Flower Buds Are Now Showing

“Flower Buds Are Now Showing”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Winter storm alerts stretch 1800 miles across upper United States. The pictures on the evening news showing cold, stormy weather from Montana to New England were just unbelievable. I feel so bad complaining about how sick I was of our cold weather, and now so many people are still dealing with winter storms.

Here on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, we hit 80 degrees today, which tied an all time high set in 1980. Now everything seems to be coming up out of the ground. Everyday there is something new to see. So, for those of you still in the cold, here is a photo just for you as a reminder that the first signs of spring really aren’t that far away.

 

 

Our peach tree’s buds have swollen and are starting to show color. As I walked around the garden today, I saw so many buds starting to swell and show color either for leaves or flower buds. The fig trees are showing green indicating new leaves will be unfurling soon, and the Bartlett pear trees’ buds should be showing color any day now.

In New Orleans, the Japanese magnolias are already in full bloom. We are about 30 miles north of there, so ours are not quite ready to bloom, but it shouldn’t be too long before the flowers show up.

When we were having all that cold weather in January and early February, I was afraid spring would be late this year, but it seems that, all of a sudden, spring has even come a little early.

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Satsuma

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

One of my favorite childhood memories centers around my sister and I playing in the far back garden at my parents’ house. In that area were three satsuma mandarin trees and a grapefruit tree. Nothing was sweeter in the spring than the aroma of the blooming citrus trees. In the summer, we would pretend that each tree with its drooping branches was a house, and in early fall, when the fruit ripened, anytime we were hungry or thirsty, we would just reach up and pull a satsuma off the tree, peel it, and then eat it. Talk about carefree times.

When I finally had my own home, one of the first plants that went in the ground was a satsuma mandarin (Citrus reticulata). This is the citrus of choice along the Gulf Coast because it can take colder weather (temperatures in the mid teens). While this small tree does need full sun to do well, ours grows under pine trees and still does fine.

 

 

For us, the best thing about this fruit is the ease of peeling it and the lack of seeds. The peel of a satsuma is a little leathery, but is easily pulled away from the fruit. No knife required. Ours also has little or no seeds, another plus when snacking. The flavor is sweet and not very acidic – perfect for a simple dessert after any meal.

 

 

While these citrus trees are hardy to zone 8b, they can be grown in colder areas in containers that can be brought in when temperatures hit the mid twenties. An unheated garage where temperatures do not get below twenty would be fine. Since these trees will grow four to six feet in a container even after many years, they could also be brought inside a house for the winter.

Having this wonderful fruit around at this time of year is doubly appreciated. First is the great taste, and second is the wonderful memories of childhood.

Beauty, Fragrance, and Fruit

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

Gardens can be so sensual. It is easy, however, to appeal to the sense of sight with all the beautiful, colorful flowers and textures while the other senses are often overlooked. Wind rustling grasses or water features will fulfill the sense of hearing, but the sense of smell is often relegated to close inspection of flowers. Right now, you do not have to be close to the flowering citrus trees to smell their wonderful fragrance. They are perfuming the whole garden with an absolutely delightful scent.

 

 

We have satsuma and lime trees, and all are blooming. I know now why orange blossoms were so popular for brides years ago. The fragrance is not overpowering or cloying, but so fresh, floral, and spring like.

 

 

The heady perfume is not the only plus to citrus trees, the promise of fruit come early fall is just as important. This year there seems to be an abundance of flowers, and while not all will set fruit, it sure looks like there will be a bumper crop.

 

 

With beautiful flowers, wonderful aroma, and delicious fruit, it is no wonder that citrus trees are so popular.

Trying Again

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

Because of all our large trees, it is not possible to grow edibles in one separate garden.  Instead, we have them spread out where they can get the most sun.  Our fruit trees are planted out like ornamentals, lettuce and tomatoes grown in containers on the patio, and now, we are trying blueberries again.  Hopes are high since the flowers have appeared on the new blueberry bushes.

 

blueberry-blossoms-redu

 

Dear hubby is a blueberry freak.  He loves those little blue berries and can’t wait for the first ones to come in.  Two years ago, he came home from Wal-mart with three blueberry bushes.  I hated to tell him that they would not do well here since they were not a Southern type.  But, they had blooms on them, and he was unconvinced. 

Last year, nothing.  No flowers, no fruit, no joy at our house.  This year, he bought a Southern type that should do well here.  He ordered them from a catalog without telling me.  I had tried to tell him that there were nurseries around here that sell the type he needed, but he thought he would order online instead.  They are blooming, but the real test will be next year.  Will we have enough chilling hours for them to set blossoms?  Only time will tell, but I hope, for dear hubby’s sake, they do well. 

Proven Wrong

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

About three years ago, dear hubby planted an avocado seed.  I told him it wouldn’t last the winter since this is a semitropical fruit at best.  He nursed that little seedling all winter, and it did survive the cold, proving me wrong.

The next summer, the little avocado seedling grew to about three feet tall, and he transplanted it into a large container.  Since he was moving a plant from a six inch pot to a twenty-four inch pot, I told him the new container was way too big, but he ignored me.  The little avocado tree grew to about five feet tall.

The next winter was spent trying to cover a five foot tree in about a three foot tall pot off and on as the temperature dipped and rose above freezing.  Dear hubby kept talking about having avocado fruit maybe the coming summer.  I just laughed and told him that avocado trees didn’t bear fruit here, besides it sometimes takes years for one to fruit according to what I have read.

Last summer the tree grew to about seven feet and was too tall to cover this winter.  DH just moved it to a rather sheltered location and hoped for the best.  It made it through this winter even though there were several hard freezes.

This spring, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The tree had flowers.

avocado-flower

Now, I have read that avocado trees usually need another tree to be pollinated, but after being proven wrong that this tree would even survive, much less grow and flower in three years, I won’t be surprised at all if there are avocados on the tree by summer.  At least DH has not gloated.

Just Peachy

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

 

peach-blossom-redu

 

In other areas of the South there is very cold weather.   Yesterday there was snow in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, and it soon moved into the Upper South and beyond.  Here in the Coastal South, we had some cold, windy weather with temps almost reaching freezing last night. 

Today, the peach trees in the back garden started opening a few of their flowers with the promise of more to come.  It seems Mother Nature is not going to be deterred from bringing forth spring even though Old Man Winter is trying so hard to keep a strong grip on the weather.

Signs

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

 

There seems to be no end to the signs that winter must be just about over here on the Gulf Coast.  Today, the high temperature was 73 degrees, honeybees were buzzing around the camellia, and the citrus trees have started to bloom.  I think the warm-up we had last week, just before the hard freeze of Wednesday night, must have broken the dormancy of many plants, and this week’s warm temperatures will finish the job.  The lime tree doesn’t just have buds; it has flowers.

 

lime-tree-flower

 

This is a small lime tree we bought last spring, and it is now ready to go into a larger container.  Since limes are the least hardy of the citrus trees, we will keep this one in a container.  Even in our mild climate, it is not safe to plant a lime tree in the ground because our rare temperature dips into the teens could kill it.  When hard freezes are predicted, into the garage it goes.

 

The satsumas are not blooming yet, but I expect that any day now, we will see the buds starting to show on those branches.  The fragrance of citrus trees is just wonderful especially after winter when, except for the sweet olive, so few fragrant plants are blooming.  These lovely, white, sweet-smelling flowers seem to announce spring is here.