April is a perfect time to garden while isolating
Did you know that April is National Gardening Month? In my landscape, every month is gardening month, but it’s fitting to be officially celebrating as many people are gardening for the first time while they shelter in place.
I was walking around my landscape this morning enjoying the crisp, clear air after the cold front carrying last night’s storm passed through. So I want to tell you what’s growing and going on in my shelter-in-place Ocean Springs landscape and garden.
One plant that has earned its spot in my landscape is the 2017 Mississippi Medallion winner Vermillionaire cuphea, commonly called large firecracker.
It produces abundant, fiery, yellow, red and orange tubular flowers up and down the stems and all over the entire plant all summer long. Vermillionaire is a medium-sized plant, reaching about 3 feet tall and wide. This is a tough plant that you can grow in containers or in the ground.
Vermillionaire has been perennial for me on the Gulf Coast since 2013, but it makes a fantastic summer annual in the north part of Mississippi.
Vista Bubblegum is another reliable plant in my landscape. It was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012. The flowers are a clear, bright pink, and the plant has performed well in Mississippi gardens.
Vista Bubblegum is a good choice for containers and hanging baskets where the flowering branches and shoots can cascade over the edge. This year, I’ve added a new supertunia, Vista Snowdrift. This selection has pure-white flowers with light-yellow streaking and the same growth potential as Vista Bubblegum.
I’m looking forward to seeing if Snowdrift lives up to its name. If it does, then I’ve found the perfect companion for Vista Bubblegum.
Since moving to the Gulf Coast, I’ve been fascinated with growing tropical fruit species, especially citrus. One that has eluded me has been avocado, but no longer.
Last year, I purchased a semi-dwarf variety called Lila that is perfect for growing in a large container, which is my preferred method. The tree flowered like crazy earlier this spring and now is loaded with fruit and potential guacamole. Since Lila has been shown to be cold-hardy to 15 degrees, that makes it a great choice for our Mississippi gardens.
I want to brag a little on my Siberian heirloom tomatoes that should be rewarding me with ripe tomatoes before the end of April. Every year, I sow Siberian seeds on Jan. 1. I’ve been fortunate this year, as the plants have been outside with no cold protection since March 12. I’ll be sure to share ripe tomato pictures on social media.
Just remember, regardless of the situation we’re all in right now, the garden does not close, and gardening is the perfect social distancing activity.