The new year always inspires me to try something new and this year is no different. I love growing things to eat and notices that Burpee now has hops. We have often tried to make our own beer, so hops in the garden would be something new, and useful to try. Different hop varieties produce slightly different flavors for the beer but Cascade and Mt Hood are two popular ones. They do need full sun and sturdy support because even in the first year they grow quickly! We are also tea drinkers and I have always wanted to try growing, and using, the tea camellia which is also now available.

Mt. Hood Hops.

Tea Camellia.

The camellias in my garden have already been blooming for a while, the earliest being a lovely white bloom. Others are now blooming giving pretty blooms to bring indoors for decoration. There are so many camellias that I suspect some are from self-sown seeds. I have the same feeling about some of the many magnolias too. The property also has way too many holly bushes of various sorts. My plans for the year include removing some of the smaller or declining shrubs and replacing them with shrubs that bloom in summer. Nothing fancy but azaleas and gardenias would give a longer color season.

Azaleas.

Gardenia.

Other plans for the garden include taking control of the shadier side of the landscape. Last summer was our first in this location and I was so busy with the gardens in full sun that the shade gardens were not touched at all. Overgrown shrubs and weeds are everywhere so this will be quite a challenge. The transition from full sun to full shade takes place over about ten feet so there is plenty of room for lots of plants and shrubs. Too often people just use hostas in shade but there are plenty of other things that work too – and some that don’t get plagued by slugs which are the bain of hosta lovers. Primroses, ferns, hellebores, astilbe and many more plants enjoy cool southern shady areas.

Primroses.

Hellebores.