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Although common in Southern landscapes, the Lady Banks rose dates back to the late 1790s and came from China. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 26, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I wrote earlier about my 40-year struggle with growing roses. But during that time, there was one rose that was a great performer for me: a climbing rose called Blaze.

May 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing

New manager of operations Keri Jones recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory, and she's ready to enhance the unit's efficiency."

"My primary goal is to provide accurate soil analysis in a timely manner," said Jones, an Extension associate who has worked in the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences since 2016. "I hope to improve the overall efficiency of the lab as well as update soil nutrient application recommendations."

Real gardeners know the work is hard, but they consider sweat equity a reasonable price to pay to be able to enjoy their landscapes. (File Photo by MSU Extension)
May 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

In early April, my wife and I had the honor of being part of the 2017 Garden Clubs of Mississippi Spring Pilgrimage, as our little urban farm was one of the tour's stops. It was a treat to open our doors to allow more than 170 visitors to peek behind the curtain at how we garden.

Annual flowering vincas perform well in the landscape and in containers. This Mediterranean Hot Rose has a spreading growth habit that allows it to spill over the edge of a hanging basket. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now that our gardens and landscapes are heating up, it is the perfect time to plant annual flowering vinca. This beauty provides hot summer color you just can't beat.

Annual flowering vinca is a solid performer in Mississippi gardens, so I always make sure to plant some in my landscape.

Botanically speaking, annual flowering vinca is Catharanthus rosea. In garden centers, the pot tags sometimes call it Madagascar periwinkle.

May 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Insects-Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University researchers are continuing to study a "crazy" creature found in Mississippi’s coastal counties.

The tawny crazy ant, also known as Nylanderia fulva, is a non-native ant species that has been found in the southern United States, including Hancock, Jackson and Harrison counties in Mississippi. The ants are not widely distributed on the Mississippi gulf coast, but their presence can be overwhelming in areas that contain a crazy ant population, according to MSU researchers who study and monitor the ants.

Both butterflies and aphids are attracted to tropical milkweed in droves. While unsightly, aphids don’t seem to impact growth and flowering. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

It's all the rage to plant butterfly gardens in our home landscapes. This is especially true when we consider the Monarch butterfly, which is said to be under stress from disappearing habitats.

One of the best butterfly-attracting plants for the home landscape is butterfly weed, known botanically as Asclepias. Butterfly weed has a great trio of advantages: it is low maintenance, deer resistant, and attractive to Monarchs and other butterflies.

Don’t mulch trees like this. Mulching offers significant benefits, but a layer should only be 2 to 3 inches deep and pulled away from the tree trunk. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 1, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Driving around town this weekend, I enjoyed all the work fellow gardeners have been doing in their yards. I thought our early spring weather brought out the best in our landscapes, but then I saw it.

I couldn't believe my eyes, but there they were: mulch volcanoes.

It's been a couple of years since I've seen a real doozy of a mulch volcano, and I realized again what my duty has to be. I have to convince people that mulch volcanoes are bad for our trees.

Leaving dirty dishes in the sink provides a feast for pests. Integrated pest management emphasizes practical, cost-efficient strategies for keeping rodents and insects out of the home. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 1, 2017 - Filed Under: Family, Healthy Homes Initiative, Household Insects, Insects-Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Spring has begun, and while that means warmer weather and blooming flowers, it may mean more pests infiltrating your home.

David Buys, health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, explained the importance of integrated pest management and the steps that make up the IPM process. He said IPM focuses on common-sense activities around the house, with an emphasis on environmentally friendly and affordable practices over regular application of insecticide.

Also called the African marigold, various series of the American marigold can range from 15 inches to 3 feet in height. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
April 24, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

After being laid up for the last few weeks recovering from a knee replacement, I've really enjoyed finally getting out and picking up some heat-loving summer annual color. The first flat of bedding plants I put in the cart contained marigolds.

I know some gardeners may think marigolds are too easy, but that's exactly what I want from my summer landscape beds.

The ornamental sweet potato is a go-to choice for large areas that need some kind of colorful ground cover. It is a great plant for massing and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 17, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of my favorite things to do in the spring and early summer is visit my local garden centers. At this time of year, the sheer number of flowering annuals can easily result in sensory overload.

I wander through the aisles and benches almost in a hypnotic trance, and I always leave with a vehicle full of colorful beauty. By the time I get home, the color high has started to wear off, and I have to decide where to plant the new arrivals.

Superbells Supertunias such as these Tropical Sunrise selections have tremendous growth potential and funnel-shaped flowers that add pizazz to the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One thing I dig about the summer season is the selection of annual color available for the garden and landscape.

I think most of my readers know I really like Supertunias. Besides their tremendous growth potential, I think what I like best are the flower shapes. There's something about a funnel-shaped flower that adds a little extra pizazz to the landscape.

The Golden Silk Orb Weaver is found all along the Gulf Coast, as well as Central and South America. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 3, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I don't claim to be an entomologist, but I do find the insects and spiders we see in our gardens to be engaging.

I ran into one interesting bug early one summer morning the first year I moved to Mississippi. I was strolling along my fence under the overhanging trees and walked right into the web. It was one of those moments when all of my latent karate moves were put on display.

Supertunia Royal Velvet combines perfectly with Supertunia Honey for a beautiful hanging basket. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now is the time to start planting annual color for summer. If I could plant only one group of annuals, it would have to be the Supertunias, as I can’t do without these flowering beauties.

For the past several years, I have watched and written about these fantastic garden performers. Whether used as spreading plants in the landscape or as container and hanging basket plants, Supertunias have performed well in Mississippi.

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.

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