Missed Opportunity

“Missed Opportunity”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Last Friday when I went to several out of town nurseries, I was very judicious in my plant buying.  I didn’t want to buy more than I could plant.  But you know the old saying, you always regret what you didn’t do and rarely what you did do.  I regret not buying one particular plant.  I have never seen one like this before, and could kick myself for passing it up.  I blame the heat.  It had to have affected my mind.

The plant I am referring to was a white shrimp plant (Justica betonica), sometimes also called squirrel’s  tail.  The blooms are a very striking spike of small flowers with green and white veins.

 

Wh Shrimp Plant (redu)

 

Wh Shrimp Plant Clsp (redu)

 

How could I have taken pictures and not bought one?  This would have looked wonderful next to the white caladiums in my “white” garden.  Even though this is hardy only to zone 9, I would have protected it in the winter.  I can’t believe I let this one slip by me.  Unfortunately, the nurseries are too far away to just hop in the car and go get one.  Well, maybe next year.

Even though spring planting is over, the nurseries still had a lot of plants to sell.   Coleus, hanging baskets, and oodles of plants.  With displays like this, it is no wonder that gardeners can’t resist buying something.

 

Cleggs 1 (redu)

 

Cleggs 2 (redu)

 

Cleggs 3 (redu)

 

I still have two more of my Friday purchases to plant, and that should hold me over for a while, though I still find myself slowing down whenever I pass a plant place.  I figure in about two weeks, I’ll be ready for something new.  Is this what you call an addiction?

Life Is Good

“Life Is Good”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Saturday’s garden center shopping yielded more than the sweet potato vines that I wrote about Sunday.  Heaven forbid that I should only walk away with three plants.

Ever since my sister had such success with the Summer Wave torenia last year, I have wanted to try them in my garden.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find any around here.  I don’t know if it is the economy or what, but it does seem that many business are cutting back their stock.  Anyway, at our second stop of the day, I not only found the torenia I wanted, but I like the color even better.  I have only seen the Summer Wave in the purple and had really wanted the regular pink for the area where I had planned to plant it.  But, as soon as I saw the Summer Wave Amethyst Ice torenia, I knew it would look even better than a pink would.  I just love this color, and since these spread out 30 inches, I didn’t need to buy more than six.

 

Torenia Amethyst Ice (redu)

 

These should spread out and make the front of the border colorful.  I also bought some Pink Splash that I placed along with the torenia in the “pink” garden.  The White Splash has returned in the spring for the last six or seven years, and I am hoping the pink does the same.  That way I will have color without having to use as many annuals.

Another Saturday purchase was Pennistemum “Fireworks”.  This, too, I bought on the recommendation of my sister.  While the ends of the leaves turn red, the center stays white.  I planted this in a blue ceramic container this morning and placed it in the entry garden.  If it does as well as the purple fountain grass I have had for about five years, I will be very happy.

 

Pennistemun, Fireworks (redu)

 

Another plant I was happy to find was Cardinal flower (Lobelia Cardinalis).  I have been wanting this for several years, but never found it in any of the nurseries.  I bought two pots, but each pot had two plants in it.  I almost divided them, but then thought better of it because of the intense heat and lack of rain around here lately.  I have decided to divide them in the fall because  I don’t think they need any extra stress right now.

Today, was a scorcher with the heat index reaching 110 degrees.  I worked in the garden planting my new purchases until around 12:30 and then had to call it quits.  Later on this evening, when it became a little cooler, it was so nice to walk around the garden, look at my newly planted flowers, and dream of how they will look in a few weeks.  Life is good.

June GBBD

“June GBBD”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for coming up with Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  This is the day (15thof the month) in which we post everything which is blooming in our gardens.  This is a great way to keep a record of what is blooming each month.

Here it is already Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day again.  I am surprised with all the heat and no rain that I still have so many things blooming.  Usually, it seems by the time summer sets in not as much is flowering and I have to depend on foliage plants, but there still is a lot of flowers showing up.

I still have some daylilies blooming.  Of course, there is good, old, dependable Stella.

 

Stella d'Ora (redu)

 

Next is Plum Tree with a little tree frog resting inside.

 

Plum Tree Daylily w Frog (redu)

 

Another daylily that is blooming is the red daylily, a miniature.

 

Red Daylily (redu)

 

Next is an unnamed daylily.  Unnamed because it was mislabeled.

 

Daylily (redu)

 

A few daylilies that have already bloomed are showing new bloom scapes, but they aren’t far enough along to have blooms for this Bloom Day. 

Next, comes the roses.  All the Knockouts are blooming – the red, the pink and Blushing, but a few others still are blooming like Caldwell Pink and The Fairy.  I have a miniature rose that has been in the garden about ten years, and it has just started blooming.  It reminds me of Caldwell Pink and The Fairy, but it is only about ten inches high even though it is that old.

 

Rose, Minature (redu)

 

And, of course, I have to post a photo of Iceberg every chance I get so please bear with me.

 

Rose, Iceberg (redu)

 

Some of the cannas are blooming, now.  Tropical Sunrise and the mislabeled one I wrote about a few days ago.  There are a few more which should be blooming soon.

 

Canna Tropical Sunrise (redu)

 

The variegated shell ginger has been blooming for some time now, but the green shell ginger has just started.  I was rather startled to see this ginger blooming.  I only put it in last spring (it was from my sister’s garden), and it is in deep shade.  I thought it would need more sun to bloom.

 

Ginger, Green (redu)

 

The asters that my mother gave me in early 2008 are blooming now.  When they finish blooming, I will have to remember to cut them back so that they will bloom again in the fall.

 

Asters (redu)

 

The yellow, the lavender, and the orange gladioli are still blooming.  But Friendship, which I bought from Brent and Becky’s has only started blooming in the last week.

 

Gladiolus Friendship (redu)

 

Only the pink variety of the Katie ruella is blooming right now.  The white and the purple are not blooming yet.  Since these are perennial here and low growing, I am using them instead of annuals for some summer color.

 

Ruella Katie Pink (redu)

 

As for the red flowers, a few of the fall planted petunias are still holding on for one more month, the red pentas are blooming nicely, the Jacob Kline monarda is flowering and attracting the bees and hummers, and the gerber daisies are doing  very nicely.

 

Gerber Daisy (redu)

 

The salvias are all in bloom, the hibiscus, the hostas, the jasmines, the lantanas, and the hydrangeas, too.  In fact, most of the plants that I have posted about in the last few weeks are all still blooming.  The Easter lilies have finished, but the Triumphator lilies I bought from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs are gorgeous.  I’ll have to do a seperate posting on these lilies, but for now here is a photo for GBBD.

 

Lilies Triumphator (redu)

 

Like I stated already, I am surprised that I still have so much blooming with so little rain and such hot temperatures, but I am grateful.  Now, make sure you head on over to May Dreams Garden and check out what is blooming in everybody else’s garden.

 

Sweet Caroline

“Sweet Caroline”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

One potato, two potato, three potato, more.  Yes, I have found three more sweet potato vines for the garden.  Friday, I went to several nurseries about thirty miles from here to look for some new plants.  Even though the temperature was a killer, it was worth being out in the noon day sun finding some new plants.  Three of the plants I came home with were sweet potato vines.

I have had Margarite and Ace of Spades for years, growing them first in hanging baskets and then in the ground.  They have reliably returned every spring for the last five or six years.  Last year, I found a green and yellow version called Sweet Caroline Green Yellow which I have in a container, and it, too, has returned from winter dormancy.  When I found this one, my sister bought Sweet Caroline Bronze, and after seeing how well it looked in her garden, I was sorry I didn’t get one, too.  Not to worry though, my sweet sister Carolyn (who was almost called Caroline) rooted me two pieces this spring.  So, as of Friday, I had four varieties of sweet potato vine.

When I saw these new varieties, I quickly put them in my cart.  The Sweet Caroline series was developed by North Carolina State University (hence, the name).  One of the things I like about this series is that they are more compact growers than the older varieties like Margarite or Blackie.  The new ones I just had to have are two red ones and one black.  The first red is Sweet Caroline Sweetheart red.  As its name implies, it has the heart-shaped leaves like Ace of Spades or Margarite.  I think this one will look good besides those two.

 

Sw Caroline Sweetheart Red (redu)

 

The next red one is Sweet Caroline Red.  It has the more maple leaf shape.

 

Sw Caroline Red (redu)

 

Last, is Sweet Caroline Bewitched Purple.  It has leaves which are almost black and are slightly frilly.

 

Sw Caroline Bewitched (redu)

 

I know I am lucky because these are root hardy, with mulch, to zone 8b and so, once planted in the garden, will return year after year in my garden.  These are great foliage plants with unusual colors, leaf shapes, and look great in containers as well as in the garden.  They are great for filling in that big, empty spot we all seem to have somewhere, very economically.

Even though they go dormant in the winter, for nine months of the year, these vines really brighten up the garden, and I just can’t seem to get enough of these vines.  There is only one downside to the Sweet Caroline vines.  Every time I see one, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” starts playing in my head, and I can’t seem to get rid of it.

Get Your Labels Right

“Get Your Labels Right”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Ahhhhh!  It has happened again!  When will I learn?  I am talking about buying plants, bulbs, corms, etc. when they are not in bloom, and then when the plants start to bloom they turn out to be mismarked.  I have just got to stop buying things when they are not blooming.

The latest mismarked plant has turned out to be the Madame Butterfly canna.  It is supposed to be a soft pink that would go very well with the gladiolus I planted this year in the “pink” garden.  Well, one has started blooming and look what showed up.

 

Yellow-Orange Canna (redu)

 

If you are interested in seeing what Madame Butterfly canna is supposed to look like click here.   This is just the color I wanted and was the color shown on the packaging.

I didn’t even know this canna had a bloom stalk until I saw a flash of bright yellow while watering the garden.  I was so puzzled until I got closer and saw what it was.  Now, this is a lovely canna, and I will be moving it to the “yellow” garden where it will fit in very nicely, even though I already have enough yellow cannas there.  But what about the height I was planning on  a pink canna giving to that side of the garden?  I have two more of these cannas left to bloom, but I am sure they will turn out to be the same as this one.

I don’t feel like having to contact the company, try and get the right canna, if it is even available now, and then replant or, worse yet, wait until next year when it would be available.  It is too late for things to be shipped here even if it would be available.  The temperatures are already in the 90′s the last few day.

I just don’t understand how companies can consistently mislabel these things.  Don’t label them at all with a named variety.  Just call the contents of the package “Canna” or “Lily” or “Daylily”, but don’t put a name on it unless your quality control is working.  I can understand an occasional slip up, but this is happening too often with too many plants from too many  different sources.  Sometimes it is important that a flower be a particular color, and the packaging and the contents should match up.  From now on, unless it is blooming, I’m not buying it.   Some companies need to get their labels right.

Leaf Cutter Bee

“Leaf Cutter Bee”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

For the past three years, I have noticed circles being cut out of my Iceberg rose’s leaves.  A little research showed that this was being done by leaf cutter bees.  They cut out circles from leaves to build their nests.  The are supposed to make there nests in rose canes, trees, or wood on houses, anything they can hollow out. 

Just last week, I noticed again that my Iceberg roses, and only my Iceberg roses, had circles cut out.  However, I have never seen any bees hanging around them.  I was very frustrated because the leaves just look terrible.   Then, yesterday, while cleaning out the holly ferns, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  It was a bee, about the size of a honeybee, flying by with a piece of green.  But, instead of flying to a plant, tree, or house siding, it was going into the mouth of my egret statue.  You will have to look closely at the mouth to see the blur of bee and green.

 

Leaf Bee II(redu)

 

A better picture of a leaf cutter bee hauling a piece of a leaf was posted last year on Robin’s Nesting Place Blog.  Check it out here.  Her picture is amazing. 

Anyway, here is what my rosebush’s leaves look like after a visit from little Miss Leafcutter.

 

Rose Leaf I (redu)

 

Rose Leaf II (redu)

 

It is amazing what perfect, little circles are cut out by this bee.  If you are finding the same thing on your leaves, you might want to check out this site.  I was undecided what to do about this situation until I visited this Colorado Extension site.  I was afraid I was going to have a bee hive right outside my front door, but I found these are solitary insects, nonagressive, and important native plant pollinators.  So, this year, it will be able to set up house in my egret, but come winter, I will be sealing up the mouth, and mother leafcutter bee will have to find a new nesting area.

Royal Purple

“Royal Purple”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Yesterday, I wrote about the true blue flowers blooming right now in our garden, and today, I thought I would feature some of the purple colored ones.  Often flowers that are described as being blue end up really being a shade of purple.  Now purple is often associated with royalty, and many of these purple flowers have a certain regal air about them. 

I think the ones with the deepest purple color would have to be the hosta blooms.  They started blooming last week, and the bumble bees have been very busy searching out the nectar from these flowers.  I love the deep color of the buds and the striations on the flowers.

 

Hosta Bloom (redu)

 

Also blooming right now is the vitex tree.  I have both the pink and the purple flowering kinds, and I can’t decide which I like better.  But, today I will show a photo of the purple one.  This tree is now about twelve feet high, and was an offspring of my mother’s tree.  I can’t wait until mine is a tall and wide as hers is because it is truly a beautiful tree.  It is what those of us in the deep south grow instead of lilacs.  While it does not have a fragrance, it does have pretty flower spikes.

 

Purple Vitex (redu)

 

Another purple blossom is the clematis crispa.  It has been blooming nonstop for about six weeks now.  This is the one I thought I had killed earlier this year, but it has come back better than last year.

 

Clematis Crispa (redu)

 

Next is the agapanthus.  From a distance it looks light purple or lavender, but up close you can see that it is really white with a blue or light purple stripe.  These plants have really grown, and I will definitely have to divide them this year.  These flower stalks are over six feet tall and make a very stately appearance.

 

Agapanthus (redu)

 

Purple flowers really do blend in with all the other colors in the garden.  I have them mixed with pink flowers, yellow flowers, and red flowers, and the purple helps unify all the areas of the garden as well as setting off the other colors.  What would we do without purple?

True Blue

“True Blue”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

It is often hard to find true blue flowers for the garden.  Most of the time, when a flower is described as “blue”,  it ends up being some shade of purple.  However, there are three true blue flowers blooming right now that makes me wish for more blue in the garden.

The first one is Blue Daze.  This is the third summer they have been in the garden having overwintering two years now.  These are so easy to root that I must remember to take cuttings for more blue-flowered plants in the garden.

 

Blue Daze (redu)

 

The next blue flowering plant is bog sage.  I received this plant from my daughter’s neighbor who had a huge clump of this growing in her garden.  I don’t have as big a grouping as she did, but I am working on it.  While its common name is bog sage, it does not need to be in an overly moist area.  It grows just fine in regular garden soil.  Its light blue flowers certainly is a selling point for this sage.

 

Bog Sage (redu)

 

Finally, there is the plumbago which a neighbor gave me last year, and I still have not planted yet.  I have been slowly working through the container plants that I have collected that still need to go into the ground.  I guess this plumbago should be next to be planted.

 

Plumbago (redu)

 

In winter time, blue pansies brighten the wintry days, while in summer, it is these blue flowers which brighten up a garden.  I certainly wish there were more “true blue” flowers I could have in my garden.

Red Star

“Red Star”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

One of my favorite colored flowers has started blooming today which is a little earlier than usual.  I think it is blooming so early because it has finally become a good sized plant so it recovers from winter faster.  I am talking about Texas Star (Hibiscus coccineus), a perennial hibiscus.

 

Texas Star (redu)

 

I just love the deep cherry red of this flower.  This is a hardy hibiscus here, though it will die back in the winter, it reliably returns every spring.  It is hardy to zone 6, and some say zone 5.  Once it starts blooming, it will bloom all summer long. 

One of the aspects of this plant that I like is that it grows tall – four to six feet.  It definitely gives me the height I need in my garden, however, I do occasionally cut back some of the stems so that there is a layered look and not all top growth or too rangy.  Another good thing about this hibiscus is that it grows well from seed.  I have grown several from seed and have placed them all around the garden.

In the heat of summer, it is certainly nice to have such a brillant red flower showing up.  It has such a large flower, such a bright color, and such great height that it can be admired from inside the house while enjoying the air conditioning.

Homegrown Tomatoes

“Homegrown Tomatoes”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”  Lewis Grizzard

We finally have the opportunity to have pleasant thoughts as we picked our first ripe, homegrown tomatoes today.  We planted them a little later than usual.  Ordinarily, tomatoes are planted in late March around here, but it was late April before we got ours in.  Dear Hubby is the farmer when it comes to the tomatoes, and nobody takes better care of his crops than he does with his four bushes.

 

Ripe Tomatoes (redu)

 

With there being only the two of us here now, we only planted four tomato bushes.  We have three Patio tomato plants and one Husky Cherry Red plant.  This should be enough for us and maybe a few neighbors.  The Patio tomato plants are doing exceptionally well.   These tomatoes are a little smaller than regular sized tomatoes, but they seem to bear longer in our heat.  There are a lot of tomatoes waiting to ripen.

 

Patio Tomatoes (redu)

 

The cherry type tomatoes will bear fruit even longer in our heat than the Patio tomato bushes will.  If they get a little shade in July and August, we have found they will still produce enough for a small salad every two days or so.  But, right now the bush is covered with the tiny tomatoes waiting to ripen.

 

Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes (redu)

 

The only unfortunate thing about growing tomatoes at this time is that we can’t grow the lettuce.  Lettuce here is a winter crop.  It is usually planted in late January and, by May, is history, just as the tomatoes are starting.

But, we don’t need lettuce to enjoy a ripe, homegrown tomato.  It just doesn’t get any better.

 

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