Bud to Flower to Seed

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

With the garden winding down now that fall is here, there is the opportunity to study the remaining flowers that stand out because there is so little competition. One that caught my eye the other day was the Clemetis crispa flowers. Usually this vine doesn’t flower that much at this time of year, but I think that the cooler weather and moisture is encouraging it to make up for the paltry showing this summer.

One thing I like about this flower is how different the bud and open flower is. The slim bud reminds me of a chandelier drop.



The open flower is bell-shaped with curly edges. It reminds me of a little hat. Maybe something a fairy would wear in the garden.



The seed heads of clematis vines can be very interesting. This seed head in particular seems very appropriate for this time of year – Halloween.



The different each stages of this little flower amazes me.

It is nice to be able to take the time to carefully look at individual plants and flowers and to see the change from bud to flower to seed.

Tropical Storm Benefits

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

Whenever a storm moves through, everyone tends to concentrate on the devastation, but often there are some benefits. We averted the forecasted deluge that was supposed to come from Tropical Storm Lee. We only had about nine inches of rain which was a lot, but it was needed. That nine inches of rain is more than fell in all of April, May, June, July, and August. Normally, we would have received over twenty inches total for those months.

All the plants have appreciated the moisture and have perked up. In fact, the hydrangeas that I cut back two weeks ago have put out new growth. Thank goodness our first freeze date is months away.

After Lee left, we have had absolutely gorgeous weather – breezy and cool. Lows in the 50’s at night, and highs in the 70’s. We hardly ever get weather like this in early September, much less after a tropical system moves through. Normally, after a hurricane or tropical storm the weather is still, hot, and humid.

The moisture we had this weekend was really needed. One plant that has done better with all the rain is my white mandevilla vine. My mother rooted this for me about three years ago, and every fall I dig it up and overwinter it in a smaller container. With the drought and extreme heat of this summer, it just didn’t bloom. Now, a few flowers have shown up, and there are buds all over.



It is amazing how plants that have been so dry respond so well to rain.

Now that southeastern Louisiana has moved from extreme drought to moderate drought, maybe more plants will start blooming.

Happy Valentine’s Day

“Happy Valentine’s Day”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. Aren’t these the cutest little roses?



I have already received my Valentine’s present from my sweetie – three clematis vines. So far, I have only grown clematis vines that are known to do well here – sweet autumn clematis and Clematis crispa. Since many of the large flowered ones are reported not to thrive here along the Gulf Coast, I have been hesitant to buy them. Now, I am going to branch out and try some of these clematis vines. The three I am now going to plant are Venosa Violacea, H.F. Young, and Nellie Moser. I am almost positive the first two are grown by my neighbor (she doesn’t remember the names) and do very well for her. I am hoping to post some photos of the blooms in early summer.

I hope everyone has a very happy Valentine’s Day and is able to spend some time with those they love.

A Shady Bloomer

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

It seems that gardeners are always looking for plants that will bloom in the shade. A vine that I have found blooms well with only a few hours of sun is the red bleeding heart vine (clerodendrum speciosum). I think this must be a short day flowering plant because it has just started blooming again as it did in the springtime.



This variety of bleeding heart vine has red flowers and lavender bracts and seems to be a little more cold tolerant than the white variety. I have mine growing in my zone 8 garden, and while it has been frozen back to the ground, it has reliably returned after very cold winters with only a light mulch to protect it.

So, add one more plant to flower in the fall. I’ll have to post about the gerbera daisies that are starting to bloom again now that cooler temperatures are steadily staying around.

Summer Container

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

The garden is looking a little tired, and it will be nice when cooler temperatures arrive because the garden always perks up then. Until mid November when the cool season annuals go in, we still have to rely on our summer plants. One summer container that is still looking good after months of heat is the white mandevilla vine and angelonia.



The white mandevilla vine was a cutting rooted by my mother three years ago. This is supposed to survive zone 8 winters, just dying back to the ground, but I have never chanced that. Every winter, I dig it up and overwinter it. I wouldn’t do this ordinarily, but since my mother, who is getting on in years, rooted this for me, I want to keep it as long as I can. This is the best year ever for this vine, and I must remember next year to replant it in this large container.



This is the first year I have planted angelonia (Angelonia augustifolia ‘Serena’). I, at first, had planted it in the “white garden”, but it did not do well there. I don’t think it was getting enough sun. It was getting spindly and had few flowers. When I transplanted the plants to the container with the mandevilla vine, they really took off. The two plants I had bought as four inch pots went from being weak, lanky plants to full, flower-laden specimens. Angelonia are supposed to be perennial only in zones 10 and 11, but my mother’s have survived for years in her zone 9 garden, even surviving last year’s colder than normal winter. I am not putting too much hope in mine surviving here in zone 8, but maybe they will reseed. I do think they make a great pairing with the white mandevilla vine.

So, even though the garden is looking a little worn out by this time, this container is still making a very nice show as the heat still hangs on a little longer.

White Beauties

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

White. White is my favorite color for flowers, and two of the best white flowers have started showing up. The first is the butterfly ginger with its wonderful aroma.



When these luscious flowers start blooming in late summer, their sweet, but not cloying scent, perfume permeates the garden especially at night and very early in the morning. I have this plant in three different areas of the garden. One area is in shade (these are the ones that have just started blooming) and two other areas that get morning sun and dappled shade. Because they bloom at slightly different times, there is that wonderful perfume and white flowers for about six weeks or more showing up in the garden.

The other white flower that is now showing up is the white mandevilla. This plant was given to me by my mother three years ago, and every winter I dig it up and protect it from the freezing temperatures.



This year it was very late in putting out flowers, and I wonder if it is because of the last winter’s extra cold. The only reason I think that winter is the cause is because I am still finding plants in the garden that are only appearing now. Usually, if a plant has not appeared by May, it is not coming back, but this year I am still finding sweet potato vines, palm grass, and elephant ears that are only showing up now, in early August.

Anyway, I am certainly happy to see these white beauties now. Somehow, their appearance helps us endure the dog days of summer.

Taking Good Advice

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

It takes some time for many plants to really get established. Three years ago, I bought a Queen’s Wreath vine (Petrea volubilis) on the recommendation of a nursery employee. He assured me it was a gorgeous, blooming vine, and since he had steered me to some wonderful plants before, I trusted him. The first year, nothing. I wasn’t concerned or disappointed because I thought that this vine would only bloom in the spring time. Second year, a few blooms. This year more blooms in the spring, but then it has also started blooming in the summer.



That employee assured me that this would grow into a showstopper, and I think my vine is finally on the right tract. It only needed a little time. I am so glad I took a chance on Queen’s Wreath and listened to that nursery worker’s advice.


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

Everyone seems to be remarking about the effects of the unusually cold winter we all had. Effects that are still being seen now. I lost a few plants that were tropicals, but I also seem to have lost a few plants that are hardy here and have returned in previous years. I haven’t given up entirely on some of these plants returning especially after what has popped up and was noticed this weekend.



Yes, the sweet potato vine, Margarite, has returned. I had this variety plus other sweet potato vines growing all around the garden, and they have reliably returned for about five years now. With the unusual cold, especially in January, I was certain that I would have to replace them this year. The thick layer of pine straw mulch must have protected the tuber enough so that it has survived. This is the only one so far that has shown up, but I am hopeful that others will not be to far behind.

I noticed a few of the caladiums in the front garden have started showing up. I didn’t think any would return after the cold, wet winter we had. They are in a well-drained area, but still, I didn’t think any would return this year. Maybe this winter wasn’t as bad as I thought. Some of these “survivors” certainly have surprised me by surviving.

Third Year

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

Third year must be the charm. They say that it is the third year that perennials are in the ground when they finally start growing well. It’s the old saying, “The first year they sleep; the second year they creep; the third year they leap.” Well, my clematis seems to be proof this old saying is true.

Three years ago, I planted Clematis crispa, and it did produce a few flowers that first summer. Last summer, it was better. But, this year is certainly a big improvement.



This year, even though we had a very cold winter that lasted into March, this clematis came back faster, bigger, and better. In the past, the flowers didn’t start showing up until June. Even though everything this year seems to be blooming at least two to four weeks later than normal (again, due to the late, cold weather), the delicate, blue, bell-shaped flowers have been showing up for over two weeks.



I had wanted this vine for several years before I finally found one at a local garden show. It has really been a nice addition to the garden, lending a delicate quality that was needed.


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

I have to learn patience. Whenever I buy a new plant, many times I have unrealistic expectations. I always expect plants to grow faster and bigger than is really possible. Perennials need time to get established, but I have a hard time accepting that fact.

If I buy a plant, I want it to flower the first year. I have such a hard time waiting for plants to mature. Case in point, two years ago I purchased an Queen’s Wreath (Petrea volubilis) vine on the recommendation of a nursery worker. He said when it bloomed, it was gorgeous. Since he had steered me to other wonderful plants, I bought this vine. I knew that it was too late for the vine to bloom that year, but surely it would bloom the next year. No such luck. Nice foliage, but no flowers. How disappointing!

This year, however, the first blooms have appeared. It seems that this vine only needed a little time. While not many blooms are appearing, at least I know what they look like and what to expect as it grows larger.



Many plants that I have been disappointed with have finally grown big enough to make a nice showing now when they bloom. I now know that the same is going to happen with the Queen’s Wreath. It is not the plants fault that I have been disappointed, it is my own impatience – something I need to work on.

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