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Seeds of Change

Winter gardening tips to satisfy your green thumb

Winter jasmine can be planted late autumn into early winter


The sweltering days of summer, and let’s be honest — fall, are finally over.  Now we need to find other ways to indulge our gardening addictions. Several local gardening experts offer suggestions to while away the hours as we longingly await the thrill of spring.

Ian Wilson with Southbound Gardens advises to prune citrus after all the fruits have been picked. Pamela Buckman, garden manager of the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, recommends cutting ginger at the first touch of a cold snap.

“We find that they regrow more beautifully,” she says.

Michelle Charvet, manager of Charvet’s Garden Center, suggests planting winter annuals for instant color and new perennials for spring flowers.
“And, it’s time to weed and apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the germination of weed seeds,” she says.

“I adjust irrigation times to be less frequent in the cooler months,” says Kelly Casey, an associate landscape architect with Mullin Landscape Associates.

It’s also the perfect time to catch up on movies, TV shows, magazines and books that exalt the joys of gardening.

 “‘The Identification Selection and Use of Southern Plants for Landscape Design’ is what we call our bible,” says Charvet.

Wilson recommends reading “Gaia’s Garden” by Toby Hemenway and “Teaming with Microbes” by Jeff Lowenfels.

Hapreet Samra, an avid gardener, reads the magazine Better Home and Gardens because she likes looking at what other people have done with their gardens, while Casey likes Garden & Gun Magazine.

“It is a modern appreciation of life in the South and highlights southern gardens, homes and lifestyles.”

Charvet’s staff recommends watching the Seuss-based environmental movie, “The Lorax.”  Casey suggests “A Man Named Pearl,” a documentary on Pearl Fryar, a self-taught topiary artist. Netflix also offers “Rosemary and Thyme,” a British TV series that features two gardeners who solve crimes in lush gardens and “Greenfingers,” an amusing comedy starring Clive Owen and Helen Mirren.

If you like curling up with a great seed catalogue, Wilson suggests Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Richters Herbs, Territorial Seed Company and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Charvet thinks it’s best to work with the Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. While Casey and Sampra prefer simply buying transplants from local nurseries such as Charvet’s or Banting’s.

All these experts agree on one thing–winter is a good time to plan tours of other gardens. New Orleans has many splendid ones but if you’re itching to view gardens outside of the city, the specialists have plenty of recommendations for their favorites from around the world.




Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow; Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island

Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon; The Garden at Filoli in Woodside, California

Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island near Victoria, Canada; Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa

Sculpture gardens
Nasher in Dallas, Texas; Storm King in the Hudson Valley of New York



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