Orlando Flowers Part 2

Even in what is late winter, Orlando, Florida, was filled with flowers and colorful plants. While we were there, a cool front came through, but that didn’t stop the tropical feeling the plants gave to the area. Walking around Sea World made me want to go home and start planting, but, unfortunately, the ground is still too cold here to put in tropicals. The mass of plants really made an impact.

To start with, flowers were not the only way to make an impact. Foliage was very important in the mass plantings.

First is the variegated shell ginger with knockout roses. The next photo shows variegated shell ginger with macho ferns in front.




Of course there were stands of the red ti plant (Cordyline teminalis) all through the area. I have a few of these plants, and this year, I will make sure to group them all together for a bigger impact.



A mass planting of variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica) made me want more of this plant. I planted this in my garden about six years ago, but seeing this bed made me realize I need to move mine closer together and divide them to make more plants.



Of course, the crotons were lovely. Usually, crotons remind me of autumn because of the deep yellows and reds, but these did have a brightness to them.



Lest you think that there was only foliage around, let me assure you there were flowers also, and not just in hanging baskets like my last post. Geraniums, dahlias, impatiens, and other flowers were all represented.





Around this time of year I start to get spring fever, that urge to go outside and dig around and plant something. Seeing all these plants, that for us are summer plants, certainly didn’t do my spring fever any good.


Orlando Flowers

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

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been in Orlando, Florida. I agreed to chaperon a senior trip, and while it was fun, it was exhausting. Of course, I paid most of my attention to the plantings. Sea World was a tropical paradise, and even though spring has arrived very early this year, I was envious of the hostas that were so prolific there. The hanging baskets were also spectacular – so big and full. Here are a few of the container and hanging baskets that could serve as inspiration for our gardens.

Containers – have to remember to use big ones.




Hanging baskets – the bigger the better.





Don’t you just love the white petunias. The other colors were just as pretty.

I’ll post some to the plantings later.

Valentine’s Day 2012

“Valentine’s Day 2012”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

A happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. I hope everyone is shown a little love today.

I thought I would share one of my favorite e.e. cummings poems which seems particularly appropriate for this special day of love.

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide.
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
I carry your heart.
I carry it in my heart.

A Mild Winter Brings Head Start

“Mild Winter Brings Head Start”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Here along the Gulf Coast, our winters are never severe, but we do get some pretty cold weather. It may not last long, but many garden plants that are hardy here will freeze to the ground and come back when spring approaches. The last two winters had some very cold temperatures, and I did lose a few plants, also some plants which had never frozen back did. I was very surprised that in the last two years the agapanthus was knocked back almost completely since that had never happened before. But this year has been different. Oh, we have had cold weather which required heavy jackets or coats but only two episodes where the temperature dipped to about 27 for a short while.

While I did protect my tender container plants, everything in the garden was left on its own. Most will survive, but the tender summer plants don’t. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I saw a coleus, yes a coleus, sprouting back. I could hardly believe my eyes. Coleus, that summer plant which melts at the first light frost, was coming back.



I have never had coleus survive even our mildest winters before this year. Another plant that survived this winter is the wax begonia. It is in a slightly protected area, so that helped, but it looks like I won’t have to buy any begonia this year.

Next, I noticed sprouts on the moonflower vine. This was planted in a hanging basket that was left to face the elements unprotected. In fact, I had purchased moonflower seeds to plant in this very basket last Sunday. Just as I began to take the basket down to clear out the old, dead vine, I saw sprouts.



Other plants that ALWAYS freeze back have not this year. Unfazed by the cold were the pink bower vine, white Justicia, Turk’s Turban, firespike, night blooming jasmine, and angel’s trumpet. Since the firespike always freezes back and takes a while to get back to blooming, it will be nice to have the blooms earlier. I know the hummingbirds will appreciate this too, since we have had two females spend the winter with us here. Look at these gorgeous red leaves.



Another survivor, the Angel Trumpet, was very small, but not only did it not freeze back; it now has new growth.



The only reason I can think of that would account for all these plants not being freeze damaged is that we have had a dry, cold winter with no warm ups. Usually, our temperatures fluctuate from cold to hot to cold, but not this year. So, the plants must have adjusted to the cold better than most years and combined with fewer actual freezes were able to make through this winter.

Seems like there will be a lot of plants in my garden this year that will have a head start on the growing season.

A New Plant Zone Map

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

The USDA has issued another plant zone hardiness map, and many areas are now in warmer zones. The area where I garden, about 30 miles north of New Orleans, has been nudged from zone 8b to 9a. You can access the full info for your area here.



This move does not surprise me, but I still am not going to trust that zone 9 completely. While it is true that our winters have been milder in general, we still can get a very hard freeze that will kill the plants that need a true zone 9 to survive. In the winters of 2010 and 2011, I lost many plants to the cold, and I know this will happen again.

I have always felt that my garden may have the summers of a zone 9 or 10 and can have the winters of a zone 8 even if it is only for a very short time. Tender perennials that survive in my sister’s garden (in the New Orleans area) will often succumb to the cold in mine. So, while I welcome this new map as guide and maybe as the years go by a true reflection of my climate, I still will garden with the idea that a zone 8 winter is likely and be careful about what I plant.

Something New

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

It is always good to try something new. If it is a success, it is wonderful, and if it is a failure, you know not to do that again.

Something new I tried in the garden this past fall was some ornamental cabbages that I put in the circle garden. In the past I have planted pansies, violas, snapdragons, and bluebonnets in this garden area. My favorites had been the violas and pansies, but the last few years they just didn’t do as well as when I first used them here. They didn’t last and seemed to melt before they grew or bloomed. Since this was so discouraging, I had almost decided to not put anything in the circle garden when I came upon some ornamental cabbages at a small, independent nursery.

They were tiny little plants in six packs, and it was hot and dry weather not good for fall annuals, but I planted them any way. At first, I was just happy they didn’t die, but then I was concerned they stayed green. The tiny plants, about the size of a silver dollar, grew and grew, however, they remained green. The weather grew colder, and there even were a few light freezes, but still little color. I kept looking at the plant tag, wondering if mine would remain green.

Finally, a tinge of pink appeared which soon expanded. I guess I was just too impatient. Now, they are the size of dinner plates with lovely pink centers.



When I planted these cabbages, I really didn’t have high expectations for them. Now, they have definitely surprised me. I am so glad I gave something new a chance.

Being Careful

There you are just going along your merry way, when bam you are brought up short. Hopefully it turns out okay. Sometimes we don’t deserve the good luck we have.

It all started late Saturday afternoon. I decided to go out and work in the garden. Since it was late, I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot I could do before it was too dark outside to see. I started cutting out small trees that have popped up between our property and the vacant property next door. As I pushed to do just a few more and as it became dusky and a little hard to see, it happened.

I tripped and fell. Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I did get a scare. The clippers I had in my hand scratched just under my eye and continued onto my glasses. I have a pretty bad scratch and one small gouge on my eyeglasses and just a small scratch just under my eye.

If I would not have been wearing glasses, the clippers would have hit my right eye and gouged it badly. I am so lucky all I got was that small scratch because it could have turned out so differently. One small thing can change your life forever.

So, this is a reminder to be careful when gardening. Watch out where you walk so you don’t trip. Remember all those safety rules when using equipment. And, most importantly, don’t work outside when it starts to get dark, and you can’t see.

Desperate for Something Growing

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

You know it is bad when you are wanting to see something/anything that is growing so badly that mushrooms catch your eye.

Even in the South there is not too very much that is growing in winter time, but lately, we have been having a lot of mushrooms show up. I think it is because with the high summer temperatures now gone, the moisture in the ground is able to build up and make conditions ripe for the mushrooms to appear.

One type that showed up a while back in our more woodland area is still hanging on. It popped up in late November, and while it is not in pristine condition, it has pretty much kept its shape. These mushrooms are hard, almost like wood.



I find these to be very interesting. As they grew bigger, they would encompass plants around them. This next photo shows a small volunteer ruellea completely surrounded. Even a pine needle got stuck.



These photos were taken in late November, and now, in January, these mushrooms are still around, darker and a little crumbly perhaps, but they have endured freezes and still are hanging on. Tough little guys, aren’t they?

Divide and Conquer

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

I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I do try and set a few goals. The problem with goals is that they can be too large and never get accomplished. For example, last year I was determined to plant into the garden everything I had been holding in containers for months (and even years). I was tired of having to water them or bring them in because of the cold. And, while I did plant some things, there are still too many sitting around.

Another problem is those little garden jobs that keep getting put off until later. Of course, later never seems to come. That plant that needs to be moved, a trim of a shrub, all those little things that would take only about ten to fifteen minutes to accomplish.



Well, no more. Today, as I was watering around the patio garden, I saw (for the millionth time) a small clump of jonquils that I have been wanting to move for at least three years. They are now in a shady spot and don’t bloom but do come back every year. Moving them is one of those things you forget about as soon as it is out of sight. So, today was the breaking point because every time I see those jonquils, I get annoyed that I haven’t moved them yet.

Since there were other little jobs like this, I decided I had to get this under control. So, I walked around the garden and wrote down all the little jobs that I want, should, or must get done, and I came up with 42! These are all small things that should take no time to do. I think I should be able to do one or two every day after work before it gets dark or on the weekend when the weather is good for just puttering around before spring comes.

Instead of looking at all the jobs that need to be done, I’ll divide and conquer. I’ll only think about one, and having a goal of only one chore at a time just may be the trick to finally get plants moved or planted or rooted or pruned.

Let Things Be

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

One of my favorite comic strip characters, Rose of Rose is Rose, loves to lean against a  tree she calls her “let things be” tree.  She leans against this tree whenever she is dealing with a heavy burden.  I think that we all need a “let things be” tree to lean against.



I think that needs to be one of my New Year’s resolution.  Find a “Let Things Be” tree and lean against it.



This pine tree might make a good one.

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