Shade Welcome

For those who have mostly shady yards, there are different problems than for those of us who have mostly sunny yards.  Since some plants absolutely require shade, I have a few spots where they can grow.

The leaf shape of Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) gives it another common name, False Shamrock.  But the leaf color gives it a distinctive look of boldness.

Woodland Fern does well here because it can handlefrom-spring-into-fall heat, and the roots survive a cold winter.  This flowerbed against the house doesn’t receive direct sun.  Ferns enjoy a little dappled light, just like they would received in the woods.

One shady spot I have is at the back of the yard under a large Live Oak.  So pots of shade loving plants can go there.  The pot with white flowers is Plumbago (Plumbago capensis).  I actually prefer the Plumbago with purple flowers, but the one I had died.

The taller stems behind the Plumbago are Ornamental Garlic.  The larger leaves on the right side belong to a Datura or Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).

In this same area in a blue pot is Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) or Christ Plant.  Love the small flowers but am leery of the thorns.

All the plants are in pots because I don’t want to disturb the roots of the tree.  Also, some of them need inside protection during the winter.

One corner of a covered back porch has shade most of the day.  This area is filled with pots of Coleus and Old Fashioned Geraniums, meaning an old variety that is not sold in nurseries.  The past two years I have become a fan of a variety of Coleus with their lovely leaf colors and shapes.

Some of the Coleus are pass-a-longs from friends.  They root well in water.

This Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) also sits on a stand in that corner.  Just about the easier plant there is to grow.  The “spiders” that grow on long stems from the center become new plants when put into soil.

This is a corner of a front covered porch where pots of plants have been gathered.  Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming now.  To the left of that in another pot is some Columbine foliage.

A large pot of Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) is long lived when brought inside for the winter.  It will also recover from winter because the fibrous roots are very hardy.  But it takes a long time for the foliage to grown back and to become attractive again.

At the back of that covered porch is a line of Boston Ferns that are 25 years old.  They have been divided several times.  The rabbit container holds another Old Fashioned Geranium.

Purple Heart or Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) returns every spring like clockwork in a shady flowerbed.Actually, shade is a welcome relief for lots of living creatures, including me during this long lived summer and continued drought.  The temperatures have fallen a bit, so that’s a treat.  Seriously need some rain.

Hope your autumn is cool and crisp with lovely yellow, orange, and auburn colors.

“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to over throw the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.”  Abraham Lincoln

Unrelenting Heat

It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  The summer merry-go-round keeps circling around and around.

So how could any plant survive this?

First of all, the plants in the yard have received more watering than usual.

Some plants actually live and bloom better in the heat, like this Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata).  The foliage is green most of the year.  But it’s flowering performance with its strong sweet smell comes in the hottest part of summer – mid August into September.

One warning:  prune it back to the ground by the beginning of spring, or it will be so heavy, it will tumble down and bring the trellis with it.  The optimum time is early winter.

The flowers disappeared from Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) when the heat cranked up, but the foliage is pretty and unique all by itself.  The ruffled leaves are soft to the touch.

This lovely plant is new to me this year.  Although I can’t find the tag, I think it is Rose Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena Globosa).  The leaves are wider than other gomphrenas, and it grows in a rounded mound.

Strawberry Field Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) are individual plants with a bright red ball at the top of each stem.  They reseed so freely that just a few can guarantee many flowers for years to come.

Another successful bush for this heat is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).

Bees and other pollinators flock to it.

Caryopteris or Bluemist shrub (Cayopteris x clandonensis) shines in the heat.  The main concern is more about its cold hardiness.  But it has survived some low temperatures.

Celosia is a large plant family that includes several annuals, such Cockscomb.  This one is Flamingo Feather (Celosia spicata).  All celosias do well in the heat.  The trick is to save their seeds.  I’m hoping to do that with this plant.

A favorite in Texas is Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  There’s no question that it’s a stunner.  But the problem is that it isn’t cold hardy here.  So it has to be brought inside for the winter.  That’s possible for a few years before it gets too large.
So I’ll just enjoy it for now.

Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii) is listed as cold hardy for here in Zone 8.  But I have lost one already, so for right now it is carried to a protected area each winter.

A plant that should not be grown here is Firebush (Hamelia patens).  I resisted getting one as long as I could.   It does very well two zones warmer than here.  For now, it’s in a pot.

Sometimes, I think my love of plants is madness.

Of course, the very best plants for any region are the native ones.  If they grow in a field with no supplemental water, that is a dead give away that they’re perfect for the area.  Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) forms large colonies in the dry fields.

Sometimes a few will come up in the yard, so I let them grow.  Obviously, this Swallowtail butterfly appreciates it.

 “To find some who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, this is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault 

Last View at Chandor Gardens

A few more pictures from our quiet stroll through Chandor Gardens.

Garden paths lead to calming scenes with water.

And some rather bizarre scenes of Chandor’s obsessions with Chinese culture.  This looks like volcanic rock used as a display case for oriental statutes.

Another display of red panels gives a suggestion about the importance of red in the Chinese culture, where it represents luck, joy, and happiness.  Brides wear red to ward off evil.

About eight Staghorn Ferns hang from a large oak.

Ah, back to a soothing pool surrounded by greenery.

Rare for this area is a pot of Kent’s Beauty Oregano with its fluffy flowers.

A lush area with lots of foliage.

As we head to the Chandor home, more water and assorted plants.

More potted plants topped off with a new variety of Coleus.

On the back side of the house is an enclosed patio area that has an intimate feeling.

Inside the walled area is a long planting of Pentas and Caladiums,which are cheery and refreshing.

One of my favorite features is this gate leading out of the patio.

The story goes that Chandor admired the gate at a friend’s house.  His friend then gifted it to him.  From the note, they may have been used over windows at Vincent’s home.

Now these lovely gates can be admired by all who visit this public garden.

What a special place Chandor Gardens is to this small town situated in a dry climate.

“At the heart of gardening, there is a belief in the miraculous.”  Mirabel Osler

Visit Chandor Gardens

Another look at what Chandor Gardens has to offer.

There are surprises along the pathways and stairs that climb to different levels of the garden.

Some of the newer structures don’t exactly fit in with the more formal sections, but are unique.

For the waterfall, the original builder and owner, Douglas Chandor, had to haul in soil and large rocks.  This was done without large equipment and one helper.

Pentas were in bloom and placed in several places in the garden.  They didn’t show any wilting from the heat but were fresh and lovely.

Maybe Bleeding Heart but don’t know for sure.

Stepping stones across a shallow pool.

Tied Bamboo poles give the illusion of sails on a small Chinese sampan boat.

Chinese statuary in different spots all around the garden makes me wonder why Chandor was so taken with that culture.

Chinese Button Bush (Adina Ruella) looks a little like the North American Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  But it’s parts are more distinct and pop out against dark foliage.  This was in a mostly shady area on the edge of a small stream.

Chandor’s home is used for special events.

This Magnolia looks healthy, even in the extreme dry heat.

One of the many water features, this Pixie Pond is another place to relax and enjoy the sound and sight of water.

Cast stone pixies in different poses are placed on top of the stone (or brick) edges around the pond.  Chandor chose them and placed them himself, probably in the late 40’s.

The next post will be the final one on Chandor Gardens.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  Thomas Fuller

Chandor Gardens

One of my favorite public gardens is Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX.  The travel time from our house to the gardens is two and a half hours, so it’s an easy day trip.

Another reason we enjoy it so much is that it’s mostly shady with some open areas that are sunny.  Even in the summertime, if the mercury hasn’t shot up too high, it’s comfortable to visit there.

Originally, the gardens were private and the result of the dream of one man.  He and a hired hand did most of the construction.  An Englishman, Douglas Chandor, married a Texas gal who wanted to live in her hometown.

Work on the garden began in 1936.  Chandor was a renown portrait artist, who painted presidents, famous people, and a queen.  He brought that artist eye to the garden that he labored on for many years.

Chandor built the Chi-Ling fountain using statutes found in New York city, Coke and 7 Up bottles, colored marbles, and his handmade ceramic tiles.  Because the original fountain was crumbling apart, restoration was completed this year re-using as much of his materials as possible.

Two rows of soda bottles continue around the base of the fountain.

I was glad to see that they saved the original parts from the fountain and have them displayed in a section of Mondo Grass.

Every time we visit, new items have been added, like these twisted glass accents that pop right out of the white Caladiums.

Usually, Canna Lilies have red, orange, or yellow flowers.  These are the first pink ones I’ve seen.

Monkey Grass and Little Ruby Alternanthera form a thick groundcover.

The large concrete pot gives nice height to the ground covers.  There doesn’t seem to be any bare ground in the gardens.  The only places without plants are walkways.

Chandor was enchanted with China and Asian art and styles.  I don’t care for the
Buddhas, but his use of water and rock is admirable.  He embedded marbles in the  Buddha Niche and decorated the rock walls with lotus blossoms created with cut rocks. Water pours out of the blossoms.

Six of these dividers form a line between two sections of the garden.  I don’t think these are original.

Chandor’s love for the Orient is evident everywhere.

Moon Gate was built in 1949 and was constructed by the artist with mortar, stone, roof tiles, split sewer pipe, bottles, and handmade ceramic figurines.

Looking up, these figurines look authentic.

Chandor Gardens is a fascinating place and has a peacefulness to it.  We usually visit on week days, so it’s extra quiet to stroll the meandering pathways.

The work of one man is enjoyed by many visitors.  Just thinking of all those years of back breaking labor, as well as continuing with his portraits of the famous is overwhelming.  It’s a good thing he spend half of each year in New York painting.

The city of Weatherford now owns the estate and keeps up the gardens.  Quite a chore for a small town.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

Crazy Heat Continues

Even though it’s difficult to fathom, there are many plants that not only survive the heat, but are at their peak during the dog days of August.

Texas Rock Rose  (Pavonia lasiopetala) blooms on and on throughout the summer.  Can’t beat it for performance when temperatures are 100 plus.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is a haven for bees and other pollinators in the summertime.  If it’s planted in a tight place, like this one is, it’s necessary to tie the branches upright so they don’t sprawl out.  This rope is tied to a metal stake.Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is the blue-purple blooms while the white ones are named after his wife Augusta.  Found in a Texas cemetery growing on their graves, they are also sold as Mealy Cup Sage.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best salvias around and should be a staple in gardens where the summers are hot and dry.

Mint also pays no attention to the heat.  It’s so aggressive that the word “aggressive” doesn’t even describe it.  I first planted it in a flower bed.  It spread so quickly by underground runners that pulling it out was a chore.  In fact, it will take a concerted effort to monitor new shoots coming up and totally removing all of the underground parts from that bed.

Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) is in the mint family, so it too can be aggressive.  However, it spreads much slower than mint does.  The lovely foxglove like flowers bloom during the hottest part of the summer.

Another take-over-the-world plant is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  If there’s a theme here, it’s that plants with underground runners that root and produce a new plant must have space and diligent watchfulness to keep it controlled.

However, if you live where the summers heat up with no moisture and have hard rocky clay soils, these are be beautiful, reliable plants.

Old fashioned Dusty Miller has survived winters and summers in this pot.  When planted, it was to be a temporary solution until I found the right spot for it.  But now, it looks perfect in this pot.Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) and Hardy Hibiscus give the garden a wow factor.  Although the blossoms only last one day, their flowers are so large and stunning and the blooming is so prolific that they are both super stars.

“My garden, like my life, seems to me every year to want correction and require alteration.”  Alexander Pope

Critters in the Yard

When critters that we love and the ones that we don’t like, enter into our space, it makes life interesting.

Butterflies are my all favorite critter in the yard.  This Queen is feasting on Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower.

Snakes terrify me.  This one scaled a six foot pole.  It went inside the hole of the birdhouse and slithered back out.  Don’t know if it was hoping for bird eggs or just bored.

This is a bluebird house and since we haven’t had any bird birds nest there, it’s just ornamental.

This snake may be harmless, but that doesn’t matter to me.  Makes me cringe.

Occasionally, a wild turkey wanders around the yard.  They are skittish and react to the slightest noise.

Pretty feathers, but it looks like it was designed by a committee.

A small bird kept flying out of this flowerpot on the back porch.  It looked like a Tufted Titmouse but moved too quickly for a photo.

Finally, when I was watering this old Kalanchoe, I spotted the reason.  Twigs had been brought into the pot and sort of a tunnel built to where the eggs were laid.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), a Texas native, draws lots of pollinators.

As the wind sways the tall stems, bees and other pollinators hang on.

Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida) loves this shaded spot and covers this plot quickly each spring.

Remnants of a spider web can be seen on the top of the wheel.

This ruffled Coleus was recently propagated from a large one.  The stems grow quickly.  Very attractive.

Sizzling

In the middle of August the temperatures are consistently above 100.  So far, the hottest day reached 107 degrees.  So, as the saying goes, “It’s not fit for man or beast outside”, although that’s usually applied to freezing winter days.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) survives in extreme heat.  It’s twice this size now, but the bright sun washes out pictures, even early in the morning. So I’m using an earlier picture.

Turk’s Cap is a native of southern US and Mexico, so it’s no wonder that it does well here.

Just can’t praise this perennial enough.  Pollinators love it.  It grows in sun or shade.

The flowers are unique and interesting.

This picture of Dynamite Red Crape Myrtles was also taken earlier in the summer.  But, to me, red epitomizes the heat of summer.  The bushes still have some flowers on them.

Dynamite Red Crape Myrtle, a result of Carl Whitcom’s breeding that hybridized it for mildew resistance, cold hardiness and drought.  Also, it falls into the medium size crape myrtle group.  It’s a winner.

The small flowers of Strawberry Gomphrena pop because they’re so bright.

This picture is from the internet, but its details are excellent.   Each flower contains about 100 seeds, so it’s a great re-seeder plant.

This picture was also taken earlier in the summer.  I promise that the weeds and rocks have been cleared out.  The brilliant red of Showbiz Rose makes it a stunner.

Kolanchoe is a dependable bloomer in the heat as long it is not in the direct sun.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) likes the heat but not direct sunlight.  Another plus is that the flowers last for months.

The wicked thorns makes it a little difficult to haul the pot indoors for the winter.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a wonderful drought tolerant plant that holds its blooms until the first freeze.

Up close, its aroma is divine.  Just rub your hand along the foliage to carry that scent around for a little while.

Natives are always reliable in this heat.  Insects on the leaves of this Clammy Weed or Red Whisker Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) has given it a ragged look, but it survives and blooms all summer long.  It is not one of those plants you want to touch because your hands will feel sticky until you can scrub them with soap and water.

South African Bulbine is unconcerned with the heat.  The spiky leaves are actually soft.  The leaves and tall thin stems lose little moisture, so they do really well here.

It’s really quite amazing how many plants, including many others not pictured, can endure this heat.  Of course, they are all getting some extra water in this heat.

“Too hot to change board.  Sin, bad.  Jesus, good.  More details inside.”                       On a church changeable letters board.

Bold Colors

Some landscape designers prefer a small, select group of muted colors to be used throughout the yard.  I can see the serenity of that, but bold, bright colors float my boat.

Texas Bluebell Ice Cream is named after Texas Bluebell native flowers or lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorurn).  They grow in areas that get some moisture during the summer months.  In a home garden, it’s easy to provide that needed water.

A field of these is inspiring.  The petals are fragile and the centers boldly colored.  A gorgeous native.

Another biggie for Texas gardeners is or should be Milkweed.  ‘Hello Yellow’ Asclepias is probably an annual here, but I wanted to give it a go.

The leaves of Purple Oxalis or Purple Shamrock brings some color to a shady area.  This one has been in the same pot for about ten years.

This Desert Rose has been in this pot for about eight years.  Recently I saw one with brilliant colored flowers on-line, so I ordered some seeds.  I now have three very small Desert Roses growing from those seeds.

So I decided to save the seeds from these flowers.  But there are no seeds.  What?  Now I’m bumfuzzled.  Are there male and female Desert Roses?

Love the flowers.

Many of the plants with brightly colored flowers are in pots because they are tropical and need to be carried inside for winter protection.

Ixora has been in this pot for about ten years and only gets late afternoon sun.

The coral clusters of large corymbs of bright florets are stunningly beautiful and can last four to six weeks.

Corymbs are flat topped flower clusters in which the individual flower stalks grow upward from various points of the main stem to approximately the same height because the pedicels (small stem) of the lower flowers are longer than those of the upper flowers.

Other flowers with this same flower arrangement include Hawthorns.

Isn’t the internet great for finding out information.

Crepe Myrtles are the brightest and prettiest small flowering trees for our area.  My very favorite variety is this ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle.

Just look how full the clusters are.

There are three of these  ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crape Myrtles in our yard.  This is the only one that has prominent yellow stamens.

Whether you opt for mostly green shrubs, pale colored flowers, or bright primary colors, isn’t it wonderful to plan your own space?

“Be decisive.  The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”  Unknown

Summertime

“Summertime and the living is easy.”  I guess that’s true in a certain sense.  If possible, people do tend to get inside during the midday hours.  As a child, there was no air conditioning.  So we were expected to lay down for a nap during the hottest hours.  However, that luxury isn’t available for the ranchers and others who have to be outside all day here.

For the gardeners, summer means that most work has to be done before noon and much more watering is needed.  If you have a lot of plants in containers, it means lots of hand watering.

Fortunately, there are plants that love the sunshine and heat.  This is a hardy Hibsicus that I got at a club plant sale years ago.  It a generous re-seeder.  The flowers are about 4 inches wide.

This year I was able to locate a hardy Hibiscus with larger flowers.  These are 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  I was looking for the ones with dinner plate size flowers but couldn’t find them in red.

These aren’t true red but close.  So far, they’ve bloomed profusely.

Datura or Moon flowers perform well in the heat as long as they aren’t in direct sun.  They open at night and last until just after noon.

Everyone is being encouraged to plant milkweed to help Monarchs survive.  The most common one here is Antelopehorns (Asclepias asperula), which is a native and grows in our fields.  However, I wanted one that is prettier in the yard.  Thankfully this one, Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana), survived the winter in a pot.

Although Kolache is not winter hardy, it’s a go-to plant for containers in mostly shady areas.  Kolaches grow large and are easy to propagate.  Just break off a stem and stick it into potting soil.  Keep the soil moist, not wet, until it produces roots and begins to grow.  They’re great pass-along plants.

Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis) are wispy, small accent trees.  The orchid-like flowers are lovely.

The flower colors range from light pink to a darker pink or lavender.

Always a trustworthy perennial summer bloomer, Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) is aggressive, so be prepared with space for it to spread.  A low to the ground variety does not spread, so it’s an option.

In this picture a flower stalk from Red Yucca is draping over the petunias.Dainty flowers that last a day.  What is that white bug?  Only noticed it when the picture was enlarged.

If your summer months are extra hot, hope you can enjoy some cheerful flowers and some cool air conditioning.

“People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”  Dumbledore (Harry Potter book)