Planting Today

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

One of the nice things about having some time off for Thanksgiving is that it allows me some time in the garden.  Two weekends ago, I bought some violas and had time to plant only about a third of theme when the rains came.  Today, I will be out planting the rest.  I am determined that today will be a garden day.

I have had better luck the last few years with violas instead of pansies, so this year it will be all violas.  One thing that surprised me was how limited the selection of cool season bedding plants there was this year.  I guess with the economy, retailers have cut back on their stock.  Because of this, I am beginning to wonder if I ought to consider growing more plants from seeds for this spring to get the colors, etc. that I need.

But, like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about that another day.  Right now, I am going to be thankful that today, I can enjoy being outside planting my favorite flowers.


Mid-Winter Pick Me Up

“Mid-Winter Pick Me Up”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

As I have stated before, I don’t buy Amaryllis bulbs for Christmas blooms.  I wait and pot them up just before or just after Christmas so that they will bloom in mid-winter when a dash of color is really needed.  The last two weeks have been extremely deary days around here – clouds, rain, cold temperatures.  Down here in the Gulf Coast, we are used to warmer, sunnier days.

The Pink Diamond amaryllis I bought months ago and planted after Christmas already had a bloom stalk showing.  It quickly grew and displayed its buds which soon was showing a hint of color.  It wasn’t until last week that I could tell it was going to be pink.  (I have had several instances of a plant’s bloom not being what it was labeled.)  The recent cold weather slowed the opening of the buds to a crawl.  Finally, last night when I checked on the flowers, one flower was almost fully opened.  Today, it was open enough to show its true beauty.


This flower, with its gorgeous, dark pink blooms, certainly lifts my spirits.  I am glad I waited to plant these bulbs since they now give a much needed mid-winter pick me up.

Update:  I don’t think this amaryllis is Pink Diamond.  After looking at the label that came with it, there should be a white star in the center.  I have a feeling this is Pink Surprise instead.  I guess I may have to wait until it blooms again to be sure because sometimes the first flowers of a plant is not exactly like they will be when it is better established.  Either way, I like the color of this amaryllis and am not disappointed if it turns out to be something besides Pink Diamond.

Good Neighbors

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

At this time of year the neighbor’s garden is giving us a wonderful borrowed view.  I have already posted about her redbud tree that is already in bloom.  Well, right next to our property line are several, large Camellia bushes that are just covered in blooms.  Even though they are not ours, we do get to enjoy some very pretty flowers.




My neighbor is very generous and doesn’t mind if I pick a few of her camellias.  At this time of year, there is nothing that brightens a home more than camellias floating in a low bowl.  It is a simple but lovely way to display these very pretty winter flowers.


These flowering shrubs certainly make very good neighbors.

Peak Season

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


Camellias are reaching their peak blooming season here in the southern part of Louisiana.  The sasanquas start blooming in the fall, and the japonicas start in early winter.   Starting about the second week of January, most of the camellias sport a full flush of blooms. 


Our oldest camellia was a big when we bought our house and now is close to twenty feet tall.  This past weekend it was covered in blooms.  Just recently I saw an article with a camellia that looked just like this one, so I think mine is called Lady Clare.  Whenever it blooms, it reminds me of our first winter here and the christening of our daughter.  It was blooming on that day, and I brought in some to float in a bowl for decoration.




My neighbor’s red camellia is also in bloom.  This one, too, has been here a long time, at least thirty-five years.  It is near the shared property line, and even though it is not in our garden, we are able to enjoy its blooms.




Debutant has become my favorite over the last few years.  It is an old-fashioned camellia with a lovely frilly form and the prettiest pink color.




So, even though it is the winter, we are lucky to have such lovely blooms gracing our gardens.


Signs of Spring?

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


What am I seeing?  Signs of an early spring?  Already in January? Our coldest weather is traditionally the second week of January, and so far temperatures are hitting almost 80 degrees.  A cool front is expected in a few days, but no extremely cold weather.  We still could get some freezing, but hard freezes usually don’t occur, except rarely, after January.  With that being said, I am starting to see signs of spring-like growth.  Everything seems to be almost a month ahead of last year.  There are many plants that seem to be breaking dormancy already.


The evergreen daylilies are already flush with new growth.  While they never really die back completely, this year they are bigger than ever before with new leaves showing everyday.




The sweet almond shrub is already showing flower buds.  Since this shrub has been in the garden only one year, I am not sure if this is early or not, but I believe it is a tad early for blooms to be starting.




I’ve already written about a few of the daffodils, forsythia, and leatherleaf mahonia flowering early.  This started being a strange time in the garden in mid-summer with plants blooming early.  Then, fall was way cooler than normal with flowers off normal bloom time.  Early winter was weird too, with colder than normal temperatures and even snow.   Looks like late winter in 2009 may be continuing this earlier than normal bloom period, too.  I just hope this doesn’t mean that the hot summer weather will show up early, too.

A Winter Winner

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


Last year Phillip of Dirt Therapy wrote post about the wonderful aroma of winter honeysuckle, and within a few weeks I ran across one at a nursery, picked it up, and promptly planted it.  Today, as I was getting the newspaper, I smelled the most wonderful lemony aroma.  It was the winter honeysuckle with just a few blooms showing, but the fragrance was unbelievable.  It was sweet but not cloying or overpowering.


This is a deciduous shrub, but mine has not lost all its leaves this year.  It is a fairly nondescript shrub most of the time, but its fragrance in winter makes this a winner.




These are unopened buds, but they should be perfuming the garden very soon.




This is what an opened flower looks like.  My plant is only about 2-3 feet high, and it should grow to about 5-6 feet tall.  I can’t wait for it to grow larger and be more established so that there will be more wonderful flowers.


Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), besides its outstanding fragarance, grows in sun or partial shade, has an upward growth habit, blooms in winter and is hardy to zone to zone 5.  What more could you ask for in a winter bloomer? 


Thanks, Phillip for writing about this shrub.  I think it is making a great addition to my garden.

Winter Interest

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


With all the warm weather we had last week, the leatherleaf mahonia, that was here when we moved in, has started showing its blooms.  It usually blooms in mid January, so it is only a little early in showing its flowers this year.  You can see in the picture below that it won’t be too long before the little yellow flowers open.  It is nice to have another flowering winter shrub around, and I am starting to appreciate this particular plant more and more.  It thrives on neglect, takes shade, and adds interesting texture and color.




The flowers, borne on five inch racemes, quickly turn into frosty-looking blue berries which the birds adore.  In fact, the berries rarely last past ripening before they are devoured by hungry cardinals and blue jays.  The distinctive foliage is another plus – spiney, compound leaflets on horizontal stems.


Because of its coarse texture, this shrub is better as an accent plant especially in a shady area.  In fact, I am thinking about trying to root some cuttings to place in the side yard where I have some winter honeysuckle.  Having these two plants blooming in late winter might be a good combination, and the contrasting foliage would give extra winter interest to basically a green area.  I guess that is something to think about doing in 2009.

Purple Sweetie

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


Here is another sweet little viola that is blooming in the garden right now.  I have already posted photos of the yellow, white, and the white and purple violas that I planted about a month ago.  They all seem to be doing very well.  These bright little flowering plants are hardy here in the coastal south.

One thing about pansies and violas is that they are heavy feeders.  They need a shot of liquid fertilizer about every two weeks.  When it is cold outside, it is hard to start working with liquids.  Nothing chills the hands like the combination of water and cold temperatures.  One thing which helps delay the need for liquid fertilizing, that I learned from my father, is to sprinkle blood meal around these plants when you are first planting them.  It gives them the boost they need, and you can wait a little longer before dragging out the hose, filling up a watering can with icy water, and trudging out in the cold to apply liquid fertilizers.  Of course, the blood meal also allows you to delay fertilizing for a little while in the hopes of a warm spell showing up.

This little purple sweetie is a great addition to the other violas and a wonderful winter flower.  I can hardly wait for all of them to get bigger and really start putting out the blooms.

Winter Annuals

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

It is that time of year when it is time for winter annuals to be planted in the Gulf South.  In the past, I have put in petunias, pansies, and snapdragons in the flower beds and violas in containers.  All of these are winter hardy here and last until May.

This year I don’t think I am going to put out as many of these winter annuals as before.  I am thinking more of placement for just spot color.  Today, I bought a flat of yellow violas to place in the circle garden.  This is the garden that is mostly yellow flowers.  I am trying the violas this year because I think they will do better than the pansies I planted last year there.  I was a little disappointed in the pansies I planted there last year because many of them died and the rest did not bloom very well.  Usually, every thing I plant there does extremely well in the winter.  I am hoping it was just bad plants and that this year the violas will do fine.

I chose violas this year because even though the flowers are smaller than the pansies’ flowers, they do have more blooms and spread more.  What I really wanted to get was the panolas which are a cross between a viola and a pansy.  They bloom profusely like violas, but the flowers are a little larger more like a small pansy.  Unfortunately, not many places seem to be selling them.

Whenever I plant pansies or violas, I always sprinkle some bloodmeal around the plants and then water it in.  I learned this from my dad who always did this and had gorgeous pansies.  These plants are heavy feeders, and the bloodmeal gets them off to a good start.

I haven’t decided what I am going to do in the rest of the garden, but I guess I need to decide soon (like this week).  I will at least put in some winter annuals in the entry garden.  I usually put in red and purple petunias there, but I saw some nice purple violas this morning, so I may put in them with the red petunias.  Decisions, decisions.

Winter Blooms

This post, “Winter Blooms” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

It has been cold all day, but these pictures I shot certainly brighten things up.  Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for starting Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  So these are my first pictures for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

2008-112-red-camillia-reduced-v2-022.jpgRed Camellia

2008-112-elva-amaryllis-reduced-v2003.jpgElva Amaryllis

copy-2-of-2008-112-red-gerbera-reduced-v2-019.jpg Gerber Daisy

The red Camellia is part of the “borrowed” landscape.  It is in my neighbor’s yard, but, because of its placement, I get to enjoy it more than she does.

The Elva amaryllis is the same as I posted earlier in the month, but now, with some cooler temperatures, it is pinker.  I like it this way better.

Last spring I planted red Gerber daisies in the entry garden, and they have not really stopped blooming.  In fact, I can see that they seem to be putting out a new spurt of blooms.  By the end of the week I should have flowers on just about every plant.  Also, I can see where a few have multiplied.  This has really been a success story.

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