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


I noticed this little sunflower was in bud over the weekend, and it has just opened today.





It was at the base of the bird feeder and is one of the black oil sunflowers.  It seems strange that with all the cold weather we have been having lately that this little seed would be able to germinate, the plant would survive three freezes, and still be able to bloom.  Nature certainly can be tenacious.

You Have to Do Your Research

“You Have to Do Your Research”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


I am sure everyone has planted something that turned into  a big surprise and sometimes not a pleasant one.   Well, that has happened on more than one occasion to us, but the one instance I am thinking about right now happened when we first moved into our house 32 years ago and decided we needed to spruce up the landscaping.


One of the plants we bought and the only ones that are still around today were Burford Hollies.  Dwarf Burford Hollies to be exact.  We saw them at a nursery, thought they were pretty, thought they would be perfect for the planter in front of the house, so into the car they went for the ride to their new home.  This was in the days before I knew to look up unfamiliar plants before buying them, and the Internet, which can be a huge source of such information, was not even a thought in anyone’s mind.  So, no research was done, and we had no idea these would not be good foundation plants.


Big mistake.  Oh, they were fine for a few years.  They were about a foot and a half tall when we bought them and over the next two years grew moderately.  Then, they really took off, and we found out that “dwarf” didn’t really mean small.  In this instance, “dwarf” only means smaller than the original Burford.  Oh, they were smaller than the regular Burford holly which can grow 15 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide.  The dwarf grows 10 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide.  Way too big for a small brick planter in front of a window.


After a few years of trimming them back (almost constantly), we dug them up and transplanted them to other areas of the garden where they are much more at home.  They can be kept to a smaller size with constant trimming back, but then the berry production is affected.  The nice thing about Burford hollies is that this holly is self pollinating.  Other hollies may be male or female, and the two are needed  to produce berries but not the Burfords.  If you have only one, they will still produce berries.






At this time of year, I certainly do appreciate our dwarf Burford hollies for the seasonal color and interest they bring to the garden.

What’s Going On?

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


I can’t figure out what’s going on.  Here we are in the first week of December, having the coolest fall ever, already have had several light freezes, and I still have hibiscus blooming.  Not just one or two but many, and there are buds galore on all the hibiscus bushes.  Usually at this time of year there are very few if any flowers as the plants seem to go dormant.  I will admit that most of the flowers are smaller than they are in warmer times, but two nights ago it was down to 27 degrees, and these guys didn’t even blink.


Red Hibiscus Bud

Red Hibiscus Bud

Peach Hibiscus in December

Peach Hibiscus in December

Okay, so I have hibiscus plants that are still blooming.  What’s to figure out about that?  Well, this afternoon, I noticed this.

Yes, that’s right.  It is a narcissus bud.  They are a little early, and the hibiscus is a little late.  It seems my garden doesn’t know what to do.
Notice the seasonal snow on the posts?  Living this far south, I have a feeling this is the closest I’ll get to snow this year.

Gather Ye Rose Hips While Ye May…

“Gather Ye Rose Hips While Ye May…”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


The other day while strolling around the garden and neighborhood, I noticed the all the rose hips that had started to ripen.  I usually don’t pay much attention to them because they are mostly green and get snipped off so that more flowers will develop, but now that winter is coming many are starting to stand out.


The ones which caused me to notice the rose hips in the first place were the Cherokee rose’s hips.  These were so large they could not be ignored.  This rose is a huge rambling one, and, across the street, they have been allowed to grow wild at the back of the neighbors’ properties.  In springtime, it is a gorgeous sight with the white single roses clambering over everything.  But, now that cold weather is here, the rose hips are a standout.  This is the first time I have walked back there at this time of year and noticed them, but it is hard to believe that I never did notice such huge rose hips before this.  They are at least two inches long and about 5/8 of an inch wide.  There are so many on a branch that I am considering gathering some for holiday decorations.  They would look nice either natural or spray painted.  This is one time “big hips” would not be a negative.





After seeing the Cherokee rose hips, I started to look for others.  This one is a tiny ripe one on a pink climbing rose bush.  I don’t know the name of the rose because I received it as a rooted cutting from my mother who got hers from a friend, but it is fairly common as I see it growing in all the older neighborhoods.  This bright little jewel is a perfect example of what I think a rose hip is supposed to look like.




Lastly, I found several rose hips on all of the Knockout roses, but they are still green.  I think I will leave them on to see if they will also change color.





Some roses did not have any hips at all.  Iceberg is one that had none which I found a little surprising.  The Fairy, also, was “hipless”.


I knew that rose hips contain the rose seeds, are a great source of vitamin C, and that the birds love them, but there were unusual several facts that I learned from just a little research.  Did you know that rose hips are popular treats for pet chinchillas?  It seems that chinchillas can’t produce vitamin C and do not have the internal organs to digest a variety of foods, but rose hips are a safe way to increase their vitamin C.  Rose hips fed to horses help condition  their coats and new hoof growth.    Lastly, the fine hairs inside rose hips can be used as an itching powder.  Now, you have some wonderful new facts to throw around and surely impress the other guests at all the upcoming  holiday parties.

Purple Sweetie

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


Here is another sweet little viola that is blooming in the garden right now.  I have already posted photos of the yellow, white, and the white and purple violas that I planted about a month ago.  They all seem to be doing very well.  These bright little flowering plants are hardy here in the coastal south.

One thing about pansies and violas is that they are heavy feeders.  They need a shot of liquid fertilizer about every two weeks.  When it is cold outside, it is hard to start working with liquids.  Nothing chills the hands like the combination of water and cold temperatures.  One thing which helps delay the need for liquid fertilizing, that I learned from my father, is to sprinkle blood meal around these plants when you are first planting them.  It gives them the boost they need, and you can wait a little longer before dragging out the hose, filling up a watering can with icy water, and trudging out in the cold to apply liquid fertilizers.  Of course, the blood meal also allows you to delay fertilizing for a little while in the hopes of a warm spell showing up.

This little purple sweetie is a great addition to the other violas and a wonderful winter flower.  I can hardly wait for all of them to get bigger and really start putting out the blooms.


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

It’s getting to be that time of year.  Yes, that’s right.  Time to rake up all the autumn leaves that only a few weeks ago everyone was oohing and ahhing over.  Around here we usually rake up leaves and pine needles three times – November 1st, December 15th and February 15th.  We do this because first the leaves and pine needles fall, then just more pine needles, and finally the live oak leaves start coming down around the end of January.  This year I didn’t get around to the first raking until the last week in November and there is still about a quarter of the yard left to do.

To do all this raking we depend not only on the ordinary rakes but more importantly the Power Rake.  There is no way I could do all the raking I have to do without this wonderful rake.  What makes it so easy is that when you pull the rake towards you, the 24 inch head gathers all the leaves, pine needles etc. and the upper shield prevents them from tumbling over the front.  When you push it forward, the tines just roll right over leaves, so you rarely have to lift the rake up.  It just glides back and forth gathering up whatever you are raking up.  The handle is very ergonomically designed, so there is no back or wrist strain.  Because the head is so wide, it makes raking even large areas go very quickly.  Dear hubby has a large, wide bamboo rake that he likes to use also, but because I am short, I can’t comfortably use a wide rake.  However, because the power rake does not have to be lifted after each stroke, I can use this one for hours.


And, then there is my trusty little blue rake.  After the pine needles are raked into large piles, this is the rake I use to pick up the piles and distribute around the garden.  As you can see, if I had to rake with this, it would take weeks to finish our rather large yard.  Dear hubby is constantly trying to get me to use a newer rake, but I find this one just perfect for my small frame.  Besides, I have had it so long it is now probably considered vintage and in a few years could be a valuable antique.


We have several other rakes, metal ones, one with an adjustable head, plastic ones, and even a “grabbit” rake, but to get the job done, I really only need the power rake and little blue rake.

One Less Worry

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




Well, today, it  was back to work after having Thanksgiving week off.  I was surprised that it was not too difficult to get back in the work routine.  Maybe that was because I was able to get a great deal accomplished in the garden last week.

I was able to plant all the Baby Duck petunias, add compost to the garden, and rake up most of the yard of all the pine needles that had fallen.

The job that takes the longest is raking up the pine needles and then spreading them throughout the garden.  I use the pine needles as mulch in the garden beds and also in areas that are too shady for grass to grow.  I have learned from past experience to only rake up enough needles at one time that I can pick up.  Leaving piles of needles for the next day always results in at least one pile being forgotten and then a dead spot in the lawn.  A layer of pine needles won’t hurt the lawn, in fact if protects the grass from the cold, but a pile of needles will kill the grass in just two or three days.

The reason I like pine needle mulch so much is it is free (for me & makes up for all the shade from our pine trees), a nice color, and the needles stay fairly loose which improves the insulation quality of the mulch.  I was able to mulch all the front flower beds and will rake the back yard and mulch those beds next weekend.

Cold weather is predicted for tonight and then a warm up.  I am glad that I heavily mulched the gingers. callas, crinums, amaryllis, and agapanthus this weekend.  Even if the tops get frozen back, they will survive esp. if heavily mulched.  So, these mulched plants are one less worry I have with cold weather coming.

This week is turning out to be a very busy one, and it will not be so hectic now that I don’t have so many garden chores hanging over my head.

December Muse Day

“December 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.

Thanks to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for starting Garden Bloggers’ Muse Day. Check out other bloggers’ poem selections at Carolyn’s blog.

I Heard a Bird Sing


Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.


Newer entries »