Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Mexican Hat
Talk about a bad rap! Yes, Mexican hat reseeds, but that's a plus in hot, sunny garden beds. Even better, since it grows in almost no soil at all, it will fill a sandy space in one season and stay there happily for years. Growing 18 inches to 2 feet tall in an upright clump, the plant has finely cut leaves, a bit like cosmos, with small cone-shaped flowerheads surrounded by a hatband of petals marked yellow and mahogany. Don't resist this easy plant!

Clever Gardening Technique

Tree Forms
This tip could be called "transforming," since it changes the appearance of the plant and the mood of the garden at once. When a shrub grows out of bounds, with too many leaves on too many branches, it needs to be reined in. Dare I say such shrubs actually look frumpy, having lost their subtle charms along with their form. Sometimes this happens with overpruning, other times it's the result of neglect. Instead of cutting it down to fit the space, limb it up to form a canopy or tree form. Start at the bottom and carefully prune off all the branches at least halfway to the top. Step back, decide if you need to go higher, then thin and shape the canopy to balance the new trunk. You'll create room for new plants below, and have a unique tree form in your landscape.

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