Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for June

 

Rex Begonias

June not only is the month for brides and weddings, but the first month of summer. Children are out of school, families take trips to the beach and our new graduates find themselves floating on cloud "9". For those of us who are not caught up in all this joy and celebration, we can spend free time sprucing up the garden scene, adding swathes of colorful flowers across our home landscape. This month is a great time to complete our summer garden schemes made in the dead of winter. Or if you are sometimes like me, the garden scheme began later, like in March or April. The nurseries and garden centers display voluminous quantities of all sorts of plant material for your pots and flower beds. So lets pick up our garden gloves and trowels to create the most dazzling flower beds ever.

I have always looked at gardening as not only a creative endeavor, but a philosophy which centers on what pleases you, the creator. Gardens may change over the years, one year one may attempt to have nothing but colorful annuals, formal in structure, and other years, one may add tall stately perennials or biennials, with gradients of high and low to give more texture than color. Some gardeners have one plan that they have perfected over the years, and stick to that, not even changing the color scheme. Some want their flower garden to be finished with one planting and others want a changing kaleidoscope of plants. One thing about gardening, is that you learn a lot about yourself. You learn by making many mistakes, and allowing these mistakes to morph into successes.

I believe one attribute that all gardeners strive for is that the garden should be peaceful and restful to view and enjoy. If you are a beginning gardener, study, take notes and photos of the gardens at Botanical and other public gardens, study pictures of gardens in magazines, or attend courses to enhance your knowledge of how to start a garden. But the important item on the agenda is to get started, somewhere be it simple pots or a small flower bed. One can always expand from there.

Here is a list of really good gardening books that have helped me in my quest for being an expert gardener, which one day I hope to become:

1. Manual of Woody Landscape, by Michael A. Dirr

2. Perennials for American Gardens, by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Nickolas H. Ekstrom

3. How to have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back, by Ruth Stout

4. The Country Garden, by Josephine Nuese.

PLANT OF THE MONTH -- REX BEGONIAS - cultorum group

What an enchanting and exotic collection of plants which are not grown for their flowering ability, but for leaf coloration and texture. My Grandmother loved these begonias, and shared hundreds of rooted cuttings with her neighbors and friends. The intriguing puckering of leaves and the wide range of color variations lend these begonias to many different gardening opportunities from pots to the beds. Mostly shade loving, the variety, "Fireworks", are a perfect combination for Japanese painted fern, Athyrium niponicum. Soggy soil, over fertilization, and prolonged wet leaves is the kiss of death for these plants. They thrive in a well drained, humid, and shady environment. We are always searching for colorful plants that can jazz up these shady areas. Try these, you will become fascinated like myself.

GOOD GARDENING.

 

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