Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2009
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Witch Hazel
Though not considered a shade-loving plant, witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) well tolerates shady areas across zone 9, our southern coasts region. Though usually seen as a fat shrub with oddly zigzagging branches, it can be a 20-foot tree distinguished by light brown bark and a broad crown. It can thrive in a variety of soil types, but will be most lush and flower best in some sun with rich organic soil and irrigation to maintain moderately moist conditions. The greatest joy of any size witch hazel are the yellow flowers starring now, when few others are in the woodland garden. Long appreciated for its astringent properties, witch hazel wood is also favored by some dowsers.

Tool or Gardening Product

Little Tillers
For years people have doubted whether small-tined tillers could be a good investment for gardeners whose nemesis is heavy soil. It seems logical that they wouldn't be up for the task, and wear out quickly if not break outright. If you've ever bent a cheap shovel blade in gumbo soil, you get the picture. However, these genius machines, such as Mantis, have more applications than bed-building and are tougher than they might look at first glance. To cultivate in established beds or to turn in rotting mulch, these little tillers really pull their weight.

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