It’s a new year in the old garden

By Heather Kirk-Ballard

LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Happy New Year! It may be your same old garden, but it’s a whole new year, and this a great time to start the planning process of what needs to be done in the landscape. Many people like to tackle new things in the New Year, and the garden is an excellent place to start.

Gardening, by virtue of the natural order of things, is dictated by the growing season. Each season can provide opportunity for new annual plants such as vegetables and seasonal color for the landscape. Trying new varieties can be fun. Additionally, perennials can and will eventually die at some point and require a change. Do your research now during the garden downtime of winter.

If you are looking for new varieties, of course your local garden centers are a great place to find them. You can do some research at home first by visiting gardening websites. The LSU AgCenter’s website provides information on lawn and gardens. Visit the Louisiana Super Plants tab for a list of recommended varieties for Louisiana. You also can learn more about what varieties performed well in the landscape variety trials by visiting the Hammond Research Stations website for ornamental plant recommendations.

Many botanical gardens have excellent websites for plant recommendations and The National Garden Bureau has new variety information at In addition to incorporating new plants into your garden, you also can try new gardening techniques.

Why not try a new growing system this year? Plants can be grown in vertical gardens, with home hydroponic systems and in indoor growing systems. Raised beds and container gardening can be very productive. Try your hand at producing vegetables in small containers. You would be surprised at what you can get out of these.

Additionally, this year could be a time to learn more about the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Master Gardener program or to join a local gardening club. Perhaps you want to become involved in a community garden or start a new one for your neighborhood. There are many societies to get involved in out there for your favorite plant — whether it’ azaleas, bonsai, camellias, medicinal plants or native plants. The list goes on and on.

Want to make a difference at work or school or in your community? Why not lead the charge in starting a garden for your organization? Rooftop gardens, school gardens and church gardens are a great place to grow fruits, flowers and vegetables for your community.

Want to be more resourceful and reduce your waste? Learn how to compost. There is a wealth of information on the AgCenter’s website in addition to a new demonstration area at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden to learn about the many types of composting systems.

Along the artistic vein, gardening itself is an art, but you can also participate in artistic opportunities affiliated with gardening and plants. Can’t get out in the garden but still love plants? Take an art class and learn how to draw, paint or sculpt natural landscapes, gardens, flowers and other plants. If you enjoy growing plants in containers, why not learn how to make your own pottery? Love flowers? Learn how to make arrangements by finding floral arrangement classes or learning more about cut flower varieties.

If engaging in more exercise and increasing your physical fitness is your goal, the garden is a great place to get in a good workout. If you are looking to reduce stress or improve your mental wellbeing, the garden is the perfect place. Many gardeners report having less stress and other therapeutic benefits from tending plants. Gardening can allow time for reflection and emotional processing. Mental benefits include a sense of purpose, relaxation and forgetting worries as you garden — in addition to increasing your ability to respond to and rebound after difficulties such as stress or illness.

Don’t forget to stay abreast of horticultural extension programming available by checking out the event calendar on the AgCenter’s website for information on field days and training opportunities.

Lastly, if you have gardening questions, I may have the answers. If I don’t, I’ll find them. Send me your questions at If there is a particular gardening topic you’d like to hear about, send in those topics. Get It Growing in 2023!

A garden.

Plant trials are held at the Hammond Research Station. Visit the website for new plant variety recommendations. LSU AgCenter file photo

Group photo of people.

Become a Louisiana Master Gardener. Talk to your local LSU AgCenter agent or visit the AgCenter website for more information. LSU AgCenter file photo

Flowers in a vase.

Learn floral design this year. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter

1/4/2023 3:16:45 PM
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