Something New

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

It is always good to try something new. If it is a success, it is wonderful, and if it is a failure, you know not to do that again.

Something new I tried in the garden this past fall was some ornamental cabbages that I put in the circle garden. In the past I have planted pansies, violas, snapdragons, and bluebonnets in this garden area. My favorites had been the violas and pansies, but the last few years they just didn’t do as well as when I first used them here. They didn’t last and seemed to melt before they grew or bloomed. Since this was so discouraging, I had almost decided to not put anything in the circle garden when I came upon some ornamental cabbages at a small, independent nursery.

They were tiny little plants in six packs, and it was hot and dry weather not good for fall annuals, but I planted them any way. At first, I was just happy they didn’t die, but then I was concerned they stayed green. The tiny plants, about the size of a silver dollar, grew and grew, however, they remained green. The weather grew colder, and there even were a few light freezes, but still little color. I kept looking at the plant tag, wondering if mine would remain green.

Finally, a tinge of pink appeared which soon expanded. I guess I was just too impatient. Now, they are the size of dinner plates with lovely pink centers.



When I planted these cabbages, I really didn’t have high expectations for them. Now, they have definitely surprised me. I am so glad I gave something new a chance.

Not This Year

“Not This Year”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Even though we live in a mild winter climate here on the Gulf Coast, we still can get some pretty cold weather.  Mostly, however, our winters tend to be very chilly with the occasional hard freeze.  Because of this mild weather, our gardens never really go dormant, and when winter finally arrives, we still have flowers.

This year the winter temperatures have been colder than normal.  Starting in the late fall, we have had an extended period of very cold weather (for us that is) with several light freezes.  This has caused many winter flowers to delay their blooming.  The paperwhites I have planted in the garden usually bloom around Thanksgiving.  This year, however, they didn’t show up until almost Christmas.

Usually, the Iceberg roses that are planted with the paperwhites  are still putting out a few flowers to complement the small flowers at their bases, but not this year.  (It is nice to have them blooming together because if a freeze is predicted, I will cut the roses and paperwhites for an indoor arrangement.)

The “Jetfire” narcissus which usually blooms in December has buds but no open flowers yet.  The daffodils I planted this past fall would normally have foliage showing by now, but not this year.

Every year in the garden is different to some degree, but this year is starting out as a “not this year” sort of year.  I hope this is not a harbinger of how the rest of the year will be.


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

Serndipity – good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries. When I purchased my yellow violas, I certainly had good luck in an unexpected discovery. One of the violas turned out to be different from all the other solid yellow ones. I discovered this weekend that one plant turned out to be yellow with brown top petals.



I think the brown top petals look like little ears – a la Mickey Mouse. Usually, when a “wrong” color on a plant shows up, I am a little upset if I am planning a sweep of one color, but this little viola doesn’t upset me since it so cute.



It is recommended that you buy plants that are not in bloom as these are usually stronger plants, but if you want particular colors, you must buy plants with some flower color showing. I have been disappointed too many times with clashing colors, so now I only buy plants with flowers. In buying flats of plants though, not every plant will be in bloom. But, in this flat of yellow violas, I am glad this little viola showed up.

No More Cold Weather?

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

The second week of January is traditionally when our coldest weather appears here in South Louisiana, but this year, December brought extreme cold for us. This week rain and mild temperatures are predicted, and it looks like the same for next week. While our last freeze date is March 1st, it is rare to get hard freezes after January.

The last week has been rather mild, and signs of life are already appearing. New sprouts are starting to show, and even the yellow hibiscus, after being protected from the cold, had a flower. Speaking of flowers, a new one has shown up in the garden to cheer up the gray, rainy days.



While the paperwhite narcissus have been blooming for over a month, this is the first of the yellow narcissus to show up. Last January, these didn’t start blooming until the very end of January. I am hoping this is a sign that the extreme cold weather of this winter is over.

Too Early

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

It’s too early for Christmas; thanksgiving hasn’t arrived yet. Tell that to Yuletide, a sasanqua camellia that just started blooming in my garden.



This is still a fairly small bush since it has not been in the garden very long, and it is one of my favorite sasanquas. I first saw it in an article in Southern Living magazine, and I just had to have one. The first one I bought was not blooming but had three Yuletide markings or labels, but it still turned out to be another variety which was very disappointing. The next year, I found a Yuletide in bloom (which is the only way I would have bought it) and was so happy to finally have a correct one.

Even though it has started blooming in mid-November, if it flowers as it did last year, there will still be flowers come Christmas. I have this bush planted in a fairly large container so I am able to place it by the front door to add to the holiday decorations.

I guess after next week it will be time to think of Christmas. Yuletide just seems to be a little ahead of me.


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

108. That’s the number of bedding plants that I planted today.

My sister and I went on what we call our “garden field trip.” This is when we travel away from where we live to buy plants. About forty to fifty miles away are nurseries that seem to carry different plants than are available around home. Some of these nurseries are much bigger than the ones here, so there is more variety in plants.

One of the first plants I picked out is a sansanqua camellia, Cotton Candy. It is a lovely pink and will fit in nicely in the “pink” garden. I like the sansanquas because they start blooming in the fall and into early winter when there often can be little blooming in the garden.



We visited two nurseries in the Baton Rouge areas, and both had bedding plants in six packs. Last year, I could only find two inch pots of the bedding plants, and since I would need so many, it was cost prohibitive to plant as I usually would. I don’t know if it is the economy or what, but this Saturday, the six packs were plentiful. Because of our fairly mild winters, we plant cool season annuals in the fall, and since our ground never freezes, the roots continue to develop. Which means that come spring time, we have good size plants that bloom profusely. If you wait until February or so to plant, you do need the four inch pots because planting that late means you need the bigger plants a four inch pot provides. Anyway, I am just glad they brought back the six packs as this means I was able to plant several areas that I didn’t last year, and then those areas of the garden will be looking extra nice come spring.

For bright, cheery flowers, you just can’t beat the pansy family. The last few years, I have been planting only violas because they seem to give more color. Those hundreds of blooms make up for the small size of the flower. I really like the panolas the best, but I haven’t found them as readily as violas or pansies. There were some available this Saturday, but they were mixed colors, and I like to plant only one color in an area so I went with the violas. I always put yellow flowers in the circle garden because I love the way their bright color cheers up those gray winter days.



The entry garden’s color scheme is red and purple. Usually, I plant dark red and dark purple petunias in the fall. Last year, I only had the dark purple because I couldn’t find the dark red ones I like. This year, same problem. No dark reds. So, I have decided to go with white petunias. Maybe they will look like snow this winter. I think I will like the white better come springtime. I have missed having lighter colors when spring arrives even though the red and purple make a great combination.



Finally, comes the snapdragons. I’ve learned from my sister to always choose fall bedding plants with spring in mind. Since these plants will really shine then, it is better to plant spring colors, even though it is fall with winter approaching. With that in mind, I choose to purchase light pink snapdragons. They are a lovely color and will look great in the “pink” garden.



I finished planting as darkness was falling, so there are no photos of how these look in the garden. I will try and get some pictures tomorrow to post. Even though the plants are small, they still look good and bring that promise of springtime color.

Getting Back to Normal

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

Looks like we are finally starting to get back to normal, garden wise. The cold weather of late December/early January really did a number on the garden. I had damage to plants that had always pulled through our cold weather before with no problem. But, now, finally we seem to on track. We still are getting cool weather, but only our normal lows. This weekend was the first time I was able to get out in the garden.

I had two Blushing Knockout roses to plant, but before I could plant them, I had to dig up and transplant a small lorepetlum. Just being out in the sunshine and being able to dig in the ground really lifted my spirits.

What I also found encouraging was the new blooms I found in the garden. The lorepetlum are blooming.



The winter honeysuckle is also blooming. It must have started earlier this week, but with all the rain, I was unable to get out in the garden. This, along with the forsythia, are the first plants to break dormancy and bloom.



It is amazing to me how just these little flowers are able to get me thinking of spring and planning what to do next in the garden.

More Flowers, Please

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


Camellia Debutant


The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts that are well out of proportion to their size.
Gertrude S. Wister.




I think we would all agree with Gertrude just about now. Getting a taste of a few flowers makes me want to be just like Oliver Twist. “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Freeze Comeback

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

Our warm, mild weather has returned, and it is so nice to be back to normal, if not a little warmer than usual. I have been enjoying our high 60’s temperature after the recent cold. More freeze damage has shown up, but I don’t think that too many plants may be actually dead.

One sign that those subfreezing temperatures didn’t damage too much is our blooming camellias. Those buds that were still closed have opened with no damage.



With so much of our garden cut back by the cold weather, it is nice to have the camellias blooming as normal. They certainly are standing out this year with little or no competition after the freeze stopped other plants from blooming.

Camellia Blooms for Christmas

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


The sasanqua camellias have been blooming for several weeks now, but today, just in time for Christmas, our big pink japonica camellia had its first bloom open.



What a wonderful Christmas present from Mother Nature.

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