A Water Lover

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

Be very careful what you wish for. We still are getting rain, way too much rain in too short a time. We have been suffering from a very severe drought, so you would think this rain is welcomed. Well, a large part of it was, but now too much. Several trees in the neighborhood have fallen over because of over saturated soils. Makes me a little nervous to see that happen. Fortunately, none have hit any homes.

So, we have had some rain every day since St. Swithen’s Day (July 15), and I am really starting to get worried about that forty day thing.

While the rain was needed for the garden and all the plants have perked up and started growing, one in particular has really enjoyed this rain. The hibiscus coccineus or Texas Star is loving the extra moisture and showing it with its gorgeous red flowers that have been popping out nonstop since the rain starte. Another common name for this plant is swamp hibiscus which shows its love of wet areas.

 

 

Because of the drought, there is not many plants blooming here (but buds are forming so there should be some flowers soon) which makes this large red flower stand out even more. This is a perennial hibiscus that returns each spring.

I always let a few flowers go to seed. I use these new plants to add to the already growing Texas Star area to make a bigger clump of them or to start a new section of these bushes in other garden spots.

With all the rain we have been having it is a good thing this plant likes water.

Mystery of Nature

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

What causes flowers to change colors?

In the past I have noticed that flowers will change colors especially in colder temperatures. Knockout roses will be darker in cold temperatures and certain camellia flowers will also darken in colder weather. This is due to the fact that certain colors’ chemical composition responds to temperature.

But what causes the flowers of identical plants to be different colors? I have two hibiscus plants that are blooming in a dark and a light color. I have had these plants for years, and in fact, one of these is from a cutting of the other, and this year they are sporting different colors.

 

Hibiscus, Light

 

Hibiscus, Dark

 

Now, the lighter color is how this hibiscus has bloomed for years. It is more of a peach color. The darker flower is definitely orange. Both of these plants are in containers, next to one another, and have been fertilized, watered, etc. the same. So, why are the flowers a different color? And why now after so many years? I could understand if both were blooming the same darker color, but not one light and one dark. And with the heat we have been experiencing, it can’t be a result of one being in a cooler temperature.

One of the mysteries of nature, I guess.

Update on the St. Swithen’s Day rain forecast: If you read my previous entry, I just wanted to keep you posted on the rain. Yes, it has rained every day since that posting. I am almost ready to believe that forty day forecast of rain.

St. Swithen’s Day Rain

“St. Swithen’s Day Rain”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Ten inches short on rain in 2010 and twelve inches short on rain so far for 2011 puts us in the extreme dry category. The drought is not over here, but it does seem to be abating. After less than two inches of rain for the months of April, May, and June, we have started to return to a normal pattern of rain showers. Halleluiah! The rain started on July 15th and hasn’t stopped. Now, I will admit that a few of those days had only a tiny amount of rain, but it was enough to keep the ground from drying out.

What does this have to do with St. Swithen’s Day? There is an old English proverb about the weather on St. Swithen’s Day (July 15) that dates from Elizabethan times which states

St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.

I know we need rain, but I don’t know about forty days of it. This morning we had a nice shower of over an inch which really helps not only with the garden but also with keeping the temperatures down. (I feel for the northern parts of the country which are not used to the heat that we live with June through September.) However, now we could use a few rainless days for things to dry out. (Never thought I’d say that!)

 

Rain-filled Container

 

This morning's rain

 

One very nice thing about this rain is the showing up of the Rain lilies. I discovered one yesterday and was so surprised to see it. They have not bloomed in such a long time that I forgot I had them in the garden. Since they need a soaking rain to start blooming and we haven’t had one of those in months, it is no wonder they haven’t bloomed before now.

 

 

The folklore about St. Swithen’s day and the rain we have had since that day reminds me of another old saying “Be careful what you wish for.”

Container Solution

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

Finally, we have had some rain. Just like so many areas in the country this summer, we are still in an extreme drought, but 2 inches of rain over the last four days has helped. Of course, even with this rain, we are still way below our normal rainfall, but it is nice to be free from dragging hoses around the garden for a few days. Because of the drought, not very much is going on in the garden this year as in past years. Hardly anything is blooming because I think the dryness and heat seems to be really stressing plants out. They are just staying alive and not really growing. I am hoping the recent rain will help this as it usually does.

Because of the drought, that started back in late March, I have not dared to plant several small shrubs that I purchased in late winter. I am holding them over till either we get more rain or early fall arrives. Because of this, I am using more containers in the garden than ever. Before, I used containers mainly on the patio or front entry, and they consisted of annuals or tropical plants. Gradually, I stopped planting those, especially the tropicals, because it just got to be too much trouble to overwinter them. I only kept a few favorites in pots or hanging baskets.

Starting last year when I pretty much stopped planting annuals in the garden, I did make a few containers of colorful coleus and placed them in areas were the ground was not suitable for planting. This gave spots of color without too much work.

This year as I was contemplating a problem spot in the entry garden, I thought of containers as a solution. The area where I needed “something” was under a Kwansan cherry tree and so did not get much sun. In the past when I planted coleus there, they didn’t do well – leggy, sparse looking. Impatiens took too much water, hosta even failed, and tree roots didn’t make for any deep planting of other shade plants. Finally, I decided to go with containers and thought caladiums (notice the raindrops) should do well. I just wish I would have thought of this earlier.

 

 

Since this is the entry garden and makes that all important first impression, that bare spot really stood out. Now, with the three blue pots of red caladiums and one pot of Persian Shield in the back, this area looks so much better and blends in nicely with the rest of that garden area which has filled out well since spring. I only wish I would have thought of this container solution sooner.

A Little Lime

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

Lime green or chartreuse is now a very popular garden color. We’ve all added Marguerite sweet potato vines or lime green coleus plants to our containers and gardens. Growers have come out with lime green versions of many of our favorite plants – jewels of opar, geraniums, pineapple sage, and heuchera come to mind, but one lime green plant that has really made a splash recently is Limelight hydrangea. When this first came out a few years ago, I wanted this plant something awful, but never had the right place for it. Now, Little Lime, a smaller version of Limelight, has hit the nurseries, and as soon as I saw this plant, I grabbed it. When I purchased this, it was not in bloom, but now there are gorgeous lime-colored flowers all over this bush.

 

 

Little Lime is one third the size of Limelight which makes it a better fit for my garden. As an established garden, there isn’t that much space available for big shrubs. Little Lime is supposed to grow about 36 to 60 inches tall whereas Limelight grows 72 to 96 inches tall.

The big selling point of this shrub is the flowers. They have opened to the promised soft green and are lovely. I love this color. It is perfect for summer, and in autumn the flowers will turn pink and then burgundy. That should be nice to see also.

 

 

Hardy in zones 3 to 9 and not as water dependent as Hydrangea macrophylla all make this a very nice garden addition. Even with our drought conditions this little shrub is doing well. I can’t wait to see it in a few years when it reaches its mature size. It may be Little Lime, but it sure is a big plus in my book.