They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? Well now that summer is here and our outdoor activities are limited by the blazing heat, there is something we can be doing out in the garden. Solarizing is using the infernal summer sun to pasteurize the soil. Weeds, as well as some diseases and insects, can be controlled by this innovative method. This Alabama Cooperative Extension Web site provides a brief "how-to" for gardeners wanting to try solarization on a garden spot. (The site may be slow to load.) Start now and your garden will be ready for fall planting in September.
Favorite or New Plant
Red Bird of Paradise
Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), aka Pride of Barbados, loves hot weather. Its bright red-orange blooms and pinnately compound green foliage make a stunning specimen plant in the landscape. This tropical plant is not dependably hardy above zone 9, although mulching can help protect the roots and will extend its zone a bit. It provides a southwestern look with a tropical flair that is especially nice near a pool or outdoor patio. A closely related species, Caesalpinia gilliesii produces finely cut foliage and yellow blooms adorned with long red stamens. While less showy, it is hardier. Give these plants a sunny location with good drainage. A little water periodically is all they need to thrive and bring a splash of color to your summer landscape. Trim back the plants after a bloom cycle to encourage more blooms.