This post, “Oleanders” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

“We need to block out that view.”  This was my dear hubby’s constant complaint.  We had planted a row of arborvitae bushes, but after Katrina, they started to thin out.  I think they were under a great deal of stress from the drought we had after the hurricane.  He doesn’t like the view of the street and wants it screened.

Well, one day last summer, he shows up with four oleander bushes.  He didn’t know what color the blooms were, didn’t realize how big they could get, and didn’t realize if we get a bad freeze they can lose their leaves.  Luckily they turned out to be a light pink which will blend in with the surrounding plants, though I would have preferred red flowers.  He didn’t really have a good idea of where they should be placed.  He just wanted to kind of plop them in the middle of the lawn without a thought of any kind of plan.  Needless to say, I was not very happy with his ideas.

We finally compromised on a planting area, but I don’t think these plants are the best solution to our problem of screening.  But, he does live here, too, and he does do all the heavy work around the garden to help me out.  I guess I just have to let this go.  The plants seem to be doing well.  They have just started to bud out.


Oleanders are very popular around here and lend a tropical feel.    They grow about 5 to 8 feet tall here in a mounded shape.  I am going to tip prune them to make sure they get full and thick. I do not know if this will be the screening solution we hope for, but if these plants don’t work out, I’ll look upon that as an opportunity to try to grow something new.

Rex Begonias

This post, “Rex Begonias” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

My little white cat eats everything.  She eats plants.  All kinds of plants-real ones, silk ones, and even plastic ones.  So, consequently I do not have house plants.  I wish I could, but because of her, it is pointless to even try.

Since I do live in a mild climate, I grow many houseplants outside.  I’ll put them on the porch or under a tree to give them enough light but not too much.  One of my favorite plants to grow in a container is Rex Begonia.  I have no problem growing them outside under a large magnolia tree, even though we have such hot summers.  These begonias like high humidity, so maybe that is why they do well for me.  I do protect them if a freeze is predicted but for the most part they are out in all types of weather, even the mid thirties.

They are just starting to send out new, vibrant leaves.  I find they do get sort of raggedy by the end of the winter. It is normal for them to go into a sort of semi-dormancy in the wintertime.   I plan on repotting them in the next week or two in a well drained potting mix, and then I’ll give them a little fertilizer.

The first one I bought was Red Robin.  I put it in a shallow container with a red cyclamen and a small button fern.  I used this as a Valentine’s Day decoration a few years back.  It really looked nice.  The picture below shows Red Robin just starting to put out new leaves.  The whole plant seems to glow when light hits the leaves.


After having success with this one, I soon was buying others.  I have tended to buy the celadon green ones that have purple in them.  They to just seem to glow in the sunlight.  This is one example, Corey Corwin, that is starting to show a new flush of growth.


I think this might be the year I attempt to propagate some of these beauties.  I have been reading up on how to do this. I found out that besides the leaf cutting method, that some people have been successful with rooting a leaf in water (similar to African violets) and them potting up the leaf when the roots are about two inches long and then enclosing the pot in a plastic bag.  Both methods require high humidity either by misting or covering with a plastic bag.

Once the weather warms up a bit more, these begonias will be again be showing a stunning display.

A Room with a View

This post, “A Room with a View” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Another night and morning of high winds and rain prevented me from working in the garden today.  I am getting a little tired of the bad weather coming in for the weekend and stopping me from doing the spring garden chores that need to be done on the only days I can work for hours and not just for a short time.

However, today was not a total loss.  This afternoon I did pick up some of the limbs that had fallen during the night.  Also, there was time late this afternoon for checking on things that are starting to pop up out of the ground, like emerging daylilies, toad lilies, etc.

I also was able to take a good look around and come up with some ideas about how to improve the winter garden.  In the spring and summer, it is not hard to have a good-looking garden, but when plants are dormant it can be a challenge.

So, I have decided to start first by looking out of the windows that face the front and back gardens and seeing what needs to be done with the gardens around the house.  When everything is flushed out with growth, the views are fine, but when it is winter it can look a little bleak.  I have decided to put in more evergreens this year to make boundaries.  Also, I think a focal point of some sort needs to be seen from each view.  That probably means just moving some of the garden art that is around the yard to a more advantageous setting.  In addition, I see where there needs to be pockets of color all around, not just in the front yard or in the entry garden.  Not big plantings, just a few small areas, similar to the way you place color around an inside room to make it more inviting.  And, I am not just thinking about cool season annuals.  There are a lot of perennials I need think about using that will give some color to the garden.

Especially in the winter, when the rain and cold keeps us inside, I want to be able to open the curtains and see an attractive garden.

Since I am outside so often, more and more, I realize that gardeners must think about how an area will look during the cool season.  It is easy to create a lovely garden in the summer, but how it looks in the winter must also be envisioned.  For some time now, I have not been satisfied with how my garden looks in the cooler months. Here, in the South, we can use our gardens year round, and so this needs to be fixed.  Improving my cool season garden design is what I decided I am going to work on this year.

 2008-213-applebl-amarylreduced-v2-001.jpgApple Blossom amaryllis finally opened up.

Gladiolus Bulbs

This post, “Gladiolus Bulbs” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

I am always surprised at the timing of gladiolus bulb planting.  When I see the reminder to plant, I am taken aback.  Here, we are supposed to start planting them now.  It is recommended that they be planted at two week intervals.

I never remember to plant this early, and the first time I planted glads, they were planted at least a month or more after they were supposed to be in the ground.  However, they did perform well that year.  Down here, we are able to leave them in the ground to overwinter.  They are in raised beds because of the high rainfall in south Louisiana.  However, this past fall I noticed that some bulbs I had planted about three years ago were now at the top of the soil.  I decided to dig them up and replant in the spring.

Boy!  Was I surprised at what I dug up!  I had planted corms that were about 1.5 inches across and dug up corms about 4 to 4.5 inches across.  They looked about the size of the hamburgers that are in a MacDonald’s kids meal.  These were the first glads I had planted, so I had no idea they could get so big.  No wonder I had one glad that overwintered last year.

                                      gladiolus-bulbs-p01-edited-resized-21608.jpg  Corm on the right is the original size I started with, one on the left is what I ended up with.

The next surprising thing was all the little corms around these enormous things.  There were dozens.  I had done just a basic reading in my garden books about glads, but I never expected this.  I knew they developed new corms on top of the old ones and knew this is why they needed to be dug up and replanted.  I also expected baby ones to develop but didn’t realize exactly that I could get dozens of them.

These gladiolus bulbs were supposed to be Goldfield, but they weren’t.  I planted them in a circular bed that I wanted to be mostly yellow flowering plants.  These glads turned out to be peach-colored with a yellow throat.  As the years have gone by, they are getting more and more peach-colored and have less yellow.  I am not that wild about them, but the hubby loves them. The next year, I planted some more Goldfield, and they turned out to be the right color.

The peach ones would more likely appeal to me if they are moved away from the yellow flowers and are on their own.  I probably will not replant them in the “yellow garden”, but will put them elsewhere – maybe where they can be next the peach hibiscus.  I plan on placing the babies in an area that is kind of out of the way, but still gets a lot of sunshine and has amended soil. 

I planted what was supposed to be light violet glads last year, but they, too, came out a different color – darker purple.  (I don’t know if the growers are not careful with what they put in their packaging, or if the picture they show is just not accurate.)  These did not do as well as the above ones did, and in digging around where they were planted, I did not find many.  This, however, is not going to deter me from trying these bulbs again. 

Gladiolus bulbs are very nice in the garden because of their colors, long-lasting blooms, and spiky shapes offer a nice contrast to other plants.

Bloom Day

This post, “Bloom Day” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

I thought I would be able to take some pictures for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, but when I got home from work it was raining.  So here is just a list of what is blooming here in my little corner of the world in Covington, Louisiana.  In the entry garden, I have red Gerber Daisies, ageratum, red petunias, and purple petunias in bloom.  In the side garden, white pansies and violas, and paperwhites are in flower.  In the circle garden, yellow pansies and the Debutant Camellia are in bloom.  In the back yard, camellias, Knock Out roses, forsythia, and the lime tree are all showing off their flowers.

It will not be long before I have even more names to post.  I was surprised by some amaryllis that my sister gave me.  I planted them in the late fall and just noticed today that some buds are up about eight inches.  I can’t wait to see them open.

Something else I am anticipating is the Louisiana Iris I have planted.  They are starting to grow vigorously, and I expect to see buds forming very soon.

Happy Valentine’s Day

This post, “Happy Valentine’s Day” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


I hope everyone has a great day today.  Remember to do something to make a loved one happy and feel appreciated.  Do something nice for yourself, too.

Want to say I Love You in different languages?  Click here.

The five most popular flowers on Valentine’s Day are 1) the rose, 2) the carnation, 3) lilies, 4) alstroemeria, and 5) tulips.

Personally, I would rather have a rose bush than a bouquet of roses, that way I could plant it and have roses for years to come.  Does this mean I am not romantic?  I think that blooming potted plants also make good gifts at this time of year.  That way you can have flowers in the house to brighten a winter day and still have them last longer than a week.

How about a garden bench for two?  A romantic little bistro set for the garden?  See there are all kinds of ideas besides flowers and candy for a gardener. 

I just hope a certain person that I know can take a hint.  And I hope you all have a Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

Checking Things Out

This post, “Checking Things Out” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Today was a complete change from yesterday.  Blue skies, bright sun, and cool temperatures were a welcome relief from the high winds, rain and warm temperatures.

I was able to go outside and take a look around.  I found another arbor in the back yard that had been hit by a pine tree limb.  It did not damage the rose that was on it, and I was going to replace that arbor anyway, so I am not upset about it.

I was happy to see that the Black Seeded Simpson lettuce I planted Sunday is already up.


This lettuce does well for us down here.

My Louisiana irises are also doing well.  They are about two feet tall and should be blooming in a month or so.  These are Bayou Classic that my sister gave me.  They are very vigorous, bloom profusely, and multipy.  I can’t wait to take pictures of them in bloom now that I have a digital camera.


Our little lime tree is also budding out.  I was rather surprised to see these buds because it has been a little on the cool side still.  Last year our satsumas put out blooms very early, and a freeze nipped them off.  But soon there were new ones on the bushes, and we did end up with a crop after all.


Lastly, I checked out the bed with the daylilies.  They had aphids and had to be sprayed on Sunday, but they are aphid free today.  These are an evergreen type, but they do put out new growth in the late winter.  I got these from my mom years ago.  I do not know their names because my mom never asked her friend who gave them to her.  They are two colors here.  One is a bright yellow, and the other is a bronze-red color.  They have done well for me in a raised bed.


As I walked around my garden this afternoon, I realized that it will not be long before the garden will be lush and lovely again, and dreary winter will only be a memory.

High Winds, Rain

This post, “High Winds, Rain” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

This afternoon, we had very high winds and rain come through.  My arbor was knocked over, and the top damaged slightly.  Hubby says it can be fixed.  Since my daughter gave me the arbor, I want to keep it as long as possible.  We also had several large tree limbs come down, but luckily they fell into the lawn and didn’t damage anything.  At least I do not think so – I couldn’t really get out in the yard to check everything – but standing on the porch, everything seems OK.  There was a small tornado that hit about 30 miles to the northwest of us with one fatality.  The severe weather didn’t last long thankfully.

But the severe weather did stop me from working in the garden.  At this time of year I seem to crave sun.  Well, tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and cool, so there is hope I can get out then.

Here is a picture of three Appleblossom amaryllis bulbs I planted in the late fall.  I have kept them outside on the porch so that the buds would only slowly develop.  I don’t plan for amaryllises to bloom at the holidays as many people do.  I feel they sometimes get lost in all the Christmas decorations, so I prefer to have them after the holidays when things are a bit dreary.  Keeping them away from the warmth of the house helps slow them down.  The buds are just starting to open.  In just a few days, they should be open, just in time for a bleak, rainy weekend that the forecasters tell us is on the way.  See, I told you they would be good for those dismal, gray winter days.


Cool Season Plans for Next Year

This post, “Cool Season Plans for Next Year” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Since I am trying to design a garden with more perennials than annuals, I am always searching out for ones that will do well in this area and will give color or seasonal interest so that there is something interesting or blooming throughout the year.

As the gardening year goes by, we tend to wish that we had bought or put in certain plants earlier.  How many times have we seen something growing in another’s garden and wished we had thought to put that in, too.  Or, how many times do we see people buying seasonal plants that we know should have been planted months ago if they are to be enjoyed for any length of time.  We have to remember that it is not only in the fall that we have to think ahead for the spring.  Sometimes we have to plan in the spring for summer and fall.  That is why I am already starting to take notes about what I want to plant for late summer and fall blooms as well as spring bloomers.  My goal is to have year round interest.

I have paperwhite narcisus bulbs that can start to bloom as early as Christmas.  These blooms can last a long time in the garden.  I also have tete-a-tetes that have rebloomed reliably here.  I have planted summer snowflakes, but they have not done too well for me.  I think that they have not been getting enough sun, so I plan on moving them.  Next year I am planning on adding Chinese sacred lily.  That is supposed to do well in the lower South, even if you have clay soil.  Another bulb I am definitely going to plant next year is Spanish bluebells.  I have read how well they do, and I think that the blue color would complement the pansies I usually plant.

Another addition I want to make to the garden will be irises.  I have had success with some Louisiana Irises, and I want to add more.  They need to be planted in the fall, so I will be deciding which colors will be needed this spring when the others bloom.

One plant that I have been reading about and is supposed to do well for us in the cool season is the Cardoon.  The pictures of the silver green leaves that are lobed are very enticing.  This would really add seasonal interest when so many other plants are dormant.

I also would like to add more daylilies.  I am not sure which colors, so again, I will be paying attention to other gardens in bloom, magazine pictures, and garden book recommendations.

While I am a firm believer in enjoying the present, in the back of my mind, I will be making mental notes this spring and summer of what needs to be added.  That way I won’t be disappointed when next year rolls around.

A Little Garden Work

This post, “A Little Garden Work” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

I was feeling a little under the weather today, so consequently, I did not do too much in the garden.  I mostly did some maintenance work.  That meant cutting back some more of the lirope and cleaning up the edges on about forty feet of the entry garden.  While working on those beds, I noticed the amaryllis buds are poking up.  It won’t be too long before they are blooming, esp. if we keep getting these warm days.  Today the high temperature was 70.  I also saw the first vinca minor flower of the year.


After working on the entry garden, I started spreading the compost that I started in the fall.  I am lucky that the oak trees on our property dropped most of their leaves in the fall.  Now, it has turned into leaf mold and should really help enrich the soil.  I have two compost piles going at all times because of all the yard and kitchen wastes.  I mainly use compost as side dressing in the fall and spring.  I put some on the roses, amaryllis, hydrangea, toad lilies, and agapanthus.  I still have more to spread out, but I just wasn’t feeling up to it.  So, after work this week I hope to be able to do that.  The days are getting longer, and that should allow me time to do some more clean up chores.  There isn’t a whole lot of things left to do.  Soon I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the spring garden.

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