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Southeast Gardening: My Southeast Garden Year

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Reflecting on her 2012 garden, Lowe’s Southeast gardening contributor shares some of her experiences.

‘Hawera’ narcissus

By Linda Askey

Rather than being lost in the memories of the passing season, I sit at the computer, sifting through images of the garden in 2012. It truly began about this time last year. That is when we were planting the last of the daffodil bulbs. Beginning in January they pushed their buds through the soil and flowered in March, wooed into bloom by a mild winter.

Autumn fern

Bulbs notwithstanding, the emptiness of my leafless woodland garden made me want to plant evergreen ferns, like those I see in the woods as I drive home. I began with young transplants of the native Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). In addition I added about a dozen of the reliable autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora). Unlike most other evergreen ferns it stands up to winter weather rather than lying down and hugging the ground.

tomato harvest

As spring turned into summer I finally planted the grafted tomatoes I had planned all winter long. The summer of 2011 had not been a good one for tomatoes. With limited opportunity to rotate the plants between different beds, my plants suffered from soil-borne diseases. However, grafted heirloom Brandywine and Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, as well as Sun Sugar, Legend, Momotaro and Indigo Rose, grew into strong productive vines atop disease-resistant rootstock. The harvest was definitely better than the previous season’s, although the plants were tired by the end of August. Next year I’ll set out a second wave of tomatoes in July so we can have ripening tomatoes until frost.

The contents of the blue pots played off the color of the container.

A collection of blue-glaze ceramic pots made a statement even before they were planted, grouped at the sunny entrance to a frequently traveled path. I enjoyed planting summer color to play off the color of the pottery. They held ‘Wasabi’ coleus and ‘Caliente Coral’, a new heat-tolerant geranium. I bought a hanging basket in April, repotted it into a big blue pot, and it is still flowering in November. I replanted the blue pots recently so I could have kale, pansies and other cool-weather favorites add color through the winter.

My blue pots are planted for fall and winter, with the same geranium, ‘Kaleidoscope’ kale and pansies.

So now the garden is almost tucked in for the winter. My little greenhouse teems with tender succulents, tropical foliage, and rooted cuttings of hard-to-find annuals. Pansies and kale are set into the garden, growing larger each week in the brilliant fall sunlight. We have had the first gathering of friends around the fire pit, and look forward to more. Colorful leaves blanket the ground, and they are piling up in the corners of the garden, regardless of the weekly leaf blowing.

It was a very good year. Unbelievably I have already seen bulb foliage peeking through the mulch. Here we go again.