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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for January

Perhaps we are turning the corner in 2021 with the COVID virus and life will get back to normal. I am certainly ready and I know you are, too. Along with other gardeners of good cheer, we are always the optimists – that only good will come out of a bad situation. It's funny that during our lockdown, we go through our tried and true traditions such as decorating the house, baking cookies and cakes, leaving small gifts at our friends' doorsteps, listening to Christmas carols, and watching church services on the television instead of being physically present. And in January, taking down the decorations, and watching the football playoffs. We are just creatures of habit. I believe it is these little customs that make life worth living.

If your garden looks a little bleak, we can look around and find gorgeous blooming shrubs such as sasanquas and camellias, with different varieties showing a wide range of colors from deep red, to pink to white and infinite variegated color combinations. We also see Kiss me at the Gate fragrantly opening its buds, plus some winter annuals attempting to make a show. In October, I have planted white and bright pink dianthus along a border with surprisingly healthy lush gray-green lambs' ears. Much of the other parts of the garden look vacant, but these areas have been sown with zinnia, poppy and larkspur seed. I call it my underground garden. I make sure I have marked with spray paint the seeded areas in the bed, and have noted these areas on the plan. My tulips have been in the crisper of the refrigerator since around the first of November, and I will plant them around the middle of the month. (Tulips have to be chilled at least a month prior to planting since our area does not get enough cold weather for them to bloom on tall stems.) After planting the tulips, I will over plant with any color pansies in order to have a two-dimensional affect when the tulips bloom. This is also a great time to plant narcissus and daffodils. If you can find daffodil varieties, Mount Hood and Carlton, these are extremely reliable for our area. By now, I am positive everyone has cut back their perennials, which need to be mulched to keep the roots from freezing. ALSO NOW IS THE TIME TO SPRAY TREES, SHRUBS AND FENCES, ETC. WITH VOLK AND LIME SULFURE TO RID YOUR YARD OF WHITE FLIES AND OTHER PESTS.

In my large pot garden in the back of the house, I have cut back geraniums and Dragon Wing begonias severely so that they are easy to transport inside when the temperature gets below 28 degrees. Plumbago is amazingly cold tolerant for a tropical, and can withstand some really cold temps, however they will be severely trimmed and brought indoors probably this month. Other tropical plants such as hibiscus, mandevilla and Meyer Lemon trees have already been safely moved indoors.


HEDICIUM or ginger lilies are what I call the sopranos of the garden scene starting in late July or early August until frost. Tall, stately and many varieties fragrant, one wonders why more gardens do not have mass plantings of this beautiful perennials. They are native to tropical Asia and India and were a favorite of the South for years past. There are dozens of species and range from height of 2 feet to 9 feet. H. coronarium, also called the common ginger lily, is a favorite of the southern growers.

Probably the most fragrant, gets to heights of 6 feet, and makes a great cut flower. You do not need very many in a vase to perfume a whole room. So good advise would be to plant the corms now, so you will not miss out this summer for an addition to your garden.

Good Health, Good Cheer, and GOOD GARDENING.


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