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A butterfly gathers nectar from a yellow flower in a group of yellow flowers.
June 15, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Places for Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- Pollinators are important to flowering plants and the food supply, but dwindling numbers of some of these creatures, including monarch butterflies and bees, have captured the public’s attention.

Many people want to help. But what can homeowners do to support these important pollinators?

Jennifer Buchanan, senior curator at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, shared her top three tips for creating a pollinator-friendly garden.

A pair of orange trimmers is about to snip off a spent flower.
June 11, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This past Saturday and Sunday turned into a typical work weekend in my garden and landscape.

It was hot and humid, and, of course, I was soaking wet. As I sat on a 5-gallon bucket taking a break, my mind wandered as I took a visual inventory and looked at the next job that needed doing. I have 25 15- and 25-gallon containers, 136 subirrigated containers and a bunch of 3- and 5-gallon pots.

Image displays colorful gardening posters.
June 8, 2018 - Filed Under: The Story of Plants and People

Geoff Denny, an MSU Extension horticulturist, launched the storytelling series, The Story of Plants and People, hosted by the Mississippi State Trial Gardens. Monthly sessions cover such topics as azaleas, African crops in Mississippi gardens, and William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak.

Orange marigolds grow in a bed with purple blooms and green elephant ears.
June 4, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape Design and Management

Marigolds are my go-to hot weather color annuals. Marigolds are great in-ground or in containers, and they add a cheerful and colorful brightness wherever they are planted.

Sunlight reaches a portion of mostly shaded light green foliage.
May 28, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One landscape plant I wish I grew more of is coral bells, known botanically as Heucheras.

I absolutely love the colorful foliage with a seemingly unlimited variety of textures that add interest in any garden or landscape. Some have ruffled margins, some have deep cuts, and others feature smooth margins. Texture is certainly on display with coral bells.

Light pink blooms has dark pink centers.
May 21, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One day right after we moved to Mississippi, I got a call from a homeowner with a question about her althea plant. I was stumped, but soon found that the plant she was referring to was commonly called rose of Sharon.

Pink coneflowers which are native to Mississippi.
May 18, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture, Trees

Native plants are excellent choices for any landscape. They are adapted to the climate, which makes them low-maintenance. Planting native varieties of flowers, plants and shrubs provides food and shelter for native wildlife. (Photo by Tim Allison)

May 14, 2018 - Filed Under: Crops, Insects-Crop Pests, Plant Diseases

Two half-day training sessions next month will provide expertise on pest and disease control on small farms.

A short papyrus plant grows in a metal cauldron.
May 14, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

With all of the bright, colorful summer annuals we’re planting this month, I find myself looking for more out-of-the-ordinary plants for my landscape. One that always creates a bit of a stir and generates questions is an old plant called papyrus.

Papyrus, similar to the plant grown and used by the ancient Egyptians to make paper, is easy to grow and has few pests. If you’re intrigued by this plant, you will be happy to learn there are three selections suitable for use in our Mississippi landscapes.

Colorful flowers are planted next to a sign at the entrance of the North Bay Elementary School garden.
May 11, 2018 - Filed Under: Master Gardener, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens, Youth Gardening

BILOXI, Miss. -- Students at North Bay Elementary School in Biloxi got another hands-on learning component this spring with the addition of a school garden.

Magnolia leaves star in a small floral arrangement with white flowers.
May 10, 2018 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Magnolias are synonymous with Mississippi, and the leaves and flowers are popular materials for all kinds of floral arrangements – wreaths, swags, table runners and other seasonal arrangements. (Photo by Zac Ashmore)

May 7, 2018 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Mississippi producers and gardeners who want to learn more efficient planting methods are invited to a May 18 field day.

The Alliance of Sustainable Farms will host “A Garden Tour and Square Foot Gardening/Intensive Planting Demonstration” at the 34th Street Wholistic Gardens and Education Center. The event will focus on the square-foot gardening method, which is designed to save time, work, space and water.

White flowers with deep purple centers  lie above green leaves.
May 7, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

If you’re still looking for a favorite plant for our hot summer landscapes, consider Superbells. I love their funnel-shaped flowers and great growth potential. Their variety of colors can even rival petunias.

Superbells are tough plants with good summer heat tolerance. One of their attributes that I like best is, after a rainstorm, these plants recover and perk up faster than many other summer-flowering annuals, even my vaunted petunias.

These plants look great in containers, hanging baskets and mass plantings in landscape beds.

Fiery red blooms reach upward against a brick wall.
April 30, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When I was beginning my horticulture journey after making a career transition, I thought I had some idea about color and planting combinations. I would alternate colors and sizes because all my neighbors were planting that way. But this approach changed for good one afternoon.

A group of horticulture club students was helping our advisor, Dr. David Bradshaw, add color annuals to the entrance beds of the horticulture building.

Long, red radishes rise above the soil beneath leafy green tops.
April 23, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When I have visitors to my garden, I like to tell plant stories. It seems that almost everything I grow has a story associated with it. The stories behind the plants make them more interesting.

One of my favorite stories is about my White Profusion butterfly bush that I originally propagated in class in 1989. Another story is about my variegated Duet beautyberry, a mutation I found in 2000. I also grow a lot of heirloom vegetables, and the stories surrounding many of these varieties are interesting.

On the left is a close-up photo of a worker bee specimen, on the right is a close-up photo of a Southern yellow jacket specimen.
April 19, 2018 - Filed Under: Insects, Lawn and Garden, Insects-Pests

A yellow-gold insect buzzes around your head and your first instinct is to swat. Or run. Or swat while running.

The fear of being stung can send me into fight or flight mode in seconds . . . and I’m a beekeeper. True story. No one likes being stung! (Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum/Joe Macgown)

Spikes covered with small purple flowers extend from a green bush.
April 16, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of my true favorites for the early summer season is coming soon to our Mississippi landscapes. Starting mid-May through June, this plant will have some of the few, almost true-blue flowers in the plant world. So what is this plant?

The common name is chaste tree or vitex, and it was named a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2002. The bloom period begins around Memorial Day on the Gulf Coast and soon afterwards in north Mississippi. The main flowering period lasts up to six weeks.

April 13, 2018 - Filed Under: Insects-Human Pests, Lawn and Garden, Herb Gardens

Growing herbs in containers on your porch or doorstep gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

Most herbs grow without fuss, look lovely, smell wonderful, and add fabulous flavors to your home-cooked meals. More flavor means you can cut back on salt and fat! (Photo by Canstock Photo)

Several deep blue flowers line the upright stem of a plant.
April 9, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I'm becoming a fan of salvias for their performance in the landscape.

This group of plants has such a wide variety of selections available from annuals to perennials that I'm sure you can find the perfect plant for your garden. Today, I want to tell you about the salvias I'm growing in my own home landscape.

Rockin' Playin' the Blues salvia is a selection I grew as a trial last year, and it didn't disappoint. The plant produced beautiful blue flowers all summer long.

An air plant terrarium is a hollow, vented glass container with decorative sand and pebbles, twigs or driftwood, moss, and a dusty green tillandsia plant, also called an air plant.
April 6, 2018 - Filed Under: Houseplants

Air plants are popular, easy-to-care-for decorations. They are ideally suited for dorm rooms, apartments, and offices where watering plants may be more challenging, but are a lovely addition to any space. They also make great gifts, because you can buy materials in bulk. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

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