Upper South

February, 2006
Regional Report

Transplant Trees and Shrubs

Ever have a tree or shrub that ended up in the wrong place? As long as it's still a reasonable size (obviously, this is relative), the plant can be dug and replanted while dormant. Any time the temperatures are warm enough for the ground to remain unfrozen -- usually through the end of February -- this can be done with a high degree of success. Dig as large a rootball as possible, and replant immediately. Water well and mulch.

Make Bird Houses

Although there are lots of decorative bird houses available, ones that are actually designed for birds are few and far between. Different birds require different sizes and styles of nest boxes, as well as different sizes of entrance holes. Nest boxes need not be elaborate and can be easily made. An excellent source for nesting box plans is Gardening for the Birds, by Thomas G. Barnes (The University Press of Kentucky, 1999; $24.95). Good Web sites for information about nest boxes include: http://www.nwf.org./backyardwildlifehabitat/nestingboxes.cfm;
http://www.fws.gov/Bird_Publications/house.html; and
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse/bhbasics/nestboxplans.htm.

Plan for Cut Flowers

As you're ordering seeds and plants for this year's garden, consider either creating an area just for cut flowers or incorporating more plants that provide great cut flowers into existing beds and borders. Among perennials and bulbs, some of the best choices are phlox, daisies, coreopsis, asters, and lilies. Gladiolus may be ubiquitous, but they make splendid bouquets. Although usually considered tender for our region, gladiolus can overwinter in the ground reasonably well.

Winter Prune Trees and Shrubs

Late winter is the best time to prune many deciduous trees and shrubs. (The exceptions are the spring-blooming ones, which flower on last year's wood. These are best pruned right after flowering.) When pruning, the priority is to remove dead, dying, or unsightly parts of the plant first, as well as sprouts growing at the base of the trunk and crossed branches. After that, prune to shape the plant. Shrubs that die back to the ground in our region, such as crepe myrtle and butterfly bush, can be cut back now.

Think Outside the Box

For Valentine's Day, you may be thinking of giving a loved one cut roses, but why not think longer term? How about a single long-stemmed rose and a gift certificate to a mailorder rose company? Or, give a potted miniature rose, which are widely available now. Other blooming potted plants are a possibility, too. Of course, the serious gardener in your life might be just as happy with a load of compost as a present.

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