By Kristin Prelipp Oguntoyinbo
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Some gardeners know how to gently coax life out of even the most delicate plant. They study the soil, the available light, a plant’s specific needs and even give plant food and sprays to keep their plants healthy. My kind of gardening would be opposite of that. It could be called survival of the fittest gardening! I love my plants but once they are in and established they either need to thrive or they will be replaced. I will weed and mulch the beds but I don’t water and I rarely fertilize. So my favorite plants are made for our climate and are hardy as well as beautiful. I want to talk about my two favorite April plants today.
Kerria Japonica is not very common. I see a ton of forsythia, which is also yellow and blooms at the same time, but this plant, called The Japanese Yellow Rose, is overlooked. The branches have a weeping willow feel to them and the yellow blooms last for weeks. I have both the “Plenaflora” and the “Honshu” variety, but prefer the former. When mature this deciduous shrub is 3 to 5 feet in height. I have heard that some Kerria plants rebloom off and on all summer long but I have not seen this. Perhaps it is because I don’t baby them enough. They like well-drained soil and perform best in partial shade. Below are three photos of this magnificent plant.
Azaleas are very popular here. When I bought my home 11 years ago there were 20 azaleas bushes in the yard. They have all thrived with little care. Every April they bloom, turning my yard into a wonderland. Azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron. They are generally healthy, long-lived plants when their basic requirements are met. They like well-drained soil and partial shade to full sun. To see if you have well drained soil, dig the hole and fill it with water. If the water has not drained out of the hole within one hour, the soil is poorly drained. It is best to trim your azaleas right after they bloom. Here are three photos of some of azaleas in my yard.
Thanks for reading! I am always looking for great photo stories to tell in the Chapelboro area. Just write to me with any questions.