By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Consumer Q’s

Georgia Department of Agriculture
Gary W. Black, Commissioner
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30334

Question: What is the correct way to pronounce “pecan”? My wife says she pronounces it the Southern way. I disagreed and we got into an argument….

Answer: It’s too bad George and Ira Gershwin didn’t include pecans in the light-hearted toMAYto-toMAHto debate in "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." Perhaps people would not take the pronunciation of pecan so seriously. 

There are several ways to pronounce pecan. There is no single “correct” way. There is no single “Southern” way to pronounce it either. Pronunciation varies across the country, across the South and across Georgia. There are at least four common pronunciations in America that differ in their vowel sounds and whether the first or second syllable is stressed. There is at least one other pronunciation in Britain. All are acceptable. 

We are reminded of a story from Helen Corbitt, former director of food services for Neiman-Marcus. She once served a dish containing pecans to the Duke of Windsor at a luncheon in Houston. In her 1957 cookbook she wrote that she and the Duke carried on a “spirited conversation” about the dish and the pronunciation of pecan. According to Corbitt, “I won the round when I said living in the United States you could say it any way you wish.”  

Question: I recently saw pictures of gaillardia. Can you tell me more about it? Is it easy to grow?

Answer: Gaillardia has beautiful, boldly patterned red and yellow flowers which account for three of the plant’s other common names of “blanketflower,” “Indian blanket” and “firewheel.” 

Gaillardias are easy to grow. Some are annuals and some are perennials. The perennial ones tend to be short-lived compared to some other perennials such as daylilies. You can grow them from seed (available in catalogs or at garden centers) or purchase plants at nurseries this spring. There are numerous forms available varying in plant size and flower color and form. 

Gaillardias love sun and can withstand lots of heat. You may see wild gaillardias growing just past the dunes and on beachfront properties. This is an indication of what they like: good air circulation, lots of sun and well-drained soil. They cannot tolerant wet soils or heavy clay. A poor, sandy soil is what they like best. We have heard of them doing well in clay soil provided they are kept dry, i.e. grown in a sunny spot under the eaves of a building. 

You can encourage gaillardias to bloom over a longer period by deadheading them (nipping off the flowers as they fade to keep them from going to seed.) However, we like to let some seeds form to allow the plants to reseed themselves. 

A few good companion flowers to plant with gaillardia include butterflyweed, gaura, thrift (Phlox subulata), evening primrose, purple coneflower, clasping heliotrope, sedum, yucca, achillea and Russian sage. Because it thrives in the same conditions as lavender, thyme, rosemary and santolina, consider using gaillardia to brighten your herb garden.

Gaillardias can also be grown in large containers. This is a good option if you cannot amend your soil to suit their needs. There are numerous varieties, some of which are dwarf and especially suited to containers.

If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce mailto:arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov