Southern Gardening from 2013
When you think of summer blooms in the home landscape, it’s hard not to think about zinnias.
A lot of attention has been given to the Profusion and Zahara series of zinnia in summer and fall landscapes. Profusion is a Mississippi Medallion winner and both are All-America Selections. They provide fantastic summer color.
But I like the old-fashioned zinnia elegans with the big, pompom flowers on long stems that are perfect for cutting and bringing inside. And guess what? Some of these are All-America Selections, too.
If there is one herb my wife and I love to grow more than the rest, it has to be basil. There is nothing better for the hot months because it is gorgeous in the landscape and delicious in fresh summer meals.
Many of the gardeners I have talked to think we have taken basil growing to the extreme.
If you’re looking for a plant that is attractive now but looks its best in the cooler months, you may be interested in the Dianthus. This is a group of versatile flowering plants that look good year-round.
Dianthus is called by many names, but the common name “pink” really is a good description. Colors include pink and red, but there are also nice white and lavender selections.
Since it is June, the vitex have begun flowering, and these brilliant blooms are causing many gardeners and nongardeners alike to stop and take notice.
The flowering period for vitex begins in late May on the Gulf Coast and moves on up to north Mississippi in the following weeks. The main flowering period lasts up to six weeks, but flowering continues sporadically for the rest of the summer.
Some summer days -- okay, honestly, most summer days -- seem just too hot to do anything in the garden and landscape. But a couple of tasks will pay off in the long run with better landscape performance. You guessed it: this column is all about mulching and composting.
Whether you are an experienced gardener or have a brown thumb, you can mulch like a pro. Few gardening activities have as much of an impact as mulching. Mulch reduces erosion, influences soil temperature, helps control weed growth and gives your landscape a well-groomed look.
Ambitious gardeners and their beautiful, themed gardens amaze me every year with their creativity. With the Independence Day holiday upon us, the most popular theme right now is red, white and blue plantings.
I have always wanted to do one of these themed landscape displays, and in my line of work, you would think it would be no problem and assume I’ve done several. But like the shoemaker’s kids who run around barefoot, sometimes my own landscape suffers during the busy seasons.
Mississippi landscapers often see favorite trees fall victim to lightning, strong winds and other elements, especially during tropical storm season, leaving the owners to make hard decisions on the trees’ future health.
Typical damage includes wounds, split branches, exposed roots, various degrees of leaning trunks, and broken and torn limbs. In many cases, a damaged tree must be removed and replaced.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions from homeowners who want to add some color to landscapes in the middle of this hot and humid summer. My answer brings bad news.
It is really tough to add color at this time of year to in-ground planting beds. To be truly successful, plants for summer color need to be planted in the spring to ensure they establish a good root system before the heat of summer sets in.
It is during the midsummer months in Mississippi that I most appreciate gaillardia in gardens and landscapes.
This plant makes a fantastic addition to the summer garden. Gaillardia is a native plant with few pests and a palette of bright, warm colors that really liven up the landscape. Adding to its usefulness is the fact that gaillardia is ideal for the entire state of Mississippi. Gaillardia often grows wild in the most neglected and harshest conditions.
Gardens look beautiful when the flowers are in full bloom and there’s a profusion of color, but alert gardeners know this is the time to get the scissors ready.
It’s time to deadhead once the new has worn off and the flowers are past their prime and starting to dry up. This important garden maintenance activity simply refers to removing the spent flowers.
If you’re the kind of gardener who likes to plan now for what to plant next year, here’s another plant to add to your list: Golden Thryallis.
This plant starts flowering in early June and continues through fall if higher temperatures linger. It has stand-out yellow flowers that really draw attention in the landscape. The bright and cheery flowers appear in clusters that are up to 6 inches long.
If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy Golden Thryallis for more than its flowers. Even the branches are attractive.
Daily heat indexes routinely above the century mark make indoor air conditioning feel really fantastic and outdoor activities a challenge, but I’ve recently joined the ranks of gardeners who face a challenge unrelated to the weather.
Currently, I’m a frustrated gardener who wants to get out into the heat and tinker in the garden. I had a total knee replacement in July, and I need assistance with normal daily activities, let alone the landscape.
Even though we are still in the grip of summer’s heat and humidity, garden centers soon will start stocking gorgeous, flowering fall mums. Start planning now where to use these plants most effectively in the landscape.
Incorporating fall garden mums into your landscape is easy.
One of the most popular ways to display these beautiful plants is to simply place them in a big container on the front porch. The many warm colors available can fit into almost any home color scheme. The plants seem to have hundreds of flowers, so the impact is immediate.
Even though we’re still in a very warm August, now is the time to start thinking about fall color.
Planting fall-flowering annuals can enhance your landscape’s ability to offer color right through spring. Garden centers will soon be offering some good choices of fall bedding plants, so make plans now for what you want your landscape to look like.
I am a firm believer that many of our flowering landscape plants are only one or two steps out of the ditch. The goldenrod is no exception.
I sometimes find it hard to believe that some gardeners actually grow it in their gardens on purpose.
Most folks can recognize goldenrods growing wild. In a couple of weeks, we will start seeing their annual explosion of golden color. Flowering goldenrods are a sign that cooler fall weather is not far away.
You may be familiar with the saying, “What was old is new again,” as related to clothing and decorating styles, but it’s also true of the landscape.
While fall-flowering mums seem to attract the most attention for fall color, there is a “brand new” plant called the mari-mum being promoted for the fall garden and landscape across the Southeast. Have the plant breeders been working overtime? Actually, a mari-mum is simply a fall-planted marigold.
Sept. 22 may be the first day of fall, but the best way to know summer is ending is to look at all the colorful pumpkin and gourd displays at local garden centers around the state.
With fall officially here, many gardeners hooked on cooking with herbs may start to worry about how they’re going to cook once it’s too cold to grow herbs outside.
Although many gardeners still have herbs growing strong, others may dread reaching for the little red and white cans in the cupboard once it’s too late to go outside and snip something fresh from the garden. If that’s your worry, you can make some preparations now to keep you enjoying those fresh summer herbs during Mississippi’s winter months.
One of the best horticulture field days in the Southeast has three extra benefits: It’s free, it’s in Mississippi and it’s scheduled just around the corner.
Clear your calendars now for the Fall Flower and Garden Fest at Mississippi State University’s Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. The two-day festival on Oct. 18-19 will be fun for the entire family and will be an interesting and educational experience, whether you’re a garden novice or Master Gardener.
I have to admit that I’m ready for this hot and really humid Mississippi summer to be over. Even though we are officially in the fall season, those high temps have been lingering into October.
But it seems we may have turned the corner towards lower temperatures. I even slept with the window open recently for the first time since I don’t know when. This means cool-season annuals will soon be showing up.