Bulbs Make Life Easy

A warm winter and spring rains has brought an abundant crop of all sorts of weeds.  Because they have been so rampant this year, I’ve been thinking about those gorgeous public gardens that are so pristine.  How do they achieve that enviable look that makes me drool?  An army of workers.  That’s how.  As I keep pulling weeds by my lonesome self, the flowers that are blooming in my yard keep me going.

bulbs1Some of those flowers that keep me going are from bulbs, like this Reblooming Iris.  Plant a bulb and enjoy the results for years.

bulbs5This year I discovered that rebloomers make much better cut flowers than the old fashioned irises.  Recently I provided vases of roses and irises from my yard for an event.  I cut the flowers the morning before; the rebloomers were still fresh the next day while many of the others had wilted.

bulbs6And the colors are more interesting.  But I still like the old fashioned ones with the memories they bring of the friend or relative who gave them to me.

bulbs7Sometimes, I’ve transplanted just one bulb into a spot with other plants.  I like the color against a solid background of a shrub.

bulbs8The only downsize of bulbs is that they need to be divided about every three years.  That’s not an easy task with our clay soil.  But it’s a small price to pay for the fact that they provide more plants each year and give a gift of flowers every spring.

bulbsaSpuria Iris is a new bulb to me.  It’s also known as ‘blue iris’, ‘Spurious Iris’ or ‘bastard iris’.  They bloomed early with the white old fashioneds.

bulbs2Having only grown bearded iris, they look kind of strange with their tall stalk and small, narrow foliage.

bulbs3The interesting form is intriguing.

bulbs9And finally, this Amaryllis was planted in this slightly raised bed because the soil is so much better than where the other ones are planted.  I may move them all to this bed.  Its bright color above all the emerging leaves of the Cone Flowers is eye catching.

Hope you are enjoying springtime with all the glorious flowers.

“A slip of the foot, you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue, you may never get over.”  Benjamin Franklin

Big Fan of Roses

I have a soft spot for roses because they perfume the air, bloom for years, are faithful each year to perform, and generally add a homey atmosphere.  Many people think they are difficult, but they aren’t.  Give them full sun (even the extra hot Texas sun), some water, good drainage, and a little fertilizer.  Voila: sweet flowers.

springrosesaThe three bushes in front are Knockouts.  Behind them is an Earthkind.  One of the things that makes Knockouts so easy is that deadheading isn’t necessary.  They just keep on blooming.  If and when I have some time, I will trim them but not often.

springroses6These blooms start out pale yellow and fade to white.  Even though the flowers are simple, a bush full of them is stunning.

springroses8The Earthkind flowers are also not impressive, but a tall, healthy bush covered with them is.

springrosesghMy all time favorite in my yard is Double Delight because its scent and beauty are so stunning.

Two weeks ago I discovered a tunnel under its root system and was so afraid that I would lose the bush.  We filled in dirt and covered it with a huge rock.  Armadillos are so destructive in a yard.  Don’t be fooled by the cute pictures you see of them.  Those claws are a source of grief to a gardener.springrosesbOso Easy Paprika are more favorites.

springroseseeTheir color stands out.  The spent buds, unfortunately, do have to be lopped off before it will bloom again.  It can be a chore because it is covered with flowers all at once, so that means slowly sniping each one.

springroses7Last fall this Don Juan climber was planted inside a new sturdy trellis.  It is replacing a Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that literally lifted the dome trellis it was growing in and pulled apart the posts.  The thorns on it were also the most vicious I’ve ever seen.  The flowers were beautiful clusters but not worth the grief.

springrosesbbA look at the roses on the edge of the yard on the east side.

springrosesgMr. Lincoln is the first rose bush on the right in the former picture.  It makes a stunning sight in the garden and the flowers last a long time on the plant.

The stems are long and seem perfect for cut flower arrangements.  If they are cut when still in bud form, they will last a few days.  If not, forget it, the petals fall soon after cutting.

springrosesThere are five rose bushes in this bed.  This one is Katy Road.

springrosescTo the left of Katy Road is Belinda’s Dream.  They are both good performers with lots of blooms.  Eventually, they do need for the spent buds to be snipped off.

springrosesdThere are two yellow rose bushes and one with a gorgeous peachy orange color that I don’t know the name of.  They are all floribunda type bushes, which means they bloom profusely.

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springrosesddAt the end of that raised bed are Ox-eye Daisies.

springroseseLast fall this miniature was planted in a front bed.  I can’t find the paper work right now, so I don’t know the variety.  I used to be leery of miniatures.  But a grocery store buy that has been in a container for years proves that miniatures are hearty.

I do have some other rose bushes but these are a good representation.  Each type of rose has its pluses and minuses, so a variety is good.  The hybrids and old fashions have the aromas while others produce masses of blooms.

My own prejudice says everyone needs a rose to sweeten their life.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  Alphonse Karr

A Blooming Spring

Flowers everywhere makes me giddy.  Last year’s rains and some small ones this year have created beauty that delights.

otherplantsThis Dianthus, also called Pinks, is nine years old.  I definitely wish I knew the variety because I’ve planted others trying to fill in the area, but they’ve all bit the dust.

Should have removed the watering wand before I took this picture.  It’s enlightening what you notice about your yard from photos.

otherplants4A new project we started last year.  We worked on the plans from a picture I had in my head.  Luckily an excellent concrete crew could pull it off.  It was tricky with the raised planters on each side.

otherplants1The goal is for this Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top of the metal structure.  Crossvine is a Texas native, evergreen, and a vigorous grower.

otherplants3The vines tend to hang downward, so I try to keep an eye on them and tie the runners up and weave them in and out the railing.

otherplants2The blooms have been spectacular this spring.

otherplants5Another Amaryllis bloomed among the emerging Cone Flowers.  I think this was put in this bed because I thought the soil had been enriched better than where I had planted some other Amaryllis.

otherplants6This flowerbed in the back is a hodgepodge of plants.  I must like that look because I do it so often.  On the left the dried branches of an Acanthus haven’t be cut, yet.  It looks artistic to me.  Maybe a rationalization.  Recently Neil Sperry wrote about current garden work that needs to be done:  “At this time of year, if you miss a day, you fall behind by a week.”  So true.

To the right of that is a Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus Berlandieri), then some yellow daisies.  Behind them, the Texas Quince (Chaenomeles japonica  ” Texas Scarlet’) is still blooming.

The white flowers are False Foxglove, which comes from a start that I dug from the side of a county road three years ago.  Good ole wildflowers.

otherplants7otherplants8There is a tinge of on the inside of the False Foxglove flowers.

 

otherplants9In that same bed beside the Canyon Creek Abelia, a Pink Gaura is making its first appearance this year.  In the center of the picture is one of its tiny pinkish white flower.  They will be waving in the wind as the branches get longer.

otherplantsbThe reason I selected this Clematis is not because it’s my favorite Clematis but because they do well here.  The mass of flowers is evidence of that.  This is a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’.

otherplantsaI had tried a red flower variety but it didn’t make it.  Sometimes, we have to be realistic about what works.

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”         Ronald Reagen

Never Met a Flower I Didn’t Like

A quick trip to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for their annual plant sale has me scrambling to find places to plant everything I bought.  Their sale is always a great experience, plus it’s reassuring to know you’re buying natives, which have a greater chance of survival in our Texas heat.

We also made a stop in Georgetown to see a local art show.  The show was small and disappointing.

georgetownBut the downtown area was quaint.  We strolled around and found a place to eat.  The above building was obviously a church at one time.  It now houses the local Historical Society.

georgetown2What girl hasn’t dreamed of a white picket fence?  Something about them says home.  Of course, the upkeep is a major deterrent.

The lush roses made it even more appealing.

georgetown1Old timey allure.

georgetown3A few of the buildings around the town square appeared old with some nice character.

georgetown4All along the streets we saw these flowers.

georgetown5They look like three petals but are actually six.  Bicolor Iris (Dietes bicolor) are also know as African Iris or Fortnight Lily.  They are so attractive and new to me.  The blooms are yellow with three dark purple spots with orange outlines.

The flower stems grow from a cluster of spear-like leaves.  Over time  a large colony forms.  Naturally, I had to find a nursery and buy one.  Actually, the local nursery, McIntire’s Garden Center, is excellent and would have been a great place to spend some time.

Because we’re further north, I’m anxious to see if it will survive our winter.

Bulb flowers are some of my favorites.  All right, all flowers awe me.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Spring Flowers

It’s easy to beat oneself up this time of the year about all the tasks that still haven’t been done yet.  I’m trying hard to do what I can and accept that it’s impossible to pull all the weeds at once.  And at the same time, just enjoy the beauty of the new flowers and how some plants have grown.

springyardhOne nice surprise was seeing these Amaryllis blooms.  This particular one hasn’t bloomed in several years.  Why now?  Who knows.

Yes, there are weeds in this bed.

springyardnSo I came back and cleaned out this flowerbed.  It’s pretty small, so it could be accomplished fairly easily.

springyard4Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei) is a show stopper each spring. It’s easy to grow, has arching branches, and is often used in bridal bouquets.

springyard7And produces masses of flower clusters.

springyard1The copper leaves of this Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) stand out in the spring.  However in this location, most of the year, the plants around it crowd out its color.  The flowers are tiny pale pink or whitish and are inconsequential to the overall look.

springyardgThis metal chick stands among the Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) in the same flowerbed as the Abelia.  I’ve heard that Flat Leaf is more tasty than Curly Parsley.  Don’t have an opinion.

columbineHooray, the Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha A.Gray)  has started to bloom.  The word columbine comes from the Latin for dove, referring to the flowers resemblance to a cluster of 5 doves.  Can’t really see it myself, but someone did.

I remember the first time I saw this plant.  About 15 years ago a group of friends were visiting Fredericksberg and walking to a restaurant.  A bank of Columbine was swaying in the wind.  One of my friends knew what they were.  It wasn’t until we moved to this location that I had room for them.

They enjoy morning sun and afternoon shade.  Who doesn’t in Central Texas?

springyard3Yellow or Golden Columbine is a spring bloomer that is hardy with beautiful green leaves after the flowers are gone and is a very reliable perennial.  Their airy, bright color and interesting flowers and foliage make them a plus in the landscape.

“I would rather sit on the tailgate of a pickup and watch a bonfire than go to a mall, any day.”  unknown

Irises, Mostly

Irises starting to bloom is spring welcoming us to her beauty.  On recent cloudy days, blustering spring winds bite and made us doubt that spring has arrived.  But there probably won’t be any more true cold weather coming.

iris6Many years ago in a field next to the yard around the house I planted old fashioned, pass along iris bulbs from different friends and family members.

iris2During the first few years, I was diligent about fertilizing them on or near Valentine’s Day and Halloween, which are the recommended times.  Now they’re lucky to be fertilized anytime.

iris4Over the years, the neglect has taken a toll on them.  They need to be divided.  So far, I haven’t taken care of that.  The weeds and cactus have been pulled or hoed at different times, but that is a daunting, never ending chore.

iris7They keep plugging along, but each year the stems are a little less tall and the flowers a little smaller.  Poor dears.

irisdIn that same field there are many tiny flowers that carpet the area.

irisbPretty sure these yellow flowers are Texas Groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus).

iris9I haven’t had much success trying to research the many yellow wildflowers of Texas, as well as the many small flowers.  As I thumb through the wildflower pictures, the similarities are too close for definitive identification.

iris8Patches of Sweet William or Prairie Verbena are starting to dot the landscape.

iris3These are the first flowers to appear in the field where we prepared the soil and planted wildflower seeds.  We scattered several packages of mixed seeds as well as specific ones, so I don’t know what these red flowers are.

irisIn the yard, these re-blooming Irises were planted about seven years ago.  I have divided them and planted some in different beds around the yard.  While the native irises don’t need much water, these do well in the yard because they do need regular watering.

iris1First color to bloom.

springyard9Behind the irises is a Crape Myrtle and a Bridal Spirea.  Coming up in the bed are Coneflowers and other perennials.  Although I have weeded the area, there are probably more weeds showing their persistent little heads.

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”  Unknown

Willow City Loop

These pictures show the Willow City Loop drive from our trip above and below Llano.  I am repeating a link to wildflowers drives for those who might not have seen it.

WillowloopA small two lane road forms a loop beginning and ending on Hwy. 16.  It doesn’t have the large sections of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes scattered along the main highway but provides a leisurely scenic drive.

Willowloop5The road crosses private property with pastures on both sides.  Some of the ranches are not fenced and have cattle guards across the road.  A cow trail parallels this section of the road.

Willowloop1Even though traffic was heavy on a Saturday, there were ample places to pull over and enjoy the flowers up close.

Willowloop2These look like native Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).

Willowloop4Just to prove this area is open to roving cattle, note the dried cow patty.

Willowloop6Nice views as the road winds from the valley up to the hills.

Willowloop8Bluebonnets in natural setting.

Willowloop9It’s common to find them among Prickly Pear Cactus.

WillowloopbWee little flowers form a nice ground cover.

WillowloopeOne ranch got everyone’s attention starting with these gimme caps.

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WillowloopdThen for half of a mile every fence post was topped with a boot.  Parked cars in the distance indicate a prime photo spot.

Wonder where all the boots came from.

WillowloopgNice property with no underbrush and mowed fields.  Lots of work to keep it looking like that.

WillowloopiBluebonnet patch just across the fence.  Another electrified fence at the other edge keeps cows from trampling the flowers.

The loop drive took us about an hour with several stops for pictures.  Very pleasant way to spend the day.

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.” Jean-Claude Juncker