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The Buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) is an unusual shrub with curious white pincushion flowers. It is found in the wild all over the United States, usually in swamps and moist areas.  Growing up in rural Alabama, I remember seeing it in the woods behind our house.  It doesn't garner much attention until the blooms make their appearance.  Sources vary on the size of the plant. In the wild, it can get to 20 feet but in gardens, most likely under 12 ft. In my garden, it is about 4 feet tall after five years in the ground. It is located along the back fence in an area that doesn't get much supplemental water although I am working on the area and watering more often this year. The flowers have a slight honey-like fragrance. Bees love this plant! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Early spring flowers

It has been a beautiful week so far! I'm off for spring break this week and have been busy in the garden. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and unfortunately for the remainder of the week. It had better not rain the rest of the week or I will not be a happy camper!

Here are some of the plants that are blooming now:

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) I've had this for a long time and it always come back faithfully every year. I should really plant more.

Mohawk Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk') - a stunning shrub and so fragrant.

Lunaria (Money Plant)

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Weeping Higan Cherry Tree ((Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula') - a very fleeting tree but truly lovely. This grows next to our patio. You have to look up from a distance to see it to best advantage.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Contorted Filbert (aka Harry Lauder's Walking Stick) (Corylus avellana) always has something of interest no matter what the season.

Daffodils are still lingering -

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) will turn white in a few weeks. I get more comments on this shrub than any other.

Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica), another favorite shrub of mine. We have both the single and double varieties. This is the double.


  1. Totally awesome Phillip! Some of those beauties bring back memories of my dad and his gardening. I really miss them a lot but I also know how much effort goes into keeping a beautiful garden going. Just amazing and I can't wait to see it first hand. Judy

  2. Phillip~~ Love your picture and prose. Your daffodil looks like the variety 'Geranium' the last to bloom in my garden. (Still several months from now thanks to this ridiculous weather.) I love the fragrance.

    I hope the rain holds off.

  3. Lovely images Phillip.

    I'm a big fan of Kerria too.


  4. Gorgeous photos with some of my favorite plants. I hope the weather will allow you to play outside during your spring break.

  5. Hi Phillip, how wonderful it all looks. We have so many of the same plants, my unknown viburnum looks like your Mohawk. You are about two weeks ahead of us, or maybe one week, but it is raining now here and will be for the next several days they say. Looks like we both will be putting on our rain gear to work outside! Not fun, but better than looking sadly out the windows wishing we could be out. :-)

  6. What gorgeous blooms Phillip. The Columbine seeds itself in my garden. I help it go where I want it to grow by sprinkling the seeds around. Easy peasy.

  7. Love Corylus avellana, tried to grow it several years ago but had so much trouble with suckering from the root stock. The camellia is stunning! You have so many lovely blooms.

  8. Hmmmmmmmm, who do I know that wants Lunaria annua seeds? Hmmmm...:-) Wonderful photos as always, Phillip. You have such a good eye.

  9. Everything looks so good. I like plants like HLWS that is of interest in all seasons.

  10. But but but... rain makes plants grow! ;-) Love all the photos. Didn't realize you had the same native columbine we do; cool. And aren't Virginia bluebells just the cutest things? I also love the Harry Lauder, which also grows here. And the weeping Higan cherry is just lovely!

  11. Your garden must be glorious! I'm looking forward to seeing the full view shots!


  12. Beautiful plants. Enjoy your spring break :)

  13. Your pictures are beautiful. I've never seen wild columbine before, really pretty!! Enjoy your week, I hope your rain and our rain goes away!

  14. "Taylor's Perfection" is exactly that! What a gorgeous garden you have! If your weather forecast is like ours in ATL, it's gonna be gardening in boots weather!

  15. My fingers are crossed for you dear friend. You have some amazing photos here today. LOVE THE Pinks!

    Happy Spring !

  16. Such a great variety, wonderful! I didn't realize the red buckeye was the weedy type. I always thought they were hard to grow and therefore that's why they charged so much for them at the nursery. I've been searching for the wild columbine for my garden as well, but no luck so far. Good luck with the rain. We've had over 3" since Tuesday with more on the way!

  17. I do know what you mean. Last year we were begging for rain and now we have enough but it's coming on our weekends. I am not about to complain though. Our gardens are just now recuperating from that nasty drought.

    All your bloomers are just beautiful. I always enjoy a tour of your garden.

  18. Hi Phillip, Beautiful show of flowers! I have the Kerria...single form and love it. I am so glad to see that lunaria is in your garden...I think it's a delightful spring flower and I really don't mind the seed pods! I am lucky if my Red Buckeye blooms and you have to dig up seedlings!
    It's a strangely lovely tree, don't you think?
    Unfortunately the rains continue...have a good weekend. gail

  19. Oh, it all looks so lovely! My Mertensia are about an inch tall now. I've never grown Kerria, but it looks like it just shines.

  20. Phillip, we have some of the same flowers. I love my Kerrias. When the landscaper help came, he wanted to get rid of them. I said "no way!" Your area looks sublime.~~Dee

  21. We're still a ways from early spring flowers (daffodils 'still blooming'??? Only indoors!) Pulmonaria are one of my personal favourites. I will say the weather is milder this weekend and I can hear the snow melting...

  22. Lovely photos Phillip. I love being able to see other people's flowers before they bloom here. You have several of my "wants".

  23. Our Dafodils are just getting ready to bloom. And I also have Japanese Kerria, Both double and single, but the double quite often dies back due to our hard winters. It comes back, but not much blooming then because it blooms on old wood. But I keep trying!

  24. I do love your double Kerria...When I did my post on Kerria I didn't realize you had included it in yours, too...or I would have given you credit, too --BUT, I most likely wouldn't have recognized it as being the same plant that I have! Not knowing what mine was, I needed to see the exact plant to be able to identify it without someone actually coming to my house and telling me what it is!
    I didn't realize there was even a 'double' bloom until people wrote about it in their comments to me!
    It's fun to learn new things through this garden blogging! And I always have so much that I need to learn:-)


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