Summer Solstice

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

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  It has felt like summer for the past few weeks with all the high temperatures we have been having.  I thought I would show some of the plants of summer down here in the south.  The first is the rose.  While springtime brings the first roses, there are many that really don’t start blooming until the middle of June.

 

This spath plant has just started blooming. My regular ones are also blooming, but this variegated leaf one has just started.  It seems to need warmer temperatures than the plain green ones.

This is a section of the entry garden.  The Aztec Grass, wax begonias, Ace of Spades & Marguerite sweet potato vines all do better once the soil has really warmed up.

So, even if we can’t be at Stonehenge to welcome the summer solstice, I hope you had a wonderful beginning of summer.  Since it is Midsummer’s Eve, watch out for fairies.

 

Wedelia = Caution

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

We all read those cautions about invasive plants, but how many of us (esp. new gardeners) really take heed.  Often, we are given plants by other people who do not know how invasive a plant can be under the right growing conditions.

This is how I came to have wedelia in my garden.  It was given to me by a friend who purchased it in a hanging basket.  Since I have a lot of shade in my garden, she gave me some cuttings saying that it did well in her basket that was placed in a very shady spot.  I took the cuttings and also put it in a hanging basket where it did very well.  It is a pretty plant with dark green leaves and bright yellow daisy-like flowers.

It did well in the hanging basket.  During the winter, I placed that basket and others I was overwintering in an area of the garden that was bare.  The wedelia roots where nodes come in contact with the ground, and sure enough, it rooted in this area.  Because this was an area of hard, clay soil, the wedelia took a while to get established.

Since it did well there, I foolishly decided to place it in the circle garden with the other yellow blooming plants.  Well, in good soil and sunlight, this plant takes off.  In one growing season, it started covering up everything else.  Because it can root at each nodule, it is very difficult to take up.  This plant would be great for erosion control because its roots dig into the ground and really holds on.  The next spring when I started taking it out, it was a struggle.  Just about every piece had to be dug out, and if even a tiny piece of root was left, it came back.  All last summer, I was pulling this stuff out, and even this summer, I have found a few places where it is showing up again.  Thank goodness it doesn’t root by underground stolons.

I still have a small patch in the original spot, and it seems to be under control in the hard, clay soil.  The roots do not seem to get such a firm hold, and the plant does not spread as rapidly.  This would be a great ground cover plant in a confined area (surrounded by a sidewalk or driveway), esp. one that is in the shade or has poor soil.  But this is a lesson in remembering to research an unfamiliar plant before putting it in the garden.  I know I do that now so there are no more unpleasant surprises.

Lilies in the Deep South?

“Lilies in the Deep South?”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

After I had such great repeated results from my Easter lily bulbs, I decided that maybe lilies would grow down here after all.  I had been told that true lilies don’t grow well this far south.  So, when I saw a bag of lilies at Wal-Mart, I thought I’d give them a try.  They were inexpensive, so if they did not do well, I hadn’t lost much.  If they did do well, then maybe I’d try some better bulbs next year.   Well, they were planted, and a few were dug up by some “thing”, and I replanted them (one in particular many times).

 

A few weeks ago, I got a lovely white lily bloom, and today another one bloomed – a pink one.  Since this was a mixed bag of bulbs, I don’t know what this one is, but it does look like Stargazer.  I’m not sure though.

 

 

 

This afternoon as I was taking this photo, I was struck by the soft, sweet fragrance of this lily.  There still are buds on the stalk that will open in a few days, and I can’t wait to see and smell those.  Since they are at the top of the stalk, I may cut them and bring them inside to enjoy.

 

Since I have never grown lilies before and no one I know has grown them, I really don’t know much about them.  Easter lilies I know about because my mom grew them, but, as for other true lilies, I really don’t see them in the gardens around here.  Being in the coastal south, I have a few questions.  Will they come back next year?  Do Asiatic or Orientals do better here?  I guess I have some research to do because I really would like to add some lilies to my garden next year.

Garden Creatures

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

 

I think every gardener loves to have birds and butterflies in their gardens.  They add so much – color, sound, movement.  And then there are those creatures that may not be so welcome, such as squirrels, rabbits, or deer.  Finally comes the ones we don’t want.  Such as skunks, poisonous snakes.  You get the picture.

 

In the past few days, I have come across some of the each category.  First, on Saturday, came a turtle.  I saw one a while back, but this one is a different one.  It is bigger, and there is more yellow on the shell.  It was neat coming upon a second box turtle as he walk through the side garden.

 

 

That same morning, as I was watering the entry garden, I saw these three centipedes resting under a holly fern.  The composition was so unusual, I stopped what I was doing and ran for the camera.  I have never seen anything like this.

 

 

They were just sleeping there.  They didn’t stir or anything as I carefully moved a frond out of the way to take the photograph. 

 

Finally, the last creature to show up.  For the last four days, something has been emptying the hummingbird feeder at night.  It was driving dear hubby crazy trying to figure out what was happening to the nectar overnight because he is a big hummingbird fan.  In desperation, he put out his “stealth cam” to find out who or what was drinking the nectar.  Well, about 2 AM, the culprit was captured by the camera – a opossum.  It was climbing up the shepherd hook and pulling on the hummingbird feeder.   So, a humane trap was set for the sweet-toothed varmint and success. 

 

 

Hubby released him in a wooded area next to a small stream about two miles away.  I was wondering if he is the one that has been digging up some of my plants, but I don’t know if opossums do that.

 

Give me the birds and butterflies any day.

 

A Little Rain

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

 

Today, we had our second rain shower since May 22nd.  The rain guage showed .19 inches.  So, in the last three and a half weeks, we have had a grand total of .21 inches.  Things are really starting to show the dryness.  I am having to water just about every day.  This afternoon, I was getting pretty discouraged because there were areas that I watered yesterday, and they were already dry.  I told dear hubby that we really needed to get some rain soon, and about five minutes later, thunder could be heard in the distance.  (Ask and you shall receive?)  The rain started about ten minutes later.  It wasn’t much, but I am thankful for what we did receive.  Every little bit helps.

 

Today, the last of the daylilies my sister sent me in March from Oakes Daylilies bloomed, and it is a beauty. 

 

 

It is a lovely color and a large bloom.  With all the heat and dry weather, it was nice to have something new blooming in the garden.

June Bloom Day

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

 

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day as well as Father’s Day.  So, happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and here’s what is blooming in my garden today.

 

Red Double Hibiscus

 

 

Yellow Gladiolus

 

 

Bicolor Gladiolus

 

 

Last of the Easter Lilies

 

 

Coral Nymph Salvia

 

 

Red Millionbells

 

 

 

Plumbago

 

 

Also blooming today: Peacock Ginger, Creeping Mexican Petunias, Spath, Knockout Roses, Impatiens, Begonias, Daylilies, Ruellea, Lantanas, Shrimp plant, Ginger, Hostas, Mexican Heather, Blue Daze, Oxalis, Ageratum, and Hydrangeas.

 

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.  It is a good idea to take time to notice and enjoy what is doing well in our gardens.

Air Potato

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

 

Air Potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifer) is a vigorous, ornamental vine.  It has huge heart-shaped leaves and grows to about ten to fifteen feet in my garden.  On the stem it has aerial tubers that resemble potatoes hence the name.  It does go dormant in the winter but comes back in the spring.  If it is grown in the shade, it does not produce as many of the tubers which keeps the number of new vines down.  Mine gets very little morning sun, but, still the foliage is very lush.

 

 

This is growing on an arbor which is kind of hard to tell from the picture.  The vine does occasionally try to grow into the bamboo, but I just pull it back onto the arbor to keep it in check.  This has been reported to be an invasive vine, so I collect the tubers to keep the population down.  If a vine does pop up in the spring where I don’t want one, I just pull it out, but I really haven’t had to do much of that.

 

This has turned out to be a great summer vine – lush, big foliage (leaves up to 10 inches across), no pests bothering it, and needs just an occasional watering.  It is great for a shady area where many plants won’t grow.  All they seem to need is a structure to grow on and minimal care.

 

 

A New Bloom

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

 

Things have pretty much settled down into the typical summer routine.  Watering the garden beds if we don’t get rain is pretty much the norm lately.  With a high pressure system over us, we have not been getting our usual summer afternoon showers.  I haven’t been using the soaker hoses that are in the beds under a layer of mulch, but I think by tomorrow I’ll start using them.  I planted some small shrubs this afternoon, and just about six inches down it was bone dry.  The soaker hoses will help with that.

 

The Peruvian daffodil (Hymenocallis narcissaflora), Ismene, started blooming.  This bulb is hardy here and so can be left in the ground over the winter.  The flowers are borne on two foot stems and has a lovely fragrance.  It has strap – like leaves similar to an amaryllis.  These white flowers are about four inches across.

 

 

This spider lily has some offshoot bulbs, so I guess I’ll be dividing it soon.  I can use those offsets to fill in some areas.  I have another clump of these bulbs, but it doesn’t look like it has sent out any bloom stalks.  It may be in too shady a spot.  It it doesn’t bloom this year, I may move it.  One more example of a gardener’s work is never done.

 

This summer blooming bulb is starting to become one of my favorites.  The fragrance, lovely flower shape, and bloom time makes this a good addition to my garden.

Entry Garden

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

 

When I started working on an entry garden, the large magnolia tree cast deep shade, and the grass was thinning out something awful.  There were also shallow roots from the tree creeping towards the edges of the little grass cover there was.  I decided enough was enough.  I used the drip line of the tree which corresponded with the thin grass line as the edge of the entry garden.  I made a corresponding shape across the sidewalk to match, and this was the beginnings of the garden. 

 

One of the difficulties of this garden is that it is in shade most of the day but does get intense sun for about four hours in the summer around noon time.  Deciding what plants can take shade and a short time in full sun was a problem.  Too much sun for most shade tolerant plants and not enough sun for sun loving plants to bloom.

 

I edged the outline with lirope.  This has helped slow down the rain from washing away soil, and now, the grass has thickened up considerably.  I added some soil, but because of the tree roots, I could not add that much.  I do what I call pocket gardening.  I dig a hole, add soil and then the plant.  This way I do not distrub the tree roots.  Every year I do add about an inch of amendments and gradually the soil is improving.

 

 

This is the left side which has the magnolia tree.  In the back I planted holly ferns because they will stay green all year.  In front of them I planted red amaryllises, again, because they have leaves through the early winter.  The big clump in the middle is pineapple sage – Golden Delicious.  Aztec grass, is also evergreen and helps give some color in the winter along with the cool season annuals.  Mystic Spires salvia, Lady in Red salvia, Limelight artemesia, ageratum, Ace of Spades and Marguerite sweet potato vines, and red ruellea “Rajun Cajun”  have all survived the winter.  This year I planted more Gingerland caladiums and, also, red wax begonias as the hot season annuals, and they have done well. In the past, begonias have not survived for me.  It may be that I over watered them before.

 

 

The right side repeats the same plants with the exception of the holly ferns.  Cleyera was already in the garden, so that is the evergreen background here instead of the ferns.  The Gingerland caladiums show up better in this photo than the other one does.  This side also has a red bleeding heart vine, coral bean tree, and celrodendron trichotomum in the back right of the photo.  Mexican Feather Grass is in a container on a stand.  I can’t decide if I want to plant it in the ground.  This grass gets so long, and I like the way it weeps down over the pot.

 

These two beds have filled out nicely, and I think after three years, I finally like what I see as I walk to the front door.

Hosta Blooms

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

 

Hostas are extremely popular for their lush, beautiful foliage.  The leaves come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and textures, all of which adds interest to the garden that flowers alone cannot do. 

 

But foliage isn’t the only selling point of hostas.  Their flowers, esp. on some of the newer varieties, can be wonderful, too.  Tall spikes of lavender, purple, or white appear in early summer.  Some are fragrant, and all seem to attract bees.  Mine have just started blooming, and the bumblebees are constantly buzzing around them.

 

 

The funnel-shaped flowers show up at a time when there are not many plants blooming.  The daylilies are almost finished, the Easter lilies are finished, and the hosta’s lily-like blooms begin.  While hostas grow in the shade, a few hours of sunlight will enhance flowering.  I usually cut off the spent bloom spikes because I am not interested in getting any hosta seeds.  I want all the plant’s energy to go in to making a bigger plant.  This photo shows one of my hostas that is growing with holly ferns, Marguerite sweet potatoe vine, and a Night-blooming Jasmine in the background.  I have found this to be a good mix for interest of color and leaf shape.

 

While a single hosta’s bloom may not be spectacular, several planted together can make a wonderful show.  Remember hostas aren’t just for foliage.

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