“It’s exciting to see things coming up again, plants that you’ve had twenty or thirty years. It’s like seeing an old friend.”
― Tasha Tudor, The Private World of Tasha Tudor
Tropical Milkweed Pod
Tropical Milkweed Flowers and Leaves
Milkweed, a host plant for the Monarch butterfly is considered by some to be a friend and others a pest. The pod releases an abundance of seeds with attached “parachutes” which carry the seeds upon the wind. New plants emerge from the sprouts. The sap produced by the plant is toxic. However, Monarch caterpillars consume the leaves and transfer the toxicity to its predators. Predators avoid the caterpillars. Butterfly enthusiasts find pulling unwanted milkweed sprouts a minor inconvenience and avoid the toxic sap.
Learn more about tropical milkweed at the following link. Tropical Milkweed
Learn more about Monarch butterflies at the following link. Monarch Butterfly
“I watch the trees all dressed up in the Spring,
While posing as they stand in line,
Placing their best foot forward, showing off their leaves and fighting for attention,
One tree at a time”
― Charmaine J Forde
Native azaleas, members of the Rhododendron genus, are spectacular spring bloomers. While their unmatched beauty draws attention in the spring, the best time to plant these shrubs is in the fall. Read more about these deciduous natives at the following link. Native Azaleas
“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse – neon green with so much yellow in it. It is an explosive green that, if one could watch it moment by moment throughout the day, would grow in every dimension.”
― Amy Seidl, Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World
Spring Sassafras Leaf Display With Three Different Leaf Shapes
Sassafras albidum is a native, deciduous, aromatic tree with a very unusual characteristic-it has three different leaf shapes.. The new leaves in the above photo show all three shapes. They resemble turkey foot, mitten and football shapes. All parts of the tree are very aromatic. Pull up a seedling and smell the roots-root beer! Learn more about this unique tree at the following link.
“The seventeenth of March. In other words, spring. Desmond, people who think themselves smart, I mean those in the height of fashion, women or men – can they afford to wait any longer before buying their spring wardrobes?”
― Colette, Cheri and The Last of Cheri
Tender, new leaves of the satsuma tree provide perfect sites for the deposit of giant swallowtail eggs. Upon hatching, giant swallowtail caterpillars begin consuming the leaves. Thanks, Mom!
Giant Swallowtail in Spring Finery
The winners in any spring wardrobe contest would surely be butterflies. Giant Swallowtails are on the runways in South Mobile County now. Work it girls!
“Two lads an’ a little lass just lookin’ on at th’ springtime. I warrant it’d be better than doctor’s stuff.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
As the soil warms and the sun shines more brightly, gardeners become more sprightly. Spades turn flower beds, nimble fingers spread soil amendments and bedraggled plants are hurried to the compost pile. Garden center aisles are crowded with optimism, inspiration, ambition and determination . Frances Hodgson Burnett must have been a gardener; springtime is better than doctor’s stuff.
If a spot, with partial sun, is in need of a transformation, try Aztec grass. Learn more about this Southern favorite at the links below.
Aztec Grass – Monrovia
How to Plant Aztec Grass – Home Guides
Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of Nature
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
Society garlic, a member of the onion family, is a clumping perennial which produces purple flowers and can be used as a ground cover or border. This South African native grows well in zones 8-10, is drought and cold tolerant, and requires full sun to produce flowers. The edible leaves and rhizomes can be used in the same way garlic is used in recipes. Consideration should be given to planting this aromatic near walkways as the aroma of garlic is released when the leaves are brushed. Learn more about this plant at the link below.
Society Garlic – UF IFAS Gardening Solutions
There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.
— Janet Kilburn Phillips
Garden center tables are laden with an abundance of spring planting choices, including verbena. Verbena can be planted in containers, borders and beds. Requiring full sun, well drained soil and about an inch of water per week, these lovelies will bloom all summer long. In containers, they serve as “fillers and spillers.” Experiment with some today.
Verbena-Southern Living Plants
Verbena-Basics from Gardener’s Path
One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds. ~Dan Bennett
Gambling in the garden can appear in various ways. One very frustrating way comes in the form of battle with garden pests. Gardeners wanting to avoid environmentally harmful pesticides, must decide if the battle if worth the effort. An example is a breakfast favorite, strawberries-sweet, juicy containers of vitamin C. Much to the consternation of many backyard gardeners, slugs and snails beat the masters of the spade in the race for the luscious benefits. The following link gives advice to those with bellicose tendencies. Onward to battle!
Slug and Snail Control Resource
A day comes in the springtime
When Earth puts forth her powers,
Casts off the bonds of winter
And lights him hence with flowers…
~Dora Read Goodale, “The Chorus,” in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902
Belleza Gaura, Light Pink
Gaura lindheimeri, a North American native perennial, is also called, “whirling butterflies” or “wand flowers. ” A sun lover, this native is drought tolerant, thrives in poor soils and blooms profusely. The Belleza Gaura is a compact variety, growing to 18″ high and 20″ wide, while other varieties can grow to 48″ high. Butterflies and hummingbirds love gaura. So find a sunny spot and start “casting off the bonds of winter.” Learn more about gaura at the following link. Gaura lindheimeri
Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to. But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough. Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them. ~Victoria Glendinning
Geraniums, natives of South Africa, have been popular in the United States since the days of Martha Washington. The first, First Lady, even has a geranium named for her. These aromatic plants grow in full sun and do well in beds, baskets and containers. Available in a variety of colors, cultivars produce blossoms throughout the summer months. However, some fail to blossom in the extreme heat of a Gulf Coast summer. So if one finds a Southern belle wilting in the shade of a live oak, just call her Geranium and bring her a glass of sweet tea. She will not be inhibited nor embarrassed.
More About Geraniums