Three Plants

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

I have just finished three years of blogging, and January 1st started my fourth year. It really doesn’t seem that I have been posting that long until I look back at the posts and see how much my garden has grown and changed. Since there is not a great deal to do in the garden in January, I usually start planning about now what changes or additions that would be nice to do when the weather warms up.

One of my goals this gardening season is to try some new plants – three new plants. New plants that may fill a need or just be something new to see how they grow in my garden. One of the plants I am going to try is Joe Pye Weed. Scott over at Rhone Street Gardens had a great post about this plant.
After seeing this on many garden blogs, I have been saying I want to try this plant for a few years now, and 2011 is going to be the year. I have just the spot for some of these plants, and the color of the blooms should be perfect with the surrounding plants.



I know that “they” tell gardeners not to buy plants without having a definite plan and place for them, but who listens. I don’t have a place in mind yet, but this will be the year I get the grass “Cosmopolitan”. Every year when we visit the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in the fall, this miscanthus sinensis grass is gorgeous. The tassels are spectacular. This is a large grass, but there are a few spots in the garden where it would fit. I am just going to get it and then figure out where to put it. Of course, I may be inspired by an appropriate area before I actually buy it, but, knowing how I am, I doubt it.



My third new plant will have to be planted in the fall of ’11. I have been wanting to have bluebells in my garden ever since I saw them at Long Vue Gardens. It is the Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), rather than the English bluebells, that flourish here in our mild climate. I almost bought some bulbs this past year, but procrastinated (again) and now the spring garden will have no bluebells. I am determined to change that this year especially after seeing the photo of bluebells (English) on Charlotte’s (The Galloping Gardener) blog. What I wouldn’t give for a sight like that.


Image from Wikipedia


Even though this is the beginning of the year when most people do the resolution thing, I consider acquiring these three plants to be a goal for this gardening year, not a resolution. This goal, for plants that I have been wanting to have in the garden for a long time, should be easy to accomplish with only three plants to buy.


Rooting Coleus

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

This has been a very good year for coleus here. In fact, it has been so good that I have been able to make several cuttings that are now good sized plants that are residing in containers and in different areas around the garden.

About two weeks ago, I started new cuttings for fall planting. Since our first freeze date is not until November 15th, and often it is not until late December until we have a freeze, these new cuttings will be a nice addition to the late year garden.



I used mostly autumnal colored coleus since those colors will be the most appropriate for the season. These new plants will have to make up for the lack of fall leaf color around here. They all have a good root system, so it looks like this weekend will find me potting up my little babies. I love getting plants for free.

Pins and Needles

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

Because winter lasted a lot longer than normal, I knew that once warmer temperatures finally settled in, there would be a huge burst of spring in the garden. Sure enough, things are popping up all over, making up for lost time. Last Sunday, we were at my daughter’s house, and her Bradford pear was in full bloom. Our ornamental pear was just about finished blooming, but hers was gorgeous and really stood out against the gray, cloudy sky.



The daffodils finished blooming this week, but the petunias are finally flushing out after being flowerless for months. We haven’t had any real rainfall lately, so I have had to water a bit. While doing that chore this afternoon, I notice many plants are starting to return after such a cold winter. The gingers, cannas, and hostas are starting to show growth. Several plants have surprised me by coming back after such a cold winter. I still can’t believe the variegated shrimp plant that was out in the garden with hardly any mulch is putting out new leaves. I though surely it was a gone for good. The day-blooming jasmine is putting our new growth on its stems which did surprise me since the night-blooming variety always dies back to the ground. I thought surely that one would die back completely, too.

Another plant I thought was dead was the “Red Sensation” cordyline I had planted in a large container. When I bought it, I was told it was hardy in our area, but this winter it died. Or seemed to and I was so disappointed. Today, however, I noticed a sprout coming from the base. Yea! It’s alive!

There are several favorite plants I am still holding my breath on. Only one of my Chinese hibiscus is sporting a leaf. The others – nothing. I have scratched the bark and have seen green, so I am still hopeful, but I am concerned because the stems look so bad. I think the oyster plants I put in last summer are not going to come back, but I won’t give up all hope until May. There are always a few plants that take a long time to come back. The Mickey Mouse elephant ear is also a worry. My sister, who lives in a warmer area than I do, feels she has lost hers, and I can’t believe that mine would survive if hers didn’t. None of the other elephant ears are up, so I won’t know for a few weeks if mine is definitely dead or not.

This waiting to find out what did or didn’t survive our extra cold winter certainly has me on pins and needles. It is hard to be patient when you are unsure if you will have to replace plants or not.

One Tough Plant

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

Silver or gray colored leaf plants are always a great addition to the garden. Plants like lamb’s ears, dusty miller, artemisia, etc. are wonderful plants, but, unfortunately, here in the hot, humid South, they often do not do well and can die pretty quickly if we have a lot of rain and heat. In the summer of 2008, I found a silver-leafed plant that did very well in the garden. It was curry plant (helichrysum italicum). I only bought one to see how it would do, and, if it survived, I would try more. It did survive the summer and winter of 2008-09. It did so well, that in the spring of 2009 I bought six more to plant in the same garden bed with the original one. Only five were needed in the bed with the original, and so the extra one went in another area that was not quite as sunny.

Unfortunately, the June of 2009 was one of the hottest and driest Junes we have ever had, and the curry plants planted in the sunny bed ended up being toast. The lone survivor ended up being the extra plant that was in a less sunny area.

Fast forward to this winter, one of the coldest and wettest we have had in almost twenty years. How did the little curry plant do? Just fine. When other plants that have never frozen back before got nipped back badly, this plant which wasn’t even mulched very much came through just fine.



Now, it is a little worse the wear for having had a tough winter, but going on past experience, it should be putting out new growth as soon as the temps warm up a bit more and look even better in a short while. The next photo shows this same plant last summer, and I would expect it to do even better this summer.



I think I have found the secret to this plant. Here, in the Deep South, it probably cannot take full sun but needs a little shade. I will be buying more of this plant to add some of this lovely, silver color in the garden. Just goes to show that gardening consists of a lot of trial and error.

Ready to Buy

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

About this time of year, when everything in the garden is dormant, I start to need to buy living things. Plants! I want plants. I want to garden, and it is so frustrating that now is not the time to be planting very much.

But, by Sunday, I just had to have something. I stopped by Home Depot and decided if they didn’t have anything to buy yet, I would stop at the grocery and get some roses. As I walked in and almost immediately spied the bare root roses, I knew I would have to get some roses. There was a large display of the Knockout roses, and I was happy to see they had some of the Blushing variety which is often hard to find around here and is my favorite. I already have two Blushing Knockouts in one of the side gardens and will plant these new ones near those two.



I also picked up a few lily bulbs which I will be planting very soon.

Last week was pretty rough for me, so having a few new plants certainly lifted my spirits.

Planting Today

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

One of the nice things about having some time off for Thanksgiving is that it allows me some time in the garden.  Two weekends ago, I bought some violas and had time to plant only about a third of theme when the rains came.  Today, I will be out planting the rest.  I am determined that today will be a garden day.

I have had better luck the last few years with violas instead of pansies, so this year it will be all violas.  One thing that surprised me was how limited the selection of cool season bedding plants there was this year.  I guess with the economy, retailers have cut back on their stock.  Because of this, I am beginning to wonder if I ought to consider growing more plants from seeds for this spring to get the colors, etc. that I need.

But, like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about that another day.  Right now, I am going to be thankful that today, I can enjoy being outside planting my favorite flowers.


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


One man’s weed is another man’s garden plant. 

One very common plant that is always showing up around here is southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) which I remember from childhood as just a common weed.  Whenever I saw it popping up in our garden, I would get rid of it in a hurry.  Can’t have a known weed growing in a garden.  Then, about five years ago, back when there were true garden shows on television, I saw a show that was showing gardens in Germany.  Lo and behold, there was the host describing this great plant from America that turned out to be southernwood.  I couldn’t believe it.  Our plain old weed, now a star in German gardens.  (I believe the same thing happened to goldenrod – went to Europe and came back to America as a star.)

The next year, when this “weed” starting showing up in the garden, I let some stay around.  It does have a very delicate “ferny” look and is a lovely green.  It also can get fairly tall, maybe six feet.  Come fall, it begins to bloom, and by Thanksgiving is a lovely shade of tan – perfect for autumn.


Artemisia - Southernwood (redu)


Artemisia - Southernwood 2 (redu)


Funny, how we don’t want something until someone else values it.  I am glad I watched that garden show because I certainly found out about a great plant I thought was only a weed. 

What’s for Sale

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


As my sister, daughter, and I entered the sales area of Saturday’s garden show, the mantra was “what’s for sale?”  The highlight of the trip is the plant buying.  I have already written about my purchases, but I wasn’t the only one buying.  My daughter bought several cactus plants in an effort to keep her cats from eating inside plants, and my sister bought many of the plants I did except in different colors.

But there were so many other great plants offered by vendors or grown by volunteers of the Botanical Gardens.  I would have like to have taken more home.

They had sansevieria (mother in law tongue) that was in bloom.  I have never seen this plant with a flower.


Sansv. Bloom (redu)


They had row upon row of dessert rose plants, all in different colors.


Dessert Rose (redu)


The orchids that were available were gorgeous.


Orchid Red (redu)


Orchid Orange (redu)


It was interesting to see all the plants available, which is one reason I am looking forward to the spring show.  With such a bounty of plants, it is a wonder I left with only seven new plants.

What Didn’t Work

“What Didn’t Work”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Now that summer is slowly coming to an end, this is probably a good time to review what didn’t do well in the garden this year.  As I have posted throughout the summer, you have seen what flourished in the garden with all my photos of thriving and blooming plants.  Well, now I won’t bore you with photos of bare spots in the garden or containers that only hold dirt, but here goes with the disappointments of the growing season of 2009.

First big disappointment was the premature death of the cardoon I purchased in the spring.  I was so excited to get this plant as I had seen photos of this large architectural plant.  I planted it in a very large container (about 30 inches) and underplanted it with Margarite sweet potato vine.  The sweet potato vine thrived, but the cardoon expired after about six weeks.  I don’t know what happened.  The only thing I can think of is the extreme heat we experienced in early June.  I had such high hopes for this plant, but, alas, it was not meant to be for my garden.


Cardoon in better days

Cardoon in better days


Another disappointment was the mini silver supertunia.  I had planted this as an experiment to see if it would survive our summer as it is advertised to do.  It didn’t.  It did last until early August though.  I may try and plant this in the fall though.  Petunias do better for us when planted then and last until the heat of May.



Supertunia dead by August
Supertunia dead by August


A very big disappointment was the demise of the torenia Amethyst Ice.  I really did like these plants.  Two are still hanging in there but eight were lost.  I think that planting these in late May and then having the intense heat in early June is what did these in.  They just weren’t established well enough to take the unusual heat.  If I can get them earlier, I will plant these again next spring.  I wish that nurseries would realize we need to put plants in by the first of May so that they can settled in before the heat comes on.


Torenia before the temperatures hit 100

Torenia before the temperatures hit 100


Well, considering all the planting I did, having these not make it isn’t too bad; it is just that I wanted these to do well in the garden.  I looked forward to the cardoon and torenia especially.  I do think that the unusually high heat of early June is what caused their demise.  I kept things watered, but newly planted annuals can’t take temperatures in the low 100’s.  I just hope that next year we have a normal June weather pattern – rainy afternoons and temperatures in the low 90’s.  Give the plants a chance to settle in before the brutal weather of July and August arrive.

Mickey Mouse Ears

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


My generous sister has come through again.  Today, she shared some more plants with me, and I am particularly impressed with the Mickey Mouse elephant ear she gave me.  It is called Mickey Mouse because from a distance, this variegated elephant ear resembles the silhouette of that famous Disney character.  It even has a tail.

Xanthosoma sagittifolium albo marginatum is its botanical name, but I think Mickey Mouse plant is so much cuter and easier to remember.


Mickey Mouse E. Ear Lg (redu)


This is a fairly cold hardy elephant ear as elephant ears go; it will survive zone 7 winters.  The tip forms a cup with a tail sprouting forth from the end.


Mickey Mouse E. Ear (redu)


Unfortunately, I did not get a very good picture of the tail, but if you look closely at the above photo, you can see a tail coming off the tip of the plant.

I like the variation in the leaves because it is such a contrast.  Dark green and crisp white leaves are rather thick and have an almost velvety feel.  I will be planting this in the ground this weekend so that it will be established before cold weather comes around.  According to my sister, this one plant should spread and make a nice clump.  I can’t wait.  This is one mouse I won’t mind having in the garden.

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