A Good Year for Azaleas

This is a gorgeous time of year in SE Louisiana, and the azaleas are blooming vigorously. By my memory, this azalea display in 2021 is much better than last year’s. To bloom their best, azaleas typically need 4-8 weeks of temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the preceding winter. So, I wondered whether a mild …

Grandiflora Rose – Queen Elizabeth

Grandiflora roses are crosses between Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses. They combine desirable characteristics of the two lines. Their well-shaped blooms on long stems are inherited from the Hybrid Teas, while their hardiness and repeat blooming come from the Floribunda side. The Queen Elizabeth rose was the first Grandiflora rose. It was introduced in 1954 …

Sweetgum Balls

The American Sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) is the second most common tree in Louisiana forests (the most common is the Loblolly Pine). Sweetgums are also plentiful in our local suburban landscape despite a significant drawback, the spiny seed-carrying balls that fall from their branches by the hundreds this time of year. The sweetgum is a …

Japanese Camellia

The Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), is one of two camellias commonly used as ornamental shrubs in the southern United States. The other common camellia is the Sasanqua camellia, which has smaller blooms and leaves. In SE Louisiana the Japanese camellia has recently begun blooming in early January, just as the earlier-blooming Sasanquas are finishing flowering. …

Sasanqua Camellia

Camellias are evergreen shrubs native to south and eastern Asia. The most economically important species of camellia is Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. Dried leaves of this camelia are very familiar because of their use to brew tea. Two other species of camelia are common ornamental bushes in warmer regions of the United States. Camellia …

Bee Balm with Insects

During these last days of July our blooming bee balm plants (Monarda fistulosa) have been a hive of activity for insects and an occasional hummingbird. The hummingbirds were too skittish to capture in a photo, but the insects were too busy to notice my presence. Two-spotted Bumblebees When the sun is out two-spotted bumble bees …

Gardenia and Star Jasmine

Eastern Band-Winged Hover Fly on Gardenia bloom The “Insect ID” app identifies the insect on this gardenia bloom as a Eastern Band-winged hover Fly, Ocyptamus fascipennis. Hoverflies have mimicked the body shape of wasps and hornets, but are actually harmless. They are beneficial to garden plants because they feed on aphids and serve as pollinators.