Tastes Change

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

High summer here means that with very hot temperatures most of the garden flowers have taken to resting. A few of the heat lovers are still hanging on, but there are not too many. When cooler temperatures come back in October, flowering will start again.

But right now, it is mainly foliage plants with a few flowers here and there that are bringing color. I have noticed that over the last two years, I have added orange to my garden color palette. I never used to like orange, but it has grown on me and in the right area does look good. Until recently, I hated orange colored flowers. I never planted orange marigolds, zinnas, or impatiens. Just didn’t like that color. But, tastes change.

I think the first orange bloomer I planted was a canna called Tropical Sunrise. This is its the third year in the garden, and there is a nice clump now.

 

 

This is planted near an orange coleus I purchased this spring. As soon as I saw this bright coleus, I knew it would be perfect placed near this particular canna and an orange daylily.

 

 

The daylily that is sharing the border with the coleus and canna is an old one passed along to me.

 

 

When the daylily bloomed next to Rustic Orange coleus, it was a great pairing just as I had imagined it would be.

 

 

To these orange colored plants I have to mention the orange hibiscus I wrote about recently and an orange lantana given to me by my sister.

 


It is funny how your tastes change over the years. I never thought I would have so much orange, I flower color I disliked, in my garden.

Mystery of Nature

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

What causes flowers to change colors?

In the past I have noticed that flowers will change colors especially in colder temperatures. Knockout roses will be darker in cold temperatures and certain camellia flowers will also darken in colder weather. This is due to the fact that certain colors’ chemical composition responds to temperature.

But what causes the flowers of identical plants to be different colors? I have two hibiscus plants that are blooming in a dark and a light color. I have had these plants for years, and in fact, one of these is from a cutting of the other, and this year they are sporting different colors.

 

Hibiscus, Light

 

Hibiscus, Dark

 

Now, the lighter color is how this hibiscus has bloomed for years. It is more of a peach color. The darker flower is definitely orange. Both of these plants are in containers, next to one another, and have been fertilized, watered, etc. the same. So, why are the flowers a different color? And why now after so many years? I could understand if both were blooming the same darker color, but not one light and one dark. And with the heat we have been experiencing, it can’t be a result of one being in a cooler temperature.

One of the mysteries of nature, I guess.

Update on the St. Swithen’s Day rain forecast: If you read my previous entry, I just wanted to keep you posted on the rain. Yes, it has rained every day since that posting. I am almost ready to believe that forty day forecast of rain.

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.”

A Little Lime

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

Lime green or chartreuse is now a very popular garden color. We’ve all added Marguerite sweet potato vines or lime green coleus plants to our containers and gardens. Growers have come out with lime green versions of many of our favorite plants – jewels of opar, geraniums, pineapple sage, and heuchera come to mind, but one lime green plant that has really made a splash recently is Limelight hydrangea. When this first came out a few years ago, I wanted this plant something awful, but never had the right place for it. Now, Little Lime, a smaller version of Limelight, has hit the nurseries, and as soon as I saw this plant, I grabbed it. When I purchased this, it was not in bloom, but now there are gorgeous lime-colored flowers all over this bush.

 

 

Little Lime is one third the size of Limelight which makes it a better fit for my garden. As an established garden, there isn’t that much space available for big shrubs. Little Lime is supposed to grow about 36 to 60 inches tall whereas Limelight grows 72 to 96 inches tall.

The big selling point of this shrub is the flowers. They have opened to the promised soft green and are lovely. I love this color. It is perfect for summer, and in autumn the flowers will turn pink and then burgundy. That should be nice to see also.

 

 

Hardy in zones 3 to 9 and not as water dependent as Hydrangea macrophylla all make this a very nice garden addition. Even with our drought conditions this little shrub is doing well. I can’t wait to see it in a few years when it reaches its mature size. It may be Little Lime, but it sure is a big plus in my book.

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.

Night Bloomer

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

It is a good thing the night blooming cereus doesn’t require a lot of water. As I have mentioned before, we are in the midst of a serious drought. Today, we missed two showers. When the sky darkens, the temperatures drop, and the wind picks up, it is so discouraging not to get any rain. I keep saying to myself that we will get rain eventually.

But, back to the cereus. This lovely plant has started blooming, and I have been up early enough in the morning to see a flower.

 

 

Here in south Louisiana, my plant stays outside year round. It is in a container and in the winter I just put it in a protected area and cover it only if a freeze is predicted. So far all of mine have come through the winter okay.

This is such an easy plant to take care of – a little sun and a little water is all that is needed. It is also easy to propagate – just stick a piece into the ground and you have a plant. I love that it blooms only at night. During the summer it is nice to stay up late, go outside and see this large white flower. Kind of makes up for not getting any rain.

Gorgeous Glads

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

The gladiolus that I have had in the garden for a few years are all doing well this year. One of the first gladiolus that I planted was supposed to be Harmony, a pink variety, but they turned out to be a light lavender. I was still happy with the color, but the flowers didn’t bloom right. After a little investigation, I figured out the flowers were probably damaged by thrips. The next year, I planted Friendship gladiolus and they were fine, but last year these flowers too were damaged just like the lavender. This year, I sprayed the plants with sevin and that certainly solved the problem. I really do not like to use any kind of poison in my garden, but only one light spray when the flower buds first appeared was all that was needed to get rid of the problem. Finally, there were beautiful blooms.

 

 

 

 

Now both of these lovely gladiolus are looking their best.

Another glad that has never had any problems with thrips is a yellow one that is in another area of the garden. This is a smaller flowered one that blooms after the pink and lavender ones.

 

 

Even with the high heat we have been having around here, all the gladiolus are finally gorgeous.

Hello Lilies

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

Finally, we have had some rain though it was only .75 inches. However, the cloudy weather for the last three days have kept the temperatures down which I know has helped the plants in the garden. Day after day of dry weather and temperatures in the high 90’s is hard on even the most drought tolerant plants.

Catching up with what has been in the garden brings us to lilies which did very well this year. I have not had lilies in the garden very long, but I certainly do like them. Since these have done so well, I am considering adding more. The first ones I ever planted were Lilium longiforum or the traditional Easter lily. These do very well here in South Louisiana, in fact, they used to be grown here for the Easter lily trade prior to WWII.

 

 

 

The second lily in the garden is Triumphator. I started with this lily as a lucky accident and was so happy with the first blooms that I just had to get more.

 

 

 

Finally, the last lily to be planted in the garden and the last to bloom is a solid pink one. It was purchased as Lilium longiforum Pink Heaven, but I am not so sure that is what this lily is as it does not quite look like other photographs I have seen of this variety. However, if it is or isn’t Pink Heaven, it still is a very lovely flower.

 

 

 

I hesitated adding any lilies but the Easter lilies to my garden because I had heard that lilies do not do well this far south with our heat and humidity. Success with these makes me think there are others that may like this area. Lilies certainly add to the late spring/early summer garden, and I am glad I planted them.

Daylily Part 2

“Daylily Part 2”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

More daylilies have started blooming here, and many of these are ones that I only bought last year which makes seeing them bloom this year in the garden rather exciting. It is nice to see them settled in and how the flowers look next to other flowers.

One thing I have noticed this year is how the colors of a few of the daylilies are a little different this year than they were in previous years. Some of my old-fashioned red ones that I had in the last post are not as red as last year; they seem to be a little more brown-colored. One daylily bloom that is strikingly different this year is Eye-yi-yi. The past two years it has bloomed orange, but this year it is more of a peach color. Strange, huh?

 

 

One that is blooming with a true color is Misty Mayhaw. This daylily puts out many huge, thick petaled blooms on sturdy stems. This is a vigorous repeat bloomer, too.

 

 

Today’s final daylily is an unknown one which is a gorgeous, frilly peach. This is one of the ones I purchased just last year, and, unfortunately, it did not have a tag.

 

 

There are still more daylilies in the garden that will be blooming shortly. When I look around my garden at all the lovely daylilies, I am so glad I decided a few years ago to start putting in more blooming perennials. That was a decision I wish I would have made when I first started gardening.

Gardening Aromatherapy

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

This past week was just perfect for gardening. Since I had the week off of work, there was finally time to do some planting, transplanting, and weeding. The weather cooperated – warm and sunny. That warm and sunny weather also helped spread the sweet aroma of certain blooming flowers.

The first few days that I was out in the garden, the star jasmine (or confederate jasmine as we call it here) perfumed the air. When you start to get hot and tired, having such a pleasant fragrance around certainly does revitalize you especially when you can sit in the shade with a tall glass of iced tea.

 

 

While I love this vine during springtime flowering, it has become invasive and is going to be pulled down this summer. It is growing all over the north side of the house and up a large pine tree. I have pulled it down once before thinking that it would slowly grow back. No such luck; it came back faster, stronger and bigger than before. Since it is now moving into the front and back garden, it will have to go. I certainly will miss its fragrance during the first warm days of spring.

Just about the time that this jasmine’s flowers started to fade, the gardenias kicked in with their lovely fragrance. I now have gardenia bushes in all areas of our property, so no matter where you are, front or back garden, the sweet aroma of the gardenias is there. In the front gardens, there are the old-fashioned gardenias that have been there since before we moved in.

 

 

 

In the back garden, there is the single or daisy gardenia. This one is special because it was rooted for me by my mother from a tiny sprig. Now, it is a small but nice size bush, and I know it won’t be long before it is as big as the older ones.

 

 

 

While there were a few exhausting days spent gardening, the “aromatherapy” of the jasmine and gardenias certainly did help to keep me going. Gardens should appeal to all our senses (not just the visual), and having strongly scented plants perfuming the air is sometimes forgotten.

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