Waiting for Spring

So close, but not quite yet.  Warm days feel like spring is here, but are followed by colder days that remind us to be patient.

An early morning drive gives a full view of the rising sun in all its glory.

That big yellow ball of fire makes a spectacular appearance.

As I eagerly await flowers blooming in my yard, I’m reminded that it’s okay to just go buy some flowers.  Or just enjoy ones given to you or gift someone with a gorgeous bouquet.

Carnations have never been a favorite of mine.  But the new lush colors have made them a great choice for arrangements.

But nothing beats a rose for cut flowers.  Although these commercial ones have no scent because they were bred to have tall, strong stems and many petals.  Still beautiful.

Yeah.  Roses speak of love and delicate creations.That early morning drive took us to a garden meeting.  A woman from the Hubbard area, where we were, is a true farm woman, and it sounded like her family is pretty self sustaining.  She raises seven and a half (she’s expecting) children, lots of goats, chickens, and cows.

She was at the meeting to give a short talk and sell her products.  The usual goat products of soaps and lotions as well as some creams for pain and other products were available.

But the highlight of the meeting was the baby kid.  In fact, the whole meeting was disrupted as people jumped up with their phones to get pictures.  At least, I was polite enough to wait until the end of the meeting.  Okay, that’s patting my own back.

Meanwhile, in our backyard, the Cherry Laurel is covered with blossoms.  Another encouraging sign that the arrival of spring isn’t far away – at least here.

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

Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Hints of Spring

It’s starting to warm up and green up.  Of course, it’s likely we’ll have a surprise freeze.  But I’m glad spring’s coming.

Daffodils have been blooming for a while.

I’ve considered buying some other varieties with stronger color, but the bloom season is so short that it doesn’t seem worth it.

Each year a new weed is added to the mix.  This particular one – I don’t know what it is – is mighty prolific.

Texas Flowering Quince has been blooming for about a month.  Most of the flowers are on the lower branches.  You can see that abundant weed under the branches.  The thorns make it hard to clean out around the long branches.

A few Hollyhocks are up and leafed out.  A few years ago the Hollyhocks had rust disease.  I thought I dug them all up.  But here they are.

Some Hyacinths are blooming.  They’re so short that sometimes I don’t notice them.

Beautiful small hints of a new season.  Love the shapes of the bell-like flowers.

We started pruning last month but so much more to do.  Really enjoying the sunny days when it’s not too cold or windy to work outside.  The task I always dread is the weeding.  Guess everyone does.

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”                               Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

Austin Roses

It’s rose planting time.  At least, it is in my neck of the woods.  The reason I know that is because I received a handbook from David Austin Roses.

I don’t know how many of their roses you need to buy to receive this book. Two years I bought three roses.  The book came as a delightful surprise.

This book has all of the roses the David Austin company has on the market.  He died last year, but his son is continuing the business.

The book also includes some roses that other people hybridized.  Notice the breeder on each of these roses.

Scattered throughout the book is lots of helpful information for rose growers.  Pretty much what you need to know about growing roses is in this book.  Pictures of inserting them into your landscape shows different uses for roses.

One of my very favorite David Austin Roses is Lady of Shalott.  The color and smell is alluring.  Plus, it is very hardy here in my alkaline soil.  Of course, I do amend the soil; but still, it has to endure extreme heat and strong sun.

The Lady Gardener is another beauty, although it hasn’t performed as well as Lady of Shalott here.

Ainwick is another one in my yard.  Most of David Austin’s roses have a distinctive form.  Bowl shaped with petals packed in the center.  Also, the petal count is extremely high.

Thomas à Becket has been a heavy bloomer for me.  The color is elusive.  It isn’t a true red but definitely eye catching.  Not only is it a repeat bloomer, but it has a ton of roses at a time.

This book has me salivating for springtime and roses scenting the air.  Of course, it also encouraged me to buy a couple more bushes.  That was the purpose, I’m sure.

“A rose is an argument.  It proclaims the triumph of beauty over brutality, of gentleness over violence, of the ephemeral over the lasting, and of the universal over the particular.”  Alain Meilland

Warmer in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a tourist town south of us where it hardly ever freezes.  It’s easy for us to pop in for a day there.

On Main Street where many small shops draw visitors, planters enhance the view along the sidewalks.

This one has brightly colored pansies and ornamental cabbages.

I’ve often wondered who is responsible for the upkeep of the planters – the shopkeepers or the city.

Note the tractor seats used as sitting spots for weary shoppers.

This one really intrigued me.  It’s a man laying in a bathtub.  So clever.

Just love the work of creative people.

Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas.JPG

One of the big attractions in Fredericksburg, besides shopping, is the Nimitz War Museum, National Museum of Pacific War.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz served as CinCPAC, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and was soon afterward named Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas during World War II.

He was a hometown boy of German heritage.  Most people in this area have German heritage with German restaurants being another appeal.

The museum itself is huge and packed with memorabilia.  Several hours are required to view it all.

Behind the museum on the same property is a Japanese garden given by the Japanese government to promote friendship.

It’s a quiet tranquil place with a walking path on the edge of the small garden.

From that garden, the pathway leads to the Memorial Courtyard.  In the background you’ll see the Walk of Honor and the Memorial Walls.  There are numerous stone walls with thousands of pictures from WW II .

The berries on this tree look like a Possumhaw, but it has a single trunk.  Most native Possumhaws have small multiple trunks and are not this tall.  So it could be a hybrid or a totally different species.

Gorgeous tree.

As I walked along the wall, I just took a couple of pictures.  There are many individual pictures, as well.  In fact, every time we visit, there are more walls and more pictures.

One of the things I noticed were how many different ships and planes were involved.

There was a plaza with memorials in a semi-circle to honor all the US presidents who served.  Of course, F.D. Roosevelt and H. S. Truman were the commander-in-chiefs.  D. D. Eisenhower was the Commander in Europe.  J. F. Kennedy, L. B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush served in the Navy.  Ronald Reagan served in the Army.

Automatic cannon mounted on ships for antiaircraft use.

Torpedo housing to protect them from heat and being directly hit by other guns on board.

One of four solid bronze screws used to propel an aircraft carrier.

Although it wasn’t labeled,this looks like the Peace Rose, which was developed between 1935 and 1939 by a French horticulturist.  When German invasion was imminent, he sent cutting to friends out of the country to save it.

“The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”  General Dwight D. Eisenhower

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”  Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Winter Color

Winter has been mild so far here, which is fine with me.  So there are some tiny bits of color scattered around the yard.

First, I must apologize for the quality of some of the pictures – not totally in focus.

Dianthus have survived a couple of freezes really well.

This Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) has had some blooms that don’t stay open for more than a day.  It’s a native with dusty green curly leaves and is a good performer in both the summer heat and a mild winter.

Texas Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) usually has some flowers in January or February.One lone Daffodil has opened up.

Several years ago I bought this at a garden club sale and was told that it was an evergreen fern.  Turns out, it is a native Yarrow with white flowers.  But it is evergreen.

Pittsporoum in a pot provides some green, but the tips of the leaf edges are a little crisp from an earlier freeze.

Another native Yarrow has completely different leaves.  I think this is Moon Dust Yarrow (Achillea ‘Novaachdus’).  It is somewhat evergreen with dusty green leaves and does not reseed.

This hardy Ice Plant is amazing.  It’s been in the same pot on the back porch for years.  In cold weather, the foliage looks a little ragged, but it keeps on blooming even in freezing weather.  The pot is in a corner spot which protect it from harsh winds.

Yes.  I do know that this is a weed.  But the Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) will be easy to pull out of this pot when I want to get rid of it.

I think it’s pretty, and it is color.  Can’t be too choosy in the winter.

Spectacular sunrises start the day with cheery color.

On a cloud covered morning came brilliant red on the horizon.

While we’re enjoying a mild winter, I realize that further north, a polar vortex has struck with devastating temperatures.  I pray for safety for everyone experiencing this.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”   Edith Sitwell

That Tree

The photographer of this book, Mark Hirsch, took all the pictures in this coffee-table type book with an iphone.

He spoke at a Master Gardener conference last year.  After about 25 years as a newspaper photographer, he lost his job.  He lives in rural Wisconsin, so he travels a two lane road to and from town.  One day, a cement mixer truck passed his car on the edge of the road to his right.  The chute from the truck came loose and swung around to smash into the front windshield and struck Mark in the head.

During his long recovery and visits to the doctor, he passed by a farmer’s field with a large Bur Oak tree in the center of a corn field.

He became captivated by the tree during the changing seasons.  So Mark decided to take a picture of the tree every day for a year.  This book is the result of that project.

The creativity involved to get different shots that were aesthetically pleasing launched a career as an independent professional photographer.

Congratulations to him for the success of this project.

“Sometimes I arrive just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter.”               Ansel Adams

More Ice Pix

Everything looks picture worthy as I tramp around the ice covered yard.

Ice gives Yaupon Holly a sparkle.

Brr.  No one wants to live here in this cold.

Snapping off of the frozen branches from the Texas Kidneywood bush would be easy.

Possum Haw berries in a globe of ice.  Possumhaw Holly is a great small native tree with multiple trunks.

Icy Red Yucca branches under an overcast sky makes me shiver.

The two preceding pictures show Blue Mistflowers.

At the tip of tall trunks of Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), heavy ice keeps the branches from swaying in the wind.

Ice covered rose bushes have an ethereal look.

Spaghetti strands of Dried Mexican Feather Grass flops on the ground.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorn is one of the few evergreen bushes in our yard.  The frosty ice coating is gorgeous.

Tall, thin stems of Obedient Plant form upside down icicles.

Bright red Rose Hip with copper colored Rose leaves provides color in a drab wintry scene.

I enjoy some winter when the harsh weather only comes a few days at a time.  But basically, I’m a warm weather person.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ice, Ice, Ice

First of the year freeze has come and gone.  Almost, like clockwork, every January, there will be ice in the northern half of Texas.

With just mist in the air and a few drops of rain, ice formed on almost every surface outside, except for concrete areas and roadways.  The grass, Algerita bush, and the evergreen Blue Juniper to the left have ice crystals on them.

The branches of the huge Live Oak behind the backyard are weighted down with ice.  Although we have officially never had this tree examined to determine its age, it’s estimated to be over a hundred years old.

I always worry when the branches touch the ground, fearing they will break.  But, fortunately, the ice usually only lasts a couple of days.

Ice on stems and leaves of dead Cannas becomes a work of art.

Frozen water in a bird bath gives the edges of the concrete a pearlized look.  The glass knob-looking item in the center is actually an antique electrical insulator from a telephone pole.

Thin stems of Gaura are encased in ice.

Green leaves of Desert Bird of Paradise enveloped in ice.

Edged in ice, this trellis has a sophisticated, lacy appeal.

With its multiple tiny stems, a rose bush creates the most fantastic ice sculpture.

Mexican Feather Grass.

Dried Blue Mistflower stems.  Can you tell I’m enamored with the ice?

It’s surprising what lives with freezing temperatures.  These Four Nerve Daisies still have flowers.  What hardy natives they are.

Copper Canyon Daisy ice sculpture.

Pokeweed in a pot.

More rose bushes.

Not sure what this plant is.  Love the look.

Since we only have ice once or twice a year, it’s a real novelty.  So I get carried away with taking pictures.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”  Japanese proverb

Tribute to David Austin Roses

The famed rose hybridizer, David Austin, passed away recently. Read below about his life and his contributions to the rose world.

https://www.davidaustinroses.com/us/about-us/david-c-h-austin

Even though I live in a climate unfriendly to roses developed in rainy England, last year I decided to give them a try because I loved their form. To me, David Austin has developed a rose form without equal. The David Austin web site had a category that offered roses for hot and dry climates. So I ordered three different roses.

Actually,  I had already bought a David Austin rose, but didn’t know it was one of his.  This is Lady of Shalott.  This has turned out to be one of my most favorite roses.  The color and form are exquisite.  It has a wonderful aroma.

 

This picture of David Austin’s Alnwick rose is from a website.

This one is from my yard. The form isn’t quite the same. But my bushes are only a year old, so I’m hoping the form will come as it matures.

This is also a web picture of The Lady Gardener. This has been the most disappointing one. Mine are so pale that they are a cream colored. Of course, it could be the soil, although we piled up good soil about a foot and a half high before planting.

This Thomas A. Beckett in my yard blooms very prolifically. It’s a true red rose and beautiful.

Another web picture. Abraham Darby looks a lot like Alnwick, except it has a yellow tinge on some petals. Mine has done very well.

There many different types of plants in my yard. Some are native ones, and others are ones that have adapted to this climate. I also have lots of rose bushes. I’ve always chosen ones that do very well here. But since I truly love roses, I had to take a chance with some David Austins. I really appreciate anyone who devotes his/her life to making the world a better place to live, whatever the field where he/she works.

“The rose is a flower of love. The world has acclaimed it for centuries. Pink roses are for love hopeful and expectant. White roses are for love dead or forsaken, but the red roses, ah, the red roses are for love triumphant.” Unknown