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.

Rain and Japanese Magnolia

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

The rain is stopping me from working in the garden again this weekend. While it is a little disappointing that all the chores I want to do won’t get done, we need the rain. Last year we were so dry, and the garden showed it. Now, with the rain we have had in late January and early February, I am hoping the garden this summer will look better.

The rain coming down now is going to ruin the azalea flowers that are open. My azalea haven’t started blooming fully yet, so I still should get a nice show.

The Japanese magnolias are just about finished blooming, so yesterday I went out and snapped some photos of the flowers before we would get any heavy rain that would ruin the remaining ones.




These are such lovely flowers that I am always sorry to see them finish flowering. One consolation to this ending is that, for us, it is a sure sign that spring-like weather will be here to stay.

More Flowers

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

Even with the little cool down we have had this past week, spring flowers are still showing up. The azaleas are really budding out, and it will be a very early season for them. One flowering shrub that is starting to begin its springtime show is the lorepetalum. The raspberry-colored fringe flowers are brightening up the gray skies we have had the last few days.



While many flowers have burst out, it will be about another five days or so before these shrubs are covered in blooms. They make a very nice complement to the azaleas.

When this time of year comes, I wish I would have planted more of these blooming beauties.

First Forsythia

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

Sunny and cool days means that it is warm enough for the forsythia to start blooming. The first few flowers have just started showing.



It seems funny to see the forsythia, a harbinger of spring, blooming now when so many other plants that usually bloom later than forsythia are starting to show color. A few of the purple azaleas are already showing a few flowers.



All of this before any of the daffodils bloom. I have a feeling that with the milder than normal winter we have had, everything is going to burst into flower all at once instead of there being a progression of blooms. Spring just may come early and be bloomed out in just a week or two.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day

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

It has just started blooming and will be perfect for Valentine’s day. It is not one of my flowers but my neighbors. On our adjoining property line is a large camellia bush with the prettiest red peony-shaped flowers. Every year in late winter it will start to bloom, and I am welcome to pick as many flowers as I want.



I usually wait until February before picking any of these frilly, red camellias to bring inside. Come February 14th, there will be a big bowl of these beauties setting on my dining room table. Isn’t it wonderful to have neighbors who share?


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

Winter here on the Gulf Coast is usually a series of ups and downs on the temperature scale. Below freezing one day and in the 80’s the next, and a few days later – freezing again. When temperatures fluctuate like that, plants can really be damaged or lost completely. Gardeners have to scurry around trying to protect plants when we get a cold spell following a warm period.

This year has been different. We have pretty much had consistently chilly to cold weather. Once cool weather settled in, we have had only two short warm-ups which means that plants have stayed on the dormant side. Many of the plants that flourish in our fall and winter gardens are really tender perennials which can succumb to freezing weather, and last night they were put to the test.

We had about eight hours of below freezing temps, and everything seemed to come through fine. While it only got down to 29 degrees, with that many hours, I was afraid I would lose a few of the more tender plants. But, so far, everything looks safe. Oh, some of the salvias have a few leaves burned and the coleus that was still trying to hang on are gone, but many plants that die back every winter are still up and look good. I believe this is the first year that the fire spike has not died back. Even my hydrangeas still have leaves hanging on.

However, I was really worried about the gerber daisies. The red ones I have in the entry garden are a little protected by the house, so I was only mildly concerned about them, but the yellow ones I planted this past summer are in the circle garden which is away from the house and in an open area. Since the forecast changed Friday afternoon to a colder and longer freeze, I did not have time to even cover them with mulch.

I was so happy this morning to see that they made it through the night with no problem. The red ones were fine.



And, so were the yellow.



Since the second week of January normally is our coldest period, I am thinking that we just might make it through this winter with lovely, dry, chilly weather and no plants lost. With no super cold weather in the near future, the plants may just be safe for this year.

Bud to Flower to Seed

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

With the garden winding down now that fall is here, there is the opportunity to study the remaining flowers that stand out because there is so little competition. One that caught my eye the other day was the Clemetis crispa flowers. Usually this vine doesn’t flower that much at this time of year, but I think that the cooler weather and moisture is encouraging it to make up for the paltry showing this summer.

One thing I like about this flower is how different the bud and open flower is. The slim bud reminds me of a chandelier drop.



The open flower is bell-shaped with curly edges. It reminds me of a little hat. Maybe something a fairy would wear in the garden.



The seed heads of clematis vines can be very interesting. This seed head in particular seems very appropriate for this time of year – Halloween.



The different each stages of this little flower amazes me.

It is nice to be able to take the time to carefully look at individual plants and flowers and to see the change from bud to flower to seed.

Butterfly Magnets

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

Butterflies. Everyone wants them in the garden. Gardening practices and plant selection can ensure that they visit often. With the drought we had this summer, we did not have many flowers to attract the butterflies until a few weeks ago. Rain and cooler temperatures brought out the flowers on what can only be described as a butterfly magnet – lantana. This plants flowers attracts all butterflies, but the one that seems to be around the most is my personal favorite, the Gulf Fliterary. And flit, this little orange butterfly does. It quickly moves from flower to flower. It particularly loves lantana. In fact, I first planted lantana to attract these little guys.

They like all lantana, but the Gold Mound I have planted in the circle garden seems to attract them the most.



Lantana thrives in hot dry weather and will grow in poor soils as is shown by how readily the common orange one shows up all over.



While many people dislike this one, I do have two volunteers growing in my garden. I keep them cut back (they do grow tall) and now that orange is a color I am starting to like more and more, they are fitting in well with a few orange flowering plants (canna and daylilies), and the butterflies do like the flowers.

Another lantana growing in my garden is a raspberry-pink colored one.



This one has been in my garden for ages, and unfortunately I don’t remember the name. All of the lantanas are perennial here on the Gulf Coast. They lose their leaves in the cold weather, but they return every spring. This one, however, is the last to come back. I don’t know if that is because of its location, or it is a characteristic of this color.

The pink is another one that can grow quite large. This I brought from my mother’s garden in the mid 70’s when I moved here. I believe this was the first lantana I noticed that was not the common old orange.



The last one to enter my garden was a white lantana I bought about two years ago. I have this growing in two large containers. In the spring, when I transplant my Iceberg roses, I am going to plant these white lantana just in front of those three roses. I think they will cover up the bare area at the base of the roses quite well.



Lantana does best in full sun, and mine are in raised beds which provides the good drainage they like. Older selections can get very tall (I keep mine trimmed back), but the newer selections stay under two feet tall. It is reported that with a good layer of mulch, these will survive in a zone 7.

Here in the Deep South where we do not really have fall leaf color, lantana helps give late year color interest. You can’t beat a plant that blooms so profusely in hot weather from spring until frost and attracts butterflies like a magnet.

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.

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