In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
January, 2008
Regional Report

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I'm resolving to plant more long-blooming flowers like penta to nourish butterflies and other wildlife.

Gardening Resolutions

Herewith I resolve to learn from my mistakes of last year, and so can you.

1. Focus on soil. Resolve to spend more time on your soil and you'll use water more wisely. By using organic amendments and fertilizers to prepare and repair garden beds, you'll build the soil food web. In turn, the web nourishes stronger roots that use water most efficiently, whether the season is rainy or dry.

2. Use your calendar. Instead of fretting that the flowers won't bloom in time for that backyard wedding, do your research. Every County Extension service offers well-researched dates for planting and timing of a variety of flowers as well as vegetables. It's what the pros do to get their flowers to market on time, and so can you.

3. Stick with winners. I resolve to shop for more of the plants that work for me, and slow down my efforts to grow everything in the garden center. Maintaining a wide array of plant types is quite a chore, I've learned, and something always seems to be left undone. If gingers or camellias or tomatoes do well for you, expand within those groups and their relatives. Growing more of what you know builds garden confidence, so when you do give in to the shopping bug, odds are you'll pick something great.

4. Make your garden your own. My garden accessories tend to be either concrete or raw metal rusted brown. Both appeal to my eye and seem to ground the space wherever they're used. Whether it's one piece or a collection displayed across the garden, use trellises, benches, and pedestal pots to repeat your favorite material regardless of the year's "hot" properties.

Likewise, if your taste runs to strong contrast in flower colors and plant materials, choose boldly to enhance the garden, and resist the current trend towards pastels. Resolve with me to plan ahead, grow what works, and be your own gardener in 2008!


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