In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
August, 2006
Regional Report

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A row of artillery plants moves the eye and the feet along this path.

Finishing School

A well-kept border on any garden bed adds a sculptured touch and gives the planting a neat, comfortable formality. Putting a clean edge at the front can help passersby overlook other potential deficits in the planting. It's not that you shouldn't tend inside the bed, of course, but on a busy day, when everything needs your time for weeding and grooming, get the front edge done first. If you're called away, the bed will certainly look better when you return.

Artillery Rounds
Low, mounding ground covers, such as artillery plant, make excellent edging plants for small spaces, but they do require regular clipping to keep such good looks. Keep the grass shears sharpened and use them often so new growth can keep the border lush and lime green. To maintain such vigorous plants at a prescribed height, measure slim bamboo stakes and install them at intervals within the mounds. As you clip, use the stakes to guide your efforts so each plant's top is the same height within the row. Artillery plant gets its name from the way its tiny flowers suddenly and powerfully expel their pollen. However interesting this might be to see, flowering can slow new growth, and regular pruning will prevent flowering.

Coastal Choices
While artillery plant is well suited for tropical areas, gardeners in some parts of the southern coasts region will find it too tender or unforgiving in heavy soils. Clumping violets and oxalis can be used to similar effect with less maintenance. Gardeners throughout the region can use clumping liriope or mondo to keep a well defined edge.


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