The Real Thing

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

God gave us memory that we might have roses in December.    J M Barrie

With winter firmly entrenched now, it is sometimes sad to see our favorite plants and flowers reduced to dry, brown, brittle bits.  But, that does not mean that these are unattractive.  In particular, the ornamental grasses can be quite lovely with their beige tassels blowing in the winter air.



The one I have in my garden is Cosmopolitan.  I had been wanting this gorgeous grass for several years before I found it this past spring.  It did very well all summer and fall, but it is now, in winter, that I think it is loveliest.  The towering tassels make for a spectacular display.  With most of the colorful garden plants now dormant, that leaves the evergreens as the dominant color.   While the evergreens are appreciated, the large, fluffy, golden-beige plumes add just the right amount of interest.

This spring, I will divide my two clumps of Miscanthus sinesis “Cosmopolitan”, enjoy the variegated white and green foliage, and then look forward to when they will brighten the winter landscape.  We may need our memory for roses in December, but with ornamental grasses we don’t need a memory, we get the real thing.

Finally, Pink Plumes

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

About three weeks ago I was jealous and worried.  It seemed like everyone’s Pink Muhly grass (Muhelbergia capillaris) was blooming, and mine wasn’t.  While mine are not yet as big as Fairegarden Frances‘ clumps are, I still get excited seeing the pink plumes.  But where was mine?  Everyone north, east, and west of me had big pink plumes (I’m so far south there aren’t many people south of me).  Mine should have been blooming.  Did this mean I wouldn’t have any blooms this year?  How disappointing.

After blaming this past summer’s record heat and drought and calling my sister and finding out hers wasn’t blooming either, I finally saw the first plumes.  What a relief!  Maybe they need a little cool weather to trigger the blooming cycle.

Gulf Muhly Grass 1 (redu)

I made sure to place mine where the sun would hit the pink plumes just right so that they seem to glow from within.

Gulf Muhly Grass 2 (redu)

While my plants are still young and the show is not that spectacular, I still am happy they finally started blooming and can’t wait until mine grow up and look as good as everybody else’s.

Life Is Good

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


Saturday’s garden center shopping yielded more than the sweet potato vines that I wrote about Sunday.  Heaven forbid that I should only walk away with three plants.

Ever since my sister had such success with the Summer Wave torenia last year, I have wanted to try them in my garden.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find any around here.  I don’t know if it is the economy or what, but it does seem that many business are cutting back their stock.  Anyway, at our second stop of the day, I not only found the torenia I wanted, but I like the color even better.  I have only seen the Summer Wave in the purple and had really wanted the regular pink for the area where I had planned to plant it.  But, as soon as I saw the Summer Wave Amethyst Ice torenia, I knew it would look even better than a pink would.  I just love this color, and since these spread out 30 inches, I didn’t need to buy more than six.


Torenia Amethyst Ice (redu)


These should spread out and make the front of the border colorful.  I also bought some Pink Splash that I placed along with the torenia in the “pink” garden.  The White Splash has returned in the spring for the last six or seven years, and I am hoping the pink does the same.  That way I will have color without having to use as many annuals.

Another Saturday purchase was Pennistemum “Fireworks”.  This, too, I bought on the recommendation of my sister.  While the ends of the leaves turn red, the center stays white.  I planted this in a blue ceramic container this morning and placed it in the entry garden.  If it does as well as the purple fountain grass I have had for about five years, I will be very happy.


Pennistemun, Fireworks (redu)


Another plant I was happy to find was Cardinal flower (Lobelia Cardinalis).  I have been wanting this for several years, but never found it in any of the nurseries.  I bought two pots, but each pot had two plants in it.  I almost divided them, but then thought better of it because of the intense heat and lack of rain around here lately.  I have decided to divide them in the fall because  I don’t think they need any extra stress right now.

Today, was a scorcher with the heat index reaching 110 degrees.  I worked in the garden planting my new purchases until around 12:30 and then had to call it quits.  Later on this evening, when it became a little cooler, it was so nice to walk around the garden, look at my newly planted flowers, and dream of how they will look in a few weeks.  Life is good.

Pink Cotton Candy

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

Ornamental grasses are becoming more and more popular, and new varieties are being introduced each year.  For years I have wanted pink muhly grass for my garden.  I fell in love with the lovely pink color of the plumes and the blue-green foliage.  The fact that it is native to this area was an added plus.

Even though I was looking all over for this plant, I couldn’t find it except through mail order or the Internet.  I was hesitant to order it either way because summer heat had already set in by the time I was ready to order it in 2006.  Early in the spring of 2007, I found two plants at Home Depot.  I surely was surprised to find it there.

Since I had read that it was best planted so that it could be back lighted by a rising or a setting sun, I couldn’t decide where to plant it.  Finally, I planted each in a large concrete planter.  This is the first year that the grass was of a size to really show off the blooms.  Early Saturday morning when I was out just walking around, the early morning sun was illuminating the puffs of cotton candy pink inflorescences.

This grass is very drought tolerant, which is great for our summers, and it can also tolerate the high humidity of the Gulf Coast.  It is hardy to zone 7.  It forms clumps about four feet high and can get up to three feet wide.  Though mine is not that large yet.  The blooms are long lasting, and I can imagine how breath-taking several of these being back lit by the sun must be.

I can hardly wait until mine are larger.  I think by next fall when so many other plants are starting to lose leaves and go dormant, my pink muhly grass plants will be big enough to be real show stoppers.