If you have a question about gardening in the Birmingham area, ask John. John Floyd has been gardening–and learning about gardening–for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience in the garden, John has degrees in horticulture, plant taxonomy, and plant physiology from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.
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Very few retail stores sell them, but I purchased them last year at the Ace Hardware in Clay (close to Trussville). It is right off Interstate 20 coming from Birmingham. At Exit 141, go left and over the hill, and you will see the sign on the left. They carry bulk seeds, but my guess is they have not gotten them in yet. Many small-town, local hardware stores who carry bulk seeds are the only places I have seen them. You generally buy these seeds by the scoop or cup.
I do not grow fruit trees in my yard, because I don’t have enough room. But I know exactly who to ask to give you a correct answer: Arlie Powell at Petals from the Past in Jemison, Alabama. I called down this afternoon and asked if the apples and pears listed on the web site were his recommendation. The answer was absolutely. So, go to the Petals from the Past website. Then look at their online catalogue for the selections of fruit he recommends, if you want to successfully grow fruit at home that works for the Birmingham climate. Let me emphasize that growing perfect fruit at home is not easy, and you need space. I recommend that if you want to grow fruit at home that is easy and carefree, grow blueberries. If you can grow azaleas, then you can grow blueberries, because they are in the same family. Two tips: grow several plants in close proximity for maximum production, and grow the ones Arlie recommends, even if you buy them somewhere else.
I am not sure that decomposed granite is the right term. My guess it is ground or crushed granite. If that is the case it would be fine. Remember, garden paths with clean edges are more attractive.
Lots of things. First and foremost, most of us do not walk around and simply look at what we have and what needs to be done. If we do, that will tell us some automatic things that need to be done. In fact, I do this often. For example, if the shrubs are covering the windows, now is a good time to get them back in scale with the house. If you have areas that simply look bad, now is the time to rework them. Almost anything can be done now in the way of planting, pruning, and grooming the landscape. Just remember that plants grow, and they have times that they look good and times when they are not so great looking, so take that into account. A good gardening friend of mine said the other day, “I am not ready for Spring, because I still have so many gardening chores to do before Spring comes.”
Basically nothing. As wet is the ground is, and the snow acting as sort of an insulator, they should be just fine. But, as cold as it is, do not expect the seeds to germinate.
Now is the perfect time to prune roses, especially overgrown ones. It depends on what type of rose you are talking about. If it is one of the popular knock-outs or vigorous shrub roses, I would suggest you cut them to about half the size you want them to be, as they are vigorous growers. Roses, like the hybrid teas and floribundas, need to be cut back to about 6-8 inches tall, maintaining just the major branches. Go by the Dunn Rose Garden at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and see a good example of how the different types are pruned.
Well, they are really not the easiest plant to grow when it comes to the group of loropetalums in the marketplace, but they are definitely the smallest. When you purchase one and remove from the container, make sure the roots are cut several times vertically with a knife, where the water will be able to go into the root ball. As for containers, yes they do well if you give them proper watering and plant them in a good potting mix (not a potting soil). Place them in a filtered, sunny spot, and they will make a great looking pot mixed with summer annuals. — John