In the South, the bright skies and balmy breezes bring out the soft, rich colors of iris and the striking tones of hemerocallis, with madonna and centifolium hybrid lilies adding their loveliness to the garden tapestry.
Violets, which have given fragrant blooms since October, are now ready to be lifted and transplanted, after dividing, into new positions. Keep them as far as possible from azalea beds, for they are hosts to the red spider, which threatens azaleas.
Seeds of fall-blooming annuals should be sown now. Cosmos is available in many new types. Try the new Torch tithonia, if you have room, for a tall background planting of astonishing brilliance. Be careful In blending colors, so that you achieve a harmonious effect.
Hardy Aster and chrysanthemum plantings should be finished soon and seed sown now for spring bloom. Gerberas sown in seed flats now will be ready to move into permanent positions in about six weeks. Last year these offered radiant flowers from August until the severe cold of late November cut them down.
Roses of all kinds have given their beauty and fragrance for many weeks. To keep them in flower be sure to cut the dead flower stems regularly and often. Leave two clusters of leaves below this cut, for then a new flower stalk will quickly develop. Climbers also need this care. The clustered climbers will reward you with recurring blooms. You will find this treatment rewarding.
Spraying of roses and other plants must be started at once. With warmer weather come aphids, red spider and blackspot. Spray azaleas with an insecticide, try Neem oil and add a little dish soap. This treatment in May often gives the plants protection until September, but if pests reappear, use it again as called for. Roses need spraying often. When the weather gets warm, this should be done before the sun is high or after the shadows fall in the late afternoon. Start spraying now and continue it regularly.
Mulching roses, azaleas and camellias is a seasonal garden task. Give newly planted trees and shrubs a mulch too. Oak leaves make the best mulch: azaleas. When working around the plants, be sure that you do not disturb the roots. These are very near the surface and injury may result in serious damage to the plants. Roses and camellias can be mulched with pine needles, peatmoss, vermiculite or ground-up corn cobs. A corn-cob mulch was used on one of the finest rose gardens I have ever recalled seeing.
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