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I wish I could say I planned it.  I wish there was some sort of fabulous story of a romantic sunset that took my breathe away and inspired me to curate a landscape in bright yellows, oranges and a hint of pinks and reds, but I don’t.  This time, it was serendipity.  It was all luck. I am thankful.


What an amazing scene. A series of delicate yellow Japanese Irises popping after a few days of slow rain.  Passionate orange Gerber Daisies unfolding like a fan.  Then, surprisingly, the Nandina offers the unexpected red and pink hues.  A brilliant combination.  A combination that leaves me seeking that romantic sunset story in my near future.  Perhaps I will find such a story.

You should grow 3 of my favs together-

  1. Japanese Iris
  2. Gerber Daisy
  3. Nandina

You should let nature inspire your pallet.  Or perhaps, you can keep your fingers crossed and see if the garden fairies look kindly upon you and offer some luck.

Happy Gardening!



Even though they are fighting with tree roots, these Nandinas always look good Photo: My Nandina thicket brightens up the woods and screens an ugly view, all while fighting mature tree roots.

Melissa’s Nandina post is right on target!  Nandina was the  very first shrub that I brought to my garden–and all these years later it’s probably the most useful shrub I have.   Here’s why I love Nandinas-

Tough as nails.  They will grow in sun, shade, bad soil, dry soil .   They will probably grow at the gates of hell (along with Iris–but the two might look like hell together).  I have dug up Nandinas of all sizes in all seasons–and they all survived.  If you have a tough spot, plant a Nandina there. 

They multiply making them the ultimate cheap plant–though  some people think they multiply too much.  The red berries are seeds, and they sprout all over.      I have seen Nandina on at least one list of invasive plants for the South, but at my house, it’s easy to control.   And I don’t see Nandina popping up in the woods, or choking trees  like some other rampant imports from  Asia–Hall’s honeysuckle and kudzu come to mind.   So I don’t feel bad about growing Nandina–but I am very careful about what I put in my yard.    Do pay attention to Melissa’s warning–Some plants don’t belong in your garden.  I am still digging up lirope…but like Melissa’s English Ivy,  that is another story. 

Nandinas make great screens–That is their real beauty in my garden.  Over the years, I have grouped  my Nandinas in two patches.    One screens  an ugly wood pile, the other  buffers my neighbor’s drive.  As seedlings pop up around the yard, I transplant them to my Nandina thickets , or give the extra plants  away.  

Two notes on  Nandina culture–

While they don’t need pruning, Nandinas can get top-heavy with lots of leggy stems.  I solve this problem by occasionally cutting some of the stems (maybe two or three on a big plant)  close to the ground.  When they sprout, you’ll have a  fuller look. 

And finally–Nandinas  look great in summer, fall and winter, but  can make for some bad color clashes in Spring.  Keep those bright red berries and bronze foliage  away from pink bloomers and you’ll have a plant that always looks good.

So all the sage gardeners advise you to look for plants with multiple seasons of interests.  What the hell does that mean?  It means to get the most out of your plant choice and garden all year round, look for plants that have “something” happening in as many seasons as you can.  Recap..there are 4 seasons, so a 4 season plant is rated super tops by pro-gardeners and ‘lil ‘ole passionate novices like me.

So my pick is the Nandina or Nandina domestica if we want to go all scientific. Sometimes called “heavenly bamboo,” but NOT a bamboo.  Important to note, if you ever consider growing bamboo in your garden don’t.  It will invade everything kind of like the pesky English Ivy, but another post indeed.

Back to the glorious Nandina. It is a true 4-season of interest plant.  Right now, in the winter mine still has the purple colored leaves from fall and the bright red berries that are hard to miss.  In the spring, new, bright delicate leaves will appear followed by white clusters of flowers. In the summer, the flowers turn to clusters of green berries, followed by the autumn turning of the leaves.  Repeat. There are many varieties from dwarf to standard (8-12 ft tall).

And bonus feature…it needs very little manicuring or care. Sun, partial sun, shade…this shrub will grow anywhere. Heat and drought tolerant. An annual fertilizing will do.  Pruning: simple, certainly no bonsai-like task.  Divide and move pretty much any time. Plus, you can grow in containers, in your yard, cut for flower arrangements…the list goes on and on.

It is the ultimate plant to grow and share.  It is prominent in Japanese gardens and is called the “friendship plant” there.

See why you should grow that!  What’s your plant must have?

Happy gardening,


A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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