Southern Gardening from 2011
Now is the perfect time to embrace your garden’s ability to support beautiful, colorful fall bedding plants.
If you want something besides leaves to provide fall landscape color, take a good look at the American beautyberry. This Mississippi native shrub lives up to its name by putting on quite a show in the fall, with its clusters of bright purple berries.
Known botanically as Callicarpa americana, American beautyberry is frequently found on the edges of woodlands all across Mississippi. It is widely distributed east of the Mississippi River in the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast region. American beautyberry is also quite at home in the landscape.
Plant foliage colors tend to come and go in trends, and right now purple-leaved plants are popular. I think one of the best of the newer purple varieties is Mahogany Splendor hibiscus.
In the landscape, this plant provides awesome color. It is a vigorous grower that adds height and excitement.
From railroad ties and landscape timbers to rolls of plastic and metal edging, nothing adds interest to the landscape quite like nice, crisp bed lines.
We have all seen and used many types of landscape edging materials. But why not be a little creative? To get you started, here are some ideas for landscape bed lines between walkways and flowerbeds.
Vintage dinner plates placed in the ground on their edge create a bright garden bed edge. Get some from your local thrift store or stop at yard sales and buy chipped and mismatched plates.
We’ve all seen garden gnomes in other people’s yards -- the creatures of woodland legend that represent the spirit of the earth. Maybe it’s time you put one in your own garden.
Gnome is a derivation of the Greek word for “earth dweller.” Garden gnomes were first used in German gardens in the mid-1800s. Made out of terra cotta, they were painted and clothed like miners of the day, with outfits that included the cute little pointed hats.
Pansies and viola bring vivid hues to many gardens during the winter months, but adding the engaging colors and textures of ornamental kale takes a landscape from safe to sensational.
The weather outside may be frightful, but gardeners who want early spring color get out in it to plant spring-flowering bulbs.
Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus are among the first plants to give us colorful signs that winter is almost over. Many gardeners refer to all of these as bulbs, even though some grow from underground structures that include corms, rhizomes and tubers.
These spring-flowering plants do not provide the instant color generally associated with flowering bedding plants. Bulb crops make us plan ahead.
I think my garden plants have enjoyed the cooler temps of autumn as much as I have enjoyed them. As the weather becomes colder, we need to think about protecting our garden plants.
Gardeners pay close attention to weather predictions of cold temperatures. We often use the terms “frost” and “freeze” interchangeably because both refer to cold temperature events. In reality, a frost and a freeze are completely different things.
Besides the Christmas tree, the poinsettia is the plant most often associated with the Christmas season. You can hardly go wrong with their colorful bracts brightening your decorations.
The color spectrum of poinsettia is truly remarkable. Colors range from red to white to even maroon, making it hard to choose favorites. There are bicolored, speckled and marbled poinsettias. And if that’s not enough, growers are even painting leaves and adding glitter.
When the weather outside is frightful and nothing is blooming, gardeners must rely on plant features other than flowers for color.
Plants that produce colorful berries can enhance the winter landscape. Mississippi gardeners are lucky because we have some real beauties to help shake up the winter landscape.
I saw one of the most beautiful sights the other morning just as the sun came up. Ornamental grasses, backlit by the sun, seemed to glow in the rich morning light.
I realized at that moment that landscape grasses can have a significant impact in winter gardens.
Most gardeners already know that ornamental grasses are fantastic garden plants, but we tend to take them for granted because they perform so consistently. We just expect them to do their job and be beautiful, and we don’t give them much thought. That ought to change.
The poinsettia may be the quintessential holiday plant because of its bright and colorful bracts, but there are some non-traditional plants that can be just as festive and spread as much cheer.
One of the most unusual I’ve seen is a miniature cherry tomato in full fruit, displayed for holiday sales.
I have admired Rex begonia for many years, and I think this group of plants has the potential to be more than a beautiful indoor plant. It could take its place as a cornerstone of holiday decorations.