Bananas

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

 

Well, we finally received some rain.  It has not rained here since May 22nd, and tonight, around 7:15 the rain, accompanied by tremendous thunder, started and was finished by 7:30pm.  The rain gauge shows .30 inches.  Even though this is not very much, it will help reinforce the watering I have been doing.  I water the garden beds but only rarely water the lawn.  It has to show definite signs of drought before I water.  Surprisingly, since I have put the lawn on a water diet, it is doing much better.  With our high humidity and heat, fungal diseases like brown patch can show up fairly regularly, so less watering helps with that.  It also forces the grass roots to go deeper which is what is supposed to be what you want them to do and not stay close to the surface.

 

I wish the rain would have come in the late afternoon, so that the temperatures might have been lowered.  It has been so hot that working in the garden has to stop by about ten o’clock.  I still am trying to work everyday, and I can see some improvements.  I just keep telling myself that a garden is never finished so stop trying to make it perfect. 

 

One thing that is thriving in the high heat and humidity is the red banana tree.

 

 

This Musa sumatrana “Rojo”  is starting its second year in the garden.  Last year it was small but did well, putting out gorgeous red and green leaves.  This year it seems as if it will reach its mature height of 6 to 8 feet by the end of the summer.   Having tropical plants such as this makes up for having to put up with all that heat and humidity. 

 

I have three green banana trees that I did not plant, nor were they here when we moved in.  I have no idea where they came from.  One day I noticed what I thought was a canna coming up by the patio.  The next year when it came up after the winter, I transplanted it to another area.  By the end of the summer, I thought that  it looked different from a canna, and the next year I could tell it was a banana tree.  Maybe it came as a tag-a-long in a plant I bought or someone gave me.  I’ll never know, but I like having them.

A Good Idea

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

 

One of the best gardening ideas to ever be developed was sun tolerant caladiums.  I have used “regular” caladiums in my garden for years, but always in shady locations.  Nothing brightens up a shady area like the green and white ones such as Candidum, June Bride, Aaron, and my personal favorite, White Christmas.  I have used Pink Beauty, Freida Hemple, and Kathleen under the magnolia tree to add a little color where nothing else would grow.

 

But, there are areas that receive short periods of intense sun and then shade for the rest day that those listed above just can’t take.  I had tried some in the entry garden, but by the end of June, they had faded and were struggling in the noon day sun.  Then, last year, I tried a sun tolerant caladium – Gingerland. 

 

It works well in shade.

 

 

I originally chose this one because of its colors.  Since that garden is mainly red and purple flowers, the green and white with splashes of red would be perfect.  These little tubers have worked out perfectly.  They get full sun at least four hours each day around noon time, and they can take it.  I do water the garden almost daily in this heat, but I do it more for the other plants than the caladiums.  And, if the other plants wilt, Gingerland never does.

 

It works well in sun.

 

 

This sun tolerant caladium has performed well where other caladiums just looked stressed and faded after a few weeks in the noon day sun.  While I would not try and grow them in a hot, dry area, these filled a need for a colorful plant that could take both shade and sun.

 

 

Big Blue

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

 

For drama in the garden, you can not do better than a big clump of agapanthus.  These plants really punctuate a space.  Their large round clusters of various shades of blue or white flowers are airy but striking, growing as they do on three foot plus stems.  All they require is well-drained soil, sun, and a little fertilizer.  I have about five clumps of this Lily of the Nile spaced out along one long bed.  It looks like this fall I will have to divide a few of the clumps since they are getting so big.

 

 

These plants were gifts from my sister.  She has the most prolific garden.  Everything she grows seems to multiply like crazy, and I reap the benefits since she is so generous.  One good thing about getting these from her, besides saving money, is that the plants were so big.  They started blooming the first year I had them, not like the Elaine one I bought.

 

 

Elaine is a small, very dark blue agapanthus.  It took a few years for it to bloom, and when it did, the blooms did not really open up well; the flowers just kind of hang down.  I just read in our local paper yesterday that the reason for this is that the sheath that covers the flower head doesn’t properly split open and fall to the side to allow the flower buds to open in a round ball.  You are supposed to gently pull the sheath apart and down to the sides to free up the flowers to open.  I don’t know if I will be able to do try this because I divided my clump of Elaine in the fall, and she may not bloom this year.

 

In the mean time, I will enjoy the ones that are blooming now.

A Great Pairing

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

 

Every now and then, plans you make work out better than expected.  When I planted these crinum next to the pink hydrangeas, I had never seen them in bloom.  I just thought that the crinums would look good side by side with the hydrangeas.  I was hoping both plants would have flower colors that would be compatible.  It turned out I was right.

 

 

My sister had given me the crinums, but I had only seen pictures in garden books of the blooms.  She told me they would be pink, and I thought the contrast of flower shapes would be interesting.  The contrast in the foliage also adds interest, though this photo is a little deceiving.  The crinum’s leaves are long and slender, similar to amaryllis.  Since this is a picture of the flowers more than the leaves, you can’t see the crimum’s foliage.  The broad leaves in the photo are those of the hidden ginger.

 

Garden experts are always telling us to have texture in the garden.  I think this was a lucky pairing for me.  I got the texture and great blooms, too.

Tearing Out Star Jasmine

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

 

I will never, ever allow confederate jasmine in my garden again. 

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the petite white flowers, and the fragrance on a spring day or night is wonderful, but it is not worth trying to keep this in check.  As I posted in January, I ripped out the confederate jasmine that was growing up the side of the house.  Well, it is coming back.  It is not growing so much up as out.  I started today to pull out what was beginning to creep into the entry garden and lawn and ended up exhausted, sore, and way behind the jasmine.  After working about two hours in the heat, I was able to clear out only about a five foot section, and I am not sure I got all of the runners. 

 

I have not ever used any type of herbicide in all the years of gardening because I just am not comfortable with them, but I may have to resort to doing so now.  This stuff is just too much.  My last attempt will be to have the head groundskeeper (dear hubby) run the lawn mower over everything and then see if it will be easier to rip this stuff out without all the vines being tangled up.

 

In the past, we would have freezes that would occasionally knock it back and keep it in check.   Since that hasn’t happened in several years, I was unprepared for how this would grow and become an overwhelming job.  But I am determined to get rid of this vine once and for all.  It just may take me a while to do so.

 

Now, that I am all worked up again about this daunting task, to calm down a bit here are some photos of more well behaved plants.

 

 

 

This sage was given to me about five years ago by my daughter’s neighbor.  I like it for its true blue color.  It gets very tall, but in the back of the border, it looks great.

 

 

The bee balm returned from last year and is blooming.  I am thinking of transplanting some of it to the entry garden where a little more purple is needed.

 

Ahh, looking at flower photos has calmed me down.  I’ve almost forgot about that #*@*# vine.

Lacecap Hydrangeas

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

When we moved into our home many years ago, the first neighbors we met were an elderly couple who lived across the street.  After we got to know them, they shared many of their plants that they had propagated with me.  They had a large wooded lot filled with azaleas, pine trees, and hydrangeas.  However,  they were not the hydrangeas I was used to seeing.  I had always thought that hydrangeas were the French or mophead types.  Percy and Ethel grew the lacecap ones.   They had huge bushes of them all around their back property line.  They grew pink, blue and the variegated foliage type lacecaps. 

This is one of Percy’s lacecaps.  After Percy and Ethel passed away, the new owners ripped out all the hydrangeas and azaleas for new landscaping.   They just dumped them in the back of the empty lot next door, and when I saw this, I had to rescue those poor plants.  Luckily, it was in early spring, and they transplanted well.  These shrubs now are filling in a large area of my back garden.  I have propagated them and given away cuttings to friends and family.  Now, Percy’s lacecap hydrangeas are in Virginia, Destrehan, Metaire, and Mandeville, LA.  I know he would be pleased.

Another lacecap I have is from my sister.  It is white and has become quite large.  This, too, I have propagated and given away.  This striking shrub always elicts comments when in bloom.

Lacecaps with their flat, round flower heads are a great addition to a garden.  I also grow the oakleaf and mophead types.  If you cut the flowers of any hydrangea for indoor use, submerge them completely in cool water for about an hour and then place in a water filled vase.  If you do not do this, the flowers quickly wilt.  But by conditioning them, they will last for days.  If they start to wilt in the vase, submerge them again, and they will revive.  I love having arrangements of them in my dining room.  It reminds me of Sunday dinners when I was a child.  Even just one flower makes a striking display.

Hydrangeas need morning sun and afternoon shade.  If you do not have a shady area in your garden, these plants can be grown in containers.  All they need is well drained soil and a container about 15-16 inches.  Growing them in containers gives some flexibility for placement where they can thrive.

So thanks to Percy and Ethel, I found a great plant that always reminds me of great neighbors, great gardeners, and great people.

Cannas

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

 

When it comes to growing cannas either I have great success or failure to thrive.  First the successes.  Pretoria or Bengal Tiger cannas has done very well in my garden.  Given plenty of sunshine and water and this takes off every spring.  I placed it in a back corner of the garden, and the foliage repeats the colors and stripes of the variegated shell ginger about fifteen feet away.

 

 

 

 

I have the peach hibiscuses nearby and that helps repeat the canna’s flower color.  You can see some in the background.

 

Across the garden from the Pretoria canna, I have planted a new one this year.  It has a spectacular flower.  It is among the biggest I have ever seen on a canna.  Tropical Sunrise came from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  Mine is only about two feet tall, but it seems to be very vigorous.  Already there are two more stalks coming up.

 

 

Here, I am able to leave the rhizomes in the ground year round with just a heavier mulching in the winter.  Cannas are heavy feeders, so I fertilize monthly.  Some areas have problems with the canna leaf roller, but I have not had too bad a problem with those pests.  About two summers ago, I did have a small amount of damage on the President cannas.  I first cut off and destroyed the stalks which really didn’t help, but a spray of BT did the trick.  That’s the only time I have had any problems with leaf rollers.  Not many of my neighbors grow cannas, so maybe that is why I haven’t had a problem.

 

China Doll canna is another success story.  I have this in the front “pink” garden.  This is a dwarf canna I have had for years.

 

 

I also grow some of the old-fashioned India Shot canna (canna indica) in red and in yellow.  Even though the flowers are very small, I still like these heirloom plants that have been grown in Southern gardens for over a hundred years.

 

So that you know that not all have been successes.  I had a Futurity Rose, a lovely burgundy leaf with rose flowers, that did not survive a winter, The President canna, a lovely red, that has just languished after one year (maybe I should divide it), and a light yellow canna that never really grew or bloomed.

 

Even though not every canna I have planted has flourished, I still think they are great additions to a garden, esp. if you are looking for a tropical atmosphere.

 

 

Happy Birthday to my sister, Patty Jean.

 

 

 

 

Garden Visitors

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

 

I had two garden visitors today.  One ordinary and one not so ordinary.  We have been having many bumble bees but not too many honey bees.  We all know about the problems the little honey bee has been having lately.  I noticed one honey bee on the magnolia blossom.  Maybe there are more around.

 

 

The other visitor was a box turtle.  I was watering the Iceberg roses when I saw something at the base.  At first, I thought it was a toad since it was in the shadows.  I was glad to see this little turtle because the Louisiana box turtle has been having problems because of habitat loss and their being collected and sold as pets (until the legislature passed a law in 1999 stopping this).  Occasionally we have seen a rather large turtle around, but this one was only about four inches long.  Is this why the slugs do not seem so plentiful this year?

 

 

I worked in the entry garden today cleaning the holly ferns.  I couldn’t believe that I had two garbage cans of dead fronds.  I think next year I might just wack them back to the ground.  Some are three feet tall and too large to dig out, but they are getting too big for the space.  Even though I was in the shade, it was HOT.  I don’t know if I will be working in the garden in July (even in the early morning).  I hope to finish the sprucing up of the garden before then.

Sunshine in the Garden

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

 

As part of my plan to finish up getting the garden in shape, I have divided it up into six areas.  I work on one area a day, with Sunday as a day of rest.  This has helped me be more focused.  I am not looking at different areas and getting worked up over unfinished or unweeded parts of the garden.  I concentrate on only one section a day.

 

Today I worked on the circle garden side which gets morning sun.  Going out around 6:30 AM to beat the heat, I started on the property line bed.  I pulled more Virginia Creeper, privet seedlings, and honeysuckle vines out that had grown since Easter.  I took the advice of Carol of May Dreams Gardens and used a hoe on the myriad little seedlings of privet and creeper.  It really saved my back. 

 

It wasn’t until I started on the circle garden itself that the sun really started to beat down in earnest.  I was working on cleaning up the edges of the two semi-circular and the circle beds of grass that had crept in over the winter.  The sun was so hot it almost felt like it was burning my skin.  Of course, I had on sunscreen and a large hat, but by 11:30 I had had it.  I did not finish the circular bed, but I will just do it another day.  Maybe I should wait until 6:30 PM when the sun is not shining there anymore.

 

But, to get to more pleasant sunny images – yellow flowers in the garden.

 

 

This double yellow hibiscus is called Full Moon and bloomed today.  When it and the peach ones are blooming together it reminds me of citrus fruits.  Sometimes I float them in the birdbath, alternating the colors.

 

 

This is another of the Oakes Daylilies.  This bloom is a large yellow one.  I can’t wait for this one to multiply.  It really stands out in the garden.

 

Well, the heat of summer is upon us here in the Gulf South.  When working in the garden with the sun beating down and no rain in sight, it would be nice for an occasional cloud to come by.  Today, I would have rather have had the yellow of flowers instead of the hot yellow sun.

June Muse Day

Barefoot Days

by

Rachel Field

In the morning, very early,
That’s the time I love to go
Barefoot where the fern grows curly
And the grass is cool between each toe,
On a summer morning – O!
On a summer morning!

That is when the birds go by
Up the sunny slopes of air,
And each rose has a butterfly
Or a golden bee to wear;
And I am glad in every toe –
Such a summer morning – O!
Such a summer morning!
 
 
 Thanks to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for starting Garden Bloggers’ Muse Day

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