Easter Lily Blooms

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


Last year I ordered lilies (lilium longiflorum – White Heaven) from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  I ordered 25 bulbs and they performed fantastically.  I had big plants and numerous flowers.  This year when they started to come up, I was overjoyed to see that they had multipled.  Instead of just 25 plants, I now have about 40 big ones and 15 small ones.  I will definitely have to move some later on so they will not be crowded.  I guess they like where I planted them.  Since I have clay soil, I planted these bulbs in a slightly raised bed and added some sand for good drainage.  I figured the first year I would have success, but had my fingers crossed for this year.  I have not been disappointed.



Today, the first ones opened, and I couldn’t wait to get a picture. This is one of the few lilies that is supposed to do well here, and these have done very well.  Not too many people grow these any more.  You tend to see them growing only in the older neighborhoods.  I think most people just throw away any they buy for Easter instead of planting them in the garden.  They won’t bloom for Easter, but that does not bother me in the least.  I remember my mother had a whole bed of these bulbs when I was very young.



The success I have had with these lily bulbs encouraged me to try other ones.  I purchased an assortment of bulbs this spring, and I have a few planted in the back garden and some now have buds.  It remains to be seen if they return next year.  In the mean time, I am going to do a little research and see if I can find some other lilies that are recommended for the deep South.

Weeping Mary

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


Buddleia Lindleyana is an old-fashioned butterfly bush that was imported from China in the 1800’s.  It is also called Weeping Buddleia.  One common name is Weeping Mary.  This is a semi-evergreen buddleia and is not cut to the ground each year.  It makes a narrow shrub about six feet tall that has very graceful, weeping growth.



I first saw this plant in a school garden, and later found a small one to plant in my own garden.  One of the things I like about this particular buddleia is the individual little flowers which are violet red on the inside and purple on the outside.  The individual flowers form about a twelve inch cluster.  The flowers continue to open down the ever lengthing raceme which can grow to 24 inches.  Since it blooms on new growth, trimming the spent flower clusters results in more blossoms.



This drought tolerant shrub blooms on new growth from early spring through late fall.  It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.  I have read where it is supposed to be hardy to zone 7 and some sources say zone 5.  Other nice features of this buddleia is its cinnamon colored shedding bark, and foliage which is a semi-glossy, dark green.  In searching for this particular plant, I have read that it is supposed to sucker somewhat, but I have not had a problem with that.


I have found this to be a great plant for the garden because it is drought tolerant, attacts wildlife, and blooms for a very long time.



New Daylily

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

In the beginning of April, when I went to the N. O. Botanical Show, I bought some daylilies labeled “Vanillia Fluff” and  “Misty Mayhaw”.  They were single fans, bare root, and cheap.  I was thrilled when one of the Misty Mayhaws put out a bloom stalk after less than a month in the ground.  Today, one of the blooms finally opened.

I had to take the photo before it was fully opened, so the picture may make the shape of the flower look a little deceiving.  This daylily will blend in perfectly with the Romantic Rose daylily that bloomed earlier this spring. 

Lately, I have had several disappointments regarding flower color when buying plants that were not in bloom, but this daylily was not a disappointment at all.  I can’t wait to see if Vanilla Fluff blooms this year.  This month’s Southern Living magazine featured a gardener who claimed Vanilla Fluff was a daylily everybody should grow. 

Well, my daylily passion has been reinforced by this new, blooming daylily.  I can’t wait for some of the other new ones I have to start flowering.


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



Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It’s what sunflowers do.
 Helen Keller


Sunflowers are such happy plants.  Bright, cheery yellow, and always facing the sun.


I have tried growing sunflowers from seed in the past, but, unfortunately, not very successfully.  I do not think they received enough sun.  But, the tenacity of nature can be amazing.  This photo of a sunflower is one that sprang up from the bird seed that we put out daily.  No seed planting, no real watering, no fertilizing, and, yet, here is a great sunflower.  We feed the birds a small, black oil sunflower, and I never knew those seeds could produce such a pretty flower.  It is about five inches across, and the plant is about four feet high.


I am seriously considering planting some of these seeds in the circle garden where I have mostly yellow plants.  If they do as well as this one, they would make a great addition to those flower beds.  Who knows, if enough of the sunflowers would succeed there, maybe this winter we wouldn’t have to buy seeds for the birds.

Striking Foliage

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


We often think of flowers when we think of color in the garden.  It is only after seeing a plant with striking foliage, that gardeners realize that leaves too can add to the landscape.  While different texture is important to garden design, colorful foliage is a great way to put that little extra in our gardens esp. where flowers may not grow because of shade.  It can also help transition from one blooming period to another.



This canna grows in front of red and yellow double hibiscus in my garden.  While the hibiscus blooms almost continuously, when there is a lull, this canna helps carry that area of the garden.  This canna also brings a certain architectural element to the garden.


Dark foliage plants are becoming more and more popular.  Ace of Spades and Blackie in the sweet potato vines are examples.  I grow Ace of Spades and Margarite vines together, and the contrast is striking. Those dark reds, purples, and maroons offer a change and a contrast to lighter and variegated foliage.  The ornamental millets, such as Jester or Purple Majesty, and purple fountain grass are great additions to a garden.  I have purple fountain grass growing in two containers by an arbor.  They seem to set off the arbor and the plants around them.



This Alocasia Metallica and some chartreuse hostas growing in a very large pot make a very stunning arrangement.  Even though there is no flowers around, just ferns, once this alocasia gets growing, this container is an eye-catcher from across the garden.


We no longer have to rely on just coleus and caladiums to give us great foliage color.  Plant breeders have given us many other choices.  Colorful foliage plants can be as effective as flowers in bringing color to a garden.  And, for all season color sometimes, they beat flowers.

Daisy Gardenia

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


Daisy gardenia  (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Daisy’) is a single-flowered gardenia.  My mother rooted mine from her bush.  She had rooted me one a few years back, but it was lost in Katrina.  It was crushed by a falling pine tree.  She was sweet enough go to the trouble of rooting another one last summer for me, and today it is big enough to plant in the garden.  Its first flower opened this morning.



When we moved in to our house thirty years ago, we had fifteen large gardenia bushes lining a circular driveway and about twenty-five lining the southeastern property line.  When they were in bloom (and they were when we first saw the house), it was a spectacular sight.  They also perfumed the whole neighborhood.  Gradually though, most of those original plants died.  I do not know if it was from old age, or if we just were so inexperienced that we didn’t know how to take care of them properly.  But, anyway, they gradually declined, and now we have only two left, and those resprouted after we had cut them down.  I have added a few new ones to the garden because the flowers are so pretty and the aroma is so wonderful


The daisy gardenia from my mom is different in that it is a single and not a double like the others.  It, too, takes morning sun this far south and full sun farther north, is hardy to zone 7, likes well-drained soil, and grows to about five feet.  Mine is still little, but it is covered in blooms. 


This evergreen shrub with its single blooms is a welcome addition to my garden.  Not only because it is an attractive, blooming, and fragrant plant, but also because mom went to the trouble of rooting it for me.


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


As a child, I always was fond of my mother’s hydrangeas.  She had the big mophead type from cuttings that my  grandmother had made for her.  Even on hot summer days, the big, green leaves always felt cool, and the large clusters of pink flowers reminded me of bridesmaids’ bouquets.


Today, in my garden, I have not only pink mopheads but also white.  I also have pink, blue, and white lacecaps hydrangeas, as well as an oakleaf. 



This afternoon, I saw where one mophead is starting to show color.  Mophead hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is the most popular.  Except for the white ones, a hydrangea can be blue or pink depending on the ph of the soil.  Some of mine are showing up a light purple as I try to move their color from pink to blue.  My hubby likes the blue ones, and I like the pink ones, so I try and have some of each.  If you are interested in how to change the colors of hydrangeas here is great info.


I have easily propagated hydrangeas.  In the summer, after they have bloomed, I usually trim them back.  I use the trimmings to make more plants.  I take about a five inch cutting (cutting just below a leaf node) and remove all but the top two big leaves.  After dipping the end in rooting hormone, I place it in potting soil and place in the shade.  Now some people place these in plastic bags and keep moist, but I think that may get too hot in the plastic bag down here in our hot summers.  So, I just water well and make sure they stay moist.  Last time I did this, I used the mist setting on the hose nozzle and misted the cuttings about twice a day.  In about three weeks or so, the cuttings should be rooted.  I keep the cuttings in pots and protected in the winter, and then just plant them in the ground.


Another way to propagate hydrangeas is to lay a branch on the ground and cover it with soil.  If kept watered, it will root in place.  When it is about one year old, it can be removed from the mother plant and placed elsewhere.  I have had this done when a workman stepped on one, and the branch just started rooting on its own.  I just added some soil on top, Mother Nature took over, and soon I had a two foot plant for free.


Hydrangeas do best with morning sun and afternoon shade.  They need moist, well-drained soil.  I usually have to water mine often esp. in the summer because of our hot climate.  In the south, the more sun they receive the more water they will need.


When my lacecaps start blooming, I’ll post about them, too.


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



The Crybaby Tree (Erythrina crista-galli) has just started blooming.  According to everything I have read about this tree, it is an heirloom plant that has been planted in the South forever.  They are called “crybaby” because nectar is supposed to drip from the blossoms, though I have never seen mine do this. 


Many years ago, my neighbor had one in her yard and had to cut it down to put in a driveway. The next spring, little seedlings popped up in her yard, and I dug up three.  I gave one to my mom, one to my sister, and I kept one.  I kept mine in a pot for a year to give it some size before I put it in the ground.  From a four inch seedling, I now have a ten foot tree.


I planted it on the property line where it would get some sun.  It grew well the first year but froze to the ground.  It came back bigger the next spring.  For about three years it froze to the ground, and then as it got bigger only the top would freeze.  I have read that the rootstock can take -10 degrees if mulched very well.  When the warm weather came, it would send out shoots from about four feet off the ground.  Now, only the top two feet seem to freeze.


About three years after I planted this tree and it was a good size, I made a flower bed the length of the property line where it was planted.  I put in some azaleas, lorepetulum and other fuchsia, pink, or purple flowering plants.  It wasn’t until the crybaby tree started to bloom that I realized the color of its blooms and everything else clashed.  But I quickly realized, I didn’t care.  I liked this tree too much to take it out (it was too big, anyway), so I left it alone.



Now that it has grown bigger and has more flower stalks, it really is a striking display.  I don’t think it looks too out of place with the other flowering plants since it is blooming between the flowering of most of the fuschia colored ones.  


This plant does have a few drawbacks besides the freezing back in the winter.  It does have some thorns, and is said to be poisonous.   


This past April, I bought a relative of the Cry Baby Tree, the Coral Bean Tree.  This has bright red flowers that look like claws.  It is only about 8 inches high, so I think it will be a while before I have flowers to show.  I can’t wait – these erythrina plants are so unusual.

Clematis Crispa

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


This past March I attended a local garden show and purchased Clematis crispa, a small, bell-shaped flowered clematis.  It is native to the southeastern U.S.  I saw this plant about five years ago, but it was not for sale.  Since I like to have native plants in the garden because they usually do very well, I was on the lookout for this one.  Luckily, I was able to finally acquire one.  Many cleamtis do not do very well here, esp. the large-flowered ones.  So I have great hopes for this one.  It is supposed to be a fairly easy plant to grow.  What I have read says that it dies down to the ground in winter, so no pruning is needed.  It also is said to have no wilt problems and have attractive seed heads.


It has its first flower, and there is another bud waiting to open.  So, I am thinking that it must be happy were it is planted.  This clematis is only supposed to grow six to ten feet, but I have a feeling it may get taller.  It already has grown over the eight foot trellis it  is planted near, and I have had to gently twine it back on itself.  I do not think this is a prolific bloomer, but I will happy with the little blue bells I do get.






Blooming Daylilies

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


This week more daylilies have started blooming.  Since I have been concentrating on adding more perennials to my garden, I have become enamored with daylilies.  The yellow ones my mother gave me from her garden a few years ago have started blooming.  The red ones she gave me started blooming last week.  I do not know the names of these, but just this week when I was driving to her house, I saw that the same ones seemed to be blooming in gardens in the older sections where she lives.  These must have been popular daylilies at least thirty years ago.




The Stella d’Oro has been blooming nonstop for about two weeks now.  This little one is a favorite of mine.



One of the daylilies my sister sent me from Oakes Daylilies has started blooming.  It is a small lemon yellow.  I wonder if it could be Happy Returns?  I’ll have to compare it to the ones I know are Happy Returns when they start blooming and then see if this new one repeats blooms.



Finally, a pink stripped daylily has bloomed.  This particular daylily has bloomed earlier, but now its color seems to be truer to its picture than the first blooms I had.  Maybe the temperature has something to do with the slight change in color.



I still have several daylilies that have yet to bloom.  The Vanilla Fluff, I bought at the N.O. Botanical Show has buds, and several more of the Oakes Daylilies have buds.  There are still a few that are not showing any buds or bud stalks, but I seem to remember that they bloom in early summer.  I’ll have to check my garden journal from last year to see when they actually did bloom.  I always seem to forget when a few things start flowering, that not everything will bloom early.  That is the main reason I keep a written journal of when things bloom, so I can keep track.  I guess I am too impatient for things to show up in the garden.


If you are interested, this is a great site for tips on growing daylilies.

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