City on the Concho

In West Texas, San Angelo is a town with a river, the Concho, which gives it many advantages.  Having a water source in an arid region is huge.  Therefore, the town boasts some green areas.

Although we’ve visited the town numerous times, on a recent overnight trip, we saw some places previously missed.

As we walked toward a Mexican restaurant (what other kind!) in the center of town, we passed the library, which has some large windows that jut out and are trimmed with this tile work around the door.  Always fascinated by symbols chosen to represent reading.

Outside the library is one of San Angelo’s ubiqutous painted sheep.  This one features children’s books.

I recognize pictures that represent Charlotte’s Web, Hank the Cowdog, and Alice in Wonderland.

The statement:  “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Here’s the favorite of many.

The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts’ unusual building is constructed of many different materials inside and out.  The inside space features a main two story central area with smaller exhibitions rooms around it.

One current exhibit displays the work of local artist, the late Jimmy Don Cox.  Western paintings and sculptures show his eye for detail.

Another show called ‘Critical Angles’ by Cathy Cunningham Little from San Antonio contains unique art using glass, mirrors, and light.

The small pieces of glass and instructions for placement were mailed by the artist to the museum.  This involved a complicated placement of the materials to achieve the exact light forms.

The only light in the room came from the small lights above each set of glass.

From this angle, you can see some of the glass.  Beautiful.

The serene outside area is nicely done with landscaping and well thought out green space and hardscape.

Love this little girl reading.

The Aermotor Windmill Company in San Angelo still manufactures and constructs the old fashioned windmills that have character and hark back to the settling of the west.  Not like the intrusive giant wind turbines that are taking over our beautiful countryside and destroying land values.  I could go on and on about that.

This succulent ground cover has lots of pretty small flowers.  Looks like a type of ice plant but don’t really know.

A cowboy teaching a kid about rope tying.

Walking down the street from the museum, this horse sculpture made us stop.

The wood in front with the holes is from Cholla Cactus.

Several old buildings along this street have been renovated for businesses.

The next morning we attended a short seminar about Gardening with Natives.  Afterwards we went to a small nursery outside of town that has a demonstration butterfly garden.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I failed to get an overall shot.  My mind must have been on what was for sale in the nursery.

This is a Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade, or Blue Lycianthes (Lycianthes rantonnei) for zone 8b to 11.

Clever idea that is easy.  Just paint some molded forms that are used for garden bed borders.

Behind the caterpillar on the right is an Italian Basil and on the left is Curly Parsley.

Using a wheel barrel for a fairy garden has been on my to do list for a while.  Maybe this will nudge me to get busy.

A strong wind was whipping the flowers on a Morning Glory Bush pretty good.

Bush Morning Glory, Morning Glory Tree, Badoh Negro, Borrachero, or Matacabra (Ipomoea carnea) survives in zones 8b to 11.  Several years ago I had one that lived about three years.  Then it became too tall and cumbersome to move into the shed.  So adios to that.

The star of the show is always Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) because it is so bright that it’s hard to look anywhere else.

Pride of Barbados is a zone 9 tropical evergreen, but in zone 8b, it is a perennial that dies to the ground.  It’s on the Texas Superstar list.

I’ve tried one that froze.  Some people cut them to the ground in early winter, mulch them heavily and cover them, so I’m going to give it another shot.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”  Hugh DownsSave

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Pops of Color

As summer drags on with no rain, the field grasses are drying, so that’s a drab sight.   Some brightness in the yard is definitely needed.

Old fashioned Geraniums ignore the heat and keep on blooming, but they can’t handle full sun.

I got a start of these several years ago at a club plant sale and have kept several pots since then.  They’re easy to propagate by cutting off a stem and sticking it into soil.  Sometimes I remember to dip the stem in a rooting compound and sometimes I don’t.

Rose Moss(Portulaca grandiflorais) is another good old reliable.  This pot has been on my porch for about six years.  Every spring I question whether or not it survived the winter cold.  Then, just when I’m about to give up, they sprout and bloom.

When I think about how long some of these plants have been in the same pot, it surprises me.  This Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) is probably 11 years old.

Every winter, it goes into the heated shed, so I don’t know if it would recover otherwise. Cold hardiness is zone 7 – 11, but I don’t trust the new 8 zone listed for us.

I think this is Antimima concinna, a type of Ice Plant, that is in the Aizoaceae family.  The Aizoaceae family is huge with over 1800 species and is mostly endemic to Southern Africa.

This has been in this pot so long that I don’t even remember where it came from.  This lovely small flower is another one that will return after a severe winter.

http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/aizoaceae.html is a good source for all these succulents that look so much alike.

Tropical Ixora (Ixora coccinea) grows in most tropical areas but is prominent in Asian tropical countries.  The leaves feel stiff.  The clusters of tangerine colored flowers last a long time on the stems.

Mine is in mostly shade but gets a shot of late afternoon sun.  About 12 years old, this plant is a winner in my book.

Gorgeous.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is truly thorny, so it’s difficult to re-pot.  Mostly, I keep cutting off the long stems and starting new plants for plant sales or passalongs.  The stems need to harden a couple of days before planting.

About six years ago, I got a cutting from a friend.  The flowers last for months and are in a lovely color.  Native to Madagascar, they are tropical.

This spring I found a Thornless Crown of Thorns or Gerold’s Spurge (Euphorbia geroldii) at a nursery near Kerrville.  Whoopee.  It’s great to not dodge the thorns.

It is hardly to 30 degrees and likes semi-shade.  Mine gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will bloom just about year round, if brought inside during the winter.

Love it.

Finally, my Bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spectabilis)  is blooming.  Every year, I get impatient for this beauty to strut its stuff.

It needs lots of hot sun, lots of water, and some fertilizer to get it going.  The first time I saw this plant years ago on Turks and Caicos, I was smitten.  Even on those wind swept islands, it bloomed and flourished.

Such a beauty.

Hope some color is brightening your summertime.

“Credit is what keeps you from knowing how far past broke you are.  Debt is slavery of the free.”  unknown

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Heat Lovers

Some plants thrive in this crazy heat and don’t even bloom until July or August when the furnace heat waves hit.

Duranta (Duranta erecta), with its long, draping branches, starts to flower the latter part of July.  In this picture, Duranta is flanked by Bird of Paradise, one old and one coming up from the roots of the original tree.

This particular branch leans over into the grass, making it difficult to mow, so the grass is a little bit tall here.

A sprawling shrub, Duranta has clusters of delicate purple flowers near the ends of the branches.

Named for an 15th century Italian botanist, Castore Durante is native to the Americas.  Why an Italian?  Who knows?

Although Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) blooms more in the spring and fall, it certainly survives well in August and blooms occasionally.

The common name Crossvine comes from the cross-shaped pattern seen when the stem is cut.

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) comes to its full gorgeous self in July and August.  This patch is about two feet tall.  Native to North America, it is in the mint family.

The individual flowers look like Foxglove, but are much hardier here.  When I bought this at a club plant sale, I was warned that it was aggressive.  That was a few years ago.  It has spread some, but I’m enjoying the forms and color.

My favorite thing about Gray Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is its soft texture.  The common name Lavender Cotton makes no sense to me.  It’s an evergreen mounding ground cover that reaches about two feet tall and three feet wide.  Santolina is native to the Mediterranean area of Europe and Africa.

This picture was taken in early June, so the yellow flowers have since died.  But the overall low growing shrub gets a jolt of growth during the late spring and early summer weather.  The only complaint I have is that when it blooms, the plant seems to get more misshapen.

So glad that these plants and some others do well in this desert-like heat.  This year, so far, we’ve had 13 inches of rain.

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”  A.A. Milne

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What’s That?

Still hot, but it’s August.

Now to the topic:  figuring out mysteries in the garden.

Looking through all my resources and the internet, this one is still an unsolved identification.  It came up in a flowerbed this year.  It’s spindly, about two feet tall but leaning over, sparse leaves with white and pink somewhat aster flowers.

Pretty in a wildflower way.  Anyone know what it is?

A couple of these plants came up in the Wood Fern bed.  I dug them up and potted them before they bloomed.  Then I searched for what they are.  The closest match is Wild Cowpea (Vigna luteola) in the bean family.

According to Wildflowers of Texas, Wild Cowpeas bloom most profusely in the fall months.  Many insects are attracted to its pollen and nectar.

“Strange as it seems” begins a line in ‘Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’.  That is fitting for spring blooming Ditch Lilies to be flowering at the height of summer.

Several flowers on tall stalks have appeared in all three flowerbeds where these daylilies are planted.

Just as pretty as they were in spring.  What is going on?

There is no real mystery about this Foxtail Fern except that I never expected it to get so big.  Have just kept upgrading it to larger pots.  Guess it can be divided when it outgrows the largest pot we can manage to carry to the shed for winter.

This Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) has a long fox looking tail.  The decision here is whether to cut it off or not.  Sometimes, this Muhly looks like grass that should be mowed.  It is a warm season grass native to Southern Arizona and northern Mexico.

Unlike Bamboo, it is not invasive because it is a clumper and does not seed well.  It is hardy zones 8 – 11.

The question here is should this Crocosmia, which is in the iris family, be moved to a shadier spot.  They are native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa.

Most instructions for Crocosmia states that these bulbs should be in full sun.  However, directions for planting in full sun should be questioned here.  As we natives say, Texas sun and full sun are not the same thing.

The few bulbs of Croscosmia I planted a year ago haven’t done much and this is the only one to bloom.  Guess it’s time to experiment with their location.

When you garden, there’s always a question or two about where, how, and what to plant.  Then nature presents other complications and mysteries.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”          Prov. 16:24Save

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Oppressive Blanket of Heat

Just a week or two of high temperatures with no rain can transform a pretty garden to dry crusty leaves, dead flowers, and limp stems and foliage.

For the first half of July, everything still looked pretty good.  The Vitex on the left had finished blooming and the Pink Coneflowers still had some flowers.  I recently pruned the Vitex in the hopes that it will bloom again this fall.

Hardy Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) last a long time:  from mid spring until mid July, depending on the weather .  Their refreshing look makes me happy.  But everything has its limits.  100 plus temperatures and dry heat with no relief buries us all.

This year a whole swarth of them came up among the Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).

The Crinums bloomed longer than usual this year.  But now the flowers are gone and the long leaves are looking ragged.

Enjoyed them while they were here.

This Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis, S. indica) has struggled this year.  It receives some morning sun but doesn’t get direct sun after about 11 am.

The routine now is for me to get out early, just after the sun rises, and water pot plants every other day.  Because I have so many, it takes over an hour.  Gardening obession has gotten a little out of hand.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri has been changed to Oenothera lindheimeri, according to Wikipedia) still looks pretty good, although it has thinned out a little since this picture was taken.

Butterflies and bees love Gaura.  It always amazes me how the pollinators get anything out of some small flowers.

Pink Gaura also is surviving the heat.

I have several Daturas or Jimsonweeds (Datura stramonium) in the shade, so they are doing well.  Have to be out at night or early morning to catch their lovely white blossoms.

Purple Heart is also in the shade most of the day, so it is thriving.  I have mistakenly identifed Purple Heart  as Wandering Jew in some posts.  A friend pointed out that they are not the same plant at all.

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) marches on.  I don’t think anything can kill it.  In fact, I have been trying to kill some that is encroaching on a rose bush.  It took multiple applications of Round Up before there was any noticeable damage.

Mexican Petunias love the heat.  Can’t say that I agree with them.  Hope you live in cooler temperatures or can stay inside and enjoy A/C most of the time.

Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”  Edwin KeithSave

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Celebrate Crape Myrtles

East Texas has bragging rights to Azaleas, which require acidic soil and regular moisture.  We certainly can’t grow Azaleas here, but boy, can we grow Crape Myrtles in Central and North Texas.

In 2006, after we had been here a year, we built a long flowerbed.  At one end we planted Three Dynamite Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dynamite’).

These were chosen because I wanted the deepest red possible.  Interestingly, the flowers are red with some coral shades.

Wild Crape Myrtles come from Asia.  Growers tried to develop intense deep flower colors, but true red flowers were always elusive. Finally in 1997, after years of intense breeding, Dr. Carl Whitcomb introduced Dynamite®, the first crape myrtle with true red flowers.

The leaves tend to be coppery green.  Another characteristic of Crape Myrtles are their multi-trunks, which are smooth.  Sometimes it’s necessary to cut out trunks to keep the number to three or five.

Crape Myrtles come in different colors, sizes, and hardiness.  Texas A & M provides good resources for that information.

This Victor Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) is a dwarf that was planted in 2013 in a different flowerbed.  It has not thrived, probably because surrounding plants have encroached.

Crape Myrtles can be Weeping, Dwarfs, Semi Dwarfs, Small Trees or Trees.  Colors run the gamut of pinks and red.  There are also whites and purples.

In 2012, two Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstoemia indica x fauriei ‘Bashan’s Party Pink’) were planted.  Those are the tall ones.

Another good site for Crapemyrtle information is from Florida.

Basham’s Party Pink are the tallest Crapemyrtles of all.  They can grow 30 – 40 feet tall and 15 – 20 ft. wide.  Don’t think we left enough space here.

They did not bloom for four years, so I wondered if they would make it.  But, hooray, they’ve bloomed two years in a row.

In the July/August 2017 edition of the Texas Gardener magazine, there is an article on a new pest attacking our beloved Crapemyrtles.  The bark scale is in East Texas, but I haven’t seen any sign of it in this area.  One site does give instructions to help control it.  Start the procedures in the fall to protect your trees.

In 2015, two Centennial Spirit Crape Myrtles were planted in that small corner where the soil is extremely rocky.  They are definitely struggling, but surviving.

Crape Myrtles should be fertilized only in the spring before they bloom.

Then, growers came out with novelty Crape Myrtles.  This one is Black Diamond.  The new growth has green leaves, so the whole plant may revert to its rootstock color.

This was bought last spring and really, really must be planted in the ground.  Got to find a place this fall.

Last May we attended the Festival of Flowers in San Antonio.  The speakers were excellent.  In the sales area, these “Alamo Fire” Red Crepe Myrtle grabbed my attention.  They were developed by a friend of the man selling them.

By the way, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency for the spelling of Crape Myrtle or if it is one word or two.  Note the spelling in the above paragraph.

Breeders are spending lots of time hybridizing new varieties.  The market remains wide open in Texas.

This color has definitely become my favorite.

Right after these three were planted, they started blooming.  Then something ate the flowers and leaves.  Jackrabbits, I suspect because they are permanently ensconced in our yard.  Anyway, these metal cages have worked to keep out the culprits.

More info about Crapemyrtles on Plant Answers.

Give these beauties full sun and just enjoy.  But do not commit Crape Murder (cutting all the branches off in winter).

“Some people think I’m going crazy.  The joke is on them.  I went there three years ago, fell in love with the place, and decided to stay there.”  unknownSave

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Roses Rock

Last fall I bought roses.  Then during the winter I ordered more roses.  The kicker is that there was no place to plant them (bad habit of mine).  So they went into pots.

A few, like this Rainbow’s End, even bloomed in the pots.   Sorry, wrong ID.  This is Sheila’s Perfume Rose.

Finally, in April, the new tiller arrived, so we created two new flowerbeds.  The tiller was used to loosen soil down to about three or four inches.   Then we followed the steps in creating a Lasagna Garden.  We added a final step of tilling all the soil, leaves, manure, etc. that was dumped in the bed.

At last, the beds were ready to plant the bushes.  Even though they are still small, the rose bushes have bloomed profusely since planting.

Each bush should grow to three feet wide, so we spread them apart to provide the needed space.

Alnwick by David Austin produces a nice tight rose.  All of the David Austin roses were bare root but survived in the pots.  I specifically chose roses from their list of those that do well in poor soil and also have a noticeable smell.

This Lady of Shalott by David Austin has a different form than many of his.  This one was purchased at Rose Emporium because its scent is wonderful.

Double Delight has long been one of my favorites because it has a strong, wonderful scent.

I’ve wondered if The Lady Gardener by David Austin was mislabeled.

Because this is the color shown on their website.  That one has been a disappointment even though it blooms constantly.  I guess it could be the soil.

Thomas A. Beckett produces a really large amount of blossoms.  Because these bushes need to spend their energy right now on growth of roots and branches, I have been deadheading them.  But I still want to enjoy their aroma inside, so I have bouquets with short stems.

A few years ago I bought a couple of antique glass flower frogs from e-bay.  They are heavy and work well if the vase is large enough.

To accommodate these short stems, I put the frog in a shallow dish, filled it with water, and inserted the stems in the holes of the frog.

Now the beauty and the scent of the flowers can be enjoyed inside.

If the stems are a little longer, like Sheila’s Perfume from Breck’s and Double Delight from a local nursery, then a vase with glass marbles will hold them in place.

Just absolutely adore having roses in the house.

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.”  unknownSave

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