Belated Christmas Present

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

I think it was in early November. I succumbed once more to an amaryllis kit. I had said I would not buy any of these inexpensive bulbs because so often the flower does not turn out to be the one pictured on the box. Red ones instead of pink, orange instead of white. However, I just can’t seem to resist, so I purchased one that was labeled Minerva, an amaryllis I do not have.

In the past, I have waited until the beginning of December to plant these bulbs because I prefer to have the blooms after the holidays. Mid-January can seem rather bleak after all the Christmas decorations are put away, and why have an amaryllis blooming in December when there are so many holiday items competing with it for attention? This year I didn’t wait to plant the bulb since last year when I delayed the planting, the flower stalk on that year’s amaryllis was already up and never did develop.

So, in early November I planted my Minerva. It didn’t bloom in December. The bud showed but didn’t grow. It almost didn’t bloom in January. January is almost over and finally an open flower.



I figured this was late because I kept the bulb outside since our winter has been so mild. With the cooler than household temperature, that must have delayed the bulb from growing and flowering. I don’t mind the flower only showing up now because it certainly does cheer up the place since not too much is blooming right now. I never realized that it can be nice having a belated Christmas present from Mother Nature.


Showing Up Early

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

Warm weather has returned, and it has brought some spring flowers. Most of the ones that have shown up have come up earlier than usual. Considering the consistently cold temperatures we have had until just recently, it is surprising that they are blooming already.

The forsythia is showing a few flowers before its expected time, and a few of the small narcissus bulbs have opened flowers, but the one that really surprised me was the white Lady Banks rose. I pulled up in the driveway late Friday afternoon and couldn’t figure out what that white “thing” was on the rose canes. A quick walk over to that area, and I just couldn’t believe that a Lady Banks rose had opened up. This rose blooms in the spring, but never in January. Though it was only one small flower, it did lift my spirits because nothing beats spring flowers after cold winters. All these early flowers is just a teaser of things to come.



The first of the spring narcissus (paperwhites don’t count because they start blooming in November here).



A Perfect Perennial

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

“The Metier of Blossoming” by Denise Livertov

Fully occupied with growing–that’s
the amaryllis…
If humans could be
that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried,
swift from sheer
unswerving impetus! If we could blossom
out of ourselves, giving
nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!

One spring-blooming flower that is certainly excelling this year in the garden is the amaryllis or more accurately hippeastrum. One of the advantages of living in a mild climate is that I can grow these in the garden as well as having a potted one or two during the winter to brighten up the dark days of December.

Most of mine have been pass-alongs from generous gardeners like my sister, people I work with, or friends. Of course, I do buy some during the fall, pot them up for winter flowers, and then plant them outside in April. My oldest amaryllis are solid red ones.



The red and white ones are planted nearby. Both of these were from my sister’s garden.




A friend from work shared several of these lovely soft orange amaryllis.



Appleblossom is always a show stopper. The flowers are numerous and huge.



Finally, the white amaryllis, which is just about my favorite, is the last to bloom.



Unfortunately, the last two summers have been a fight with the grasshoppers who love amaryllis. Last year, in particular, these pests really chomped down on the amaryllis, and I am afraid many of my bulbs were unable to set flowers. (None of my pink ones bloomed this year.) While there have been many bloom this year, a great many bulbs did not produce flowers at all, and I am thinking the grasshoppers and their appetite is to blame. In the last week, I have discovered and quickly dispatched about thirty small grasshoppers in the garden. Every day now, I go “hunting” to try and stay ahead of these voracious insects. I want to make sure my amaryllis bulbs are protected so they can bloom next year as they normally would.

Moving Day

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

I know I am going against conventional wisdom, but I don’t care. For several years now, I have been wanting to move my summer snowflake bulbs to an area where they will be in more sun. When the foliage dies down, that is the time to move bulbs, but by the time the foliage has died down, I never remember to move them since I am involved in other garden activities by then. Well, no more. Today is the day these babies get moved. They have just about finished blooming; the day is going to be perfect for gardening, and I have the perfect spot for them – what more could I ask?



There is also a clump of tete-a-tete daffodils that need to be divided, so I will probably do those at the same time.

I would like to move all my lycoris (Hurricane Lilies), too, but I don’t have a place for them prepared yet. Maybe I will get to them tomorrow and get one more chore that has been hanging over my head over with before the foliage is gone and the bulbs hard to find.

Yes, I think today will be a good moving day.

Garden Took a Cat Nap

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

With the warm weather we have been having for the last two weeks, plants have been growing by leaps and bounds. It seems like overnight the dormant daylilies go from just barely peeking out of the ground to being three inches tall. Every time I go outside I am greeted by something new.

Today as I rounded the house and went into the side garden, I was so surprised. Just two weeks ago, I took this photo of the calla lily leaves that were already about eighteen inches tall after being frozen back to the ground by the earlier cold weather. (In my garden, calla lilies can stay in the ground year round.)



I was surprised how fast they had recovered. Now, imagine my surprise when today I saw the first calla lily flower.



While I would have to go check my garden journals to be sure, I am fairly confident this is the earliest a calla lily flower has shown up here. This is just one more example of how all the plants seem to be coming back from winter earlier than ever. I am beginning to think my garden did not go to sleep this past winter at all; it only took a cat nap.


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

One definition of reliable is dependable. When it comes to spring flowering bulbs, many of the most popular ones will not repeat bloom or do well here along the Gulf Coast which is why I love to look at the photos on the blogs that feature scores of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc. Because we warm up so quickly or have a short cold period, these bulbs are not widely grown here since they do not reliably bloom every spring. With garden space at a premium, only those bulbs that can be depended on to produce are allowed to remain. There are a few narcissus that will succeed here, and one of those is Tete a tete, a small, extra-early blooming jonquil.

Today, the first ones opened, and already my garden is looking a great deal more cheerful.



Yes, these little jonquils are reliable. I have had them in my garden for at least fifteen years where they have multiplied well and bloomed every year. Looks like this will be a year to divide them and spread them around.

While the Tazetta narcissus bloomed in late December and early January, the coming of these small, reliable jonquils certainly makes it feel as if spring is really here.

No More Cold Weather?

“No More Cold Weather?”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

The second week of January is traditionally when our coldest weather appears here in South Louisiana, but this year, December brought extreme cold for us. This week rain and mild temperatures are predicted, and it looks like the same for next week. While our last freeze date is March 1st, it is rare to get hard freezes after January.

The last week has been rather mild, and signs of life are already appearing. New sprouts are starting to show, and even the yellow hibiscus, after being protected from the cold, had a flower. Speaking of flowers, a new one has shown up in the garden to cheer up the gray, rainy days.



While the paperwhite narcissus have been blooming for over a month, this is the first of the yellow narcissus to show up. Last January, these didn’t start blooming until the very end of January. I am hoping this is a sign that the extreme cold weather of this winter is over.

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.

Peak Lily Time

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

We certainly have been enjoying the lilies that have been blooming for the past week. I haven’t been growing lilies very long. In fact, I think this is only about the third or fourth year I have had any in the garden. Not many people seem to be growing lilies here in South Louisiana. If you do see them, they seem to be in older neighborhoods, probably lilies that have been there for years. In fact, it was when I was driving through an older area and saw a stand of Easter lilies, that I decided to try growing them. I got my first Easter lilies (Lililum longiforum) from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. These bulbs have been fantastic – blooming and multiplying.




When the Easter lilies did so well, I decided to try other ones. Since we have such rainy, hot and humid weather, local experts tend to caution against certain lilies. So, when I decided to plant more lilies, I went with ones similar to L. longiforum. So, I next tried what I later found out to be a pretty tough lily – Triumphator. The ones I bought last year from Brent and Becky’s are blooming now along with the white ones.




This year I added Lilium longiforum ‘Pink Heaven’ which has already bloomed earlier this month.



Since I have had so much fun with these lilies, I may start expanding my choices and try some others. Maybe the experts who say lilies don’t do well here just haven’t tried the right ones.

Big Flowers

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

Spring is not my favorite time of the year. Autumn is my preferred season, but the garden does look its best in springtime. One of the reasons I think that that my garden looks so good at this time of year is the abundance of big flowers. Right now the big guys showing up are the amaryllis. In the last few posts I have featured the red, salmon, white, and Appleblossom amaryllises. Well, recently two more have opened to add to the show.

The first is an old-fashioned red that my sister gave me. While the flowers are a little smaller than the other more modern amaryllis, it still is a lovely flower.



The next one is a lovely pink amaryllis. When I bought this in the fall of 2009, it was labeled “Pink Diamond” and should have a white star center. As you can see, no white center in this one, but I don’t mind because I really wanted some pink amaryllis, and this one is so pretty. However, it is frustrating when things are mislabeled.



Small flowers that show up in abundance, azaleas, for instance, make a great showing, but having fewer large flowers also is good. The big guys really stand out on their own. After the amaryllis fade, the lilies take over. As a matter of fact, the first Triumphator lily opened yesterday. Looks like I will have a few more weeks of the big flowers making an appearance before summer’s smaller blooms take over the show.

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