Blue Skies

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

It has been a La Nina winter.

Here in the South, that means warmer temperatures and dry conditions. So far, we have had consistently chilly/cold weather with little to no rain. Even though we have not had the moisture, we have had the clouds dominate every time a cold front comes through. Days of grey skies.

After even a few days with little or no sunshine, blue skies are a welcome sight, and they finally have shown up.



Blue skies means sunshine for plants to grow and bloom, warmer temperatures for working out in the garden, and bright light which always lifts the spirits.

Looking forward to more blue skies in 2012.


Let Things Be

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

One of my favorite comic strip characters, Rose of Rose is Rose, loves to lean against a  tree she calls her “let things be” tree.  She leans against this tree whenever she is dealing with a heavy burden.  I think that we all need a “let things be” tree to lean against.



I think that needs to be one of my New Year’s resolution.  Find a “Let Things Be” tree and lean against it.



This pine tree might make a good one.

Back for the New Year

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

Happy New Year to everyone.

It seems that I have been AWOL from my blogging for a while. There were many reasons for this: family issues, exhaustion, but mostly nothing was going on in my garden. All I have been doing is watering, watering, watering. I have never experienced such dry weather. We are still in a moderate drought here, but with a little winter cold and a little rain in the last two weeks, it has been better.

I finally feel like getting back to working in the garden, so I will at last have something to blog about now.  Here’s hoping that 2012 will be a great gardening year.

Can’t Find the Plants I Need

“Can’t Find the Plants I Need”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I used to sew a lot. In fact, I used to sew all my clothes. I gradually stopped because I could not buy the fabric I wanted. It seemed that the fabric stores carried mostly home decorator fabrics or fabrics that were not suitable for adult tailored clothing. So, gradually, I stopped sewing.

It seems like the same thing is starting to happen with gardening. I can’t buy the plants I want. My sister and I went on one of our garden field trips this past Saturday. We visited several nurseries (twenty-five miles from where I live) looking for fall bedding plants. I had no intention of buying as many as she was, but I was looking for dark orange pansies and maybe a few violas, pansies, or petunias to put in large containers for spots of color. I particularly wanted the orange pansies for Halloween and Thanksgiving containers. They also can be wintered over for the “pot of gold” for St. Patrick’s day as I did last year.



Of course, these were not to be found. Most nurseries had fall bedding plants (not a big selection) but they were all in four inch pots. This early in the fall this far South, six packs can be planted and are more economical, but we have noticed that it is becoming harder to find the six packs be it early fall or early spring. When a four inch pot is $1.25 and a six pack is $1.58 the choice is evident especially if there is a large area to be planted.

The next problem is the condition of the plants. Oh sure they look good – green, leafy, and flowering, but there are no roots. I checked one flat by gently tipping a small plant out to see the root system and there was none. No roots showing at all. Because they are fertilized by the grower so much, the plants only look good but are actually weak. This is why many die quickly, and money, time and effort is wasted. Also, several nurseries had not watered their plants yet, and even though it was only ten in the morning, some plants were already showing signs of wilting. Once a plant wilts, its roots are damaged.

Only one nursery we visited had any six packs. My sister was able to buy her violas, dianthus, and other plants. I only purchased two six packs of ornamental cabbage and some red leaf lettuce.

I am planting more perennials, so you would think this wouldn’t bother me, but for color you can’t beat the annuals. I do not want to plant the big swaths of annuals anymore, but I would like a few spots of color. I know that many businesses say that the economy is stopping people from buying, but I find it is often that businesses are not stocking what people want to buy. If the plant selections and size would have been what I was looking for, I would have spent the money.

It turned out to be a rather frustrating day. I wonder if other areas of the country are experiencing the same thing. Are you finding the plants you want, in the size you want, and in a condition that indicates the plant will survive? I love gardening, I just hope it doesn’t end up like my sewing. A victim of not being able to find the right materials.

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.

A Lesson

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

Holding on to life. It never ceases to amaze me how nature clings to life. Plants that continue to grow under hostile conditions such as concrete parking lots makes me realize how tenacious Mother Nature is. How many times have we seen plants that haven’t been watered, that have been exposed to too cold weather, or just plain forgotten, thrive? And yet, how often the pampered and well-tended plants die?

The other day, when I was walking around the garden, I saw a little sunflower seedling sprouting in the most unlikely of places. The birds must have dropped a black oil sunflower seed in just the right way for it to find this spot to start growing.



Yes, this little seedling is growing in the leaves of a ginger plant. As you can tell from the photo, there had been some rain which must have been enough to get the seed growing. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine this sunflower seed growing big enough to flower. There just isn’t enough nutrients in a ginger stem, and winter with its accompanying cold weather will soon be here. Should I gently try and plant it in soil? It certainly seems worthy of a fighting chance.

What this little seedling does remind me of, however, is how tough these seemly delicate little things can be. Life demands toughness. A lesson we all have experienced one way or another.


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


Tomorrow will be our first full day autumn. While, here in the New Orleans areas we have had 17 straight days of 90+ temperatures which makes it feel like summer, I know it won’t be long before cooler weather is here. I can already tell by the angle of the sun that summer is over, even if the temperatures belie that fact.



Autumn is my favorite season of the year. I love the colors, the cool temperatures after a hot summer, the fall holidays, harvest time, and the soft, golden color that the sun seems to bathe everything with. This is the busiest time of the year for me in the garden, and I am always happy when I am outside in my garden. For all of these reasons, I eagerly look forward to the autumnal equinox every year.

Subtle Signs

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

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.”
– Vita Sackville-West

I always used to think that winter darkness lasted too long until I started gardening and started paying more attention to nature. Now, I notice that just after Christmas, it doesn’t get as dark as early as it did in mid-December, and now, in early February, already the sun is showing when I leave for work at 6:15 AM. This certainly is one more subtle sign that spring is coming.

A Solstice Promise

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


Well, today marks the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. It will only be a few days until we can discern that the days are slowly getting longer and Mother Nature gives us the promise of spring. As I walked about the garden today and was looking at a few buds, I was struck by the idea that even in the dead of winter, there is another promise – of colorful flowers.





So, even though today is the start of winter and tonight is the longest night of the year, there still are signs that there is life out in the garden.

Thanks for All You Do

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

Labor Day

Ever since I was young, Labor Day has held mixed feelings for me.  The next day meant the end of summer vacation and school starting – rarely a good thing for a child.  It also meant a time to get together with family and friends.  I particularly remember a Labor Day picnic with neighbors on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain and how school still seemed so far away on that lovely afternoon.

Now, as an adult, Labor Day is a nice three-day weekend away from work.  A time to rest and usually garden.  But it also a time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday.  Where would we be without all the hard-working individuals that make our wonderful way of life possible?  Thanks everybody for showing up for work everyday to bring us all the goods and services we usually take for granted.

Clip art copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey,

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