A Welcome Change

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

 

Drier and a little cooler weather has finally made it to the Gulf South.  Today was lovely and tomorrow should be even better.  Rain is predicted to come again Friday and early Saturday, but I won’t mind the rain even if it comes on a weekend.  The garden has responded so well to the rains we have had lately that you would hardly believe that colder weather will be coming up fast.

One of the shrub roses that is looking better than it has in months is the Blushing Knockout Rose.  It is covered in buds that should open soon.  There are a few of its flowers already open; all in response to the recent rains after weeks of hot, dry weather.

 

Blushing Knockout Rose (redu)

 

Blushing Rosebud (redu)

 

Because we have a mild winter that usually comes very late here, we should have at least a couple of months of blooming roses brightening up the garden.  After a summer with hardly any flowers, this is a welcome change.

Fringes

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

 

Loropetalum blooms on the new wood, but I usually trim it back after it blooms in the spring, so I don’t get an autumn flush of flowers.  This year, however, I didn’t do the usual triming, and I have been rewarded with a very nice display of pink.

 

Lorepetlum (redu)

 

I keep the shrubs I have trimmed back to about four and a half feet tall, but they can grow up to six feet.  This means that this year I won’t be able to trim them back since trimming them back now will spur new growth that could be damaged by winter freezes.  But, this year won’t matter since I have such pretty flowers.  One of the things that make this plant so different is its blooms.  Instead of the usual big petals such as azaleas, hibiscus, or roses have, loropetalum has thin streamers which show its relation to witch hazel.

 

Lorepetlum Single (redu)

 

Seeing these flowers, we know why this plant is called “fringe flower.”

Perfect Colors for Fall

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

 

When reading other garden blogs lately, I have found that many have been getting as much or even more rain as we have, and everyone remarks on how much better their plants are doing.  Going into August, we were over nine inches below normal, and now we are way over our normal levels for September. 

One plant that has responded well to the extra water has been Mutablis or Butterfly Rose.  I had wanted one of these for a long time and was so happy to stumble across one a few years ago.  It has done well, but this summer’s dry weather was starting to affect how many flowers it put out.  That no longer seems a problem.

 

Mutablis I (redu)

 

The most striking feature of this rose is how the flower changes color as it ages.  It starts out a buff yellow, then moves to a light pink, and finally to a dark pink color.  Now that fall is fast approaching, these flowers’ colors seem more appropriate than in the spring or summer.  It is hard for me to take a photo of all the colors together (esp. when it is starting to rain), but here is my best try.

 

Mutablis II (redu)

 

I usually like double flowers, the frillier the better, but there is something about this single rose that appeals to me.  It just seems to be so simple and so beautiful.

 

Mutablis III (redu)

 

I know this old-fashioned rose is a favorite because even though I see very few of these blooming in my area, many bloggers write about the ones growing in their gardens.  This is truly a lovely rose.

Sleeping in on a Saturday

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

 

Very early this morning, I went out to look check out how things were doing in the garden, something I haven’t been able to do for a few days.  As I was checking out the new blooms on the Clematis Crispa vine, I spied a sleeping bee.  Even though the photo below makes it  look like it is visiting a flower for its nectar, take it from me it was sleeping.

 

Sleeping Bee in Clem Crispa (redu)

 

He/she must have been sleeping soundly because the camera’s flash didn’t wake it up.  Being that the temperature was 75 degrees, I don’t think that it was a cool early morning sluggishness which kept it from being startled by the sudden flash.  Maybe it had worked hard all week, and since it was a Saturday, it decided to sleep in.

Finally Showing Up

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

 

It is so strange how you often do not realize something is missing until it shows up.  For me, it is the red canna, Mr. President.  It wasn’t until it started blooming yesterday, that I realized it has not shown a flower in almost two years.  This is the first flower this year, and I am pretty sure it did not bloom last year.  How could I have not noticed that it hasn’t been blooming?  This is one of my favorite cannas.

 

Mr President Canna (redu)

 

This particular canna is planted in an area that I recently used a garden fork to aerate the soil.  I think that plus all the rain we have been having lately is what spurred this plant into bloom.  Whatever the reason, I am grateful that the flowers have started showing up.

Signs of Fall

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

 

Even though our weather is still warm and the last few days, hot, there are still signs that fall isn’t too far off.  Certain plants that bloom only when the days get shorter are starting to show their colors.  I noticed just this past weekend that the wine sage (Salvia van houttei) has started blooming.  This plant has my favorite red color – a deep burgundy red.  I always make sure that I have a pot of this salvia to overwinter since it can be difficult to find, and I am always afraid it will not make it through a bad freeze since it is marginal for winter in my garden.

 

Salvia van houttei (redu)

 

Another autumn bloomer that is starting to flower is Mexican Bush Sage.  While the flowers are small now, in just a few weeks, the plant should be covered with spikes of purple.  Last year I had two big bushes, and I liked them so well, I put in three more in the garden.

 

Mex. Bush Sage (redu)

 

The last plant I noticed that has started growing since fall is approaching is the calla lilies.  They die down in the heat of summer, and start growing in mid-September. 

 

Calla Lily Sprouts (redu)

 

I can’t wait for other fall plants start sending out their flowers.

Still Feels Like Summer

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

 

 I know today was the fall equinox and many of my fellow bloggers wrote interesting posts about this milestone for 2009.  However, here in the upper Gulf Coast region, it was anything but autumnal.  When I left for work at 6:10 AM, it was already 76 degrees and the humidity was awful.   Instead of cool, crisp autumn days (or at least the hint of an autumn), we had a high of 92 degrees and 94% humidity, so it still feels like summer.

Instead of autumn leaves, we are seeing tropicals blooming as if it was still July.

 

Hibiscus (redu)

 

If it wasn’t for the angle of the sun, we wouldn’t know that fall should be coming here soon.  Maybe by the winter solstice, the weather will finally be cooler and drier.

Ornamental Vines Entwine

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

 

Earlier this summer, when my sister and I went plant shopping, I bought several sweet potato vines.  I already grow Margarite, the chartreuse one, Sweet Caroline Green Yellow,  and Ace of Spades a dark black one.  On this plant buying outing, I bought three more – Sweet Caroline Red (maple-shaped leaf), Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Red (heart-shaped leaf), and Sweet Caroline Bewitched Purple (frilly leafed).  Of course, when I bought these tree new vines, I had no place in mind as to where I would put them.  (I know , I know, you are not supposed to buy plants without having a plan where they are supposed to go, but what can I say?  Like you’ve never done this.)  Finally, I decided to plant them in hanging baskets and hang them from a shepherd’s hook.  At first the plants were scrawny, but now that shepherd’s hook is a focal point in the back garden.

 

Swt Potato Vines (redu)

 

In the center basket is Sw. Caroline Bewitched, to the right is Sw. Caroline Red, and to the left is Sw. Caroline Sweetheart Red.  These three tend to be a little more compact than the earlier ornamental sweet potato vines such as Margarite and Blackie.  At the base of the shepherd’s hook is a container with Sweet Caroline Bronze and Alabama Sunset coleus.  I am certainly pleased with how these hanging baskets look.

It should be easy to overwinter these baskets, but come springtime, I think I will be placing them in the garden.  Maybe by that time I will have figured out where to plant them.

A Big One

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

 

It is amazing what rain will do for plants.  This past summer was a very dry one for us, but the weather gods have been making up lately for the earlier lack of rain.  In the last two weeks we have received 6.28 inches of rain, and the plants have started responding with renewed vigor.  With work and the rains, I have not been able to get out in the garden lately, but this weekend brought overnight showers which allowed some daytime garden viewing.

I was shocked at a White Christmas caladium.  This plant has grown in the same place for at least six years, never been moved, and always performed like all the other caladiums in the garden.  But, not this year and not after all the rain.  I have grown caladuims for over twenty years and have never had one get this big. 

 

Wh Caladium Leaf (redu)

 

I have elephant ears that aren’t this big.  This caladium has never gotten this big before.  It is eleven inches across and seventeen inches long.  There are other leaves on the plant that are also big, but not as big as this one.  Since this is the first time it has grown this large, I can only surmise that it is the rain that has caused this growth. 

While most of my other caladiums have started to fade, I just wish the rains would have come sooner so that all of these plants would have had a chance to get bigger.  Maybe next year.

Hurricane Lilies

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

 

I must be losing it.  Yesterday was Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, and I forgot to post the best bloom in the garden.  The spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) have started blooming.  They always bloom around this time of year which also happens to be the peak of hurricane season.  This is why they have the common name of hurricane lily around here.  In fact, when we returned home a week after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, everything was dry, but the spider lilies were up, showing off their red blooms.  They were certainly a cheery sight amid all the damage.

 

Lycoris (redu)

 

I usually prefer a deep, blue-red, and not an orangey-red color, but these flowers’ color just seem to go with approaching autumn and are very welcome in the garden.

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