Middle South

January, 2010
Regional Report

Give a Blooming Valentine

Lavish those you love, as well as yourself, with a riot of blooming fun on Valentine's Day. If you want the "thought that counts" to last more than a week, however, bypass the expensive rose bouquet for a fabulous hydrangea, a fragrant gardenia, or an exotic orchid. You'll not only save a few pennies, your loving gift will make hearts flutter till spring.

Retrench Beds & Borders

Pick a sunny day when the soil is moist from recent rains to trench around garden beds and borders. Use a flat shovel to cut away the soil, creating a 3-inch-deep, v-shaped ditch between lawn and planting areas. The depression will prevent grass from growing where it's not wanted, keep mulch in place, and enhance the garden with a well-manicured look.

Add Color to the Winter Garden

If all you see outside this month is shades of green, gray, brown, and beige, it's time you added a spark or two of color. Look to mahonia, witch hazel, winter jasmine, camellias, and early bulbs for bright blooms; find birches, twig dogwoods, paperbark maples, and crape myrtles for colorful bark; check out holly, nandina, and pyracantha for vibrant berries; and add variegated aucuba, osmanthus, and pittosporum for glittering evergreen foliage.

Build Termite-Proof Raised Beds

If you're planning to build a raised bed anytime soon, consider constructing it with one of the new types of plastic lumber made from recycled materials and sawdust. This product, often used for decking, can be cut and screwed just like real wood but is heaver, which is a plus for bed construction. Most important of all, it is impervious to moisture and insect damage.

Examine the Landscape With a Critical Eye

Does your garden stay pretty much the same each year? Take time now, in the down season, to examine the garden with a critical eye and plan changes. Even just a small tweak to an area can bring a wealth of new energy and excitement to the landscape. Be especially attentive to entrances and exits, as well as focal points, looking for new plants, color combinations, or ornaments that will give them new life.

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