WE ARE JUST ABOUT to be done with February. So far the temperatures have been a little above average. With warmer temperatures usually comes wetter conditions. Personally I’ll take warm and soggy over cold and soggy any day. We have had about two inches more this February than average and we were already ahead for the year by three inches. That’s not a bad start, hopefully in March we can begin to dry out and if we are lucky we have some real spring days.
March is the most interesting weather month to me because it’s a very active weather month. We can see days that would be worth rolling out the spring bedding plants so gardeners can begin coming in to check out our homegrown bedding plants. Some people will begin flower gardening in their pots first in case we have a cold snap or two. The pots can be moved to shelter. On those beautiful days the plants can be rolled out to the sunshine. This will put that gardener far ahead of most people's potted flowers. It can be fun to get an early start but you have to be committed with a plan on how to move them with a dolly and a place to go to that has been cleared out and ready in a hurry. The fun with starting spring flowers is that you can have full grown, established flowers growing in your pots for a relatively early Easter.
Easter is on the ninth of April this year so you have six weeks from today to make your plan. I like the early start also because plants that normally require shade can be used in the full sun during these cooler months so the combinations of flowers you use can be very different from those plants you’ll use later when things warm up. It’s very likely that the selection of plants that you will have to work with will be very limiting compared to later so you will have to get creative.
One way to really get creative if you plan to be able to hustle your pot creations in and out of the weather is to let houseplants be part of your pot creations. Houseplant selections at garden centers are very good right now. Houseplants have some unique growth habits and col- ors and textures to work with. If you plan it right, those early pots with houseplants in them can become your shade pots when spring arrives. Some of Mimi and Justin’s best pot combinations include houseplants and they mix well with shade loving bedding plants. At Garden Works we limit the selection purposely so we don’t send the wrong message. The incor- rect message that it’s time to be planting plants like coleus, basil, sweet potato, impatiens, lantana and most of the other summer annuals that we would be cover- ing or rolling back into the greenhouses at night.
We do grow crops for March but mostly cold tolerant plants and plants that work well in pot combinations. Shade tolerant bedding plants like dragon wing begonias, caladiums, impatiens are very tender to the cold so they will be some of the later plants to show up to the dance. You’ll want to leave room for adding heat tolerant plants to your creations so the combinations can evolve into one that will take the summer heat. Most people just replant those early, tender plantings with one that can take that heat. It doesn’t take a lot of plants to fill a pot so it won’t cost you a fortune to have great looking seasonal pots year around.
All the garden centers and fruit stands do it differently so it’s worth shopping around to see how and what is being displayed in March. Chances are if you find yourself shopping for bedding plants in March inside a covered greenhouse or the plants are on racks that can be rolled in and out to avoid cool night time temperatures it’s too early to be putting the roots into the cold, wet ground. Us garden centers get excited and want to be the first to market with our flowers but it’s up to you to decide when it’s time to begin the dance at your home or business.
My recommendation to you is to work really hard on getting your pots cleaned up and ready if they need it, add some good soil and start sniffing around the garden centers to see what you have to work with. The later in March you go the better the selection will be. You can get first pick on the big geraniums, which speak “springtime” and “Easter” in Mississippi better than anything else.
MIMI AND JUSTIN HAVE been offering container design and plant services for years. This year they are upping their game with their services at more homes and businesses by offering a seasonal program that would include auto renew on the plantings and a maintenance program to keep the pots looking good throughout the season. It does take maintenance and proper watering to keep these container creations looking great. If you don’t have the time or you don’t feel confident that you can pick out and plant the best plants for all of your conditions at your place you should talk with them about getting it done and knocking something off of your long list of things you do.
We know that the cold snap we had earlier dealt a bad blow to some plants. It looks like maybe not all of a group of plants died but ones and twos of things will have to be replaced unfortunately. The way we had it set up before we would have given our landscape team your number. That conversation can turn into us doing a lot more in your yard which we are happy to do or it can prove to be too expensive to do. This year we are going to have a hotshot crew that can show up to do the smaller jobs that don't require the expertise or a drawing of a landscape architect. We want to be able to plant a single tree or replace the few bushes you want or add to your garden at a more reasonable rate. We will want you to pick out the plants, buy a little extra soil for planting them in and maybe some mulch to finish it with. We would then set a date so you can show us where you want the plants.
We have the right tools and guys with lots of experience who can get them looking good for you. The guys we’d be sending over would be ones who have been on our landscape crews so they know what they are doing. We can do it for less cost since it won’t be a job from the landscape company. We can send the right amount of guys, costing you less and it will be relatively fast since there is no design work or bed prep involved.
WHEN I WOKE UP this morning my original intention that I had on my mind for this week's article is something that’s been rolling around in my mind for some time now. My article writing goal for this year is to interview some of the many great Mississippians who have chosen agriculture as their passion or as in so many cases, agriculture picked them. We have so many folks who work in this industry who have the most interesting stories about how they arrived at the place that they are.
We have professional growers who keep all these places you shop stocked with the plants that we need, vegetable growers doing it in all kinds of ways from hydroponically to organic field grown that you shop for at our local produce stands, the people who work at garden centers who find joy helping you with your gardening needs, the landscape professionals who have spent their lives improving landscapes and keeping our communities value higher, guys who have worked on golf course and landscape crews for all their lives because they love it.
The list of ag related people doing it as a career goes long. I am hoping to get these guys to sit down with me while I get their stories, I’m betting that most of the stories are relatable to us all, most of us probably could have easily taken a slight turn at Albuquerque and wound up with an agriculture related job or tried it and ran. I think we all do it as a hobby on one level or another. If you’ve mowed your lawn or bent over to pull a pesky weed you are in the club! What a wonderful club to be a part of. In other words, Enough about me!