Coastal and Tropical South
Create a Welcoming Entrance
The courtyard in New Orleans has survived, but needs a new entrance and plants to grace it. Small spaces benefit from height, so the side posts top the gate. Nailed onto them are funnels of hardware cloth, bent so morning glory can grow up and spill over on both sides. The decision between smelly jasmine and Peggy Martin rose is still a toss-up.
Handling Gift Plants from Far Away
A happy gift, or a disaster? Plants sent from faraway places to our challenging climates may do well, but should be transitioned carefully. Always remove all packaging immediately, and put the pots in the shade outside for a month before planting. Read labels carefully: full sun may mean part shade here. Most plants that arrive bare root must be hydrated thoroughly before planting. Read and follow directions.
Make Pepper Vinegar
Take advantage of plentiful fresh peppers and put up some holiday gifts. Assemble ingredients: tabascos alone, or a combination of your favorites, cider vinegar, and clean bottles with tight tops. Or line up cayenne with one pod of garlic for every 3 peppers for real zing. Wash everything thoroughly and cut the stems off peppers. Fill bottles with peppers, cover with hot vinegar, and let rest. Use within a year.
Collect Seeds and More
Dig up volunteers, take cuttings, and collect seeds to make more of your favorite plants. Glorybower trees and other clerodendrums sprout at random; control them by digging them up to share if you can find a taker. Someone with space to fill may not mind their rampant habit. Vines with bare areas on the stems? Root tips when you cut them back. Let seed dry on the plants before harvest.
Cast Iron Care
No plant suits hot, dry shade better than aspidistra, the cast iron plant. But even this stalwart can look raggedy. Stands grow thick over the years and few gardeners ever dig and divide this plant. Avoid that daunting task by cutting the worst looking leaves down to the ground and trimming the edges of others. You can use that electric hedge trimmer someone gave you, if you dare.