GROOMS GARDENING: Appreciate the beauty of spring – Valdosta Daily Times


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What a beautiful world we live in. Drive down any street in Valdosta for several blocks, you will see beautiful shrubs and trees blooming.Dogwoods are flowering now; their lovely, simple white blooms look like snow on their lateral-growing branches. The flowers are not huge, three to four inches is a common size, but they are very numerous. The flowers are followed by bright red shiny fruit. Birds love the red berries and they usually eat them before many can mature and fall to the Earth to make new dogwoods. Dogwood seedlings are delicate, they need a semi-shady site, good loose, damp soil with organic content. This describes a forest environment. Seed dropped on any other site will not survive. 
Redbud seedlings are much hardier and come up in odd places; flower pots, borders, cracks in sidewalks, just give them a spot or crack of soil and they will grow.Cornus florida is the species we think of when we say dogwood. These small trees are considered an undergrowth tree. They are native to this area and if left alone in a natural landscape, they would reproduce at a rate that would allow them to be self-perpetuating. As an understory tree it can take more shade than most trees. Shifting light under pines is excellent.There are many species of dogwoods in the Cornus genus. I can't remember the name of it, but there is a shrub-like dogwood that puts out so many white blooms it is like a wall of white. Its flowers are smaller, but there are so many more. There is a lovely one on display in the landscape at Loch Laurel Nursery.Wisteria is at its peak, it drapes and wanders along everything in its path. You see it everywhere you go. It puts out a strong fragrance, especially at night, some people find it delightful and others find it overwhelming.I have seen wisteria trees or plants that have been pruned into an umbrella shape.They are outstanding and beautiful during their bloom cycle, but it takes an incredible and constant amount of pruning to keep the shape.There are Wisteria plants in Japan that are hundreds of years old. They have huge trunks and above, the vines grow on a trellis and the flowers hang down through the trellis. There are probably wisteria vines in this country that are as old as their introduction date, they escaped quickly and can grow from seed or suckers that spring up.The one that runs rampant in the woods and in your garden, if it can, is from Asia. It is an invasive wisteria that was brought over to be an ornamental. There is a native American wisteria but it is much less aggressive and can easily be kept on a trellis or fence.

Wisteria is a magnificent plant when it is in bloom. The clusters of flowers that hang from the vine are incredibly beautiful. Lilac and cream flowers form large grape-like clusters of flowers.Along Bemiss Road, wisteria grows in the areas by the road. Flowers are draping from the pine trees, the vines are invisible as the foliage has not appeared yet. The flowers look like they are tumbling from the pine limbs. They are beautiful all along the road.Another beautiful sight along roadsides is Cherokee Rose, Rosa laeviata. This is our state flower and it is a lovely single-flowering rose. Pure white petals with a large center of yellow stamens. This rose has thorns and flowers much better in full sun than shade, as most roses do.This is another plant that grows up into tall trees and then streams down out of them. The rose forms long canes but has side branching stems that also produce flowers. If you see this along the roadside, I'm sure you will notice it. It is a traditional sign of spring.There has always been Cherokee Rose growing along Country Club Road between Gornto and North Valdosta roads. It is occasionally found along older roads, where it has not been destroyed by road widening. In past years, it was almost constantly seen along the Thomasville-Tallahassee Highway, widening the road destroyed much of it.Azaleas are magnificent, any that were not pruned after their bloom buds set, are flowering now. Some cover the foliage with flowers and very little green is seen.There are many species of azaleas and in the azaleas that we think of as an azalea, there are many many cultivars. There are spring blooming azaleas, fall blooming azaleas and almost constant blooming azaleas. They range in size from one foot to as tall as you will let them grow. They are a shrub and will eventually top out at about 30 to 40 feet.The most common Azalea locally is "Formosa." That is the purply pink one that is seen everywhere. Another much loved azalea is "George Tabor," it is the beautiful light pink one with a touch of lilac at its throat. The much more common "Formosa" was a sport of "George Tabor."A sport is a natural mutation that appears on one limb of a plant. The mutation is increased through tissue culture or rooting. After enough plants have been reproduced, the cultivar is put on the market.I have talked too long, see you next week.Susan Grooms lives and gardens in Lowndes County. 

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