In the Garden:
Lower South
January, 2005
Regional Report

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This old wheelbarrow makes a great portable planter that can be wheeled out of site when it's time to change the planting.

What's New In Your Garden?

Gardening always brings something new. Each season is unique as weather conditions and varying disease and insect challenges combine to keep things interesting, to say the least. New varieties are continually appearing on the market along with new types of equipment, new miracle products, new books, and new gardening trends.

One of the things I love most about gardening is the way each year brings a new start. A garden is never finished, and -- in the hopeful eye of the gardener -- is always getting better. Gardeners are indeed eternal optimists!

There is something to be said for sticking with the old varieties and techniques that have proven to be successful over the years. As the words to a country song put it, "ya gotta dance with who brung ya." The ol' faithfuls have their place in our gardens, that's for sure.

However, the very spirit of gardening is one of learning, changing, sharpening skills, and trying something new. I can't imagine a gardening season without trying new varieties of vegetables, new species of flowers, or a new technique of planting or designing the garden. We no longer depend on what we can grow for survival, so gardening has become a wonderful experiment, a creative hobby. Many parts of my garden are like an Etch a Sketch that gets turned upside down and shaken every year or two.

Ideas to Tickle Your Fancy
I could write about a million new things to try this year, but for each thing many readers could say, "That's not new. I've been doing or growing that for years!" But for everyone there are many yet-to-be-tried plants and techniques. Need a few ideas? Here is a start:

Bird and butterfly gardens are still growing in popularity. There are a multitude of bird houses and feeders and many berrying plants that will turn your landscape into a bird magnet and provide plenty of viewing enjoyment. Likewise, butterfly-attracting plants are a big hit. If you've never tried plants that attract adults with their blooms and provide caterpillar food for their larvae, you're missing out on a whole new dimension that these flying flowers can add to a landscape.

Garden ornaments are a great way to add class or whimsy to your outdoor areas. From classic statues and fountains, to gazing balls and little gnomes, to metal cutout figures of insects and woodland fairies, there are ornaments for everyone.

Unusual containers are likewise very popular. Hewn rock or hypertufa planters; uncommon objects recycled as plant containers; and a variety of new designs in terra cotta, such as half pots that hang flush against a wall, turn most any area into a garden spot.

Redesigning a landscape area is the outdoor equivalent of repainting and redecorating an indoor room. Add some landscape beds, or rework an angular front yard with curving beds. Change some turf areas to various ground covers, or rework an area that has become too shady for the original plants to thrive. Woodland gardens offer many unique possibilities, so when time gives you shade, plant a shade garden.

So plan on doing something new in your garden this year. It adds a little suspense and excitement to gardening, and who knows, maybe today's experiment will be tomorrow's tried-and-true tradition. There is something renewing about getting out there and making some changes. The physical, mental, and emotional exercise of gardening is relaxing, restful therapy.


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