Planting shrubs in Zone 7b / Atlanta

Hi,
Can anyone here help give me guidance with planting shrubs? My house is in Atlanta, which I think is zone 7b. The house is fairly shady, and when I look at books of gardening ideas, I see lots of shrubs that are supposed to be able to grow there. Among the plants that I would consider planting are: Copper Plant, Ajuga, many different types of Azaleas, Crown of Thorns, man different Gardenias, Patiens, Impatiens, and Pansies. I'm sure that there are many other good candidates for adding color and texture to my future landscape.
My question is this. I'd like to plant by the end of January / middle of February and have results that are immediate. Can anyone advise what are the best choices?
Thanks,
Josh
BTW, thanks to all who responded to my question regarding sod.
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I forgot to mention. I am frequently out of town and would like to find shrubs / greenery that is the most resilient and can withstand me being away for a few days when it doesn't rain. Thanks, Josh

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You may want to rethink this plan a bit. Georgia can experience some pretty cold temperatures through January and February - usually not what one considers ideal planting weather. Heavy rains can also be a factor, as saturated soils should not be worked or even walked on. Not to mention that what nurseries are open offer a seriously reduced plant selection compared to even a little later in the season.
FYI, copper plant and crown of thorns are tropical plants grown as houseplants through most of the country - certainly will not be winter hardy outdoors in your climate.
There are many shrubs you can plant in a shady garden - rhododendrons and azaleas, Pieris, nandina, hydrangea, leucothoe, shrub dogwoods, clethra, etc. Also many flowering perennials and ground covers. It might make more sense now for you to get some books on shade gardening and do some research on what plants you like and are suitable for your environment and wait to select and plant later in the season.. You should also know that plants which are newly planted will need regular and consistant water for at last the first year in the ground - a week or two lapse in watering could easily do them in if conditions are right. Investigate installing an irrigation system to tend to this if you travel frequently. And be sure to make sure you have addressed soil conditions - attending to the infrastructure of a garden - amending the soil, installing irrigation and hardscaping - are things that must be done before any planting should be considered.
Don't expect results to be immediate. Plants take time to grow and mature. Gardens are a long term proposition, not something that magically appears overnight, even ones which are landscaped by professionals.
pam - gardengal
pam - gardengal
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Pam - gardengal wrote:

Let me second Pam's typically excellent selections. I'd like to add, if you are interested in a reference book, I'd recommend the "Southern Living Garden Book" as a reasonable first reference to what grows in the southeast (including your area). There are better and more detailed books for specific concerns (notably Dirr's for shrubs), but they are considerably more expensive, and the Southern Living book, available in paperback, gives an overview of everything.
In addition to the plants Pam recommended, I think Camellia sasanqua will grow in your area, at least in protected areas. You will be cheating yourself if you don't plant at least one variety of these rugged, beautiful, plants.
Have fun!
Mike Prager Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a) (Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
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Joh, this comments by Pam are good to go by -
"It might make more sense now for you to get some books on shade gardening and do some research on what plants you like and are suitable for your environment and wait to select and plant later in the season.. You should also know that plants which are newly planted will need regular and consistant water for at last the first year in the ground - a week or two lapse in watering could easily do them in if conditions are right. Investigate installing an irrigation system to tend to this if you travel frequently. And be sure to make sure you have addressed soil conditions - attending to the infrastructure of a garden - amending the soil, installing irrigation and hardscaping - are things that must be done before any planting should be considered.
Don't expect results to be immediate. Plants take time to grow and mature. Gardens are a long term proposition, not something that magically appears overnight, even ones which are landscaped by professionals".
I am a landscaper and clients always want instant results. Even the ones who say they understand the maturity come back a month later and say "It's not full enough, yet". Those beautiful gardens they see did not occur in 1-2 weeks but rather "years" to develop. If you want some maturity and structure in your garden, install the sprinkler system, amend the soil/beds with the proper amendments and in some cases, purchase slightly larger specimens than 1 and 3 gallon plants. In some caes, 5 gallon, 7 gallon, even 10 gallon, depending on the slection, may be better. Putting in a landscape is a process that ultimaltely yields a result.
Also, to get the greatest value out of your investment in your landscape, plant as many native plants of your region that you can find. They will proliferate, give you bio-diversity and help fight out outbrakes of insect infestations and help to curtail plant diseases. They will also give your home a "Sense of Place" with the effect they produce as they mature.
J. Kolenovsky http://www.celestialhabitats.com
Josh Kalish wrote:

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Thanks all for the responses. My problem is a bit unique. I really just want to sell the house, but construction work there has devastated the grounds. I appreciate the idea that a truly wonderful garden will take a year or two to create. My situation, however, is a little different. I just want to show something other than a dirt hole to people who come by to look at the house. I'm trying to figure out what kinds of things I can do soon that will produce the best immediate results. I'm willing to forgo what would look best in the long run for what would do the best now. Can anyone think of anything that can be put down in the middle of Feb?
Thanks,
Josh
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message - Tallahassee, FL - Apples and Oranges: A Demonstration -- Welcome to Hooterville! Population: 2000. Elevation: 3000. Established: 1850. TOTAL = 6850 -- Bob Lilienfield
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Since you are selling the house, that makes a difference. I wouldn't put sticky. prickly specimens there. Go by your nurseries and plant what is in inventory. Some are probably having sales now. If you can find some color now, I'd stick with, say , one or two colors in drifts or runs. Annuals could be the bilk of what you plant with some inexpensive shrubs here and there and maybe 1 or 2 small understory trees. The annuals can be anything. In my opinion, I think it would be nice if the shrubs and small understory trees were natives. Tell the nursery sales people that you would like this kind of mix, annuals, native trees, native shrubs, and let them guide you. You need not spend a lot on the natives as the annials are the bulk of the plantings.
Am I missing something here?? We're talking zone 7b in midwinter. That's an average minimum winter temp of 10F. I'm in zone 8b and it was 19F last night with 8 inches of snow expected tonight. What the heck kinda annuals can he expect to find? Perhaps a few winter pansies or some primulas, maybe. It may not have been very chilly so far this season, but I'd be willing to bet that the temps are gonna plunge at least once or twice before the house hits the market. Stick with a few broadleaved evergreen shrubs, maybe a container of color close to the entry that can be tucked away when freezing temperatures threaten.
pam - gardengal.
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Hi Pam, Atlanta is generally warmer during the day than Seattle during the winter. (Maybe average highs of 50 to 54) However, you are correct that nurseries will not be offering much in the way of annuals more than pansies and perhaps primulas, because the nights will be as chilly or even chillier than Seattle's. Some will offer pots of prechilled daffodils and other bulbs which could be plopped in the ground. He may even find things like paperwhites on sale after the Christmas rush, although they will not last for many more weeks in bloom. Sometimes in the south they will sell ranunculus in pots in winter. If the winter is mild enough for them to survive, they will often bloom into late April. Occasionally a nursery in the south will sell pots of delphiniums in mid-winter in the south, not yet blooming, and if the right combination of cool nights and not too much rain and humidity come too early , they will bloom very nicely in April and May before turning to mush in the heat and humidity of summer. There is a garden cable show filmed in north Florida (Jacksonville or thereabouts, I think) that shows the plant materials commonly used there in by commercial landscapers. (I think it's called home landscaping, or some other imaginative name (sic). Commonly used on it are hollies, ligustrums, euonymus, giant varieagated liriopes, camellias, boxwood, and azaleas. Pine straw will be sold cheaply by the local nurseries in tightly bound bales, and is often used in the South as THE mulch, raked around nicely to be even and clean looking. If this guy is hoping to sell his house in the next month of so, I'd spend some budget money on a fair-sized already fully budded and blooming camellia (which might be $30-50) and an azalea in a complementary color to give the yard some color, and then just do the rest in basic green shrubbery.

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There you go. Camellias and Azaleas would give him structure/blooms and go green with the shrubs. (some evergreen, some deciduous?)
J
gregpresley wrote:

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gregpresley wrote:

Now I see the house is being sold -- don't rule out covering the bare spots with clean much, getting some potted flowering plants, keeping them on an enclosed porch, and setting them out in the beds before the house is shown to prospects. A cheerful appearance is the thing.
Mike Prager Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a) (Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
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On Tue, 06 Jan 2004 03:00:53 GMT, "Pam - gardengal"

A check of wonderground.com reveals that the 7am temperature in Atlanta was 18F with a high in the upper 30s predicted. Somewhat further north (SE Virginia, also 7b), it's 23F with flurries predicted for tomorrow. *Not* the time to be planting much of anything, however unfortunate for the OP. A trip to a garden center to pick up things in containers with perhaps colorful berries and/or variegated foliage is probably as much as can be done in this season. Maybe some shrubs could be heeled in, but better bare dirt than a bunch of dying plants.
Did I mention it was 78F here on Sunday? Average, schmaverage!
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Pam, he may not want to spend a lot if he plans to sell the house in a month or two. I suggested he put more money into perishables like cold-weather annuals and transfer the burden of plants to the new home owner. I also suggested he do plant some evergreens and some natives so it would have some substance. The gentleman may be browsing for feedback in order to develop a menu of ideas. That way he can glean both of our suggestions.
J
Am I missing something here?? We're talking zone 7b in midwinter. That's an average minimum winter temp of 10F. I'm in zone 8b and it was 19F last night with 8 inches of snow expected tonight. What the heck kinda annuals can he expect to find? Perhaps a few winter pansies or some primulas, maybe. It may not have been very chilly so far this season, but I'd be willing to bet that the temps are gonna plunge at least once or twice before the house hits the market. Stick with a few broadleaved evergreen shrubs, maybe a container of color close to the entry that can be tucked away when freezing temperatures threaten.
pam - gardengal.
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2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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