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Southern Gardening

Small red berries and green leaves line a distylium branch.
February 12, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Distylium Vintage Jade is an exciting new plant that brings pizazz to the traditional role of foundation planting.

Upright stems of a low-lying chartreuse plant sprout from a landscape bed.
February 5, 2018 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

As we're working our way through this year's Mississippi Medallion Winners, I now want to look at Sedum rupestre, which is commonly called lemon sedum. The sedums are also called stonecrop, because they are native to the mountainous regions of central and western Europe.

White flower pots containing green lemongrass are lined up on the ground.
January 29, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Last week, I focused on the 2018 Mississippi Medallion Winner fancy leaf kale. This week, let’s look at a second 2018 winner: lemongrass.

A small bush with bright red leaves contrasts against a rock-filled garden.
January 15, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The weather to start 2018 has certainly been crazy. We had more than a week of temperatures in the mid-20s (Freezemageddon) followed by a week of moderate, more normal January temperatures. Now, we’re freezing again this week.

This crape myrtle shows the smooth tops of crape myrtles that have been sliced through knobby ends.
January 1, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners make New Year’s resolutions for their landscapes in 2018, I want to encourage all of them to resolve to correctly prune crape myrtles from this day forward.

In the current vernacular, severe pruning of crape myrtles is called “crape murder,” reflecting the seemingly random nature of the pruning cuts. To me, this type of pruning is very unattractive in the landscape.

A bouquet of small, orange and yellow flowers.
December 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

For the last Southern Gardening column of 2017, I want to take a look back at some of my absolute favorite plants from my home landscape this past year.

I have been talking for several years about what fantastic garden performers Supertunias are. But my absolute favorite -- and it has been my favorite for several years -- is Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This plant is so reliable it was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012.

A man’s hand reaches into a bouquet of bright yellow flowers.
December 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

If you’re thinking about gardening this Christmas holiday season, it’s probably about poinsettias and other decorative indoor plants. I’m right there with you, as I’m looking at a bookcase lined with red, pink and white poinsettias as I sit here writing.

But a plant that I just love for spring and summer landscapes is rudbeckia, which you probably know as Black-eyed Susans.

Orange vine flowers resembling black-eyed Susans straddle the top of a wooden gray fence.
December 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Most folks have poinsettias and entertaining on the agenda during the holidays, but for this week’s column, I want to highlight a plant that has been an outstanding performer for me all year.

It took this past weekend’s hard freeze to finally shut down my black-eyed Susan vine (I’m going to use the abbreviation BES for this flower), known botanically as Thunbergia alata. For many gardeners, in their experience this is traditionally a basket plant that deserves to be grown more often.

red poinsettias
December 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

It seems like I've seen Christmas decorations in stores for at least a couple of months. They really accelerated after Halloween, completely ignoring Thanksgiving, which was when I noticed early poinsettias out in force.

Along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the appearance of these poinsettias means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.

In my opinion, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. With its brightly colored bracts, it is a plant truly full of holiday cheer. I think most people will agree that the poinsettia is second only to the Christmas tree in essential Christmas season decor.

Four stone statues are seen representing ancient Greek goddesses.
November 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends got me thinking about traditions and beliefs, some popular in the distant past but gone by the wayside today.

In agriculture, some of the most popular myths revolve around the changing seasons.

Purple viola flowers grow in a container.
November 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The last two weeks, I've told you about two of my top three cool-season flowering bedding plants. Today, I'm going to complete the trifecta with another plant everyone should have in their landscape: the viola.

Violas may have smaller flowers than their cousin, the pansy, but they're maybe even tougher and more tolerant of cold, winter weather than pansies. These plants are beautiful massed in landscape beds, and they can be great performers all the way to Easter.

A close-up of white and pink dianthus blooms.
November 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Even though the air is still warm in many parts of Mississippi, it’s time to plant annual winter color. Last week, I wrote about pansies being a great color choice. Another sure-fire pick is dianthus.

A close-up of a pink pansy with a dark maroon blotch in the center.
November 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

These days, I have to wear my hoodie sweatshirts and long pants for anything below 60 degrees. But the falling temperatures also signal something great: racks and racks of great, cool-season color as pansies fill local garden centers.

A head of cabbage grows in the center of a gorgeous red cabbage plant.
October 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year, I’m getting an early start on my ornamental kale and cabbage planting for the fall.

A couple of weeks ago, I found these plants being marketed in variety packs, so I picked up a selection of kale and cabbage. What an easy way to select plants for your landscape this weekend.

Confederate rose is an heirloom plant that blooms prolifically in late summer and fall.
October 23, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
I have weekly favorite plants, as you may know, and one of my favorites started blooming in earnest over the last couple of weeks. The sheer number of flowers on the Confederate rose makes this plant a must-have in our Mississippi landscapes.

Confederate rose is sometimes called Cotton rose and Cotton rosemallow. Despite the references to cotton, this plant is actually a hibiscus that originated in Asia.
American beautyberry, a native shrub with tiny flowers and prolific berries, is excellent in home landscapes.
October 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
After cleaning the mess from Hurricane Nate, I had the chance to participate in two outstanding field days in Mississippi and Louisiana. I really enjoyed the plantings at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

These events inspired me to share ideas over the next several weeks for great plants to put in your garden and landscape that you will enjoy next fall.
 Several blue containers in this colorful landscape garden are blown over after heavy storm winds.
October 9, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

While Hurricane Nate was obviously not in the same class as Katrina, the last hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it did provide gardeners a lesson in getting their landscapes ready before a storm.

I know it’s a bit backwards to wait until after the storm to make a list of tips to get your garden ready ahead of time. But this was the first hurricane I’ve experienced since moving to the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been thinking what I could have done better in advance.

Toucan Rose canna flowers in a garden landscape with shades of pink and dark red are brightened by sunlight.
October 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Cannas are commonly grown as large-specimen plants and look fantastic mass planted in landscapes. Their tropical-looking foliage lends bold texture to the space until the flowers steal the show from summer through fall.

In fact, the cannas I have planted in my Ocean Springs landscape right now are looking the best they have so far this year.

Backlit Gulf Muhly grass glows like a rich, pink cloud in this landscape.
September 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I know some homeowners who look at ornamental grasses and wonder what is the big deal; these plants are only grass. But when fall rolls around, many of these naysayers change their opinion 180 degrees.

Fall is a great time to appreciate ornamental grasses, as their flower plumes, actually called inflorescences, really pop out in their full glory.

One of the best and showier grasses is not a selection that was bred for any particular characteristic. I’m talking about Gulf Muhly grass, a Mississippi native grass that really struts its stuff in the fall and winter.

Red, green, and yellow pods on a Chilly Chili plant, a colorful pod producer without the heat.
September 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Late summer and early fall are among my favorite times of the year because the ornamental peppers are starting to really color up.

More and more fellow gardeners are jumping on the bandwagon and planting these beauties in their landscapes. These plants are hot -- in landscape character and accent -- and they carry the garden through the fall season and maybe beyond.

Most ornamental peppers begin setting fruit as the temperatures rise, so the best show is always saved for late summer and continues through the fall as they keep producing. This means you need to set these plants out in the late spring.

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