Author: MOBILE MASTER GARDENERS

Ornamental grasses come alive in autumn

By Nancy Adams, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: Ornamental grasses have become popular in residential as well as commercial landscapes around Mobile and in Baldwin County. They have a fresh, uncluttered look that I find appealing. Can you tell me about their variety, availability and hardiness in Climate Zones 8 and 9? A: A great benefit of autumn in South Alabama is the myriad ornamental grasses that are at their peak. These grasses, which range two to 15 feet in height, require little maintenance, are exceptionally hardy and have an endless variety of possible uses. They grow in...

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Explore the world of cool-weather herbs

By Nancy Adams, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: Please share information about growing and using herbs, especially those that do well in cool weather on the Gulf Coast. A: Ask and you shall receive. Members of the Gulf Coast Herb Society shared their knowledge with us about growing herbs on the Gulf Coast. We gathered more information from “The Herb Bible” by Jennie Harding and “Southern Herb Growing” by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay. History of herbs Herbs have been useful to humankind for food, flavoring, fragrance, household activities and medicine for some 60,000 years. Around 460 B.C.,...

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Attract monarch butterflies to your garden

By Alice Marty, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: My daughter and I planted a butterfly garden this spring. We have had quite a few visitors to our garden, but no monarchs have been attracted. We planted butterfly bushes, lantana, verbena and many other suggested butterfly plants, but so far no luck. Is there another plant they are more attracted to? A: Your plant selections are great nectar plants for all butterflies. Let me share a few key points about what is arguably our national butterfly, the monarch. Almost half of our population could recognize this orange and black...

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Mosses: Gardening with patience

By Judy Stout, Ph.D. / Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: I visited an acquaintance recently and enjoyed all of the uses of mosses in her backyard. This may be what I need for the failed lawn in my very shady backyard. How can I get this look? A: Mosses are an excellent substitute for grass in areas too shady for grass to grow, and require much less maintenance. The low-growth habit of mosses means no mowing and there is no need to fertilize or use other chemicals. They are visually soothing and give an impression of age and...

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The perennial return of autumn

By Brenda Bolton, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: I need suggestions for more fall-blooming plants in my perennial garden, including some for birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. A: Despite the heat of August, the promise of fall shimmers on the horizon. I love a fall garden of perennials, our reward for surviving summer. We often enjoy planting a bloom-filled spring garden, only to see it collapse just when the butterflies and hummers need it most. The main cultural requirements for a successful perennial garden are sunlight, soil, sustenance and, beyond that, patience and timing. Our problem with seasonal perennials...

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Strolling through the Children’s Park

By Nancy Adams, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep.” — American author Elbert Hubbard If you live on the Gulf Coast and have never experienced the Geri Moulton Children’s Park, which is alongside the entrance drive to the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital, you are in for a treat. The entrance to the hospital complex is like an exquisite art gallery, but outside … in a park. Anchored in a setting of majestic oak trees and beautifully landscaped grounds with constantly blooming...

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Use ferns to create a serene garden

By Judy Weaver | Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: I have a shady yard at my new house and am interested in planting ferns. What works best in coastal Alabama? A: Fortunately, one of our Mobile County Master Gardeners, Sue Stephan, became interested in ferns three to four years ago and now tends 114 varieties. I visited Sue’s garden to learn more, and could hardly bring myself to leave the beautiful garden rooms she has created. Fern basics Hardy ferns are ancient plants, older than dinosaurs. Most thrive in partial to full shade and a moist environment. Some ferns tolerate sun...

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Hot-blooded edibles for the summer table

By Brenda Bolton, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected] Q: Can you suggest some easy backyard vegetables I can grow here in the summer? A: The annual joke at my house on that first sultry morning of Mobile summer is that no one settled this land in July. Or August. We laugh at the old joke and then go out into the heat to cut okra for the freshly shelled peas on the stove. Spring is gone, but gardening and its rewards are not. We do need to know which edibles are heat worshippers, and we must follow their calendar. Find those calendars...

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