Not This Year

“Not This Year”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Even though we live in a mild winter climate here on the Gulf Coast, we still can get some pretty cold weather.  Mostly, however, our winters tend to be very chilly with the occasional hard freeze.  Because of this mild weather, our gardens never really go dormant, and when winter finally arrives, we still have flowers.

This year the winter temperatures have been colder than normal.  Starting in the late fall, we have had an extended period of very cold weather (for us that is) with several light freezes.  This has caused many winter flowers to delay their blooming.  The paperwhites I have planted in the garden usually bloom around Thanksgiving.  This year, however, they didn’t show up until almost Christmas.

Usually, the Iceberg roses that are planted with the paperwhites  are still putting out a few flowers to complement the small flowers at their bases, but not this year.  (It is nice to have them blooming together because if a freeze is predicted, I will cut the roses and paperwhites for an indoor arrangement.)

The “Jetfire” narcissus which usually blooms in December has buds but no open flowers yet.  The daffodils I planted this past fall would normally have foliage showing by now, but not this year.

Every year in the garden is different to some degree, but this year is starting out as a “not this year” sort of year.  I hope this is not a harbinger of how the rest of the year will be.

Back for the New Year

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

Happy New Year to everyone.

It seems that I have been AWOL from my blogging for a while. There were many reasons for this: family issues, exhaustion, but mostly nothing was going on in my garden. All I have been doing is watering, watering, watering. I have never experienced such dry weather. We are still in a moderate drought here, but with a little winter cold and a little rain in the last two weeks, it has been better.

I finally feel like getting back to working in the garden, so I will at last have something to blog about now.  Here’s hoping that 2012 will be a great gardening year.

Can’t Find the Plants I Need

“Can’t Find the Plants I Need”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I used to sew a lot. In fact, I used to sew all my clothes. I gradually stopped because I could not buy the fabric I wanted. It seemed that the fabric stores carried mostly home decorator fabrics or fabrics that were not suitable for adult tailored clothing. So, gradually, I stopped sewing.

It seems like the same thing is starting to happen with gardening. I can’t buy the plants I want. My sister and I went on one of our garden field trips this past Saturday. We visited several nurseries (twenty-five miles from where I live) looking for fall bedding plants. I had no intention of buying as many as she was, but I was looking for dark orange pansies and maybe a few violas, pansies, or petunias to put in large containers for spots of color. I particularly wanted the orange pansies for Halloween and Thanksgiving containers. They also can be wintered over for the “pot of gold” for St. Patrick’s day as I did last year.

 

 

Of course, these were not to be found. Most nurseries had fall bedding plants (not a big selection) but they were all in four inch pots. This early in the fall this far South, six packs can be planted and are more economical, but we have noticed that it is becoming harder to find the six packs be it early fall or early spring. When a four inch pot is $1.25 and a six pack is $1.58 the choice is evident especially if there is a large area to be planted.

The next problem is the condition of the plants. Oh sure they look good – green, leafy, and flowering, but there are no roots. I checked one flat by gently tipping a small plant out to see the root system and there was none. No roots showing at all. Because they are fertilized by the grower so much, the plants only look good but are actually weak. This is why many die quickly, and money, time and effort is wasted. Also, several nurseries had not watered their plants yet, and even though it was only ten in the morning, some plants were already showing signs of wilting. Once a plant wilts, its roots are damaged.

Only one nursery we visited had any six packs. My sister was able to buy her violas, dianthus, and other plants. I only purchased two six packs of ornamental cabbage and some red leaf lettuce.

I am planting more perennials, so you would think this wouldn’t bother me, but for color you can’t beat the annuals. I do not want to plant the big swaths of annuals anymore, but I would like a few spots of color. I know that many businesses say that the economy is stopping people from buying, but I find it is often that businesses are not stocking what people want to buy. If the plant selections and size would have been what I was looking for, I would have spent the money.

It turned out to be a rather frustrating day. I wonder if other areas of the country are experiencing the same thing. Are you finding the plants you want, in the size you want, and in a condition that indicates the plant will survive? I love gardening, I just hope it doesn’t end up like my sewing. A victim of not being able to find the right materials.

October Already??

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

Where did September go? I can hardly believe it is already October. Time may be flying by, but in one way it is a good thing. October ushers in our second gardening season here on the Gulf Coast. After blistering temperatures this summer, the cooler weather of October and November means the garden comes back to life.

The recent rains along with those cooler temperatures have made so many plants happy. One of the nice things about October here is that we get another flush of blooms from the roses. In early August, I trimmed back all the roses about a third in preparation for flowering about six weeks later. A little fertilizer helps, too. Now, that October is here, the roses are just starting to flower. In another week or so, they should be gorgeous, but right now, after a summer of hardly any flowers, even seeing only a few open is a treat.

Showing their flowers are Knockout Red, Iceberg, The Fairy, and Whiteout.

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t realize how few flowers were around this summer until the roses started blooming. It shouldn’t be long before they are at their peak which makes me glad it is already October.

Falling Off the Face of the Earth

“Falling Off the Face of the Earth”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I guess it seems like I have fallen off the face of the earth since I haven’t posted in so long. Let’s just say that life and work (don’t even talk to me about computer conversions) has gotten in the way of my blogging. Not that anything has really been happening in the garden, so you haven’t missed anything.

The brutally high temperatures are finally gone, and the extreme drought, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee is over. The summer plants are all just about toast now, but those that do well in autumn are starting to make a show. I can’t wait for even cooler weather so that I can work out in the garden every weekend.

There have been several signs that even with temperatures in the high 80’s, fall is beginning to settle in. Many plants that only shine in the fall are starting to change. The beauty berry bushes are now sporting their gorgeous magenta berries.

 

 

Sedum Autumn Joy is also showing its lovely, rosy, fall color. This is the second year this has been in my garden, and I am so pleased with it. I know many gardeners think of this as just a common plant, but it really has not been grown much down here, and I love it.

 

 

A week or so after Tropical Storm Lee passed through, the hurricane lilies (Lycoris radiata) began to show up. These are often called hurricane lilies around here because their bloom time coincides with the peak of hurricane season. I remember after Katrina these were blooming only a week later.

 

 

The Mexican Sage is just starting to bloom. It won’t be as thick and nice as previous years because I forgot to cut in back in early summer.

 

 

Finally, a new addition to the garden is starting to earn its keep. This spring I bought an ornamental grass that I first saw about three years ago but was not able to find it locally until this April. This miscanthus Cosmopolitan is a large grass that puts out the loveliest wheat-colored tassels. I was beginning to worry mine wouldn’t have any this year, but look what has finally showed up.

 

 

In a week or so when the tassels all come out fully, this grass should look fantastic. I can hardly wait to see it in full bloom. At least there is one bright spot after such a drought-filled summer.

It shouldn’t be too long before the other autumn flowers show up. It will be nice to have the confederate rose and others around in the cool weather. Then, maybe I will have something to share and there won’t be such a long time between posts.

End to Our Drought?

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

Looks like this long Labor Day weekend should bring an end to our drought with tropical weather forecasted to cover the Gulf Coast.

 

 

The weather center is predicting that we could get up to 15 to 20 inches of rain over the next three days. Of course, I would like the rain, but not that much.

It seems it is either feast or famine when it comes to rain around here. I’m just hoping my garden doesn’t float away.

Nothing Going On

“Nothing Going On”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I haven’t been posting lately because nothing has been happening in my garden. It has been hot, hot, hot and dry, dry, dry. Which means that nothing is blooming and very little is growing. We had about ten days of rain starting on July 15, but that has stopped. I have gone back to watering the garden every day and the container plants sometimes twice a day.

The few summer annuals I planted for a little seasonal color look pathetic. The ones that have survived are small and look stunted. Only the caladiums and coleus I have in pots still look okay. I am going to cut back a few of the annuals and then hope that when the cooler weather arrives, they will do better and look okay through October. The ones I don’t think will improve with cooler temps will be pulled out. I think this is the worst my garden has ever looked during the summer. It has been very discouraging.

In the garden, the perennials are surviving, but they really have not grown at all. I have lost a few plants. I was disappointed to lose the Little Lime hydrangea I bought this spring. It was doing fine until we got all that rain at the end of July and the humidity soared. I don’t think the pee gee hydrangeas can take our heat and high humidity. At least, that is my hypothesis since it was doing so well until then.

There have been a few bright spots showing up in the last week or so. One of the clematis I received as a Valentine present has bloomed, and another has a bud.

Nelly Moser has finally bloomed.

 

 

While these were bare root when I planted them in February, I never thought I would have to wait until August to see a flower. I guess that is what can happen when there is so little rain for six months.

Hopefully, when this unusual, extreme heat and dry weather is replaced by cooler fall weather, my garden will pop back, and there will be more to share with you.

A Water Lover

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

Be very careful what you wish for. We still are getting rain, way too much rain in too short a time. We have been suffering from a very severe drought, so you would think this rain is welcomed. Well, a large part of it was, but now too much. Several trees in the neighborhood have fallen over because of over saturated soils. Makes me a little nervous to see that happen. Fortunately, none have hit any homes.

So, we have had some rain every day since St. Swithen’s Day (July 15), and I am really starting to get worried about that forty day thing.

While the rain was needed for the garden and all the plants have perked up and started growing, one in particular has really enjoyed this rain. The hibiscus coccineus or Texas Star is loving the extra moisture and showing it with its gorgeous red flowers that have been popping out nonstop since the rain starte. Another common name for this plant is swamp hibiscus which shows its love of wet areas.

 

 

Because of the drought, there is not many plants blooming here (but buds are forming so there should be some flowers soon) which makes this large red flower stand out even more. This is a perennial hibiscus that returns each spring.

I always let a few flowers go to seed. I use these new plants to add to the already growing Texas Star area to make a bigger clump of them or to start a new section of these bushes in other garden spots.

With all the rain we have been having it is a good thing this plant likes water.

St. Swithen’s Day Rain

“St. Swithen’s Day Rain”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Ten inches short on rain in 2010 and twelve inches short on rain so far for 2011 puts us in the extreme dry category. The drought is not over here, but it does seem to be abating. After less than two inches of rain for the months of April, May, and June, we have started to return to a normal pattern of rain showers. Halleluiah! The rain started on July 15th and hasn’t stopped. Now, I will admit that a few of those days had only a tiny amount of rain, but it was enough to keep the ground from drying out.

What does this have to do with St. Swithen’s Day? There is an old English proverb about the weather on St. Swithen’s Day (July 15) that dates from Elizabethan times which states

St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.

I know we need rain, but I don’t know about forty days of it. This morning we had a nice shower of over an inch which really helps not only with the garden but also with keeping the temperatures down. (I feel for the northern parts of the country which are not used to the heat that we live with June through September.) However, now we could use a few rainless days for things to dry out. (Never thought I’d say that!)

 

Rain-filled Container

 

This morning's rain

 

One very nice thing about this rain is the showing up of the Rain lilies. I discovered one yesterday and was so surprised to see it. They have not bloomed in such a long time that I forgot I had them in the garden. Since they need a soaking rain to start blooming and we haven’t had one of those in months, it is no wonder they haven’t bloomed before now.

 

 

The folklore about St. Swithen’s day and the rain we have had since that day reminds me of another old saying “Be careful what you wish for.”

Still More Daylilies

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

The daylilies just don’t seem to stop. I didn’t realize how many daylilies I have added to my garden in the last three years until I started taking photos of them as they opened. I wish I would have started with these lovelies years earlier.

This is one is I received from my sister who in turn got it from my mother. I just love having plants from relatives and friends. Every time I see one of those plants, I think about the generous gardener who shared their plants with me.

 

 

Here are some others that have bloomed recently.

 

 

I think this next one is the first daylily I ever bought. It is called Plum Tree and is a terrific bloomer. The flowers are on the small side, but the quantity of blooms makes up for the size.

 

 

 

All of my red daylilies are in the garden bed around our front entry. This is only the second year that I have had any red daylilies, but I can’t wait to add more. This is one I bought in 2010, and it was just labled “Daylily, Red”. It is too pretty to have such a plain name.

 

 

Finally, one of my newest daylilies, a miniature one called Pocket Change. I purchased this one at the New Orleans Garden show in April, and even though they were bare root, all four of the plants bloomed. These are planted in the very front of the garden bed since the flowers are small and the stems are short.

 

 

Just a few more daylilies left to post, but that posting will have to wait for another day since working in the garden today has left me so tired tonight.

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