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Today is February 23, 2020

Southern Gardening

Thank goodness spring has arrived!

By Dr. Gary Bachman

Thank goodness spring has arrived!

After what seems to be an eternity, I finally had a chance to do some much-needed work in my landscape and garden. The pleasant weather we’ve had only adds to my enthusiasm.

I’ve been wanting to expand the big container planting I have in my front yard, so I removed the last of the Indian hawthorns that were planted in the ground. I did this while they were beautifully blooming a snowy white.

I put down a commercial weed barrier followed by a layer of red lava rock. This is the only instance where I would use a weed barrier.

I’ve been fascinated by Distylium ever since it was named a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2018, so I planted a couple of these selections in 15-gallon, composite half-barrel planters. I’m pretty happy with these choices.

But I was thinking about how I chose Distylium, and it was through information available to me through the Mississippi State University Extension. If Extension hadn’t written the Mississippi Medallion publication and promoted this plant, I would have never known about it or chosen it.

It occurs to me that if I’m still learning about how to be successful in my garden and landscape, what about home gardeners who don’t have access to all of the resources available to me?

One of the best ways to gather information about being successful in the garden is to know which experts to ask. This is not the time to follow that independent streak most humans have (to be honest, mostly men) and try to figure it out yourself.

Guessing usually costs more than doing it right the first time. That’s advice we’ve all heard before, and it pertains to gardening and so many other things in our daily lives.

Your neighbors, newspapers, garden clubs, the local Extension office and Saturdays on the radio are some of the best resources for garden information. Gardeners like to share their experiences, so ask.

There are also lots of garden talks, field days and other events in the spring and throughout the year featuring horticulture experts from Mississippi State University and across the Southeast. These are great venues to talk directly to these specialists.

Many gardeners, young and old, rely on the Internet, and it can be a great and quick source of gardening information. Social media is another wonderful way to interact with garden and landscape experts and get answers to those growing questions.

“Southern Gardening” has a social media presence on Facebook (SouthernGardening), Twitter (@SoGardening) and Instagram (southerngardening). There’s even a Facebook Live event most Fridays at 10 a.m. And you can always email your questions to me at A tagline I use on my email is even, “Why google when you have me?”

Take advantage of these resources. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and look up answers so you can have your best garden and landscape in 2019.

Gary Bachman, Ph.D., is an associate Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs.

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