A Spring Pretty

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

The woodland phlox is starting to bloom.

 

 

This variety of woodland phlox (phlox divaricata) is also called Louisiana Blue Phlox and is one my mother grew in her garden when I was a teenager. There are other varieties, such as London Blue Grove, but the one pictured above is my favorite.

I bought a few plants, and my sister gave me some also, and as they are slowly spreading, I hope to one day have a whole border of these pretty spring flowers.

Pins and Needles

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

Because winter lasted a lot longer than normal, I knew that once warmer temperatures finally settled in, there would be a huge burst of spring in the garden. Sure enough, things are popping up all over, making up for lost time. Last Sunday, we were at my daughter’s house, and her Bradford pear was in full bloom. Our ornamental pear was just about finished blooming, but hers was gorgeous and really stood out against the gray, cloudy sky.

 

 

The daffodils finished blooming this week, but the petunias are finally flushing out after being flowerless for months. We haven’t had any real rainfall lately, so I have had to water a bit. While doing that chore this afternoon, I notice many plants are starting to return after such a cold winter. The gingers, cannas, and hostas are starting to show growth. Several plants have surprised me by coming back after such a cold winter. I still can’t believe the variegated shrimp plant that was out in the garden with hardly any mulch is putting out new leaves. I though surely it was a gone for good. The day-blooming jasmine is putting our new growth on its stems which did surprise me since the night-blooming variety always dies back to the ground. I thought surely that one would die back completely, too.

Another plant I thought was dead was the “Red Sensation” cordyline I had planted in a large container. When I bought it, I was told it was hardy in our area, but this winter it died. Or seemed to and I was so disappointed. Today, however, I noticed a sprout coming from the base. Yea! It’s alive!

There are several favorite plants I am still holding my breath on. Only one of my Chinese hibiscus is sporting a leaf. The others – nothing. I have scratched the bark and have seen green, so I am still hopeful, but I am concerned because the stems look so bad. I think the oyster plants I put in last summer are not going to come back, but I won’t give up all hope until May. There are always a few plants that take a long time to come back. The Mickey Mouse elephant ear is also a worry. My sister, who lives in a warmer area than I do, feels she has lost hers, and I can’t believe that mine would survive if hers didn’t. None of the other elephant ears are up, so I won’t know for a few weeks if mine is definitely dead or not.

This waiting to find out what did or didn’t survive our extra cold winter certainly has me on pins and needles. It is hard to be patient when you are unsure if you will have to replace plants or not.

I Think Spring Is Here

“I Think Spring Is Here”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Every day there seems to be more and more early signs of spring approaching. Today, the ornamental pear tree’s buds showed that it won’t be too long before they unfurl their petals, and there will be the spectacular show of white flowers.

 

 

It has been years since I have been longing this much for spring. Even though spring does not officially begin until March 20th, with our temperatures in the high 60’s and low 70’s and flowers starting to pop out, it looks like spring has arrived here a little earlier than the official date.

A Teasing Mother Nature

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

How do you picture Mother Nature? Right now, I am picturing her as a teaser. The last few days have been much more what we are used to for mid-February. Sunny skies, highs in the mid 60’s. It seems like spring is here. I even saw a lizard in the garden yesterday, sunning himself on the hose reel.

We are seeing more and more signs that spring is coming soon. The peach tree’s buds are showing color.

 

 

The neighbor’s Japanese magnolia’s buds are also showing color.

 

 

The sweet olive bushes (Osmanthus fragrans) have started blooming – a sure sign winter is coming to a close. I didn’t notice the small flowers at first, the fragrance caught my attention before the flowers did.

 


So, why is Mother Nature a tease? While the temperatures reached 71 degrees today, colder weather will be here shortly bringing a stop to all these “spring-time signs”. How disappointing we will have to wait a bit longer for spring to finally arrive.

Ducks Perfect for Easter

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

 

Here, in the Gulf South, petunias are planted as a winter annual.  They go in around late October and are taken out by mid-April.  I usually only put petunias in the entry garden for some winter color, but this year, after seeing my sister’s great success with Baby Duck petunias, I went ahead and planted some along the edge of the front side garden.  They have grown and spread unbelievably.  I have written about them earlier, but since then, they have filled out to be perfect for a spring garden.

 

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What is so great about these small-flowered petunias is that they spread so well.  Each plant, which doesn’t get leggy, spreads almost three feet and is covered in these pale yellow, with a darker yellow throat, flowers.  From a distance, it looks so “springy” to see that mass of pale yellow.

 

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I don’t know how much longer they will continue to do well in the garden.  My sister didn’t pull hers out until the end of May last year.  So far, we have not had very much heat, but I know it is coming, and, then, it will be good bye to these Baby Ducks until fall.  These petunias were a little hard to find this year, but you can be sure that next year I will definitely be looking for them early in the season.  They just seem to fit so well into a spring garden, and being Easter, it is appropriate that we have baby ducks even the ASCPA will approve.  And, besides, next year, I want to be able to see this.

 

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A Heroic Tree

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

 

We don’t often think of plants as being heroic, but we have a cherry tree that saved our house.  During Hurricane Katrina, we had five big trees go down. Luckily, they all fell parallel to the house except one 150 foot pine tree, but even that tree missed the house because of our Kwansan cherry tree.  It deflected the big pine tree just enough so that it missed the house and ended up just hitting the corner of a gutter.  Unfortunately, the cherry tree was damaged, and had to be cut back.  With everything going on and debris removal happening fast, the cherry tree was just cut back to about two and a half feet.  It quickly started sprouting new growth, but was not very attractive.  I wanted to cut it back to the ground and let one of the suckers take over, but dear hubby wanted to keep it and give it a chance.

Kwansan cherry trees only live about twenty-five years, and ours is about thirty-two now.  It has never really recovered from that falling pine tree.  Every year it has fewer and fewer flowers with this year having the least.  I think this will be the last spring this particular tree gives us these beautiful pink flowers.

 

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The little pink powder puff flowers that usually cover these trees are a welcome spring time addition, but  I think it is time to say good bye to this particular heroic little tree.  I know we can get a replacement tree for this area, but it just won’t be the same.

Spring Growth

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

 

Today was another gorgeous spring day.  It was nice to have a day off that didn’t have any rain like the last two weekends have.   The garden is coming along nicely, and more plants are coming back to life or putting out flowers.

One of these is the Yellow Shrub Jessamine that I put in the garden last spring.  I was not sure it would be hardy here, so I am relieved and pleased that it not only survived but has put out new leaves and flowers.

 

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Next, is the mint.  This winter it completely died back, something it has never done before.  Being a big iced tea drinker, I would be very disappointed to lose my mint, but about three weeks ago, I started seeing signs it was coming back.  I know how invasive mint can be, so this is grown in a large rectangular container, and as you can see, I can start making that iced tea now that warm temperatures and the mint are back.

 

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Next, the hostas are coming back.  Some are up a lot more than others.  I just loved this angle of the hosta leaves that are just starting to unfurl, and the bright, spring green color is so welcomed after having just brown mulch in that area for so long.

 

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Next, the white lantana has started to bloom which is a little surprising since they are in more shade this year.  The yellow lantana which is in full sun does not have a sign of a bloom.  Puzzling.

 

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I just love going out into the garden and discovering something new that has bloomed, popped up, or coming back to life.  I don’t know why, but it seems to be more thrilling this year to find the new growth than ever before.

Already Here

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

 

Today was the first day of spring, but it was not our first spring day.  We have been having mild weather for weeks now.  So much is blooming and more is coming.  Today I noticed the first buds on the Stella d’Ora daylilies.  Even I was surprised to see the small stalks with buds.

 

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This first calla lily flower showed up yesterday.

 

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These are some of my favorite flowers because of the sculptural quality of the blooms.  They always seem so cool and elegant.

 

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Finally, another sign that spring has sprung extra early here is the reappearance of the sweet potato vines.  Margarite has shown up in several areas, and Ace of Spades, which always comes back late, is also pushing up a few leaves.

 

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So, even though the calendar says that spring arrived today, here, in the Gulf South, spring didn’t pay attention to any calendar.

A Yellow Flame

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

 

The yellow Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) has suddenly burst into bloom.  This is considered a native azalea and is deciduous.  The golden yellow flowers start blooming just before the leaves emerge.

 

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This azalea is not a full, thick shrub like the evergreen Indica azaleas but has clusters of sparsely branched stems.  When in flower, it is a stand out, however, when winter comes and it loses it leaves, it really does blend in to the background.  It grows as  a very upright shrub which can reach six feet.  Mine is only about three years old and is about three feet tall.  I am really looking forward to its growing taller so I will have more flowers.

 

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The blooms do not last too long, but while they last, they seem to glow especially in the shade.  I would love to add more to the garden, but I don’t often see them offered at our nurseries.  I have planted this one in the circle garden which has mostly yellow flowers, so it does have other plants around which blend in well with its vivid, golden yellow blossoms.

 

I wasn’t aware of deciduous azaleas until just a few years ago.  I am so glad I discovered these wonderful shrubs because they really add another dimension to the spring garden.

No Bradford

“No Bradford”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

More trees are starting to flower.  I have already posted about the peach trees, Japanese magnolias, redbuds, and now the Callery pear has started flowering, almost overnight it seems.  I know there are many who say that this tree should not be  planted, but come springtime and the appearance of the hundreds of small flowers it seems worth it.

 

 

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Our tree has just started flowering, and it won’t be long before it is covered in white flowers.  The most common cultivar of Callery pear is the Bradford, but I don’t think we have a Bradford.  I think we have another cultivar.  Our tree does not have the dense, upward growth of the Bradford.  Our tree has a more open pyramid growth pattern.  When we bought this tree, it was just labled flowering pear, but it was also about the time that people were being discouraged from planting the Bradfords, so for all these reasons, I don’t think we have a Bradford.

 

With the temperatures reaching 80 to 85 degrees for the last three days, it does seem that spring is here to stay, and this blooming pear tree just seems to reinforce that belief.

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