Happy New Year! Boy, oh boy, what a number COVID laid on us in 2020. It was clearly demonstrated how ill-prepared we are for disruptions in many supply chains. Who can forget the short supplies of toilet paper, and who has not put away a couple of extra rolls just in case?
For at least 10 years, I’ve been actively wondering what direction our landscape and gardening practices are headed. Being a horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, I’ve had the opportunity to ask this question of gardeners and nongardeners alike, as well as commercial horticulture growers.
Poinsettias are being bought, Christmas trees with ornaments are going up, and lights and inflatable figures are on display around our homes as people get ready for the holidays.
While most of these holiday displays are quite stunning, some of the most beautiful are those designed by Mother Nature.
“’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the yard, not a plant was left standing, and the ground was hard.” So begins Karen Geisler’s gardener adaptation of Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic “The Night Before Christmas.” We’re just days away from the big day, and I know there are still folks trying to decide on that perfect Christmas gift for their favorite gardener.
Well, it happened again this week. It seems every year, home gardeners get surprised by the first cold snap. Whenever weather forecasters utter the words “frost” or “freeze” for the first time each fall, you can bet there will be cases of landscape panic and questions about how to protect our garden plants from the onslaught of Jack Frost.
This week, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and the “official” start of the holiday season.
In this year of COVID-19, we will celebrate our holidays differently than in past years. But despite any accommodations we have to make, there’s one thing that will always be associated with the Christmas season, and that is beautiful poinsettias.
This past weekend, I planted the last of my Big Four must-have, cool-season color annuals: violas.
Violas are tough, and I think they tolerate cold winter weather even better than pansies. They perform well in landscape beds as well as in containers. They grow right through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and are still shining in the garden at Easter and beyond.
This week, I got to get back gardening after cleaning up the Hurricane Zeta debris. While visiting a garden center upstate, I was reminded that if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get your pansies planted for great cool-season color.
Stop in your favorite garden center now to find all kinds of colorful pansies ready for their new home landscapes. Pansies are among my go-to annuals, and there are some great selections available in the market.
I had planned to write again this week about more great cool-season color options, but we had a landscape and garden crasher named Hurricane Zeta make a mess on the Gulf coast.
This storm surprised most folks with its intensity and property damage. It also did a lot -- and I do mean a lot -- of damage to trees that resulted in widespread power outages. My family and neighbors were lucky that our power was off for only 48 hours.
Lots has changed during this year of the COVID-19 pandemic. For one thing, there has been a dramatic increase in interest in the home landscape and garden. People are spending more time in the garden and actually taking a look at what’s going on. In fact, gardeners are taking very close looks, which can result in them finding things that some think can only occur in the crazy COVID year. And believe me, I gets calls and emails about them all.
One thing that causes the most landscape consternation is lichen.
Last week, I sang the praises of my favorite cool-season vegetable and explained how it is both edible and ornamental. Kale is a multitasking super food that is really easy to grow from seed. But there are other great cool-season vegetables like lettuce and collards. I consider these must-haves for my garden, and they also are easy to grow from seed, especially in containers.
This weekend, I was excited to see that one of my favorite fall/winter vegetables is beginning to play a prominent role -- if not center stage -- in my ornamental landscape and culinary garden. Of course, I’m referring to kale.
One of the attributes I look for when choosing annual color plants is how hardworking they will be in my home landscape.
While I know garden chores are an integral part of the landscape game, I like my garden and landscape to be relaxing. I don’t like to change out color every month. If you do, that’s fine, and you might not be interested in what I have to say next. But I personally like easy.
What a rollercoaster last week was for Southern Gardening!
My column highlighted the steps gardeners should take ahead of a tropical storm. We cancelled Southern Gardening TV production, as coastal Mississippi was in the crosshairs of Hurricane Sally on Monday and the weather folks were assuring us of a Mississippi landfall.
I write this while contemplating what a wild year 2020 has been. There’s no need to remind anyone about the pandemic that has literally changed our landscape.
The next big thing is Hurricane Sally making landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week. Every tropical storm or hurricane creates landscape and garden chores that need to be finished before the storm arrives.
My biggest concern is always for the wind blowing loose objects around and causing damage.
We’re already into our September garden, and lots of great things are going to happen.
As temperatures finally start to moderate -- my fingers are crossed -- most of our summer flowering annuals that look ragged after surviving the heat and humidity will start to perk up. I think of this as our flowering annuals getting their second wind.