Three Plants

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

I have just finished three years of blogging, and January 1st started my fourth year. It really doesn’t seem that I have been posting that long until I look back at the posts and see how much my garden has grown and changed. Since there is not a great deal to do in the garden in January, I usually start planning about now what changes or additions that would be nice to do when the weather warms up.

One of my goals this gardening season is to try some new plants – three new plants. New plants that may fill a need or just be something new to see how they grow in my garden. One of the plants I am going to try is Joe Pye Weed. Scott over at Rhone Street Gardens had a great post about this plant.
After seeing this on many garden blogs, I have been saying I want to try this plant for a few years now, and 2011 is going to be the year. I have just the spot for some of these plants, and the color of the blooms should be perfect with the surrounding plants.



I know that “they” tell gardeners not to buy plants without having a definite plan and place for them, but who listens. I don’t have a place in mind yet, but this will be the year I get the grass “Cosmopolitan”. Every year when we visit the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in the fall, this miscanthus sinensis grass is gorgeous. The tassels are spectacular. This is a large grass, but there are a few spots in the garden where it would fit. I am just going to get it and then figure out where to put it. Of course, I may be inspired by an appropriate area before I actually buy it, but, knowing how I am, I doubt it.



My third new plant will have to be planted in the fall of ’11. I have been wanting to have bluebells in my garden ever since I saw them at Long Vue Gardens. It is the Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), rather than the English bluebells, that flourish here in our mild climate. I almost bought some bulbs this past year, but procrastinated (again) and now the spring garden will have no bluebells. I am determined to change that this year especially after seeing the photo of bluebells (English) on Charlotte’s (The Galloping Gardener) blog. What I wouldn’t give for a sight like that.


Image from Wikipedia


Even though this is the beginning of the year when most people do the resolution thing, I consider acquiring these three plants to be a goal for this gardening year, not a resolution. This goal, for plants that I have been wanting to have in the garden for a long time, should be easy to accomplish with only three plants to buy.


Late, Later, Latest

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

Late, later, latest.

Plants have really been late to come back from this past winter. Many perennials that I had given up on have only now started to show signs of life, and we are in June. It has never taken this long for so many plants to recover from a winter.

Besides the ones that are showing up later than ever, some of the evergreens are late with new foliage. The latest one is the sago palm (Cycas Revluta). It is only now showing off the new fronds, at least six weeks behind schedule.



While the sago palm had a few cold damaged fronds, it really did escape bad frost damage which is why I am surprised that it has taken so long for the new growth to emerge. I always enjoy watching the new growth on sago palms. The newly emerged fronds are a lovely light green and so soft. It is hard to imagine when stroking these soft, spring-green leaves that in just a short time they will be dark green and hard.

Now, if only my blue butterfly (Clerodendron ugandense) will sprout some growth, I will be satisfied. I am, however, beginning to think that that particularly lovely plant will not grace my garden unless I buy a new one. But, I am still holding out hope that it will be the latest plant to finally show some growth.

Have you found that plants in your area are late coming back this year?

New Growth

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

At this time of year, when winter is slowly fading away but spring is not here yet, it is always thrilling to see new growth. It seems as if new leaves just pop up overnight. The Easter lilies are already up and making a stark contrast with the dead leaves of palm grass behind them. I am hoping the palm grass comes back, soon.



The Triumphator lilies that were placed in the garden last spring, are coming up also, and they seemed to have multiplied. Yah!



Most of my daylilies are evergreen ones, but a few are not. The dormant ones, too, are now showing green growth. Misty Mayhaw daylilies are up and seem vigorous in their early growth and should look very good this year.



Finally, some of the shrubs are showing signs of life. The hydrangeas are opening their leaf buds already. This photo was taken a few days ago, and I am sure that by now the leaves are even bigger.



While we still will probably have a few days of cold weather yet to come, there are definite signs that spring will arrive on time.

Ready to Buy

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

About this time of year, when everything in the garden is dormant, I start to need to buy living things. Plants! I want plants. I want to garden, and it is so frustrating that now is not the time to be planting very much.

But, by Sunday, I just had to have something. I stopped by Home Depot and decided if they didn’t have anything to buy yet, I would stop at the grocery and get some roses. As I walked in and almost immediately spied the bare root roses, I knew I would have to get some roses. There was a large display of the Knockout roses, and I was happy to see they had some of the Blushing variety which is often hard to find around here and is my favorite. I already have two Blushing Knockouts in one of the side gardens and will plant these new ones near those two.



I also picked up a few lily bulbs which I will be planting very soon.

Last week was pretty rough for me, so having a few new plants certainly lifted my spirits.


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


One man’s weed is another man’s garden plant. 

One very common plant that is always showing up around here is southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) which I remember from childhood as just a common weed.  Whenever I saw it popping up in our garden, I would get rid of it in a hurry.  Can’t have a known weed growing in a garden.  Then, about five years ago, back when there were true garden shows on television, I saw a show that was showing gardens in Germany.  Lo and behold, there was the host describing this great plant from America that turned out to be southernwood.  I couldn’t believe it.  Our plain old weed, now a star in German gardens.  (I believe the same thing happened to goldenrod – went to Europe and came back to America as a star.)

The next year, when this “weed” starting showing up in the garden, I let some stay around.  It does have a very delicate “ferny” look and is a lovely green.  It also can get fairly tall, maybe six feet.  Come fall, it begins to bloom, and by Thanksgiving is a lovely shade of tan – perfect for autumn.


Artemisia - Southernwood (redu)


Artemisia - Southernwood 2 (redu)


Funny, how we don’t want something until someone else values it.  I am glad I watched that garden show because I certainly found out about a great plant I thought was only a weed. 

Mickey Mouse Ears

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


My generous sister has come through again.  Today, she shared some more plants with me, and I am particularly impressed with the Mickey Mouse elephant ear she gave me.  It is called Mickey Mouse because from a distance, this variegated elephant ear resembles the silhouette of that famous Disney character.  It even has a tail.

Xanthosoma sagittifolium albo marginatum is its botanical name, but I think Mickey Mouse plant is so much cuter and easier to remember.


Mickey Mouse E. Ear Lg (redu)


This is a fairly cold hardy elephant ear as elephant ears go; it will survive zone 7 winters.  The tip forms a cup with a tail sprouting forth from the end.


Mickey Mouse E. Ear (redu)


Unfortunately, I did not get a very good picture of the tail, but if you look closely at the above photo, you can see a tail coming off the tip of the plant.

I like the variation in the leaves because it is such a contrast.  Dark green and crisp white leaves are rather thick and have an almost velvety feel.  I will be planting this in the ground this weekend so that it will be established before cold weather comes around.  According to my sister, this one plant should spread and make a nice clump.  I can’t wait.  This is one mouse I won’t mind having in the garden.

Finding a Solution

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


When Hurricane Katrina came through in August of 2005, we were spared any real damage.  We were so fortunate that our house did not sustain any damage beyond a little bent guttering and a few cracked roofing shingles along the roof’s edge.  The garden and the trees were a different matter.  We lost about seven big trees which made many areas of the garden go from mostly shady to mostly sunny.  We were very upset to lose our wonderful, large trees, but I have had the attitude that this loss has just allowed me to plant something different.

One area that has now become a problem is the garden around the back patio.  Pre-Katrina this was filled with mostly holly ferns and hostas.  For the last three summers, these shade loving plants have done okay with a lot of watering.  At the end of last summer, I decided that a few holly ferns that were in the sunniest area had to come out.  They were turning brown from too much sun.  I moved them to the side garden under some live oak trees, and they are thriving.  Now, I have come to realize that more plants are just going to have to be moved, too.  More holly ferns and hostas are just not happy.  They are getting way too much afternoon sun.  Their foliage is turning a pale green, in the case of the hostas, or is turning yellow and brown, in the case of the holly ferns.  When it gets a little cooler in the fall, I will be moving them to shadier quarters.  Now, my problem is what do I replace them with?

Around this patio area, I want something that will be low growing and evergreen – about the size of the holly ferns.  With our mild winter temperatures, we are often outside year round, and I want this area to look good all the time.  I guess I am looking for some “bones” for this patio garden.  I started looking through my garden books, but nothing struck me as right.  So, this meant I needed more garden books.  Using gift cards, I found two books that have helped me start to make some decisions.

Southern Shade (redu)


Southern Sun (redu)


I bought Southern Sun and Southern Shade by Jo Kellam.  These two books have great ideas for plants.  For just about all of my gardening years, I have had to deal with too much shade, so the sun book gave me some good ideas for plants, and since there still are areas around the patio that are shady, the shade book helps too.

So far, I am thinking about using agapanthus as the evergreen plants to replace the holly ferns.  They are evergreen in this area, and will also not grow so high.  I have some in other areas of the garden, and they are getting a little crowded, so using them should work out well both in design and in the pocket book.  I am still trying to decide on the smaller filler plants to take the place of the hostas.  It seems more research is needed.

Foliage Color

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

This time of year does not have the blooms that early spring does, but that does not mean that there is no color or interest in the garden.  This year, in particular, there isn’t the amount of flowers around as is usual for summer.  Our heat always does seem to make plants stop flowering during the hottest months and then pick up again when the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, but this year, with our unusually high heat in June, flowers are pretty scarce right now.  Thank goodness for coleus and caladiums, two brightly colored plants that help a summer garden look nice.

Coleus is having a sort of revival in the past few years.  The Victorians were crazy for this plant, but as with all things, it went out of favor for a while and is back now.  When you look at coleus, you don’t miss not having flowers.  Not only are they colorful, but the different leaf shapes and textures make these such interesting plants.  I especially like the puffy or puckered leaf coleus.

Coleus Alabama Sunset (redu)

Coleus II (redu)

Coleus R. Radish (redu)

Coleus Un-named (redu)

Caladuim is another plant with colorful leaves that can outshine many a flower.  I am lucky that I can leave my caladium tubers in the ground, and they will overwinter.  I just make sure that they have a lot of mulch and stay dry.

Caladium Carolyn Wharton (redu)

Caladium Firecracker Red (redu)

So, even though this year’s heat has stopped the normal summer flowering, we still have a great deal of interest in the garden with the different textures and colors of coleus and caladiums.

Containers in the Garden

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


I have never been one to have containers with multiple plants in them as has become so popular in the last few years.  You know, the thriller, the spiller, and the filler type containers.  Usually, I just have one tropical plant per container or maybe a few that also have volunteer impatiens surrounding a larger plant.  But, this year I decided to start a few containers for seasonal color since I am not planting as many annuals in the garden.  I figured a few spots of intense color should do the trick.

The combination that really got me started was Alabama Sunset coleus, Toffee Twist carex, and Bronze Sweet Caroline sweet potato vine.  I had bought all of these separately, but decided they would look good together, esp. when autumn arrives.  This color scheme should look really good then with all the other fall colors around.


Coleus, Toffee Twist, Sw. Caroline (redu)


Another combination I tried this year was the Cardoon and the Margarite sweet potato vine.  The cardoon should get very large, and I felt the chartreuse-colored leaves will fill up the space beneath the cardoon nicely as well as give a good color contrast.  Besides, the sweet potato vine was free; I dug some up from the front garden where it was getting too big.


Cardoon and Margarite (redu)


Next, comes the Red Sensation Cordyline and Pink Splash.  I bought the cordyline last fall, but never got around to planting it until a few weeks ago.  While it will eventually lose the lower leaves, right now they are still very close to the soil, so I figured I would need a low growing plant to fill in.  I choose the pink splash because that color complements the chocolate colored cordyline, and they will stay fairly low.


Red Cordyline and Pink Splash (redu)


Finally, I put together a Rex Begonia, Persian Shield, and a coleus.  The coleus is light green with purple stems and purple edging on the leaves which picks up the purple in the other two plants.  In this case, too, all of these plants were bought separately and a different times, and it was only after getting them all home together did the idea of their being a good combination occur to me.


Rex Begonia, Persian Shield, Coleus (redu)


Since I am not planting any annuals this year, I am hoping that these containers will do the same job as the annuals did before and give months of color around the garden.


Trying Something New

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


We all like to try something new; maybe something that pushes the limits.  Well, I have decided to try out two new things this year to see how well they will do in the garden or even if they will survive.

The first one is Supertunia mini silver.  Here, in the Gulf South, we plant petunias in the fall and pull them up in April or May depending on the heat.  Even the wave petunias can’t last here with our heat.  I have been seeing Proven Winners supertunias, and since the millionbells have survived, I thought I would try and see if these could make it, too.  I love the color of the mini silver.  It is white with a tinge of a very, very pale pink.




I only bought one plant and put it in a container which is placed in a wire bicycle.  I didn’t want to invest in too many of these plants in case they do not last.  I would be happy if they could at least last through July.  That way if they are planted in February, that would mean six months of enjoyment and worth the time and money to buy more.  So far, they are still looking good while the other petunias are slowly starting to succumb to our heat.  They say next week we will be flirting with 90 degrees, so it won’t be long before I will see if they will withstand our heat or not.




Since this is supposed to grow in full sun or partial shade according to the plant label, I think I will try growing it where it will get morning sun and protection from afternoon sun.  That may help it do better this far south.

With the next plant I am trying out for the first time, it is not the heat, but the cold that I will have to watch out for.  I first saw oyster plant (Tradescantia spathacea) on a television gardening show and then later at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens.  It is such a lovely, multicolored plant and will grow in some shade.




Every thing I have read has said this is definitely a tropical plant, but that it can take a light freeze is well protected.  This plant is supposed to be hardy only to zone 9. I figured if wax begonias can survive the winter here in zone 8b, than this plant surely could.  Because of its cold tenderness, I will probably try and place it in a sheltered location to up the chances of its surviving our occasional freezes.  Maybe global warming will help them make it through the winter.




So, it looks like this year I will be trying out these two plants to see if they will preform well in the garden, thereby earning a permanent place in my little plant world.  I sure hope they make it and do well.

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