Winter White in the Garden

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

 

Two weeks ago, we had the rare snow fall here in the Deep South, but the winter white I am referring to now has nothing to do with snow.  The winter white I am referring to has to do with white flowers now blooming in my garden.  White is just about my favorite flower color, and right now several are showing up.

 

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The violas I planted about a month ago are settling in nicely.  They have started growing and putting out a profusion of blooms.  The white ones are among my favorites.  I like to pretend they are snow on the ground.  When they really start blooming it is not too big a stretch to imagine there is snow on the ground.

 

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The paperwhites started opening up this week.  These are ones I received from my sister or ones I have planted in the garden when they finished blooming after being forced for holiday blooms.  I know many experts say to just discard them because forced bulbs won’t do well in the garden, but I have always planted mine and have gotten blooms the next year.  This bulb does well for us in the Deep South because it needs no chilling.  I may pick some for a Christmas arrangement.

 

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This Iceberg rose bud shows that the roses will still put out flowers even when temperatures are still cold.  Because the ground stays warm here, these roses never go dormant and will bloom off and on throughout the winter.  Picking one like this for a small bud vase adds so much to a desk top.

 

Even though we will not have snow for Christmas, because of the white flowers in the garden, we still will have a white Christmas.

Hanger Ons

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

 

Even though the shortest day of the year is just days away and cold weather (with a rare snowfall) has been here for weeks, there are  a few summer blooms still hanging on.  This azalea is way too late to be blooming, but here it is in mid-December.

 

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Here is a little hydrangea that has just put out a new flower.  You can see the dried flower in the lower right.  This juxtaposition of new and old  may be more appropriate for December 31st.

 

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I guess these flowers are not ready to give up, but it looks odd to have them at the same time as the red berries of the hollies, camellias, pansies,  and other winter flowers.  Another example of nature hanging on to life.

Seed Pod Update

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

 

Back in November I wrote about the gardenia seed pod that was starting to ripen.  In that post, I showed the green pod as I first saw it in July and how it was ripening to a orange-gold.  Well, the seed pod has finally fallen off the gardenia bush after turning a bright red. 

 

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I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to open the pod up and to see what was inside.  The pod was still fleshy inside after I opened it up.  I was surprised to find many little seeds.  I figured that there would have been one big seed, but that idea turned out to be wrong. 

 

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After the pod dries up a little more, I will wash the seeds, and then plant them.  I still have been unable to find out any information on germinating gardenia seeds, so I may try a few different methods.  I don’t know if they need light to germinate or not, so I’ll try both ways.  It will be interesting to see if any sprout.  Wish me luck.

What!?!

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

 

I am totally confused.  Mother Nature has me in a tizzy.  I just don’t know what to expect next.  I have written before about how plants are blooming out of season.  Some way too early even though we have had cooler than normal temperatures.  Our big dark pink camellia that is usually blooming by now, has nothing but tightly closed buds, and today, as I was walking around the garden, I saw this.

 

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That’s right, the first forsythia bloom.  There are several popping out already.  Forsythia doesn’t bloom around here until late January at the earliest.  Its blooming is a signal for spring to be right around the corner.  I sure hope this early showing of a few blooms is not a sign that we will not have the big burst of yellow in a few months.  I would hate to just have a few blooms at a time over a long period.

 

Maybe these shrubs are just confused by the colder than normal weather we have been having and think that it should be blooming because winter must be just about over.  Who can tell?  If the plants are confused about whether they should be blooming or not, I am no better.  I am so puzzled about what is going on, but I have decided to just go along with Mother Nature’s plans for this year and just enjoy what happens when it happens.

Garden Friends

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

 

Every time I go out into the garden, I am being shadowed.  Nothing sinister here.  It is just Rusty, our garden cat, who is a great garden companion.  Whenever I am working in the garden, he is right there checking out and supervising what I am doing.  If I go out to just sit quietly or read, he is right there with me sitting quietly or taking a nap in the chair next to me.  We always have considered ourselves to be dog people, but after being adopted by two stray cats, we have learned to appreciate the feline nature.  They really aren’t that cold and aloof, but can be quite affectionate and loving.  Here is Rusty hunkered down waiting for me to be finished taking garden photos.

 

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Another little garden friend belongs to the neighbors across the street.  She spends most of her days in our garden sleeping in the ferns or under the boxwood.   She, too, was a stray that they adopted after Hurricane Katrina.  She doesn’t follow us around the garden like Rusty does, but she will sit close by and watch our every move.  Blackie will attentively listen as I talk to her while I garden.  She always looks at me as if she understands every word.  Here she is intently watching a squirrel that is across the yard.

 

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Just like the birds that contribute color, song, and movement, pets add another dimension to a garden.  If anyone would happen to just walk up while I am in the garden, they probably would think I am a little batty and talking to myself.  But, on closer inspection ,they would see one or both of these furry garden friends close by taking the time to pass the day with me in the sunshine and fresh air.

December Bloom Day

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

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for coming up with Garden Bloggers’s Bloom Day.  This is the day (15th of the month) in which we post everything which is blooming in our gardens.

Here is what is blooming in Covington, Louisiana in the middle of December.

Violas

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Yuletide sasanqua

 

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White sasanqua

 

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Debutant camellia

 

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Petunias

 

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Turk’s Turban really isn’t in bloom, but the sepals have turned a seasonal red.

 

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A few sages (Lady in Red, Bog Sage, Autumn Sage) still have some meager blooms.  The Mexican sage still looks pretty good considering the recent weather.  A few roses are showing up on the Knockouts, Icebergs, and Butterfly rosebushes.

 

All and all, not too bad for the middle of December.

Snow Affects

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

 

Okay, last post about the Blizzard of 2008 that hit our area Thursday.  The big question is how did the snow affect the garden.  Since the snow was so unexpected, none of my tropical and semitropical plants were protected.  Temperatures did not fall below freezing until that night, so I was fairly certain everything that was snow covered would be all right.  I am happy to report that it seems only the coleus has bit the dust.

 

The agapanthus looks a little tired.  No cold damage, but I think the weight of the snow smashed it a bit.  It looks as if someone sat on it.  The amaryllis foliage is bent down in the same way, too.

 

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The calla lilies came out fine.  Even with the snow covering, they are still standing upright.  The elephant ears were not so lucky.  They are bent over, but that’s okay since they will probably freeze back in January anyway.

 

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Mexican Sage  is fine.

 

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The ginger made it though the snow storm still upright and unfazed as did the cannas.

 

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The petunias and violas were completely covered in snow, but now that it has melted, they look as if they had never even seen snow.

 

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So all in all, the snow did not affect very much, and the plants around here suffered no real damage.  From the Boston Ferns to the Easter lilies just starting to pop up, everything seems to have survived the Blizzard of 2008.

Snow, Two

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

I still can’t get over the fact that we had snow here in South Louisiana yesterday.  This is the earliest the New Orleans area has recorded a snowfall.  There was a full moon last light, and it made the snow so pretty.  It only got down to about 30 degrees, but that did allow the snow to remain through the night.  In fact, many people in our area still had snow on their lawns and roofs at 4:30 PM when I got home today.

Here are a few more snow pictures from yesterday taken by dear hubby.  This is a photo of our house from the side yard.  When I look at this picture, I can hardly believe that it is our house all covered in snow.  I am just not used to seeing it all in white.  Even in the dead of winter, everything is usually still green.

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This next photo, taken from the neighbor’s yard, shows both the bamboo and the cassia tree snow laden and bending down.  Seeing these two bent over reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “Birches”.

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By late afternoon today,  the snow had mostly melted away, but there were a few areas where it hung on.  This holly bush was a good example.

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Because it will probably be a long time before we see snow again, everyone was a little sad to see it slowly go away.

The Real Thing

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

 Today, for only the eighth time in sixty years, we had snow.  Snow in the New Orleans area is a rare occurrence (only 17 times since 1850), and it was an unexpected pleasure to watch it come down today.  It wasn’t predicted for our area.  In fact just about every time it does snow, it is not predicted to do so.  I left for work this morning, and there was a little bit of ice falling, but everything melted as soon as it hit the ground.  About 7:45 AM, it started coming down – big, fat, wet flakes.  At first, everything melted as soon as it landed, but soon it started to accumulate.  At home, the same thing was happening, and we ended up with 2-3 inches of snow.  Areas about fifteen miles farther north had 8 inches.  An unbelievable amount around here.  By about 11:00 AM, it stopped snowing and became a light rain which soon stopped completely so the snow did stay for a while longer.

 

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I took these photos when I got home about 3PM.  The sun had just come out, and our surprise snow was slowly starting to melt.  With temperatures hovering around 37 degrees, it was not disappearing quickly which made me happy, as  I was hoping to see some snow at our house.  The above picture shows a neighbor’s house still covered.

 

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The north side of our property still had a covering of snow.  Because this snow was unexpected, none of the plants were protected.  I am hoping, because it did not get below freezing, the snow will not have damaged anything.  Many tender perennials still looked fine.

 

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The above photo is the bamboo still weighted down with snow.   We had two large pine limbs break off, but they did not fall on anything, thankfully.  Tonight it is supposed to get down into the upper twenties, and then tomorrow it will be in the low sixties.  One thing about winter here, we don’t stay cold long.

When I put the snow falling on my blog, I never thought I would see the real thing this year.  I am so excited that I get to participate in Nancy Bond’s Garden Bloggers’ First Snowfall Project.

Saturday will be the first chance to see if there has been any plant damage.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything is okay.  I know that there are so many northern gardeners who will look at this snow and not be too impressed, but for a semitropical area this was a very nice surprise.

Seasonal Euphorbia

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

 

There is still a little time to run out and buy a poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) if you haven’t already.  You need one for this Friday.  I didn’t realize that there even was a National Poinsettia Day or that December 12th was the day.  An act of Congress made this an official day.  December the twelfth was chosen because this is the date of Joel Robert Poinsett’s death.  He was the ambassador to Mexico, and while he was there, he sent cuttings of the native Mexican plant back to the United States thus starting a whole new holiday tradition.

 

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So, if you decide to purchase one of these seasonal decorations, remember that poinsettias are tropical plants and to keep them out of drafts which may cause leaf drop, keep them in filtered light, water sparingly, and try to move them to a cooler area at night.  Some very interesting poinsettia facts can be found here.

 

Happy National Poinsettia Day.

 

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