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


Every Christmas, my daughter gives me, as one of my presents, a gift card to a book store.  I use this to buy garden books since some of them can be pricey.  One of the books I bought is Garden Insects of  North America by Whitney Cranshaw.  At 656 pages you can be assured that this is a comprehensive book.  There are wonderful, close up photos, and the lay out and text is very user friendly.  I have called on this book many times since I bought it in 2007.



One of the insects I recently had to look up was a grasshopper.  Last year was the first year I had seen grasshoppers in the garden.  A few green ones and two or three black ones, which I quickly dispatched, were all that showed up.  This year has been different.  A few young green ones, but more of the black ones with yellow stripes.




The black ones turned out to be Eastern lubbers, and they can plow through plants like you wouldn’t believe.  These things are big – about four inches long and evil looking.  Dear Hubby captured and photographed this one, I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole. 


Yesterday there was one in the entry garden that I noticed while I was watering.  I tried to hose it so that it would jump onto the lawn where I could take care of it, but I couldn’t get it out of the garden.  Later, I saw it in a more open area and tried to spray it , but I wasn’t quick enough and only lightly hit it with bug spray.


This morning, same thing while I was watering, but this time I was able to knock it out of the garden with a spray of water.  Unfortunately, I was unable to do anything but chase it down the driveway, and it finally got away.  At least, I was hoping that it wouldn’t return.


Then, this afternoon while I was trying to take a photo of the bleeding heart vine, I saw another one (maybe the same one that returned?).  This time, he made the fatal mistake of being in an exposed area, and I was able to take him out. 


I am really starting to be concerned about these grasshoppers.  From what I have read, the only thing is to spray them, and I do not like to use any kind of pesticides.  The female lays about three batches of fifty eggs, and considering I am seeing more this year, next year may be worse.  There is not too much damage, yet.  A section of ageratum and several leaves of amaryllis were eaten.  I guess I have to start being more vigilant and really check the garden to make sure no more are lurking about.

Summer Readings

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


With all the hot weather we have been having lately, it is just about impossible to go out and work in the garden for any length of time.  Besides, now is not the time to be planting anything.  The risk of losing plants in hot, dry weather is just too great.  But, I have been rereading some of my garden books hoping to get some ideas of things to plant when the weather cools down.  Fall and early winter is the best time to plant shrubs and perennials in the South.


One of the best books for finding the right plant for any type of growing condition is The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists by Lois Trigg Chaplin.  This book has more than 200 lists of plants grouped by horticultural traits and also by uses.  It goes beyond the usual shade and sun listings.  It covers plants that are good for wet sites and dry sites, alkaline soil, clay soil, perennials that drape, shrubs that bloom four weeks or more, and annuals that take a pounding rain.  These are just a few of the categories.  These lists include trees, shrubs, annuals, roses, azaleas, perennials, vines, ferns, gournd covers, bulbs, ornamental grasses, and tropicals.  It also lists plants for certain areas like bulbs for the lower South, plants for Atlanta or Texas.  Any condition you have, this book has a list of plants that will do well there.



Another book I have been reviewing since all this hot weather set in is Tough Plants for Southern Gardens by Felder Rushing.  This book contains some of the toughest plants for Southern gardens.  Annuals, bulbs, perennials, shrubs, vines, and trees are covered.  This book is good for both experienced and novice gardeners.  Every section covered has a “Kinda Tricky” list with a “Best for Beginners” list for counterbalance.  Because of the South’s long growing season, our gardens need plants that can survive extreme heat, humidity, and sometimes drought.  This book lists them all.  Felder Rushing has also written Tough Plants for Northern Gardens, but, of course, I have not had to read that.



So, if you need to find a plant that will definitely do well in the South, check out these books.  Once cooler weather gets here, I may be able to finally use the information I’ve found in these books to buy some new plants for the garden.


It’s the Berries

“It’s the Berries”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Purple!  I mean shocking, I can’t believe it is not fake, nothing in nature is that color purple.  That was my first reaction to seeing American Beautyberry.  I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I wanted it.  It was growing in my neighbor’s yard, and my dad was the one who told me what it was, except he called it French mulberry, a name from his childhood.  After looking it up in garden books, I found out that is another common name for this plant.  Luckily, the birds spread this shrub to my yard, and now I have several and have even shared some with friends and relatives. 


For most of the year, this shrub is easily ignored.  It is deciduous, so in winter, there is no interest – no architectual form, no exfoliating bark.  In spring tiny pink flowers appear, but they are so small that you have to be very near to even see them.  There is not even a fragrance to attract you to them.  Soon, small green clusters of berries appear, but they blend in with the leaves, so they are not very noticible.  



But it is in late summer, early fall that this shrub becomes a star in the garden.  The berries turn a vibrant shade of purple that cannot be ignored.  The birds love the berries in winter which is one of the reasons that one was able to grow in my garden from my neighbor’s yard.  So for a show-stopping purple display American Beauty Berry can’t be topped.











A Color Contrast

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


One design element I like in my garden is contrast, particularly contrasts of color.  For example, I like red, which is a hot color, next to purple, a cool color. 


Another color combination I like is chartreuse next to dark purple.  I use this pairing with coleus and with sweet potato vine.  Years ago when Margarita sweet potato vine was first introduced, I used it in a hanging basket.  Then when Blackie was introduce a year or so later, they both went into hanging baskets.  It wasn’t until Ace of Spades came along that I found the perfect pairing.


I planted both Margarita and Ace of Spades in the garden.  I chose Ace over Blackie because the leaves of Margarita and Ace are so similar.  The two together look so good twining through the beds. 




Both of these colors have the same intensity which also makes them a good pairing.  But, with such intensity, a little goes a long way.  I find just one or two of each plant is enough, otherwise, there is too much color, and it loses the impact of the contrasting.


Margarita is the more vigorous of the two and needs to be trimmed back more often to keep under control.  I have been lucky that both vines have overwintered with mulch as protection.  Most people grow these as annual, summer vines.   Inexpensive as they are, combined together, they certainly make a big statement.


A New Blue

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


Today was my first day back at work after a long vacation.  Of course, when I came home everything needed to be watered since it had been a hot, cloudless day.  As I was watering the plants in the back garden, I received two delightful surprises. 


One was a bud on the bird of paradise.  I have been waiting years for that thing to bloom.  I know I have had that plant at least four years and probably it is really more than that.  I have kept it root bound, and did everything I had read to get it to bloom and nothing, that is until today.  I can hardly wait for the bud to open and to share a photo with you.


The other nice surprise was the blooming of the Blue Butterfly plant (clerodendrum ugandense).  This is my second summer with this plant, and last year it did not bloom until very late in the fall, and then only sparsely.  Well, today I noticed the first blooms opening.



The flower is a lovely shade of blue and is supposed to resemble a butterfly.  This is a tropical plant, and here it will freeze but does come back from the roots.  Last year I covered it with about 12 inches of pine straw, and it did come back quicker in the spring which may be why it is blooming earlier this year.



I have this plant located about fifteen feet from a blue plumbago, and now that the Blue Butterfly plant is in bloom, it makes the plumbago stand out even more.  As I wrote in an earlier post, I just love the true blue colored flowers and wish there were more of them.


So, finding these two little presents in my garden made going back to work not so bad.  I wonder what surprise Mother Nature has for me tomorrow to reward me for going back to work.

Summer Gardens

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


What a difference a day makes!  Hot, dry temperatures returned today, so there was no real work done in the garden.  At 6:00 pm the heat index was 97.  I don’t even want to think what it was around noon.


I did have a chance to go out and fertilize everything since there was no rain forecasted.  I figure that there will be only one more opportunity to hit everything with some fertilizer.  Since I only fertilize annuals after September 1st, that leaves only one more time to lightly fertilize the perennials. 


In some ways it is hard to imagine that fall is almost knocking at our doors.  It feels like spring was just here.  Getting exited over new things emerging from winter dormancy doesn’t seem so long ago, and now we are thinking ahead to the end of summer and everything that means.


Two days ago, I wrote about how parts of my garden are finally looking like I wanted.  Another area that I am pleased with is the entry garden.  All the plants have done well, and I am so pleased with the color scheme.  Sometimes it is hard to put into actuality what is only a vision in our heads.  I have had more than a few ideas not work out, but, for this section of the garden, everything just fell into place.



The gingerland caladiums, red wax begonias, red ruellea, gerber daisies and the lady in red salvia have all filled in well.  I like the lush, thick growth here.  I was lucky that everything but the wax begonias overwintered.  That way they had a head start in the spring, and I had more money to spend on new plants since none of these had to be replaced.



Fall is my favorite time of year, but I almost hate to see summer come to an end because that means this garden will be winding down.  The caladiums will go dormant, and the other plantings will have to be trimmed back to allow for the cool season annuals to be put in.  While this garden does look nice for the winter, it does not have the lushness of the summer garden.  The fall plantings grow more slowly until springtime, partly due to cooler temperatures and partly because this area gets little sun in the winter months.  Of course, if a hard freeze would come through, then there will be nothing much showing but mulch.  I guess I need to start thinking of plants I could put in that would give this area some bones for the winter.  Right now the only plants that definitely stay year round are the Aztec grass, holly ferns and ajuga.


But, fall and winter are weeks away, and there are still many days left to enjoy what is here now – lush, summer gardens.

Garden Workday

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

Well, with tropical storm Edouard in the Gulf, we have had a fairly pleasant day.  While it did heat up, there was a nice breeze which made the high temperatures tolerable.  I was able to go out in the garden and actually work, something I haven’t been able to do for weeks.

First job I tackled was the planting of all sorts of plants that have been sitting in pots waiting to go in the ground.  I had bought some four o’clocks (yellow and white ones) two weeks ago, and those were the first things planted.  I also put in about eight coleus I had rooted, and then some daylilies.  While planting those, I pulled grass that was creeping too close to the bed line.

Yellow Four O'clock
Yellow Four O’clock

Next, I started digging out some lirope that had crept too far into the flower beds.  That was a tough job.  Then, I dug up one of my holly ferns that is by the patio.  A few of those holly ferns are getting way too much sun now that there are fewer trees in the back yard.  I really wanted to wait until early spring to move them, but I had a daylily that would now be prefect in that place, so out it came.  That was the last job I did because that fern was huge (about a 5 gallon size). and all that work plus the heat finally got to me. I placed it in front of the bamboo with other holly ferns, and it should do well there.  The others that need to be moved will have to wait until spring.

Planted Daylily
Planted Daylily

At this time of year, the heat indexes usually run from 103 to 107 degrees.  So, to have a day when I could go outside and work for about 5 hours is very unusual.  It is almost as if God has given me a little present to compensate for my having to go back to work on Wednesday and not being able to work in the garden except on the weekends.

Finally Some Maturity

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


Finally, certain areas of the garden are starting to look like I envisioned they would when I started planting years ago.  Shrubs are getting to be a good size and herbaceous perennials are now filling out.  It seemed that for a long time the flower beds looked skimpy and spare.  When it looks like that, it is hard not to over plant to make up for the small size of the plants.  I used to fill in with annuals, but now, I find, I don’t have to do that.



Here is one area of the garden that is looking so much better this year.  The lorepetlums, azaleas, and roses finally have some size to them.  The agapanthus plants are huge, and the hydrangeas have grown to be substantial.  Daylilies, Mexican Bush Sage, and amaryllis are also now big enough to stand out.  Of course, certain plants will die back during the winter and return in the spring, but now there are enough that even in the winter there will be some interest.  Not like before when there seemed to be nothing come January.



Now that there is some height to this border, it makes a nice division from the neighbors next door.  The vitex tree, crybaby tree, cassia, and Japanese maple add the height, and the other shrubs add the screening.


Of course, some areas of the garden are looking better than others.  The areas that were planted first are looking the best, and this helps me be patient with those sections that are newer and not so lush.


It would seem that in the spring, with all the blooming shrubs and spring flowers, that the garden would look its best.  In early summer with daylilies, hydrangeas, and lilies in bloom, it also could be said to look its best.  I will admit that it does look good at those times, but now, that the plantings are starting to mature, I find that the height of summer is when it really does look its best.  There may not be as many flowers around, but there is a lot of lush growth, texture, and subtle color that makes the garden outstanding for me.  This is how I envisioned my garden would look when I started planting years ago.

Sweet Autumn Clematis Season

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


Yesterday was another day of rain – over an inch and a half.  It wasn’t really needed, but it was appreciated.  The garden and esp. the weeds seem to have taken off with all the rain we have been having lately.


One indication that we are starting to see the end of summer is the blooming of the sweet autumn clematis.  I noticed today that one of mine is just starting to bloom.  In a week or so, it will be covered in white blooms.



This is a very vigorous and fast growing vine.  In late summer, early fall, the white flowers thickly cover the vine and make a striking show.  This clematis is one of the easiest to grow and does well here.  Our heat and humidity is too much for many clematis, but this one thrives here.  After the flowers fade, the seed heads are very pretty.  They are feathery and a pale beige color.  I have started to find  that this clematis self seeds well.  Little plants are beginning to pop up around the garden.  Some I just pull up and discard, and others I pot up for any friends and family who want them.   When people see the vine in full bloom, they usually want plants or seeds.  Because it reproduces so easily by seed, it is considered invasive in some locations.  I don’t seem to have a problem controlling the seedlings. 


Several years ago, I had a huge sweet autumn clematis growing up a river birch tree.  It was spectacular when in bloom.  Unfortuantely, the river birch blew over in Katrina and had to be cut down.  The clematis is still around, but I haven’t found a place to plant it where it can grow and display its wonderful autumn flowers.  I guess that is a task for next year.


When the garden is starting to show signs that summer plantings are a bit past their prime, sweet autumn clematis helps bridge the time until we can put in our cool season plants.

August Muse Day

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

 Today is Garden Blogger’s Muse Day, day to post a poem relating to gardening.

Summer in the South

 Paul Laurence Dunbar


 The Oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid, and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and piney,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.


Thanks to Carolyn of Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for starting Garden Bloggers’ Muse Day.  Won’t you join in?

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