Spring Day

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

Even though the weather has been warm and pleasant for the last month, we still look forward to the official start of spring, and the first full day of spring did not disappoint. Bright sunshine, a high of 80 degrees, and a light breeze made for a perfect day.

Just about everything in the garden has already returned from winter dormancy. There are only a few plants that haven’t awakened yet. The daffodils have now finished blooming, and the azaleas have started.

This weekend, I saw the first frog of the season, dear hubby saw our little black snake from last year today, and the first anole was sunning itself this afternoon.



Late this afternoon as I was walking around the garden, I saw the first hummingbird of the season. The first hummingbird on the first day of spring. Can’t ask for more.

Working in the Garden

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

Today was a great day to work in the garden. It was sunny and mild with a high temperature of 73 degrees. It was great to get out in short sleeves and work in the garden.

I did a lot of clean up work – cutting back winter damaged plants, cleaning leaves out of entry garden, raking up fallen camellia flowers, etc. I also moved tender plants from their protected area and placed them around the garden. Most of these, I placed in semi shady spots until they get used to being outside then I’ll move them to sunnier areas.

I also used the sunny, dry day to fertilize the cool season annuals I had planted in the fall. When I planted them, I added a little slow release fertilizer, but it is used up by now. With the warm, sunny days we have been having, these annuals need a shot of fertilizer about now. Of course, I only fertilized the cool season annuals since it is too early to start fertilizing anything else.

One chore I had been wanting to get to for a few weeks now was finally accomplished. I cut back all my ornamental grasses. I wait to do this in the spring rather than the fall. I think the grass comes back from the winter better and faster when pruned in the spring. The purple fountain grass, that I grow in containers placed in urns, was looking wild and really needed cutting back.



I have had two urns of purple fountain grass for years marking the entry to the side garden. This year the containers seem overgrown and will need to be divided. That job will have to wait until we have had a few more weeks of warm weather. At least they look neater with a “hair cut.”



After I finished with the clean up chores I had planned to do today, I went on to planting my White Out rose. I had bought this last fall and decided to wait until spring to plant it since I wanted to place it where another rose was and that rose should be dormant to transplant. Well, today was the day, but before I could plant it, I had to dig up an Iceberg rose first. Then, of course, it is where to plant the Iceberg? I finally decided to put the Iceberg in a large container, and then planted the White Out rose. By then, I was tired and ready to call it a day.

I love days like today. Nothing can be better than sunny, bug-free, pleasant days spent outside in my garden.

Spring Has Arrived

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

After a week of temperatures in the high 60’s to low 70’s, it certainly feels like spring has arrived. But, now I know that winter is over. For the last few weeks, I have seen so many plants that died back in the winter showing signs of life. I have been seeing trees leafing out, and while I was driving to work today, I even saw one tree that had white flowers all over it. They had to have popped out overnight. While walking around the garden early this evening, I was surprised to see this.



The hydrangeas have broken dormancy. Yes, that is a branch of a white lace cap hydrangea showing the leaves beginning to open. I checked the other hydrangeas, and they all are showing signs spring is here.

Even though the daffodils are not blooming yet, I think Old Man Winter has definitely retreated from the Gulf Coast. This has been a cold winter even way down here in the South, and I am glad to tell it good bye. This weekend will be perfect to start planting. It’s about time I was able to get out in the garden.

A Lesson

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

Holding on to life. It never ceases to amaze me how nature clings to life. Plants that continue to grow under hostile conditions such as concrete parking lots makes me realize how tenacious Mother Nature is. How many times have we seen plants that haven’t been watered, that have been exposed to too cold weather, or just plain forgotten, thrive? And yet, how often the pampered and well-tended plants die?

The other day, when I was walking around the garden, I saw a little sunflower seedling sprouting in the most unlikely of places. The birds must have dropped a black oil sunflower seed in just the right way for it to find this spot to start growing.



Yes, this little seedling is growing in the leaves of a ginger plant. As you can tell from the photo, there had been some rain which must have been enough to get the seed growing. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine this sunflower seed growing big enough to flower. There just isn’t enough nutrients in a ginger stem, and winter with its accompanying cold weather will soon be here. Should I gently try and plant it in soil? It certainly seems worthy of a fighting chance.

What this little seedling does remind me of, however, is how tough these seemly delicate little things can be. Life demands toughness. A lesson we all have experienced one way or another.

Garden Show Scarecrows

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

I have waited until it was close to Halloween to post photos of the scarecrows from the New Orleans Garden Show which was two weeks ago. The scarecrows are made by local schools and garden groups. Here are a few to scare you for Halloween.


Happy Halloween


Eight Legs to Hold You


Belle of the Ball


Mistress Mary


Dr. Kleen-Jekyell and Mr. Erl-Slick


How appropriate considering how our summer was ruined by the oil spill in the Gulf.


4 and 20 Blackbirds Baked in a Pie


Horror T. Culture



I think my favorite was the last one. Both of these scarecrows were made completely with organic materials. The smaller one had a gourd head and pampas grass plumes for a body. The larger one had its head made out of a sunflower seedhead; its hat was made of mums; its hair was Spanish moss; the dress was made of palmetto fronds, rosemary, and globe amaranth flowers for decoration. This certainly showed a clever use of materials. Hope you enjoyed seeing these scarecrows as much as we did.

Cool Weather Brings Forgetfulness

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

While we have had unseasonably but lovely cool weather lately, it has been very dry. There is a burn ban in effect for just about all of the state, not that we burn anything, but it does go to show how dry everything is. This past weekend, I divided some of my daylilies. I watered them well on Sunday, and then promptly forgot about them until this morning about 3:00 AM. (Why do we wake up in the middle of the night and remember things like that?) I left a note for dear hubby to water this morning, and when I returned from work, the daylilies were not wilted, but I did notice a few yellow leaves. I will be so mad at myself if I lose these daylilies. I just can’t believe I forgot all week to water them. At least it has been cool weather, so I am hoping they did not dry out too much and will be okay.

This must have been my forgetful week because I also forgot to water until this afternoon two big containers of coleus transplants I recently potted up. Luckily, they were very dry, but not wilted yet. I am going to have to start writing myself notes to remind me of things like watering. I think I forgot because with the cooler weather I haven’t had to water every day like I did before this cool spell came through. It is amazing how quickly we can forget a routine.

Another nice thing about this cool weather is that when we leave the windows open the fragrance from the butterfly ginger and night blooming jasmine drifts inside at night.



Both of these plants release fragrance only at night time. On second thought, could it be this aroma that drifts inside on the cool night time air that is the cause of my forgetfulness? Or, maybe it is just that I am enjoying a lovely fall season so much it justs puts every thing else out of my mind.

Lables Are Important

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

My memory is going. Case in point. A few years back, I either rooted or had a seed for a garden plant that I placed in a small four inch pot. I placed it in a small portable green house where it slowly grew. About two years ago, after I had forgotten what it was that I was trying to start a new plant of, I planted it in the garden. At first I thought it was Jewels of Opar, a plant from a favorite great aunt that I received via my mother. I swear the leaves looked just like that plant, but last year, the plant grew too big to be a Jewels of Opar. Then this year came about, and I thought the leaves looked a little like a hydrangea. Could this be a peegee hydrangea cutting I got some where? At this point I was berating myself for not labeling the cutting/seed. (I used to remember every little detail about gardening a few years ago.) It was driving me crazy trying to figure out what this plant was. I didn’t know if I should rip it out (maybe it was a weed that just grew in that pot) or keep it to see if anyone knew what it was.

Well, last weekend, I noticed flower buds. Aha! I was sure I would finally find out what this plant was. Then came the rains which prevented me from checking on the flower buds when I came home from work last week. Well, finally, yesterday I was able to get out in the garden and was shocked when I saw a flower opened.



Yes, it was a Blue Butterfly bush (Clerodendrun ugandense). I was so excited since my original plant did not return this spring. In fact, when I had a chance to replace my dead one earlier in the spring, I passed on it because I surmised that this was not hardy enough for our climate. In the past, it has died to the ground and was rather slow to return. I felt it was just not worth it.

This plant is root hardy to zone 8, but this little one never died completely back. It must be in a better location for survival than my other one. I love this plant for its lovely blue color but also for its flower shape. Those little blue butterflies all over the plant are so striking and, frankly, adorable. I lost a few plants to last winters unusual cold weather, but I am so fortunate to still have my blue butterfly bush.

Lesson learned – Label plant cuttings!

Color with Foliage

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

Rain, rain, rain. The last five days have been miserable – cloudy, rainy, humid, and hot. The tropical depression that thankfully did not develop into a storm certainly has given us enough rain for a while. The garden needed the rain and the cooler temperatures it brought, but for me there has been no getting out to check on things. Better weather will be coming though.

Plants that do seem to be enjoying the clouds and moisture are the caladiums.



These tubers were very tiny when I planted them. They were given to me by a neighbor who kept only her large ones and didn’t want to be bothered with the tiny new ones. After clearing out a section of the patio garden, I needed something to fill in the area, and these small caladium tubers were perfect. I am happy that the foliage has stayed short considering where I planted them, but I am surprised at how full the plants have become considering the small size of the tubers. I guess they must like where they are planted. Anyway, they certainly have filled in an area at the edge of the patio with colorful foliage for the summer.

I usually do not lift my caladium tubers in the fall because they usually come back, but after losing some last year with our unusually cold and wet winter, I am thinking I will dig them up this year. This is the first year I have planted mixed colors of caladiums in the back garden, and I like the effect.

More and more, I am finding that colorful foliage plants are the way to go when you live in an area with long, hot summers.

New Garden Flag and Oil Spill

“New Garden Flag and Oil Spill”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Looks like there might be a problem with capping the oil well in the Gulf. It has been reported that there is some seepage of oil near the well head. Everyone around here is hoping that the cap won’t have to be opened to relieve pressure thereby sending more oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

After Hurricane Katrina, there were garden flags sold that encouraged people to return to the New Orleans area and restore Louisiana. The fleur dis lis on these flags became the symbol for hurricane recovery. The oil spill has spurred the same commitment, and flags have started showing up. I am sure you have seen the photos of the oily pelicans; the pelican has now become the symbol of Gulf Restoration. I bought my flag last week which touts Gulf Restoration. A portion of the proceeds of the purchase price will go to the Audubon Institute’s Bird Rehabilitation Project.



Please pray that this well cap holds until the relief well is finished, and the well is finally capped. Then, we can begin to clean up this mess and begin to heal people’s lives.

NBC Nightly News did a heartbreaking story on the many Gulf Coast pets that have had to be surrendered to animal shelters because their owners can no longer afford to care for them. You can see it here. It shows that it is not only the wildlife like pelicans, turtles, and dolphins that have been hurt by this disaster.

I found this prayer for the Gulf on the internet and wanted to share it with you.

Ocean Lament

We hold in prayer and lament this day
the terrible suffering of all life-forms in the Gulf of Mexico.
We grieve the profound marring of your creation,
and the threat to coastal ways of life.
Have mercy o God, have mercy.
Grant wisdom and perseverance
to all who struggle to contain this disaster.
Let those who lost their lives rest in peace.
And send out your Holy Spirit,
to create anew the face of this earth.

composed by Teresa Berger

The coastline of the Gulf of Mexico is not Louisiana’s coast, or Texas’s coast, or Mississippi’s, or Alabama’s. It is America’s coast, and belongs to everyone. Everyone needs to demand that this area be restored.

Showing Signs of Life

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

Saturday was the first day in about four months that I was able to get outside and work in the garden. This past fall there were too many rainy weekends and, just like everyone else, the winter has been too cold to be outside doing garden chores. It felt so wonderful to be outside making the garden ready for spring.

Of course, it is not quite time to plant any annuals, so I spent the time cutting back every thing that had died during the last big freeze. All the ginger had to be cut back, the both the variegated and green shell ginger as well as the butterfly gingers. I cut back the rest of the agapanthus and trimmed back the toad lilies as well as some of the bamboo.

One thing that surprised me while I was cleaning up was the signs of life. It has only been in the last three days that we haven’t had at least a light freeze, so seeing any signs that there is life in the cold ground is nice. Most of the garden seems to be dormant, but the butterfly ginger is already sending up shoots.



The toad lilies are sending up new plants, too. I don’t know if these new ones are seedlings (I let the seed heads stay on) or if the clumps are spreading. Either way, I can always use some more toad lilies.



Some trees are starting to show swelling flower buds, so it won’t be long before the peach trees and Japanese magnolias will be blooming. Spring is on the way!

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