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Southern Gardening

Drift roses, such as these pink and red selections, are lower-growing landscape roses that work great in small spaces, borders and even containers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners across the state are starting spring planting, I want to urge everyone to consider the plants selected as Mississippi Medallion winners for 2016: Serenita Angelonia, muscadine, rosemary, Drift roses and Cherokee Purple tomato.

Hard pruning of crape myrtles produces what appears to be lusher growth, but this results in a decrease in overall flowering. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
February 1, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Every gardener I know is asking the same question: When’s spring going to get here?

No doubt we are getting close as we wait breathlessly this week for the prognostication of Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow and whether or not we can look forward to six more weeks of winter weather.

The flowers of the native azalea piedmont, or honeysuckle azalea, are very fragrant and pleasant on a calm, early-morning garden stroll. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 25, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the grandest and maybe gaudiest garden and landscape shows is the blooming of the Southern indica azaleas, especially in south Mississippi.

For most of the year, these shrubs play a supporting role in the landscape, which they do well, providing a great background for the warmer-season flowering plants. But in the spring when really nothing else is blooming, we can enjoy the Southern indica flower show.

SONNET -- Sonnet snapdragons produce multiple large, colorful flower stalks that make excellent cuts. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Just as it seems I’m finally settling into the winter color season and noticing how good all the pansies and violas are looking, it’s time to start planning for spring.

Recently I’ve written about the diascia and nemesia, but now is the time to get excited about their more well-known cousin, the snapdragon.

A good saw can make limb removal an easy chore. This model has a handle that can change positions. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 4, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

With cooler weather finally showing up over the Christmas holidays, I’m going to share a few thoughts and ideas to start in on the garden this first week of 2016.

It was 50 degrees and cloudy on the coast the first weekend of the year, and I thought it felt too cold to actually get out and take care of a few chores. Instead, I walked around the house and garden and made a list of things I need to do.

Flatten old spoons to use as plant markers, and use letter punches to stencil in the plant name. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
December 28, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Like many home gardeners, I believe I’ll always remember the name of every plant I bring home from the garden center.

Sadly, I found out early in my horticulture career that I was terribly mistaken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in my landscape scratching my head, racking my brain and wondering just what the name of that plant is.

At the beginning of a new year, perhaps the best resolution any home gardener can make is to finally use plant tags and markers.

Use plastic pipe and plastic sheeting to make easy, small greenhouse structures to provide winter cold protection. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
December 21, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

We’ve been lucky so far to enjoy a fairly mild beginning to the cool season in the landscape.

In my coastal garden, my Rio Pink dipladenia continues to brighten my garden, growing in its half-barrel container. Other absolute stellar performers are my two large firecracker plants. They have provided nonstop bumblebee action, and the plants are actually humming as I walk by.

Southern Gardening TV recently featured the Savannah holly, which is outdoing itself across the state this year. Its colorful fruit load can weigh down branches. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
December 7, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Trees

Driving around Mississippi’s coastal counties has reminded me that we are in the middle of the red berry season. Yaupon hollies have translucent red berries that sparkle like landscape jewels, and Nellie R. Stevens have dark, glossy-green foliage that provides the perfect background for bright-red berries.

Citrus trees such as this Meyer lemon perform well in Mississippi, but they need protection from cold weather. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 30, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the chance to get back into my garden and landscape after what seemed like a horticultural marathon that began in mid-July. While I hadn’t totally neglected my chores, there was still plenty to do.I harvested the remaining fall crop of heirloom tomatoes and removed the plants growing in my self-watering patio containers. I then proceeded to my citrus grove; understand that I use the term “grove” lightly, as it consists of two Satsuma oranges, two Meyer lemons and a kumquat.

The hundreds of tiny, white flowers of Diamond Frost provide the perfect contrast to a favorite poinsettia color grouped together in one container. (File Photo/ MSU Extension)
November 16, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

This week, I’ve been taking what I’d like to think is a well-earned vacation. But even though I’m technically “off the clock,” I’m still finding interesting ideas to try in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.

Since we’re heading into the much cooler winter months, I’ve come across several clever uses of unusual planting combinations we can enjoy indoors.

Yaupon holly bushes are either male or female, and only the females produce the red berries that the plants are known for. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
November 9, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Let’s face it: Gardeners like to talk about their gardens, and I’m no different. We all like to brag about our garden successes and ask questions about how to improve. Through email and social media, I get many gardening questions throughout the year.

These questions concern landscape issues, plant care and plant identification. I enjoy answering questions and helping home gardeners to be successful in their gardening endeavors in Mississippi and beyond.

Traditional, bright-red poinsettias are a popular holiday decorative plant. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
November 2, 2015 - Filed Under: Cut Flowers and Houseplants

We all knew it was going to happen sometime.

That change in the seasons is an inevitable event as we move into the later months of the year. But I’m not referring to the time of year when we start planting all of the gorgeous cool-season bedding plants like pansies, violas and dianthus. The change I’m talking about is from Halloween to Christmas; it seems like it happened overnight. Maybe it had something to do with the time change, that whole falling back that also occurred this past weekend.

Violas come in a wide variety of colors and produce flowers in prolific numbers. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 26, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I talked last week about how pansies are perfect bedding plants for the cool season in our Mississippi landscapes and gardens. This week, I want to draw attention to the viola, another favorite cool-season bedding plant that is closely related to the pansy.

Most gardeners I know call violas by their common name, Johnny jump ups. They get this name because they are prolific seed producers. It seems wherever I have planted them in my yard, they continue to reappear for at least a couple more years.

The Matrix Ocean Breeze mix with varying shades of blues to dark purples. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The weather could not have better for the Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs this year. Thousands of people attending the Oct. 16-17 event enjoyed clear, blue skies and bright sunshine. The fall-like temperature felt great as I talked with fellow gardeners.

Many people asked me about pansies. Most of the plant vendors had gorgeous pansies for sale, and home gardeners wondered if it was a good time to plant pansies. My answer to every one of them was a resounding, YES! Mid-October is the perfect time to plant pansies in your Mississippi landscape.

Trim branches at the branch collar, which is a slightly raised area around the point where the branch is connected to the tree trunk. The tree will heal better if the branch is removed at this point rather than flush with the trunk (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 5, 2015 - Filed Under: Trees

In my position with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, I tend to look at myself as a problem solver. I recently had the opportunity to evaluate some less-than-optimal tree pruning.

The question at hand was whether the pruned trees were irreparably damaged or if some corrective actions were needed. In my opinion, while the pruning in this case was sloppily performed, the trees will survive and should be OK.

In the late summer and through the fall, all the varieties of Lycoris produce tall flower stalks without any leaves. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
September 28, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When I was visiting Natchez looking for locations to film the TV version of Southern Gardening this past week, I had a great time enjoying the historic homes and gardens, but the sights that had me doing double takes were all the “naked ladies” parading around town.

Now, you may be thinking that I’ve been listening to too much Ray Stevens, but this is not a reference to “The Streak.” The naked or nekkid (I think this version is more fun to say) ladies I’m referring to are fabulous landscape plants that belong to the genus Lycoris.

The daylily Suburban Nancy Gayle is one of the most outstanding new selections available. It blooms from mid-May until August with big, red, yellow-throated flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
September 21, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society and had a great time doing some garden-sharing. Afterward, I was thinking about the daylilies in my landscape and how gorgeous they’ll be next year.

Daylilies are easy landscape plants guaranteed to please.

Mums come in colors to fit almost every color scheme. They bloom profusely, making an immediate impact on the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
September 14, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One the benefits of being a gardener is that most of the time, I’m paying attention to what’s going on in the landscape and beyond. I’ve found that Mother Nature gives us clues, especially around the seasonal transitions.

There are subtle clues that summer is ending and fall is beginning. Red maples start to show tinges of reds and oranges. Each tree is different, but there is one red maple in my neighborhood that always starts to change before any others.

Another change in the landscape color palette is the arrival of mums in the nurseries and garden centers.

Fall is an ideal time to plant marigolds. Varieties such as these Antiqua Orange and Yellow marigolds will bloom from now until first frost. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
August 25, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Where did the summer go? I know it’s still hot and will be for the next month or so, but September starts next week, and that means fall will officially begin.

What prompted me to start thinking about the season change was a weekend visit to the garden center. I noticed there were some new additions to the colorful benches. There were lots of the yellows, oranges and rusty reds of one of my long-time summer favorites, marigolds. Marigold colors are earthy and warm -- just what is needed for a harvest display.

Mississippi State University established trial gardens across the state to generate plant growth and performance data and make fact-based recommendations. The Mississippi State trial gardens in Starkville capture data from one unique set of growing conditions. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
August 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

One of my goals for this column has always been to promote the planting of ornamental varieties -- and to some extent vegetable varieties -- in our Mississippi landscapes and gardens. Sometimes, these plants are tried and true favorites of mine; other times, they are new to market and deserve a chance to shine and be enjoyed.

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