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It all goes back to the right plant in the right place and at the right time. I feel for those folks who drank the kool aid and planted their tomato plants and peppers already. It is too early, and the temperatures got too low for some plants--particularly heat lovers. I was watching Facebook posts this weekend from St. Louis with people emptying their linen closets to protect tender vegetation. Not much I could do from 6 hours away except pray and hope for the best. I did have my daughter move a couple of things inside, but I haven't really bought anything that shouldn't be outside now (except for those 2 gorgeous tropical hibisicus I found in Alabama).

When I got home yesterday, I took a stroll through the garden and it looked fantastic. Not even any damage to the fickle Magnolia soulangeana (tulip or saucer magnolia)

or the new growth on my hydrangeas. They all looked fine. I did see some damage on some blueberry blooms,

but that could have happened a few weeks ago. Time will tell when the fruit begins to form. My figs are absolutely loaded with little figs already and they had no damage.

I have eucalyptus coming back in a pot, and again, not a burned leaf. I live on a hillside with good air flow. An added plus is we had ample moisture in the ground and some wind activity which also helped. I have been hearing reports from friends and fellow gardeners and haven't heard of too much damage yet, but again, time will tell. While we all know of the weather variables within Arkansas from north to south, St. Louis was way behind us on the plant front. They just had daffodils blooming.

Driving back home into my neighborhood it was good to see blooming azaleas,


dogwoods, redbuds

and more. I was back in the south! My own garden is coming alive with color. I have never had so many blooms on my rhododendron.

This is one of the southern rhododendrons from Southern Living Plants--this one is Southgate Breeze. I got the plant in the middle of summer several years ago -not the ideal time to plant a rhododendron. I did plant it shallow and I do keep it watered. It struggled to get established that first summer, but it had one bloom the following spring. A few more each year until this year, and it is loaded with flowers. These southern rhododendrons are much more heat tolerant than their northern cousins. I love the variable color from the deep, hot pink of the flower buds

to the lighter pink of the opening blooms and then the spotted flowers. Gorgeous I think!

I also have more blooms than ever on my deciduous azalea.

What they lose by being deciduous, they gain with their spicy sweet fragrance when they are in bloom. I found this plant on a trip to Macon, Georgia several years ago. I was worried it wouldn't bloom well since the neighboring plants have grown so tall and are giving it more shade, but it too has more blooms than ever and you can smell them before you see them. Most azaleas and rhododendrons like filtered sun or morning sun and afternoon shade. Some of mine are getting more shade than they should but I am pleased to see blooms on so many.

Each day is a new adventure in the garden.

If you have a shade garden, another great shrub for early spring color is kerria or the yellow rose of Texas. Mine has really colonized in the corner of my shade garden and is a sea of yellow right now.

I have the single flowered version which really only blooms once. The double flowered form can rebloom sporadically several times. I also have blooms on my creamy white kerria

which I got from a friend in Batesville. It has not started encroaching into the rest of the garden, but it may. Kerria has a tendency to spread out, so beware of where you plant it.

In looking ahead at the weather forecast, I don't see any more freeze warnings, but as we all well know, nothing changes as quickly as Arkansas weather. The key is to pay attention and help if you can or if it is warranted. I have had several emails and questions about moving houseplants outside, or buying summer annuals; again use common sense. It was 36 when I woke up this morning and predicted to be 42 for a low tonight--and I am in the city in central Arkansas. It will be colder up north and out in the country. After that the weather begins to improve, but houseplants are tropical plants and like warm, humid temperatures, as do tomatoes and impatiens. There is no need to jump the gun and start planting heat lovers. Enjoy what you have in your garden now---remember the line: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Apply that to your garden. There is plenty you can do outside in the garden now, without planting heat lovers.

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