Tastes Change

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

High summer here means that with very hot temperatures most of the garden flowers have taken to resting. A few of the heat lovers are still hanging on, but there are not too many. When cooler temperatures come back in October, flowering will start again.

But right now, it is mainly foliage plants with a few flowers here and there that are bringing color. I have noticed that over the last two years, I have added orange to my garden color palette. I never used to like orange, but it has grown on me and in the right area does look good. Until recently, I hated orange colored flowers. I never planted orange marigolds, zinnas, or impatiens. Just didn’t like that color. But, tastes change.

I think the first orange bloomer I planted was a canna called Tropical Sunrise. This is its the third year in the garden, and there is a nice clump now.



This is planted near an orange coleus I purchased this spring. As soon as I saw this bright coleus, I knew it would be perfect placed near this particular canna and an orange daylily.



The daylily that is sharing the border with the coleus and canna is an old one passed along to me.



When the daylily bloomed next to Rustic Orange coleus, it was a great pairing just as I had imagined it would be.



To these orange colored plants I have to mention the orange hibiscus I wrote about recently and an orange lantana given to me by my sister.


It is funny how your tastes change over the years. I never thought I would have so much orange, I flower color I disliked, in my garden.


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.

Fall Foliage

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

Here, just north of the Gulf of Mexico, we do not have the wonderful fall foliage that areas to the north of us enjoy. I guess we are too warm, and the trees that really fire do not grow here. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have colorful fall foliage. When I plant my coleus in the spring, I always keep in mind that come autumn there is a need for some color that only a plant like the coleus can give, so I put in colors that will look nice not only in summer but also in the fall. This year, the coleus did exceptionally well, and I have huge plants which gives a nice display.








And finally, my new favorite for this year.



All of these plants are over three feet high and about two to three feet wide. They are making quite a statement in the garden. So, while I don’t have the lovely maples, aspens, and other fall foliage stars, I do have some very colorful foliage to get me through the season.

Next Fall

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

It has been said that one of the signs you are still young is that you concentrate on the future. The future is where the young look. Well, that being said, I must still be young even though the calendar says a little differently. When it comes to gardening, I am always looking ahead. Spring it foremost in my mind right now, but after visiting my sister yesterday, I am tucking a few ideas of fall planting for winter color in the back of my mind.

The recent freezing weather has the garden pretty bare of color. While this bleakness is unusual, it is not unheard of either. I am going to take a page out of my sister’s garden and plan for cold weather a little more than I have been. I usually put out violas or pansies for color, and I have also used snapdragons and petunias. Throughout the winter, I will have the hibiscus blooming and a few other tropicals as well, but not this year with so many days of freezing temperatures. So, next year, for insurance of winter color, I am going to try a few of the plants that made it through the cold weather for my sister and are now giving a lot of color.

First, I want to put in some chard, like her bright red and yellow ones.




Several years ago, I tried ornamental kale, but it didn’t do very well; it wasn’t in an area with enough sun. I think it is time for me to plant it again.




Yes, even though I still will be planning for spring and summer, plans for next fall’s planting for winter color are still on my mind.

Fall Color, At Last

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

Here in the Deep South, fall color is usually pretty pathetic.  We don’t have the hard woods that turn such lovely colors in more northern areas.  Also, we don’t usually have a cold snap that starts the leaves to change colors, and living at lower latitudes we still have a lot of sunlight.  Of course, we are not totally without some autumnal color.  Crapemyrtles and tallow trees will start turning in late November and will give us some reds and deep oranges.  Many years they can be quite striking, and then, other years their leaves just seem to turn brown and fall off.

Usually, green is still the dominate color down here all through the fall and winter.  Today, however, our Bradford pear finally showed its color.  It seemed very striking especially since it was an overcast day.   As I pulled in the driveway this afternoon, the bright leaves stood out against the gray sky.




Here it is, the middle of December, and we are just getting our fall color.  I have been drooling over the gorgeous fall pictures on other people’s blogs for months, finally with all the red and green of Christmas, we get our oranges and yellows.





I know Bradford pears are not considered good trees to plant because of their brittleness, but when I see them like this, I wish I would have planted more.

Non-Flower Color

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


To continue yesterday’s topic about having color in the garden that is not flower related, here are a few more plants that I planned to take the place of colorful flowering annuals this year.  The first one is Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus).  The first time people see this plant, they do not believe it is real.  It is such a vibrant metallic purple.  This does well in partial shade and grows to about three feet tall.  This really adds a pop of color to the garden without any flowers.


Persian Shield (Redu)


Another colorful plant for the front of the border is the variegated Oyster Plant (Tradescantia spathacea).  This is the first year I have them in the garden and am hoping that they will spread out.  This too does well in partial shade where color is often lacking.


Oyster Plant (redu)


Another plant I am using this year instead of flowering annuals for color is the polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya).  I have had White Splash in the entry garden for about five years now, and have just planted Pink Splash in other areas.  Both of these plants are giving consistent color ever since I put them in.


Wh Splash (redu)


Pk Splash (redu)


Last is a plant that will take full shade that I keep in a container on the front porch.  Its variegated foliage brings color to an otherwise all green plant grouping.  This is Tricolor (Stromanthe sanguinea) a tropical plant that has become popular in recent years.  This plant does not like sun and will bring white, red and green color to a shady spot.  Too much sun and the leaves will scorch.


Tristar (redu)


So, once again, here are some plants that are helping me get through this hot summer with a little color for the garden that is not dependent on flowers.



Foliage Color

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

This time of year does not have the blooms that early spring does, but that does not mean that there is no color or interest in the garden.  This year, in particular, there isn’t the amount of flowers around as is usual for summer.  Our heat always does seem to make plants stop flowering during the hottest months and then pick up again when the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, but this year, with our unusually high heat in June, flowers are pretty scarce right now.  Thank goodness for coleus and caladiums, two brightly colored plants that help a summer garden look nice.

Coleus is having a sort of revival in the past few years.  The Victorians were crazy for this plant, but as with all things, it went out of favor for a while and is back now.  When you look at coleus, you don’t miss not having flowers.  Not only are they colorful, but the different leaf shapes and textures make these such interesting plants.  I especially like the puffy or puckered leaf coleus.

Coleus Alabama Sunset (redu)

Coleus II (redu)

Coleus R. Radish (redu)

Coleus Un-named (redu)

Caladuim is another plant with colorful leaves that can outshine many a flower.  I am lucky that I can leave my caladium tubers in the ground, and they will overwinter.  I just make sure that they have a lot of mulch and stay dry.

Caladium Carolyn Wharton (redu)

Caladium Firecracker Red (redu)

So, even though this year’s heat has stopped the normal summer flowering, we still have a great deal of interest in the garden with the different textures and colors of coleus and caladiums.

Royal Purple

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


Yesterday, I wrote about the true blue flowers blooming right now in our garden, and today, I thought I would feature some of the purple colored ones.  Often flowers that are described as being blue end up really being a shade of purple.  Now purple is often associated with royalty, and many of these purple flowers have a certain regal air about them. 

I think the ones with the deepest purple color would have to be the hosta blooms.  They started blooming last week, and the bumble bees have been very busy searching out the nectar from these flowers.  I love the deep color of the buds and the striations on the flowers.


Hosta Bloom (redu)


Also blooming right now is the vitex tree.  I have both the pink and the purple flowering kinds, and I can’t decide which I like better.  But, today I will show a photo of the purple one.  This tree is now about twelve feet high, and was an offspring of my mother’s tree.  I can’t wait until mine is a tall and wide as hers is because it is truly a beautiful tree.  It is what those of us in the deep south grow instead of lilacs.  While it does not have a fragrance, it does have pretty flower spikes.


Purple Vitex (redu)


Another purple blossom is the clematis crispa.  It has been blooming nonstop for about six weeks now.  This is the one I thought I had killed earlier this year, but it has come back better than last year.


Clematis Crispa (redu)


Next is the agapanthus.  From a distance it looks light purple or lavender, but up close you can see that it is really white with a blue or light purple stripe.  These plants have really grown, and I will definitely have to divide them this year.  These flower stalks are over six feet tall and make a very stately appearance.


Agapanthus (redu)


Purple flowers really do blend in with all the other colors in the garden.  I have them mixed with pink flowers, yellow flowers, and red flowers, and the purple helps unify all the areas of the garden as well as setting off the other colors.  What would we do without purple?