Nature Challenge Day Four: Flowering Woodies

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea


Blooming shrubs fill our forest garden.  We enjoy their flowers throughout the entire year, beginning with early spring’s first Forsythia, Camellia, Magnolia and Azaleas.  Now, our garden is filled with the sweet aroma of millions of tiny white Ligustrum flowers covering towering evergreen shrubs.  It appears that some of the smaller seedling shrubs along the borders are blooming for the first time this spring.


Towering evergreen Ligustrum bloom for weeks in early summer, filling our garden with sweet fragrance.

Towering evergreen Ligustrum bloom for several weeks in early summer, filling our garden with sweet fragrance.


And to our deep delight, we have blossoms on some of our Oakleaf Hydrangeas.  We’ve managed to protect and sustain four, of the many planted over our years here, and they have grown into lovely shrubs this spring.

As May fades into memory, and we prepare to greet another June, we continue to enjoy a garden filled with roses.

Butterfly bush, Rose of Sharon, Lantana, Hibiscus, and many other flowering shrubs will soon open their blossoms, inviting all hummingbirds and pollinators to come share the feast in our garden.


May 14, 2016 clouds 015~

Blooming shrubs offer so many benefits over other types of flowering plants.  First, most offer evergreen structure throughout the year, or at least a woody silhouette through the winter months.  Our winter flowers, like Edgeworthia, Camellia and Mahonia come from flowering shrubs.  They prove hardier than any herbaceous perennial, shrugging off snow and ice.

These are ‘perma-culture’ flowers, growing larger and more floriferous each year.


Hydrangea macrophylla have opened their first flowers this week.

Hydrangea macrophylla have opened their first flowers this week.


Few require any significant care; most don’t even want deadheading when the flowers fade.  Many are deer resistant, although we must faithfully protect Azaleas, Hydrangeas and Roses from grazing Bambies, if they are to survive.


Spiraea japonica

Spiraea japonica


Like a horticultural clock, flowering shrubs mark the passing seasons.  They are dependable and predictable.  We plant a few more each year , while also watching seedlings emerge in those places we dare not dig.  Some, like Rose of Sharon and Beautyberry seed so prolifically, I pull and compost the ‘extras.’

The question comes to which seedling shrubs to prune out; which to leave and nurture.  I’m glad we’ve nurtured the Ligustrum.  They are spectacular when in bloom and provide more nectar than our pollinators could possibly forage!There is a constant hum of activity around them now.  Insects feed from the flowers, and grateful birds catch the insects.


May 27, 2016 garden 014


Flowering shrubs fill an important niche in our garden for all sorts of wildlife; including some slightly crazed gardeners!


May 27, 2016 garden 008


Blogging friend, Y. invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday from her new site, In the Zone.  I appreciate the invitation and the renewed friendship as we trade comments each day!

For this fourth day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in. 

This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.

 If you decide to accept this Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

Woodland Gnome 2016


All green is lovely, too. An autumn fern frond grows against Oakleaf Hydrangea foliage.

All green is lovely, too. An autumn fern frond grows against Oakleaf Hydrangea leaves.

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

12 responses to “Nature Challenge Day Four: Flowering Woodies

  1. I am enjoying your garden more and more, every time I read one of your posts! The oakleaf hydrangeas must be a real joy now that they are more mature. Interesting what you say about your ‘perma-culture’ planting style. I think that woodland gardening is possibly the most satisfying (to me, anyway – and I can’t do it), because we can enjoy orchestrating an effect that is so natural.

    • Thank you, Cathy, for your comments. I am very happy to hear you are enjoying our garden right along with us. This Forest Garden is certainly the most challenging garden I’ve ever tried to manage. There are always new things which require a bit of patience and creativity. Nothing performs quite as one would expect, and nothing can be taken for granted! But it is extremely satisfying to see plants settle in and take off over a period of years; and to know that investments of time and energy can eventually result in such beauty. And we treasure our shade for its cool shelter from the sun’s intensity! Do you by chance read the British gardening journal, ‘Gardens Illustrated’? I often think of you and your beautiful garden when studying it. It is always an inspiration and guide. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Your patience and creativity shine out from the plantings (and your posts). I have thought of subscribing to Gardens Illustrated (or The English Garden). Unfortunately I can’t just pick them up when I feel like it here!

        • Thank you, Cathy, how kind of you. If you use an electronic reader, like a Kindle, you can have GI delivered automatically each month. That could probably be set up on your PC if you download the Kindle app. I don’t try to chase it down in stores, either, but subscribe online. It is actually a little cheaper, especially if you subscribe rather than purchasing issues individually.

          • What a good idea – you can tell I’m a bit of an oldie because I never thought of that. Unfortunately my Kindle is B&W – but the laptop would work!

            • B&W definitely wouldn’t do!!!! What glorious colors in the garden photos they publish! I learn more from that one journal each month than from any other resource. The depth and variety of their articles, and focus on landscape architects, garden professionals, and newly published books is what keeps me coming back. Your laptop would be even better, as I sometimes strain to examine the photos on my color NOOK. Please let me know whether it works for you ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. Really liked the flow of the post – the names of the plants was good and I knew many of the ones to mentioned – and side note – I have given away many rose of Sharon starters – and was just telling my son how this “sturdy beauty” is a gift and wondered if John Steinbeck had more layers to his rose of Sharon named girl…..

    And the clock quote is really good!
    So true how the passages of time are kept by this clock ( or you said it better)

    Lastly, the tree in one of the pics – all covered in layers – was so classic VIRGINIA- reminded me we are close neighbors!

    • Thank you , Yvette , for letting me know you enjoyed this post . I bet you could almost smell the Ligustrum, it is so pervasive across our part of VA this time of the year ! We are close neighbors and your garden is likely populated with many of these same shrubs . We share the Rose of Sharon , too, but still have a constant stream of seedlings . … the gift which keeps on giving ! Hope you enjoy this weekend , and safe travels . …

      • Hi – well a few years ago I saw this couple on YouTube – in their 20s – and they would mail rose of Sharon seedlings to anyone who asked ! They had pictures of the seeds (which are quite unique for a seed – the fuzz stuff) and then later I guess they had to ask for shipping – but talk about a heart of sharing –
        And I also see this with blogging – we heart share a bit as we post!
        Oh and yes – we do have many of the same plants – and thx again for joining in the challenge Fg!

  3. Prior2001

    I really like the clock quote – that is one of the bets garden quotes around – and so true – 🌸🌸

  4. Such beautiful flowers. Here in North Carolina it is red clay and it dries out so fast and must remember to water the flowers very often. Also I am starting to put plenty of good black soil around the roots when I plant.

    • Carl, you have hit upon the magical secret for beautiful flowers. Feeding the soil is always more effective than feeding the plant. There is a wonderful product made in Maryland, sold as ‘Leaf Grow Soil Conditioner.’ It is a really good compost made from yard waste, and we use it for building new beds and planting out most everything. You can even add it to potting soil if you want a little something extra for potted shrubs and perennials. Ours is clay, too, over most of the garden. This morning I dug out a gallon of clay, gave it to my husband to fix some erosion, and then filled the hole with compost before planting a perennial. Looks like we both have rain coming this weekend! Thank you for visiting, WG 😉

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