Best Trees In The Southern Living Plant Collection

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Co-owner of Wilson Bros. Nursery in Georgia, Brent Wilson, selects his favorite plants from the Southern Living Plant Collection
by Brett · All Zones · Shrubs · 0 Comments · February 04, 2012 · 53,069 views

Shrub Pick's cont'd

October Magic Camellia Series - More cold hardy than their Sasanqua camellia cousins, October Magic™ varieties have proven hardy in USDA Zone 6, but I'm saying zone 7 to be safe. As summer fades and the nights begin to cool, the October Magic™ Series usher in the camellia season in beautiful fashion. Graceful in form and one of the loveliest of autumn flowers, these new selections offer all of the nuances we’ve grown to love in sasanquas and then some. There’s a shape, size and color to fit any garden! see the October Magic Camellia series here

Rosalinda Indian Hawthorne - This is not your typical Indian Hawthorne. It grows much larger than the dwarfs most of us in the South are familiar with. I like it best as a single-stem tree form specimen however it can also be grown as a large shrub. New foliage is bright and bronzy, and adult leaves are three to four times the size of dwarfs such as "Snow" and "Eleanor Tabor," lending a tropical effect in the garden. The data published by the developer says this plant is best suited to tropical climates however it is performing very well over the past 15 years in mid-Georgia. Adding to the appeal of this plant, it produces large, dark pink, fragrant flowers in the spring. It's an outstanding evergreen specimen that grows to about 10 feet in height with an equal spread. see more photos and details

Southgate Rhododendrons - We've tried growing many varieties of Rhododendron in our mid-Georgia trial gardens over the past 20 years. Needless to say, there hasn't been great success, until, that is, we found the Southgates. The exciting new Southgate™ Rhododendrons are said to be exceptionally heat and humidity tolerant and thrive in the Deep South while performing equally well in traditional Rhododendron areas. At the time of the writing of this article there isn't much feedback on the Southgate's, however, after growing them in our gardens now for about a year, through one of the hottest summers on record (2011), we can say they are standing up exceptionally well to the heat here in Zone 8 of mid-Georgia. The foliage looks great and the plants are heavily budded this spring (2012) after a somewhat mild winter. Will provide regular updates. see the Southgate Rhododendron series here

Yewtopia Plum Yew - Finally! - a plum yew that will stand up to the heat, humidity down here in the South, and is shade loving. I've got one of these growing in a shady area near my garden pond and it, like the Southgate Rhododendrons, sailed right through the exceptionally long and hot summer of 2011. It provides a very unique texture in the landscape. see photos and more details

Tree Pick's

Delta Jazz Crape Myrtle - Another great introduction from the Southern Living Plant Collection, Delta Jazz is a unique semi-dwarf crape myrtle (6-10 feet height) that is rapidly capturing the attention of gardeners for it's brilliant colors. What's most unique about Delta Jazz is it's burgundy color cupped leaves, which remain this color throughout the season; spring to fall. The color show doesn't stop with the colorful foliage. The bright pink summer flower clusters are a perfect contrast for the burgundy foliage. We've got Delta Jazz planted in full sun in our gardens and it's performing wonderfully with no leaf scorch at all during the summer months. Since Delta Jazz was bred to handle southern summers, it performs well in full sun, but the breeders at Mississippi State University say that all it needs to perform well is 5 hours of direct sun. (UPDATE: Three more varieties have been added to the Delta Series: 'Flame' (bright dark red), 'Eclipse' (Pinskish-purple) and 'Moonlight' (white). I'm testing these in my own garden now!)

Along with its distinctive colors and low maintenance requirements, Delta Jazz is moderate to fast growing and can be trained to grow as a tree or shrub. If left alone, Delta Jazz will form an upright dense shrub to about 10 feet in height with a 4 to 5 foot width. Top branches can be pruned in late winter or early spring to achieve a smaller size shrub. Lower branches can be removed to form a small tree. SEE: Instructions for pruning a crape myrtle for tree form

In the landscape, because of it's smaller size, Delta Jazz is a perfect selection for smaller properties or where there is limited space. Delta Jazz is most useful as a brilliant stand-alone specimen or planted in clusters of three or more. It is also useful as a hedge or to frame in the corners of single-story homes and other structures. All in all, Delta Jazz Crapemyrtle is the Southern gardener’s dream garden accent. It’s beautiful, hardy, predictable, and versatile...everything we ask for. see the Delta Series Crape Myrtle here

Early Bird Crape Myrtles - If you love crape myrtles, you're gonna love the Early Birds; a unique series of semi-dwarf, early blooming crape myrtles from the Southern Living Plant Collection. They are available in three color choices…lavender, purple or white. Unlike other crape myrtles, the purple one growing in our gardens started blooming in May, instead of June or July like other crape myrtles, adding an extra month to the crape myrtle bloom show. It exhibited excellent re-blooming capabilities, blooming for about 3 months. Ours has many years to go however, when mature, the literature available from the breeder indicates a height of 5 to 8 feet tall with an equal spread. We're gonna leave ours as a shrub and see how that goes. As it grows taller, we might decide to limb it up to a tree. See all the Early Bird Crape Myrtles here


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