A Serene Garden

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


It is only in recent years that I have become fond of Japanese style gardens.  Maybe it takes a bit of maturity or experience to realize that colorful gardens are not any prettier than gardens that are basically green with texture and contrasts.  Or maybe it is the hustle and bustle of today’s world that makes me appreciate the calmness and serenity of a Japanese Garden.  Saturday was the first time that we explored this type of garden that is set up in the New Orleans Botanical Garden.  With all the people at the garden show bustling about, this garden which was close by, remained quite, peaceful, and meditative. 

The entrance was a corridor of bamboo, which directed you into the heart of the garden.


Bamboo Jap Garden (redu)


As you enter the garden, you see a stone urn filled with water.


Jap Garden - Urn (redu)


Once in the open area, there are several vignettes as you look in the four directions.


Jp Gar Teahouse (redu)


Jp Gar Stone (redu)


Jp Gar Teahouse 2  (redu)


Finally, as you walk out of the area, surrounded by bamboo, you come upon a stone lantern which just reinforces the sparse atmosphere which is so calming.


Jap Garden - Lamp (redu)


While I know I will never have a Japanese garden area on my property, this particular garden has inspired me to make a small area simple and natural, a perfect place to meditate and relax.

Ornamental Grasses

This post, “Ornamental Grasses” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Grasses have become very popular in the last few years.  I was kind of late in getting on the “grass band wagon”.  The first grass I tried was Purple Fountain grass.  I placed it in two urns in front of an arbor.  I did not know how hardy it was here, so I was afraid to place it in the ground.  I have had it now for three years, and it is still doing well, so I am going to keep it in the containers.  I just cut it back last week, and already there is new growth showing.

The next was Strawberries and Cream.  I bought it to place in the white & green garden.  Unfortunately, after I bought two containers of it, I found out that it is very vigorous and can be very invasive here in the Deep South.  So, I decided that I better keep them in containers.  They seem to be happy in two large green pots.


My next purchase was Gulf Muhly Grass.  I had a hard time finding it locally but was finally successful in finding two small pots.  This grass took a little longer to get established than I thought it would.  I did get a few pink fluoresces this year.  It seems to just now to be starting to settle in, and I hope it will be getting bigger.


The last grass I tried was Mexican Hair grass.  It did just great last summer.  It moves in just the slightest breeze and gives some movement in the garden.  I cut it back and cleaned it out about two weeks ago, and already it is putting out a lot of new green growth.


This spring I am thinking about putting in some miscanthus  Cosmopolitan. I saw some at the fall garden show at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, and it was just magnificent.  Of course, they had the room to grow extremely large swaths of it, but I think it would make a lovely show even on a smaller scale, esp. at the end of the growing season when so many plants are not at their best.

Another grass I thought I might give a try is Sea Oats.  My sister had a large container of this on her side patio.  It made a very striking display even into the winter. 

One aspect of gardening that I feel makes things so interesting and fun is the fact that there is always something new to try.  I enjoy hearing about other gardeners trying out a new garden style, new plants, or new techniques.  This, to me, is what keeps gardening fresh and inspiring.

Memorial Garden

This post, “Memorial Garden” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

It has been almost two years since my father passed away.  He was in fairly good health for a 93 year old until a just few months before his death.  He lived a long, happy life, and so while there was sadness at his passing, my family was able to accept it with peace.

Soon after his death in March, I decided to dedicate a section of my garden to him.  I chose the side garden because it is very quiet and enclosed.  This is the perfect place to be quiet and read or meditate.  Because it does not receive a great deal of sun, not many flowering plants do well there.  Also, because of the shade, I picked white and green as the colors I would use.  White and green are cool, soothing colors, and the white lightens the shade. 


One side wall of the garden is a tall stand of bamboo, and the other is the house.  The rear wall is a grouping of large forsythia, and in front is a row of azaleas about three feet high.  I have four green Adirondack chairs in the center under a small magnolia fiscata tree.  By the azaleas, is an area that receives the most sun, and that is the memorial garden for my dad.  I have planted three Iceberg roses, Shasta daisies, Easter lilies, paperwhites, and white amaryllises in front of a birdbath.  On the outside edges of the bed are containers of Strawberry and Cream grass.  In the fall I planted white pansies and violas.  In the summer I will put in white pentas.  The side with the bamboo has holly ferns, toad lilies and a white lacecap hydrangea.  When the summer comes, I will put in green and white caladiums there.  This spring the garden will be two years old.  During the winter, it is not at its best, but I can tell that come spring, it will be on its way to being the lush, full garden that I envisioned when I started it.


Even on hot summer days, it is nice to go sit in this side garden and relax.  I know my dad would have liked it.

Garden Maintenance

This post, “Garden Maintenance” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Because of Mardi Gras, I was off work for three extra days.  I was lucky that there was good weather, and I could work in the garden.  Nothing spectacular, just regular end-of-winter chores.  I cut back things that had been nipped by the recent freezes.  A few roses needed to be pruned so that also got accomplished. 

I was also able to transplant some tete-a-tete daffodils and paperwhites that were not getting enough sun anymore.  I have been meaning to do this for two years, but would forget by the time the foliage died back.  So, I finally decided to move them now.  I was very careful to not disturb the roots.  I know this is not the time you are supposed to move these bulbs, but they wouldn’t bloom this year anyway, so I figured what have I got to lose. 

There are quite a few plants actively growing (La irises, some daylilies, callas, etc), so I did lightly fertilize those.  I also fertilized the petunias and pansies.  With all the rain, this is the first time I had a chance to do this since early December.

I also noticed some aphids on the daylilies.  I just use a spray bottle with a dash of dishwashing liquid in the water and spritzed the plants.  I do not like to use harsh chemicals, and this works fine to get rid of the aphids.  Of course, it is not like I have a great many plants to treat.  Just about 20 to 25.

I also planted some Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seeds.  Down here we have to grow lettuce practically in the winter because of the heat.  I have grown this lettuce before, and it has been very successful.

It was great getting out into the sun and tidying up things.  I think the “just getting out” part was enough.  One more thing that I did do was to sit down and enjoy looking around the garden.  Too often I think we concentrate on everything that still needs to be done and not on what we have accomplished in our gardens.  We really should stop and make sure that we enjoy what we have worked so hard on.