Heat Lovers

As the summer drags it feet and lingers, the sun bakes plants.  And often there’s no relief of cooler temperatures at night.  So it’s totally amazing that some plants do so well through our long, hot summers.

Normally, I’m too chintzy to invest in annals.  But Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) finally lured me to buy a couple of them.  Plus, I had just the spot for them.

Our winter temperatures are too cold for them, and they don’t reseed.  But they are drought tolerant, can take the sun, and last for months.  The wind creates beautiful movement of their feathers.  So I’m sold.  Love them.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) is a longtime favorite that always provides late summer blooms.  Beauty just drips off its branches.

With clusters of velvet-looking deep purple flowers, each petal is edged in white.

I think it surprises some people that roses do so well in our heat.  To me, roses conjure up England with its misty days.  So when I first tried them, I was leary.  What a pleasant surprise.

This particular bush is Brilliant Veranda by Kordes.  In a picture, the sun fades out their startling bright color.  This is a small bush that does well in containers and has been in a pot for two years.

Abraham Darby is hardy up to zone 11, so it likes heat.  It was planted this spring.  It’s a David Austin rose named after the man who build the first iron bridge.

I’ve gone rather ga-ga over roses.  Can’t seem to get enough of them.

Caryopteris, Blue Mist Shrub, or Blue Beard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) is drought tolerant, is bothered by few pests, and is hardy enough to make it through our extremely low temperatures last winter.  Cold hardy zones 5 – 9.

It’s obvious why it’s called Blue Mist Shrub because it looks so much like the Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers.  Stats say it will remain a compact small shrub: 3 – 4 ft. wide and tall.  So far, it’s been great.

It’s great to have plants that endure the summer heat.  They provide a reason to go out into the sunlight.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

A Mixed Bag of Color and Scent

Higher temperatures indicate that summer is just around the corner.  But almost two inches of rain last week brought relief and appreciation.

Roses have been blooming like crazy.  Belinda’s Dream on the left is usually the star, but at this time, Katy Rose has outpaced it with blooms.

As the flowerbed curves on around, yellow rose bushes and Ox-eye daisies are also blooming profusely.  When walking around this bed, the heavenly scent is wonderful.

Although not a spectacular flower form, this rose bush makes up for that with the sheer number of blooms and its reliability to bloom over and over each year.

This rose and the one seen in the pot behind it are the results of propagation.  I’ve been experimenting with different methods with varying success.  These started with cuttings in small pots that were placed in a clear plastic bag.  The soil was watered well, but not soggy, and the bag sealed.  The condensation in the bag keeps the soil moist and provides a greenhouse environment.

After about six weeks, it was still alive, so I removed the bag and left the pot on the southern window sill.  Since some cuttings lived and others died, I’m not sure which bushes these came from.

In April, I was on a nature walk with a Texas Naturalist group.  This picture shows mistletoe growing on the lower trunk of a tree.  Notice also that the bark is crumbling in places.

We all have heard that the age of a tree can be determined by its number of inner rings.  That can be done with a plug taken from the tree.

The age of a tree can also be determined by the layers of the bark, which is seen in this picture.  Wow.  This information can from a retired botany professor in our group.  Isn’t that neat.

Last year I learned first hand how irresponsible it is not to trim back an Autumn Clematis.

Because the vine was so thick and heavy, the whole trellis with its bottom in concrete came out of the ground.

Now I’m seeing the consequences of not cutting this Jackman Clematis (Clematis ‘Jackmanii’) back.  I checked it in winter, but it’s dead stems seemed sparse and not a problem.

But the new growth is all bunched up on top and not attaching itself to the trellis.  My husband staked the trellis to a fence pole behind it to hopefully keep it from toppling over.

A couple of years ago I planted yellow yarrow, which spreads nicely, in the water trough container to shade the lower part of the vine.  Clematis needs shaded “feet” and sunny vines.

This Clematis is covered with flowers several times a year.

Have a super day.

“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”  Charles Bukowski

A Classical Garden

Recently, a garden club member invited us to see her garden.  I was blown away to find such a garden in Brownwood, Texas.

To me, it has all the elements of a classical garden – formality, large statues, topiaries, precision, and clean, neat lines.

The garden was especially colorful because blooming annuals are displayed in pots and tucked into bare spaces in beds.

Personally, I don’t invest in many annals because I’m cheap, I guess.  So I can’t identify many of them.  I do recognize Coleus, Petunias, and the purple Oxalis.

Snapdragons?

Another thing this garden has going for it is the raised beds.  There’s not very deep, but contain good, loose soil.

The whole backyard is surrounded by a ten foot wall.  That’s a plus because it blocks the wind from blowing in weeds.

There are 50 rose bushes in the yard.  I like that they are surrounded by other plants, mostly annals.

The flagstone pathways keep it all neat.

Not a  single weed.  It’s not surprising that the yard owner also owns a nursery.  So plant knowledge and maybe some help from employees keeps this place shipshape.

All these pictures were taken about 1 o’clock, with the sun directly overhead.  This creates harsh light and dark shades.  Not the best pictures.

Caladium, which is another annual, Hosta, and a water thirsty perennial Hydrangea all need shade.

The peachy color is alluring.

I think this is Penstemon, but it might be Foxglove.

The white flowers are Peonies, which surprised me because peonies need a long period of cold weather and a neutral soil pH.  Neither of these are part of this situation.  So these might have to be replaced periodically.

A beautiful garden anomaly for this town.  Just enjoyed the visit and returned to my life in a field of native grasses and weeds.

“The sad part about getting old is that you stay young on the inside but nobody can tell anymore.”  unknown

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

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

A Touch of Autumn Color

Autumn color in central Texas is definitely different than in other parts of the U.S., especially, the northeast.

The first obvious color is Prairie Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that forms colonies in limestone.

The wind can quickly blow off the leaves, leaving a somewhat bare tree with its heavy seed clusters.  Recently a friend of mine was trimming branches above her head and didn’t realize that she was standing in poison sumac.  Made me wonder how one can tell the difference between the poisonous and nonpoisonous.

 This web site shows pictures and descriptions of Poison Sumac.

But that’s like remembering which snakes look like poisonous ones and which ones are poisonous in the heat of the moment.

So I’ll try to remember to enjoy Sumac from a distance.

One of my favorite trees in our yard is Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis).  It’s a pretty tree any time of the year, although it does require some shaping as the lower limbs grow downward.

Just to show how recommendations change, Chinese Pistache was once considered too invasive.  Now it’s a Texas Superstar tree.  In my book, it’s a winner.

Its autumn color gives me a sense of season, even if the temperatures waffle from cool to hot.

The light and wind seem to give it a different color each day.

The berries have a somber look when it’s cloudy.

Or bright and shiny when sunlight hits them.

The leaves on the Texas Maple turned yellow before the wind snatched them away.  Not sure exactly which type of maple this is.  The man who bought it and planted it got what was available.  I should have asked more information.

With the inconsistent temperatures, the Yellow Lead Ball tree (Leucaena retusa) looks like spring and fall at the same time.  The yellow puffy balls have returned while the seed pods dry and drop.  This is a Texas native and has done well in our yard.

Yellow pom-poms make this a festive sight.

Red Oaks can turn a deep red or burnt orange like this one.  Autumn leaves with Showbiz red roses blooming in a pot and evergreen cedars in the background – that’s our fall.

This wispy Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) tends to bloom in late summer or early fall.  But this year, the flowers came late.  The bush doesn’t look like much.

But up close, the bright dainty flowers are pretty.  This bush has a sharp, nose wrinkling smell, so it should be planted away from the house.

A native in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico, it adapts well to our soil and climate.

Re-blooming Irises have also shown their flowers late this year.  The Strawberry Gompheras  or Globe Amaranths (Gomphrena globosa) will continue to bloom until the first freeze.

Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis) joins in the color parade.

Red Robins flew in for a quick visit one cloudy day.  They never wear out their welcome.

Hope your fall has been colorful and enjoyable.  It’s the time of year for being thankful and for spending time with friends and family.

“Being married means mostly shouting ‘What?’ from other rooms.”  unknown

Roses and More

This year, Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, is celebrating its 30th year of operation.

Inside the chapel, where the annual symposium is held, rose decorations set the theme.

This wreath hung on the podium.  By the way, the speakers we heard on Friday were excellent.

A frame on an easel held this vase of gorgeous roses.  We all wandered up to try and figure out how it was created.  I think wet florist foam was behind the half pot and all the rose stems were stuck in it.

A couple of these frames were hung on blacked out windows.

And, of course, there had to be a cowboy boot filled with sweet smelling roses.  We were so glad we attended this special event, even though we were only able to stay for one day.

Arriving early and using the lunch hour to wander around the nursery is always a treat.  This is so much more than a nursery.  It’s like an arboretum.  There are flower beds everywhere filled with all kinds of plants, like this fancy Zinna.

One of the things I like about this place is the whimsy scattered all around.  A living bedroom provides a smile.

All sorts of plantings show ideas for lots of different tastes.

Beds of simple, common flowers like these Dianthus or Pinks illustrate that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive.  Although, it definitely can be because it becomes a consuming hobby.  I speak from experience.

Simple, yet elegant setting.

A dying vine with some berries left provided a viewing spot for this bird above our heads.  He certainly seemed oblivious to our presence.

A small fenced in area contained lettuces and other greens and edibles growing beside flowers.

Brightly colored peppers are eye catching.

A bed of one of my favorite perennials:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  Another common name is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage.  Loves the sun and attracts bees.

But the heart of this place is roses.  So many choices to choose from.

Several posts will follow to show more of Antique Rose Emporium.  Thanks for stopping by.

“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”  Maud Casey

Indian Summer

After the threat of a freeze two weeks ago, we lugged in most of the potted plants and covered others with sheets.  It was in the mid thirties for two days.  Then back up to the middle 90’s since then.  With some record highs, it’s a crazy Texas autumn.

Although some gardeners don’t consider it worthwhile to take Coleus in for the winter, I do.  Sure, I could buy new ones in the spring, but then I wouldn’t have this one that came from a friend’s mother.

In the warm shed, Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) bloomed again.  That’s the pretty pink ones at the top.  The other pink ones are Crown of Thorns.  Note the sharp thorns that define them.

Another pot of Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) that was gingerly carried inside.  Those thorns reach out and grab your skin.

Most of the plants, like this White Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata Escapade White), were looking spiffy.  Re-flowering occurred after the summer heat had ended and some pleasant days of 70s were a boon to us all.

Ditto for the Purple Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) or Sky Flower.

It’s a shame these flowers are all in the shed where I can’t enjoy their last hurrah.  But the rule in our household is that once the plants are carried inside, that’s where they will stay until spring.

Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) was looking good.  If we lived just a couple of zones south of here, the evergreen foliage would survive the winter and be good to go next year.

Can’t get much cheerier than this color.

Same with American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).  It might be okay here, but I don’t want to take a chance.  We just might have a hard freeze sometime this winter.

I really hated to hide this beauty away.  The cooler temperatures had brought back all its glory.  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) is one showy plant.

Some bulbs, like this Stella de Oro Daylily have been reblooming.

Dianthus or Pinks (Dianthus ssp.) should die down during the winter, but return in the spring.

In the fields, good ole Prairie Verbena or Sweet William (Verbena bipinnatifia)  blooms and blooms.

There’s always the roses to enjoy.  This flower on Belinda’s Dream (Rosa hybrida Belinda’s Dream) reminds of the kid Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back Kotter” with his hand waving in the air, demanding attention.

Belinda’s Dream definitely deserves attention.  It was the first rose chosen as an Earthkind Rose and is still a hardy, disease resistant, consistent performer.  Love it.

The bright fire engine red of Show Biz Rose (Rosa Tanweieke)  keeps on blooming.  it is a floribunda rose that was hybridized by Tantau and introduced in 1985.  To me, it’s a reminder of our visit to the Biltmore where we bought it at their nursery.

The plants in my yard are friends that bring memories of certain people or places.  Thanks for taking time to read my blog.

“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take you breath away.”  anonymousSave

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Storybook Sculptures

Abilene, Texas, calls itself Storybook Capital of the World.  Scattered around the downtown area are sculptures of characters from children’s books as well as various other sculptures.

I’m starting with my least favorite:  Dino Bob from the book Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.

Never heard of this book.

The Man in the Moon is represented by a moon up on a tall pole.

Also, unknown to me.  Don’t give up.  It gets better.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King stands outside the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature building.

Everman Park, beside the renovated train depot, contains the Dr. Seuss Sculptures.  A nice job of landscaping this area uses hardy Texas plants, like the New Gold Lantana in the picture.  This lantana is a hybrid and makes a 6 to 8 foot ground cover.

Although this isn’t Dr. Seuss, it’s at the park entrance.  Santa Calls sculpture depicts three children who travel to the North Pole.  Santa sent a flying machine called Yuletide Flyer.The beloved Cat in the Hat turns a rainy day into unexpected fun for children.

Some  small Magnolia trees had blossoms.  It’s unusual to see Magnolias in Central Texas, but this is probably a Little Gem Magnolia, which is a late bloomer, smaller than most Magnolias, and survives in zones 5 – 9.

The Lorax speaks for the trees and warns of the dangers of disrespecting the environment.

Yurtle the Turtle, who claims to be the king of the pond, climbs on his subjects in an attempt to reach higher than the moon.  A good message to us all not to feel more important than others.

In spite of derogatory remarks in the news recently about Dr. Seuss, I think he had an important role.  He got many kids interested in reading and learning and did it in an extremely fun way.

The Grinch tries to sabotage Christmas in Whoville.

Another small Magnolia surrounded by Knockout Roses, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and a Boxwood hedge.  The roses may be Drift Roses, which are a type of Knockouts.

Russian Sage is a good choice for arid areas.  It has a lovely scent and is hardy.  It does spread, so these will become overcrowded at some point.

Sam, I am, encourages everyone to try Green Eggs and Ham.

In the second book to feature Horton, Horton Hears a Who, he once again becomes the protector of a helpless creature.  A small piece of dust that talks to Horton asks for help.  Even though he is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals, Horton states that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. SeussSave

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