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Springtime means new leaves, soft rains, and beautiful flowers. But it all starts with picking the right blooms to plant. You want color and blossoms all summer long and into the fall. Your planting choices will decide all of that. The South has hot, humid days and often gets inundated with rainfall. This means choosing plants that can stand up to the heat and humidity. Here are some flowering plants that work well in the South.

Easy To Grow Color

If you want color and you want something easy then the Mandevilla Vogue is perfect. These are tall, beautiful plants that grow 18″ – 24″. They are loaded with brilliant pink or red. They do well in a flower garden and they do well in a hanging basket or container on the porch.

Butterfly Beauties

If you want not only a lovely garden but beautiful butterflies, then plant ‘Stars and Stripes’ pentas. Their deep scarlet blooms attract not only butterflies but hummingbirds as well. Their foliage is variegated, and they blend well with other deep colored plants.

Red Beacons

Another fun red flower is the ‘Ragin’ Cajun’ ruellia. It draws bees and butterflies like a beacon. If you want to make a statement with this delicate looking plant them in bunches in containers or big groupings I the garden. They are very hardy even though they look delicate.

Nice Ground Cover

If you have an area that needs some colorful ground cover, ‘Blue Sue’ setcreasea is an excellent choice. The flowers are a delicate pink and the leaves have purple edges with a hint of blue. Plant these on a hillside or under flowering bushes for a lovely show of color.

Container Planting

Begonias can’t be beat for breathtaking container plants. The ‘Bonita Shea’ begonia is an excellent choice for down South. The flowers are white, and the leaves curl, displaying a lovely red color. The flowers and leaves complement each other delightfully.

Made For The Heat

The South is known for its heat, so planting flowers that are heat resistant is a must. When you plant the ‘Azure Skies’ variety of heliotrope you can’t go wrong. The lavender flowers seem to never stop blooming. If you live where the winters are very mild you can grow it as a perennial.

Dainty Miss

If you are looking for something dainty and delightful, the Plum Mist cuphea will bring you great pleasure. Its flowers are lavender, both light and dark blooms which are perfect together and so lovely. They bloom all summer and into the fall. Plant them on the edges of your gardens, or in containers, as they love to grow up and over and trail delicately down the edge.

Great Companion Plants

Scaevola and verbenas are wonderful companion plants. They are fun to blend in with all kinds of flowers for impact and color. Cajun Blue is a very compact scaevola, and can be tucked in easily with other flowers. Verbenas are nice as they continually flower, are hardy and you can use them in the garden, in containers, hanging baskets or any other way you can think of. Princess Blush is another good variety of verbena.

There are many varieties of flowers which can easily be planted in the South but these are all varieties known to do well. Easy choices, especially for beginner gardeners, you can’t go wrong choosing from this list.

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Perfect For Beginners: Add This To Your First Ever Workout Routine

If you’re like me, the idea of working out seemed unnecessary. I’d say, “I’m a pretty active farmer and my work has me moving every day so why bother working out?” And how about those of you in your prime (unlike me!) you might think you have plenty time to start, no need to worry about it now right? Well let me tell you there is no time to waste and here’s why:

We’ll start with the usual info, the stuff we’ve all heard I’m sure. A good workout improves your health, and strengthens your heart, arteries and lungs. Think in terms of being healthier in the future, the workout you do today allows you to live your best life as you age. And of course exercise helps control weight, and reduces the risk of diseases like certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Now, let’s talk about how it fits into our lifestyle. I recently watched an episode of my favorite local TV show that showcases the farming lifestyle here in California. This particular episode interviewed a long-time homesteader that manages her 2 acre property at the age of 80. 80! And to what did she credit as the reason for her incredible endurance? It was her pure love for animals, gardening and, her exercise routine. Her workouts improved her breathing (think about chasing a chicken), balance (tip toeing through the veggie patch), and flexibility (really, we all need this one).

For these reasons, you need to get a workout routine. Agreed? Start with one or more of the following basic exercises. I like to think of this trio as the foundation, add more over time to build your perfect routine. These are outstanding for core, glutes/leg and upper body strength and toning.

A good start would be to do this twice a week. Do 3 sets of 5-10 reps each.

Crunches For A Solid Core

Lie on your back with your knees bent and slightly apart. With your hands behind your head and your elbows out to the sides, curl forward lifting your head and shoulders off the floor. (Do not use your hands to lift, use your abs and curl up.) Exhale on the way up, inhale as you go back down. Repeat.

Tip: Do crunches slowly and with control.

Tip: Keep a little bit of space between your chin and chest.

Tip: Remember to keep your stomach pulled inward because it actually helps protect your lower back.

Leg Lifts On Hands And Knees

To do this you need to be on your hands and knees. Put your hands forward and lined up with your shoulders, and knees lined up with your hips. With a straight back, exhale as you lift one leg up until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your foot flexed and inhale on the way down. Switch legs and repeat.

Tip: As mentioned above, keeping your abs pulled in really helps your lower back.

Tip: As you progress, bend the knee as you raise your leg to where your foot is more parallel to the ceiling.

Simple Push Ups For More Girl Power

To begin, lay down (on your stomach) with your hands flat on the floor next to (but slightly under) your shoulders. Lift/push your body up off the floor, straightening your arms and keeping your knees on the floor. Flex your feet so that your toes are touching the floor. Your body should be straight, and your abs tucked in. Bend your arms and lower your body back down very close to the floor but without actually touching it. Repeat.

Tip: Make sure your elbows are close to your body as you lower yourself downward.

Tip: Advance to a slight pause – in the downward position, hold the position for half a second longer.

Tip: Advance to lifting your feet up – with knees still on the ground, cross your feet, raise them up behind your butt and keep them there until finished with the reps.

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