Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
March, 2008
Regional Report

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Red maples with blooms and new leaves benefit from some fertilizer now.

Coastal Comeback

Take a look at the Gulf Coast if you want to see urban forestry at work every day. Agencies and volunteers, including the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, organize events and marshal sponsors for tree-planting projects as part of recovery efforts since Hurricane Katrina. Like many cities along the Gulf of Mexico, Gulfport and Biloxi have always been known for their live oak trees. The storms of 2004 toppled, broke, and uprooted many of them. Since then, individuals, businesses, and municipalities have participated in restoration workshops and planting projects. Everyone in our region needs to learn more about planting and maintaining trees to help them survive the next storm. The live oaks pruned last year and those planted this winter show signs of strong new growth already.

Parade of Palms
Progress is slow in some places, but the Mississippi Gulf Coast is planting palm trees in a big way. Not only are they a signature trees, delivering a strong sense of the place, but they are survivors. In fact, palm roots help hold sandy soils in place to prevent erosion and help the soil better tolerate windy conditions. Native trees are being planted in great numbers, particularly red maple and magnolia.

The Urban Forestry Movement
From the ashes of Dutch elm disease came the phoenix of urban forestry. In the early 20th century, cities everywhere emphasized the planting of street trees to provide shade and gentrify residential areas. Many times they limited the residents' choices to two or three species, so when one became diseased, whole blocks gradually lost their trees. A special branch of forestry developed to meet such challenges, called urban forestry. Since then, the movement has grown across Canada and the US. For more information about urban forestry in your state, contact your state forestry commission or Cooperative Extension Service.

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