A Lovely Sight

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

The Chinese wisterias are in bloom.



I have loved this spectacular spring-blooming vine since I was a child. This must have been a very popular vine in the 50’s and 60’s because I seem to remember seeing it growing in nearly every neighborhood. We had a next door neighbor who had a large arbor that was covered with wisteria flowers. I remember thinking that this looked so romantic.

I do not have any of this wisteria in my garden since it is just too rampant, but the neighbor across the street has it, so I get to enjoy it without worrying it will take over.



Every morning when I leave to go to work, this view is the first thing I see as I walk out the front door. Such a lovely sight.


Spring Yellow

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

A visit from my sister who lives in Virginia and a big birthday weekend have not given me much time to garden or blog. I will have a lot of catching up to do in the next few days. It seems like every day there is something new showing up or blooming in the garden. This is how gardening is supposed to be in the Deep South. Extended cold periods and just about everything brown is really unknown to us.

The Carolina jasmine has started blooming.



It is not only the bright yellow flowers that I like about this vine or the fact that it blooms so early. What I really like about this plant is how all of a sudden it just bursts into bloom. It seems like one day there is only leaves and the next day – Bam – flowers all over.



The only down side to this lovely spring-flowering vine is how short the bloom season is. I wished it would have those spring yellow flowers for a few months rather than weeks.



Ornamental Vines Entwine

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


Earlier this summer, when my sister and I went plant shopping, I bought several sweet potato vines.  I already grow Margarite, the chartreuse one, Sweet Caroline Green Yellow,  and Ace of Spades a dark black one.  On this plant buying outing, I bought three more – Sweet Caroline Red (maple-shaped leaf), Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Red (heart-shaped leaf), and Sweet Caroline Bewitched Purple (frilly leafed).  Of course, when I bought these tree new vines, I had no place in mind as to where I would put them.  (I know , I know, you are not supposed to buy plants without having a plan where they are supposed to go, but what can I say?  Like you’ve never done this.)  Finally, I decided to plant them in hanging baskets and hang them from a shepherd’s hook.  At first the plants were scrawny, but now that shepherd’s hook is a focal point in the back garden.


Swt Potato Vines (redu)


In the center basket is Sw. Caroline Bewitched, to the right is Sw. Caroline Red, and to the left is Sw. Caroline Sweetheart Red.  These three tend to be a little more compact than the earlier ornamental sweet potato vines such as Margarite and Blackie.  At the base of the shepherd’s hook is a container with Sweet Caroline Bronze and Alabama Sunset coleus.  I am certainly pleased with how these hanging baskets look.

It should be easy to overwinter these baskets, but come springtime, I think I will be placing them in the garden.  Maybe by that time I will have figured out where to plant them.

Autumn Already?

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


The sweet autumn clematis has started blooming, and this got me to thinking about plant names.   This one in particular because it certainly doesn’t bloom in autumn around here.  Today’s high was 92 and that doesn’t sound like autumn or even the beginning of autumn, does it?  Anyway, the name doesn’t matter when it comes to such a lovely vine.


St Aut Clematis (redu)


It has just started blooming, and it has a ton of buds, so very soon this area will be covered in white flowers that have an unbeatable fragrance.  The flowers will be followed by seed heads.  Because so many seeds are produced, this vine can be invasive.  Around here, I just pull up the ones I do not want, but you do see these Japanese natives growing  and blooming in the woods around here.  This clematis can grow up to thirty feet, but since it blooms on new wood, cutting it almost back to the ground in February keeps mine in check.


St Aut Clematis 2 (redu)


In the above photo you can see all the tiny buds just about ready to start opening.   Maybe this will be in full bloom for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Then, I’ll certainly have some great photos for you to see.

Two Year Wait

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


When you get a new plant, don’t you hate having to wait for it to flower?  I know I tend to be impatient, but two years seems like a long time to wait for a vine to bloom.  Now, it is not all Mother Nature’s fault.  In the fall of 2007, my mother started rooting me a piece of her white mandevilla vine (Mandevilla sanderie).  She kept it through the winter, and gave it to me in early spring.  I waited to plant it until I thought the ground had warmed up enough in 2008 since this is a tender vine.  I also waited to plant it because I didn’t have a place to put it.  Sound familiar?

Well, in late spring of 2008, I planted it at the base of an arbor that has a young white Lady Banksia  rose growing on it.  The mandevilla vine started growing, and then wham!  Cut down when dear hubby was weed eating around the perimeter of the garden.  I don’t know how he did that since the vine was behind bricks, but nevertheless, the new vine was reduced to about three inches tall.  Thankfully, it didn’t die, but it took all summer for it to recover.  Since this is not winter hardy in our area, when the cold temperatures started in early December, I dug it up and put in in a container that could be protected when the freezes came.  By early spring, I had forgotten all about it until one day, I spied a vine growing at the base of a parlor palm tree.  Sure enough, there was the little vine starting to grow.  This time, I planted it in the garden where it would be safe from weedeaters and yard tools.  It settled in fine, and quickly blended in with all the other plants until now.


White Mandevilla Vine (redu)


My first flower.  Finally a bloom.  I know I will have to dig it up again this fall, but for now, I think it is on its way to blooming until the cold weather arrives.  This vine is supposed to come back from the roots in my zone 8, but I don’t want to take the chance of losing it.  I love white flowers, and this one is special because Mom took the trouble to root a cutting and give it to me.  Worth the two year wait.

Sweet Caroline

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


One potato, two potato, three potato, more.  Yes, I have found three more sweet potato vines for the garden.  Friday, I went to several nurseries about thirty miles from here to look for some new plants.  Even though the temperature was a killer, it was worth being out in the noon day sun finding some new plants.  Three of the plants I came home with were sweet potato vines.

I have had Margarite and Ace of Spades for years, growing them first in hanging baskets and then in the ground.  They have reliably returned every spring for the last five or six years.  Last year, I found a green and yellow version called Sweet Caroline Green Yellow which I have in a container, and it, too, has returned from winter dormancy.  When I found this one, my sister bought Sweet Caroline Bronze, and after seeing how well it looked in her garden, I was sorry I didn’t get one, too.  Not to worry though, my sweet sister Carolyn (who was almost called Caroline) rooted me two pieces this spring.  So, as of Friday, I had four varieties of sweet potato vine.

When I saw these new varieties, I quickly put them in my cart.  The Sweet Caroline series was developed by North Carolina State University (hence, the name).  One of the things I like about this series is that they are more compact growers than the older varieties like Margarite or Blackie.  The new ones I just had to have are two red ones and one black.  The first red is Sweet Caroline Sweetheart red.  As its name implies, it has the heart-shaped leaves like Ace of Spades or Margarite.  I think this one will look good besides those two.


Sw Caroline Sweetheart Red (redu)


The next red one is Sweet Caroline Red.  It has the more maple leaf shape.


Sw Caroline Red (redu)


Last, is Sweet Caroline Bewitched Purple.  It has leaves which are almost black and are slightly frilly.


Sw Caroline Bewitched (redu)


I know I am lucky because these are root hardy, with mulch, to zone 8b and so, once planted in the garden, will return year after year in my garden.  These are great foliage plants with unusual colors, leaf shapes, and look great in containers as well as in the garden.  They are great for filling in that big, empty spot we all seem to have somewhere, very economically.

Even though they go dormant in the winter, for nine months of the year, these vines really brighten up the garden, and I just can’t seem to get enough of these vines.  There is only one downside to the Sweet Caroline vines.  Every time I see one, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” starts playing in my head, and I can’t seem to get rid of it.

Showing Up Early

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


Several plants have been blooming earlier than usual.  I started remarking about this in February, and today, realized that it is continuing.  Last year, I specifically remember that my red bleeding heart vine (clerodendron thomsanaie var. delectum) did not start blooming until late summer.  I thought that was unusual, but my sister said the same thing about hers.  Well, for the last two weeks or so, this vine has been blooming; not profusely at first, but it is quickly picking up steam.


Red Bleeding Heart (redu)


Now, why would a plant do this?  It is hard to say why.  Maybe I started fertilizing sooner this year; the winter was a little milder than normal and it came back faster, the ground was warmer.  Maybe last year was the fluke?  It bloomed later and that was unusual, and this year’s blooms are right on time. Who knows?  I only know I am happy that it has started blooming so early.  I felt cheated last year when fall came, and the bleeding heart had just started blooming.  Are you finding plants blooming earlier, too?

A Great Find

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


Two summers ago, I noticed a vine with pale pink flowers blooming at a house across the street from my mother’s house.  It had pale pink trumpet shaped flowers with a darker pink throat spilling over the fence by the hundreds.  It was so pretty, and I fell for that vine immediately.  Of course, no one knew the name of this particular vine.  The neighbor just bought it years before and, I guess, never paid attention to the name.  I just don’t understand people having plants and not knowing at least a common name, but that is a story for another day.  Back to this lovely vine.  I began searching the Internet and my garden books.  This is very hard when you don’t have any kind of name to start with, but eventually, after a while, I found it.  It was Pandorea jasminoids or pink bower vine or Pandora vine.

Now that I had a name, I began to search for this.  Whenever I went to any place that sold plants, I looked for it.  Every time I found it at a reputable online nursery, it was sold out.  I was still determined to find one.  This spring, it has started blooming at the neighbor’s house prettier than ever.  Well, someone must be looking out for me because Sunday while dear hubby was dragging me around to Wal-mart, Home Depot, PetSmart, and Lowes, I found a Pandora vine.




While hubby was off in another area of Lowes, I wandered around the plant area.  Suddenly, my eyes caught sight of familiar pink flowers nestled between a row of white jasmine and plumbago.  I caught my breath, I could hardly believe it, there was my long sought for vine at Lowes!  Not some exotic nursery, not even an unusual plant nursery, just plain old Lowes.  I quickly grabbed one container and checked the label which, of course, only had “Pandora Vine” on it, no botanical name for an accurate identification.  Without a second thought, I selected the best looking plant and went to the check out.  I didn’t even know how much it was nor did I care.  This long searched for vine was only $4.67 for a gallon size plant.  Again, I was shocked for the second time.  On-line they were $12 to $15 for a 2 inch pot, and you still had shipping to pay for.

Like I stated before, someone was looking out for me.  I found my pink flowered vine, and it was cheap, too.  See, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Pink bower vine is supposed to be hardy to zone 9, but I think I can get it to survive here since we are barely in zone 8.  I’ll have to get a trellis for it before I can plant it.  I was probably so excited to find this plant that I forgot all about getting a trellis for it when I bought it.  Looks like that will be a job for this weekend.

Ignorance Is Bliss

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

I have often wondered how “fussy” plants make it out in the wild.  You know, those plants that have to be treated with kid gloves – not too much water/ copious water, not too much sun/ full sun, not too much heat/cold.  Then there are the reportedly high maintenance plants that make it with no special treatment at all, unless, of course, you really want it to thrive in your garden.

Case in point, my neighbor’s clematis.  We all know the drill, plant at the right depth, leaves in the sun and roots in the shade, prune according to its type, watch out for wilt, etc.  Here in the Gulf South, many of the large flowering clematis do not survive long because of our heat and humidity.  My neighbor bought this clematis at one of the big box stores about five years ago.  It was one of those that was wrapped in a plastic bag and very inexpensive.  She planted it next to her mailbox and then just ignored it.  This is what she is rewarded with every year.


No fertilizer or extra water, no shading the roots, no special treatment, just benign neglect.  She cuts it down whenever she feels it looks straggly or unattractive.  This may be three times in a year.  Do you think I could do this and have it survive?  No way.  Maybe she is just lucky with this particular vine.  I think it must be because both she and the clematis never read what the experts say about caring for a clematis.

A Purple Cascade

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


The neighbor’s wisteria is blooming.  A sure sign of spring.

Mine is not blooming yet nor does it bloom as profusely – a little too much shade.  Theirs is growing up a huge pine tree which is really not such a good idea.  These rampant growers can strangle a tree by girdling it. 

While they may be invasive, come spring time they are spectacular when in bloom, and it is understandable why they are so popular.




The showy, sweet-smelling flowers is what sells this plant.  I remember when I was a child, our next door neighbors had a large pergola covered with wisteria.  When it was in bloom, with the delicious fragrance perfuming the air, that arbor was to me the most romantic and fairy tale-like place to be.  Every time I smell the wisteria blossoms, it brings back the memory of that pergola.

The reason that this plant is not welcomed in many areas is because it is such an easy to grow plant and when it escapes the landscape into the wild, it spreads very aggressively and chokes out native trees and shrubs.  When driving down the highway where there are still wooded areas, you can see large areas blanketed by the purple and white wisteria flowers.  While this is a very lovely sight, you have to wonder what plants this vine may be smothering.  There are two native wisteria vines that are better behaved and not considered invasive.  These are really a better choice in many areas.

I am trying to grow mine as a single trunk or tree form.  This is how my dad grew one years ago.  Since it doen’t require any support and is kept trimmed back, it doesn’t get out of hand.  I hope mine starts blooming soon because I just love those purple cascades of fragant flowers.

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