Mishmash

Still hot and dry – typical summer here.  However, we’re blessed with some plants that thrive in hot weather.

A pot of annual Periwinkles brighten a mostly shady spot.  Behind it is a pot of Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus).

White Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri) draws lots of butterflies.

Most of these are Queens.

This is not a pretty picture, but its purpose is to illustrate how important it is to plant trees properly.  The root flare is correct.

This is a quote from the Dirt Doctor, Howard Garrett, from a Dallas newspaper article:

“Truth is – the single most important condition for a tree’s health is being planted high with the root flare dramatically exposed. This simple factor reduces stress in trees and basically eliminates pest problems including powdery mildew, black sooty mold, aphids, white scale insects, borers and other insect pests and diseases.”

However, this one is planted too low.

“A tree’s flare being covered by anything is unnatural and unhealthy. Root flares (trunk flares might be a more appropriate term) are transition zones and more part of the trunks than roots. When properly exposed they are able to breathe. When covered by ground covers and vines or any kind of soil or mulch – including gravel or stones – the flare cannot breathe properly, stress sets in and pest problems result. The reason crape myrtles aren’t dying all around is that they are incredibly tough and can tolerate the abuse to a degree. However, crape myrtles planted too deeply will have to be treated for pests more often, grow slower and flower less.”

Could be the reason this particular Crape Myrtle isn’t blooming well.

Although they’re not seen in this picture, hummingbirds and bees have been dancing in this Desert Bubba Willow (Chilopsis linearis) .  Just flitting from flower to flower enjoying the sweet nectar.

Pollinators of all sorts dine at this Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).

Gardening is fun, but it’s also hard work.  Knowing the tricks of the trade helps us be a success.  One way to do this is to take advantage of gardening videos on line.  With the current situation, we’ll home more, so we can use that time to learn.  I enjoy them all, but it’s most helpful to find those filmed in your own area or state.

“My barn has burned down, and now I can see the moon”   Japanese haiku

Crape Myrtles

In the summertime, Crape Myrtles are the ornamental tree or shrub for the south.  Many different spellings of Crape Myrtles seem to be acceptable.

In 2006, the year after we moved here, we planted three Dynamite Crape Myrtles.  These were my first ever Crape Myrtles.

This variety was chosen because I wanted a deep red bloom.  It’s interesting that some are actually deep red but others are a lighter pinkish.

Crape Myrtles survive both droughts and humility making it perfect for the damper areas of the deep south and the long periods without rain here in hot, dry Texas.

This corner of the yard has 2 Crape Myrtles of two different varieties.

Planted in 2012, Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is the tallest of all Crape Myrtle.  They can grow to 30′ tall.

The two shorter trees are Centennial Spirit Crapemyrtle (Lagerstoemia indica ‘Centennial Spirit’) which were planted in 2015.  I actually went looking for this specific Crape Myrtle and found them in the Metroplex.

Imagine my disappointment at their performance.  They have grown a little taller, but hardly ever bloom.  When they do bloom, it’s just a few little flowers.

A good place to see different varieties of Crape Myrtles is McKinney, Texas, which calls itself the the Crape Myrtle Capitol of Texas.

Other lists are available one-line.

This Black Diamond Crapemyrtle was planted in 2016.  The foliage started out black, but new branches have reverted to green leaves.  Even though it’s in a flowerbed, it gets full sun.  That’s essential for Crapemyrtles.

In another bed, Victor Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) was planted in 2013. Unfortunately, some other shrubs around it have grown really tall and full.  So, they crowd out the sunlight.  There’s a few blooms each year.  The roots are intertwined with other shrubs, so it can’t be removed.  Poor planning on my part.

Now, to my very favorite Crape Myrtle – “Alamo Fire” Red Crepe Myrtle, which was planted in 2016.  Immediately it began to bloom.

The blooms are so large and gorgeous.

We bought three at a flower show in San Antonio.  The guy selling them was a friend of the hybridizer.  I don’t think they’ve ever gone on the market.  And they were so cheap.  He tried to get me to buy more, but I didn’t think I had room.

Yes, I’ve kicked myself many times since then.

This year I found a small pot of Barista Crapemyrtle.  It’s doing amazing well and grown to about 8 inches and is already blooming.

The branches should be trimmed a little in late winter since they bloom on new growth.  But they should never be chopped off at the top.  Don’t commit ‘Crepe Murder.’  it’s not only wrong in Charlotte, it’s against the law.  Maybe we need that law in Texas.

“Who is the happiest of men?  He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even though t’were his own.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Pink Hues

Summertime’s heat and strong sun has taken a toll on plants.  It’s hard to keep everything watered.

However, these climbing rose bushes are hardy.

This one with pale pink flowers is an old fashioned or antique rose.

Crinums are some hardy bulbs.  They thrive in the southern part of the US.

Ellen Bosanquet Crinum Lilies grow from large bulbs that multiply freely.  Their deep, rich color is spectacular.  No care needed.  Just a little water, but bulbs have survived for years in abandoned home sites.

Perennial Dianthus ‘Raspberry Surprise’ is a joy to see each spring.  They also bloom all summer but do better in partial shade.

Even though this is a Texas Purple Sage, the flowers look more pink than purple to me.  It’s also called Texas Barometer Bush and Texas Silverleaf (Leucophyllum frutescens).  Some bushes do have a true purple color flower.

This sage can survive dry desert conditions, but It only blooms after a rain shower.  We had a quick one a few weeks ago.

When plants come up that I don’t recognize, it’s a mystery.  Maybe it’s my memory, but sometimes I’m sure that I did not plant that particular plant.

For instance, this flower growing close to the ground.  For weeks, I watched the deep dark purple foliage trying to guess what it was.  Then, voila, one morning this gorgeous flower appeared.

Certainly, it was a nice surprise but I like to put a name with a plant.  It certainly looks like a Rose Mallow.  An internet search makes me think that it’s a Hibiscus ‘Dark Mystery’ rose mallow.

Another surprise in this same flowerbed.  To the left are leaves from a Amaryllis.  At first I thought that’s what this was, but it’s definitely too hot for that, and there’s no foliage.

So I think it’s a Naked Lady.  A little research showed it to be a Naked Lady or Surprise Lily (Amaryllis Belladonna).  Aptly named.  The foliage dies and then the stem grows.  They bloom in the summer.  Mystery solved.  Since it’s a bulb, I guess I did plant it.  Crazy.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms.” unknown

Native and Adapted Plants

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas A&M Extension Agents have been on a mission for years.  They have been preaching about the benefits of native plants.  They also add that many plants have adapted well to our climate.

Native plants are winter hardy, evergreen, or spread seeds.  So that means they survive to grow and bloom in season.  Native also means that it grows naturally in your area.  However, many natives that are not in your immediate vicinity do well in your climate.

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) can be seen occasionally in our pastures.  But they are much more prolific further south.  But they survive our winters.

These look like tulips, but they open up more later in the morning.

Both of these plants were bought at the same time, but one flower is a deeper purple than the other one.  I’ve had both of these for several years.  Their seeds have not produced other plants.  Mystery.

There are vastly different regions in Texas.  Rainfall varies from 54 inches annual average in the east to 10 inches in the west.  Soils range from acidic to alkaline and from sand to clay to caliche to loam.  Winter temperatures, plus rainfall, and soils make native plants area specific.  Sometimes, I try to stretch it, but end up having too many pot plants to carry inside.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dudecandra) is one of those natives that pops up all over the yard.

A friend gave me seeds years ago.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads by underground rhizomes, but it’s fairly slow.  This has been here 10 or more years.

It’s surprising how well this thin leafed plant does in full sun or shade.

Love the turban flowers.

Iron Weed ((Veronia baldwinii fasciculata) seeds were given to me about 5 years ago.  So it also spreads slowly.

The blooms don’t last a long time.  They do grow in the ditches not too far away.

Sages are great performers in our area.  I have a flower bed full of Henry Duelburg Salvia or Mealycup Sage (Saliva farinacea).  The wind blew some seeds into a field nearby, so I dug them up and put them in several pots.  Some were taken to a club plant sale.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a Texas native.  However, the ones I’ve noticed around here are not as large as the ones I have bought.  Pollinators love this plant.

Passion Vine is also a Texas native.  Don’t think they grow naturally in our area but are well-adapted.

It actually has a tropical look.

Gregg’ Mistflower, more commonly known as Blue Mistflower, (Conoclinium greggii) is a Texas native that grows gangbusters here.  To the left is Mexican Petunia that is so well adapted that it’s invasive.

One of the best plants to attract butterflies is Bluemist Flower.

There are many, many more Texas natives that do well in a home landscape.  If chosen carefully, they can be successful and bring beauty to the yard.

”When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”  Chief Tecumseh

Red Hot

High temperatures have finally arrived.  So thankful for the mild June we had.  But, of course, it is July.  So we’re due for heat.

Backdraft Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia hybrid) by Proven Winners makes a bold statement.

These are not particular about soil and are fairly drought tolerant.

The flowers last a pretty long time.  Each clump produces several stems.

The red balls are Strawberry Fields Gomphrena or Amaranth (Gomphrena haageana).  Their bold color provides some oomph to the yard.  These are great re-seeders.

Black Diamond Crapemyrtle with its black leaves makes a good backdrop for green foliage.

Texas Mahonia (Mahonia B. swaseyi) with its red and orange red berries fits right in with the other colors and pulls it all together.  Not really planned that way – just a lucky accident.

Frans Hals Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Frans Hals’) is blooming.  It’s one of the shorter stemmed daylilies.  Like the bold colors.

Atom Gladiolus are shorter than most gladiolas, so they don’t fall over as much.  The flowers are also smaller.  But the silver white outline around the petals give then a unique look.

Good old fashioned Canna Lilies given to me by a friend years ago.  They slowly multiply and are dependable to bloom every year.  These are at the outer edge of the yard and don’t get much water and certainly no care.

Happy Independence Day – July the 4th.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela

Visit to Chandor

Since Chandor Gardens is now part of the Weatherford Parks Department, they are responsible for its maintenance.  Kudos to them.  It is always pristine and well cared for and no weeds, which is quite a feat.One of my favorite things is this gate.  It was a gift to Chandor.  I’m amazed how well the grapes have kept their color over the years.

Just imagine how much this would cost today.  The detail is exquisite.

Like the brick border to this flowerbed.

The bridge over a small pond is one of the well known landmarks of this garden.

Foo dog statues are scattered through out the garden.  They became popular in Chinese Buddhism and were used in imperial palaces and tombs.  I always wondered why they don’t look like dogs.  So I looked it up. They are not dogs but lions.  Chinese name is “shi”, which means lion.

Because shade is predominate, there are few flowers in the garden.  Just enough light for a day lily in this spot.

Glass decorative pieces look like Chuhily, but those might be too pricey for this garden.  I do love his work and go to his exhibitions anytime we’re near them.

Nice use of Coleus.

These look like Easter Lilies.

Chandor’s originial house is on the right.  It’s only open to the public for special events.

This little statue always makes me think of Napoleon.  But Chandor was British, so it’s probably Lord Nelson.

This long, arched entrance leading to the house is impressive. The brick work looks old.  It probably requires repairs often.

It’s surprising to see Spider Plants or Airplane Plants (Chorophytum comosum) planted in the ground.  They are usually in pots or hanging baskets.  But since annals are used to fill in spots at this garden, I guess workers just lift them out and put them in the green house for winter.

Spider Plants are native to South Africa, but are used often in our area because they do well in the heat.

Thanks for reading about our visit to this garden.

“Humility makes you disappear, which is why we avoid it.”                                               Paul E. Miller from “A Praying Life”

Chandor Gardens

A visit to a cool garden was just what the doctor ordered.  Weatherford, Texas, possesses an old private garden that is now owned by the city.  During this time of isolation, most of us need a little distraction.

We expected it to be mostly unoccupied on a weekday.  And it was.  We saw another couple and some workers off in another part of the garden.

Chandor Gardens was owned and created by an Englishman, Douglas Chandor.  He and a hired hand toiled for years to achieve this diverse, spectacular space.  In 1939, a newspaper article featured his garden.   He hoped to encourage other gardeners to dream big.

A favorite theme for Mr. Chandor was Chinese art, so it’s displayed all over the garden.

He created this fountain with many found objects.  In recent years, renovation was required because some parts were crumbling.

Two rows of coke bottles encircle the fountain.  A bottom row is made from glass construction blocks or glass bricks.  Very creative.  He was an artist, after all.

Walls were created from stones and bricks.  Not sure if this was done because there were different levels naturally or if soil was brought in to create different levels.

Boxwood hedges provided small secluded areas.

A brick wall at the back of the property separates it from another property, creates privacy and provides a backdrop for some features.

Because most of the garden is in shade or partial shade, annual plantings provide color and interest along the pathways.  Here, two different types of Coleus draw ones eyes down at this spot.

The gnarled branches of this old Cedar has become a sculpture to be seen from a lower path and an upper one.

Just as I stepped onto the first stepping stone, one of the carp or gold fish executed a flop, splashing water up.  Don’t know who was more startled:  me or the fish.

This pond is shallow with the stepping stones attached to the bottom.  They’re sturdy but disconcerting because it looks deeper than it is.

The pink Pentas or Egyptian Stars (Pentas lanceolata) contrast with the greenery for an attractive display in a stone urn.  Pentas are tropical flowers from Africa and the Arabian peninsular and are thus, annuals.

Several fountains throughout the gardens are calming with their sounds.  Water also just visually has a cooling effect.

Several shady areas have benches and seats to allow for rest and contemplation.  Tall Magnolias in this area are stunning.

Just being outside, especially in a pretty garden, is relaxing and calming for one’s soul.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”  Peter Marshall

Blooms before Blast

It’s coming.  We all know it’s coming.  That blazing inferno that we call “summer” will descend any day now.  So far, June has been mild and a joy.  The yard is full of flowers.

Rock Rose (Patonia lasipotela) is one of my favorite Texas native flowering bushes.  For some reason, I cannot get a really good picture of the whole bush.  The sun, whether early or late, bleaches out color and detail.

Covered with dainty hibiscus-like flowers , it grows in full sun and stands up well to the harsh light.  What a great perennial.

A tall border of Rose of Sharon or Althea on the east side of the yard blooms all summer long until the first freeze.  They are about 10 to 11 ft. tall with a spread of about 6 ft.

Their flowers are stunning but not a rose.  Growing up in West Texas, I was unfamiliar with hibiscus.  Now I get to have all these flowers that resemble the exotic hibiscus.

A website reports that young leaves can be eaten and that the flowers and leaves can be brewed as a tea.  Not saying that I would try that.

Native to China, it gets thumbs up here.

This David Austin rose has his trademark rose center.  Although it continues to produce gorgeous flowers, the foliage looks pitiful.  It’s practically a barren bush with pretty roses.  Not sure what’s wrong.

Another Rose of Sharon with very different flowers.  It also has a more upright column look.

This year there are more flowers than usual.

The leaves look like the other Rose of Sharon but the flowers don’t.

Also a sign of summer, this grasshopper munches on an Mr. Lincoln rose.

Blue Mist Flower covered a large section of this flower bed.  But the native Bermuda grass was choking it out.  So last fall, we dug up the plants and as many grass roots as we could get. We covered the whole area with a heavy coat of mulch.

Then we transplanted the Blue Mist into metal planters.

Viceroy Butterflies feed on Blue Mist all summer long.  Now, if we can just keep the grass from growing here.  That’s a lifelong struggle.

Hope you are enjoying these mild days of June.

“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”    James Dewar

Queen for a Day

Okay, I’m showing my age, but does anyone remember hearing about the old TV show “Queen for a Day”?  It started in the late 1940’s as a radio show and became a popular daytime TV show in in the 50’s and early 60’s.

My mother and thousands of other ladies watched as women told sob stories to be chosen as queen and receive gifts like refrigerators.  The winner was crowned, draped with a red velvet robe and placed on a throne.  She reigned for a day.

In the garden, daylilies like “Elegant Candy” (Hemerocallis ‘Elegant Candy’) reign for a day in all their splendor.  In fact, the word Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words meaning beauty and day.

Many daylilies, like this “Early Snow” grow low to the ground with the flower raised on a stem about a foot tall.

The spider shape of “Frans Hals” grows on a taller stem.  Probably named after an artist during the Dutch Golden Age with most of the best work done during the 1600’s.  Frans Hals painted mostly portraits or groups of people.

The deep color of the center of “Inwood” grabs attention.

Hardy Hibiscus in the mallow family is truly stunning.  The tissue-papery flowers may last more than a day.  I haven’t determined that.

These hibiscus are winter hardy and relatively drought tolerant with huge flowers – 8″ across.  The branches do tend to flop, so stakes are necessary.  Sorry I don’t remember the color.

The dark color of “Passion for Red”  makes it a true beauty.

Rose Mallow ‘Luna Pink Swirl’ (Hibiscus moscheutos) is cold hardy to zone 5.  It’s a keeper and a beauty.  The flowers last one day with more buds waiting to open.

Another queen for a day (or night) is Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).  It’s a Texas native that needs shade with filtered light.

The blue flowers are Black and Blue Sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’) in a pot in front of the Moon Flower.  This plant also needs semi-shade:  at least in the hot Texas sun.

“Scottish Fantasy”

“Viva la Vida” is double cross lily.  An Asiatic hybrid was crossed with a fragrant Oriental and then crossed back with another Asiatic lily.  This one doesn’t truly apply for queen for a day since its blooms last a few days.

Viva la Vida is Spanish for “Live that Life”.  There’s also a song by that name.

The last painting by Frida Kahlo in 1954 was named Viva la Vida.

I’m a big fan of bulbs, corm, and tubers like daylilies, irises, and crinums.  They’re a great investment that multiples over time.

“We might think that we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”  Jenny Uglow

Easy Peasy and Hardy

Plant choice is one of the basic principles of success in the garden.  Research and observing what does well in your area can be fun and helpful.

Crape Myrtles do really well in upper central Texas.  These are the first blooms of the season on  Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia fauriei x indica),               which is one of the tallest varieties.  It can reach 30 feet.  In 8 years, it is already about 10 ft., so this picture is taken looking up.

It was named in honor of Bill Basham, who worked for the city of Houston as a horticulturist in the 1970’s.

Vitex or Chaste (Vitex agnus-castus) woody shrubs or small trees thrive in our hot summers.  This one is growing in a flower bed, so it’s full on the bottom.

Abuzz with bees when in bloom.

The blooms are Texas’ answer to Lilacs.

This Vitex in the back yard must be mowed around, so it’s trimmed in close at the bottom.  The branches of both bushes are pruned at the top to keep it’s size fairly compact.  It can get leggy and unattractive if not pruned in late fall.

This is a different variety from the Vitex in the front yard.  Most are not specifically labeled at nurseries naming the type of Vitex, so it’s a guessing game.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) are very hardy here.  Maintenance consists of dividing the clumps every few years.

A wonderful perennial that adds brightness to borders of flowerbeds.

In a field across the driveway, we seeded wildflowers last fall.

One of my favorite ones that is successful here is American Basket Flowers (Plectocephalus americanus).  Buds may look like thistles, but Basket flower stems are not prickly.

Like most wildflowers, it reseeds very well.

Horse Mint or Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodoraCerv. ex Lag.) and Coreopsis are happy in this area.

Not all Texas wildflowers do well in every part of Texas.  Our property also has Prairie Verbena, Snow on the Mountain, and Indian Blankets.  In some years when there is more rain, Texas Bluebells can be seen.

Of course, all of these wildflowers are very drought tolerant.

If you’re like me, part of the fun is reading and hearing about plants.  And, of course, shopping for them at local plant sales and privately owned nurseries.

“Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”  Lori Deschene