We're now officially in the Christmas season, and holiday shopping is in full swing. So, instead of an ugly sweater or a pair of reindeer socks, consider gifts that the special gardeners in your life could use in their landscape and garden.
So, here are what I consider some nice gifts for the gardener.
We hit December this week, and it seems like we haven't really had a fall season yet. Hot summer weather really overstayed its welcome, infringing on the mild temperatures I know gardeners were expecting.
I've been writing about cool-season color replacing the summer color in my garden, and I recommend that my readers plant them, too. Now, however, I'm being stubborn with my heirloom tomatoes.
I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that a few early-season poinsettias are showing up on garden center shelves. And while we're celebrating Thanksgiving this week, the appearance of the poinsettia means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.
Traditionally, the red poinsettia is the first choice of many holiday gardeners.
Like many other home gardeners in Mississippi, I'm in the full swing of planting cool-season annual color. And like everyone else, I've been planting my favorites, which are Matrix pansies and Sorbet violas. You really can't go wrong with these easy-to-grow landscape plants.
But the last couple of years, I've been kicking the pansy planting up a notch, to borrow the catch phrase of a famous New Orleans chef. I've been using Cool Wave pansies more and more in some nontraditional settings.
Heirloom vegetables get their fair share of gardening attention, but many homeowners don't realize that some ornamental plants are considered heirlooms as well. We often call heirloom ornamentals "pass-along plants."
I like the changing of the seasons, as it means we get to plant a new set of color annuals like pansies, violas and dianthuses. The cooler weather draws us back out to enjoy gardening activities, many of which were put on hold in the heat of the summer.
An important step in keeping year-round color in the garden and landscape is planting and transitioning the annual color plants.
Within the last month, I’ve planted my favorite fall French marigolds, also called Mari-mums. My Telstar dianthuses and snapdragons are also in and starting to show off. At the beginning of September, I pulled my Blue Daze evolvuluses from the front walk bed and replaced them with some beautiful, tight-budded mini chrysanthemums.
At the 43rd annual Ornamental Field Day this weekend at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, one plant that drew a lot of attention was the exotic-looking King Tut papyrus.
This grass-like plant growing in Mississippi State University's trial garden can easily grow to 6 feet tall, and it has a striking presence in the landscape. King Tut is a member of the same papyrus family of plants that the ancient Egyptians used to make paper. Its dramatic appearance makes for a great conversation about its connection to the distant past.
Many people are interested in having home vegetable and flower gardens, but many urban homes have small lots. Home gardeners in this situation may not think they have enough room. Others, especially inexperienced gardeners, may be discouraged by the amount of time and work required to build a new garden bed.
A good solution to this problem is to grow vegetables and flowers in compact, raised beds. By using an intensively cultivated area, you need less time and space to produce vegetables that taste great and flowers that feed the soul.
Now that we’re finally into September, I think many of our landscape plants are rejoicing in anticipation of the (hopefully) coming milder temperatures as much as I am. The colorful annuals that survived the hot summer will start to recover, while other landscape plants have been waiting for this season to begin their show.
I make a point every week to walk around our plant trial beds at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi to see how everything is growing. Lately, I’ve been impressed by some of the landscape plants with tropical-looking foliage that are putting on a late summer show right now.
Since this is August, we are now officially in the dog days of summer.
Extreme heat and humidity cause lots of problems for both garden plants and gardeners. For those gardeners who enjoy the vegetable garden bounty, this time can be especially troubling, as many of our vegetable plants tend to shut down for a while.
In the past, I’ve expressed my love for chili peppers -- the hotter the better. But there are only so many ghost, Trinidad Moruga and Carolina Reaper peppers I can eat. Lately, my gastrointestinal tolerance for their heat is waning.
When the summer season heats up starting in July, I really like seeing Rudbeckias in our Mississippi landscapes. Who can argue how the brightly colored flowers bring needed freshness when some of our other flowering plants may be showing wear and tear?