Southern Gardening from 2012
Even though pansies, viola and dianthus are showing up in garden centers, don’t be too quick to pull up your summer-flowering annuals. The Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs this weekend gave visitors a glimpse of what summer annuals can do for the fall landscape.
Our summers in Mississippi can be brutal, and they even take a toll on flowering summer annuals. But once we turn the corner and start heading towards fall, these plants get a second wind. Like humans, they also appreciate the moderating temperatures.
In my last column, I suggested gardeners shouldn’t jump the gun and pull out summer annuals that still look good. But if you do have an open spot in your landscape, now is a good time to consider adding some cool-season color.
The pansy is one bedding plant that just can’t be beat in cool-season landscapes. As a group, pansies are great for outstanding cool-weather performance. The pansy series that has taken the landscape by storm is the Matrix. These pansies have quickly become one of the industry’s leading cool-season bedding plants.
A sure sign that the garden season is changing from the warm summer to the cooler fall is the many colorful mums on display in garden centers across the state.
It’s easy to incorporate fall garden mums into the landscape. One of the most popular ways to display these beautiful plants is to simply place them on the front porch. The many warm colors available can fit into almost any home color scheme.
It seems the plants have hundreds of flowers, so the impact is immediate.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about a new plant I found for the fall landscape called golden thryallis. We planted some in our landscape at Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, and I have it growing in a large container at my house.
After making seasonal observations of golden thryallis, I have come to the conclusion that it’s a must-have plant for our Mississippi landscapes.
It requires planning ahead in the spring, but one way to add color and life to fall gardens is to welcome butterflies.
Butterflies are among the most entertaining creatures. If you plant the right flowers, you leave an open invitation for them to visit your garden. Butterflies are still around as we move into the late fall, and they are hurriedly investigating the flowers blooming in gardens.
If you haven’t started planting your winter color, rest assured that it’s not too late. But when shopping at the garden center, resist the temptation to head straight to the pansies and violas. Consider adding some colorful ornamental kale and cabbage to your garden and landscape.
I think most people will agree that besides the Christmas tree, the poinsettia is the plant that best accentuates the Christmas holiday season.
Thanksgiving week kicks off the poinsettia-buying season. When you go to get yours, prepare for the truly remarkable variety of poinsettia colors available.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoy pansies for the cool-season garden. These are really easy plants to grow, and they provide great color during colder winter temperatures.
But the story on pansies doesn’t end there. Plant breeders are always looking for ways to make our garden and landscape plants better. I have been really impressed with the group of trailing pansies that hit the market in the past few years.
As a gardener, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year because I get to enjoy indoors the scents and colors of the garden. Christmas looks like poinsettias, live trees indoors and greenery decorating the house, and it smells like pine, cedar, fir, and, in my house, rosemary.
In addition to the traditional holiday staples, Christmas isn’t Christmas at my house unless there is a rosemary plant shaped and decorated like a Christmas tree. These plants are available at many of the garden centers, grocery stores and other plant outlets.
One of the easiest ways to add tropical flair to any landscape is to use plants with large leaves. Rice paper plant is a favorite of mine that looks amazing as a component of many landscapes.
Rice paper plant is a native of southern China and Taiwan and is known botanically as Tetrapanax paperifera. Interestingly, this is the only plant in the genus. The name refers to the use of the interior of the stem, called pith, to make a form of rice paper. This pith has the consistency and feel of plastic foam.
Every year, I look forward to the time when winter cassia begins blooming. The tropical-looking flowers are sure to create winter interest wherever they are planted in the landscape.
Winter cassia is one of those plants with show-stopping qualities, especially considering its prolific blooms in the winter. Their effect is heightened because the brightly colored blooms seem to appear all of a sudden out of nowhere.
There’s nothing like reaching into the toe of a Christmas stocking under your tree and finding a fresh and tasty satsuma orange that came right from your own garden.
I’d like to say I’ve done that, but so far, all the fresh satsumas I’ve enjoyed have come from my friend Terry’s house. Let me just say that I don’t have to worry about scurvy for a while.
I have made it my tradition for the last couple of years to suggest some New Year’s resolutions for the home gardener to consider.
This year, I’m changing that up a bit by sharing some of my own garden resolutions for 2013. Maybe you will see yourself in some of what I resolve to do next year.
When I speak to garden clubs and other groups, people often comment that my own landscape must be beautiful. I always answer, “Sometimes yes, but sometimes the landscape can look a little weedy and like it needs some pruning.”