Fall is a good time for garden reflection as well as for planting in Georgia (so it's a good time to reflect and then plant!). How has your landscape performed - are there spots to be filled, things to remove, problem areas to tackle? Luckily there are some native shrubs that you might consider, especially for those difficult spots.
If you've got big and wonderful trees then you probably also have some shady areas. If it's a small area, shade loving perennials are probably your best bet, but a larger space can take a shrub. Florida anise (Illicium floridanum) in both species form and a cultivar like the variegated 'Shady Lady' is a good choice in both average and moist soils. For drier soils, consider mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium). For average moisture, check out mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) which is now available in a range of growth sizes thanks to cultivars. Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) in species form is more shade tolerant than cultivars.
|Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)|
Soggy areas can be troublesome until you see them as an opportunity to use some of wonderful moisture-loving shrubs. How lucky you are! For wet and shady areas, consider Florida anise again. For sunny areas, check out these ideas: summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), possumhaw (Viburnum nudum), and hobblebush (Leucothoe axillaris). For a really large area, consider buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) which reaches tree-like stature on sunny, wet banks of ponds and streams. As a plus, all of these plants offer great pollen and nectar rewards to pollinators.
|Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)|
A dry slope has lots of potential as long as it is protected from the harsh afternoon sun. Native shrubs that naturally grow in these conditions include sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) and hearts a bustin' (Euonymus americanus). Consider also highbush blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) and beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta). Remember that even though these are tolerant of dry conditions once they are established plants, they still need help in the first year after planting. Be sure to water them adequately and mulch to retain moisture.
|Beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)|
|Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)|
It's not uncommon to need a little screening in suburban yards these days. Whether its a neighbor or an awkward corner, plants can soften an unwanted view. For shady areas, look again to Florida anise or Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana). For part sun, consider mountain laurel or evergreen Rhododendron catawbiense. Sunny areas can use some of the native juniper shrub cultivars like Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl.'
I can only speak to what has worked for me. Every deer clan has its own tastes, so take these as suggestions, not guarantees. For sunny areas, an absolutely bullet proof shrub has been Florida doghobble (Agarista populifolia). For large areas, get the species, for smaller spots try the cultivar 'Leprechaun.' Other sunny ideas are beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and summersweet (Clethra alnifolia). I have had little issue with spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and Fothergilla 'Mt Airy' but they love the blue cultivars of Fothergilla for some reason. For shady areas, we're back to Florida anise again.
So if you've got a problem area in search of a suitable shrub, give these ideas a try.