The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for February

We all celebrate this month as the month of cupids fluttering around dispensing love and kisses to everyone. With our lives bustling around us, we may do well to be quiet and think of all the things in our lives which give us joy and love. Gardens can do just that--giving us peace, well being, and a profound sense of creativity. As I have said before, I feel closest to God when I am outside working in and admiring my garden. In winter, I may only be viewing a Kiss me at the Gate shrub blooming fragrantly, or a full pot of yellow pansies cheerfully thriving in pots, or the Christmas 2011 narcissus peeking up showing off their full while blooms.

February Tasks

1. Clean up dead twigs, sticks or limbs in the yard which may harbor disease as they rot.

2. Before dormancy has broken, spray with Volk Oil and Lime Sulfur to eliminate insect eggs and mildew or mold spores.

3. If you have seeded some areas of the garden, do not mulch or disturb. Otherwise, clean out the beds and add mulch where you will be planting later to cut down on winter annual weeds.

4. Purchase at garden centers or nurseries any bulbs, corms, seed, biennials or perennials for planting now or after freezing temperatures.

5. Check equipment such as lawn mowers, blowers, hoes, hoses, timers to have them ready when needed.

6. DO NOT cut back what appears to be dead stalks on hydrangeas.

7. Do cut back any dead areas on azaleas, but Do Not prune azaleas or flowering shrubs as you will be destroying the buds which are waiting patiently to bloom in spring.

8. When going over your garden plan for the year, assess the success and failures of the plants. You may wish to add a new player onto the stage of your flower garden.

9. Pick up some seed and flower catalogs to make a wish list of new flowers, better varieties of the same plants. Many will describe a new variety as having placed first or second in field trials.

10. Go to nurseries and talk to the plants men about problems or pests you have experienced. We all need to stay on top of the latest products on the market in order to make our gardening time productive and fun.

11. This is also a great time to thin our perennials that have taken up too much space in the garden. Share these plants with friends and family.

Just recently I have experienced in my garden what judges and lawyers would term a case of first impression. This is the first time in 40 years of gardening from Mobile, to Montgomery, and to the farm, that anything of this magnitude had happened. After planting 8 trays of blooming pink and white dianthus in my front beds, I observed that they were blooming profusely with lush thick green foliage. Then around the 1st of January I noticed that the plants looked as if they were shrinking. Could my garden have suffered a small sink hole just where the dianthus was planted? It appeared that someone had taken a weed eater and mowed them to the ground. I had been watching a squirrel hopping amongst the dianthus during that time frame, and never saw the danger. I planted another tray of healthy dianthus as bait. Lo and behold, the pesky squirrel was back the next morning grazing on the plants. I dug up all the dianthus, and planted them at the farm. Bottom line is that the squirrel has been thwarted, the transplanted dianthus has put on new growth and is thriving once again. Now if I wax on about what a work horse dianthus is for the winter and spring gardens, I must add the caveat, except if a rogue squirrel dwells within. Oh, where is my squirrel killing cat, Georgette who died several years ago.



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