Autumn Aromas

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

When early autumn arrives, that is usually the first time in months that there is an opportunity here in the Deep South to turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and let cool air drift through the house. The very first cool front to come through is joyfully welcomed. This is especially nice at night. There is nothing like going to sleep with that initial cool, autumn air hanging over you.

What makes having the windows open at night so pleasant is not only the coolness but the aromas. In late September, the night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) starts releasing it fragrance. What a wonderful way to drift off to sleep.

 

 

This plant is not used very much today which is a shame. Before air conditioning became common, this used to be planted outside of windows to perfume homes and especially bedrooms at nighttime. When my bushes started blooming, the aroma brought me back to my childhood and my maternal grandfather. One of my most vivid memories is visiting my grandparents’ rural home and going to sleep with the night blooming jasmine’s fragrance in the room. My grandfather always planted this outside the bedrooms. Since this shrub only blooms at night, and the fragrance is only released at night, it is perfect outside an opened bedroom window.

Another sweet-smelling plant that is blooming now that it is early autumn is the sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans). This blooms in the daytime with tiny, deliciously fragrant flowers. Don’t let the tiny flowers fool you, this plant’s aroma can travel. Often when I return home from work in the late afternoon, I can smell these flowers even though the plants are in the back garden.

 

 

When this plant blooms, I am reminded of my father. I remember that he brought home a fairly large sweet olive that he rescued from a construction site when I was quite small. He planted it in our side yard and was so proud of that tree. As a child, I would pick a small sprig of flowers and was amazed that such tiny flowers could have such a big fragrance. By the way, that tree is still alive at my parent’s home. It has been there about 55 years having outlived my father.

Both of these plants are extremely fragrant, but those fragrances are not overpowering or cloying. Having these glorious aromas and cool temperatures around are among the things I look forward to every autumn.

Falling Off the Face of the Earth

“Falling Off the Face of the Earth”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I guess it seems like I have fallen off the face of the earth since I haven’t posted in so long. Let’s just say that life and work (don’t even talk to me about computer conversions) has gotten in the way of my blogging. Not that anything has really been happening in the garden, so you haven’t missed anything.

The brutally high temperatures are finally gone, and the extreme drought, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee is over. The summer plants are all just about toast now, but those that do well in autumn are starting to make a show. I can’t wait for even cooler weather so that I can work out in the garden every weekend.

There have been several signs that even with temperatures in the high 80’s, fall is beginning to settle in. Many plants that only shine in the fall are starting to change. The beauty berry bushes are now sporting their gorgeous magenta berries.

 

 

Sedum Autumn Joy is also showing its lovely, rosy, fall color. This is the second year this has been in my garden, and I am so pleased with it. I know many gardeners think of this as just a common plant, but it really has not been grown much down here, and I love it.

 

 

A week or so after Tropical Storm Lee passed through, the hurricane lilies (Lycoris radiata) began to show up. These are often called hurricane lilies around here because their bloom time coincides with the peak of hurricane season. I remember after Katrina these were blooming only a week later.

 

 

The Mexican Sage is just starting to bloom. It won’t be as thick and nice as previous years because I forgot to cut in back in early summer.

 

 

Finally, a new addition to the garden is starting to earn its keep. This spring I bought an ornamental grass that I first saw about three years ago but was not able to find it locally until this April. This miscanthus Cosmopolitan is a large grass that puts out the loveliest wheat-colored tassels. I was beginning to worry mine wouldn’t have any this year, but look what has finally showed up.

 

 

In a week or so when the tassels all come out fully, this grass should look fantastic. I can hardly wait to see it in full bloom. At least there is one bright spot after such a drought-filled summer.

It shouldn’t be too long before the other autumn flowers show up. It will be nice to have the confederate rose and others around in the cool weather. Then, maybe I will have something to share and there won’t be such a long time between posts.

Tropical Storm Benefits

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

Whenever a storm moves through, everyone tends to concentrate on the devastation, but often there are some benefits. We averted the forecasted deluge that was supposed to come from Tropical Storm Lee. We only had about nine inches of rain which was a lot, but it was needed. That nine inches of rain is more than fell in all of April, May, June, July, and August. Normally, we would have received over twenty inches total for those months.

All the plants have appreciated the moisture and have perked up. In fact, the hydrangeas that I cut back two weeks ago have put out new growth. Thank goodness our first freeze date is months away.

After Lee left, we have had absolutely gorgeous weather – breezy and cool. Lows in the 50’s at night, and highs in the 70’s. We hardly ever get weather like this in early September, much less after a tropical system moves through. Normally, after a hurricane or tropical storm the weather is still, hot, and humid.

The moisture we had this weekend was really needed. One plant that has done better with all the rain is my white mandevilla vine. My mother rooted this for me about three years ago, and every fall I dig it up and overwinter it in a smaller container. With the drought and extreme heat of this summer, it just didn’t bloom. Now, a few flowers have shown up, and there are buds all over.

 

 

It is amazing how plants that have been so dry respond so well to rain.

Now that southeastern Louisiana has moved from extreme drought to moderate drought, maybe more plants will start blooming.

End to Our Drought?

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

Looks like this long Labor Day weekend should bring an end to our drought with tropical weather forecasted to cover the Gulf Coast.

 

 

The weather center is predicting that we could get up to 15 to 20 inches of rain over the next three days. Of course, I would like the rain, but not that much.

It seems it is either feast or famine when it comes to rain around here. I’m just hoping my garden doesn’t float away.