Sweetwater Creek State Park, Georgia


Previous       2022 Journal Topics       Home       Next

  PLAYIN' IN THE DIRT, 2022:   


"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.    
To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but also the soul."
~ Alfred Austin, English poet

The gardens in our Peachtree City yard are designed more to nurture Jim's and my souls than our bodies. We grow a few herbs year-round and lots of cherry tomatoes in mid-summer, but what brings us the most joy are all the flowers and leafy plants in our landscape.

This entry showcases some of our colorful plants that I photographed in 2022.

Jim took this picture of me working in the back yard in July. I'm transplanting clumps of liriope
groundcover in a low spot between the lantanas. More about that erosion-control project later . . .

We began with a nice landscape on either side of our front yard when we moved here in the spring of 2017. The back yard was mostly bare after the former homeowners removed 40 trees. There was a good patch of zoyzia grass and a much larger area left with few trees or shrubs and virtually no mulch to cover and preserve the soil.

Over the next two years we spent a lot of time and money filling in the mulched area in the back yard with trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers, as much for aesthetics as preventing erosion.

We also created a new landscape island in the front yard to give the property more privacy and character:

Most of the things we've planted have grown as expected. Some of them have far exceeded our expectation in size, length of bloom season, or longevity. And some have been a disappointment because they died. We've either replaced dead plants with something else or left the spot empty as other surrounding plants have grown or multiplied to fill in the space.

We purchase almost all of our plants from a nursery chain that guarantees their trees and shrubs for life. I haven't returned everything that has died because it could have been my fault for some reason, such as not watering enough during droughts. 

I've covered my favorite plants in our landscape in previous journals. Almost all of them still thrive and the information is similar. I'll try to keep things a little simpler this year, although I'm including enough photos to cover two pages.

Let's begin with my favorite season -- spring. Enjoy the flower, leaf, and critter show!

We are blessed with about ten large Lorapetalum (Chinese Fringe Flower) shrubs
that peak in February but have some flowers all year. The leaves are evergreen.

Above and below:  We planted this beautiful Okame cherry tree in the front landscape island
in May, 2018. Its peak bloom is in February-March, but it also has some blooms in September.


Above and below: nothing says SPRING like daffodils and forsythia! Ours bloom in early March
for several weeks. They are poisonous to dogs, so daffodils and narcissus are only in the front yard.


Our gardens really come alive in April with columbines, bearded iris, and several kinds 
of azaleas in bloom. The Encore azaleas and bearded iris are repeat bloomers.

We have columbines in this pretty purplish color, plus light blue, dark blue, and pink.

I love, love, love traditional George L. Tabor azaleas! The only downside is
that they bloom only once a year and don't re-bloom like the Encores.

OK, Bloodgood Japanese maple trees don't bloom but their new spring leaves are pretty  
and a much brighter red than their dark red color in the summer and autumn.

Above and below:  our two snowflake viburnum bushes have gotten so tall we had to anchor 
one with nylon straps to a nearby tree so it doesn't fall over! They bloom for two or three weeks.

In April the very tall tulip tree in our back yard drops its flowers:

The flowers are reported to be edible but we've never tried that.

The next six photos show some of the colors of Encore azaleas that remain in our yard. Although each shrub has blooms two or three times between April and the first hard frost in December, at least half of several dozen we planted in 2017 and 2018 have died and we haven't replaced them.






Our Hilda Niblett azaleas bloom in May and June in a slightly more salmon color than the Encores above. They bloom only once/year:

I've had very good luck with the Knockout and Drift roses we planted in the front and back yards between 2017-2019. They also have a long blooming season, usually from April to the first hard frost in December.

Both varieties tend to bloom in waves, with fewer flowers between several peaks.

Above and below: Knockouts are taller, Drifts are lower and wider

The next series features some of our pink and red Knockout roses, some more layered than others:




Winter 2021-22 was mild enough that the Knockouts still had some blooms January 12 when I saved these flowers while pruning the branches down to about three feet high:

We also have several colors and styles of Drift roses:





Knockouts and Drifts require more maintenance than some of our other plants but they are well worth it to me because they bloom so long and have survived our area's heat and droughts better than some of the other plants. I dead-head them when the blooms die so they re-bloom faster, fertilize them every month or two, and prune them back in the winter.

The main problem we have with the roses is Japanese beetles. They feed on the flowers and leaves in June. I've learned that the easiest and cheapest way to deal with the beetles is to brush them off into a plastic storage container of water and Dawn soap. They can't swim. :-)

We never have been able to successfully kill them in an earlier stage of their life cycle or prevent them from reproducing.

Three kinds of spidorwort bloom from early May to mid-June:


Continued on the next page . . . late spring to winter landscape blooms, critters, and a new project

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

Previous       Next

2022 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil