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Indian hawthorns are typically small shrubs, but the Rosalinda selection can grow up to about 15 feet if left unpruned. It produces bright-pink flowers in late spring and early summer. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Azaleas have been magnificent this spring. I love seeing the mounds of pink, red and white flowers dotting our Mississippi landscapes. But to tell you the truth, I've been waiting for another of my favorite spring-flowering shrubs that doesn't get as much attention: the Indian hawthorn.

Lichen are an unlikely combination of fungi and algae living in a symbiotic relationship on the bark of plants. This type of lichen resembles highly branched balls of fuzz. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Spring is always a busy time in my garden and landscape, as I'm sure it is in yours. It's when we start walking around and planning what we're going to plant this year, but it's also a time when landscape damage is most noticeable.

These nasturtiums growing in containers in full sun began blooming Feb. 28. By the end of March, they will be a wall of flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

You may know by now that I like to grow heirloom vegetables in my Ocean Springs garden. The stories that go along with these old plants are almost as good as their flavors.

My fascination with heirlooms even extends into the realm of flowers. I find heirlooms are a welcome change from the dizzying array of new plants with their kaleidoscope of colors that often go beyond my imagination.

Conversation Piece Azalea (left) is an alternate-season azalea that displays gorgeous flowers in midspring and in the fall. Each plant produces multiple flower colors. (Submitted Photo/LSU AgCenter); The Patio Snacker (center) is a terrific producer in a tight space. The 3- to 5-foot vine is perfect for trellising and produces fruit that is perfectly crunchy and not bitter. (Submitted Photo/Ball Horticultural Company); and (right) Vermillionaire cuphea is a heat-loving plant that flowers from spring to fros
February 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This is the awards season, and the horticulture community won't be left out.

The Mississippi Medallion winners have been announced. This year's Outstanding Performance in the Landscape winners are Vermillionaire cuphea, Conversation Piece azalea, Patio Snacker cucumber and Japanese persimmon.

Flowering Annual/Perennial Category

Mississippi State University Extension specialists will be on hand to present seminars for home gardeners on how to create landscapes like this one. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
February 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This past weekend was glorious and I appreciated puttering around my yard and landscape. It's not often that we can enjoy a Saturday and Sunday in February with temperatures in the mid-70s and bright sunny skies.

But I had to take a step back and remember that our last frost free date on the coast is about April 1, so I continued to transplant curly kale and Bright Lights Swiss chard in my EarthBoxes and harvested some fresh red and green romaine lettuce for salads.

February 14, 2017 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

BILOXI, Miss. -- Floral enthusiasts and other interested individuals can learn techniques for designing floral arrangements for casual entertaining during a March 8 class.

In observation of International Women's Day, Jim DelPrince, floral specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will demonstrate fresh flower design using materials from the yard and garden.

Roses are a beautiful addition to home landscapes, and certain modern varieties offer reliable performance without requiring expert care. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I had an opportunity to attend the Gulf District American Rose Society Mid-Winter Workshop in Gonzales, Louisiana, in early February. It was a fantastic event that allowed me to meet lots of new people and catch up with a few old garden friends.

I also learned that I have had the same experiences and developed the same misperceptions that many home gardeners have with garden roses.

These dwarf Firepower nandinas are mass planted on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Except for a couple of cold nights, there's no doubt that I’ve been enjoying the mild winter we're having this year. It seems our landscape plants are also enjoying the moderate temperatures and flowering to show their approval.

But one thing I'm missing in the landscape is the variety of bronzy golds and reds our evergreen landscape shrubs display because of cold weather. Who doesn't appreciate the winter foliage of Japanese cleyera with its patina of rich burgundy? And what about my nandina, another great winter favorite?

While not all vegetables are suited for the home gardener to start from seed, tomatoes such as this heirloom variety can easily be grown from seed and transplanted outdoors. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

So far, it's been an interesting spring season in January for our gardens. New Year's weekend, more than 13 inches of rain fell in my Ocean Springs garden, followed a week later by freeze-magedden. By late January, we were in the middle of really nice, moderate weather.

So what plants do you think are showing up at garden centers? If you guessed vegetable transplants, you’re correct. Last week, I even saw large tomato plants full of flowers for sale in 6-inch containers.

Saucer magnolias bloom before the leaves emerge with huge, white, pink or bold-purple flowers that reach up to 10 inches across. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 23, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Saucer magnolias and other flowering, deciduous magnolias start to peek out of their buds every spring, usually in late February or early March. The rush of colorful pinks is always a welcome sight.

So, imagine my surprise when the saucer magnolia at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi exploded into bloom three weeks early in mid-January.

Nothing beats looking at displays of beautiful plants in the garden center, but an advantage of ordering from catalogs is getting exactly the variety you want and maybe even trying news ones. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

They seem to show up at my house every day, whether in sunny, rainy, warm or cold weather. They're relentless. I'm not referring to home-security sales folks; I'm talking about gardening catalogs.

These catalogs arrive in all shapes and sizes, in full color or black and white, and they all encourage us to make sure we're ready for spring. This spring marketing blitz is targeted at gardeners suffering from cabin fever. And the catalogs do succeed in us getting ready, maybe a little too ready if we succumb to their temptations.

Spores of the Macrophomina phaseolina pathogen can be seen as transparent ovals in this microscopic image taken from an infected corn plant. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/ Clarissa Balbalian)
January 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Ornamentals Diseases

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- When impatiens planted as part of a Mississippi State University variety trial died within two weeks, researchers acted quickly and described a pathogen never before seen in this flower.

"We were growing SunPatiens, which are hybrid impatiens immune to downy mildew. This disease has been a big problem for the industry," Broderick said. "The plants were doing really well, but in July they started to look like they were wilting. The stems were collapsing and dying, and in a two-week period, they went from looking relatively healthy to dead."

Temperatures as low as 12 degrees in Tupelo and 23 degrees in Ocean Springs froze many plants this past weekend. These Quad Color Clerodendrons were scorched brown by the freeze. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 9, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Wasn't this past weekend’s cold something else? We've had some cold snaps already this winter but nothing like those low temps. That kind of cold brings our attention front and center to winter.

The previous warm weather had gotten many gardeners a little complacent, including me.

Herb plants make excellent gifts, as they can add beauty to indoor décor and good flavors to holiday meals. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Since the Christmas holiday season started last month, gardeners across Mississippi have been giving and receiving plants as gifts: poinsettias, begonias, cactuses and cyclamens -- oh my!

Oh my, indeed. Having plants inside during the winter adds beauty and a sense of charm and serenity. Herb plants also should be included as a gift choice, as they add good flavors to holiday meals.

Bright Lights Swiss chard is a cool-season plant that does double duty as a beautiful landscape attraction that is edible and tasty. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
December 26, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As we prepare to head into a new year of gardening adventures, I've been thinking about a variety of landscape questions and quandaries that pop up from time to time.

A common question in the spring concerns starting plants from seed.

The Mississippi native yaupon holly can be seen popping out of woodland edges everywhere. Its distinctive berries have a translucent quality that imparts a gem-like appearance. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
December 19, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The Christmas season is a time for decorating, as we put up wreaths, poinsettias and trees. But Mother Nature is always in on the plan, too. I love the timing that allows our landscape hollies to get into the decorating action with their bright and colorful berry displays.

The most prevalent holly berries we see right now in Mississippi are on our native yaupon holly.

The outer leaves of Pigeon Purple ornamental cabbage maintain a darker green with purplish veins, and new center leaves emerge with a purplish-red color. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
December 12, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Ornamental kale and cabbage are in a group of my favorite plants for the winter landscape, and I find them to be among the most reliable, as well. They are really easy to grow, and now that we’re getting cooler weather -- as in frost -- kale and cabbage are starting to show some great color.

Garden centers often lump ornamental kale and cabbage together, and it is true that they are the same species. However, there are a few differences that I think should be considered.

A quality garden tool is a good gift idea to encourage a gardening friend to grow vegetables and fruits. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
December 6, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

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.

Using quick hoops is a good way to cover and protect vegetable crops from potential cold weather damage. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 28, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

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.

Red poinsettias are the traditional choice for many holiday gardeners, but other possibilities include these Jingle Bells poinsettias. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 21, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

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.

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