Eye-Yi-Yi

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

 

There is a lot going on here in my garden in Covington, Louisiana.  New flowers and returning plants are showing up every day.  Wednesday, another “first” daylily opened.  It was Eye-Yi-Yi, one of a dozen daylilies my sweet sister from Virginia sent me as a gift last year from Oakes Daylilies.

 

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This gift daylily has returned this year bigger and better than last year.  It must be very happy where it is planted.  I don’t usually like orange flowers, but this daylily started changing my mind last year.  I love the big, red eyezone.  Its bright colors remind me of Mexico and our honeymoon in Mexico City many years ago, and with Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, the flowers have shown up at just the right time.  After seeing how well this color fit into the garden scheme, I asked my sister for one of her old-fashioned orange daylilies, which she generously gave me without any hesitation.   I know these daylilies are common, but she obtained them from my mother’s house, so not only will the color fit in, but this daylily will be one more reminder of home.

When I look at my garden, it sometimes amazes me how it has evolved.  When I first started, I planted only white flowers and white caladiums in the back garden.  I wanted the area to look cool and serene, which it did, but gradually as the years went by, color started creeping in.  Now, there is little to no white at all, but other colors are everywhere.  If anyone would have told me back then that I would have a bold orange daylily in that area, I would have been horrified.  Now, I am so glad.

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Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

“Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Things don’t have to be expensive to look good.  Case in point, the Triumphator lilies that are just starting to open.  I planted these particular ones two years ago.  Last year I wrote about how they turned out to be surprise lilies which you can read about here.  These were blooming about mid-May last spring, but are opening now almost two weeks earlier.  This particular flower is from an off set bulb so there is only one flower, but I can see that the big bulbs have produced the usual four.

 

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These lovely lilies and a few other minor bulbs in a small watering came to a grand total of under six dollars, and  I really only wanted the watering can for a front door wreath.  Since everything was about six dollars, I figure these bulbs probably worked out to about fifty cents each.  I was shocked when these lily bulbs sprouted and bloomed, and even this year, surprised that they have returned and made off-sets that have flowered.  Now, that they have shown they have staying power, these particular lily bulbs will have to be dug up and replanted in more ideal conditions.  They deserve it.

I have only planted lilies in the garden in the last two years, starting with Easter lilies that I bought from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  Since I had read that the Easter lilies or Lilium longiflorum were just about the only ones that did well this far south because of our heat and humidity, I was reluctant to try any others.  After these “watering can” lilies did so well, I have tried others from the big box stores’ bargain selection.  All have returned and are showing buds.  Now, I figure if those that are subjected to poor storage in hot plastic bags do well here, ones purchased from higher end sources will be worth spending the money.  This spring I ordered more Triumphator lilies from Brent and Becky’s since their Easter lilies are fantastic.  I think from now on, more lilies will be added to my garden every year.  I am so glad that I have found out that lilies can do well here, and to think I have these Triumphator lilies to thank, lilies that started out puny, straggly, and pitiful, but ended up being a star.

A Great Find

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

 

Two summers ago, I noticed a vine with pale pink flowers blooming at a house across the street from my mother’s house.  It had pale pink trumpet shaped flowers with a darker pink throat spilling over the fence by the hundreds.  It was so pretty, and I fell for that vine immediately.  Of course, no one knew the name of this particular vine.  The neighbor just bought it years before and, I guess, never paid attention to the name.  I just don’t understand people having plants and not knowing at least a common name, but that is a story for another day.  Back to this lovely vine.  I began searching the Internet and my garden books.  This is very hard when you don’t have any kind of name to start with, but eventually, after a while, I found it.  It was Pandorea jasminoids or pink bower vine or Pandora vine.

Now that I had a name, I began to search for this.  Whenever I went to any place that sold plants, I looked for it.  Every time I found it at a reputable online nursery, it was sold out.  I was still determined to find one.  This spring, it has started blooming at the neighbor’s house prettier than ever.  Well, someone must be looking out for me because Sunday while dear hubby was dragging me around to Wal-mart, Home Depot, PetSmart, and Lowes, I found a Pandora vine.

 

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While hubby was off in another area of Lowes, I wandered around the plant area.  Suddenly, my eyes caught sight of familiar pink flowers nestled between a row of white jasmine and plumbago.  I caught my breath, I could hardly believe it, there was my long sought for vine at Lowes!  Not some exotic nursery, not even an unusual plant nursery, just plain old Lowes.  I quickly grabbed one container and checked the label which, of course, only had “Pandora Vine” on it, no botanical name for an accurate identification.  Without a second thought, I selected the best looking plant and went to the check out.  I didn’t even know how much it was nor did I care.  This long searched for vine was only $4.67 for a gallon size plant.  Again, I was shocked for the second time.  On-line they were $12 to $15 for a 2 inch pot, and you still had shipping to pay for.

Like I stated before, someone was looking out for me.  I found my pink flowered vine, and it was cheap, too.  See, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Pink bower vine is supposed to be hardy to zone 9, but I think I can get it to survive here since we are barely in zone 8.  I’ll have to get a trellis for it before I can plant it.  I was probably so excited to find this plant that I forgot all about getting a trellis for it when I bought it.  Looks like that will be a job for this weekend.

Mom’s Gift

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

 

I have many plants in my garden that my mother has given me.  Many, many years ago, she gave me some daylilies, and I planted them in the only sunny spot available at the time.  They did okay the first few years and then, because of the lack of sun from growing trees, slowly went into decline.  They became very small and stopped blooming even though I lavished them with water, fertilizer, and compost.  Eventually, I decided they had to be moved, and they were the impetus to create the circle garden in the middle of the side lawn.  I initially started out with just a circle about eight feet apart, and the next year, I added two halve circles on the outside.

When the daylilies were planted in the new garden, it was autumn, and they settled in fairly well spending the winter establishing roots.  That spring, for the first time in years, they bloomed.  Not profusely mind you, but there were several flowers.  Over the years, these daylilies have gone from puny to robust.  This is the best year ever.  The red ones have been blooming for a while, and yesterday, the first of the yellow opened.

 

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Because of these yellow daylilies, when I was making the new garden, I decided to have this as a mainly yellow area.  Now that these plants have become so numerous, I think I will be tweaking  this area a little come fall.  But right now, I am going to enjoy seeing these great flowers every day for a while since there are so many buds this year.

The red daylilies are doing just as well as the yellow.  They always start blooming a little sooner than the yellow, but when they bloom together, it is quite a show.  Even though this is the yellow garden, the red do look nice here, and to be honest, were planted here only because this was a sunny location, and they needed sun.

 

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In the outer circle, I have some Stella d’Oro daylilies that have also been blooming well.  I also have a few in the front of the big circle which I think I will move to the outer circle.  These I might move this spring and not wait for fall, if I can find the time before the hot weather comes.

 

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Now, an all yellow garden might be a little too much, so I do have some other flowers to break up all that yellow.  The Louisiana iris, Bayou Classic, is planted there and is also blooming now.

 

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I have also planted Victoria salvia here just recently to add more purple color for the summer.  This area is also where the Texas bluebonnets are planted in early spring and asters in the fall; both of which bring in the purple as an accent color.

It is amazing how one thing leads to another.  Mom gave me daylilies which needed sun, and now I have a whole area, that used to be lawn, turned into a garden with constant blooms.

A Special Rose

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

 

Lately, it seems as if time is playing tricks on me.  Time usually seems to fly by especially at this time of year when there is so much to do at work and in the garden.  So many “have to’s” to take care of and never enough time.  I swear it often seems like I am on a treadmill, and someone keeps upping the speed.  And then there are the few occasions when time seems to crawl.  The most recent example has been waiting for the Caldwell Pink rose bush’s buds to open.  It seems that the buds have been slightly open, showing a little bit of color,  for three weeks.  I am not kidding.  It’s been weeks that they have been teasing me, making me check every day to see if one has opened, causing me to actually talk to them, or really beg them,  saying, “Come on, guys, open up.  Show some color.”  (I think the next door neighbor is starting to wonder about me.)

This rose was a gift last summer from Phillip of Dirt Therapy.  It is one he was able to root that he then graciously sent to me.  He included a picture in the package, but, you know, everyone wants to see the real thing.  I was so happy when the cluster of buds formed, and when they started showing a little color, I was excited.  Then, nothing.  We were having warm days and cool nights, so I guess the cool nights slowed every thing down, or maybe Caldwell Pink knows how to build excitement and make a grand entrance.

Saturday, there finally were open flowers.

 

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Isn’t she lovely?  I planted this gift rose in the “pink” garden where it makes a great addition.  It is still a small bush, but I know it will do well in this area and continue to bloom all summer.  I already have noticed another bloom cluster coming.

I love to have plants in my garden that are pretty in their own right, but the ones that remind me of the giver are extra special.  So, even though this is usually called Caldwell Pink, in my garden it will always be called Phillip’s Caldwell Pink.  Thank you, Phillip, for a lovely rose and for sending me a small piece of your garden.

Trying Something New

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

 

We all like to try something new; maybe something that pushes the limits.  Well, I have decided to try out two new things this year to see how well they will do in the garden or even if they will survive.

The first one is Supertunia mini silver.  Here, in the Gulf South, we plant petunias in the fall and pull them up in April or May depending on the heat.  Even the wave petunias can’t last here with our heat.  I have been seeing Proven Winners supertunias, and since the millionbells have survived, I thought I would try and see if these could make it, too.  I love the color of the mini silver.  It is white with a tinge of a very, very pale pink.

 

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I only bought one plant and put it in a container which is placed in a wire bicycle.  I didn’t want to invest in too many of these plants in case they do not last.  I would be happy if they could at least last through July.  That way if they are planted in February, that would mean six months of enjoyment and worth the time and money to buy more.  So far, they are still looking good while the other petunias are slowly starting to succumb to our heat.  They say next week we will be flirting with 90 degrees, so it won’t be long before I will see if they will withstand our heat or not.

 

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Since this is supposed to grow in full sun or partial shade according to the plant label, I think I will try growing it where it will get morning sun and protection from afternoon sun.  That may help it do better this far south.

With the next plant I am trying out for the first time, it is not the heat, but the cold that I will have to watch out for.  I first saw oyster plant (Tradescantia spathacea) on a television gardening show and then later at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens.  It is such a lovely, multicolored plant and will grow in some shade.

 

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Every thing I have read has said this is definitely a tropical plant, but that it can take a light freeze is well protected.  This plant is supposed to be hardy only to zone 9. I figured if wax begonias can survive the winter here in zone 8b, than this plant surely could.  Because of its cold tenderness, I will probably try and place it in a sheltered location to up the chances of its surviving our occasional freezes.  Maybe global warming will help them make it through the winter.

 

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So, it looks like this year I will be trying out these two plants to see if they will preform well in the garden, thereby earning a permanent place in my little plant world.  I sure hope they make it and do well.

Trash Heap Gem

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

About four years ago, while walking around my sister’s garden, I spied something familiar looking in the trash heap.  It was two small, slightly dried crinums.  I asked her if I could have them, and of course, she agreed saying if she had known I would want them, she would have potted them up for me instead of throwing them away.  She told me just to soak them in some water for an hour or two, and they would revive.  I did just that, and they seemed to be none the worse for wear.  I planted them in the back garden where there is not too much shade.  They slowly grew, but it was evident they were not getting enough sun.  Then Hurricane Katrina came through, knocked down some trees, and  provided more sun for these two scrawny plants.  Last year the larger of the two bulbs had two bloom stalks, and the smaller had one.

This year they are doing much better.  The larger one has grown considerably and has five bloom stalks which are just starting to open.  The smaller one looks like it may have three stalks this year.

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Crinums grow from large bulbs, similar to amaryllis bulbs just a lot bigger and have been a Southern favorite for years.  It is said that you cannot kill a crinum, and after sitting for several days on a trash heap and still surviving to produce lovely flowers, I believe the ones I got from my sister will last forever.

Fragrance in the Garden

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

 

We usually want our gardens to appeal to all the senses.  Of course, the visual is often the one we always concentrate on the most with colorful flowers and foliage.  Sound would be singing birds and running water.  Touch involves texture; who can resist stroking Lamb’s Ears.  The sense I have been noticing most in the last few days is the sense of smell.  It is most apparent in early evening.  Right now the ligustrum, star jasmine, and privet are blooming.

Ligustrum especially when planted in masses can have an overpowering fragrance.  We only have one that is blooming, but that one can certainly fill a large area with its aroma.

 

 

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On of the opposite side of our property is the star or confederate jasmine.  This one really perfumes the evening air.  While you can definitely can smell this over a large area, it is still a very delicate and non-overbearing scent.  I can understand why this was often planted outside of bedroom windows before air conditioning became so popular.  Here it is growing up a tree.  This will be the last year we see this on the pine tree since the vine has become too big and must come down.  But it does make a remarkable column of white flowers.

 

 

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This is why I have been tearing out this jasmine; it is starting to really take over.  Here it is growing through a yew.  I ripped out a whole wall of this last year, and it seems there is still more to do.

 

 

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Finally, there is a tree that blooms at this time of year that is so lovely, but is the bane of my existence – the wild privet.

 

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It has small white flower clusters, a nice fragrance, all of which makes it so appealing to the uninformed.  This produces black berries which reseed EVERYWHERE.  There are little seedlings all over, in the garden, in the lawn, and even in containers.  I usually let this one bloom and then cut it back before it sets its seeds.  Earlier this year I got rid of several that were growing on the property line, and now this one will be cut back and not allowed to grow.  This will only help a little, since the neighbor has a large tree on her property, but I figure every little bit helps.

So, right now, here, in our garden, the sense of smell seems to be the most dominate, and with the lovely cool, evening temperatures we have been having, it makes for an enjoyable garden experience.

Earlier Comeback

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

 

We still are having mild temperatures, so summer has not arrived here, but when looking around the garden, I am surprised at how filled out it is already.  It seems that summer time lushness has already arrived.  Daylilies are blooming or filled with more fat buds ready to burst open than ever before at this time of year.

 

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Even returning plants seem to be at summer growth levels already.  Examples of this are the impatiens, toad lilies,  and ajuga.  In fact, this is the best the ajuga has been since I put it in the garden years ago.

 

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Lest you think that all is perfect here, there are a few things that still seem to be waking up slowly from winter’s chill.  Firespike is a good example.  It freezes to the ground every winter, but does reliably come back.  However, it does so slowly and, unfortunately, starts blooming very late in the summer, so that just about the time the blooms are getting numerous, it is near our first freeze date.  Very frustrating.

 

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This year more than ever before, the garden has seemed to bounce back faster from winter’s grip.  I know part of that reason is that we had a fairly mild winter, but another part is probably that the garden has matured to the point that plants are finally getting to the size I imagined they would be when I first planted them.

A Long Awaited Plant Is Found

“A Long Awaited Plant Is Found”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Saturday, I finally found a plant I have been searching for.  For several years now, ever since I saw fantastic photos in a garden book, I have been wanting to plant cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) commonly called artichoke thistle.  It is a very curious looking plant.  What attracted me was the architectural look of the plant with its large, deeply cut, gray-green foliage.  It is supposed to keep its vase shape until late in the season.

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From what I have read, this plant can get really big.  It can get six to eight feet tall and four to six feet wide.  While I don’t think mine will reach the optimum size (at least I hope not), I am looking forward to its being big.  The photos I saw showed a very large plant that was very sculptural and made a wonderful textural contrast with nearby plants.  This plant is also edible, but I am not interested in eating it, just having a focal point that is an attractive, dramatic, architectural ornamental.  I am thinking about growing this in a very large container with Margarite sweet potato vine at the base.

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The flowers, according to internet sources, are supposed to be a butterfly and hummingbird magnet.  When it goes to seed, the chickadees are also reported to be enamored with this plant.  While the flowers are thistle-like, purple and held atop tall stems, it is the foliage which I find the most attractive.  If it will grow to about three feet wide, I will be happy.  Today, after work I will be planting this much sought after plant.  Wish me luck.

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