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Southern Gardening from 2011

Living screens can block out unpleasant views in landscapes in ways not possible with fences or walls. This row of pampas grass is green and full, even in the winter. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
January 6, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture

January is a good time to take a look at your landscape because views are not obstructed by much foliage. When we can get a really clear view of what lies beyond our own yards, we sometimes don’t like what we see.

Many times we see the neighbor’s house or some view we’re not interested in. These views are hidden in the summer but seem to stare back in the winter. You may notice some traffic noise that gets blocked out by summer foliage.

You could build a privacy fence or wall, but these can seem a little cold and stark. It may be time to plant a living screen.

Practice arranging plants while visiting local garden centers. The results can make for beautiful arrangements, like this Giant White bacopa, Painted Coral calibrachoa and Lobster Potunia mix. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
January 13, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

The onslaught of gardening catalogs arriving at our homes is a sure sign of the impending spring and summer gardening seasons.

They have started to pile up at my house. Looking at the stack, I found myself daydreaming this weekend as the wintery blast came sweeping through Mississippi. How will our gardens look in a few short weeks? And how can we make this transformation a little easier?

Whoever said great looking gardens can be maintenance-free? A great looking garden is a lot of work, and with our busy lives, taking a few shortcuts can help us work more efficiently.

This Pretty Much Picasso petunia looks great because it is growing in high-quality potting mix. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
January 20, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Shopping at the local garden center for potting mix for container plants can be confusing. A bag that simply says “garden soil” can have anything in it. While this may work for in-ground plants, plants in containers require a totally different kind of mix.

Bagged mixes for container plants are often called potting or container mixes. These mixes actually contain no soil at all. They are sold under a variety of trade names and are similar in their basic recipe.

Disco Marietta is a single-flowered marigold that has yellow-orange petals featuring deep mahogany red splotches that look like paint brush strokes at the base of the flower.
January 27, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Many landscapes look drab and dreary in January, and extremely cold temperatures across the state have presented gardeners with an even bigger challenge than usual this winter.

But I had an uplifting experience last week when I attended the Gulf States Horticultural Expo in Mobile. I came away having seen the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and remembering that the warm days of spring will soon be upon us.

Nandina is a great shrub for providing fall color and berries. The cooler the temperature, the more colorful the plant becomes. Leaves change from bright, glossy green in the summer to a fiery array of reds and burgundies in winter.
February 3, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

A lot of great foliage color develops in the cool temperatures of winter months. Japanese cleyera foliage develops a rich burgundy patina that complements its red petioles, and boxwood foliage becomes an orangey bronze. But my favorite colorful, red-tinged winter foliage has to be nandina.

The unique growth habit of Plentifall pansies makes them outstanding landscape plants. This Plentifall Purple Wing has bright white lower petals with purple splotches and cheery purple-violet upper petals.
February 10, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

I have been really impressed so far this winter with the performance of a new pansy called Plentifall.

The unique spreading and trailing growth habit of Plentifall pansies make them outstanding landscape plants. They are well-branched and vigorous growers. They can fill a landscape bed and provide pockets of color from fall all the way to late spring.

Pericallis Senetti, such as this one in almost iridescent magenta, are gorgeous, flowering plants that love early spring's cool temperatures.
February 15, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

This winter’s irregular temperatures have been tough on landscape plants all across Mississippi and have given even positive gardeners a case of the winter blues. One sure-fire sign that spring is around the corner is the Gulf Coast Garden and Patio Show February 25, 26 and 27 at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

The exotic saucer magnolia, with its beautiful flowers and fragrance, is the most popular of the flowering magnolias. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
February 22, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Every year after several warm and sunny days in late February or early March, we begin to see just a little color peeking out of flower buds in our landscape. Then suddenly there is a rush of color, ranging from the faintest pinks to the boldest purples.

I get calls from people surprised to see these trees covered in gorgeous blooms. When I tell them the tree is a magnolia, some are astonished to learn there are magnolias other than the Southern Magnolia.

Compact lilac Sunpatiens are great in flowering combination containers. These outstanding, tight-branching plants require little pruning.
March 2, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Several years ago, a group of hybrid impatiens was developed, offering bright flowers and interesting foliage in the hot summer sun. Sunpatiens’ superior performance in the landscape earned them the status of Mississippi Medallion winner for 2011.

(top) Compact lilac Sunpatiens are great in flowering combination containers. These outstanding, tight-branching plants require little pruning.

(bottom) Sunpatiens are hybrid impatiens that thrive through the hottest parts of summer. They flower from spring until fall’s first frosts. (Photos by Gary Bachman)

The African daisy Serenity White Bliss (top) has unique, spoon-shaped petals that show the color contrast between the upper and lower surfaces of the petals.
March 8, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Some of the prettiest flowers you can grow in the garden or in containers are African daisies, and these beauties are starting to arrive at garden centers.

Known botanically as Osteospermum, African daisies are outstanding flowering plants. These plants are from South Africa and are relatively new to many home gardeners. African daisies have the familiar center disk of the daisy family, but theirs are dark metallic. The brightly colored petals come in various shades of white, pink, yellow, blue and purple.

The flowers may be dainty, but the yellow blossoms shine brightly with the dark purple/black foliage background of this Zinfandel shamrock.
March 15, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

St. Patrick’s Day triggers increased interest in bringing home from the garden center a three-leafed shamrock. In addition to the traditional green, more and more varieties are showing up with gorgeous purple to almost black foliage.

Black-eyed Susan vines are an annual favorite. The sunny look of the flowers, such as these yellow and orange specimens, is sure to please.
March 22, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Don’t forget flowering annual vines this spring when you look for bedding plants at your favorite local garden center. These plants add interest and color as they spread across fences and arbors.

Annual vines are fascinating, as they complete their entire life cycle right before your eyes. In just one season, the seeds germinate, the plants grow and flower, and they set seed for the next generation before they die. This is a lot of living packed into one short season.

Colonies of Lenten rose announce the arrival of spring with their nodding green flowers, some tinged pink. This flowering perennial is long-lived and ideal for the shade garden. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
March 29, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Early spring is a wonderful time, as the garden and landscape start to wake from the winter season. One of the many wonderful spring flowering plants is the Lenten rose, an old favorite that you may not often see.

Million Bells CanCan Terra Cotta and Orange spread to fill in open spaces in the landscape.
April 5, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

If you’ve been reading this column and thinking I have a lot of favorite plants, you’re right. If you ask me for my favorites, my answer will depend on the season; some plants are more suitable than others at certain times of the year.

The new selections coming out each year make it even more difficult to have an absolute favorite flowering garden plant. But if there is one plant I have been the most impressed with over the last couple of years, it has to be Million Bells.

Gomphrena can be big, flowering annuals. All-Around Purple gomphrena is a 2-foot-tall plant that attracts loads of butterflies all summer long. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
April 12, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

If you’re looking for a tough plant to keep right on blooming despite the heat of the summer, try gomphrena in your garden. This is one tough plant that likes really high temperatures. Sometimes called globe amaranth, legend has it that the original planting was at the gates of Hades.

Virginia sweetspire produces long-lasting blooms that are up to 6 inches long and resemble fireworks. Here Virginia sweetspire combines nicely with a pink Knockout rose. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
April 19, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

It takes a special plant to be named a Mississippi Medallion winner, and the Mississippi native Virginia sweetspire was one of the plants that earned that honor this year.

The Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association names Medallion winners based on their superior performance in gardens and landscapes across the state. In response to renewed interest in native plants, the association has begun choosing a Mississippi native each year for one of its awards.

Container gardening isn't just for flowers . Many vegetables can be grown in containers, such as these tomatoes in 3-gallon nursery containers.
April 26, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Vegetable Gardens

Containers aren’t just for flowers; they can be used to grow fresh vegetables for aspiring gardeners who don’t have a traditional garden.

Container gardening isn’t just for flowers (top). Many vegetables can be grown in containers, such as these tomatoes in 3-gallon nursery containers.

A container is a great way to grow fresh produce in a small space. These mini bok choy (bottom) are thriving in window boxes. (Photos by Gary Bachman)

Be creative when making plant tags for the garden. These plastic knives are just right for plant identification.
May 3, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Many gardeners believe they can remember every plant in the garden, and I’ll admit I’ve told myself I could do just that. But even gardeners with great memories will one day say, “Now, what is that plant?”

Plant tags, or garden markers, can be both useful and stylish. They can denote different gardeners or different parts of the garden. They can be plain or fancy. Use your imagination and creativity when creating yours.

The exciting double-flower Double Cherry Zahara zinnias have deep magenta blooms with a center that lightens as the flowers mature.
May 10, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Gardeners interested in plants that can provide dependable color in the heat and drought of summer should consider adding the annual Zahara zinnia to the landscape. These flowers tolerate drought and are very resistant to the powdery mildew that plagues other zinnia varieties.

The selections in the Zahara series are well-branched and will grow up to 18 inches tall and wide. Its plentiful branches help support its abundant flowering. Their best performance is in the full sun with good fertility and cooler night temperatures.

Most ornamental pepper flowers are white and inconspicuous, but the Purple Flash’s flowers are purple and add landscape interest.
May 17, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

One of the latest trends in landscaping is to plant vegetables that provide ornamental interest, and peppers get my vote as one of the best choices.

The overall impact and adaptability of ornamental peppers was recognized in 2010, when Purple Flash pepper was named a Mississippi Medallion winner. Purple Flash ornamental pepper is one of the showiest peppers available today. The purple and white variegated leaves are visible from across the garden. Closer inspection reveals the leaves opening up white with purple ribs. As the leaves mature, they gradually become darker purple.


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