The first heat wave of our not-yet-officially-summer season is well underway, alas. And the thunderstorms that doused many neighborhoods near me missed my house. Entirely. As in, no rain. At all.
Wonder Spouse and I are doling out water carefully to the vegetables and a few tender transplants, but otherwise, all we can do is hunker down in the shade and pray for rain.
So far, the veggies are doing great, and I’ll provide updates soon. But today I wanted to share with my fellow piedmonters a few of the shrubs and trees that you can grow to continue your spring bloom period in your landscape well into summer.
First up is that lovely flower known to all southerners — Southern Magnolia. Technically, it’s native to more southern parts of the US, but it thrives here.
My 50-foot specimen has been blooming for several weeks, and continues to perfume the heavy near-summer air every morning as the Yellow-billed Cuckoo tries to call the rain with its “kowp-kowp-kowp” call. The fragrance is especially intoxicating in the evening as fireflies flicker among the trees and Eastern Whip-poor-wills call repeatedly from a clearing on the other side of our creek.
On the floodplain, the Poinsettia Tree (also called Fever Tree) is displaying its flower-like, showy bracts.
The showy bracts are evident when the tree is viewed more closely:
My native Oakleaf Hydrangeas are almost in full flower now. I grow “Peewee,” which is supposed to remain no taller than four feet. I’m not sure mine know that.
Flower clusters on the Oakleaf Hydrangeas are about the size of a volley ball.
A non-native shrub that is favored by bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds is my pink abelia. I’ve forgotten the variety name, but this shrub blooms for at least six weeks. The flowers are fragrant, especially first thing in the morning.
The heat has made my non-native Chindo viburnums bloom faster than I like, but they’re still putting out flowers. I have two specimens growing side by side. These non-native, evergreen shrubs (really small trees) are at least 15 feet tall, probably more like 20 feet. Their flower clusters routinely attract an astonishing diversity of pollinators, and the shiny evergreen leaves look handsome year round.
The native Sourwoods (Oxydendrum arboreum) are just starting to open their graceful flower clusters. This four-season understory native should be part of every piedmonter’s landscape.
A native that is just finishing its bloom period is Elderberry. You can see this shrubby tree growing in almost any wet spot in the landscape. Mine line the creek that borders our property, providing food for wildlife.
The Smoketree (Cotinus x ‘Grace’) in my yard is a cross between a European species and a North American native, and now that it’s grown to a height of about 25 feet, it takes my breath away every year. It does look a bit like smoke, doesn’t it — or pink cotton candy perhaps? Technically, those are not the flowers. The flower clusters are relatively inconspicuous. Its the seed clusters that steal the show with this tree.
Those are not all the woody plants currently blooming in my yard, but it’s a fair sample. I’ll share more another time.
In my part of the southeastern piedmont, there’s really no reason you can’t have blooming plants in your landscape year-round. Every piedmonter with a yard should take advantage of this fortunate fact to enhance their landscapes with perpetual color and fragrance.