String of Pearls

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


I am finally starting to feel better and have started working in the garden again.  I was surprised what has happened in the week I have been out of the garden.  One thing that really floored me was the blooming of the shell ginger.  Last time I looked there was nothing, not even a hint of a flower, and then yesterday, there were whole bloom clusters showing their round, white flowers looking for all the world like a string of pearls.


Ginger Fl Cluster (redu)


This variegated shell ginger receives morning sun and has bloomed the last three years.  I have some of the plain green ginger which has been in two years, is a good size, but is in shade, and that one has not bloomed.  I don’t think I will be getting any flowers on those plants because of the shade, but that is okay because I planted them for screening not for flowers.  This variegated ginger has done well here, getting only occasionally nipped by the cold weather.  Earlier this spring I did cut it back some since it was starting to come a little too close to the front of the border.

With its varigated foliage, this plant is pretty enough, but the flowers are so unusual that they are an added bonus.  Eventually the little round “pearls” will open showing bright orange-red and yellow.


Open Ginger Flower (redu)


The flowers only appear on old growth which is why if there is a hard winter freeze, there will be no blooms, but even though we had some pretty cold weather this year, this stand of ginger must have some protection from the surrounding azaleas and overhead trees.

So, after being out of the garden for a week, these flowers were a nice “welcome back” present from old Mother Nature.


A Star

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

I have written before about how white is my favorite flower color, and one of my favorite white flowering shrubs is just now in full bloom.  It is a large white lace cap hydrangea that I received from my sister as a small plant.  I have it placed in a fairly shady area of the garden, and its white blooms just brighten up that spot so well.

Lg White Lacecap Bush (redu)

While I usually prefer the mophead hydrangeas, this lacecap is a standout.  It is about four feet high and about four feet wide and stays covered with flowers for months.  The flower clusters tend to be large on this bush, about eight inches across.  This is one of the few flowers that I cut and bring inside.  An arrangement of these on a dining room table just means summer to me.

Wh Lacecap (redu)

About three years ago, when I cut this shrub back to control its growth, I tried rooting some of those cuttings.  Just about every one of them was a success.  I planted about eight of them on the opposite side of the property in the front of a shady area which gets morning sun and bright shade the rest of the day.  This year is the first time that they have all bloomed with multiple flowers.  They are only about two feet high now, but it they are anything like their parent, they will soon be a very nice size.

Sm Wh Lacecap bush (redu)

Hydrangeas are such great garden plants, and lacecaps (Hydrangea macrophylla normalis) should be planted more often.  They have the same growing requirements as the mopheads – some afternoon shade and moist soils.  I also find the lacecaps are a little easier to site in the garden than the mopheads because the lacecap’s growth is more open, graceful, and subtle.  Just like the oakleaf hydrangeas, the lacecaps fit in well into “woodsy” locations (where I have mine) and fit in well in front of trees or around other shrubs.  In the right location, you just can’t beat a lacecap.  I am so glad that my sister introduced me to this white lacecap because it has become a star in the shady areas of my garden. 

Glad Happy

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


You don’t see  many gladiolus in gardens.  I don’t think it is because they have fallen out of favor since I don’t remember seeing them in gardens years ago, either.  I only remember my paternal grandmother having them on the side of her house when I was a child.  No one else, only her.  I wonder if they are not more popular because they have to be staked as they can flop over very easily if not supported.  Or, maybe people just aren’t doing the mixed borders anymore.  Anyway, it seems a shame they are not seen more often.

I started putting in gladiolus bulbs several years ago when I wanted more yellow flowers in the circle garden.  I bought what was supposed to be yellow gladiolus, but it turned out to be a light orange with a big yellow center.  Through the years, these bulbs have grown bigger and bigger, and the color has changed.  The yellow centers are not as predominate, and the orange color has become much darker.  At first I was very disappointed in these flowers, but now, I really do like them.  They certainly do stand out with such a vibrant color.


Orange Gold Gladiolus (redu)


I still didn’t give up hope for yellow gladiolus flowers.  The next year I tried again, and this time, the packages were labled correctly.  Soft, pretty yellow flowers appeared.  These bulbs were not as vigorous as the orange ones, but they have become sturdier as the years have gone by.


Yellow Glad (redu)


Since I had such good luck with these two colors, I tried some pale lavender ones in the “pink” garden.  I felt that some height was needed there as well as a complementary color for the pink, and these gladiolus bulbs turned out to be perfect.


Lavender Glad (redu)


This year, I purchased some pink gladiolus bulbs (Friendship) from Brent and Becky’s bulbs.  They came a little later than I like to plant them, so while the foliage is up, they have not started blooming yet.  If these do well, and I am sure they will, I will be buying more colors from Brent and Becky’s for early summer color. 

I am able to leave the gladiolus corms in the ground during the winter here.  Because of this, all of one color blooms together.  If I would plant them in stages two weeks apart, as is often recommended, I would have a longer bloom period for these flowers, but that seems too much trouble when there is so much to do in spring time already.

While most often used as cut flowers in arrangements, I am happy that I decided to add these wonderful flowers to my garden beds.  I wish more people would realize how easy these are to grow and what a wonderful spike of color they can add.

Hidden Flowers

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


Whenever I have grown a plant that has a flower that is described as being inconspicuous or blooms only if the conditions are right, it usually does not flower at all.  So, I was really surprised when watering the garden today, suddenly I noticed some spots of yellow at the base of one of the plants that has been in the garden at least three or four years.  My sister put in a pond about six years ago, and one of the plants that went in the surrounding garden was palm grass (curculigo capatilata).  When it was large enough to divide, she generously gave me some.  This is supposed to be hardy only in zones 10 and 11, but it has survived well here in zone 8b.  It even survived the great snow of December 12th.  A few of the leaves will get nipped back in the winter, but it has done well so far.  It has broad leaves that are pleated lengthwise, prefers light shade and moist soil.  A very attractive plant.


Palm Grass (redu)


The flowers are at the base of the plant and are supposed to be rarely seen, but they were seen today in my garden.  They are small, waxy, bright yellow almost daisy-like flowers clustered where they could be easily missed.


Palm Grass Flower Cluster (redu)


Palm Grass Flower (redu)


Makes you wonder what would pollinate a flower so well hidden, and why does it even have flowers when it is propagated by divisions?   While the leaves of this plant do resemble a palm seedling (hence, the name), I was surprised to find out it is related to the amaryllis family.

So, just when I thought I knew everything about the plants in my garden, one surprised me by having flowers I have never seen before.  I guess it is the unexpected showing up that makes gardening fun.



In the Pink

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


Since I wrote yesterday about the pink cashmere bouquet in the side garden, I thought I would continue in the “pink” theme and show a few other plants that are now blooming there.  One of my favorites that is blooming right now is the pink vitex tree.


Pink Vitex (redu)


This is only the third summer that this small tree has been in the garden, but it is growing nicely.  (I do have the more common purple variety about thirty feet away from this pink one, but the purple flowers have not opened yet.)  I love the soft pink color of the flowers which offers a nice contrast to the nearby dark foliage of the lorepetlum shrubs.  This is also near the Blushing Knockout and Caldwell pink roses, and that placement helps repeat the pink color.


Blushing Knt (redu)


Caldwell Pink (redu)


Another pink flowering perennial a little farther down is the crinum.  Every year it gets bigger and puts out more flower stalks.  The flower clusters look like small amaryllis blooms.  There must be a dozen or more stalks already this year.


Crinum (redu)


And, of course, there are the hydrangeas.  The oak leaf hydrangeas are already a deep pink, and the mophead hydrangeas have just started showing their pink color.


Oakleaf Hydrangea (redu)


Hydrangea Bush (redu)


Just one of these large mophead hydrangea flowers would make a wonderful bridesmaid’s bouquet don’t you think?


Pink Mophead (redu)


There are still a few more of the pink-toned flowers yet to bloom in this area, and lest you think that everything is pink, I’ll be posting soon about the lavender and purple flowers that are interspersed to break up the pink.  But, for now, the pink garden is certainly coming into its own.



A Memory of Grandma

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


Pink is many people’s favorite flower color.  When I first started making a garden on the north side of our house there already were some pinkish azaleas there, and so to keep from clashing with those plant when they were in bloom, I made sure to keep all new flowering plants in the pink tones.  Now, just about everything in that section is pink with a few purple tones to alleviate any monotony.

The pink cashmere bouquet (clerondendrum bungei) has started blooming in the “pink” garden.  They carry out the big, round flower head theme that the hydrangeas started a few weeks ago.


Cashmere Bouquet (redu)


These used to be more common in gardens, but I guess now are considered an old-fashioned plant.  Many people find these can be invasive, but I do not have that problem.  It does spread, but not as bad as I have read it does.  I just pull out any new plants that pop up that are not wanted.  I have transplanted several of these to other areas of the garden.

One of the things I like about cashmere bouquet is the flower’s fragrance.  There used to be a powder called “Cashmere Bouquet” that my maternal grandmother used to wear when I was a child.  To combat the summer heat, the ladies at that time would take a bath in the mid afternoon and use powder liberally afterwards.  These flowers smell exactly like that powder, and the aroma always brings back memories of summer time and my grandmother.


Cashmere Bouquet II (redu)


These deciduous plants are lovely summer flowers that go well in our “pink” garden, are bloomers all summer long, and are great at calling to mind very pleasant memories.  What more could one ask for in a perennial?

Little Missy

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


This will be a short post since I am not feeling any better.  Of course, having to drag myself to work this morning so early and not feeling the best may have something to do with it.  But, I did want to share Little Missy, a daylily that started blooming yesterday.


Little Missy(redu)


I almost missed her flower.  It wasn’t until late afternoon when I took a quick walk around the garden, mainly to see if anything needed watering, and suddenly, there she was.  This is one of my big box store daylilies and one of the few to bloom true to name.  It is amazing how many plants are mislabled nowadays, but you have read my thoughts about this before, so I won’t bore you with another rant.

I hope everyone has a very nice Memorial Day.  Please remember to take time to think about the sacrifices our soldiers have made for our freedoms.




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


This weekend has not turned out like I expected.  We were told to expect showers, and none appeared.  I thought with the slightly cooler temperatures I would be able to work in the garden, but Friday I woke up with a terrible sore throat, and by Saturday felt worse.  I think my body is telling me to slow down, so that is what I am doing this weekend.  All I did yesterday was put out the sprinkler on the flower beds so the plants could get a good soaking and rest.  Today, looks like the same activities for me.

I did manage to take a photo of another flower that has opened.  The Rose Passion daylilies are just starting to bloom.


Rose Passion (redu)


I took this photo very early in the morning, so I don’t think it is fully open which may be why it looks lopsided.  These daylilies and a few others with buds are just starting to bloom as the ones I have shown earlier in the month are finished blooming.  I didn’t plan it this way.  Though I have tried to have something in bloom just about all year, the daylilies blooming in succession is pure luck.  It seems every now and then Mother Nature gives you a break and things work out without your having a hand in it.

Welcome, Jacob Cline

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


Last summer I purchased some red-flowering bee balm called “Jacob Cline”. The flowers of this variety of monarda are showy, large and red with a longer bloom season than other monarda.  One of the qualities that sold me on this plant is that the fragrant foliage is probably one of the best for mildew resistance.  Another good point to this plant is that it is a butterfly nectar source and hummingbirds are supposed to love it.

When I bought this plant, it did have two flowers already blooming, but those were the last I saw.  I guess it spent the rest of the summer getting settled into the garden.  I was beginning to worry that it was not getting enough sun to bloom when I noticed flower buds just about four days ago.  Yesterday evening, I took this photo of Jacob Cline’s first bloom in my garden.


Red Bee Balm (redu)


Isn’t it a lovely red color?  I have this in the entry garden where the color scheme is red and purple.  The flowers of this monarda should complement the red pentas, salvias, and red ruella, as well as the purple salvias and ageratum.

I purchased this plant as part of my “add more perennials” plan for gardening, and it seems to fit right in with the plan as well as the area where it is planted.  This is the first bee balm that I have grown, and from what I have read, I will need to cut it back in June to control its height and encourage more flowering.  I’ll have to put that on my “to do” list because I definitely want more red flowers from this beauty.

Already Pink

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


I try to keep a record of when plants bloom, emerge from winter dormancy, or how they grow in general, but now I find that is not enough.  I need to be a little more specific.  Case in point, the oakleaf hydrangeas.  Mine have already started to turn pink.


Oakleaf Hydrangea (redu)


It seems to have happened overnight, and I also think this is a little early.  Once they turn pink, they do not last very much longer which would be a shame.  I wonder if this could be in response to the unseasonably cool weather we have been having for the last six days.  Could this plant think it has missed summer, and fall is on the way?  I doubt this.


Oakleaf Hydrangea II (redu)


Most probably it is my memory that the reason I am surprised these are already pink.  I guess I just don’t remember them turning so early which is why I need to take notice and keep a record.  I thought the white flowers would be around longer and repeat that color so that when other white flowers start blooming soon, that area of the garden would be better unified.

Even though the oakleaf hydrangea flowers have turned, they still are attractive and add to the garden, so I am not too disappointed to see the rosy pink color appear.



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