A Favorite

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

 

 Sometimes we toss around the word favorite, a little too often, so that it loses all meaning.  How many times have we said, “Oh, that’s my favorite flower,” only to repeat that same sentence in almost the next breath.  I know, I have been guilty of this.  It seems whenever something new blooms, out pops that sentence.

 

Well, now I would like to show one of my top five favorite flowers and my favorite hibiscus flower.  It is Double Classic Pink.  This big, gorgeous flower is the first one to open this season, and it just takes my breath away.  The pink color is just perfect.

 

 

 

These tropical plants like moist well-drained, acid soil, full sun, and are heavy feeders.  I fertilize mine with a tomato fertilizer in the early spring and then start using a liquid fertilizer just about every two weeks.  In early summer, I will use the tomato fertilizer again.  In our hot climate, I water the containers almost everyday that there is no rain, and so nutrients leach out of the soil very quickly.  Since I water almost daily, these plants require frequent fertilizing. 

 

Hibiscus shrubs grow to about 6-8 feet tall and can be covered in blooms at the ends of the branches.  Because they bloom on the branch tips, excessive pruning cuts off the flowers.  So keep that in mind if you decide to prune when they are blooming.  I usually prune mine in the winter or very early spring before they start flowering.

 

These plants do very well in containers.  I usually repot mine in the spring, trimming back the roots, if necessary, replacing soil, and then putting them back in the same 14 inch container.

 

This big, five inch flower will only last today, but knowing that there will be more from this prolific bloomer makes me look forward to tomorrow.

Eye Candy

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

 

There are many daylilies with  “candy” in their names.  The one I have is Custard Candy, and it has just started blooming.  It has a creamy white ruffled petals which have a wine-colored eye and a green throat.  This is one of my favorite daylilies.  The petals really do remind you of vanilla custard.  This has been a great daylily in my garden. 

 

 

One of the most popular of the candy daylilies is Strawberry Candy.  This is a lovely pink daylily.  Google has revealed a treasure trove of other candy daylilies.  Others that I found are Wineberry Candy, Andy Candy, Spacecoast Cotton Candy, Chocolate Candy, Elegant Candy, Rainbow Candy, Siloam Ribbon Candy, Raspberry Candy, Blackberry Candy, Awesome Candy, Blueberry Candy, Bountiful Candy, Cherry Candy, Bountiful Candy, Exotic Candy, Orchid Candy, Peach Candy, Plum Candy, Sweet Sugar Candy, and Vanilla Candy.  Most of these were developed by Stamile, and many are new for 2008.  Each one is prettier than the next.

 

Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole daylily garden bed of just “candies”?

 

 

Triumph

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

A few months back I wrote about some lilies I had totally forgotten I had planted last year.  I called them my surprise lilies.  They were packed with other bulbs in a small watering can I needed for a front door springtime wreath.

These lilies were in pitiful shape – white, leggy, and starting to dry out.  I just stuck them in the ground next to the patio, watered them a little, and then forgot about them.  They evidently went dormant very soon after that because I do not remember seeing them in the summer. 

Then in January, I saw some lilies growing up out of the ground and couldn’t fathom where they came from.  It was only after some racking of the brain that I finally remembered those poor, pathetic lilies I had planted in the late spring.  Well, look at them now.

Not too bad, right?  All I really wanted was the watering can, and the other things inside didn’t really matter.  But nature is a mysterious thing.  We can coddle plants making sure they get just the right light, moisture, soil, fertilizer, etc. and still they may not make it even after all that care.  And then, there are others, like this Triumphator lily, that no matter what happens to them (poor storage, soil, etc.) they survive and thrive.  I don’t think I’ll ever figure that out.

Orange in the Garden

This copyrighted post, “Orange in the Garden” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Orange used to be way down on my list of favorite colors (except in October).  Orange flowers were definitely rarely if ever in my garden until the gift of some amaryllis which were a soft orange.  Since then more orange toned flowers have found their way into the landscape.

 

 

Hibiscus – This hibiscus I have had and overwintered for at least fifteen years.  I have rooted cuttings and they are now blooming in my sister’s and daughter’s gardens.

 

 

Daylily – This is one of the Oakes Daylilies that my sister sent me earlier in the year and is now blooming for the first time.

 

 

Lantana – This common lantana is a volunteer in the garden.

 

 

 

Rusty – not a flower but he does live in the garden.

 

 

Fragrance in the Garden

This copyrighted post, “Fragrance in the Garden” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

I have often thought of how important the senses are in gardening.  Sight, of course, comes to mind first.  All the pretty flowers, colorful foliage, and textures are a feast for our eyes.  Sound, too, is in our gardens with chirping birds, water features, and the wind rustling through the trees and the occasional wind chime.  The sense of touch is satisfied by fingering the different textures of plants and flowers.  Who can resist walking by lambs ears without stroking the leaves?

But, this morning, the sense of smell was the one that captured my attention.  As I was walking by the blooming Easter lilies, I caught a whiff of their wonderful fragrance.  Of course, it made me stop and lean over for a deeper whiff.  I guess I forgot how aromatic they are.

Some hints for intensifying scents in the garden are to place fragrant plants in a protected area away from winds, place aromatic foliage plants near a path or front of the border so the leaves can be easily rubbed, and place fragrant plants near doorways, open window, and sitting areas so that they can be enjoyed more.  Remember that some plants are fragrant at night, such as night blooming jessamine (cestrum nocturnum) or flowering tobacco.  There is no point in having those plants if you are never around when they are releasing their pleasant smell.

Fragrant flowers are fairly easy to incorporate into our gardens.  There are roses, lilies, nicotina, gardenias, etc.  Aromatic foliage plants that I particularly like are lemon verbena, lemon thyme, rosemary, curry, and pineapple sage.

Year round fragrance is a goal of mine.  In late winter there is sweet olive, winter honeysuckle, and sweet almond shrub.  These are followed by all the jasmines, esp. star jasmine and magnolias.  When spring is in full swing and in summer, too, there are innumerable flowers, vines, and shrubs scenting our gardens.  In the fall, there is sweet autumn clematis, Russian sage, autumn witch hazel to name a few.

Fragrance not only makes for a pleasant experience, but it creates atmosphere, and also conjures up memories.  I know I cannot smell gardenias without thinking of my daughter as a baby.

Whether subtle or intense, fragrance is important for making our gardens and gardening even more pleasurable.  Think about it.  What are some of your favorite plants that appeal to the sense of smell?

Other Than White

This copyrighted post, “Other Than White” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Yesterday when I did my posting for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, I was a little take aback by all the white flowers I had photographed.  In fact, I had to go back outside and find some other colored flowers to photograph.  While white flowers are among my favorites, I do have other colors to brighten the landscape.

 

 

 

For example, this is China Doll, a dwarf canna, which started blooming yesterday.  This has been a reliable plant in my garden for about three years.  Before I planted it in the ground, it did very well in a container.

 

 

Coral Nymph salvia is another little workhorse.  It reseeds or sometimes survives the winter and is a prolific little bloomer.

 

 

A Country Girl chrysanthemum is blooming while leaning over a daylily.  It will soon be time to cut back Country Girl so she will bloom in the fall.

 

 

These Cashmere Bouquet (clerodendrum bungei) buds will soon be opening.  Even in the bud stage these plants add color to the area.

 

See, I do have colors other than white in my garden.

 

 

Another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

This copyrighted post, “Another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

It is hard to believe that another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is here already.  Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Garden for coming up with the idea of posting what is blooming in our gardens on the 15th of the month.  Even though we had over 5 inches of rain and extremely high winds last night, everything seems to have survived.

 

Iceberg Rose is blooming

 

Shasta Daisies have started opening up. 

 

White Mophead Hydrangea

 

 

 

White Lacecap Hydrangea

 

Shrimp Plant (Tutti Frutti)

 

Gold Mound Lantana

 

Plants I have written about lately are still blooming as well as these new ones:  gladiolus, begonias, red ruella, roses, impatiens, ageratum, hibiscus, irises, and this little white lily that I can’t believe has survived. That’s a story for another day.

 

The Fairy

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

 

I have often written about the plants that relatives have grown.  Because of childhood memories either of the plants or the particular person who grew them, certain shrubs, trees or perennials have a special place in my garden.  One of these is the Fairy Rose.

 

 

This is a small, delicate looking polyantha rose, but don’t let appearances fool you.  This is one tough little rose bush.  It is very hardy (zone 4), and once it starts blooming in the spring, it never seems to stop.  It puts out lovely pink clusters of flowers amid small bright green leaves.  I have not had any problems with black spot with this rose.  It grows to about two feet by two feet.  So, its small size is great for smaller gardens or that little spot that needs just a little something.

 

My mother grows this rose in containers on her patio.  She fell in love with this rose when she was on a tour of a plantation home in Natchez, Mississippi.  She saw tiny vases filled with these roses, and when she finally got hers, she does the same.  As soon as Fairy starts blooming, she keeps tiny vases filled with these shell pink beauties in several rooms

 

Last year I decided I wanted to add Fairy to my garden.  I couldn’t find them locally so I started checking out the Internet.  Surprisingly, I found them on QVC.  I purchased six for a very good price.  They were from Cottage Farms.  When they arrived, they were in great shape, but small.  I planted them in containers, and by the end of the summer they were about 18 inches high.  This spring, I trimmed them back a little, and they are growing and blooming very well.  I will probably plant them in the ground this fall.

 

 

This little rose just can’t be beat for blooming, diease resistance, and beauty.

Something New Every Day

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

 

It seems like everyday when I come home from work there is something new blooming in the garden for me to see.  I don’t remember planting so many new plants in the fall or early spring, but evidently I did.  There is not only the thrill of seeing the old favorites return, but the brand new ones are exciting to see.  Are they what was expected, do they fit in with the rest of the garden, are they adding to the garden?  All of these are answered in the blooming of just one flower.

 

One of nature’s presents to me today was the blooming of this new daylily.  It is another one of the daylilies from Oakes Daylilies that my sister had sent to me.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this company’s plants.

 

 

The red petals with the yellow-green throat of this daylily is so striking.  This makes three of the Oakes daylilies that have bloomed – only nine more to bloom.  I am sure that the others will be just as lovely as this.  Most have buds, and I can hardly wait to see what they look like. 

 

This afternoon, I was able to get home a little early and this made it possible for me to start planting some begonias in the entry garden.  The petunias are about ready to be pulled up, so I needed to plant some annual color.  I decided this year to try some bronze leaf red begonias.  I was able to get the 6 cell packs.  Even though the plants are small, in our climate they will quickly fill out.  I planted 36 begonias which should be enough once they start growing. 

 

Last year I had red pentas, but they grew too tall, so I did not want to use them again.  The year before that, I used red and white impatiens, but they need too much water, so I decided not to use them either.  We’ll see how well the begonias do this year.  I decided on the bronze leaf ones instead of the green ones to try and get a little variety in leaves as well as flowers.  It may pick up the Ace of Spades sweet potato vine’s color.  Now, once I put in the caladiums, that garden bed will be finished for the summer, which will give me more time to work on all the other ones.  A gardener’s work is never done.

Hidden Lily Ginger

This copyrighted post, “Hidden Lily Ginger” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

 

Curcuma zedoaria, or as my mother called it Hidden Lily, is a plant that dies down in the late fall and emerges fairly late in the spring.  This is one plant that I wish stayed around all year.  I love the large green leaves that sport a maroon stripe down the middle, and the flowers are so unusual.  The flowers emerge just before or just as the leaves are coming up.  The flowers can be somewhat hidden by the quickly growing foliage, hence the name.  These spikes of colorful flowers, which almost look fake, usually last a long time.

 

 

 

The foliage is my favorite part.  The deep green leaves grow to about four feet high.  The shape of the leaves and their upright growth remind me of banana leaves, but, unlike the latter, never shred in the wind.  The leaves look like they are ribbed and, as I mentioned before, have a maroon stripe in the middle.  This plant makes a great screening for the summer. 

 

This is plant is not a fast grower, but the clump does slowly increase in size.  It is easy to divide and move to another place in the garden or to share with others.  That is how my mother got my sister started on growing hidden ginger, and soon my sister was able to share some with me.  While hardy only to zone 8 in the ground, it can be grown in containers. 

 

This very dramatic foliage plant gives a tropical feeling to the summer garden, is easy to care for, has no pest problems, and displays unusual flowers.  What more could you ask for?

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