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

Sweet Rain

This week we’re received almost 2 inches of rain.  Depending on where you live, that may not sound like much, but it’s a blessing to us.

Rain and cooler temperatures is a boon to everything.  More irises blooming.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has shot up in height.  Some are over 4 ft. tall.

Each stem seems insignificant, but together, twirling in the wind, they are a lovely sight.

Last year, we planted a Greek Myrtle (Myrtus communis).  It appealed to me because it’s evergreen.  Immediately after planting, one side died.  So I was surprised to see all the flowers this year.

After planting it in the middle of a flower bed, I read that they should be planted alone.  Oh, well, we’ll see what happens in the future.

The flowers are striking and appear to be twinkling, like stars in the sky.

The other day, I gave this Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree a hair cut.  Each spring the lower branches dip down to the ground.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of that.  Anyway, it becomes impossible to move around the tree.  Cutting off the low hanging branches doesn’t seem to hurt the tree at all.

The raised bed to the right of the tree is where we planted some small Pink Muhly grasses about two months ago.Kindly Light Dayilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) are a bright spot in the yard.

Old Fashioned Hollyhocks or Grandma’s Hollyhocks stand tall and proud.

Some are so tall that they look in danger of falling over.

Want a drought tolerant plant that spreads and has a wonderful aroma when touched, try Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  They are native to the Himalayas, so it seems that they would not do well in our dry area.  Strangely, the Himalayas in India have massive amounts of precipitation, but in Tibet, arid conditions exist.

A worthy plant for our area.  Full sun needed.

On the edge of our porch sits this pot of Rose Moss that has been here for years.  Some or all of the moss returns in the spring.  This year, it needed to be supplemented with some new plants.  Love the yellow ones.

Hope your spring (almost summer) has received some rain.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  Booker T. Washington

Summer’s Heat is Coming

The fiery dragon is moving in closer with flames of heat not too far away.  Can feel him breathing down our necks.  Spring was just a brief hiatus.

Another picture of Eyeliner Lilies.  There was a close-up on my last post.  I’m so impressed with their height and sturdiness. What beauties.

Also, another shot of the Ditch Lilies with a mass of color.

Grey Santolina or Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) sports bright yellow button flowers.

A squirrel has discovered the treasure trove of acorns in the yard.  The extra large acorns laying on the ground from two Bur Oaks are providing many feasts.

Shasta Daisies are just staring to bloom.  Something else that needs to be divided.  That’s just part of being a gardener.  As I tell my husband, it’s an opportunity to stay limber, busy, and healthy.

The thing about daylilies is just that – they last one day.  But they will bloom again and again.  The flowers of “Always Afternoon” Daylily are large and striking.

Native Blue Mist or Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) leafs out and blooms in late spring.  It’s one hardy bush with cold hardiness in zones 5 – 9.

This Yellow Canna has little flecks of gold on the yellow petals.

It’s warm enough for “Bubba” Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) to bloom and for sweat on the brow when laboring in the sun.  Their orchid-like flowers are a refreshing sight.

Hope you are healthy as you survive this isolation time.  Maybe it will be ending soon.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”         John Wooden

Lilies and More

Here we are – still isolated, same as you.  One plus from all this time at home is more time to spend outside and to get some work done.

Now for some lilies:  this Apricot Fudge Lily was planted last year.  The stem on this double Asiatic lily with apricot flowers should be taller next year.

Return star – second year of Eyeliner Lily has brought a taller plant and more flowers.

Its lovely crisp flowers last several days.  A breeder in Holland created this hybrid between an Asiatic Lily and the Easter Lily.

Good old Ditch Lilies were planted 14 years ago and perform every year without fail.

Perennial Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) on tall stems add texture diversity.

Before they open, they’re encased in a rounded pod with a point at the top.  This one looks like a pixie with a hat.

I just can’t help myself from showing roses.  Brilliant Veranda is a small bush that does well in a pot.  I had it in a pot for 3 years, but fire ants loved to hang out there.  So last year, it was moved to a bed.  The color is just like the name says – brilliant.

This Astible was a mail order plant that arrived last year while we were out of town.  It didn’t look like it would survive, so I hastily put it in this pot.  It will be moved to an area that gets some shade and receives regular water.

Native perennial Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) keep filling in spaces.  However, they aren’t taking my suggestion to grow into the area in the bottom right of the picture.  Just got to be patience.

They prefer rocky, well-drained soil and do not like clay.  Inour raised bed, the soil has been amended and is looser than clay, so they’re happy.

Although I’ve never been able to see them, four dark purple veins are supposed to be clearly visible on both sides of the ray.

Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is in full bloom.

It’s unique blossoms draws everyone in for a closer look.  This bush was planted way too close to the house and leans out for light.  The rope ties it to the stake to keep it somewhat upright.

“In the blink of an eye your life can change.  Be sure to make the most out of each moment.  Today is a gift from God.”  Matt McMillen

Golden Oldies

For me, spring is a time to welcome back old friends – reliable perennials, that is.  It might be a bulb or a bush that blooms or trees leafing out.  Or it might be a flower that seems magically to grow a stem, leaves, and then flowers.  Ain’t it grand.

Stella de Oro Daylily or Stella D’oro is sometimes demeaned as being too common.  But in my book, it’s a wonderful low growing bulb with gorgeous flowers.

We have weeded this bed since this picture was taken.  This year the strong winds have forced me to take pictures whenever I can.

Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa) is a small ornamental tree that grows to a height of 12 feet.  The multiple trunks have branches growing almost to the ground.  Last year we trimmed the lower branches off to making mowing around it easier.  Plus, I like the airy look.

This Texas native can also be found in New Mexico and northern Mexico.  The small leaves makes it an excellent tree for drier areas.

The one inch puffy balls are bright yellow when they first open up, but turn golden just before they fall off.

Larkspurs have been blooming for a couple of weeks, but the old fashioned Hollyhocks have just started.

Hollyhocks are not for formal gardens, but they always remind me of the gardeners who struggled through the depression and WWII.  They’re cheerful plants that don’t require much water and little attention.

They can develop rust, but that happens only in really wet years.

Henry Duelburg (purple) and Augusta Duelburg (white) Salvias (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) that are a form of Mealy Cup Sage and may be sold under that name.  These Texas natives thrive in South and Central Texas.

In our area, these are foolproof winners.  They are zone 7 cold hardy.

I would never have heard of French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris), except for receiving a passalong from a friend.  They are cold hardy to Zone 4a.

In spite of their hardiness, the flowers have a sweet daintiness look.

“Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason.”  Ronald Reagan