Spring is here

I love this time of year when everything seems to pop out overnight. I've noticed a few losses from our tough winter - at least one rose bit the dust ("Felicia") and the rosemary also looks like a total loss. Some of the obviously tender plants like the Armandi clematis and Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) survived but there are lots of brown leaves. The jury is still out on the Confederate Jasmine (Trachelosperum jasminoides). I have cut it back severely but it looks like it is still alive. Ditto on the Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens).

But, on to the brighter spots in the garden -

The wickedly thorny Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) is covered with tiny white dainty blooms. In the fall, it will have lovely but inedible oranges. This results in seedlings popping up everywhere that have to be dealt with. I think it is worth it, it is definately a conversation piece. I'm going to try to get some potted up this year for the Master Gardener's plant sale.

One of my favorite shrubs is Kerria (Kerria japonica) or Easter Rose. I've grown this since my beginning days of gardening. It is always in bloom at Easter time. 

The same came be said for Viburnum 'Mohawk' (Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk'). It is always a dependable bloomer and though the blooms don't last as long as the Kerria, it makes up for that with its spicy fragrance.


Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) is covered with greenish blooms at the top of the shrub (I've never figured out the correct way to prune this) that will turn white over the next few weeks.

The camellias are not as profuse in bloom this year but a few are notable.

"Taylor's Perfection" has the most blooms. I just love the clear pink blooms even though they have a tendency to nod.

 Only two blooms so far on Camellia "Magnoliaflora" but it is still a very small shrub.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), one of the most exquisite wildflowers.

Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum) has sweet smelling flowers but the foliage is the main attraction.

The reseeding Money Plant (Lunaria), another pretty blue wildflower.

Hosta "Dancing Queen" - I bought this last year from Harry Wallace's nursery. I was a big Abba fan back in the day.

I'm a sucker for chartreuse foliage - another favorite is Golden Creeping Jenny ( Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)

Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) with cheery bright yellow flowers.

Chester does not seem to be amused by any of this.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Hi Phillip, spring has definitively reached your garden and I can see why it is a favorite time of the year for you! You have so many interesting shrubs and plants blooming in your garden, it is so nice to see gardens where the gardener cares for variety! I love chartreuse foliage as well and therefore the hosta 'Dancing Queen' and 'Golden Creeping Jenny' are my favorites in this post. Warm regards,

  2. I agree that Va. Bluebells is one of our most exquisite wild flowers, and your photo is exquisite too.

  3. Happy Spring. What beautiful blooms. I can't wait until some of my shrubs are blooming. My bluebells aren't up yet. I too have lost a rose this winter. Your camillias are gorgeous.

  4. Although I'm in a cooler zone than you (Piedmont NC), many if not most of my garden additions come straight from this blog, and I can't thank you enough for your inspiration. Rembrandt tulip is the only one that comes back reliably for me each year - I should plant more of them. I finally found a kerria japonica, on sale at a garden shop last month, and can't wait until it's as beautiful as yours. My Virginia bluebells just burst into bloom yesterday. Chinese snowball is a 2010 addition and only 7' tall but loaded with blooms this year. Hosta tips are just beginning to poke out of the ground - unusually late due to the cold winter. The next 2 weeks I'll be peering into the pine needles looking for new perennials. Such a great time of year!

  5. Your kerria looks great. I saw one in person once and was not impressed, but I may have to reevaluate based on your enthusiastic recommendation.

    Does anything amuse or impress Chester? :)

  6. Hey Phillip,
    As expected you're way ahead of us here in KC but we seem to be about three weeks behind our norm. I most envy your ability to grow camellias. I grew up with them in Sydney and the Missouri Botanical Garden has its Linnean Greenhouse with its in-ground selections that I visited often when I lived there.

  7. It's an exciting time for gardeners when everything begins to pop out. I particularly like Creeping Jenny - a wonderful ground cover for all the red dirt I have, plus helps prevent weeds from growing. I didn't think mine would survive the cold, but it's growing like crazy, especially with the recent rains! Beautiful camellia!

  8. The verdict is still out on my Confederate Jasmine as well. I thought about covering it this winter, but never did. I have cut it back almost to the ground, and it did show signs of life, but I have not seen any new growth yet. I'm hoping it will improve when the weather is consistently warmer. I did see 'baby' Confederate Jasmine at a Chattanooga Home Depot a few weeks ago. They were $2 for a small pot (just larger than a 4 pack), so I got a couple as backups in case my large one does not recover. I have a few inside, in larger pots, and they are starting to show new growth.

  9. Aaron, the double kerria is much more profuse and showy than the single variety. Maybe you were seeing the single?

    Emily, I think mine is alive!

  10. I will hold out hope for my jasmine then!

    PS: My Buff Beauty is supposed to ship from Rose Petals Nursery today. I'm so excited!!

  11. Hi Phillip,
    Your spring blooms are gorgeous!
    I picked up some Creeping Jenny just the other day. Any experience with it in a hanging basket?

  12. Glad to see the winter wasn't too hard on you. An ice storm in March hurt us the worse. It was amazing to hear trees in the woods across the street breaking and dropping. My poor Magnolia took a bad hit and lost many big limbs. Hopefully she will recover. Enjoy spring, summer is not far behind!

  13. I so agree. Nothing beats the surprises of spring. I am quite a way from bluebell blooms but they will come. Thanks for the preview!

  14. Hi Phillip
    What nice pictures. It seems that your garden is a bit ahead of us here in Denmark.
    I have a Kerria as well in our garden. it is a marvelous bush. you can see the pictures on my blog if you like.

    Warm regards, Laleh


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