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.


Got My Ducks in a Row

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

I am trying out something new this year.  Baby Duck yellow petunias.  Here in the Gulf South, we use petunias as winter annuals.  My sister had these petunias last year in her garden, and they were fantastic.  These petunias have small flowers (1-1 1/2 inches), but the flowers are numerous.  This is a spreading petunia, and if my sister’s experience is typical, these plants are vigorous and should be placed at least 15 inches apart.  They are supposed to spread 3 feet and do require more frequent feedings than the typical petunia.

But it is the masses of soft yellow flowers that is the real selling point.  The trumpet shaped flowers have a yellow throat which fades to white at the flower’s edge. These are great in a hanging baskets or in a bed in the landscape.  I planted mine in a bed where in the spring there will be mostly pink flowers, so I think these little petunias will look fine.


Today, I had the day off and finally was able to get all my Baby Ducks in a row.

Red Berries

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



In the late winter, I was amazed to find how many red-berried plants I have.  I just never realized that there were so many on our property.  When we moved in there were some nandinas already here.  They were placed along the both sides of the house.  I pretty much just left them alone.  The occasional freeze would cause them to loose all their leaves, but they always seemed to pop back.  I never have watered or fertilized them.  In fact I have just ignored these plants.  They grow in shade most of the day, but lately they have put on a show-stopping display of berries.  I know that nandinas are pretty common (too common some say), but the crimson berries do brighten the deary winter days, and the birds enjoy them.

Another red-berried plant that is showing off right now is the Christmas Ardisia (ardisia crenata).  The plants I have are all volunteers.  They grow in deep shade, partial shade, and are drought tolerant.  I noticed that these plants had come up in the garden about six years ago.  They have white flowers in the spring which give rise to green berries that turn a bright red in the winter and  remain through the summer.  I know that they can be invasive in some areas, but I haven’t found that to be the case here.  They really can brighten up the shady areas.

Christmas Ardisa

Christmas Ardisa

We also have four Burford holly bushes.  They also are putting on a beautiful display.  We put them in about 25 years ago.  They are dwarf Burford hollies.  We planted them in a raised brick planter in front of the house.  However, there were no tags on them, and being an inexperienced gardener, I didn’t know that the dwarf ones get to be five to six feet.  Needless to say, we ended up moving them to a more appropriate spot away from the house.  They have worked out well though because they can take some shade and do not need male and female plants as some hollies do.  They also make long-lasting holiday wreaths and arrangements.  Hollies are also interesting in the spring; their hundreds of tiny white flowers attract bees, and we all know how important it is to do everything we can to help the honey bees.

I feel that these red-berried plants do add a great deal to the winter garden.  They add color, form and structure when it is needed most.