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


Why oh why couldn’t we have had all this rain in July and August when we really needed it?  We had .8 inches of rain Friday and 1.17 inches today with more predicted for the overnight hours.  All the garden plants are responding to this rain with tremendous growth.  Saturday was a day for trimming back.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went around the corner of the house and saw the Cat’s Whiskers plants.  They had grown so much and were smothering the Iceberg roses, Amaryllis, and Louisiana irises that are planted nearby.  I cut them back severely which broke my heart since they were in full bloom, but it had to be done to allow the other plants to get some light and air.  I know with all this rain, the Cat’s Whiskers will be blooming again in no time.

Another plant taking over has been the Margarite sweet potato vine.  I have this planted in several areas and every one had to be trimmed back.  Most vines were growing into the lawn.


Sweet Pot. Vine 2 (redu)


The vines in the garden bed next to the back patio were taking over the patio, plants, and the lawn.  Some vines in nearby areas were growing into the lawn and up trees as you can see in the next photo.  After trimming back just the Margarite vines, I had a whole garbage can full of vines that went on the compost pile.


Sweet Pot. Vine (redu)


The plumbago, Mexican petunias, and several more plants had to be trimmed back.  I sure wish all this growth would have happened earlier in the summer when it usually does.  I thought the garden looked a little skimpy and could have used a little of the lushness we are getting now.  Well, better late than never I guess.

Squeezing in Garden Chores

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


Another weak cool front seems to have moved through our area.  While it does not bring cooler temps, it does bring in drier air which makes the air feel so much nicer.  This is very unusual for the Gulf South to have any fronts like this to move through at this time of the year.  What makes this so nice is that I was able to work in the garden today.  I continued planting several container plants that should have already been planted in the garden.  Down here, you have to do just about all your garden work before the middle of June before the real heat sets in. It was nice to get several chores done that had been aggravating me every time I went out and saw so much that still needed to be done.


Misty Mayhaw (redu)


Still not much blooming right now.  The daylilies, Misty Mayhaw, have started blooming again, which is nice.  I can’t wait for cooler temps which will bring more blooms out in the garden.  So many plants seem to be taking a blooming holiday until late September. 

One thing that is not taking a holiday are the pests.   I have already had to battle a horde of azalea caterpillars and grass hoppers, and now something has been chomping on my Mutablis rose bush.  I was so happy when earlier this summer the June bugs didn’t attack it like last year, but it seems I was a little too early in thinking it had escaped.  I noticed this morning that just about every leaf  except the newest growth was eaten.  I heard the plane that sprays for mosquitoes pass over two nights ago, and I hope it also got whatever has been eating one of my favorite rose bushes as well as the mosquitoes.

I am hoping that tomorrow’s weather is like today’s.  I sure would like to get out in the garden to try and finish up some more garden jobs.


Garden Work

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


A very unusual cool front has moved through South Louisiana in June.  The dry, cool weather is so very welcomed.  Because of this glorious weather, I was able to work in the garden and get some of the heavier work done.  Today, I was able to trim back shrubs, cut back some shrubs, and edge and weed a few flower beds. 

I don’t know where I recently read that the one thing that you can do to spruce up a garden is to edge, but today I found that is so true.  The circle garden is the only one of the beds that does not have some type of edging and being surrounded by St. Augustine grass, a running type grass, it needs the edges neatened up about twice a year.  I did the two outer half circles today and will finish the inner circle tomorrow, and even though it is not entirely finished, what I did do made a vast improvement.

Another new daylily bloomed today.  I bought three of these at least three years ago, and when I received it, I couldn’t believe how small they were.  I have tried to pamper these daylilies, and it has been so long that I don’t remember if they have all survived.  But, I was pleasantly surprised to see this red one blooming early this morning.  It still had yesterday’s rain drops on it.


Red Daylily (redu)


I just may have to move this one to the front garden because where it is now, it is getting too much shade.  Besides, with this color, it will fit right in to the red and purple color scheme of the entry garden.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the last day of this cool, dry weather.  I’ll be out in the garden early to take advantage of these great working in the garden temperatures.  I hope everyone else has the same great weather to work in or just enjoy a summer garden this weekend.

Garden Time

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


This week I have been off work and have had some garden time.  Because my daughter had gall bladder surgery Monday, yesterday was the first day I was able to spend the whole day working in the garden.  Just about every thing I have done has been maintenance type chores.  I have been cutting back many plants and shrubs that have become overgrown.  Yesterday, I worked for a long time on one of the beds in the back garden.  It had become so overgrown with ruellia and pineapple sage that everything else was being choked out.

It amazes me how plants can look so great together for a few years, and then, all of a sudden, they become thugs and take over.  The ruellia is a prime example.  I got some from my mother, and you can’t beat free when starting a garden, right?  Hers does bloom nicely, but mine never did bloom all that well.  But, being the eternal optimist, I kept thinking they’ll do better next year and kept them in the garden.  Last year I trimmed them back thinking that would make them bushier and maybe better bloomers, but no luck.  Still just a few blooms.

This spring, I am trying to put into the ground all those plants I have bought that are still hanging around in pots.  I have made some progress, and when I looked at this ruellia bed, I realized they were taking up too much valuable real estate.  So I started pulling some out, and before I knew it, I was so annoyed at these plants, they all came out.  I trimmed back the pineapple sage, taking out the woody stems and letting the new shoots take over.  This will be in the back of the bed, so a large stand of it will not be a problem.

I added some good soil to the bed and put in some daylilies and amaryllis seedlings that were growing in containers in one section.  I topped it off with chopped up leaves and then some pine straw.  After taking out all the ruellia, I found some lilies that I planted last spring had returned.  I don’t think I would have known they were there if I hadn’t cleaned out that bed.




I wish I could remember to take “before” pictures.  I always forget until it is too late, and everything is ripped out.  Anyway, here is the “after” picture.  The daylilies are to the front with the amaryllis to the back.  I think now that these plants can stretch out their roots, they will do very well here.

The question I have to ask myself, is why do I allow plants that aren’t doing well or looking good remain in the garden?  It is almost as if once a plant goes in, I just can’t bring myself to take it out if it is still alive.  When I first started gardening, I received a lot of free plants that were fine to fill up space then, but now that I know more about gardening and want other plants, I need to get rid of some of those plants or limit the space they take up.  Even the volunteers, that showed up and had a purpose for a time, need to be reevaluated.  I am getting better about this, but I think I need to become a little more ruthless and make some hard decisions otherwise I’ll end up with a garden of plants I don’t want.   I wonder if I am I the only gardener with this problem.

In the Garden

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

I finally had some time to really work in the garden and was able to take care of some chores that have been put off for too long.  This weekend I started clearing out an area that adjoins one of our neighbors.  I started some of this last summer, but the heat really got to me, so it had to wait for cooler temperatures.  This job consists mostly of pulling out ferns, honeysuckle, Japanese climbing fern, Virginia creeper and arrowhead vines, cutting out the horribly invasive wild privet, and trimming back overgrown azaleas.  There is no fence separating our properties and the neighbor hasn’t been able to keep up things since she has become elderly and housebound.  Things have just become so overgrown and those invasive vines have to be taken out before they get too big a hold on things.  I am mainly working on our property but also am taking care of some of her area, too.  I still have a lot to do but had to stop because I ran out of trash cans for the branches and cuttings.  I am noticing that as I have cleared areas out of overhanging azaleas and camellias from next door, that my garden area is larger and that means I will be able to put in more plants.  It is always a good thing to find more space for plants.

I also planted and transplanted several shrubs lately.  I still have too many things in containers that should go in the ground.  I keep saying I am not buying anymore plants until everything else is planted, but we all know how those good intentions are destroyed by the sight of a new, unusual, or blooming plant.  I planted the white sasanqua that had been in a decorative container for a year.  It was supposed to be Yuletide, a red flower, but wasn’t.  If it had been red, I would have kept it in the container for the entry garden, but since it wasn’t, I planted it in the ground.  I think it will be happy there.

I transplanted the mahonia from the back garden to the side garden.  This area I am trying to keep woodland looking, so it has more shrubs and shade loving plants.  Since most of the time there will only be the color green there, I am trying to make sure there is a variety of textures and leaf shapes.  I think the mahonia will add both to this area.  At least, it will be in a better place then where it was in the back, and moving it gave the hydrangeas more room.  A good solution for both areas.


Finally, I transplanted two palm grass clumps from the back garden to the same side garden.  My sister had given me these several years ago, but I think they will look better in the side garden where they will be seen more than they were in the back.  This has very coarse texture and should contrast nicely with the sword fern and nandina.



I think all three of these plants will add to the woodland feel of this area.  It was good to get outside and get some exercise and plant some of things that I had been wanting to do for ages.


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

It’s getting to be that time of year.  Yes, that’s right.  Time to rake up all the autumn leaves that only a few weeks ago everyone was oohing and ahhing over.  Around here we usually rake up leaves and pine needles three times – November 1st, December 15th and February 15th.  We do this because first the leaves and pine needles fall, then just more pine needles, and finally the live oak leaves start coming down around the end of January.  This year I didn’t get around to the first raking until the last week in November and there is still about a quarter of the yard left to do.

To do all this raking we depend not only on the ordinary rakes but more importantly the Power Rake.  There is no way I could do all the raking I have to do without this wonderful rake.  What makes it so easy is that when you pull the rake towards you, the 24 inch head gathers all the leaves, pine needles etc. and the upper shield prevents them from tumbling over the front.  When you push it forward, the tines just roll right over leaves, so you rarely have to lift the rake up.  It just glides back and forth gathering up whatever you are raking up.  The handle is very ergonomically designed, so there is no back or wrist strain.  Because the head is so wide, it makes raking even large areas go very quickly.  Dear hubby has a large, wide bamboo rake that he likes to use also, but because I am short, I can’t comfortably use a wide rake.  However, because the power rake does not have to be lifted after each stroke, I can use this one for hours.


And, then there is my trusty little blue rake.  After the pine needles are raked into large piles, this is the rake I use to pick up the piles and distribute around the garden.  As you can see, if I had to rake with this, it would take weeks to finish our rather large yard.  Dear hubby is constantly trying to get me to use a newer rake, but I find this one just perfect for my small frame.  Besides, I have had it so long it is now probably considered vintage and in a few years could be a valuable antique.


We have several other rakes, metal ones, one with an adjustable head, plastic ones, and even a “grabbit” rake, but to get the job done, I really only need the power rake and little blue rake.

One Less Worry

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




Well, today, it  was back to work after having Thanksgiving week off.  I was surprised that it was not too difficult to get back in the work routine.  Maybe that was because I was able to get a great deal accomplished in the garden last week.

I was able to plant all the Baby Duck petunias, add compost to the garden, and rake up most of the yard of all the pine needles that had fallen.

The job that takes the longest is raking up the pine needles and then spreading them throughout the garden.  I use the pine needles as mulch in the garden beds and also in areas that are too shady for grass to grow.  I have learned from past experience to only rake up enough needles at one time that I can pick up.  Leaving piles of needles for the next day always results in at least one pile being forgotten and then a dead spot in the lawn.  A layer of pine needles won’t hurt the lawn, in fact if protects the grass from the cold, but a pile of needles will kill the grass in just two or three days.

The reason I like pine needle mulch so much is it is free (for me & makes up for all the shade from our pine trees), a nice color, and the needles stay fairly loose which improves the insulation quality of the mulch.  I was able to mulch all the front flower beds and will rake the back yard and mulch those beds next weekend.

Cold weather is predicted for tonight and then a warm up.  I am glad that I heavily mulched the gingers. callas, crinums, amaryllis, and agapanthus this weekend.  Even if the tops get frozen back, they will survive esp. if heavily mulched.  So, these mulched plants are one less worry I have with cold weather coming.

This week is turning out to be a very busy one, and it will not be so hectic now that I don’t have so many garden chores hanging over my head.

Buried Treasure?

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

Wednesday, as I was weeding out an area of the garden that contains some Louisiana irises, I came across a buried treasure.  No, it wasn’t pirate treasure, but it was interesting.  I found one of the turtles that has been crossing our paths for about twenty years half buried in the iris bed.  I wrote about finding the turtles in the garden during the summer, but I have not seen them since about August.  So on Wednesday, I just pulled out some weeds, and there he was.  It is a good thing we don’t walk in the garden beds or this guy might have been squished.




Only about half of his shell was visible, and there was a small opening where I could barely see his head.  When I first ripped out the weeds above him, he did squirm a little, but then was still.  I knew that frogs and turtles would bury themselves in the soil in winter time, but I thought that maybe it really didn’t get cold enough around here for them to do that.   I guess, this proves I am wrong.  It has not been that cold around here, only cool, but it seems that it was enough for this little guy to want to snuggle down in the mud to wait for warmer temperatures.


After taking a photo of my little buried treasure, I carefully finished weeding around him, added some compost as a side dressing and then mulched the bed with pine straw.  I hope this all made for an extra cozy winter bed for this turtle.  Now, if I can only find where the other two turtles are settled in for the winter.

It’s Never Simple

“It’s Never Simple”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

 Yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to dig up the Easter lilies in the white garden.  I planted them in the spring of 2007, and these lily bulbs exceeded expectation.  These were the first lilies I have ever planted, so I am not that familiar with what to do to take care of them.   (Experience is better than just reading about something.)  Anyway, I waited for them to go dormant in the fall of 2007, but that never happened, so I was advised to cut the foliage off, which I did.  Almost immediately new growth started even though it was December and cold weather was coming.  When we did have a freeze, I just covered up the newly emerging growth.  In the spring, growth really started and abundant flowers were produced again.  The only problem was so many of the stalks came out of the ground at an angle that most of them needed staking. 

To prevent the leaning stalks, I thought I would dig up the bulbs now (new growth is just starting) and reposition them so that the stalks this year would be straight up.  First, I had to remove and replant a hydrangea that needed to be in a bigger area.  After doing that, I carefully lifted the lily bulbs up and was surprised to see so many offsets.  That is why last year so many of the stalks came out at an angle, they were coming out of the offsets.  I planted 20 bulbs in 2007, and I dug out about 5 dozen.  I couldn’t believe it.  Now not all the bulbs were big, but at least 36 were the size of large oranges.  The rest were the size of lemons or eggs  with about 15 even smaller. 

I replanted about twenty of the biggest bulbs in the original bed after adding some new soil, and then had to find a place for the rest.  That’s where the simple part ended.  Here are the left over bulbs that had to have a new home.



  Gardening under huge pine trees limits the areas with sufficient sun for flowers, so finding an area where these lilies would do well prompted a search around the garden.  I finally decided to place them in an area around the back patio which is getting a lot of sun since several big trees came down in Hurricane Katrina.  I had already decided that several holly ferns had to come out because they were getting too much sun and the foliage was being burned.  I had thought to wait until spring to move them, but now they had to go.

Years ago, I had dug out a huge holly fern and vowed that I would never do it again.  So much for vows.  After struggling with these ferns, I finally wrestled them out of the ground.  I removed about five big ones which will go in a side garden area where there is more shade.  This photo shows them lined up and ready to go to a new home.  


The bed without the ferns had big holes that had to be filled with good soil and a lot of it was needed.



Finally, the soil was added, the bulbs planted, and the entire area mulched.  Looks finished, huh?





Well, this bed is finished, but there are still about 18 smaller lily bulbs that did not fit here, so tomorrow I have to find a place for them.   I also moved the ferns to the side garden but could only plant two before the daylight was becoming too dim to work.  So, tomorrow will find me still trying to finish what I thought would be a simple garden task – for the third day.

A Nothing Sunday

“A Nothing Sunday”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


We had some more rain today, so there was no working in the garden.  Combined with the rain from last night, we had 1.32 inches of rain.  We really didn’t need today’s rain, but it did cool things off a bit.


I did get out in the late afternoon just to walk around.  The mosquitoes were out but not too bad considering all the rain we have had lately.  The irises I planted yesterday looked like they made it through the rain okay.  I did trim back some cannas and the white lantana.  None of the lantana I have in the garden is blooming very well right now.  I think it must be because we have had so much rain lately.  I find that lantana really blooms well only when it is on the dry side which is why I try not to water them too much, but I can’t help the rain.


Well, maybe tomorrow when I get home from work, I’ll be able to do a little weeding.  I want to make sure none of the weeds go to seed.  I have to really watch the chamber bitters weeds.  They look like little mimosa trees, but on the back of the leaves are numerous seeds.  I never had these until Hurrican Katrina blew through, but since then they are all over the place.  They are not too bad in the garden beds, but they are all over the lawn now.  Mowing keeps them in check, but once we stop mowing for the fall, they can continue to grow, so everytime I see one, I pull it.


So, today nothing much got done as far as gardening, but maybe this was nature’s way of telling me to take it easy and rest up for next weekend.

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