24 February 2010

Phlox--a classic Atlanta garden flower plant

Pholx subulata - Creeping or Moss Phlox.
Pholx subulata - Creeping or Moss Phlox.
(c) Jerzy Opiola - License Creative Common Share Alike 3.0

Have you ever seen those billows of cascading pink and pale purple flowers spilling over walls? These things go in cycles, and there was a time that phlox was ubiquitous in the Atlanta gardens. In older landscapes it can be seen flowing over stacked stone retaining walls in pillows of soft pink. Phlox is a fairly easy to grow flower, available in perennial cultivars (e.g., garden phlox, and creeping phlox), and annual varieties.

A number of phlox varieties are originally native to the Southern and Appalachian Regions of the United States, making it a nice choice for gardeners interested in native plants, or encouraging a native feel to their gardens.

These make nice cut flowers, are good choices for balconies, patio railings, behind retaining walls, and in window boxes. Typically seen in pink or pale purple, they are also available in reds, white, and yellow.

Establishment. Indoors - You can begin growing indoors from seed six to eight weeks before the last frost. In Atlanta that would be planting from beginning in the middle of February, to the first week in March. You can then transplant to the outdoor garden after the middle of April.

Outdoors - Locate your phlox in full sun. Transplant seedlings you started indoors, or plant outdoors from seed. Sow seeds in your prepared garden soil beginning in the middle of March.

Maintenance. Dead head faded flowers. Fertilize once with 10-10-10 fertilizer. Maintain a good layer of mulch. And keep watered, to maintain soil moisture, but be careful not to oversaturate soil (well drained soils)

A few varieties:

Creeping phlox -- Phlox stolonifera
Garden Phlox -- Phlox paniculata 'Peacock Neon Rose'
Moss Phlox -- Phlox subulata 'Drummond's Pink'
Garden Phlox -- Phlox paniculata 'Peacock White'

Abdurrahim is the lead designer at metro Atlanta based, Proudland Landscape, LLC.
You can contact him with question via email at
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22 February 2010

Must do Atlanta Gardening Tasks before March: If you only have one weekend to get it all done.

spring garden tulips and bulbs
Spring garden tulips and bulbs
(c) Waltzing Broomhilda -

There is only one weekend left before March. For gardeners in Atlanta, surrounding counties, and North Georgians this means the Spring season is almost upon us. The question was asked regarding the February gardening task list, "What if I only have one weekend to get it all done?" Well, here is that list:

  1. Clean leaves off lawn. This is way overdue, from our January list--So get it done!
  2. Scalp cool-season lawns (Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede). Mow to lowest setting on mower. Bag and pickup clippings. Compost your clippings.
  3. Prune hydrangeas, crape myrtles. Hydrangeas may be showing some budding, but get it done. Pruning crape myrtles is always a contentious issue, but if you're going to do it, now is the time
  4. Cut back ground covers & ornamental grasses (e.g., monkey grass/lirope, ivy, pampass grass). Pickup clippings and trimmings and compost.
  5. Check & refresh mulch in flowers beds. Keep a few bags of your preferred mulch on hand to repair behind squirrels and neighborhood dogs.

If you have more than a weekend to work with, double check my task lists for this winter so far from January, and February.

Whatever you do, get something done, because there is a whole new set of things we need to address going into March.

Abdurrahim is the lead designer at metro Atlanta based Proudland Landscape, LLC.
You can contact him with question via email at
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12 February 2010

Pansies Freeze Burned by Ice?

Don't let your flowers look like this
(c)2009 Proudland Landscape, LLC

Protect your pansies and other winter seasonal flowers from freeze burn. January and February Atlanta weather can be extremely deceiving when it comes to winter temperatures. Seasonal flowers can become the victims of balmy winter days, followed by bouts of ice and freezing temperatures. Atlanta and North Georgia gardeners must be proactive to prevent damage.

There are five action items to prevent winter damage to your pansies and other seasonal winter flowers: Plant in the ideal window, prepare soils, mulch properly, water adequately, protect from ice. Planting and soil preparation may be beyond your control at this point, but the other items can be still acted on.

Planting time. Planting time for Summer and Winter seasonal color is very important. For winter flowers, we want temperatures to be cool enough that the flowers won't suffer heat stress, but still have enough time for them to establish before winter sets in. This time would be the middle of October in Atlanta, and surrounding areas.

Soil preparation. We want well tilled soils, with plenty of organic matter. Hard, clay, rocky soils will just not cut it. Roots need to grow easily and quickly, water needs to be absorbed and then released to the roots, and there needs to be mico air pockets for insulation--In short: fluffy, black soil.

Mulch. A heavy layer of mulch should be applied to the newly planted and watered flowers. This layer should be maintained, and replenished as needed throughout the winter. When the squirrels and neighborhood dogs dig in your fluffy beds, go behind them and repair your mulch layer. This will provide the moisture retention, and insulation your flowers need.

Water adequately. This is a double-edged sword. Cold and low humidity levels will dry plants out, so they need water. However, if your watering is ill-timed, this will leave a coat of ice on the leaves and flowers, which can burn your flowers to the ground. The solution is to be dilligent about watering before the first hard freezes set in. After that, turn off your automatic sprinklers, and water by hand in between rainfall.

Protect from ice. Do what you can to keep ice from forming on the leaves and flowers. You only can control so much, but absolutely turn automatic sprinklers off before the first freezing mornings. Nothing will burn down your flowers quickly than a nice, thick coat of ice sprayed on your flowers when the sprinklers go off at 6am in 30 degree temperatures.

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08 February 2010

Governor Perdue announces Georgia Water Stewardship Act

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced the Georgia Water Stewardship Act, Wednesday, 3 February 2010. The bill proposes comprehensive measures to go into effect in July 2012. As may Georgians well know, the water conservation measures from the two past droughts have been unduly born by gardeners and green industry professionals. This proposed bill seeks to spread that out.

The proposed legislation will provide for water efficient building standards, incentives for water providers to upgrade delivery infrastructure, enhanced leak detection measures for water mains, and a task force to
"work on additional contingency supply options", read: not enough alternate sources outside of Lake Lanier. More critical now that the Federal government's position is that metro Atlanta counties do not have rights to draw water from Lake Lanier. Incidentally, the entire Lanier watershed falls on Georgia land.

Many of you are aware of the "Water Wars", the ongoing conflict between Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Tennessee, over rights to the water flowing through the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins. One proposed measure would establish voluntary monitoring to establish objective data concerning the true effects of agricultural irrigation draws from these rivers.

"The final piece of the legislation extends the voluntary agriculture monitoring program to include surface water withdrawals. Farmers around the state have voluntarily agreed to have groundwater withdrawals monitored and the results have disproven many negative assumptions about agricultural water use. Extending this program to surface water withdrawals, from our rivers, streams and lakes, will continue to provide the state critical data that informs not only water negotiations with our neighbors but also our water inventory of sources and uses that Georgia’s Regional Water Councils are currently developing." (State website).

04 February 2010

February Gardening Tasks--Atlanta & North Georgia

It's February in North Georgia, and Atlanta is cold and raining. Gardeners, don't sleep, because Spring is almost upon us. Do not be lulled into complacency because it feels and looks like winter. In just a few weeks Atlanta Spring will begin, and there are things you the gardener needs to do now to be ready. Here is a list:

  • Scalp warm-season lawns (Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede)
  • Continue to monitor local freeze warnings, be ready to protect tender plants
  • Pick up the clippings and put in your compost pile
  • Prune roses (middle of February)
  • Cut forsythia to force indoors
  • Fertilize seasonal flowers, tulip, and daffoldil beds with a low nitrogen, high phosphorous ferilizer
  • Dead head yellowing, brown, or burned Camellia blooms.
  • Prune crape myrtles (middle of February)
  • Trim unruly shrubs like hollies, ligustrum, and cleyera
  • Refresh mulch, if you haven't already
  • Nurse your compost pile.
  • Inventory and inspect gardening equipment
  • Get mowers, chippers, weed eaters that need it to the mechanic (if not done in January)
  • Sharpen blades and change oil on mowers
  • Sharpen chain saw chains.
  • Check the January gardening task list, and do on there what you didn't do.

March is less than a month away, and Atlanta Spring season will be upon us, despite what a certain groundhog in Pennsylvania may say. Regardless, for them it will be winter a bit longer than for us.

Abdurrahim is the lead designer for a local, award-winning landscaping firm. You can reach him via email at:

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"Winter chores in the landscape" -- UGA CAES

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