Is It a Rose?

The common or colloquial names of plants can be confusing.

In Texas, these large bushes are known as Rose of Sharon.  The flowers are a give away that it is definitely not a rose, but is, instead, a hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus).  It is in the mallow family and is native to Asia and India.

Another common name is Althea.  If you want a showy, easy to care for, large bush that is covered in flowers from late spring until late fall, this is your guy.  It thrives in zones 5 to 8 and only needs pruning once a year.  I prune off spend flower casings in late fall or early spring and trim a few branches to keep the natural shape.  Love it every year.

This is commonly called Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) with flowers that also have a hibiscus look.  This shrub is low growing with branches that spread out.  Another easy, dependable one.  They love the frequent droughts in zones 7 – 9.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is another mystery name.  The swollen bottom part of the trunk is its most unusual feature.  It must be kept at least 50 degrees at all times,  and 60 to 90 degrees is required for it to keep its leaves.

I put mine in a heated shed in the winter where it is probably a little less than 50 degrees.  It loses its leaves and takes a while to produce leaves and flowers each year.  It should be re-potted to a larger pot about every two years.  Not sure how large the pot should be that it stays in permanently.

How did these plants come to be called roses?  Nothing about them looks like roses.  I’ve not been able to find out.

Now, on to real roses.  We’ve lived here 12 years and my first rose plant was a gift.  It was a great surprise to me that it lived and bloomed.  Because all the ones I’ve planted have done so well, I just keep planting more.

In the foreground of this picture is Oso Easy Paprika, which has a wonderful indefinable color.

Mr. Lincoln was bought because it has long stems, so I thought it would be a good cut flower.  That part has been disappointing because the flowers fall apart within a day or so when cut.  But it does make a striking rose in the yard because it is tall and has a bold color.  The flowers last a long time on the bush.

These two bushes also have great colors, but I don’t know what their names are.  The Oxeye daisies were planted years ago and were a nice border.  This year, they have spread and become invasive.  But they are easy to dig up and are great pass-a-long plants.

This is one of two new beds with roses.  It has been a pleasant surprise that even though the bushes are small, they have bloomed frequently.

As I buy roses now, I’ve become more discerning.  I want hardy roses that have a scent.  This Double Delight Rose has the strongest, lovely aroma of any rose I have found.  I have an older one, but this new bed is easy to see from my kitchen window, so I chose one for this spot.

Lady of Shalott is a David Austin rose that has a wonderful aroma.  On the David Austin site, you can select roses by many categories.  I looked at those that can do well in poor soil and have a scent.

These flowers are several days old.  When The Lady Gardener first blooms, the petals in the center have some apricot color.  This small bush has bloomed profusely.

Alnwick shows off some of the characteristics of many David Austin roses:  a tight center of petals and a round, cupped perimeter.

Roses – so many varieties to choose from and so little time.  That’s a wonderful challenge.

“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, because you only get to play one round.”  Ben HoganSave

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WestCave Preserve

Last Friday we headed to Austin for some diverse activities:  a little shopping, some Mexican food, a Gilbert and Sullivan production, and a visit to a grotto.

WestCave is about 40 miles west of Austin in an isolated area.

By the entrance gate is some New Gold Lantana.  I had thought it was a hybrid, but everything growing here is native.

Some Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) in front of the main building.

As we head down, we get a glimpse of Pedernales River.  The word means flint stone.  The Spanish explorers named it to denote an area the Indians had used because it was rich with a high quality brown flint or chert.

Ball moss hanging from Live Oaks.

The moss is a Tillandsia or the type of plant that gets its nutrients from the air and is not harmful to the tree host.

Further down, Woodland Fern grows among the rich soil of tree leaf mulch.

Not sure what this plant is – maybe a type of Oakleaf Hydrangea?

The path is rough and steep.  Wish I had taken a picture of the stone stairs, but I was concentrating on staying upright.  The guide constantly reminds the group to stay on the path for our safety and to protect the preserve.

Some American or Canadian Germander (Teucrium canadense) seems to grow out of rocks.

Love the bright red of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) flower.

At the end of the trail is the grotto area.  It seems that we’ve stepped into a mythical secret place.

What looks like a cave is just a spot under fallen rocks.

Delicate Maidenhair Fern provides more lush growth.

Standing under the large fallen rock, the dripping water forms a thin curtain.

This the actual cave that we climb into.  The rocks are wet and slippery, so I’m thankful for the wire hand holds.

The Cow Creek Limestone forming the ceiling of the cave is covered with ancient sea shells.

The humidity is so high that by the time we leave this area, we’re soaked with sweat.

But I take the time to take photos of these two dragonflies.

I’ve never seen a red-orange one before.  Glad one stopped darting around long enough for a photo to be taken.

Two full days of activities was fun.

Have a blessed day.

“We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world.  Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know and don’t understand.”                          David AttenboroughSave

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Convenient Containers

Container Gardening has become all the rage.  It is rightfully touted as useful for small spaces, like apartment balconies and as a way to make a statement.  But there is a real knack to combine plants to make it artful, which I don’t seem to possess.

I use flowerpots for totally different reasons.  Since there is little shade in my yard, I use pots to place plants in some shade.  Under trees is one of my few options, and since it is not healthy for tree roots to have the amount of water that flowers need, I don’t want to put them in the ground there.

Another use of pots is demonstrated with these Petunias.  Pots are an easy way to use the color of annuals wherever you need it.

Deciding where to put plants sometimes requires some time to think of the right place or to prepare a flowerbed for them.  Phil Colson of Atlanta says, “For their first three years in the garden, keep perennials on ‘roller skates,’ moving them around until you find the spot they like best.  Then just leave’em alone.”  This quote comes from Passalong  Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing.

These Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) came from my mother’s yard.  I’ve had them before in the ground here.  But that spot was either flooded or dry as a bone, so eventually, they died.

Sedum is another plant that needs shade, so I put them on the covered porch that gets filtered sun.

As I have confessed before, I am guilty of buying plants with no place prepared to put them.

Leaving plants in pots until you have the right spot for them can go on indefinitely.  These three plants:  Salvia Greggi, Oso Easy® Honey Bun Rose, and Ligustrum have been in these pots for at least three years.  It is amazing how long plants can be in pots before they become root bound.

This Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) is shown here in a pot, but actually made it into a flowerbed in just months.  It is called mock because it has a citrusy smell but, of course, is not an orange tree.

I found Blue Mist Spiraea or Bluebear ‘Dark Knight’ shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and am excited because  butterflies love Blue Mistflower (Coelestinum).  The flowers look alike.

This is zoned down to 5, so I plan to get this in the ground, eventually.  It is a woody perennial that should get about 5 feet tall and wide.

Still trying to decide where to put this Ragin’ Cajun Ruellia or Texas Petunia (Ruellia elegans), but it will probably be permanently in a pot.  It should endure the heat but not the cold.

Another reason I use pots is that I adore lots of plants that are not cold hardy and thus have to be moved inside for the winter.  Actually, I’m not sure how this Foxglove will perform here, but the color of the flowers were irresistible.

There are no rules on how large a “pot” can be.  Cattle feeders are poplar for lots of uses here.

Here Yellow or Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum (DC.) A. Gray protects the roots of a vine.  This is a hardy Texas native.

Clematis vines need feet in shade and the rest of the vine in the sun. Jackman clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is a perennial flowering vine hardy from zone 4 – 9.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Your comments encourage me and help me learn.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it is accepted by the majority.”  Rick Warren

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Tall, Slender, and Elegant

Guess we all wish that title described us.  But, in this case, that means plants, not people.

Tall, of course, can be relative.   Larkspurs bloom on tall stems, as do Cannas, and the flowers of Red Yucca, so I’m including them.  Canna lilies, although not true lilies, grow from rhizomes and are faithful to return each spring.  Because they multiply, they are usually a pass-a-long plant.

One great thing about re-blooming Iris is that it flowers at unexpected times.

Larkspur (Delphinium consolida) are a wonderful spring blooming annual, if you’re not picky about where it pops up in years to come.  They are generous re-seeders.

I had never considering planting their seeds until I saw them in a friend’s yard.  She generously shared some seeds; so I’ve enjoyed them ever since no matter where they appear.

Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba”)  is a small flowering tree with multiple trunks.  These tend to grow tall and remain slender.  The flowers look like lovely small orchids.

Desert Willows are native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including Texas.

The thin stems of (Gaura Llindheimeri) keep growing taller throughout the hot months of summer until they hide whatever is behind them.  So I should have planted them in their own space, but I didn’t.

As they sway in the breeze, they are reminiscent of butterflies.  Thus a common name for them is Twirling Butterflies.

I also have a Pink Gaura which has reappeared after several years of being absent.  Gaura roots seem to endure very well.  They could be considered a bully, but I like them, anyway.

After my experience with Hollyhocks and Rust disease, I was undecided whether or not to dig up this one that came from some remaining roots.  After checking it over and keeping a close watch on it, it has survived disease-free and has produced beautiful flowers.  But it has been a rather dry spring.  If and when we get lots of rain, the disease will probably reappear.

Every year I rave about Henry Duelberg Saliva (Salvia farinacea).  I think it should be a staple that is used more often in zones 7b – 10a.

The white Augusta Duelberg Salvia (wife of Henry) is a companion that usually comes up in a bed of Henry Duelberg Salvia.  Don’t know how that works botanically.

In this picture, the Russian Sage is the tall slender beauty.  In front of it is Salvia Greggi and behind it is a huge Earthkind® rose bush on the left and Knockouts® on the right.

The hardiness and aroma of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) makes it a worthwhile plant, especially for arid areas.  It is native to the steppes, which are grassy plains, of southwestern and central Asia, so the name is appropriate.

Bee Balm or Monarda might not be considered elegant by some some people, but it’s a notable plant to attract pollinators.  Plus, I think it’s pretty, if it can be staked so that it won’t flop over.  I chose to put a cage around it to hold it up.

Gladiolus often need staking, but Atom Gladiola is a shorter version that doesn’t lean over too much.

These bulbs were ordered two or three years ago from Old House Gardens, which specializes in heirloom bulbs.

Although many of Old House Garden bulbs date back to the 1700’s, this particular bulb was hybridized in 1946.

The old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true to many things, including plants.  So choose what plants you think fall into the category of tall, slender, and elegant.

“When life gives you a rainy day, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles.”  unknown

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Cafe at the Ridge Gardens, Part 2

Lots of creativity in the gardens at the Ridge.

Displays on the long porch outside the Cafe include this old wash tub with an interesting mixture of succulents.

Not sure what the original purpose of this long wooden container was.  Looks old.  Anyone know?

Not a big fan of pink flamingos in the yard, especially in Texas.  But these glass ones are classier than the plastic ones usually seen.

Drawing a blank on this flower identification.  Anyone?

The gift shop was originally built as a storage building.

The gift shop displays some of its wares on the porch.  Cute chubby bumble bee.

Another building contains potting soils, fertilizers, etc.  I’ve been trying to figure out what the sign was painted on.  Looks like a hood but is tapered too much – maybe a race car.

Even a pile of rocks (which Central Texas has plenty of) can be spruced up.

An old colander makes a nifty planter.  Vincas or Periwinkles are a great annual for our hot summers.   They are so bright and cheery.

Old tire is considered a hillbilly planter of choice.  But it certainly has character.  This one has Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea Flamenco Samba), some Petunias, and Blackfoot Daisy.  Don’t know what the small purple flowers are.

Really sturdy and heavy picnic tables.

The grass is artificial.  We were told that liquids penetrate it, and that it is strong and long lasting.

Plenty of pots and succulents to choose from.

I was fascinated by these posts for the outside patio.

These tree trunks serve a purpose.

Molded to look like tree trunks, they are coolers to ice drinks for a gathering outside.

This has a Spanish mission look to me.  Very southwestern.

In the spaces between the flagstones, small succulents have been planted close to the edge of the walkway.  Lil Miss Lantana on the right with its pink blooms loves Texas sun.

Don’t know if this wishing well is a true well or not.  But it is iconic for garden lovers.

Birdbath makes a perfect miniature succulent garden.

Another old wash tub.  They’re hard to find without paying an arm and a leg for them.

Check out counter for garden purchases.

Just like at the grocery store checkout, before you pay out, more items to tempt you. Unusual containers that are already filled make it easy to take home a completed pot.

On the left is a Thorn of Crowns plant without the thorns.  So beautiful that I couldn’t resist.

Have an old broken mixer or one you don’t use?  Make it a planter.  Great imagination.

Great place to visit, especially for gardeners.

“You know you are a gardener when everything you see becomes a planter.”  unknown

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Cafe at the Ridge Garden Vignettes

Our Master Gardeners Club took a day trip last week to the Kerrville area.  Our first stop was Café at the Ridge outside of town.  Originally it was called Roadkill Cafe.  About 12 years ago a new owner renovated it and put in a bakery, a garden, a nursery, and a gift shop.

Immediately I knew I would love this place.

Usually, whiskey barrels are cut in half for a flower pot.  This arrangement of three different ways to use the barrels make them much more unique.

Behind the railing is the porch area for the cafe.  We ate a delicious lunch there.

The wood is mesquite, which is expensive because it takes a long time for trunks to get large.

The pot on the left contains a Hardy Hibiscus.  Behind that is Dusty Miller with its lacy gray leaves.  On the right are some Daylilies and mystery yellow flowers.

This picture is to show the use of a broken pot.  In the center, surrounded by Begonias is a large pot that has parts of the pot stuck in the remaining large section.  There is also a bright blue pot placed inside.

Even though I like yard art, I don’t care for the hanging sunflower circles.

Another reconstructed clay pot contains plants and a fairy garden.

Unusual.

Lots of brightly colored pots for sale.

The theme of the garden seemed to be:  use as many unique items as flower pots as possible.  Here, old chest drawers were attached to legs and hold Foxtail Fern, Woodland Fern, and Begonias.  Not sure about the dark leafed plant.

A concrete basket contains Dusty Miller, Pentas, and maybe Penstemon.

A seesaw for adults

I’m always on the look out for old metal cars.  So far, no luck or they are too costly.

The round plaque would be nicer if it were more legible.

I actually have an old enamel pot that I need to drill holes in so it can be a planter.

The plant in the large pot looks like a Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynosux chenpodiodes) and the purple leafed one behind it is Princess Caroline Napier Grass, which is a Texas Super Star plant.

Because the Mexican Flame Vine is zone 9 -10, I have to move it into the shed for winter.  I bought it at a garden club sale in Waco but didn’t realize it was too tropical for here.  But it is beautiful.

Even old tires can become planters.  Not sure how they folded the tire back after cutting the zigzags.

A word about yard art.  This place has an overabundance of it.  But they are selling plants, pots, yard art, and suggesting ways to use plants.

The “tea and brie” set look down their noses at yard art.  But it can be used effectively.  First, one should see and enjoy the plants.  Then, wandering through the garden, one should encounter pleasant surprises that makes one smile, such as yard art.

In the city, that can be more challenging because of yard space, and because  some community rules prevent it.  But enjoy it when you can.

Lamb’s Ear in front.  The bedstead in the back has been turned into a plant protector.  In the center is a wire grid tepee that can be covered with plastic to shade plants from the sun.

Note the posts for this porch – cages filled with chunks of glass.

This picture was taken to show the Bottle Tree.  Haven’t seen one with that shaped frame.

I was enamored with this place, so lots of pictures.  Next post will continue with more from this nursery.

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Bulbs Blooming

Different varieties of Lilies brighten up a spring yard.

Three Crinum Lilies, planted a few years ago, have begun to reproduce.  With our blazing sun from spring through fall, they would melt in full sun.  So these are planted on the east side of the house which protects them from the harshest sun.

They do well in southern U.S. because they love heat and moisture.  Here we have heat, but extra water is needed.

“Ellen Bosanquet” Crinum Lily (Crinum “Ellen Bosanquet’) with its deep rose color is lovely.

Crinums have huge bulbs.

Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) have also spread.  Like other daylilies, each bloom lasts for a day.  But these open early in the morning and truly last until the sun dips.

Although it is recommended that Kindly Lights should be protected during mid-day hours, these are in full sun most of the day.

Really like the spider shaped petals.

Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) has a striking deep burgundy color with golden highlights.

Very reliable bulb.

The tiny stones seen in the upper left of the picture are expanded shale, which is a wonderful amenity for clay soil.  It’s expensive but lasts forever.

Good old “Ditch Lilies” come back for the 11th spring.  What more can one ask for?

Pretty color and the foliage lasts until first frost.

These Daylilies were planted in two long flowerbed on opposite ends of the house.  One receives morning sun and one afternoon sun, and they perform equally well.  Such a hardy plant.  Love them.

If you haven’t tried bulbs, I think they deserve a chance.

“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”             Albert Einstein

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