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Having been gone for several days, I was anxious to get outside in my garden and see what new blooms had opened, and to get started on some gardening chores, but Mother Nature had other plans, and we had torrential rain and wind the past two days. In looking at the forecast yesterday, it didn't look too promising for the upcoming week. Today we had a break. Although it was overcast and the sun did not shine, it didn't rain. I was able to get outside and mow and weedeat, and pull some weeds. I also got to view the garden.

While some gardeners are strict native plant gardeners and won't allow non-natives in their garden, I am much more adventuresome and think there is room for many plants--but not all. All of our rains and mild temperatures have given us a glorious spring season, but everything seems to be on steroids and plants are growing in leaps and bounds--and not just the desirable plants. I have more weeds than I care to admit, and poison ivy is popping up everywhere.

And did you know poison ivy is a native plant--and in my opinion, invasive. Another native that is taking over way too much space in my garden is Virginia creeper.

Yes, that is the five-leafed vine coming up in the middle of my rose bush. It is in flower beds, growing up into my blueberries and even on the side of our house. It is a mess.

Another vine which is not native, but some gardeners love is Japanese honeysuckle.

This highly invasive plant does have a wonderful fragrance to its blooms, but can easily take over a garden and do damage to the plants it infests. Not only does it compete for sunlight, water and nutrients, but it's semi-woody vine can girdle stems as it wraps around them. If you see it, eradicate it!

My sinocalycanthus or Chinese sweetshrub has gorgeous white waxy blooms in my shade garden.

Unfortunately it was weighed down with honeysuckle and Carolina jasmine (another native).

I carefully cut the vines out and with each cut it was like the plant took a huge sigh of relief and started standing more upright.

I didn't get it all pruned out yet, but I will tackle more another day. As with other plants, Sinocalycanthus has now had a name change to the genus Calycanthus chinensis. Our native sweetshrub is Calycanthus floridus and has smaller reddish brown blooms and is quite fragrant.

Another common name is Carolina allspice. I have one of the newer hybrid calycanthus called 'Aphrodite' and it is in its glory now.

The flowers are easily two to three times the size of our native variety. I don't get much scent on this new one, but possibly the rain may be to blame. I will check again tomorrow. Oftentimes, the improved varieties lose in fragrance what they gain in flower power.

Another great native that is almost in full bloom in my garden is Itea or Virginia sweetspire.

I adore it for its fragrant flowers in the spring and its stunning red fall foliage in the fall. This variety is 'Little Henry' which is supposed to be the dwarf version. It is possibly too happy in my garden and is beginning to spread aggressively. After bloom, I am going to have to try to do some thinning. Anyone need some? It will do well in full sun to partial shade. I often get calls that plants won't live or grow much in other peoples gardens. My problem is the opposite, things are growing too well and getting too large. This is what it looked like when I planted it,

and now today:

It was a great day to be outside in the garden, with mild temperatures and no rain. I did get my first mosquito bite, so start dumping out any standing water--which is everywhere with the amount of rain we have had, and I don't think it is over yet. It was fortuitous that I saw this after most of my gardening was over for the day.

I am not a fan of snakes, but I leave these non-poisonous ones alone. I would just rather not be too close to them.

I have a lot of plants to plant, but it was still too wet to do that, so more gardening chores later.

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