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Southern Gardening

A brown, plastic container is filled with a variety of plants in varying shades of green. Some grasses stand above the other plants. Other foliage drapes over the sides.
September 17, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When summer starts to roll around to autumn, some gardens and landscapes nearly start all over, as worn-out summer annuals are composted and new seasonal selections take their place.

Dozens of bright-orange pumpkins sit in rows on the grass.
September 10, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I came to a shocking realization this past weekend: Even though it still feels like summer, the signs are all around us that fall is about to begin.

First, we see the tropics heating up with storm activity. T.S. Gordon made landfall in Pascagoula Sept. 5 and spread rain all the way up to north Mississippi. Behind it are several more tropical storms that we will have to keep an eye on.

A single branch has bunches of white berries growing at each leaf junction.
September 3, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I’ve noticed a common characteristic among us gardeners. As we go through the year, our favorite plants in the landscape and garden seem to change from week to week.

Two long, green bell peppers hang from a plant growing in a container above black plastic.
August 27, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

Several weeks ago, I wrote about looking forward to the time of year when ornamental peppers start strutting their gorgeous fruit colors. What I didn’t mention is that late summer is not just for ornamental peppers; I always get my best home-grown culinary peppers from August until frost in the fall.

My tastes for culinary peppers range from the mild and colorful bell peppers all the way to the superhot selections like Ghost, Scorpion and Carolina Reaper.

A large, light pink flower with a dark center fills the frame from its placement in front of a brick wall.
August 20, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Earlier this year, I wrote about an outstanding landscape plant, the Rose of Sharon. The ones I was growing in my landscape included some of the newer selections: Orchid Satin, Pollypetite and Purple Pillar. Since then, I added White Pillar to my collection.

Two hydrangeas are pictured in the foreground of a garden, with one blooming and the smaller one not blooming.
August 13, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

While visiting my parents in Tennessee this weekend, my dad asked why one of their Annabelle hydrangeas was blooming while another -- growing just 5 feet away -- was not. He asked if I had some special fertilizer or bloom juice that could be applied.

I didn't, because the shrubs didn't need any special fertilizer help. It all had to with light.

Several red pepper and a few yellow ones rise above green foliage.
August 6, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

How have we already turned the corner into August? While it’s still hot and likely to continue that way for at least another six weeks, I’m looking forward to one of my late-summer landscape favorites, the ornamental pepper.

These plants have been growing patiently all summer, seeming to wait patiently and soak up the Mississippi heat until our other plants need a breather. If you follow Southern Gardening, then you probably know that I really love the show that ornamental peppers put on in late summer and early fall.

Dozens of yellow flowers fill the frame.
July 30, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

The last few weeks have been hot and humid, and many of my gardening friends are ready for fall's cooler temperatures.

Dozens of red, yellow and white flowers grow on long stems.
July 23, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Because of the oppressive heat and humidity in my coastal landscape and garden, I spent the weekend in the air conditioning, of course.

A sprinkler with a black hose nestled in light brown pine straw lightly sprays pink flowers.
July 16, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As we continue to plow through this hot and humid summer, keeping our plants -- and ourselves -- hydrated is critical to maintaining the summer garden and landscape. As I write this column, it's 96 degrees with a heat index of 108. Whew!

A yellow butterfly sits atop a green bush with pink flowers.
July 9, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Like most gardeners, I love watching the various butterflies that visit my garden.

One I really like is the giant swallowtail, with its black body and vivid, yellow stripes. This creature loves my citrus, where she lays her eggs. The developing caterpillars have a unique defense mechanism; they look like bird poop on the citrus leaves.

Scaevola – Tiny purple, white and orange flowers can be seen among a mass of green leaves.
July 2, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I am a committed container gardener for both flowers and vegetables, but today I’m focusing on flowering plants. I firmly believe growing in containers is a fantastic way to enjoy a beautiful landscape and garden.

Variegated burgundy and chartreuse coleus laves fill a container.​
June 25, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Since we celebrated the first day of summer last week, I think this is the perfect time to talk about one my favorite color plants, the coleus.

Coleus used to be that colorful plant that would grow only in the shadows, never exposed to the sun. One of my favorites of this kind is the sun-bashful coleus group, Kong.

 A brown clay pot contains a small bush with pink flowers.
June 18, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape Plants and Trees Diseases
I love crape myrtles in the landscape. They flower all summer, and their beautiful exfoliating and peeling bark exposes cinnamon-brown trunks in the winter. It's no wonder that somebody way back when called them the Flowers of the South.
 
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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