Enjoy the symphony of spring with the season&8217;s bounty of color, textures

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Flowers singing from morning into night accompany the symphony of spring. A colorful crescendo of yellow, pink, blue, violet and green hues invites us to look and listen to the lovely music of March. The landscapes of the Miss-Lou are joyous and bountiful, making us thankful to live in such a floriferous part of the world.

As the azaleas burst into bloom, many of us begin thinking about adding a few of the evergreen southern staples to our garden. Choose them from a local nursery while they are flowering. This will help make combining them into your existing landscape much easier than when they are simply green. Consider the ultimate size of the variety you select so that it will not outgrow its position in the landscape.

A partially shaded site with well-drained soil is best for optimum azalea growth. Enriching your soil with organic matter such as homemade compost, bagged pine bark that has been finely ground and composted or peat moss, will help the roots to retain moisture during the hot summer months and keep them from becoming compacted. Air circulation in the root zone is a key ingredient to growing healthy azaleas. Fertilize newly planted and existing azaleas as soon as they are finished flowering. Special formulations created for acid loving plants are best.

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Mature clumps of herbaceous perennials are beginning to emerge including hostas, toad lilies, gingers and daylilies. By dividing and replanting the clumps now, they will have plenty of time to fill in and create a mass of foliage and flowers for the summer months. After you reset the divisions, broadcast an application of fertilizer such as a 12-6-6 formulation to encourage abundant growth and water well.

If you have always wanted a fig tree in your yard, now is a great time to plant one. Fig trees are not too particular about soil type as long as ample drainage is available, but a sunny site is necessary for maximum fruiting. Keep in mind that figs are fast growing, aggressive plants that become quite large. Unless you plan to prune frequently, planting them in an area with plenty of space is wise. Allow 10 to 20 feet of growing room. Selections that perform well in the Miss-Lou include &8216;Brown Turkey&8217;, &8216;Celeste&8217; and &8216;LSU Purple&8217;.

Trimming ornamental grasses can be a painful experience due to the sharp edges of the blades. One way to lessen the &8220;paper cuts,&8221; besides wearing gloves of course, as well as make it easier to trim the dead foliage evenly is to use duct tape (add that to the list of uses). Roll the sticky side around the base of the clump as tightly as you can, gathering all of the leaves. Next, depending on how thick the clump is, use pruning shears, a hand saw or even a chainsaw (especially good for pampas grass) to remove the dead leaves all at once so that the new growth has plenty of room to shimmer and sway all summer.

Enjoy the music!