Some Hardy Beauties

One of the garden tasks that I usually avoid is planting annuals.  To me, a few annuals in pots is all that’s needed to bring something different into the garden.  I love the work horses of the garden – the hardy, reliable perennials.

Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) have been returning for years.  They are native to North America and were probably used by the Plains Indians for medicinal purposes.

Plus, pollinators love them because of their shape.  The flat landing strip makes it easy for butterflies and others to land and drink nectar.  The same thing is true for Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum).

Plants don’t have to be expensive.  Several years ago I scattered Larkspur seeds and voila, they appear every year in the spring.  They don’t necessarily come up where they were originally planted.  In fact, this flowerbed didn’t exist when I first put out the seeds.  Wherever the wind carries their seeds is where they will germinate.

Some of my plants remind me each year of the friend who gave me the start of a new plants or seeds.

Bulbs are another source of hardy plants because bulbs in the ground don’t freeze and produce each year.  This Pudgie Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Pudgie’) was ordered from Breck’s.  Since I live in a hot, dry spot, I used to be concerned about ordering from a company based in northern Europe.  But have learned that daylilies do very well here even though they originated in the Far East.

One of the cheapest flowers is also one of the most reliable ones.  The common Zinnia has pretty flowers that return if the seeds aren’t disturbed.  Pollinators visit them frequently.

Hardy Hibiscus have become a favorite because of their size and color.  The morning I took this picture, the humility kept fogging up my lens.

The small purple flowers on the left, French Hollyhocks (Malva Sylvestris Mauritiana), are another gift from a friend.  They can easily be grown from seeds.

New plants appear on the market all the time.  Before I buy, I try to do a little research.  But sometimes, the tag gives you a lot of information.

This Blue Frills Stokes Aster (Stokesia Blue Frills) tag stated that it is hardy down to minus 10 degrees.  It was planted last autumn and truly lived up to that claim.  It made it through our deep freeze.

We all have our favorite places to shop.  I prefer locale nurseries where they are knowledgeable about what grows well in your area.

However, I’ve found that the Lowe’s chain does carry some native plants that do well here.  In fact, they were the first stores to carry Texas Super Star plants.  But that may be changing because I was recently told that the stores are no longer allowed to do their ordering.  A central ordering system will decide on the plants offered.

Wherever I shop, I always ask for local plants.  If they hear it often enough, maybe it will filter up to the bigwigs.

Another pass-a-long that I received years ago is Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum (Sedum reflexum).  It multiples like crazy and has yellow blooms in the spring.

This sedum is also easy to dig up and share.

Viette’s Little Suzy Dwarf Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia speciosa ‘Viette’s Little Suzy’) is a modern version of old Black-Eyed Susans.  The flowers are large and lots of stems from one plant.  Can’t help but notice it.

“Friends are “annuals” that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a “perennial” that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect.”  unknown

Resilient Plants

Isn’t it amazing how resilient plants are?  They can survive drought, floods, artic cold, blazing sun, suffocating heat, and neglect.

Even with the odd weather this year, our plants look spectacular.

‘Eye Liner’ Lilies are taller and fuller with more blooms than ever.  One bulb was planted in 2019.  They are a cross between Easter Lily and an Asian hybrid.

The stems are straight and sturdy.

Standing above other plants, they’re easy to view from a window.

One last shot.  So happy with these lilies.

Red Yucca blooms provide nectar for hummingbirds.

‘Always Afternoon’ Daylily clump is wider than usual with more flowers.  Planted in 2018, it’s probably time to divide it.

Caryopteris, native to East Asia, does amazingly well here.

Pollinators love them.

Ditch Lilies never fail to brighten up the spring.  They are a little late this year, as is most everything.

I’m on a mission to convince people to give bulbs a chance.  They are one of the most reliable plants you can have.  Most have the added bonus of multiplying.

These were planted in 2006.  The soil is clay, so it’s like they’re planted in cement.  I would love to share but can’t dig them up.

One ‘Inwood’ Daylily bulb was planted in 2017.  Not all daylilies multiply at the same rate.  Some hybrids don’t seem to multiply.

Nepeta Walker’s Low Catmint in is the foreground pot.  It’s new this year and has quickly filled out the pot with foliage and scent.

Hope your garden is blooming and bringing joy.

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  Vincent Van Gogh

Wildflowers with Wow

Wildflowers appeared later than usual this year.  But they must have loved the extra cold winter because they are plentiful and stunningly beautiful.

In a field close to the house, Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) have exploded.  A native of the U.S., it’s a signature wildflower in much of Texas.

With their unique petal color and shape, they’re easy to recognize.

Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is another prominent wildflower in fields and roadsides in the spring.

This is scattered in one section of the field, but I can’t identify it.

The white flowers up by the barn have never been this wide spread before.  The cold and the rain has made everything come to life.

White Milkwort (Polygala alba) is the plant in the previous picture.  They’re rather small and not too impressive until you focus on them.  I guess that’s true of many things in life.

I think this is Navajo Tea (Thelesperma simplicifolium).  On tall, slim stems, they sway back and forth.  No foliage can be seen.  Some places they grow right out of caliche.

The strong colors of Prairie Coneflower or Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) make it a beauty.

This is probably Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) which is a low growing daisy that loves heat, high alkaline soil, and rocky areas.  This daisy doesn’t do well in most landscapes because they get overwatered.

Hidden down low on the grown are tiny little flowers that I can’t find in any of my wildflower books.

Another tiny one with flowers about one half an inch across.

The petals of Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron modestus) look like fringe.

The ubiquitous Prickly Pear Cactus is a bane to farmers and ranchers.  It’s exists in nature only in the western hemisphere.

Sweet William or Prairie Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) is a lovely low growing plant.  In drier years, it’s just about the only wildflower that hasn’t been seeded that grows on our land.

Out on the county road, a bouquet of flowers grow on the roadsides.

 

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) looks like Queen Anne’s Lace but when touched, it leaves a sticky substance on your hand.  If it gets into the garden, it becomes very invasive.

Here, it’s growing among the leaves of a young Redbud tree.

This briar sometimes grows up into oak trees.  The tiny spikes tear up your hands.  Sometimes it causes a rash.

The yellow flowers could be Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa).  The black caterpillar has been everywhere this year.  I don’t know what it is, but many people have suffered a severe sting with pain lasting a week.

Prickly Pear can spread into huge clumps and are difficult to eradicate.  Nature provides the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I love wildflowers.  Their abundance this year has turned the countryside into scenic paintings.

If you can identify any of the flowers that I can’t, please tell me in a comment or correct any that I have mislabeled.

“Love is like wildflowers…it’s often found in the most unlikely places.”  unknown

Nature Keeps Us Guessing

Getting close to the end of May and more rain is a welcome surprise.  We’ve had a few hotter days but nothing to complain about.

Lilies are starting to bloom.  Sorry that I can’t remember where I got these and what their name is.

Apricot Fudge Lily is a healthy lily that is faithful to come up in the late spring.

Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) have been in this bed for years. The colors of the flower petals seem to be paler than usual.

On the left is Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissu) which is so soft to the touch.  It originates in the Mediterranean area, so it loves the heat.  Right at home here.

Graham Thomas Rose is called an heirloom rose but was bred by David Austin in 1983.  It is considered to be one of his most popular roses.  It’s tall and loves summer heat.  Look at the abundance of the petals.

Love the color of this tropical Hibiscus.

Shasta daisies create a nice bright spot in the garden.

Native evergreen Yarrows are great survivors.  They made it through the horrific cold this winter and shine as good as ever.

The fern like foliage contrasts with other garden leaves.

Dianthus have so many good qualities.  The only negative is that deadheading takes a while because they produce so many flowers.  Guess that shouldn’t even be considered a negative.

A true heirloom rose from Antique Rose Emporium.  I don’t know which one it is because I received an unidentified cutting at one of their seminars.  It blooms continuously all through the summer and into the fall.

Thanks for reading.  Your comments are welcome.

Texans don’t call someone pretentious or foolish… they say he’s “all hat and no cattle.”

Most Unusual Spring

Usually, by this time in May, warm or even hot days are the norm.  This year, we seem to be stuck in some colder days and some warmer days pattern.  It’s been hard to force myself to weed and do other chores outside on those colder overcast days.

However, I must admit that many of the plants have thrived in this cooler weather.  These Coral Drift Roses are full of flowers.  Drift roses only grow to a height of 3 to 3 and a half feet tall.

They are extremely tough and obviously survived our harsh winter.  Our hot, dry summers don’t phase them, either.  They bloom over and over throughout the summer and fall.  They are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniature roses.

These roses are the best for blooming and have not had any diseases in the six years they’ve been in the ground.

Love them and highly recommend them.

The camera doesn’t do justice to the color of the flowers.   They are between a deep rose and a coral color.

Another really hardy plant is Dwarf Stella D’Oro Daylily.  I like that it grows low and is a repeat bloomer.

I lost everything in these pots in February.  Replanted a Rosemary and added some annuals in the other pots.

Etoile Violette Clematis was not bothered by the cold, even in a container.  The original label stated that it is cold hardy down to minus 20.  Hope that is never tested.

Even though it’s listed as a summer bloomer, it’s a rebloomer from late spring to late fall. This vine is seven years old.

An old pot of Dianthus also is looking good.  It’s amazing how cold and heat hardy they are.

Last year, I added some Ox-Eye Daisies to this trough, mainly to keep down the weeds.  They weren’t watered much, so the ones on the left died.

I do like this bottle bush my husband made for me several years ago.

I’ve had Yellow Columbine for years, so I’m giving these red ones a try.  The label indicated that they are cold hardy down to below 0 degrees.  Nice, bright two-toned flowers.

Our recent rains have brought lots of flowers on these climbing roses.  Now I just need to deadhead them for more blooms.

Hollyhocks are starting to bloom.  Several years ago, an abundance of rain brought rust disease.  Internet information said to dig them up, roots and all and destroy.  I tried to dig them up, but must not have succeeded because they keep popping up.

Hooray, Larkspurs blooms are scattered across the back yard.  I always look forward to them.  Very cheery.

Hope your late spring is bringing lot of flowers to your space.

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.”  John Glenn

Windy Days

The weather continues to be a challenge for yardwork.  Cool days and extra strong winds make it unpleasant to do much outside, especially to take pictures.

It’s been strange to see what has survived and what has not.  Some things even seem to have thrived since that bitter, bitter cold.  One Amaryllis bloomed but had a 3 inch stem.  This one looks really healthy.

The Catalpa tree has never looked better.  Of course, the strong sun and the wind will shred the leaves and make it look ragged by the end of summer.  It is surviving better now that its roots have gone deeper with some age.

There has been an abundance of orchid-like blossoms.

The stems of the Byzantine Gladiolus (Gladiolus communis subsp. byzanins) haven’t been as strong as usual, but flowers are still pretty.

A native of the Mediterranean area, they do well here because our climate is similar, except for crazy winters like this February.  We tend to have drought, like that area.

False Indigo Bush (Amorpha fruticosa) looks great.  I love how the multiple trunks sway in the wind.

A unique looking tree or shrub.

Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Naranjo falso Philadelphus x virginiatis) has shown how apt its name is with all the fallen petals.  In spite of the name, it is native to western North America.

The branches can get leggy.

Native Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri) has been in this spot for 14 or 15 years and has not spread.  It is native to Texas, Mexico, and some other southern states.

Most nurseries do not carry this primrose.  This year I did find another one (in front) at a Master Gardener plant sale.  Don’t know why I didn’t buy more.

This patch of Spiderwort looks like a jungle.  Weeds love to hide under their foliage and pop up full grown.

Every time I weed this bed, tiny black bugs get in my hair and sting my scalp.  Don’t think they’re fleas.  After awhile, I just have to stop and go inside to shower and wash my hair.  This sounds like an excuse but is really true.

Just look at those weeds.  Grr.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Hope your day is sunny, calm, and filled with smelling flowers.

“1N73LL1G3NC3  15  7H3  4B1L17Y  70  4D4P7  70  CH4NG3.”                      573PH3N  H4WK1NG

Cool Misty Morn

The last two days have been rainy and blessed us with a little over an inch and a half, so far.  It’s still misty with a heavy cloud cover.

This flowerbed in front is filled with all sorts of plants.  In bloom right now are purple Brazos or Gulf Coast Penstemon, Blue Irises, and Four Nerve Daisies.  Both the Penstemon and Daisies are Texas natives.  The Penstemon can crowd out other plants, so I’ve been digging some up to share.

The small tree to the right is a Lacy Oak.  The light green tree/bush on the left is a Golden Lead Ball Tree.  In the background is a Live Oak just starting to leaf out.

To the left of that bed is a Eve’s Necklace in front and a Chinese Pistache behind it.

Dianthus is one brave little flower.  They survived the cold in pots!

The bright red Dianthus, also in a pot, were in a more protected area.

Looking another direction, there are Yellow Columbines (Aquilegia flavescens) close to the house, Smoke bushes (Cotinus coggygria), a Texas Ash behind them and in the far bed, dead looking Crepe Myrtles.

The Columbines are native, as is the Ash.  Another, larger Texas Ash in the back of the house is toast.  It was shading the pergola, so it’s a sad loss.

The verdict on Crepe Myrtles from the devastating ice storm is still out.  Some of ours are sprouting leaves or have new stems at the bottom of the tree.  Others are still bare and don’t look promising.

The pink Roses are Carefree Beauties, also known as Katy Road.  The bare space between the rose bush and the daisies is where we took out an old rose bush.  But it’s sprouting from the roots.

Across the road are three Afghan Pines.  The extreme cold did a number on them.  We’ll see if they survive.

Ox-Eye Daisies are hardy and spread quickly.  They’re another good pass-along plant.

In the past few years, I’ve come to really appreciate Coleus.  I generally prefer a flowering plant, but the colors of the foliage available are beautiful.  Of course, they’re aren’t cold hardy, but mine survive in the green house.

Hope you’re enjoying listening to the rain fall or just soaking up the sunshine outside.  Whatever the weather, it’s time to smile for yourself and for others.

“Sometimes I just look up and say, ‘I know that was you.’  Thank you.”

Springtime? One Day, Yes and the Next Day, No

Just when spring seems to have sprung, winter ricochets back to zap us again.  Fortunately, some plants can withstand a short spell in the 30’s.

Texas Mahonia (Mahonia swayeyi) was purchased at Medina Natives Nursery four years ago.

These tiny flowers will become berries.  Being a Texas native, it’s very hardy.  It has many similarities with Agarita in our fields.  But it’s not nearly as thorny.

This crazy-looking Allium makes me smile.

Ditch Daylilies are poised to bloom.  Some Yellow Columbine migrated to this spot.

The Ixora in this pot had to be replaced.  I’d like to blame the extreme cold in February, but it didn’t do well last year.  Even though it’s topical and is native to the Philippines and surrounding areas, it survived for 15 years in this pot.  The unusual color of the flowers is almost indescribable.

The stars of the show this time of the year are the Irises.  True blue flowers are rare, so this is special.

The word Iris comes from the Greek goddess of rainbows.  The many different colors of Irises explains that.  Sketched pictures of irises have been found on Egyptian walls in pyramids and other grave sites.

Takes my breath away.

Three years ago I bought a few Penstemons.  The purple ones have spread to fill up this flower bed.  This is the sole remaining pink one.

Eve’s Necklace is a small ornamental tree with bright green leaves and strands of sweet smelling flowers in early spring.

Those strands of flowers will become strands of black seeds encased in  black pods.  It’s a great small tree.  Before I bought this one, a friend said that everyone should have an Eve’s Necklace.  Planted the thought in my brain.

“Spring is the time of the year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”  Charles Dickens

It’s Bluebonnet Time

In 1997 Ennis was designated by the State Legislature as the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas.  So we took a day to see if the title was deserved.

Maps for the 40 miles of Bluebonnet Trails are available at the Visitor’s Center.  Most trails are on narrow, winding country roads with no place to pull over.

So first, we headed to an open field where it was permissible to walk around and take pictures of each other among the Bluebonnets.  Should have picked up some children because their pictures are much cuter.

The field was in a beautiful area with trees on three sides and Bardwell Lake on one side.

A few Indian Paintbrushes were scattered across the field.

Bluebonnet leaves can be clearly seen in the bottom middle of this picture.

Since this area, 35 miles south of Dallas, receives more rain that the Hill Country in Central Texas, the flowers were larger and taller than what we usually see.

Most of the fields are on private property and must be viewed from the road.

To me, old dilapidated buildings are charming in pictures.

There were many areas of large swarths of Bluebonnets.

The white tops of the Bluebonnets makes them appear paler off in the distance.

What a beautiful scene.

An idyllic property made us linger here.  Love the Texas flag.

Would love to sit a spell on that bench.

An overcast sky and pleasant temperatures made this a wonderful outing.

Although the Bluebonnet season is short, Bluebonnets hold a special place in our hearts and not just because they are the state flower.  It is sentimental, like the Legend of the Bluebonnet.

“It’s a fact that anywhere in Texas you can yell ‘The stars at night are big and bright’ and random strangers will finish your sentence.”  unknown

Fabulous Flowers

Two months ago the temperatures were below zero, but today it will be in the high nineties.  Isn’t nature full of surprises?

There are still some questions about what will recover from that extreme cold.  However, flowers are appearing every day.

One of the showiest bushes in my yard is Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).

Every year more and more clusters of flowers appear.

It may be a short-lived glory, much like a wedding day.  However, memories live on.

Plant in full sun and enjoy its beauty.

Native False Foxglove or Wild Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea) is stunning this year.  It is not related to the European Foxglove, but is in the penstemon family.

Native Columbine’s flowers are exotic.

Sorry that I haven’t quite mastered that magical photography hour just after sunrise.

Columbine or Aquilegia is evergreen and remained green under the snow coverage.  It prefers morning sun and afternoon shade.

Someone has compared the flowers to jester’s hats.  Not sure I see it.

Another native that survived the cold very well is Gulf Coast Penstemon or Brazos Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis).  Plant this where you don’t mind that it spreads.  It’s easy to dig up but will cover an area quickly.  Full sun and as for most plants, well draining soil.

Bulbs are one of my favorite types of plants.  Daffodils are still blooming.  Different types of daffodils or narcissus (not sure which one this is) bloom at different times.

Bulbs are unique in that they produce their own energy and food.  The bulb is like a battery.  Its recharger is the foliage.  Therefore, the foliage needs to be left until it fully dies.  It may look tattered for a while.  The dead parts in this picture could be trimmed off.

One of the bonuses of bulbs is that they multiply and need to be divided every few years for the best flowers.  Voila: new free plants.  Irises is one of the hardiest bulbs around.

Spanish Bluebells is another hardy bulb.  Their flowers don’t last a long time.  The foliage is attractive on its own.

Hope your spring is filled with beauty.

“Spring is painted in daffodil yellows, robin egg blues, new grass green and the brightness of hope for a better life.”   Toni Sorenson