This past week, we got a rude wakeup call from Mother Nature saying that winter has finally arrived.
I answered many phone calls and emails asking what could be done to protect landscape plants. I even shared some last-second cold weather protection tips on WLOX television. I want to point out that, except for the most tender, most plants came through the couple of days of cold weather just fine.
This past weekend, I started planting cool-season color in my 25-gallon citrus containers.
I like underplanting in these containers for a couple of reasons. First, I can maintain a color pop through the year. And second, these annuals act as a colorful ground cover carpet that helps keep weeds at bay. I really do hate weeding, and even plants grown in containers need help with weed control.
I love the annual color we can grow all winter in most of our Mississippi gardens and landscapes, so I'm going to spend a few weeks concentrating on cool-season color. Dianthus is my first choice for fall color.
The fall and winter seasons mean it’s time for colorful pansy, viola and dianthus. But the changing seasons also mean that home gardeners who grow citrus will soon harvest delicious fruit -- satsuma, kumquat, Meyer lemon, oh my!
Those of you who keep up with Southern Gardening know that I’m a real fan of salvias.
One reason I like them is there are so many different types to choose from. I particularly like salvia farinacea, commonly called mealy cup sage or blue sage, for its landscape performance. These are tough plants, perfect for our Mississippi landscapes.
Finally, we’re going to start enjoying some cooler weather, and just in time. I’ve wanted to start writing about the fantastic cool-season color, but I’ve had to wait until the summertime heat starts to cool.
Although we’re finally into the fall season, it’s still 90 degrees outside across Mississippi. Nevertheless, we all need to start thinking about what we’re going to plant and grow for the eventual cool weather.
I came to a shocking realization this past weekend: Even though it still feels like summer, the signs are all around us that fall is about to begin.
First, we see the tropics heating up with storm activity. T.S. Gordon made landfall in Pascagoula Sept. 5 and spread rain all the way up to north Mississippi. Behind it are several more tropical storms that we will have to keep an eye on.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about looking forward to the time of year when ornamental peppers start strutting their gorgeous fruit colors. What I didn’t mention is that late summer is not just for ornamental peppers; I always get my best home-grown culinary peppers from August until frost in the fall.
My tastes for culinary peppers range from the mild and colorful bell peppers all the way to the superhot selections like Ghost, Scorpion and Carolina Reaper.
Earlier this year, I wrote about an outstanding landscape plant, the Rose of Sharon. The ones I was growing in my landscape included some of the newer selections: Orchid Satin, Pollypetite and Purple Pillar. Since then, I added White Pillar to my collection.
While visiting my parents in Tennessee this weekend, my dad asked why one of their Annabelle hydrangeas was blooming while another -- growing just 5 feet away -- was not. He asked if I had some special fertilizer or bloom juice that could be applied.
I didn't, because the shrubs didn't need any special fertilizer help. It all had to with light.
How have we already turned the corner into August? While it’s still hot and likely to continue that way for at least another six weeks, I’m looking forward to one of my late-summer landscape favorites, the ornamental pepper.
These plants have been growing patiently all summer, seeming to wait patiently and soak up the Mississippi heat until our other plants need a breather. If you follow Southern Gardening, then you probably know that I really love the show that ornamental peppers put on in late summer and early fall.
As we continue to plow through this hot and humid summer, keeping our plants -- and ourselves -- hydrated is critical to maintaining the summer garden and landscape. As I write this column, it's 96 degrees with a heat index of 108. Whew!
Like most gardeners, I love watching the various butterflies that visit my garden.
One I really like is the giant swallowtail, with its black body and vivid, yellow stripes. This creature loves my citrus, where she lays her eggs. The developing caterpillars have a unique defense mechanism; they look like bird poop on the citrus leaves.