Good Repeats

With so many flowers continuing to bloom, this autumn has been like a second spring.  As crazy as it sounds, cool weather in autumn is not the norm here.  It’s been a special treat this year.

The purchase of two small plants in 4″ pots made about 10 years ago has turned out to be one of my best buys.  Bright red of Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) is always a welcome sight.  Since it’s an annual that reseeds freely, large groups of it show up each spring.

A Hardy Hibiscus that was bought about 10 years ago at a garden club plant sale has proved to be a boon.  Anything with the word “hardy” (meaning cold hardy for our area) in its name can withstand our dry and hot summer, as well as our sometimes extreme cold periods.

This Oxalis or Shamrock plant has been in this same pot for about eight years.  By the end of summer, the leaves are bedraggled, but the flowers look fresh.

This Coral Honeysuckle bush (Lonicera sempervirens L.) is only three years old.   It doesn’t look as well as it did in the spring, but there are flowers for the pollinators.  Another great performer.

The plant everyone loves to complain about is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex).  It’s an aggressive spreader.  But if there’s room for it, it is hardy to the extreme and will become an old standby .  This grouping started out as one single cutting that I took twenty years ago.

Personally, I love the color of the flowers.  They are not shy about blooming.  So it has its pluses.  Mexican Petunias are native to Mexico and further south.

“Calories are tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.”  unknown

Something Old, Something New…

Something old                                                                                                                      something new                                                                                                                    something borrowed                                                                                                            something blue                                                                                                              and a sixpence in her shoe

This expression is as old as the hills, but the article in St. James Magazine in 1873 was the first known printed version.  This advice was to brides and what they should add to their attire on their wedding day.

Although the meaning of these items differs according to how far back they can be traced, these are the ones given in 1873:  Something old –  honor family and tradition; something new –  couple’s future;  something borrowed – happiness;  something blue -purity and love;  and sixpence – wish for prosperity and wealth.What does a wedding ditty have to do with gardening?  Just my way of trying to do something different.

There are lots of plants I could have chosen for “something old” but this Golden Lead Ball Tree (Leguminosae Leucaena retusa) is blooming now and has been in our yard for about 10 years.   The scruffy, twisted appearance of this small tree seems appropriate for its native environment – the wild, windy barren land of West Texas.

Right now its covered with dozens of seed pods.  They burst and drop the seeds.  However, there have been no new trees as a result.  Seeds must need scarification to germinate.

The beauty of this small multiple trunk tree shows up in the round, fuzzy bright yellow balls that appear from spring to fall depending on rain and temperature.

Something new is this gorgeous Toad Lily (Tricyrtis).  It’s a native to several countries in Asia; it prefers slightly shady and acidic conditions.  Therefore, I keep mine in a pot with loose, rich soil.

I bought it two to three years ago.  It finally bloomed.  Hooray.

This picture from the internet shows the flower structure a little better than my picture.

Something borrowed:  Autumn Joy Sedum (Sedum x ‘Herbstfreude) .  Years and years ago, I took a cutting from one of my mother’s plants.  So I guess I “borrowed” it.

This sedum blooms in the fall with these wonderful puffy clusters of pink star-shaped flowers.  This succulent is winter hardy, even in a container.  Mine are in bright, indirect light.

Yes.  I know I’m stretching my analogy, but here is my something blue.  Or maybe bluish.  Masses of this Aster can be seen in many autumn landscapes because it needs to be divided every 3 – 5 years.  Therefore, it’s a great pass-a-long plant.

Blue flowers are hard to find, but here’s a true blue from this internet picture of a Texas Bluebonnet.  Super Wow!

And a sixpence in her shoe…  Sixpence was used in England from 1551 – 1967.  So maybe a penny in her shoe.  An article addressing this old rhyme and converting it for modern day brides is interesting.

Just tried to combine two passions of mine – history and plants.  Sorry for all the internet pictures.  That’s different from my usual blogs.

Thanks for bearing with me.  Hope you’re getting to enjoy some of the things you enjoy.

“History is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul.”  Lord Acton

Ain’t Autumn Grand

Cool temps in autumn don’t bring the orange and yellow of fall foliage here, but they do bring the bright colors of flowers.  Roses rebloom, other flowers increase in number, and some newcomers shine this time of the year.

Intricate flowers of the Purple Passion Vine or Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) deserve a close inspection to see their uniqueness and beauty.  Zebra Longwing caterpillars and Gulf Fritillary caterpillars feed on passion vines.

Notice the other little flower intruding in this space.  It’s the native Morning Glory vine, which pops up everywhere and covers any surface where it’s tendrils can cling.  This vine is an aggravating, aggressive irritant in the yard.  Okay, it’s quaint growing on barbed wire out in the field, but mostly it grows in cultivated areas.

Cooler weather brings flowers galore on Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus-arboreus-var-drummondii).  What a wonderful Texas native perennial with its bright red unusual flowers and hardy in clay, rocky soil.  Glorious.

After other sunflowers have shriveled up, Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) wave their bright yellow faces in the air.  I don’t know if this actually grows in swampy areas, but it’s very drought tolerant here in our clay soil.

Jackmanii Clematis (Clematis x jackmani) is named after an English nurseryman who introduced this cultivar in 1862.  Great performer here in dry upper Central Texas.

Last year a small bush with spiky stems appeared in this bed.  I thought it was interesting and decided to leave it.  Boy, am I glad I did.

That little bush grew up into this Gayfeather.  This is not the type of Gayfeather seen in the fields in this area.  The local Gayfeather is one stem standing in a group of other single stems.  So I’m not sure of its variety or how it got here.

Bees are enjoying it.

A migrating Monarch stopped by for a snack.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this blog.  Hope you’re having a wonderful fall.

“Religion is what you are left with after the Holy Spirit has left the building.”   Bono

Still Blooming

Even the plants are tired and weary after a blazing hot summer.  But some hardy souls are still blooming.

Love Henry Duelberg Sage.  The white in the front is actually his wife, Augusta Duelberg (Salvia farinacea ‘Augusta Duelberg’).  The deep purple one is his namesake.  Found on two grave sites, the plant names honor them.

These perennials bloom from spring to winter.  I have them in pots and in the ground scattered around the yard.  Can’t have too much of a good thing.  They are a Texas native and a treasure.

Even though Rock Rose (Cistus x canescens) is native to the Mediterranean area, we Texans like to claim it as our own.  It is a great dependable perennial.  I love to look out in the morning and see those little pink flowers greeting me with a new day.

In a new flower bed, we planted three rose bushes, some small plants, and some bulbs.  Immediately, armadillos began to dig up the bulbs.  So we put up wire barriers, which have now been removed, and some large stones around the bed to discourage those little buggers.

Then I planted a few small annual Potato Vines (Ipomoea batatas) hoping to make it more difficult to get into the soil.  Boy, did they grow and cover everything.  Now I hope the few small plants will survive with no sun.  At least, gardening is a learning experience and an adventure.

It seems to take Bougainvillea forever to start blooming.  The gorgeous fuchsia-colored brackets aren’t the flowers.  The tiny white centers are the flowers.  In its own good time, it decides to put on a fantastic show.  Some fertilizer specifically for Bougainvillea helps.

This is definitely a zone 9 or hotter plant, so it has to go inside when the temperatures drop below 50.  Cut off all the long branches.  This makes it easier to carry and will help with new growth and blooming in the spring.

One of the few annuals I replace every year is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’).  It doesn’t reseed and even our mild winters are too cold.  But it adds movement and grace to the landscape.

“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some fresh air, and remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be.”  unknown

Utility Areas

Most all houses have them – those areas where gardening tools are stored or where the nitty gritty of potting, etc. are done.  Sometimes they’re screened off or hidden behind large shrubs, especially in towns or cities.

In the country, sometimes those storage places are placed at the edge of a yard or some distance from the house.

We have two identical sheds built at different times that serve gardening functions.  To make them somewhat a part of the landscape, there are some container plants around them.

Shown on the left is a pot of Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea) and Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) on the right.  Both of these are favorites because the color is bold, and both are so reliable.

Henry Duelberg, also known as Mealy Sage, is a hardy Texas native perennial.  Gomphrena, also known as Rio Grande globe amaranth, is an annual but reseeds freely.

The area around the sheds is bare ground.  On both sides of the concrete entrance to this shed, Gomphrena came up as volunteers.  The wind or birds brought the seeds from a flowerbed in the yard.

The Gomphrena has flourished here better than in the yard.  Obviously, their preference is for less water.

Several pots are displayed around the sheds.  Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetiiis) is growing in the center pot.

Blue Potato Bush or Paraguay Nightshade is an evergreen in South America.

Here, it’s proven to be a good perennial, even in a pot.  If the winter temps drop past the teens, that might not be the case.

Firebush (Hamelia patens) really is a tropical that has to be carried into the shed in the winter.  It can survive in lower Texas and never looks as lush here as it does there.

White flowered Rose Moss with White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) in a pot provides a nice blend of both plants.

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.  True power is sitting back and observing things with logic.  True power is restraint.  If words control you, that means every else can control you.  Breathe and allow things to pass.”  Warren Buffet

Surprise, Surprise

Not only have we had rains, but cool, crisp temperatures have been welcomed.  It’s way earlier than usual for below 80’s temps.  Gone were shorts and tee shirts.  Low 50 degrees brought out jackets and jeans.

Of course, that didn’t last.  Today, it’s 85.  There still some flowers to enjoy in late summer.

Appropriately named Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) is in full bloom.  This vine was brought to the US in the late 1800’s from Asia.  It has naturalized in the eastern states and is considered invasive in places that get lots of rain.  Not here.

The foliage is looking chloric this year.  Maybe some iron should be added in the spring.

One of its characteristics is the strong, sweet aroma that permeates a large area.

To be manageable, it must be cut back to the ground in the winter.  Growing quickly in the spring, the foliage will soon cover the trellis again.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) blooms in late August.  It’s considered a tropical plant but does well here if planted in a protected area.  Beautiful petite flowers cluster on arching branches.

Schoolhouse Lily or Oxblood Lily (Rhodophiala bifida) has never done really well for me.  Their bold red color exists for about a week.  One of those “it’s here – it’s gone” experiences.

South African Bulbine (Bulbine natalensis) thrive in our heat, but are only cold hardy done to 20 degrees.  So we transfer it to the shed for the winter.  It’s a succulent with the grass like structure storing water.

Rose Moss or purslane (Rhodobryum roseum) is an underused plant.  An inexpensive plant that can be put directly in the ground here.  It dies back when it freezes and will grow back in the spring.  There are lots of colors available.

It’s a super easy plant that doesn’t need much water.  In fact, it doesn’t do well in standing water, so the soil needs to drain well.

Since autumn is almost here, it’s time to start planting.   Autumn is the optimal time because plants’ roots will grow all winter and be somewhat established before summer temperatures arrive.

“Fall is summer’s flamboyant farewell.”  A.A. Fitzwilliam

Hip, Hip, Hooray

Blessings falling from heaven – 3 inches of rain.  Relief from heat and scorching sun.

This pot of Moon Flower or Jimsomweed (Datura stramonium) sits under a Chinese Pistache tree, so it’s shady most of the day.  It just keeps blooming and blooming.

One of the best things about Moon Flowers is that they produce hard seed pods with a generous amount of seeds.  If they drop off where another plant is desired, just leave them there.  Then gather the remaining pods, but watch out for the sharp points on them.

I usually put them in a uncovered container and take them inside for the winter.  Then in the spring, the pods will start to disintegrate.  Using a knife, the seeds can be scraped out.  Plant some seeds and have instant pass-a-long plants or just share the seeds.

Texas Purple Sage or Texas Ranger Sage (Leucophyllum freutescens) only blooms after rains.  This shrub is native to northern Mexico, New Mexico and the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas.

The pale colored flowers only last a few days, so the beauty is shortlived.

Most roses don’t bloom during really hot weather.  Belinda’s Dream blooms off and on from early spring until the first frost.  It doesn’t bloom heavily during the hottest days but is one of the hardiest rose bushes for our area.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native that isn’t showy until it blooms at the end of the summer.  Most of the time, it doesn’t look like much.  That’s why it’s at the back of the yard.

Then it rains and voila:  flowers and bees.

It’s flowers are fragrant and draw lots of bees.

Tropical Hibiscus may not seem worth the trouble in the center of Texas, since it has to be taken inside during the winter.  The flowers on the previous one I had were prettier than this one.  But it had been in the pot for about 14 years and was root bound.  I think I found the other one in San Angelo.

Old fashioned Geraniums were purchased at a local club plant sale 13 years ago.  They had come from someone’s grandmother in East Texas.  Each fall, I cut off some branches and root them so I’ll have some plants the following spring.

Autumn is coming – a great time to plant.

“If you are going anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books.”  Roald Dahl

“Let There Be Light”

Have you ever thought about how important light is to living things?  For some reason, probably the fact that we live where the sunlight is so bright and strong, I’ve been pondering about how the correct amount of light is needed for each plant.

Indirect light is needed for many of my pot plants because direct sun burns them to a crisp.  The strong, thorny stems of Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) make it look like it could survive out in the sun.  And it probably could in some areas, but not here.

The small flower clusters grow on a small stem at the end of the branches.  The flowers last for weeks.  Great to look at but handle carefully.  I use tongs to move any stems I cut off to propagate.

Some varieties of Coleus that have been developed in the last few years are purported to do well in full sun.  I’m just skeptical about that and put them in filtered light.

These are two of my favorite types of Coleus.  These both survived last winter in the shed, but the curly kind didn’t do as well as I had hoped.  One noted horticulturist says there is no need to overwinter some types of plants.  Just buy new ones in the spring.

My philosophy is that it’s worth it to try.  Then in the spring, buy other plants that I haven’t tried before.

Bouganvillea thrives in the heat and sun.  In fact, it seems that it takes forever to bloom in the summer.  I fertilize it and water it frequently so that it will bloom.  The bright, colorful blooms are gorgeous.

Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) is a small ornamental tree that grows as an understory tree in the wild.  It’s native to Central Texas.  This one is about 6 years old and so far, it’s done well out in full sun.

The strings of seed pods that look like black pearls form in the summertime.

One morning I got really excited because it looked like rain.  Even a rainbow in the clouds indicated moisture.  But alas, the overcast sky was gone by late morning, and it proved to be another dry day.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)  is another late summer bloomer.  This area receives last morning filtered sun.

They are native to China but have naturalized in the US.  They are edible with a mild flavor.  They were given to me, but I haven’t eaten any.  Just like their looks.

Hooray.  The berries on the American Beauty Berry plant are starting to change color.  The berries will last until a hard freeze.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

“Thoughtfulness is to a friendship what sunshine is to a garden.”  unknown

A Little Rain, Please

A brief shower does wonders for the land and for our morale.  We had two quick rains within a week.  Both of them together did not add up to an inch.  But as a result of a little rain, the temperatures are cooler and water from the sky perks everything up.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is drooping a little from the heat and isn’t blooming as much as earlier.   It’s native to southeastern US and to Texas.  One of it’s other names is Texas Mallow.  It’s a hardy perennial, even in our clay soil.

It looks like it would be difficult to get nectar from the tight blooms, but bees manage very well.

The plant dies down to the ground in the winter.  In the spring, it’s a beauty.

This Prairie Sage was planted 6 years ago, and I don’t remember where I got it.  It may be Artemisia ludoviciana, but it doesn’t look like the pictures I found on the internet.

It does spread by rhizomes but not aggressively.  Its lacy look provides a nice silvery accent in the yard.

After being in full sun all summer, these Purple Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum setaceum “Rubrum”) have lost their purple color in the plumes and foliage.

I don’t buy many annuals but consider these worth the cost.  These came in small pots.  It’s interesting that the far one did not grow as tall or full as they usually do.

This metal Roadrunner is stuck into the ground in front of a concrete planner.  Metalbird company started in New Zealand, but has an American branch.

Ixora is a tropical plant from Asia.  I’ve had one in a pot for about 18 years, which has become pretty root bound.  So I purchased another small plant.

The flowers are so pretty.  In Asia it’s grown in full sun, but here in Texas, my pots receive some sun, but not all day.  Our Death Star tends to burn leaves.

Purple Shamrock Plant or Oxalis (Oxalis regnellii) is also called Wood Sorrel.  It’s looking pretty sad at the end of the season.  The flowers are pale pink.  This one has been in this pot for many, many years and should probably be repotted into a larger pot.

Mine gets filtered light and is taken inside during the winter.  The green leafed Oxalis is considered a weed by some people, especially in the lawn.  I don’t think I would mind that.

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is another plant that needs an upgrade in pot size.  Native to South Africa, it can grow to be a large 10 ft. tall shrub there.  I’ve tried it in full sun but seems to do better in filtered or morning light.

Hope you are getting some relief from the summer heat.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”  E. B. White

Discouraged by Summer?

Weary of summer?  I certainly am.  Every year the crispy plants and hot, hot temperatures make me question why I live in upper central Texas.  But then in winter, it all feels worth it.

Reliable perennials make gardening easier.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) doesn’t mind the heat as much as I do.  Being in the shade helps.

It just keeps on blooming and stretching out with stems growing longer and longer. It is a good ground cover and so easy to root in water.  So, I just share it with anyone who wants it.

I’ve heard the flowers called Moses in a basket.  This picture doesn’t show it, but it does look like the flower is nestled in a small little boat.

Year after year, Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) has come back in the same pot.  The plant has been in this pot for about 20 years.  Even though it’s called a fern, it is not a true fern.  It’s in the family of lilies and tulips.

Semi-shade or just morning sun makes this a happy camper.

And every year, tiny little flowers bloom.  These flowers turn into red berries that contain the seeds.

Obedience Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) doesn’t even begin to bloom until August.  This year it looks sparse.  I think a vine growing in it has hindered its success.

Greggii Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii)  just keeps on giving.  The butterflies continue to land there and feed away.  A must-have plant for gardeners desiring butterflies.

I’ll end with this reminder for us all:

“When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Count Your Many Blessings hymn