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Southern Gardening

Sunlight reaches a portion of mostly shaded light green foliage.
May 28, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One landscape plant I wish I grew more of is coral bells, known botanically as Heucheras.

I absolutely love the colorful foliage with a seemingly unlimited variety of textures that add interest in any garden or landscape. Some have ruffled margins, some have deep cuts, and others feature smooth margins. Texture is certainly on display with coral bells.

Light pink blooms has dark pink centers.
May 21, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One day right after we moved to Mississippi, I got a call from a homeowner with a question about her althea plant. I was stumped, but soon found that the plant she was referring to was commonly called rose of Sharon.

A short papyrus plant grows in a metal cauldron.
May 14, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

With all of the bright, colorful summer annuals we’re planting this month, I find myself looking for more out-of-the-ordinary plants for my landscape. One that always creates a bit of a stir and generates questions is an old plant called papyrus.

Papyrus, similar to the plant grown and used by the ancient Egyptians to make paper, is easy to grow and has few pests. If you’re intrigued by this plant, you will be happy to learn there are three selections suitable for use in our Mississippi landscapes.

White flowers with deep purple centers  lie above green leaves.
May 7, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

If you’re still looking for a favorite plant for our hot summer landscapes, consider Superbells. I love their funnel-shaped flowers and great growth potential. Their variety of colors can even rival petunias.

Superbells are tough plants with good summer heat tolerance. One of their attributes that I like best is, after a rainstorm, these plants recover and perk up faster than many other summer-flowering annuals, even my vaunted petunias.

These plants look great in containers, hanging baskets and mass plantings in landscape beds.

Long, red radishes rise above the soil beneath leafy green tops.
April 23, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When I have visitors to my garden, I like to tell plant stories. It seems that almost everything I grow has a story associated with it. The stories behind the plants make them more interesting.

One of my favorite stories is about my White Profusion butterfly bush that I originally propagated in class in 1989. Another story is about my variegated Duet beautyberry, a mutation I found in 2000. I also grow a lot of heirloom vegetables, and the stories surrounding many of these varieties are interesting.

Spikes covered with small purple flowers extend from a green bush.
April 16, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of my true favorites for the early summer season is coming soon to our Mississippi landscapes. Starting mid-May through June, this plant will have some of the few, almost true-blue flowers in the plant world. So what is this plant?

The common name is chaste tree or vitex, and it was named a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2002. The bloom period begins around Memorial Day on the Gulf Coast and soon afterwards in north Mississippi. The main flowering period lasts up to six weeks.

Several deep blue flowers line the upright stem of a plant.
April 9, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I'm becoming a fan of salvias for their performance in the landscape.

This group of plants has such a wide variety of selections available from annuals to perennials that I'm sure you can find the perfect plant for your garden. Today, I want to tell you about the salvias I'm growing in my own home landscape.

Rockin' Playin' the Blues salvia is a selection I grew as a trial last year, and it didn't disappoint. The plant produced beautiful blue flowers all summer long.

A white and pink honeysuckle flower floats in the foreground with green foliage in the back.
April 2, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

There’s no doubt that spring is here when the Southern indica azaleas start to put on their show.

These showy -- some may even say gaudy -- flowering shrubs seem to just take over our southern landscapes before fading back into an evergreen supporting role for the rest of the year.

But this column is not about the beautiful Southern indica azaleas, which, by the way, are from Asia. This column is about a couple of azaleas native to Mississippi and other southeastern states -- the deciduous azaleas.

Clusters of bright red flowers are seen on a background of green leaves.
March 26, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape Design and Management

I took a look at my landscape this weekend trying to decide how many plants, if any, I’m going to have to renovate or replace after our hard winter. I have to say I was really impressed at the regrowth so far this spring.

A cluster of small pink verbena flowers with white centers is seen above a bed of green.
March 19, 2018 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Jackson Garden Extravaganza. They had a huge selection of colorful plants on display and for sale, and I left with quite a number of colorful annuals to plant before I hit the road again this weekend.

Tiny pink buds cluster in groups on a bare branch.
March 12, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

One of my favorite spring flowering trees is our native redbud.

This small tree flowers early in the spring before most other trees have started to leaf out after their winter naps. It’s good that redbuds blooms so early because they are usually found as understory trees. While driving around the state, it’s common to see a redbud framed or silhouetted by leafless hardwoods.

Deep pink blossoms cover the mostly bare branches of a shrub.
March 5, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

We're finally emerging from the "freezemageddon" we experienced earlier this year, and the garden and landscape are emerging with a vengeance.

A small tree with leafy green growth on the bark
February 26, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design

Spring has sprung, at least in my Ocean Springs landscape, and gardeners once again are venturing out and taking an inventory of plant damage from this winter’s cold. Performing this yearly garden task is easier when many plants haven’t started their new growth yet.

Saucer magnolias bloom before the leaves emerge, making their huge flowers the main attraction. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 19, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I came to a conclusion after a series of events reminded me that spring is really close.

Small red berries and green leaves line a distylium branch.
February 12, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Distylium Vintage Jade is an exciting new plant that brings pizazz to the traditional role of foundation planting.

Upright stems of a low-lying chartreuse plant sprout from a landscape bed.
February 5, 2018 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

As we're working our way through this year's Mississippi Medallion Winners, I now want to look at Sedum rupestre, which is commonly called lemon sedum. The sedums are also called stonecrop, because they are native to the mountainous regions of central and western Europe.

White flower pots containing green lemongrass are lined up on the ground.
January 29, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Last week, I focused on the 2018 Mississippi Medallion Winner fancy leaf kale. This week, let’s look at a second 2018 winner: lemongrass.

A small bush with bright red leaves contrasts against a rock-filled garden.
January 15, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The weather to start 2018 has certainly been crazy. We had more than a week of temperatures in the mid-20s (Freezemageddon) followed by a week of moderate, more normal January temperatures. Now, we’re freezing again this week.

This crape myrtle shows the smooth tops of crape myrtles that have been sliced through knobby ends.
January 1, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners make New Year’s resolutions for their landscapes in 2018, I want to encourage all of them to resolve to correctly prune crape myrtles from this day forward.

In the current vernacular, severe pruning of crape myrtles is called “crape murder,” reflecting the seemingly random nature of the pruning cuts. To me, this type of pruning is very unattractive in the landscape.

A bouquet of small, orange and yellow flowers.
December 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

For the last Southern Gardening column of 2017, I want to take a look back at some of my absolute favorite plants from my home landscape this past year.

I have been talking for several years about what fantastic garden performers Supertunias are. But my absolute favorite -- and it has been my favorite for several years -- is Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This plant is so reliable it was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012.

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