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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Midsummer Checkup

Tall, multicolored ‘Granny’s Bouquet’ zinnias flourish in the sunny border. We’ve been clipping them regularly for the table, which encourages new flowering. Heritage garden roses are into their second or third flush. Landscape roses continue strong and brighter than ever. Grape, patio and large luscious tomatoes are at peak production. Yellow and green summer squash are so prolific that neighbors walk the other way when they see you carrying yet another vegetable.

July and August also can bring out the worst in marginally healthy plants. Plants are a collection of living cells, just like us. We’re more susceptible to going downhill fast when stressed, underfed, dehydrated, injured, too hot or too cold.

>> read “Midsummer Checkup”       #Advice   #Pests   #Summer
Side by Side

It’s a forgotten spot, a space we pass through without thought, or where we hide things like trashcans, woodpiles, or composters. And in most of them you truly want to just shut your eyes and run through it as quickly as possible. But why would you want to have any spot in your yard that is ugly or unbeautiful? Use every scrap of soil you have. Even those narrow side yards can be part of the wonderful adventure of your home landscape.

>> read “Side by Side”       #Advice   #Design   #Hardscaping
Control Caterpillar Pests

Caterpillars are vexing pests to many of the plants we grow in our home landscapes and vegetable gardens. There are numerous different species of pest caterpillars, most of which specialize in feeding on a particular group of plants: azalea caterpillars sometimes defoliate whole plantings of azaleas; heavy infestations of bagworms destroy arborvitae trees; tobacco hornworms strip the leaves from homegrown tomatoes; squash borers kill squash and pumpkin vines. And the list goes on.

>> read “Control Caterpillar Pests”       #Advice   #Insects   #Pests
Fresh Foundations

Foundation plantings – usually evergreen shrubs – have always had a reputation for being boring. To make matters worse, many of the South’s go-to choices are now also suffering from a host of disease and insect problems.

Luckily, there are several new introductions that make fantastic, low-maintenance substitutions with similar growth habits. Some even offer a fresh twist with colorful foliage or flowers that can add some pizzazz to your plantings.

>> read “Fresh Foundations”       #Advice   #Design   #Ornamentals   #Shrubs
The Top 10 Reasons Your Tomatoes Fail

Anyone who has ever grown a backyard tomato knows that there is no comparison to the flavor and quality of a freshly grown tomato compared to one purchased at the supermarket. While tomatoes are arguably the king of the vegetable garden, they can be challenging at times because this tropical fruit can be finicky. By far, tomato problems exceed those of any other vegetable. Whether that is because they just have more problems or because of how popular they are, they are definitely not easy to grow. Here I will outline what I see as the top 10 issues that can lead to tomato failure in the garden.

>> read “The Top 10 Reasons Your Tomatoes Fail”       #Advice   #Edibles   #Fruit   #Vegetables
The Harmonious Garden

Step into your garden, close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? Does your garden sound as pretty as it looks? Along with texture, color and fragrance, sounds help create a unique environment in your garden. Enhancing and manipulating these sounds make you the backyard conductor of your own garden orchestra. Composing a garden symphony is easy, just start with what you already have and build on it. So grab your wand (trowel) and begin.

>> read “The Harmonious Garden”       #Advice   #Decorating   #Misc
Contained Expression
How to make a bold statement with architectural planters

The practice of container gardening has been around for hundreds, even thousands of years, with containers traditionally being used to house rare and exotic plant specimens, to allow tropical or cold-sensitive plants to be moved indoors for the winter, or to display arrangements of brightly colored, botanical overachievers. In any case, the plants they contained tended to be the emphasis rather than the containers themselves. In today’s modern gardening world, however, there are all kinds of different and exciting options when it comes to containers. Modern materials combine with bright colors and new, inventive designs to give us garden containers that can truly make a statement on their own, regardless of what is planted in them. This rising trend of using bold, architectural planters is the perfect way to express yourself and to add a stimulating new dimension to your garden and outdoor living spaces.

>> read “Contained Expression”       #Advice   #Containers   #Design
Gardening with Cats

I love many things in life and two of those things are my cats, Julian and Princeton. No matter the external or internal factors that affect my mood, my cats can always give me a boost. Not only can they make me laugh out loud, but they also may be able to better my health. Some research has shown caring for a cat can reduce stress, risk of stroke, anxiety, depression and lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

>> read “Gardening with Cats”       #Advice   #Humor
Douse the Flames
Yes, you can control fire ants.

Fire ants. Just hearing the words will make most Southern gardeners anxiously check their shoes and the ground where they are standing. These non-native stinging ants are established in portions of 12 southeastern states, and six of these states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina – have fire ants from border to border.

Fire ants prefer treeless grassy areas such as pastures, roadsides, parks and lawns, and densities can reach 50 to 200 mounds per acre in areas where they are not controlled. Fire ant mounds are unsightly, but it is their stings that make them so notorious. Unlike honeybees, fire ants do not have barbs on their stingers, and this means they can sting more than once. A single fire ant sting is painful, but unsuspecting gardeners sometimes sustain dozens or even hundreds of stings as a result of unknowingly stepping in a fire ant mound. The raised white pustules that result usually persist for about a week.

>> read “Douse the Flames”       #Advice   #Insects   #Pests
Tablescaping: Celebrate the Season with a Centerpiece

“Wow, that centerpiece looks good enough to be in a magazine. I wish I could put together something half that beautiful. I usually just plop some hydrangeas in a vase – pretty, but totally unimaginative.” That's what I said to my friend and talented designer, Trace, last spring. It was late February, when buds are swollen on bare branches and hyacinth flowers are only a promise, and I loved how the centerpiece celebrated that feeling of anticipation. Trace replied, “Thanks. It’s not that hard; I could teach you.” Thus began my yearlong training, learning how to create impressive centerpieces and tablescapes for every season.

>> read “Tablescaping: Celebrate the Season with a Centerpiece”       #Advice   #Crafts   #Decorating   #Design
Summer Turf Blues

As we continue in the blistering dog days of summer the idea of a cold drink and air-conditioned room seem much more appealing than working out in our landscape. The hot sticky days often cause us to neglect some outdoor chores such as giving our turf a good check-up.

>> read “Summer Turf Blues”       #Advice   #Summer
First Aid for Summer Squash

As we enter mid-July with August right around the corner, there are some pretty rough-looking summer squash patches that I have visited around the state in my role as a vegetable specialist. From backyard gardens to commercial growers, everyone that has grown summer squash knows the challenges that the late season can dish out ...

>> read “First Aid for Summer Squash”       #Advice   #Disease   #Pests
 
 
 

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