Passalong Plants

Winter is the perfect time to read gardening books.  Someone at a gardening conference recommended the following book to me.

This one was definitely worth the read.  It’s informative and humorous.  Two authors alternate writing the chapters.  If you read ‘Southern Living’, you’re familiar with Steve Bender’s gardening column.  The other author is Felder Rushing who has written numerous books and speaks frequently on the garden conference circuit.

Old plants that have been grown in the south for generations and passed along to family and friends is the subject of the book.  They explain growing conditions and how to propagate each plant.  This Spider Flower, or Cat’s Whiskers (Cleome hasselrana) reseeds freely.  So it’s easy to passalong either seeds or new plants.

“A word of advice to the novice – Cleome, particularly early in the season before flowering, looks suspiciously like marijuana.  Expect quizzical looks, and be prepared to explain.”  F. Rushing

“People give plants the dumbest names.  Just because individual flowers on the long stems of Physostegia have hinged joints and remain pointing in whatever position they’re bullied into by your finger, the plant has come to be called Obedience.  Well, don’t be fooled by this tame title…In moist soil, it’s so invasive that it actually seems to thrive on being brutally rogued.”  F. Rushing

That’s probably true, but I don’t have moist soil, so it spreads very slowly here.

“For all you fern aficionados out there who fancy yourselves experts on the subject, here’s a litmus test for you – are you familiar with Southern  Shield fern (Thelypteris kunthi)?”  S. Bender

It’s also sold as Wood Fern.  I am very happy with mine.  But, with our clay soil and dry climate, it doesn’t spread easily.

“I looked out my window the other morning and saw a troop of naked Ladies gracing my garden.  Don’t get excited – these weren’t dedicated sun worshipers or buxom starlets filming a B movie on location.  Instead, they were the surprising flowers of Lycoris.”     S. Bender

They’re also called magic lilies.  The most popular naked ladies here are Red Spider Lilies (Lycpros radiata).

“All of these Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckias) are easy to pass along.  Save seed or let them self-sow and transplant seedlings.  I always propagate it by dividing clumps in late winter or early spring.  Just lift a clump with a garden fork and pull the roots apart.”      S. Bender

The last chapter in the book focuses on the Southern habit of using yard art.  It’s titled “Well, I Think it’s Pretty.”

“Of course, most educated people consider such displays to be tacky.  But there are a couple of things wrong with this generalization.  First, you don’t have to be Southern to enjoy classic yard art.  Second, art is in the eye of the artist.  Who’s to judge what is good taste and what is bad?”

Although, I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess that F. Rushing wrote that.  He presented at a conference I attended in the fall and showed his own yard.  He’s a zany comic and his yard art supports that.

“Painted crown tires benefit society beyond just being vernacular art.  For one thing, they recycle old rubber and are good for the environment.  And they’re funny – they give us a good laugh.”  F. Rushing

In their travels across the south, each author has visited many gardens, public and private, and collected many pictures of plants and yard art.  They are knowledgeable about their subject.

This is a fun book that is easy to read and provides helpful information.

“You don’t need a Ph.D., horticultural library, or yardman to belong to the Passalong Club.  All that’s required is a piece of earth and a generous heart.  In fact, you’ve probably been a charter member for years without realizing it.”  Passalong Plants

Looking Back Again

Whoa.  Last night was the lowest temperature we’ve ever had in the 16 years we’ve owned this property.  Four degrees.  That might look mild to you guys up north.  But it’s unheard of here. 

Even crazier, the forecast for this Saturday shows a high of 68.  We are used to wild swings in the temperature, but this is nuts.  So I choose to think on mild springtime with beautiful sunny days and bright flowers blooming.

All time best plant in Texas to attract butterflies:  Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum).  Nothing better, in my opinion.  From late spring to late fall, those flowers will be covered with butterflies, especially the Queen Butterfly, seen here.

Another must have for butterflies is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Butterflies, like this Painted Lady, and other insects flock to them.  And for us humans, they’re a gorgeous flower that blooms all summer and into the fall.

Crisp white Shasta Daisies announce “welcome home” just like a white picket fence.  This Common Buckeye butterfly is enjoying a feast.

Early spring brings Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens S. Watson) that looks poised for flight.

Nothing beats Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg aka Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage) for attracting bees.  It’s a trustworthy perennial.  Love the purple flowers on tall stems.

Roses bring a romantic element to gardens.  Some roses are classic with the look of florist roses on tall stems.  I do enjoy having bushes that provide roses for cutting.

But these Drift Roses serve a different purpose.  They are reliable re-bloomers and low growing.  Like most Knockout Roses, they are covered with flowers during the warm season and provide consistent color to the yard.

Butterflies love White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).   It’s an interesting flower because its stems are so tall that they constantly sway in the wind.

Want some bright color?  These Strawberry Gompheras provide an electric color.  Their blooms last a long time.

To grow plants, wherever one lives, consideration has to be given for each plant’s needs.  This can feel burdensome or challenging.  I prefer the latter.  Here’s to you and your plants surviving this frigid weather.

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ice Adorning Plants

Usually, there’s one ice event a year in northern and central Texas.  So, hopefully, we’d have had it for this year.  It was short lived, even though the temperatures stayed in the teens for several days and low 20’s for a couple of weeks.

Although the sun hasn’t risen very high, a Red Oak glistens.

A certain beauty comes with frosty, icy weather.  At least, it’s pretty from the inside of a warm house and not on the roads.

Rose bushes planted this year are in the lower right foreground.  Quite a shock to the system.

Plants low to the ground got a blast of water from the sprinkler system.  That sounds crazy, but our rainfall last year was two thirds of the average.  We need the moisture and didn’t know the temps were going to drop that low.

This frozen bush is Flame Acanthus.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) bush still covered in seed clusters.

Chinapin Oak draped in icycles.

Don’t remember what this is, but love the jeweled look.

Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) looks top heavy with ice but remained upright.

Showbiz Rose still had rose buds when the cold hit.

Ice doesn’t bother seed pods and leaves of Yellow Lead Ball Tree (Leguminosae Leucaena retusa). A sprinkler head close to this Crape Myrtle created a heavy coat of ice.

The bones of a Texas Ash and a smaller Post Oak are highlighted in ice.

In November we transplanted two climbing roses from their pots.  Look sad, but they’re sturdy and should survive.

In the yard, I use hardy plants that will survive our winter.  Risking tender plants that will freeze is crazy, so pots are used for those that I know won’t survive.  They do well in the heated shed.

Wherever you are this season, I hope the beauty of winter can be enjoyed however you please – inside or outside.

“Change is inevitable.  Progress is optional.”  Tony Robbins

Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa

Last of Rose Emporium Snapshots

This is the final post from our last visit to the Antique Rose Emporium.

As expected, even at the end of the blooming season, there were tons of beautiful roses.

Wandering around, it is a welcoming garden with no pressure to buy.

Shrimp Plant or Mexican Shrimp or false hop (Justicia brandegeeana) is an evergreen shrub with interesting flowers.  It is native to Mexican and Florida and is a zone 9 -11 bush.

Because this nursery is so large, there’s room for massive plantings that show the beauty of many different plants.

Smile, please.

Knock Out Rose with another plant intertwined.

A statute for a formal garden with petunias.

Someone there has a sense of humor.  A cemetery for broken pots.

A grave for Cracked Up and Busted…

and for Rest in Pieces and Dead Broke.

Old house and gazebo add to the quaint feeling of the place.

Climbing roses on the gazebo.

Part of the plantings around the gazebo include this Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) bush.  Native to Canada, and eastern US, it spreads to Texas.  American Indians used plant parts to break fevers with the heavy sweating it caused.  Therefore, it’s also known as feverwort or sweating plant.

Should know this plant but can’t bring the name to mind.  Anyone?

Angel Wind Begonias for sale.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) attracting butterflies, as usual. Fabulous plant.

A huge stand of Cigar Plant (Cuphea melvillea) is dense along a walkway.

Mexican Bush Sage’s (Salvia leucantha) velvety flowers make it an outstanding flowering bush.  A Texas native, it grows really well further south of us.  Although it is perennial, it sometimes doesn’t survive our winters.

Cute stone pixies waiting to be bought.

Walking back to the parking lot, this old piece of farming equipment is a reminder of days gone by.

“Maybe if we tell people that the brain is an app, they will start using it.” unknown

Joy, Sadness, Hope

As the end of the year is nearing, this post is about some recent personal events in my life.  I will return to gardening in my next post.

A wonderful event gave us joy – This month our granddaughter graduated from Dallas Baptist College.  She has a job and will start her Masters in January.  She has always brought us great joy.  What a super time for our family.

Even though we knew this event was imminent, sadness came with the passing of my 97 year old Mother last week.  She was a part of our lives that will be missed.

Hope – As the celebration of Christmas nears, it is a reminder that the Christ child came for the purpose of salvation for all people.  A relationship with Jesus comes with an acknowledgment of our sin and separation from God; our repentance; and faith believing in Him.

May God’s presence and mercy take you through whatever valleys of sorrow and hills of joy you experience.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

More Pictures from Rose Emporium

Although this nursery in Brenham is named Antique Rose Emporium, there is so much more there than roses.

Like these Cleome Spider Flowers (Cleome hasslerana).  It’s an annual that reseeds.  Every time I see them, I promise myself that I’ll order seeds and try them.

Notice the white rose buds to the left of the picture.  One reason I enjoy this nursery so much is how they mix roses with other flowers.

Not sure what these small flowers are.

Lots of garden art from small gnomes to larger objects create odd and interesting vingettes.

These are some fancy, feathery Dianthus.

Wish I knew where they buy all their unusual yard art because they don’t have it for sale.

Pretty sure this is Zexmenia, a hardy Texas native with low water requirement.

How about this strange combination.  But it works.  What is that old contraption?

Dwarf Mexican Petunias  (Ruellia brittoniana) circle behind the angel.  They are a Texas Superstar plant and are not as aggressive as the taller ones.

Unfortunately, they never seem to have these Celosia from the Amaranth family for sale.

I also like the cluttered look of the flowerbeds.  Beware, Neat Freaks, this is probably not your kind of place.

These are huge Morning Glories.

Really like the stacked pots.  These suckers are heavy, so where ever they are positioned is permanent.  Couldn’t quite figure out how the top pot is elevated.

Airy Cosmos always provide fun movement in the garden.  I’m also going to give these a try.  But they need some space.

Every time we’ve visited this nursery, seasonal annuals are planted around this lady.  Can’t decide if these are a new type of mum or marigold.  Maybe neither.

The nursery acquired its name from the fact that antique roses were all they sold at the beginning of the business.  The owner was one of the original Rose Rustlers in Texas that propagated roses from those in cemeteries and old homesteads.  Those were treasured because they had scents, were hardy in unforgiving weather, and lasted decades after they were planted.

Now, the owner has branched out to some new roses that are scented and hardy.  He has hybridized a few himself and has recently hired a young man to extent their efforts with some new methods.

“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”  unknown