Gardening

It was a perfect day in southeast Texas. Beautiful Becki Stedman, “chief” of the weekly farmer’s market on College Street, was in place, smiling and greeting folks coming in for herbs, tomatoes, bread and more. Happily, I learned that the farmer’s market goes on for months more. I scored some veggies and squash blossoms then headed off 10 miles west to China, Texas, to pick up my new puppy and see what’s new in this town of 1,160.

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Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Peter and the rest of us have made peppers the second most popular veggie in the world, second only to the venerable tomato. There is just such a world of colors, shapes and flavors among peppers. Some of us like the sweet while some like the spicy while others like to grow those they can pickle. Grow your own and you can choose just what you want.

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Years ago I started buying plants for the yard, and if I saw it and it was pretty, I bought it. The result was areas full of bits and pieces and mostly flowering little plants that were pretty labor intensive. Then I went to a gardening lecture at our Beaumont Botanical Center where the speaker spoke about a plan for the yard. Crazy talk. He suggested a list of attributes that you would want in any plant in your yard. He also talked about the possibility of using no flowers at all in your landscape!

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This beauty is a perfect addition to your yard. The shrimp plant has a rather sophisticated botanical name: Justicia brandegeeana. It was named after the American botanist Townsend Stith Brandegee (1843-1925) according to an interesting article titled “Reiman Gardens” in the Iowa State University blog. The species is indigenous to Mexico, where it was discovered. Brandegee is given credit for bringing many beautiful and hardy Mexican plants to the U.S. Your grandma may have called the shrimp plant “false hop” or “Mexican shrimp.”

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If you love roses, you have a chance to see the best of the best very soon. And if you have never attended, you must make this your first of many Spring Rose Show events. Just to see and smell the roses is enough to make you swoon. 

The Spring Rose Show will be held Saturday, April 29, at the Beaumont Botanical Garden, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Tyrrell Park, Beaumont. Viewing is free and open to the public from noon until 3 p.m. 

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Yes, it is time to get those plants into the ground! If you’ve never had a pollinator-friendly plant area, maybe this is the year. 

Why pollinators? Pollination begins with flowers. Flowers have male parts that produce very small grains called pollen. Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another; it leads to the production of more plants and seeds that will create more plants. 

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The creeping phlox (phlox subulata) is such a beautiful flowering groundcover. She is a true gem in our spring garden. Those yummy blooms are sweetly fragrant, as well. Deer don’t usually go for this creeper, and it’s drought tolerant if you forget to water some weeks.

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Yes, it is that wonderful time of the year again when those green leaves in the trees surprise us with how much they grow every day, and birds just everywhere with their antics. And we are getting very busy in the yard. It can even be overwhelming. Hopefully, you have clipped dead branches and prepared a little section of your yard for growing some new little seedlings, even if it is some pots with brand new potting soil.

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I can’t resist the temptation to buy those beautiful “about to flower” bulbs in the nurseries and big box stores this time of year. Can you? They tease us with such a variety of colors and flowers and fragrances that it is almost impossible to say no.

Most all of these bulbs have been “forced” to bloom, and are called “winter forced.” Some of them bloom indoors for us and nowhere else. But lately I’ve had some luck with transplanting those bulbs to an outdoor spot. What do you have to lose?

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Well, I hope you’re well rested because February should be a busy time for gardeners. This is a time when we here in the South can plant a lot of our veggies. We also use this month to fertilize cool-season grasses and treat our lawns. We begin planning what new items we may try in our gardens and yards this year. And we can use this time to prune and clip and strengthen growth patterns of existing plants. Have a limb heading off in the wrong direction? Now may be the time to clip it.

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