Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.


Vines and climbers blooming in April and May in my North Carolina Piedmont Garden


This is my beautiful Lady Banks Rose in all its glory, climbing all over this trellis after only 3 or 4 years! I actually started this rose from a cutting, well, several cuttings from a friend of mine in New Bern, NC. The Lady Banks rose, rosa banksiae Lutea,  has clusters of double pastel yellow flowers in early spring. A climber, without thorns, Lady Banks Rose is easy to prune and train or it can be allowed to wander freely over shrubs or trees. It is also very disease resistant.  The only problem I have with it is that it only blooms for about two weeks, and only once a year! I wish it lasted longer, even that it bloomed all summer! But then I probably wouldn’t cherish it so! It is its fleeting beauty that makes it so special! Perhaps. I’d like to believe I’d love this rose even if it bloomed 12 months a year!
 In the picture just above, you can see the pink, Asao clematis I planted to mix with the Lady Banks Rose! I just love the combination and find it helps call attention to the rose and the clematis! On the other side of this trellis grows a white, Snow Queen clematis. I just love the large, showy flowers of clematis, and I believe I have five clematis vines in my  yard. They grow quite vigorously, with little attention if you plant them so that the roots and first sprouts are shaded by other plants, otherwise they just don’t thrive! Pruning clematis is one of the trickiest things about them, but you do not need to prune them at all, If you do feel the need to cut them back, I advise you to read up on the particular kind that you have, because they all fit in three major categories of clematis, and all three categories have specific pruning instructions. My favorite website for information on clematis, is the newsletter put out by Brushwood Nurseries at http://www.gardenvines.com.  You can shop for clematis there also, and I love their expertise. Below you can see the Snow Queen clematis blooming.
Clematis , 2 May, 2013
Purple Clematis, 2011
On the other side of my yard,  on a different trellis,and pictured above  is a clematis called  amethyst beauty. Isn’t it lovely! It is climbing among the Carolina Jasmine.  Carolina Jasmine is a small yellow flower with a lovely sweet fragrance that blooms in the late winter/early spring! It is evergreen and covers a trellis quickly, I just love it!    We have it on a trellis just outside of our screened porch, so that we can smell it as soon as we exit the house!

Carolina Jasmine

I have many more vines, because I just love them! But they bloom in the summer or even in the Fall and I will share them with you as we go along. If you have questions, please leave them in a comment and I will do my best to answer with the best research I can do.
  • Clematis (asurreygarden.wordpress.com)

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Spring Blooming Shrubs in my Garden in North Carolina

This time of year and throughout the blooming season I find myself so excited to get outside and see if anything new is blooming today! It adds a new zest to my life, a new reason to get up in the morning!LOL

On March 16, I showed you what was blooming in my garden in March, on my birthday, and I promised a follow-up.  Here it is! In March we had the spring blooming bulbs like daffodils and hyacinths, bulbs that you need to plant in the Fall.  Remember I said let the foliage stay on the plants to soak up the sun and manufacture food for the bulb. By now those green stalks are probably turning yellow and falling over. This is a good time to go ahead and trim the green leaves back to about an inch above the ground and let them go completely dormant until next Spring.

Remember the forsythia, just coming into bloom, but mostly brown and woody looking? Look at it in all its glory! I just love the brilliant, sunshiny yellow of forsythia, it just makes me smile! In this picture where you see the forsythia, you also see the new trellis my husband Max is building. I will tell you more about it in a future post.


      By April; 15, 2013, our dwarf cherry tree was in full bloom! I grew up going to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., so when the cherry trees blossom now, I still  feel a sense of celebration and good fortune! I love the fluffy blooms, which give way to green cherries by May 4, and will soon be red and ripe! These cherries are absolutely fantastic in pies! We have plenty so we share them with friends and  the birds.  We have three cherry trees on our little half-acre which is half woods!


Cherry Tree, green cheeries beginning to form, 2 May, 2013

This abundance of pink/fuchsia loveliness below is like fire lighting up the landscape when it blooms in late March, early April! It is a loropetalum, a shrub that can grow 10 to 12 feet tall! Before we planted this shrub about 5 years ago, I had no experience with it. A friend actually gave it to us. We planted it on the eastern corner of our house where it gets the sun from early morning to about 2 in the afternoon then is shaded from the harshest afternoon light. Obviously it thrives there. There is also a downspout there, so it gets lots of moisture as well. I never have fed it or done anything but prune it occasionally keep it somewhat in bounds. It is not necessary to prune it at all, but if you do, I’ve read that you should do so right after it blooms. By summer it will be setting its blooms for next year, so you wold ruin all your color if you cut it back after that. This pruning business is one of the trickiest parts of gardening in my book! But I love to read gardening books, so getting the information is not hard, especially today when we can just “google it”! LOL  One more treat to the loropetalum is that our shrub has babies! We gave five to a neighbor last year and they are 2 feet high and precious right now, making a wonderful natural hedge for her property. I love having things in the garden I can give away.


By April 15, the snowballs are adorning their bush, officially called a viburnum. They start out green and refreshing looking, and slowly over about 2 weeks turn white and fragile looking! They bloom for a good 4 weeks , if not more. As you can see by the pictures below, you can have shrubs that sport huge snowballs or small ones, I love them both! The huge snowballs below are on my next door neighbor Dora’s shrubs, aren’t they incredible!  When I was a child in Richmond,Virginia, my paternal grandmother lived with us. She was an excellent gardener! In the Spring she could always be heard telling us  children, “When the snowballs fall off the bush, then you can go outside barefooted, not before!” Since they didn’t fall until mid to late May, that was a pretty good bet that the weather would be warm enough! One thing she might not have bargained for however, was all the eager little hands out there shaking those bushes trying to get the snowballs to fall! She could tell if we cut or picked them! Then, woe was us!

DSCF4063  DSCF4069DSCF4132DSCF4131DSCF4071    

Remember to cut and take blooms inside to enjoy as well. Especially if heavy rain storms are predicted, or a late freeze, you never know what will be left in the morning, I love to enjoy them at my desk!

What more well-known, and well-loved spring-flowering shrub could there be than azaleas! So many colors, and so many sizes! Now they even have reblooming azaleas so we can enjoy their beauty several times a year! How can you frown when you see such vibrancy in your garden! Just a few tips I’ve learned along the way: azaleas can’t stand wet feet and they like to be planted shallowly and on a mound or rise so that water drains away well. Of course you know, I’m sure, that they like acid soil conditions so pine tags make the perfect mulch for them. It used to be that azaleas needed to be planted in shade or only filtered light, but nowadays they make sun azaleas as well, be sure you check your tag for all the statuses like reblooming, sun or shade, and any other blooming requirements.  The first azalea shown below is a “wolfpack red” azalea. That sells particularly well in this area of North Carolina, because the Wolfpack is the name of the sports teams at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The pink azalea below left, is called “mother’s day” but usually blooms before that date by a week or so. The purple is one of my favorites, and is a reblooming azalea so treats us again in the Fall!

DSCF4023DSCF4031Azalea, Mother's Day, 2 May, 2013DSCF4351

Below is pictured a large pink Weigela and a small one that I started by layering the larger shrub. Layering is a simple propagation technique which works well for many flowering shrubs including camelias, forsythia, azaleas, gardenias, and many more. You take a lower branch, scrape some of the bark off of the middle of a branch, then leaving the branch attached to the mother plant for food,  bury the scraped part in the dirt below the plant, with the end of the branch sticking up above the dirt. In about eight weeks you should have a whole new plant that you can sever from the mother plant and move wherever you’d like a new shrub. This is a great way to increase your favorite plantings!

DSCF4284Weigelia, gorgeous branch! 2 May, 2013

Weigelia, grown from cutting , second year.

There are several more shrubs I’d like to show you , but they will have to wait for another post. I can hardly wait to share my Iris with you, the joy of my spring gardening, along with the Lady Banks roses and clematis! Bet ya just can’t tell how much I love my flowers! LOL  I’d love to hear about your favorite flowers as well.