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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.