Stamens

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

Like the long eye lashes of a pretty woman, the long stamens of two of my favorite flowers are catching the attention of visitors to the garden. Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) starts blooming in the summer and one look at this flower’s extra long stamens explains its common name.

 

 

Many people who have seen this flower are amazed by its unusual look and want to know what it is.

More lycoris radiata or Hurricane lilies have popped up since my last post about these fall bloomers, and it seems that many people are not familiar with this plant. This is another long stamen flower, and those almost four inch spikes make for a striking flower especially when groups of them are in bloom.

 

 

I have had more people stop and ask what these two blooming flowers are than ever before. Today was our first cool day since April, and it seems many walkers decided to take advantage of the low temperatures. Since more people were out and about, that accounts for the many questions about these flowers. They certainly gave me the opportunity to connect with many neighbors I hadn’t seen in a while.

Rain and Toad Lilies

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

A few days ago, I was complaining about the hot dry weather we had been having for over three weeks. Well, that has changed, or at least the dry part has changed. The rains have arrived, and I can’t believe how fast the garden has perked up. I had been watering the garden, but there is nothing like rain to make plants stand up tall and grow.

Of course, there was a big mistake made with watering just before the rains came. Wednesday, when I came home from work, I put out the sprinkler on the wilted hydrangeas. When I went upstairs around 8 that evening, dear hubby asked if I had the sprinkler on, and I was so thankful he said something about it because I had totally forgotten it was still running. Of course, he said he would go and turn it off. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked and forgot, and when I returned home from work on Thursday, the sprinkler was still running. (In the morning when I leave, it is still dark, so I didn’t see it was not turned off.) Needless to say, that area of the yard did not need the rain that came on Friday and today. You can bet we are not going to forget the sprinkler again. We’ve decided to put on a timer to remind us to turn the water off.

But the toad lilies are plants that are looking a lot better because of the rain. They are just starting to bloom and look like little jewels.

 

 

Whenever we get a lot of rain, the frogs and toads can be heard in the evening singing. After a couple of days of rain, it is nice to see these “toads” in the daytime.

Autumn

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

Autumn.

Tomorrow will be our first full day autumn. While, here in the New Orleans areas we have had 17 straight days of 90+ temperatures which makes it feel like summer, I know it won’t be long before cooler weather is here. I can already tell by the angle of the sun that summer is over, even if the temperatures belie that fact.

 

 

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. I love the colors, the cool temperatures after a hot summer, the fall holidays, harvest time, and the soft, golden color that the sun seems to bathe everything with. This is the busiest time of the year for me in the garden, and I am always happy when I am outside in my garden. For all of these reasons, I eagerly look forward to the autumnal equinox every year.

Hurricane Lilies

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

The peak of hurricane season is around the 10th of September. This is also the time that the hurricane lilies start to bloom. Hurricane lilies (lycoris radiata) or red spider lilies have started flowering. When my sister reported that hers were already blooming almost two weeks ago and mine were not, I was afraid that none of mine would bloom since these bulbs are notorious for being erratic bloomers. (Usually because they are overcrowded or the foliage is damaged by winter freezes) But, I shouldn’t have worried. Mine were just a little behind hers.

 

 

These tall, leafless flower spikes just seem to pop up from nowhere. I have several areas throughout the garden with these bulbs, but, so far this year, only one area is showing any blooms. Maybe the other areas are just a little slower.

I have been thinking that maybe I should dig up all my spider lily bulbs and plant them in one area. That way when they start flowering, it will make a better show. A large area of these red flowers with the long stamens would look better than just having them scattered about the garden. If I decide to do this, I will have to wait until spring when the foliage starts dying back. Gives me some time to prepare a bed for them.

I’d rather have hurricane lilies than hurricanes, and so far this year, it looks like we will only have the flowers.

Summer Container

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

The garden is looking a little tired, and it will be nice when cooler temperatures arrive because the garden always perks up then. Until mid November when the cool season annuals go in, we still have to rely on our summer plants. One summer container that is still looking good after months of heat is the white mandevilla vine and angelonia.

 

 

The white mandevilla vine was a cutting rooted by my mother three years ago. This is supposed to survive zone 8 winters, just dying back to the ground, but I have never chanced that. Every winter, I dig it up and overwinter it. I wouldn’t do this ordinarily, but since my mother, who is getting on in years, rooted this for me, I want to keep it as long as I can. This is the best year ever for this vine, and I must remember next year to replant it in this large container.

 

 

This is the first year I have planted angelonia (Angelonia augustifolia ‘Serena’). I, at first, had planted it in the “white garden”, but it did not do well there. I don’t think it was getting enough sun. It was getting spindly and had few flowers. When I transplanted the plants to the container with the mandevilla vine, they really took off. The two plants I had bought as four inch pots went from being weak, lanky plants to full, flower-laden specimens. Angelonia are supposed to be perennial only in zones 10 and 11, but my mother’s have survived for years in her zone 9 garden, even surviving last year’s colder than normal winter. I am not putting too much hope in mine surviving here in zone 8, but maybe they will reseed. I do think they make a great pairing with the white mandevilla vine.

So, even though the garden is looking a little worn out by this time, this container is still making a very nice show as the heat still hangs on a little longer.

Rooting Coleus

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

This has been a very good year for coleus here. In fact, it has been so good that I have been able to make several cuttings that are now good sized plants that are residing in containers and in different areas around the garden.

About two weeks ago, I started new cuttings for fall planting. Since our first freeze date is not until November 15th, and often it is not until late December until we have a freeze, these new cuttings will be a nice addition to the late year garden.

 

 

I used mostly autumnal colored coleus since those colors will be the most appropriate for the season. These new plants will have to make up for the lack of fall leaf color around here. They all have a good root system, so it looks like this weekend will find me potting up my little babies. I love getting plants for free.

First Time

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

No matter how many years you may have been gardening, there is always something new to learn or try. For me, this spring brought something new to try. Many plants that can be grown in other areas just will not survive our hot summer days and nights. It is not unusual for temperatures to not dip below 85 for days or nights. In fact, it is not uncommon for some nights that it will be almost midnight before we are out of the 90’s, so many plants that will survive in areas with at least cooler nights will not make it through the summer here.

I have always thought that Sedum Autumn Joy was such a lovely plant when it bloomed in the fall. I would see photos in magazines that just made me want to grow this for early autumn color when most of the garden was looking pretty shabby, but you just did not see it available around here. A few years back when Autumn Joy started showing up for sale, I was hesitant to purchase it because I was not sure if it would do well here. After all, I have seen so many plants for sale around here in early spring that will just die when the first big heat wave comes through (I am referring to peonies, lily of the valley, lilacs, etc all which I have seen for sale). Any way, since this sedum has been for sale for a few years around here, and even though I have never seen it grown in any garden around here, I decided to give it a try.

My three small plants have done fairly well and have rewarded my faith with their wonderful autumnal-colored flowers.

 

 

When I saw that the flowers were turning pink, I was very excited.

 

 

When they turned this lovely rust color, I knew these were keepers. With the garden reaching its peak in spring and early summer, it is nice to have some flowers to look forward to come autumn. Also, since we have so few trees that will turn those gorgeous fall colors, it is nice to have something blooming with colors that say, “Fall’s here.”

 

 

I know many of you will not think that growing Autumn Joy is a big deal, but it is a first time for me, and I am thrilled they survived, grew, and bloomed in the Deep South.

Snake Alert

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

I don’t know what is happening lately, but I just am so busy that I can’t blog as much as I want to. I use this blog as a way of keeping a record of what is happening in my garden, so I really do want to post more regularly. I used to be able to write a post everyday, but now, life is getting very complicated.

So, let me catch up a little with what has been going on around here. This morning, after my coffee, I went upstairs to get dressed and what was on my bedroom curtains – a large lizard. Now, I do like to see lizards around the garden but definitely not in the bedroom. As I went to find dear hubby so he could remove said lizard, I passed by my little button fern and immediately noticed something strange. On closer inspection, I realized it was a snake skin.

 

 

This is the first time we have ever seen a snake skin around, and I am not too thrilled it was so close to the house. It must be from this little fellow we saw earlier in the summer.

 

Snakes are very beneficial to the garden. They eat insects and rodents. I have read that they can really do a number on grasshoppers. I wonder if that is why I am not seeing as many lubbers as I used to. The snakes do this work without damaging the garden. Garter snakes are supposed to eat slugs, and anything that eats slugs can’t be all bad.

In general, you have nothing to fear from snakes. This is especially true if you live in the United States. Only four species of snakes are dangerous in The United States. They are the copperhead, the rattlesnake (several species) the cottonmouth, and the coral snake. Now these are the ones you need to avoid and not invite into your garden.

If you see a snake in your garden, remember they are keeping the grasshopper, cricket, mice, moles and other critter populations down, making for a nicer garden. They want nothing to do with you. Try to overcome your fears and enjoy the benefits the snakes are providing.

Now, as for me I don’t mind an occasional snake in my garden as long as I don’t see it.

Night Time Bloooms

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

I finally am able to welcome an old favorite plant back into my garden. Years ago, my mother gave me a cutting from her night blooming cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), and we enjoyed waiting and watching the gorgeous white blooming flowers for many years. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I lost my plant during a winter freeze. I was disappointed not only because I would no longer see these pretty, white flowers, but also because I had lost a plant that had been in my mother’s garden for so long, and there were so many good memories associated with the flower. The family staying up late to see the flowers, trying to freeze one of the flowers to preserve it (doesn’t work), kids excited to see such a strange flower, all these memories were conjured up every time I would look at the flowers.

Two years ago, I happened to mention to my sister that I had lost mom’s cereus in a freeze. She promptly spoke up and said she had mom’s plant and would give me a cutting. That cutting finally bloomed.

Part of the excitement over this flower is the anticipation. It seems as if the bud should open, and then, nothing. You keep checking night after night knowing if you miss the opening one night, the flower will be totally wilted by dawn. Here is the prehistoric looking bud.

 

 

The gorgeous white flower shows up very quickly.

 

 

 

It is so good to have this plant back in my garden and blooming.

One other night bloomer in my garden was given to me by a very generous neighbor. It is Epiphyllum hookeri. This flower, too, opens at night but will last until morning if protected from the sun.

 

 

While my neighbor gave me a plant, I have made numerous cuttings and have several plants around the garden. Both of these plants are very easy to propagate – just stick a leaf in soil and soon you have a plant. These must be protected in winter as they are tropicals, but these flowers are certainly worth that effort.

Labor Day 2010

“Labor Day 2010”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

 

 

I hope everyone had a great day today. All laboring people needed a day off from work. Here, there was no labor done. I had a great three-day gardening spree planned. Tidying up the garden, trying to get rid of weeds, doing the last pruning of the year.

Unfortunately, none of that happened. My back did not cooperate with my plans. I don’t know what happened. Very early Saturday morning, I was simply doing a little vacuuming and dusting and noticed that my lower back was hurting. I don’t remember doing anything that would have caused any back problem.

What made this situation doubly frustrating is that we had our first dry, cool front move through Saturday morning. It would have been the perfect weekend in over four months to work out in the garden.

My back is better today, and it will probably be fine just in time to go back to work tomorrow. This must have been God’s way of telling me I needed to rest this weekend.

I hope everyone was able to do whatever it was they wanted to – rest, play, or garden.
(Don’t you wish postage was still that cheap.)

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