A Tribute to John Roberts Poinsett
John Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851) is the man responsible for the enormous popularity of the Poinsettia, for it was he who fell in love with the plant while serving as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1828, having been appointed to the post by President James Madison. (Poinsett went on the found the Smithsonian Institution, but that’s another story.)
Native to Central America, where it grows as a scraggly, deciduous shrub, the Poinsettia flourished in an area of southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The Aztecs used the plant for decorative purposes, but they also put it to practical use by extracting a dye used in textiles and cosmetics. And they used the sap in a preparation used to treat fevers.
Poinsett fell in love with the plant (which was then known only by its scientific name, Euphorbia pulcherrima ) while visiting the Taxco and sent samples back to his home in South Carolina, where he soon began propagating them and sending them to friends and fellow gardeners, as well as botanical gardens.
In honor of Poinsett, the plant was given the common name Poinsettia in 1836. Congress later honored him in 1851 by declaring December 12h as National Poinsettia Day.
Kyle Jenkins is passionate about perennials, which is one of the reasons why he’s Southwood’s section leader in that department. Kyle’s been growing perennials for years, and when we asked him to put together a list of his favorites – some for sun, some for shade -- here’s what he quickly came up with.
FOR SUNNY SPOTS
FOR SHADY SPOTS
Terri’s Top Ten…Again
Last year we asked Terri Dorris, our resident expert in bedding plants, to give us a list of her top-ten, tried-and-true, time-tested favorite annuals. The article was so well received that we decided to run it again, especially since we’re receiving shipments every day of these Southwood Grown favorites.
Want to fill a basket to overflowing, or create a wave of vibrant pink flowers in a garden bed? You can’t go wrong with this beauty. No wonder it’s so hugely popular and at the top of Terri’s list.
What’s not to like about periwinkle? Glossy green leaves, gorgeous blooms, and about as carefree a plant as you’ll ever grow. It’s also great in containers or in the ground.
Tough foliage, strong stems, thick flower petals, non-stop blooming, and downy mildew resistance. That’s what you get with these babies. Oh, and did we mention that they’re easy to grow, even in our heat and humidity?
4. Blue Salvia
Blooms from May to frost in sun or light shade and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. What’s more, it’s a butterfly magnet.
Also known as summer snapdragon, this pick blooms all season with no deadheading, is heat and drought tolerant, and is pretty much maintenance free. It’s also native.
A great alternative to impatiens, Torenia – also known as wishbone flower or clown flower – is ideal for gardeners who want a non-stop bloomer in sun or shade. Blooms until frost.
Attract butterflies and hummingbirds with Pentas, so named because of their five-pointed petals. All they need is sun, heat, and regular watering. Deadhead to encourage more blooms.
Yet another butterfly and hummingbird magnet, Lantana not only stands up to our summer heat, it
actually begs for more. And their Verbena-like flowers are available in a number of different – and beautiful – colors.
9. Million Bells
Give them plenty of sun, and they’ll give you what seem like millions of flowers. If hanging baskets are your thing, then you can’t go wrong with this spectacular “spiller.” You’ll love them, and so will butterflies and hummingbirds.
10. Dragon Wing and Big Begonias
Vigorous and heat tolerant. Abundant flowers all summer long. Shade tolerant. No deadheading required. Oh, and beautiful too! Need we say more?
Come in and see our huge selection of Southwood Grown annuals. And remember, you save $12 when you fill a flat of four-inch annuals, including Terri’s Top Ten, and dozens more.
Ready for a Redbud?
In case you didn’t know, the redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma, and that’s reason enough to plant one. But there are plenty more. Redbuds are among the first trees to bloom in early spring, and they do so before their leaves have emerged, which makes for an especially striking floral display. And they’re native, so they’re about as well adapted to our climate as a plant can be.
Redbuds are generally considered to be understory trees, much like dogwoods, but they will tolerate more sun than dogwoods.
Here are some of the best choices for our area, all of which are currently in stock.
Merlot – Vase shaped with dense branching. Thick, glossy purple leaves and bright lavender flowers. Will reach 15 to 30 feet in height, 12 to 15 feet in width.
Burgundy Hearts – Will likely grow a bit taller than Merlot with pinkish lavender flowers and shimmering reddish purple leaves.
Forest Pansy – A more rounded form that may reach 25 feet. Rich pink flowers followed by scarlet-purple, heart-shaped leaves.
Oklahoma – This 2007 Oklahoma Proven Winner will grow to about 25 feet. Reddish-purple flowers give way to glossy green leaves.
Rising Sun – Topping out at around 12 feet, this redbud produces rosy, sweet pea flowers followed by golden tangerine to peach and green heart-shaped foliage. A must have for redbud lovers.
Traveler – Beautiful weeping form of redbud that tops out at around eight-feet tall and wide. Magenta buds open to rosy pink flowers. Fall color is yellow. Great for small gardens or as a specimen.
Ruby Falls – Another great weeper with pinkish-purple flowers and purple foliage. Slightly more narrow than Traveler.
Pink Heartbreaker – Lavender-pink flowers are followed by bright red, heart-shaped leaves that mature to green. This weeper will typically grow to about 12 feet by 8 feet.
Don Egolf – More like a large shrub than a tree, the bright pink flowers on this variety are so tightly packed that the bark is barely visible. It won’t reseed, and it can take a lot of sun.
Finally, here’s one more reason to plant a redbud: The flowers are edible, and make a nice tasty and colorful addition to salads.
What the Heck is Hardscape?
Hardscape is a fairly unfamiliar word. It wasn’t even recognized by most dictionaries until the mid 80s, and it’s hardly a word you’ll hear at a cocktail party. That is, unless the guests are folks in the landscape business, or the hosts have recently had their landscape redone.
So what is hardscape? Strictly speaking, it consists of the inanimate elements in a landscape, especially masonry work or woodwork. Its opposite is softscape, which refers to the living, animated part of a landscape. Think plants.
More specifically, hardscape refers to concrete, brick, stone, wood, even metal. Examples of hardscape projects include patios, paths and walkways, retaining walls, fences, arbors, pergolas, decks, water features, boulders – you get the idea. You could even stretch the definition to include pottery and yard art and yes – dare we say it? -- pink flamingos.
The big difference between hardscape and softscape projects – aside from the inanimate vs. animate issue – is that if you make a mistake with softscape elements, it’s not that big of a deal. For example, if you decide that you don’t like where a shrub was planted, you can move it. If you decide that the curves of your flower bed need to be adjusted, you can change them.
But with hardscape projects, mistakes can be disastrous, and the costs associated with correcting them can be considerable. An improperly laid stone patio or a fireplace with an insufficient footing, for example, can cost more to repair than the original project. Decks – if not properly designed and built – can be downright dangerous.
Savvy designers know that a well executed landscape includes a mix of both hardscape and softscape elements in varying percentages. And for over 30 years, Southwood’s landscape designers have been helping homeowners find the perfect mix for their properties.
Light Up Your Landscape…Literally!
After spending countless hours (and money you can count) on creating and maintaining a beautiful landscape, it’s too bad you only get to see it when the sun’s out, right?
When you party on the patio, don’t you wish you and your guests could actually see what you’ve created, rather than merely peering out into darkness? And wouldn’t it be nice if the front of your home featured something more than a porch light or some (often ugly) fixtures stuck in the corners under the eaves?
Well guess what? You needn’t let your landscape disappear into darkness. With outdoor lighting, the beauty that exists throughout the day can be on display all night long. And there are all sorts of ways to make that happen.
Architectural Highlighting and Wall Washing are two techniques that can dramatically enhance the look of your home and the surrounding landscape. Shadow Casting can be used to create a special mood or ambiance. Up or Down Lighting of trees can make every night seem as though the moon is full. And Path Lighting can do wonders when it comes to providing safety, security, and beauty.
Those are just a few examples of how outdoor lighting can transform the look of your home and landscape. And in case you didn’t know, Southwood’s landscape pros have been designing and installing outdoor lighting for years. To learn more, call Becky at 918-299-9400, extension 210.