An important step in keeping year-round color in the garden and landscape is planting and transitioning the annual color plants.
Within the last month, I’ve planted my favorite fall French marigolds, also called Mari-mums. My Telstar dianthuses and snapdragons are also in and starting to show off. At the beginning of September, I pulled my Blue Daze evolvuluses from the front walk bed and replaced them with some beautiful, tight-budded mini chrysanthemums.
At the 43rd annual Ornamental Field Day this weekend at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, one plant that drew a lot of attention was the exotic-looking King Tut papyrus.
This grass-like plant growing in Mississippi State University's trial garden can easily grow to 6 feet tall, and it has a striking presence in the landscape. King Tut is a member of the same papyrus family of plants that the ancient Egyptians used to make paper. Its dramatic appearance makes for a great conversation about its connection to the distant past.
Many people are interested in having home vegetable and flower gardens, but many urban homes have small lots. Home gardeners in this situation may not think they have enough room. Others, especially inexperienced gardeners, may be discouraged by the amount of time and work required to build a new garden bed.
A good solution to this problem is to grow vegetables and flowers in compact, raised beds. By using an intensively cultivated area, you need less time and space to produce vegetables that taste great and flowers that feed the soul.
Now that we’re finally into September, I think many of our landscape plants are rejoicing in anticipation of the (hopefully) coming milder temperatures as much as I am. The colorful annuals that survived the hot summer will start to recover, while other landscape plants have been waiting for this season to begin their show.
I make a point every week to walk around our plant trial beds at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi to see how everything is growing. Lately, I’ve been impressed by some of the landscape plants with tropical-looking foliage that are putting on a late summer show right now.
Since this is August, we are now officially in the dog days of summer.
Extreme heat and humidity cause lots of problems for both garden plants and gardeners. For those gardeners who enjoy the vegetable garden bounty, this time can be especially troubling, as many of our vegetable plants tend to shut down for a while.
In the past, I’ve expressed my love for chili peppers -- the hotter the better. But there are only so many ghost, Trinidad Moruga and Carolina Reaper peppers I can eat. Lately, my gastrointestinal tolerance for their heat is waning.
When the summer season heats up starting in July, I really like seeing Rudbeckias in our Mississippi landscapes. Who can argue how the brightly colored flowers bring needed freshness when some of our other flowering plants may be showing wear and tear?
Gardeners are always looking for landscape plants that provide interest, and they primarily concentrate on the colorful flowers. But in my experience, even the most floriferous garden plant will need some help to maintain garden beauty.
This is where foliage plants come to save the day, and coleus is usually the first choice. But Artemisia is an alternative landscape plant that doesn’t get enough attention.
Most of the time, I write about what I think are great landscape plants for gardeners in Mississippi to try in their landscapes. But this column is a bit different as I’m writing about a plant I don’t recommend for the home gardener.
So I ask your pardon while I turn to my alter ego as a plant nerd.
At the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, a very unusual plant is going to bloom shortly. Called a titan arum, this plant originates a long way from Mississippi -- in Indonesia.