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Hyperlocal News and Information for Metro Atlanta
While winter is not typically a time we think of for blooms, there are a few winter flowers I always look forward to including some of the camellias, snowdrops, and Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume).
I was first charmed by Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) when I lived in Pennsylvania and brought some with me when I moved to Atlanta many years ago. While they didn’t persist in my garden I have since added more and am rewarded with a few sparse blooms every year.
These tiny hardy bulbs are best to transplant “in the green.” In other words, if you know someone that has snowdrops growing in their garden and they are willing to share, move them while they have their foliage. There is a small clump that grow in my neighborhood in a patch of ivy (please note I don’t recommend planting English ivy) next to the sidewalk. Seeing them pop into bloom always brings a smile to my face.
Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume) is a medium-sized tree that blooms in January to February in Atlanta. While it produces small fruits that are edible, they are not known to be tasty. It is the fragrant flowers on green stems that make this plant garden worthy. There are selections with pink, magenta and white flowers, both single and double.
While I am admittedly a lover of trees during every season, in January I appreciate their spare beauty, whether I’m hiking in the north Georgia woods or strolling through Piedmont Park.
This month is a great time to plant trees in Atlanta. Before you get out your shovel, it’s ideal to know what type of tree or trees you will plant and the best technique for planting. It also is important to plant the right tree in the right place. This will help ensure that your tree thrives.
If you took photos throughout the year of trees you admired, this is a good place to begin. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to start with large trees.
A container-grown tree (usually a 15- or 30-gallon) is easier to manage than a large balled and burlapped tree. It will also catch up in a few years with trees that are of a larger size when they are planted.
White oak (Quercus alba) is a fantastic tree for numerous reasons, but it need lots of space and is ideal where a specimen tree is called for. This is true for most of our native oaks as well as hickories and tulip poplar. All of these are large canopy trees.
Understory trees are smaller and include redbuds, fringe trees, dogwoods and Amelanchier species (also known as serviceberry or shadblow).
Tips for Planting
Trees Atlanta has a great video that is worth watching in its entirety on “How to plant a tree.” The link is treesatlanta.org/resources. It covers in detail the steps listed below.
Other garden projects for January include ongoing cleanup. Cut back perennials that have long been finished and remove diseased, dead or damaged wood from shrubs that will bloom next year. You can also renovate overgrown shrubs by removing one-third of the oldest branches from the base of the plant.
January is also a good time to edge beds or add a stone border to delineate the lawn areas from your planting beds. If your garden is tidy, and you have no chores left to do, (or even if you still have chores) be sure to take a stroll in your neighborhood, favorite local park or in the mountains and enjoy the beauty that January offers.
Erica Glasener is the Community Involvement and Events Manager for the Piedmont Park Conservancy and serves on the advisory board for Trees Atlanta. More by Erica Glasener