enhanced humans for as long as time can tell. That’s why the power of plants is the key to unlocking our enjoyment of life.”
Natasha Potter

Oakleaf hydrangea, a native of the Southeastern United States, can be found in every county in the state of Alabama – no wonder it has been designated as the state wildflower! Needing lots of space to sprawl, this perennial produces large, fragrant flowers which delight the eye with progressively changing colors.

Hydrangeas are staples of the Southern garden. Refer to the wonderfully detailed Alabama Extension Service article to learn more about oakleaf as well as other hydrangeas. Fall is planting time – start planning your additions now.

Water the Ferns Too

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” .Martin Luther

An asparagus fern lends its prickly grace to a porch setting, even if resting upon an old plow.

Asparagus ferns are actually members of the lily family, not ferns at all! The inedible berries should have given us a clue-true ferns produce by spore production. Asparagus densiflorous sprengeri , a native of South Africa, likes sun to part shade and can withstand most Mobile winters. However, they need covering in freezing temperatures. Learn more about these easy-to-grow porch perennials at the following link. Asparagus ferns

Happy Places

Boston Fern

Frog said, ‘I wrote ‘Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend. Your best friend, Frog.’ ‘Oh,’ said Toad, ‘that makes a very good letter.’ Then Frog and Toad went out onto the front porch to wait for the mail. They sat there, feeling happy together.” Arnold Lobel

Southern porches are very good places to feel happy together. Dress those happy places with lemonade, conversation, and at least one graceful, green fern. Most ferns require shade, water, and humidity. Click on the link below to learn how to care for these Southern summer staples.

Boston Fern Care

Native Solutions

What is a weed? A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Virginia Creeper

While many gardeners see the Virginia creeper as a pest to be eradicated, some embrace this native and use it in the landscape. A bare, weathered fence can be transformed by allowing this creeper to do its thing. Often mistaken for poison ivy, this vine has five leaflets, while poison ivy has three leaflets. Learn more about this native vine by clicking on the link Virginia Creeper.

Refer to the following link for information about poison ivy identification.

Poison Ivy

Odoriferous Lantana

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

Lantana is about everything you need to attract butterflies. Clusters of multicolored flowers will keep pollinators happy throughout the summer months. Plants require at least 6 hours of sun, well drained soil, and ample space for growth. Caution should be exercised in using this plant in landscapes where small children and pets are present. It is toxic. Refer to the link below to learn more about this Gulf Coast perennial.


Marigold Merriment

“You can spend your whole life traveling around the world searching for the Garden of Eden, or you can create it in your own backyard.” Khang Kijarro Nguyen

When planning your own Garden of Eden, start with easy-to-grow marigolds. Native to the New World, marigolds were  cultivated by the Aztecs for religious, medicinal, and magical purposes. The large seeds make these annuals good choices for children’s gardening activities. Seeds as well as plant cell packs can be found at local garden centers.   Plants require full sun and larger blossoms are achieved in poor soils. Better soils result in greener growth and fewer blossoms.  For more information click on the link below.