Tulips, Tulips, Tulips

Dallas Arboretum does a bang up job of seasonal flower displays.  It may not be Holland, but the tulips were spectacular.

Just inside the entrance gate is the first tulip bed we saw.

Stopped me in my tracks.

This is my favorite tulip – bright red with yellow edges on the petals.

Dark center gives it even more interest.

In a large open field-like area, there were many beds with different color combinations.  Other types of bulbs mixed in added more colors and textures.  Clusters of Delft Blue Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) filled some spaces.

One really huge oval shaped bed was about 75 feet in length.

Violas were used as borders and fillers.  This one is Penny Blue Viola (Viola Cornuta)

These small flowers made me realize that I don’t know the difference between violas and pansies.  So I did a little research. They have a similar look and are both in the viola family.  Both are cold hardy, but neither do well in warmer weather.

Pansies have larger blooms but fewer ones and take a longer time to spread.  Pansies are the favorite of buyers because the blotch faces on the flowers are familiar.

Violas have more blooms, perform better, fill in faster, and look better earlier than pansies.

Some of the tulips, like these yellow ones are hybrids with double petals.  This is Monte Carlo Double Early.  They look more like peonies than tulips.

The small orangish flowers are Nature Orange Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana).

More double and single tulips, yellow pansies, and yellow daffodils.

Got to admire how the colors of the different flowers coordinate.

To plant tulips in Texas is a monumental task.  First, they have to be chilled for a certain length of time.  Then, planted at just the right time.  And to plant multiple large swaths of colors together and with other plants that compliment each other blows my mind.  Sure, the Arboretum has a large staff to do that and many volunteers.  But still, kudos to the master mind behind it and to the workers who did the labor.

A totally different look with white daffodils and maroonish tulips.

A border of pink and blue Hyacinths.

Pale colors here look peaceful.

Here maroon tulips are paired with a pale yellow viola that makes the tulips really pop.

There’s mixture of singe and double tulips.

Another area with my favorites.  In the background, notice the low trimmed hedge in a circle shape close to the tree.  Interesting.

It was a special treat to slowly amble around and soak in the beauty of these early spring flowers.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.”  John Quincy Adams

Popping Up

It’s a time of hope and joy.  I could get discouraged about all the work that needs to be done outside.  But, instead, I’m excited to see the coming beauty.

Even if all the work doesn’t get done, the flowers will bloom.

This is an exciting time when new leaves pop up.  That means flowers won’t be far behind.  There are both Crimson Pirate Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) and Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) in this bed.

Since Daffodils are the first bulb flowers to open here, they’re probably need the end of their show now.

The thing about Daffodils is that they grow so low to the ground and droop slightly, so it’s hard to really see their faces.  So bend down or get on your knees to fully appreciate them.  Yes, it is hard for me, too, to get on my knees.

There are two flowerbeds filled with Ditch Lilies greenery.  What a long lasting show they will put one.

All ornamental bulb plants have leaves that store their food during dormant periods, like winter.  So the foliage should not be cut off until they dry completely at the end of their blooming season.

Three Byzantine Gladiolus(Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus) bulbs were planted last October.  These are new for me, and I can’t wait to see them.  They are native to the Mediterranean area, so they love heat.

These were ordered from Old House Gardens, a family business in Michigan.  I’m pretty careful where I order plants from.  So although this company is far north, they have proven reliable.  They inform me if I order something that won’t grow here, and they contract out growing certain bulbs in some places in the south.  Their emails are fun as well as informational about what to plant at a certain time and what they have for sale.

Crinum Lily bulbs are very large (these were about 6 – 7 inches across) and difficult to dig up.  They can get large enough to weight 20 pounds.  Years ago three were planted close to the house for winter protection.  They have done very well and multiplied many times.  They needed to be dug up and separated but seemed like daunting task.

A new telephone fiber line going in that area forced me to perform that task.  So many were dug up quickly one evening and put in pots.  Some were damaged but I think they all will survive.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.  Crinums are worth it to me.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are low growing beauties with yellow blooms.

One of the great things about bulbs is that they’re such a nice surprise each spring.  I forgot that these Hyacinths were in this bed.

And I certainly don’t remember moving this one to this spot.

Each year I put off dividing these Ornamental Onions.  This year it’s a must job.  I need plants for two garden club plant sales, so that is my incentive.  As they say, just get ‘er done.

I have reblooming Irises all over the yard and love how their colors enrich each spot.

I’m a huge fan of bulbs.  I love how consistent and reliable they are, their gorgeous flowers and the anticipation they provide.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  Alexander Den Heijer

Winter Came Back

Last week old man winter snuck back when I wasn’t paying attention.

Ice covering Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree.

Ice on Yellow Lead Ball bush and Crape Myrtle.

The good news is that this winter event brought rain – over five inches.  Hip, hip, hooray.

The beautiful Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) looked really sad.

The weight of the ice on the branches was a concern.  But in a couple of days, it was melting, and the tree perked back up.

The Live Oak, too, was frosted with ice.

Another Chinese Pistache with ice.

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) with ice.  Okay, you get the picture.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native flowering small tree.  The rebar post was put there when it was small to mark the spot to avoid with the mower.  Guess it’s time to remove it.

Ice caked around a red rose hip on a climbing rose.

The hills were covered with ice, and it wasn’t fit for man nor beast to be out.  A paraphrase of a W. C. Fields quote.

From inside where it was warm and cozy, it looked dreamy.  And I’m so thankful for the rain.

“Sometimes my greatest accomplishment is just keeping my mouth shut.”  Zane Baker

Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown

 

Hearts and Flowers

From store decorations to school parties, nothing says Valentine’s Day like hearts and flowers.  And, I must not forget glorious chocolate.

Felder Rushing is a prolific author with about 44 gardening books published.  This one is a small picture book ideal for an end table or coffee table.  For each heart picture, there is a quote.

He is a creative guy who definitely takes some unique pictures.  The theme is about hearts that can be seen on a walk outside.  There’s no plant information or garden designs, just hearts.

Anthurium plant (Anthurium andraeanum) is among the best-known tropical flowers.  Found in Hawaii and other Pacific islands.

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”                   Hans Christian Anderson

Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is native to Siberia, northern China, Korea, and Japan.  Maybe it can be grown in northern USA, or as a pampered container plant in some environments, but here, it’s a picture book flower.

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”  Iris Murdoch

This little book inspired me to look in my own environment for hearts.  Wrought iron furniture has lots of hearts, if you use your imagination.

Sweetheart Hoya or Valentine Hoya’s (Hoya kerrii) perfect green hearts fit the bill.  It’s a succulent with thick leaves and will bloom in the right conditions.  They need filtered light, water when soil is dry, and 65 – 80 degrees.  But mine lives outside in the shade during the hot summer and is brought in during the winter.

Heart on a wrought iron bench.An old picture shows a stone heart in our creek.

Have fun looking for your own hearts.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

“Love is a game that two can play and both win.”  Eva Gabor

Counting the Days


Container gardening has become quite rage – with good reason.  Pots provide lots of options.

For those plants that don’t like the cold at all, pots are the perfect solution.  I enjoy tropical plants when it’s warm and carry them into a heated shed when the weather gets cold.

Sure, I like natives, but tropical Hibiscus is just so darn pretty.

The color of this tropical Hibiscus is dreamy.

And who can live without Bougainvillea?  They will live indefinitely in a container, if they are protected inside during the winter and watered frequently in the summer.

Flame of the woods, jungle flame, or Ixora (Ixora coccinia), a delicate looking tropical flower, has proven to be quite hardly as long as it gets taken inside for the winter.  All of these tropical plants love summer heat, which we have in abundance.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) can’t survive below 50 degrees and certainly not our unpredictable winters.

Orange Marmalade Crossandra’s bright flowers make it a scene stealer.

Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata Escapade White) isn’t considered particularly tropical, but it can’t survive our usual low teens in the winter.  It does fine a little further south, but not here.

Some plants that need winter protection can be tricky to carry inside, like this prickly Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristate).  But trimming keeps them manageable to handle and creates passalong plants to share.

Another plus for containers is how versatile they are in the yard.  Move them around as needed for color in certain spots.  I’ve had this pot of Kalanchoe for more than 20 years.  As it grows, I just break off branches and root them.

I also use flowerpots for annuals that I don’t want to plant in the ground.  Petunias will live just as long in pots, if they’re watered enough.  They, too, can be placed around the yard for color and variety.

I’m getting antsy for spring, although it’s a month or so before any yard work can be done.   It will be even longer before pots can be taken outside.  But I’m still on a countdown for glorious spring.

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

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