Southern Gardening from 2014
It’s not just people who are happy when temperatures finally start to decrease in the fall. Many summer-flowering annuals that look pretty worn out at Labor Day get a second wind and perk back up.
For this reason, late September and October give us some of the best annual color of the entire year.
Some of my favorite fall-flowering summer annuals are Zahara zinnias, which produce mounds of colorful flowers. The plants are robust and have excellent branching to support the many flowers. Plus, these plants have a natural resistance to powdery mildew.
Gardens and landscapes work really hard to give us so much beauty and bounty, so sometimes it’s nice for gardeners to give something back to the earth.
Fall is a really good time to build up your garden soil for next year. Probably the best gift you can give your garden is to amend its soil with organic matter.
Many Southerners (in general) and Mississippians (in particular) base their new plant selections on the annual recommendations from the Mississippi Medallion Selection Committee. The committee has just announced three winners for 2015: Delta Jazz crape myrtle, Suburban Nancy Gayle daylily and Top Pot scaevola.
Delta Jazz crape myrtle…
This weekend, the thermometer in my garden got down to the low 30s and left me wondering if I’ve seen the last of my tomatoes and peppers. But it also reminded me that it’s time to transition to plants that thrive in lower temperatures.
Ornamental kale is one of my favorites for the cool season. There are so many different colors and leaf textures to add landscape interest. Don’t plant a single type. Mix and match for increased visual interest.
Through the year, I get quite a few questions concerning landscape issues, plant care and plant identification. Answering questions and helping home gardeners find success in their gardening endeavors is fun.
I’ve gotten questions from as far away as California. I have to admit that some of the questions make me think I’m on a game show called “Stump Gary,” and I learn a thing or two researching the answers. This question and answer time feels kind of like two gardeners sharing landscape tips across the back fence.
Here are a couple of questions I’ve recently received:
The snapdragon is a longtime favorite flower of mine for the cool-season landscape.
Many home gardeners seem surprised when I tell them snapdragons are pretty tolerant of cold weather. We are lucky to be able to grow these great landscape plants in Mississippi from the cool, fall season to the rising temperatures of spring. Once planted and acclimated, snapdragons seem to say, “Bring on the cold weather.”
Although it seems like Christmas decorations have been in the stores since Labor Day, what really tells me it’s beginning to look like Christmas is when the poinsettias hit the garden centers.
Poinsettias may be the perfect plant for the Christmas season. In their native Mexico, the poinsettia’s bright red flowers of are known as Flores de la Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, as they bloom each year during the Christmas season.
I don’t keep it a secret that I think pansies are the perfect plants for cool-season annual beds. They are really easy plants to grow, and they provide great color during cold winters.
The Matrix pansy is always a great choice because of the way it displays flowers high above its foliage. But lately I’ve been admiring the unique trailing growth habit of Cool Wave pansies.
In December, many gardeners look forward to taking a little time off from working in the landscape, but cool weather is a good time to apply a layer of mulch.
However, gardeners get some free help with the job at this time of year. I’m always in awe of the job that Mother Nature does mulching the landscape.
Some folks think winter can be boring in the garden and landscape. But just when temperatures start to drop, one of my favorite flowering plants decides to suddenly strut its stuff for all to see.
Wherever cassia is planted in the landscape, the tropical-looking flowers are sure to create winter interest.
The prolific winter blooms of winter cassia make it a show-stopping plant. The effect is heightened because the brightly colored blooms seem to appear out of nowhere. Winter cassia is also called Christmas Senna because it is commonly in full glory at this time.
Winter is a challenging time in the landscape and garden. We’re limited in annual color options, and even my old favorites, pansies, may not be enough. That’s why we need to learn to rely on the backdrop of the summer, our landscape shrubs.
It seems these plants realize this is the season for them to step up and carry some of the load. You could call winter the berry season, as these red, colorful fruit are on display.
In the cold and dreary winter months, when color in the landscape can seem like an unachievable goal, gardeners need to rely on plants with features other than flowers to brighten the areas around our homes.
Last week, I shared my thoughts on the landscape potential of yaupon holly. This week, I want to tell you about another red-berried beauty. Pyracantha is a great choice for the home landscape, as its colorful berries can add beauty and interest to any winter landscape.