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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

March Bloom Day

We've had a rainy weekend, getting around 3" - it started raining on Friday and didn't stop until late Saturday night. It was a long slow rain, the kind that is great for the garden. It was wet today but I managed to get out and take some photos (although I should have been weeding!)

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) is still a young tree but the blooms are increasing year by year.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) has bloomed the longest that I've ever seen. It blooms so early that the frost usually gets it.

Alabama Snow Wreath (Neviusia alabamensis) is a great shrub.

Another great shrub, Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) - it is hard to see the blooms in the photo. Fantastic fragrance!

Right now, the star of the show is the camellia. There are so many blooming that I plan to do a post on them later in the week. The following photo is of the oldest camellia in our garden. This is 'C.M. Wilson' and the pink blooms are the true color. The red mysteriously started appearing last year. I'm wondering if the growth is coming from the rootstock, like roses sometimes do?

An unidentified camellia that I rescued from the Unitarian Church. It was dying there and I think it was planted too close to the foundation of the building and the extreme alkalinity was killing it. When I dug the plant up, there were chunks of powdered concrete all in the ground. Camellias do not like this! It seems to be on the rebound.

Chinese Witch Hazel (Loropetalum chinense) - I hope I can get a full shot of the entire plant later - it is massive.

Epimedium (aka Fairy Wings) (Epimedium versicolor 'Sulphureum') is a great plant for dry shade.

Euphorbia Despina

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Last, but not least, the hellebores are still going strong.

Carol at May Dreams blog invites us to show what is blooming in our gardens on the 15th of every month. Visit her blog for links to more blooms.


  1. Wow Phillip, you have some beauties showing off this spring. It looks like that garden man is screaming his displeasure at the rose that is blooming red. Ha... We saw lots of that Jessemine Vine blooming when we were driving through the southern states toward TX. I just love it. I wish I could grow it. Great photos.

  2. You have a lot of beautiful flowers. Love the magnolias and camellias. Both of those have awhile before they bloom here! I think I'm going to try the epimedium under my trees.

  3. You really have a lot of blooms already!

    We're still getting rain. Three days so far. Two more to go.


  4. Beautiful photos Phillip. You have a lot blooming in the garden so early in the year.

  5. Ahhh, the hellebores are taking center stage in many photos but your camellias are beautiful and a plant I can appreciate but not grow. Love the shiny foliage.

  6. Some very cool plants, several that I don't know at all. Your Alabama snow wreath looks remarkably like one of our west coast clematis species, though the plants are totally different--I'm not sure what ours would do with three inches of rain in a weekend. Enjoy the green.

  7. Those camellias look really something.

    I'm guessing your soil is slightly acid. Yor roses obviously love it.

    Lovely photos.


  8. Your yard must smell heavenly. Love the camellia and the honeysuckle.

  9. Your plants are always lovely Phillip! My eye was also caught be the Alabama Snow wreath, such a delicate looking native shrub!

    Your Loropetalum is green! With creamy white flowers? All the Loropetalums that I've seen here were burgundy/pink so had to go look yours up...are the white flowers fragrant? |

    Happy GBBD!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. Wow, you've got a lot going on! I love that you saved the camellia. And now I know what has been blooming around the neighborhoods here - Star Magnolia (although they're almost over their bloom period). Thanks for the great tour as usual!

  11. My Hellebores are just starting to send up buds. Your pics make me anxious!

  12. Not only did you get good rain, but the soft light made for great photos, and your garden looks great too. Bless you for rescuing the camellia, I would have thought Unitarians to be more compassionate. Your CM Wilson is sporting a red branch, I don't think it is coming from the roots, and if you don't want it just cut that branch off.

  13. Lostlandscape, welcome! Thank you for visiting!

  14. Ooh, ahh! What a glorious show! The honeysuckle blossoms put me vaguely in mind of fothergilla flowers... oh I'm impatient for spring here!

  15. Your photos are a great testament to what is so wonderful about spring in the South! I'm originally from New England and am clear there are great things about spring in every region, but it's hard to beat the look and fragrance of March in the South!

  16. You are so far ahead of us. Alabama Snow Wreath looks coll. Hadn't seen that before.


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