Look Who Showed Up

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

 

There has been warmer weather, spring flowers blooming, and now, a  sure sign winter is over, little creatures showing up.  I noticed this cute little tree frog sitting in an amaryllis’s foliage the other day.   We do not see these little guys in the winter.  In fact, I almost missed seeing him because he blended in so well with the green foliage.

 

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Tree frogs are native to the southeastern U.S. and spend most of their life clinging to plants (and sometimes windows) using pads at the end of their toes.  Last summer saw an increase in their population around here, and I am glad to see that they evidently survived the winter.

 

Another sign that showed winter must be over is the appearance of the baby daddy long legs or harvestmen.  These insects do not survive the winter, so when the babies show up, it is a good sign that winter’s grip is over since the eggs won’t hatch until spring.  They are not spiders but are in the Archnida class.  They molt approximately every ten days and look very different at each stage.

 

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It certainly can be interesting when Mother Nature wakes up her little creatures as spring approaches.

Vexatious Arboreal Rodents

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

 

 Annoying squirrels! 

Squirrels can be so cute with their wily antics, but other times they can be so aggravating.  We all have pretty much experienced marauding squirrels on our bird feeders.  We have had them chew through the plastic that surrounds the birdfeeder’s seed slots, and we have even had them chew the bee guards on the hummingbird feeders.  A few people report that squirrels take up residence in their attics, especially during the winter.  This year, they have chewed the new banana sprouts that are just emerging in our garden.  Goodness knows, they are getting enough of our seeds to satisfy their hunger.

Then why did they have to chew on and ruin two of my best hanging baskets?  Yesterday I noticed one of the baskets sitting on the ground under the tree instead of hanging in the tree.  As I walked over, thinking the wind must have been responsible for the basket falling, I suddenly saw that the hook part had been chewed.  I picked it up with the intention of replacing it back on the tree branch when I realized that it had been chewed so much that the hook was very weak and couldn’t support the basket.  I checked the next basket that still was in the tree and saw that it, too, had been chewed, just not as much.  These baskets were hanging on hooks, so this means the squirrels had to stretch out to chew on them.  Why?  Why would squirrels chew on plastic?

 

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I ended up throwing the worse one of the two baskets away, and moved the other one (hoping to save it).  The reason I am so annoyed by this is that I only like green hanging baskets, and they are getting hard to find.  I think the green blends in better with the plants than a bright color does.  I also like the plastic ones, because in the summer they do not dry out as fast in our heat.

I still can’t figure out why they would just chew on the plastic.  Could they be teething?

Not Everything Is Green

“Not Everything Is Green”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Today was another glorious, sunny, warm day in which to work out in the garden.  I finished spreading all the compost and mulch, and as I was doing so I noticed the resurrection fern on the oak tree.  With all the new spring greenery showing up, I was surprised to see a curled up, brown dead looking plant on the oak tree.  It has not been particularly dry lately, so you would think everything would be sporting spring green.

Resurrection fern or Polypodium polypodioides is an epiphyte that is found on trees, especially oak trees.  They will blanket the limbs of old trees.  I wanted my oak tree to have this fern, so one day, while walking in the neighborhood, I found a twelve inch oak limb with the fern growing on it in the street.  I took it home and just laid the limb next to my tree and waited.  It wasn’t too very long before I started seeing a little fern growing on my tree.

What makes this fern so special, besides its ability to give a tree an ancient look, is that when it is dry it just curls up, turns brown, and looks dead. 

 

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It can stay like this for weeks when it is hot and dry.  However, when moisture is available, it will quickly spring back to life, unfurling bright green leaves, consequently the common name resurrection fern.

 

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Resurrection fern does not harm the tree it is on.  It gets all its nutrients from the dust and rain in the air.  This is a neat plant to show little children who will be fascinated by the “dead fern” coming back to life after just a little water is thrown on it, but for me, I like the way it covers oak trees and makes them seem to be so old and look as if they have been in place for centuries.

Mardi Gras

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

 

Today is a big holiday around here.  It was Mardi Gras, a pre-Lenten celebration, that is very big in the New Orleans area.  Don’t believe everything you see on television about New Orleans Mardi Gras.  It is mostly a family friendly atmosphere with only a few isolated areas with the sensationalism that the TV cameras seem to focus on.  We didn’t go to any parades, just worked in the garden since the weather was gorgeous today.  We did have pancakes for breakfast which is a traditional breakfast on this day.

 

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While you stroll in New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
If you go to New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
When you see the Mardi Gras
Somebody’ll tell you what’s Carnival for

 

 

 

 

Something New Every Day

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

 

It has been said that there is a world of difference between the first day of spring and the first spring day.  While official spring is several weeks away, we have been having spring-like weather for several days, and I think this is just the beginning of warmer weather.  One of the nice things about the beginning of spring is that there always seems to be something new every day to reinforce the fact that warmer days are here and that the cycle of the seasons is starting anew.

Today, I noticed that the quince has put out a few lovely pink flowers.  This was one of the first shrubs we put in when we first moved into our home.  It has gradually gottern shadier where this shrub is, so we don’t have as many blooms as we once did, but we are considering cutting back some plants so that this lovely shrub will produce more flowers.

 

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The first of the Tete-a-Tete daffodils has opened.  Since so many other plants have bloomed early, I am a little surprised that these daffodils are only opening now.  Usually they are among the first flowers to show up in spring.

 

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The white violets are starting to show up, too.  My neighbor across the street has these in the empty lot next door, and when they all are in bloom, it looks like there is snow on the ground.  However, they are so sweet and pretty that even if only one is around, it stands out.

 

 

 

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Another early spring bloomer showing up now is the vinca.  This is the first bud of the year, and this flower really brightens up the area under the magnolia tree where it is planted.

 

 

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Flowers are not the only thing showing up now.  The deciduious trees are starting to leaf out.  This is the first leaves of the River Birch just showing up today.

 

 

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You can see that this wild cherry tree’s leaves have been out for several days.  It is amazing how fast these leaves will grow, and soon the whole tree will be covered with full size leaves before too very long.

 

 

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When there is something new just about every day in the garden, it is no wonder that everyone looks forward to springtime.

Field Trip Report

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

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day.  This was the day that my sister and I went on our first gardening field trip of the year, and we were not disappointed.  We had decided to go to out of town nurseries that seem to have a better selection than the local ones have right now.  I met my sister about half way and then we drove together to Denham Springs to visit one of Clegg’s Nurseries.  This is a wonderful, large garden center.

This is a photo from the parking lot, and you can see immediately there were tons of blooming plants.  In the foreground are all the colors of the Knockout roses, including the new yellow one.  There were no nice blooms on the yellows, so I didn’t take a picture, but from just seeing the spent blooms, this is a very nice yellow rose.  I can’t wait to see the flowers when they are fresh.

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Inside, there were rows and rows of blooming flowers, mostly cool season ones, but they did have several warm season annuals out.  Even though I was not going to buy any cool season ones (they would have to be ripped out by May), it was so lovely to see all the colors of pansies, violas, petunias, dianthus, alyssum and snapdragons.

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This is my sister (below) checking out all the selections.  The warm season plants were to the back.  The hanging baskets were so nice.  Mostly verbena, but there were also baskets of petunias that just seemed to scream “Spring!”

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They had a plethora of pansies.  They had the frilly ones which I wish I would have seen in the fall because I just fell in love with them.

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They also had a great many blooming camellias around at a very good price for their size.  This pale pink with the white center was so pretty, but the white one was my favorite.  Several years ago (pre-Katrina) there was a large piece of property near our home that must have had hundreds of camellias, and it was gorgeous when they were in bloom.   After seeing these two camellias, I wouldn’t mind having a small forest of camellias on my property as the aforementioned grounds had.

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So, what did I buy?  I did restrain myself from buying any warm season bedding plants.  I did purchase some sweet peas because I love these flowers and forgot to plant my seeds in November.  I had to buy some bluebonnets for the same reason.  I bought four more Curry plants since the one I purchased last year did so well and survived the freezes we had.  They had Alternanthera Mexican Myrtle, pictured below.  I bought this for old times sake.  One of our neighbors, an elderly gentleman who loved to garden, had given me this plant years ago.   He called it Tahitian Wedding Veil, and I had it growing in a hanging basket for years, but it finally died.  When I saw this at the nursery, I thought of Percy and just had to have some.  I also got some more Mexican bush sage, and a rex begonia to replace one that is not doing well.

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After lunch, we went to another nursery.  I only bought some Louisiana Blue Phlox there.  I am trying to get a border going of these plants.  Sometimes this particular variety is hard to find.

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My sister and I had a wonderful time getting out of the house, buying plants, and being together.  We are already planning our next foray.  Maybe then, I’ll be ready to buy those warm season plants.

Hard to Resist

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

As I have been reporting, the weather here has really warmed up.  Spring has arrived even though “official” spring is still weeks away.  Yesterday, I took a day off from work and, with the temperature reaching 61 degrees, was able to work in the garden.  It was a wonderful afternoon.- sunny, cool, light breeze.  I was able to rake up the pine needles in the back lawn, use the pine straw as mulch, and even had some time to pull weeds.  It was great just getting outside and spending the time in the garden.

There is one bad thing about having this early warm up, and that is the desire to plant the warm season annuals.  When the temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s and the days are sunny, it is hard to resist all those impatiens, wax leaf begonias and other annuals that are already showing up in the nurseries and big box stores.  Since it feels like spring, it must be spring, right.

Too early to plant this impatien

Too early to plant this impatien

It is hard to resist buying all those colorful flowers, but I have to.  Even though the air temperatures are high, the ground is still too cold for these warm season babies.  With the soil still being cold, they would not do well at all and would probably have to be replaced in April.  If planted too early, these annuals seem to be subject to root rot, fungus problems or just never seem to grow well.  This is a little surprising because many of these annuals are really tender perennials for us and will overwinter.  The ones that overwinter don’t seem to be subject to any of these problems, I guess, because they have acclimated to the colder soil and are not now actively growing, while the new ones have been hot house grown and fertilized regularly.

I probably will succumb to the allure of the flats of blooming annuals a little earlier than I should, but I will hold off planting any of them until the middle of March at the earliest.  (I will just keep them in a sunny spot until it is time to plant.)  I tell myself that you have to buy them when you see them because they might not be around when you are ready to plant.  I also rationalize the purchases by telling myself that if I want a certain color of annual flower, I better get them when I see them because they, too, might not be around when I am ready to put them in the garden.

Today, my sister and I are going on our first garden field trip of the year.  We plan on hitting several out of town nurseries.  Since I have been slowly adding more flowering shrubs and perennials, that is what I am looking for.  When we go out this early in the season, it is very hard not to buy everything in sight.  We are so anxious to get out in the garden and dig.  Because we are so desperate to start gardening, I sure hope the nurseries don’t have out the warm season annuals yet, I don’t know if I will be able to resist.

Another Surprise

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

 

I was surprised to find a freesia blooming in the garden today.   This plant is at least six years old and returns every year.  I love the scent of freesias which reminds me of apricots.

 

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I walked around the garden on Tuesday and didn’t notice this new flower which surprises me.  I can’t believe  I missed this or that this flower went from small bud to flower is such a short time.  Either way, it is nice to have.

 

 

Three Indicators

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

 

Today’s garden yielded more signs of an extra early spring.  The climbing rose bush has several open flowers and many buds which, barring any freezing weather (which looks unlikely now), should be opening very soon.  This is the climber that my mother rooted for me years ago and always has a ton of small pink flowers.  Right now the flowers are a lighter pink than normal, but I am expecting that the others will open the normal medium pink.

 

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All of the holly ferns have started putting out new fronds.  I love the bright, spring green of the new ones.  The contrast of the dark green and new green is very nice at this time of year.  I guess it won’t be long now before I will have to start cutting off the older fronds.

 

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Last, but not least, the amaryllis bulbs are starting to put out their buds.  These are the red ones with a white center.  These buds are the earliest and the tallest.  I am a little surprised that they are up so high already.  The solid reds ones are just starting to show; the solid whites ones are barely showing; Elvas is just starting to peep out; but Appleblossom still isn’t showing any buds.  From the looks of things, there should be several weeks of successive blooms from the amaryllis bulbs.  This will be the first year that they will bloom like that.  I can’t wait to see how they all turn out.

 

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These three plants certainly seem to be indicating that winter is over.

Another Sign

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

 

Another sign that spring is just about here or is already here showed up today.  As I was checking the rex begonias in the little portable green house in the back garden, I noticed what I thought at first was a mass of dead leaves.  Just as I was wondering what a ball of dead leaves would be doing in the corner, I realized it was a bird’s nest.

 

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It is positioned on top of a container for Red Robin, a Rex Begonia I posted about a few days ago.  I don’t know if I should move the nest or what.  I sure don’t want Red Robin to be covered up and die since it is just starting to put out new leaves for the spring.  But, on the other hand, I can’t stand the thought of disturbing a mother bird in her new home.  I was unable to see into the nest this afternoon, but tomorrow I will try to see if anything is in there.  I think I could gently lift it up and remove the container of Red Robin and then very gingerly place the nest back in the corner.

 

I am used to the birds building nests in my hanging baskets of ferns, but this is a first time they have built in an area such as this.  I seem to remember another blogger  had a similar nest built in their garage or shed last year, but now I can’t remember who that was or how things turned out.  I’ll be sure to post the outcome of the house moving.

 

I think you would have to agree that this nest building certainly seems to be a good sign that spring is here in South Louisiana.

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