Up Close

When flowers and plants become a passion, as with any hobby, then your time and money are in jeopardy.

As my love affair with roses continue, I have found another favorite:  Sheila’s Perfume Floribunda Rose.  I was a little hesitant to order a rose from Breck’s, but it arrived healthy and does have the promised aroma.

Couldn’t be happier with it.  Such a beautiful color and the scent is marvelous.

It is planted in a pot until the flowerbed is prepared.  Back-breaking work is in progress to get it ready.

Since I have discovered that I can overwinter Coleus in the shed, I’m really enjoying the different colors of them on the market.

Another Coleus and a ground cover I don’t know the name of.

After last year’s success with Petunias, I had to plant some this year.  Who knew they would last all summer and into the fall.  The Spiral Tush Curly Wurly (Juncid effusus) was saved from the pot the petunias were in last year.  Like the look of the combination of them.

The fresh look of Irises brightens up spring.  All the irises in the yard are re-bloomers, so I can enjoy them in the spring and again in the fall.

Bearded iris are my favorite.

Black Iris that I don’t remember ordering.  Senior citizen moments are frustrating.

Sweet Broom (Cytisus x spachianus) called to me as I entered Walmart.  Great marketing technique – grab shoppers’ attention even before they enter the door.  This plant needs six hours of daily sun.  Good to go there, but it is winter hardy for zone 9 – 11, so we’ll see how that goes.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are one of the few short daylilies.  I’m trying to keep up with pulling spent flowers, so they will continue to bloom.

Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are putting on a grand show.

One Hollyhock has returned.  A couple of years ago, rust spots covered them.  So they had to be dug up.  Obviously, some roots remained for this one.  So far, so good.  No sign of rust.

The Spider Worts (Tradescantias)  are just finishing their spring flowering.

I’ll just enjoy the bright color of this lone one.

Hope your springtime is filled with a chance to enjoy lots of flowers.

“The best thing about being over 40 is that we did all of our stupid stuff before the invention of the internet, so there’s no proof.”    unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Native or Not

Defining and identifying which plants are native is not easy because, first of all, there is no definitive definition.

Wikipedia definition:  “Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area (trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants). Some native plants have adapted to very limited, unusual environments or very harsh climates or exceptional soil conditions.”

Sometimes it is difficult to find natives for sale at nurseries.  This False Foxglove was growing along our county road, so I dug up a couple of clumps about four years ago.

Texas Native Plant Society defines natives as plants that were growing naturally here when the European settlers came or plants that were growing naturally in this state at the beginning of the Holocene Recent Epoch, which began about 8,000 – 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age.

Really?

Actually, in Texas we are lucky to have Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center because they have native plant sales twice a year.

Another way to get natives is from a friend or an acquaintance.  This plant came from a garden club sale.  It is Western Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) that was growing in Texas at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, and thus is considered native by some botanists.

Now, how does anyone know that?  Is there a notebook somewhere that has descriptions and drawings of this plant?

The feathery soft leaves are nice in small vases with small flowers.

This was also bought at a garden club sale.  I thought it was native but after some research, I believe it is Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea Moonshine).  It is a sterile, non-reseeding variety.

Looks like it will grow much taller than I realized.  The reason it was planted in this cattle feeder was to shade the “feet” of a Clematis vine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture definition of “native plant” is “a plant that lives or grows naturally in a particular region without direct or indirect human intervention.” That definition also might apply to many “naturalized” plants that were introduced long ago, but are now thriving and spreading without human intervention.

Dripping with blossoms, the Yellow Lead Ball Tree is a pretty small multi-branched tree.

Crossvine or Trumpet Flower (Bignonia capreolata) is a sought-after vine because it is a vigorous grower and has tubular flowers that draws pollinators.

Don’t confuse this with Trumpet Creeper or Cow-itch Vine (Campsis radicans) which is invasive.

Plants that were introduced by man during the last three hundred or so years and that have adapted to our landscape and climate are referred to as “naturalized.”  Some of these are aggressive and are considered invasive or noxious.

Mexican Buckeye or Texas Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) has pink/white flowers while it is leafing out and bears these unusual seed pods.  In fall the leaves are supposed to turn yellow.  This one was planted in early February.

Texas Primrose (Calylophus drummondianus var. berlandieri)is a Texas Native that has needle-like foliage.

It thrives in rocky bar ditches.

Long swaths of Pink Evening Primrose or Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) along the highway makes me want to stop and get up close to them.

Simple, yet lovely.

Native Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) does not like to be watered.  These appear in flower beds but die out if over watered.

Ox-eye  or Margarita Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgarde) is considered by many to be a native but is actually native to Europe and parts of Asia.

The whole idea of native versus non-native is a hot topic right now in Texas.  Some people are offended by planting anything but natives.  But as the definitions show, that is not an exact science.  Others think that natives do not belong in urban settings.

Personally, I plant what will survive and do well in my region.  If I like something that won’t survive our winter, then I put it in a pot.  Then it can be moved into a shed.  My philosophy:   be practical and lighten up.

Sorry this is so long.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

“Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.  I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.”  Lady Bird Johnson

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Some Favorites for Spring

Gardeners each have their own favorite plants, so I don’t usually foist my choices on others.  But today I’m going to make some recommendations.

If you have read my blog before, you know how much I love roses.  Part of the reason is because before we moved here, I didn’t have the space, sunny spots, or the time to do any gardening.

Then, surprisingly, roses not only have survived here but were a success.

Drift Roses are a relatively new type of Knock Out® Roses.  These are Coral Drift Roses.  They are low growing and constantly covered with flowers from early spring until the first freeze.

If I can have roses here in my high alkaline, clay and rock soil, then anyone can.  They are in lasagna raised beds that have amended soil.  Other than that, all they need is sun and water.

The rocks at the edge of the beds are to keep the water from washing off the slopes.  Texas has lots of limestone fossils.  This one and the following ones came from the edge of a creek on our property.

There are some roses that are exceptional performers.  Like this Belinda’s Dream that flowers on and off for months.  It has no disease problems.  Just give space for bushes to get huge – about 6 feet across.

Tropicana is a popular rose that does well in many different areas and is usually available at all kinds of nurseries.  It is a hybrid tea that blooms fairly often.

My all time favorite of the roses that I’ve tried is Double Delight because it has a strong scent that is out of this world.  It is also a hybrid tea.  I recently bought another one at a local nursery because I’m not sure how long roses bushes last.  Mine is twelves years old and doesn’t look as healthy this year as usual.  But we did have some hard freezes this winter.

Clematis vines are a great choice for gardeners.  There are many varieties available that grow well in different zones.

Many have prettier, fancier flowers than this one, but I chose one that does well here – Jackman Clematis.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) brightens up the early spring.  After the bareness of winter, it is just what the doctor ordered.

This soil was not amended, so it’s a tough plant.

As you see, pollinators are drawn to it.  Plus, it’s so cheery.

Another category of flowers is bulbs.  Stella de Oro Reblooming Daylily is technically not a bulb but a herbaceous root plant.

To keep it blooming, deadheading spent blooms is necessary.  It’s a gorgeous low growing, bright yellow flower that pollinators love.

There are many different flowers that fit into the vague, incorrect category “bulb”.  For example:  tulips and daffodils are bulbs, irises are rhizomes, gladiolas and crocuses are corms, and daylilies are tubers with tuberous roots.  Confusing.

My point is that plants in the “bulb” designation are a wonderful addition to any garden.  They tend to be reasonably priced; some produce new bulbs so your investment grows and can be shared; many different varieties are available to grow in different zones and climates; and most provide beautiful flowers year after year.  What a bargain.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea) was discovered growing beside a grave in LaGrange, Texas.  Greg Grant named the plant after the deceased.  It is one wonderful, eye catching plant.  Keep it contained because it spreads.

The white version, Augusta Duelberg, was named after his wife, whose grave was beside him.  A Texas SuperStar® plant that blooms from early spring until the first freeze.

As usual, it is best to “dance with the one who brung you” meaning it’s important to select plants that do well where you live.

“Don’t let the thoughts of failure stop you from trying, even when you fail, it’s not enough to give up.  The light bulb itself finally found success after so many trials.”  Terry Marks.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Poppy Season

An overnight trip took us south to Austin and Fredericksburg.  Bright colors abound at one of my favorite nursuries:  Wildseed Farms.

Two of my husband’s favorite places are Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant and Mamacita’s Restaurant.  We indulged in both..

Guess our motto is never pass up a nursery or Mexican restaurant.

Red Corn Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) were blooming everywhere on the nursery grounds.

Very tall Chollo Cactus tower about eleven feet high in the air.

Rocket Larkspurs (Delphinium ajacis) stand primly in place.  Way too early for them in our zone 7b area.

Think this is Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus coccineus).  Also known as Claret Cup Cactus or Scarlet Beehive Cactus, they grow farther west, starting around San Angelo.  Guess it stays warm enough in the winter for them at the nursery.

Of course, this time of the year means Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).  It’s nearly the end of their prime time.  The yellow Poppies are probably California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

The metal cactus are attractive and look great in the nursery setting.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is a great pollinator plant.  Mine froze this winter, even though labels say it is cold hardy to zone 7a.

More Primroses.  The word “sweet” comes to mind when I see them.

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  How gorgeous is that.  Fields of Red Corn Poppies are so bright.

This sight reminded me that red poppies are worn to honor veterans.  The practice started after WWI.

The blue strip behind the Poppies are Bluebonnets.

The Wildseed Farms grow all these flowers for the seeds.  The owner uses larger properties near Houston to raise even more flowers.  Early last year, floods covered those fields and wiped out much of his seed supply for this year.

The Poppy petals are as thin as one-ply toilet paper and more fragile.  They flutter in the wind creating constant movement.

There are lots of walking trails near the wildflower fields and closer to the buildings, making it a pleasure to visit in a garden-like setting.

Don’t know what this tree is.  Maybe a Waterfall or Laceleaf Weeping Japanese maple?

Waterlilies in a small pond beside the tree in the previous picture.

One last look at Poppies as we exit the area.

Composed at the battlefield on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, following the death of a close friend.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Canadian John McCrae

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Early April Flowers

Night time temperatures are still in the lower 40’s, so it’s too early to get the more cold tender plants out of the shed.  But there are plenty of other things blooming to make spring gorgeous.

Roses are putting on a great show, even though there are still some weeds in the beds.

The red roses and white (actually they are yellow that fade to white) are both Knockouts.  The peachy roses are Oso Easy Paprika.  The tall bush in the back with pink flowers are Earth Kind.

About weeds:  gardening is hard and many of the results are out of our control due to weather.  So I think we should give ourselves a break.  It is almost impossible to get all chores done timely, especially if you don’t have help.  Gardeners are usually kind to other gardeners but hard on themselves.

On the other side of the house more roses are blooming like crazy.  This Katy Road is super hardy.  It was developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the cold and long winters of the Midwest.  It was named Carefree Beauty.

In Texas, it has been known as Katy Road Pink because it was found on Katy Road in Houston.  Amazingly, it has proven to endure our hot, dry summers.

Large orange colored rose hips are produced from every flower.

This yellow florabunda has stayed small in bush size but produces lots of roses.

The Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgarees) have spread.  Several have been dug up and potted for garden club plant sales.  Some people don’t want them in their yards because they do spread.  I like the fact that they can become pass-a-long plants.

This rose (unknown) always knocks my socks off.

Two years ago I was given this Amaryllis for Christmas.  I had tried planting Amaryllis bulbs in a flower bed with so-so results.  So I decided to put this bulb in a larger pot and place it outside in a mostly shady spot during the spring, summer, and fall.  When it got cold, I put it in the heated shed.

The stalks got tall – almost 3 feet.  The bulb doubled in size.

The double blooms are fabulous.

Reblooming Irises are as dependable as sunshine in the desert.  In fact, I’m not sure how a person would kill bulb.  Maybe by drowning them.  They don’t require much water as the ones out in our field prove.

A muted mauve type color.

Ones with purple or solid purple are my favorite irises.

The Yellow Lead Ball tree is already covered with blooms and buds about to bloom.

This small tree has proven to be a winner because it doesn’t need good soil or much water.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tin Man Wind Chime

This project has been on my mind since last October when I saw a tin man hanging in a tree at the Garden of Eden.  Someone in my house considers it a hair brained idea.  Wonder who?

The one part that I thought that I could not obtain was the large can for the body.  Then I was helping with a meal at church where several industrial size cans of vegetables were opened, and voila, I had what I needed.  If it’s available, a larger can might be better.

This is my finished product.  The size of cans I used:

Spacer can on top of head to hold up funnel:  8 ounce (tomato sauce)
Head:  29 ounce  (fruit)
Body:  6 lbs. 10 ounce (vegetables)
Upper arm:  21 ounce (pie filling)
Lower arm: 15 ounce ((fruit)
Hand: lid
Upper leg:  28 ounce (beans)                                                                                          Lower leg:  15 ounce (fruit)                                                                                                  Feet: 3.75 ounce (Sardines)  We don’t eat sardines, but they are good food for Crape Myrtles.

The metal funnel was ordered from Amazon.  I searched for the lowest price on several sites.  This one was just over $7 with free shipping.

Cotton rope (probably 1/2″) to hang tin man.

Tools:  drill used for holes in cans, 17 gauge galvanized wire to tie cans together, wire cutters and needle nose pliers to reach into cans and bend wire, small washers to keep wire in place.

Also, need tin snips to cut nose.  We used part of an old hose to fit over a tree branch to keep the rope from fraying.

Now I will attempt to explain the construction.

First, drill holes in cans.  Sometimes I had to do some back tracking because my plan didn’t work.  For instance, in this body can, the wire seen here was to hang both legs.  That didn’t work out.  An individual wire was better for each leg.  So another hole had to be drilled on each side in the groove beside where the wire pictured goes into the can.

Put facial features on.  Drill holes needed for eyes, nose, and mouth.  I used metal buttons for the eyes and a pop top can lid for the nose.  Cut the lid in a somewhat triangular shape with tin snips and bend with the needle nose pliers.

Just twist the wires together on the inside of the can to hold each feature in place.

For the mouth I used some old insulated copper wire.  That was just bent flat on the inside.

Another piece of wire was used to hold bottom of nose in place.

After finishing the face can, rope was threaded down into the funnel.  After slipping on a washer, tie a knot in the rope.  I then hooked a wire into the washer and bent it and twisted it.

That wire was long enough to go through the hole in the spacer can and be tied off in the head can.

Then another wire went across the top of the head can and into holes and pulled through.

At first, I used the bottom part of artificial flowers instead of washers.  Either one will work.  This shows the head can with the long wires that will go into the body and tied off.

Next prepare arms that will be attached to body.  Note the two holes on top of the arms.  The wire will come up and over and back into can.

This drawing also shows how the arms are constructed.  It is better to start with the bottom can first and go up through the top of the arm and put the wire back down into that can.  Then attach the hand with a lid that fits inside that bottom can.

I tried going from top to bottom first, but it was impossible to tie off the wire in the smaller can at the bottom.

The legs are made the same way as the arms.

Attach feet on both sides of the bottom can.  Holes were drilled into bottom of shoes so that rain water will drain out.

We hung the tin man in a Hackberry because it was at the back of the yard away from bedroom windows.  If it rattles a lot, then it wouldn’t disturb anyone’s sleep.  It won’t matter if some smaller branches are broken.  Hackberries are considered trash trees by some people, but I think it is a great shade tree.

Finally, we attached a rope from the body to another branch to keep it steady and always facing the same direction.

If anyone decides to make a tin man, it is easier to have another person help at some stages of putting it together, like holding assembled pieces still as others are added.

Hope this is not confusing but helpful.

“Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in every everyone’s yard.” unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Busy Season

Don’t ya just love spring?  Even though the stress of not getting everything done in time hangs over my head, the flowers and green everywhere just blesses me.

This year two plant sales for two different garden clubs means that I’m digging up plants that have spread and propagating others and potting them as quickly as I can.

Some of the early spring bloomers have to be savored quickly, like this Flag Iris.  These stunning and unusual flowers last a little longer than a week.

It’s good to have other types of bulb plants waiting to take their place.

Redbuds can also be a flash in the pan stunner.  This picture was taken from the highway.  It is either an Oklahoma Redbud or someone had done a good job of keeping a native trimmed to one trunk and nicely shaped like a tree.

Most Texas native Redbuds have multiple trunks with a rather shrubby look.  Doesn’t mean that I don’t like them.  I love their bright colors.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) or Granny’s Bonnet or Gold Spur Columbine is a wonderful spring blooming perennial.

The flowers are uniquely shaped and the foliage is evergreen.  Two pluses.  The yellow variety is native to Texas and does extremely well in our poor soil.  Morning sun and afternoon shade does the trick.

Wow.  Makes ones heart sing.

Another look at Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) with lovely drooping branches that are covered in white clusters of flowers.  Hear wedding bells?

Spiderwort (Tradescantia pallida) is putting on a show.  It’s a Texas native that can’t take the summer heat but shines in spring.

Clusters of three petaled flowers with bright yellow stamens.

This David Austin rose, Lady of Shalott, is my new favorite.  It has a delectable aroma.

Since I absolutely adore roses and am wonderfully surprised at how well they do here in this lousy soil,  I’ve decided to put in some more rose beds.  Until the tiller we’ve ordered comes in, they are in pots.

The beds have to be built up and enriched with piles of decomposed leaves, manure, etc.  Therefore, it takes some time to prepare the beds.  We’re short of time now, so they will be in pots for awhile.

This unnamed rose bush blooms continuously once warm weather arrives.  And it has.

Hope you’re having a great spring enjoying the flowers in your yard or wherever you see and smell them.  Thanks for taking time to read my blog.

“Her nagging is a sign that she cares.  Her silence means she’s plotting your death.” unknown source

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save