The Cat’s Meow

“The Cat’s Meow”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

At Saturday’s garden show, another striking area was a small garden done all in white (my favorite garden color) and green.  It was so peaceful and serene.

The flowers in the back of the border are cat’s whiskers (Orthosiphon stamineus). When the blooms open, they have a long spike of flowers with stamens similar to a cat’s whiskers.  They grow about two feet high and three feet wide and made a great backdrop in this little garden.  Bees, butterflies, and hummingbird all are attracted to this plant.

Growing in front of the cat’s whiskers were white torenia.  Covered in white blossoms, these plants from a distance almost looked like pansies (which of course could not survive our hot summers).  Even this late in their growing season, they still looked good.  These plants stay rather low so they are perfect in front of the cat’s whiskers, covering up the base of the taller plant.

Along the side edges of this garden the variegated green and white plant made a nice final touch.

I am fond of a green and white garden, esp. in summer, and I thought this one was done very well.  After seeing how nice the cat’s whiskers did here, I may have to add some to the back of my garden beds as well next spring.

The idiom “cat’s meow”  means something outstanding, and this phrase certainly applies to this small, intimate garden in the New Orleans.

Display Garden

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

 

One of the nice things about going to a botanical garden is the ideas you can get from the display gardens.  As you enter the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, one of the first areas you encounter is a small brick patio surrounded by potted plants.

 

 

There is a garden bed encircling the patio which contains big shrubs and palms.  In front of the bed are clusters of containers with mostly tropical plants (this is New Orleans, after all).  If you notice, the potted plants are grouped (usually in three’s) with some containers raised on bricks for variations in height.  Also, different sized pots are used.  Extra large pots have smaller ones grouped around them as this next photo shows.

 

 

My patio is almost this size, so this display garden gives me some ideas for next summer.  I don’t think I would use as many tropicals because I do not want to have to overwinter them, but I am sure containers of perennials and annuals instead of tropicals would look just as nice.  I like the extra large containers that seem to give some substance to the area. 

 

It is nice to see a garden at this time of year because it is filled out and at its peak; you know what it is supposed to look like.  When you see a spring garden, the plants are usually small, and it can be hard to visualize how it will look at the peak of summer.  You can be sure that in the winter and next spring, when I will be garden planning, I will be looking at these pictures for inspiration.

 

 

Garden Views

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

 

Today, I was able to work in the garden for the first time in weeks.  The last month and a half has been very hectic around here.  I just can’t seem to get back into any kind of routine, but, today, I finally was able to work all day in the garden.  It was doubly nice because of the cool, dry temperatures.  I was able to do several fall garden clean up projects that I have been wanting to get to for weeks.  I am hoping tomorrow to be able to start planting some seeds for the fall, esp. my lettuce and bluebonnets.

 

This morning, before I started in the garden, I went out very early and took some photos of how the garden looks this year in fall.  Yesterday, I showed some close ups of flowers that were blooming, and, today, I’ll show the garden.

 

This is the view from the front walk looking north.  In the foreground is a section of the entry garden, and to the left is the row of azaleas that divides this side yard in two.

 

 

 

This shot is taken at the North property line looking towards the backyard.

 

 

And, this shot is of the property line on the south side.  I just worked on this border last spring.  It was so overgrown with vines and ferns.  I wanted to keep it woodsy, for privacy from the neighbors, so I planted white lacecap hydrangeas, sweet almond bush, winter honeysuckle, variageted shell ginger, and ferns.  When the Margarite sweet potato vine got too vigorous for the entry garden, I transplanted some to this area, and it has added a bright green to this basically green areas.

 

Moving to the back, this is a shot of our peach and pear trees (which have lost most of their leaves) and a huge mound of sweet autumn clemetis.  It used to grow up a river birch, but we had to take that out last year.  I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the clemetis, so it has just grown in this mound.  I guess this spring we will have to put in a trellis for it instead of just letting it run amok.

Here is the border around the patio.  I will have to move several holly ferns in the spring because they are getting too much sun since we have lost several large pine trees.

The back corner is next.  Our lot is pie shaped, so this is the point.  This is where I keep the chinese hibiscus during the summer because this is the only area in the back that gets full sun.

Last is the north side with daylilies, azaleas, bamboo, and varigaeted shell ginger.

I just realized that I took photos of the sides and back gardens, but not the front garden.  Well, I guess that will have to be another posting since it is now too dark to take any pictures.

Late Summer Garden

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

 

By the end of summer the garden has grown into the lush setting I envisioned in the late winter.  This is the first year that plants are large enough to have filled in just about all areas of the garden.  The back corner  is an example of this.  You can’t even see the neighbor’s yard next door.

 

 

To the right of that area, it is just as thick.

 

 

The beds surrounding the patio echo the same verdant growth.  I can hardly believe that just a few years ago every thing seemed so small with big spaces between plants, and now look at it.

 

 

I just hope that TS Gustav doesn’t turn into a big hurricane and hit us, ruining the garden and much worse.  I really am worried about this storm.  Even though it is days away, the authorities are already talking about a mandatory evacuation.  I would hate to have to go through a Katriana all over again.  Though it is too early to tell where it is going, I am trying not to worry and am hoping it just fizzles out down in the Caribbean.  Please, keep good thoughts for the Gulf Coast.

A Color Contrast

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

 

One design element I like in my garden is contrast, particularly contrasts of color.  For example, I like red, which is a hot color, next to purple, a cool color. 

 

Another color combination I like is chartreuse next to dark purple.  I use this pairing with coleus and with sweet potato vine.  Years ago when Margarita sweet potato vine was first introduced, I used it in a hanging basket.  Then when Blackie was introduce a year or so later, they both went into hanging baskets.  It wasn’t until Ace of Spades came along that I found the perfect pairing.

 

I planted both Margarita and Ace of Spades in the garden.  I chose Ace over Blackie because the leaves of Margarita and Ace are so similar.  The two together look so good twining through the beds. 

 

 

 

Both of these colors have the same intensity which also makes them a good pairing.  But, with such intensity, a little goes a long way.  I find just one or two of each plant is enough, otherwise, there is too much color, and it loses the impact of the contrasting.

 

Margarita is the more vigorous of the two and needs to be trimmed back more often to keep under control.  I have been lucky that both vines have overwintered with mulch as protection.  Most people grow these as annual, summer vines.   Inexpensive as they are, combined together, they certainly make a big statement.

 

Summer Gardens

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

 

What a difference a day makes!  Hot, dry temperatures returned today, so there was no real work done in the garden.  At 6:00 pm the heat index was 97.  I don’t even want to think what it was around noon.

 

I did have a chance to go out and fertilize everything since there was no rain forecasted.  I figure that there will be only one more opportunity to hit everything with some fertilizer.  Since I only fertilize annuals after September 1st, that leaves only one more time to lightly fertilize the perennials. 

 

In some ways it is hard to imagine that fall is almost knocking at our doors.  It feels like spring was just here.  Getting exited over new things emerging from winter dormancy doesn’t seem so long ago, and now we are thinking ahead to the end of summer and everything that means.

 

Two days ago, I wrote about how parts of my garden are finally looking like I wanted.  Another area that I am pleased with is the entry garden.  All the plants have done well, and I am so pleased with the color scheme.  Sometimes it is hard to put into actuality what is only a vision in our heads.  I have had more than a few ideas not work out, but, for this section of the garden, everything just fell into place.

 

 

The gingerland caladiums, red wax begonias, red ruellea, gerber daisies and the lady in red salvia have all filled in well.  I like the lush, thick growth here.  I was lucky that everything but the wax begonias overwintered.  That way they had a head start in the spring, and I had more money to spend on new plants since none of these had to be replaced.

 

 

Fall is my favorite time of year, but I almost hate to see summer come to an end because that means this garden will be winding down.  The caladiums will go dormant, and the other plantings will have to be trimmed back to allow for the cool season annuals to be put in.  While this garden does look nice for the winter, it does not have the lushness of the summer garden.  The fall plantings grow more slowly until springtime, partly due to cooler temperatures and partly because this area gets little sun in the winter months.  Of course, if a hard freeze would come through, then there will be nothing much showing but mulch.  I guess I need to start thinking of plants I could put in that would give this area some bones for the winter.  Right now the only plants that definitely stay year round are the Aztec grass, holly ferns and ajuga.

 

But, fall and winter are weeks away, and there are still many days left to enjoy what is here now – lush, summer gardens.

Finally Some Maturity

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

 

Finally, certain areas of the garden are starting to look like I envisioned they would when I started planting years ago.  Shrubs are getting to be a good size and herbaceous perennials are now filling out.  It seemed that for a long time the flower beds looked skimpy and spare.  When it looks like that, it is hard not to over plant to make up for the small size of the plants.  I used to fill in with annuals, but now, I find, I don’t have to do that.

 

 

Here is one area of the garden that is looking so much better this year.  The lorepetlums, azaleas, and roses finally have some size to them.  The agapanthus plants are huge, and the hydrangeas have grown to be substantial.  Daylilies, Mexican Bush Sage, and amaryllis are also now big enough to stand out.  Of course, certain plants will die back during the winter and return in the spring, but now there are enough that even in the winter there will be some interest.  Not like before when there seemed to be nothing come January.

 

 

Now that there is some height to this border, it makes a nice division from the neighbors next door.  The vitex tree, crybaby tree, cassia, and Japanese maple add the height, and the other shrubs add the screening.

 

Of course, some areas of the garden are looking better than others.  The areas that were planted first are looking the best, and this helps me be patient with those sections that are newer and not so lush.

 

It would seem that in the spring, with all the blooming shrubs and spring flowers, that the garden would look its best.  In early summer with daylilies, hydrangeas, and lilies in bloom, it also could be said to look its best.  I will admit that it does look good at those times, but now, that the plantings are starting to mature, I find that the height of summer is when it really does look its best.  There may not be as many flowers around, but there is a lot of lush growth, texture, and subtle color that makes the garden outstanding for me.  This is how I envisioned my garden would look when I started planting years ago.

Garden Blues

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

 

Finally, some rain.  We had a little rain band from Hurricane Dolly cross over us on Wednesday that dropped 1.25 inches.  Thursday brought a small shower that reinforced that rain, and today we received .35.  It is unreal how so many plants have had a growth spurt with the app. two inches of rain.  We desperately needed that rain and are so thankful the dry spell seems to have ended.

 

As I walked around the garden this morning to see how things were doing, I noticed the blue flowers on the blue daze, bog sage, and plumbago.  It is a shame that there are so few true blue flowers to grow.  When I first started gardening, I was disappointed many times when a flower that was described as being blue turned out to be a shade of purple.  Why do they do this?  Just say it is purple.

 

The true blue flowers really stand out and can set off so many other colors.  My favorite blue is the blue daze.  This plant is covered with bright blue flowers from early spring to early winter.  It is only after a freeze that the blooms stop.  Mine overwintered this year and started the spring growing bigger than ever.  This easy-to-grow plant has small trumpet shaped flowers that open in the morning and close by late afternoon, but it is the color that really catches the eye.

 

 

Another lovely blue flower is bog sage.  This can grow quite tall and is supposed to be hardy to zone 6.  I have had this sage about seven years now and look forward to its light blue color every spring.  I do not think I have seen it in nurseries.  I received mine from my daughter’s neighbor.  Even though it is commonly called bog sage, it does need well drained soil.  Deadheading will prolong the blooming of lovely, sky-blue flowers.

 

 

Many people have plumbago in their gardens.  This plant deserves a large area to spread out.  So often, I have seen people trimming it back to fit a small space and then wondering why there are hardly any blooms.  It blooms on new wood, so any pruning should be done in early spring. There are many shades of blue for this plant, so it is recommended to buy it in bloom so you can get the exact color you want.

 

 

Blue is a calming color and can help tone down some of the more vibrant colored flowers.  Even on its own, true blue is striking in a garden.  Maybe it is because of its rarity.

Plant Spacing

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

Most of my hostas have finished blooming weeks ago.  But the big chartreuse one in the front garden has just started flowering this week.  The flowers are large for hostas and are a pure white with a very pale lavender tinge on the outside.

 These particular hostas have done very well this year.  In fact, one has grown so big that it will have to be moved.  I made a mistake when I planted it too close to the edge of the bed.  Last year it was fine, but this year it has grown too big for that space.  I do not think I will divide it yet, just move it further back in the bed. 

I seem to have difficulty in visualizing how big plants eventually get.  I always seem to plant things too close together, even when I know exactly how big they will grow.  I want my garden to look lush and full, but I don’t want to keep moving things or trimming things back.  Maybe I need to put some kind of object that would be the same size as the mature plant when planting to see how close things should be.  I could use a bucket or trash can to help vizualize the eventual size.  I am going to have to think of something.  Am I the only one who has this problem of how far apart to place plants?

Wedelia = Caution

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

We all read those cautions about invasive plants, but how many of us (esp. new gardeners) really take heed.  Often, we are given plants by other people who do not know how invasive a plant can be under the right growing conditions.

This is how I came to have wedelia in my garden.  It was given to me by a friend who purchased it in a hanging basket.  Since I have a lot of shade in my garden, she gave me some cuttings saying that it did well in her basket that was placed in a very shady spot.  I took the cuttings and also put it in a hanging basket where it did very well.  It is a pretty plant with dark green leaves and bright yellow daisy-like flowers.

It did well in the hanging basket.  During the winter, I placed that basket and others I was overwintering in an area of the garden that was bare.  The wedelia roots where nodes come in contact with the ground, and sure enough, it rooted in this area.  Because this was an area of hard, clay soil, the wedelia took a while to get established.

Since it did well there, I foolishly decided to place it in the circle garden with the other yellow blooming plants.  Well, in good soil and sunlight, this plant takes off.  In one growing season, it started covering up everything else.  Because it can root at each nodule, it is very difficult to take up.  This plant would be great for erosion control because its roots dig into the ground and really holds on.  The next spring when I started taking it out, it was a struggle.  Just about every piece had to be dug out, and if even a tiny piece of root was left, it came back.  All last summer, I was pulling this stuff out, and even this summer, I have found a few places where it is showing up again.  Thank goodness it doesn’t root by underground stolons.

I still have a small patch in the original spot, and it seems to be under control in the hard, clay soil.  The roots do not seem to get such a firm hold, and the plant does not spread as rapidly.  This would be a great ground cover plant in a confined area (surrounded by a sidewalk or driveway), esp. one that is in the shade or has poor soil.  But this is a lesson in remembering to research an unfamiliar plant before putting it in the garden.  I know I do that now so there are no more unpleasant surprises.

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