Fall Flowers

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

The first of the true fall flowers have started showing up in our garden. Down here where we get very little fall color from our trees, fall flowers are eagerly awaited, and now the sasanqua camellias have started blooming. This type of camellia is fairly new to us. I planted the first one only about three years ago. Now, I wish I would have put in more.

The newest one is Cotton Candy which I bought just last year. It is a lovely pink.



Another lovely sasanqua and the first I planted is Setsugekka. I noticed the first bloom on this one just yesterday as I was backing out of the driveway just before dawn and the headlights caught the first flower. This sasanqus has a rather large white flower with a small pink edging.



Now that we have had our first real cold weather of the season, I think more of our fall flowering plants will be showing off their colorful blooms, and I look forward to sharing them with you.


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.

Autumn Aromas

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

When early autumn arrives, that is usually the first time in months that there is an opportunity here in the Deep South to turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and let cool air drift through the house. The very first cool front to come through is joyfully welcomed. This is especially nice at night. There is nothing like going to sleep with that initial cool, autumn air hanging over you.

What makes having the windows open at night so pleasant is not only the coolness but the aromas. In late September, the night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) starts releasing it fragrance. What a wonderful way to drift off to sleep.



This plant is not used very much today which is a shame. Before air conditioning became common, this used to be planted outside of windows to perfume homes and especially bedrooms at nighttime. When my bushes started blooming, the aroma brought me back to my childhood and my maternal grandfather. One of my most vivid memories is visiting my grandparents’ rural home and going to sleep with the night blooming jasmine’s fragrance in the room. My grandfather always planted this outside the bedrooms. Since this shrub only blooms at night, and the fragrance is only released at night, it is perfect outside an opened bedroom window.

Another sweet-smelling plant that is blooming now that it is early autumn is the sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans). This blooms in the daytime with tiny, deliciously fragrant flowers. Don’t let the tiny flowers fool you, this plant’s aroma can travel. Often when I return home from work in the late afternoon, I can smell these flowers even though the plants are in the back garden.



When this plant blooms, I am reminded of my father. I remember that he brought home a fairly large sweet olive that he rescued from a construction site when I was quite small. He planted it in our side yard and was so proud of that tree. As a child, I would pick a small sprig of flowers and was amazed that such tiny flowers could have such a big fragrance. By the way, that tree is still alive at my parent’s home. It has been there about 55 years having outlived my father.

Both of these plants are extremely fragrant, but those fragrances are not overpowering or cloying. Having these glorious aromas and cool temperatures around are among the things I look forward to every autumn.

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.


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

108. That’s the number of bedding plants that I planted today.

My sister and I went on what we call our “garden field trip.” This is when we travel away from where we live to buy plants. About forty to fifty miles away are nurseries that seem to carry different plants than are available around home. Some of these nurseries are much bigger than the ones here, so there is more variety in plants.

One of the first plants I picked out is a sansanqua camellia, Cotton Candy. It is a lovely pink and will fit in nicely in the “pink” garden. I like the sansanquas because they start blooming in the fall and into early winter when there often can be little blooming in the garden.



We visited two nurseries in the Baton Rouge areas, and both had bedding plants in six packs. Last year, I could only find two inch pots of the bedding plants, and since I would need so many, it was cost prohibitive to plant as I usually would. I don’t know if it is the economy or what, but this Saturday, the six packs were plentiful. Because of our fairly mild winters, we plant cool season annuals in the fall, and since our ground never freezes, the roots continue to develop. Which means that come spring time, we have good size plants that bloom profusely. If you wait until February or so to plant, you do need the four inch pots because planting that late means you need the bigger plants a four inch pot provides. Anyway, I am just glad they brought back the six packs as this means I was able to plant several areas that I didn’t last year, and then those areas of the garden will be looking extra nice come spring.

For bright, cheery flowers, you just can’t beat the pansy family. The last few years, I have been planting only violas because they seem to give more color. Those hundreds of blooms make up for the small size of the flower. I really like the panolas the best, but I haven’t found them as readily as violas or pansies. There were some available this Saturday, but they were mixed colors, and I like to plant only one color in an area so I went with the violas. I always put yellow flowers in the circle garden because I love the way their bright color cheers up those gray winter days.



The entry garden’s color scheme is red and purple. Usually, I plant dark red and dark purple petunias in the fall. Last year, I only had the dark purple because I couldn’t find the dark red ones I like. This year, same problem. No dark reds. So, I have decided to go with white petunias. Maybe they will look like snow this winter. I think I will like the white better come springtime. I have missed having lighter colors when spring arrives even though the red and purple make a great combination.



Finally, comes the snapdragons. I’ve learned from my sister to always choose fall bedding plants with spring in mind. Since these plants will really shine then, it is better to plant spring colors, even though it is fall with winter approaching. With that in mind, I choose to purchase light pink snapdragons. They are a lovely color and will look great in the “pink” garden.



I finished planting as darkness was falling, so there are no photos of how these look in the garden. I will try and get some pictures tomorrow to post. Even though the plants are small, they still look good and bring that promise of springtime color.

Autumn Hibiscus

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

The cooler weather of autumn brings about a second big blooming period in the Deep South. Last posting showed the golden flowers of the cassia that started blooming this month, now, I want to share my favorite fall flower, a perennial hibiscus that is commonly called Confederate Rose or Cotton Rose around here. This is the hibiscus mutablis, a color changing flower. My original plant has flowers that start out light pink and then gradually change to a dark pink as the day wears on.



About two years ago, I found the white variety. This flower starts out white and gradually changes to pink as the day passes.



Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the white changing to pink. Because of the cold temperatures of this past weekend, the flower kept its white color until I went to work. When I returned home, the flower was a dark pink, but it was also all curled up and ready to drop off the plant. But, take my word for it, this flower does go from white to light pink and then to dark pink.

Since my original pink Confederate Rose is over seven years old, it is about twelve feet tall, a nice, small tree. However, at that height, the flowers are a little difficult to see unless you are looking out the second story window. The new white one is only about four feet high. I think I will try and keep it to under seven feet so the flowers will be more accessible. I have rooted a new pink one which I also plan on keeping short.

It is nice to have some different flowers blooming now, and it certainly gave me something to look forward to when the heat of summer made flowers in the garden a little scarce.

Autumn Gold

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

External hard drive problems have put my blogging on hold lately, but now everything seems to be up and running, so I am back to posting about the latest in my garden.

The show stopper right now is the cassia tree that is showing off its striking autumn gold flowers.





Cassia splendida is wonderful at this time of year especially if it is a cloudy day. These bright golden flowers really stand out then and enliven an otherwise dreary day. I certainly look forward to this small tree’s flowers every autumn.

Toad Lilies Show Up

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

Fall and toad lilies go together. In fact, that is one of the reasons I planted toad lilies – their fall flowers. This variety is the first one I planted many years ago. At the time, I was afraid that this plant wouldn’t grow here in the Deep South, but my fears were unwarranted. These toad lilies have thrived.


My original plant was eaten earlier this summer by those cute little bunnies that I saw in the garden a few months back. They completely wiped out the toad lilies that were growing under the Kwansan cherry tree. I couldn’t believe that not one shred of toad lily was left, and it was a huge bed of lilies. In fact, I was just about to divide the plants, when all of a sudden, they were gone. Luckily, I had a few that I raised from the original plant’s seeds, and these were spread in other parts of the garden which the rabbits have not discovered. I’ll have to save seeds this year to replace the eaten plants.

Toad lilies grow and bloom in shade which makes them very valuable here at Always Growing. With all the large pine trees, there is a great deal of shade, and it is a challenge to find blooming plants that thrive in the shady areas. Add the fact that they bloom in early autumn when color is often needed in the garden, and you have a wonderful, easy to care for perennial, just watch out for hungry rabbits.


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

Like the long eye lashes of a pretty woman, the long stamens of two of my favorite flowers are catching the attention of visitors to the garden. Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) starts blooming in the summer and one look at this flower’s extra long stamens explains its common name.



Many people who have seen this flower are amazed by its unusual look and want to know what it is.

More lycoris radiata or Hurricane lilies have popped up since my last post about these fall bloomers, and it seems that many people are not familiar with this plant. This is another long stamen flower, and those almost four inch spikes make for a striking flower especially when groups of them are in bloom.



I have had more people stop and ask what these two blooming flowers are than ever before. Today was our first cool day since April, and it seems many walkers decided to take advantage of the low temperatures. Since more people were out and about, that accounts for the many questions about these flowers. They certainly gave me the opportunity to connect with many neighbors I hadn’t seen in a while.

Rain and Toad Lilies

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

A few days ago, I was complaining about the hot dry weather we had been having for over three weeks. Well, that has changed, or at least the dry part has changed. The rains have arrived, and I can’t believe how fast the garden has perked up. I had been watering the garden, but there is nothing like rain to make plants stand up tall and grow.

Of course, there was a big mistake made with watering just before the rains came. Wednesday, when I came home from work, I put out the sprinkler on the wilted hydrangeas. When I went upstairs around 8 that evening, dear hubby asked if I had the sprinkler on, and I was so thankful he said something about it because I had totally forgotten it was still running. Of course, he said he would go and turn it off. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked and forgot, and when I returned home from work on Thursday, the sprinkler was still running. (In the morning when I leave, it is still dark, so I didn’t see it was not turned off.) Needless to say, that area of the yard did not need the rain that came on Friday and today. You can bet we are not going to forget the sprinkler again. We’ve decided to put on a timer to remind us to turn the water off.

But the toad lilies are plants that are looking a lot better because of the rain. They are just starting to bloom and look like little jewels.



Whenever we get a lot of rain, the frogs and toads can be heard in the evening singing. After a couple of days of rain, it is nice to see these “toads” in the daytime.

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