Is It a Rose?

The common or colloquial names of plants can be confusing.

In Texas, these large bushes are known as Rose of Sharon.  The flowers are a give away that it is definitely not a rose, but is, instead, a hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus).  It is in the mallow family and is native to Asia and India.

Another common name is Althea.  If you want a showy, easy to care for, large bush that is covered in flowers from late spring until late fall, this is your guy.  It thrives in zones 5 to 8 and only needs pruning once a year.  I prune off spend flower casings in late fall or early spring and trim a few branches to keep the natural shape.  Love it every year.

This is commonly called Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) with flowers that also have a hibiscus look.  This shrub is low growing with branches that spread out.  Another easy, dependable one.  They love the frequent droughts in zones 7 – 9.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is another mystery name.  The swollen bottom part of the trunk is its most unusual feature.  It must be kept at least 50 degrees at all times,  and 60 to 90 degrees is required for it to keep its leaves.

I put mine in a heated shed in the winter where it is probably a little less than 50 degrees.  It loses its leaves and takes a while to produce leaves and flowers each year.  It should be re-potted to a larger pot about every two years.  Not sure how large the pot should be that it stays in permanently.

How did these plants come to be called roses?  Nothing about them looks like roses.  I’ve not been able to find out.

Now, on to real roses.  We’ve lived here 12 years and my first rose plant was a gift.  It was a great surprise to me that it lived and bloomed.  Because all the ones I’ve planted have done so well, I just keep planting more.

In the foreground of this picture is Oso Easy Paprika, which has a wonderful indefinable color.

Mr. Lincoln was bought because it has long stems, so I thought it would be a good cut flower.  That part has been disappointing because the flowers fall apart within a day or so when cut.  But it does make a striking rose in the yard because it is tall and has a bold color.  The flowers last a long time on the bush.

These two bushes also have great colors, but I don’t know what their names are.  The Oxeye daisies were planted years ago and were a nice border.  This year, they have spread and become invasive.  But they are easy to dig up and are great pass-a-long plants.

This is one of two new beds with roses.  It has been a pleasant surprise that even though the bushes are small, they have bloomed frequently.

As I buy roses now, I’ve become more discerning.  I want hardy roses that have a scent.  This Double Delight Rose has the strongest, lovely aroma of any rose I have found.  I have an older one, but this new bed is easy to see from my kitchen window, so I chose one for this spot.

Lady of Shalott is a David Austin rose that has a wonderful aroma.  On the David Austin site, you can select roses by many categories.  I looked at those that can do well in poor soil and have a scent.

These flowers are several days old.  When The Lady Gardener first blooms, the petals in the center have some apricot color.  This small bush has bloomed profusely.

Alnwick shows off some of the characteristics of many David Austin roses:  a tight center of petals and a round, cupped perimeter.

Roses – so many varieties to choose from and so little time.  That’s a wonderful challenge.

“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, because you only get to play one round.”  Ben HoganSave

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Convenient Containers

Container Gardening has become all the rage.  It is rightfully touted as useful for small spaces, like apartment balconies and as a way to make a statement.  But there is a real knack to combine plants to make it artful, which I don’t seem to possess.

I use flowerpots for totally different reasons.  Since there is little shade in my yard, I use pots to place plants in some shade.  Under trees is one of my few options, and since it is not healthy for tree roots to have the amount of water that flowers need, I don’t want to put them in the ground there.

Another use of pots is demonstrated with these Petunias.  Pots are an easy way to use the color of annuals wherever you need it.

Deciding where to put plants sometimes requires some time to think of the right place or to prepare a flowerbed for them.  Phil Colson of Atlanta says, “For their first three years in the garden, keep perennials on ‘roller skates,’ moving them around until you find the spot they like best.  Then just leave’em alone.”  This quote comes from Passalong  Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing.

These Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) came from my mother’s yard.  I’ve had them before in the ground here.  But that spot was either flooded or dry as a bone, so eventually, they died.

Sedum is another plant that needs shade, so I put them on the covered porch that gets filtered sun.

As I have confessed before, I am guilty of buying plants with no place prepared to put them.

Leaving plants in pots until you have the right spot for them can go on indefinitely.  These three plants:  Salvia Greggi, Oso Easy® Honey Bun Rose, and Ligustrum have been in these pots for at least three years.  It is amazing how long plants can be in pots before they become root bound.

This Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) is shown here in a pot, but actually made it into a flowerbed in just months.  It is called mock because it has a citrusy smell but, of course, is not an orange tree.

I found Blue Mist Spiraea or Bluebear ‘Dark Knight’ shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and am excited because  butterflies love Blue Mistflower (Coelestinum).  The flowers look alike.

This is zoned down to 5, so I plan to get this in the ground, eventually.  It is a woody perennial that should get about 5 feet tall and wide.

Still trying to decide where to put this Ragin’ Cajun Ruellia or Texas Petunia (Ruellia elegans), but it will probably be permanently in a pot.  It should endure the heat but not the cold.

Another reason I use pots is that I adore lots of plants that are not cold hardy and thus have to be moved inside for the winter.  Actually, I’m not sure how this Foxglove will perform here, but the color of the flowers were irresistible.

There are no rules on how large a “pot” can be.  Cattle feeders are poplar for lots of uses here.

Here Yellow or Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum (DC.) A. Gray protects the roots of a vine.  This is a hardy Texas native.

Clematis vines need feet in shade and the rest of the vine in the sun. Jackman clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is a perennial flowering vine hardy from zone 4 – 9.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Your comments encourage me and help me learn.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it is accepted by the majority.”  Rick Warren

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Tall, Slender, and Elegant

Guess we all wish that title described us.  But, in this case, that means plants, not people.

Tall, of course, can be relative.   Larkspurs bloom on tall stems, as do Cannas, and the flowers of Red Yucca, so I’m including them.  Canna lilies, although not true lilies, grow from rhizomes and are faithful to return each spring.  Because they multiply, they are usually a pass-a-long plant.

One great thing about re-blooming Iris is that it flowers at unexpected times.

Larkspur (Delphinium consolida) are a wonderful spring blooming annual, if you’re not picky about where it pops up in years to come.  They are generous re-seeders.

I had never considering planting their seeds until I saw them in a friend’s yard.  She generously shared some seeds; so I’ve enjoyed them ever since no matter where they appear.

Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba”)  is a small flowering tree with multiple trunks.  These tend to grow tall and remain slender.  The flowers look like lovely small orchids.

Desert Willows are native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including Texas.

The thin stems of (Gaura Llindheimeri) keep growing taller throughout the hot months of summer until they hide whatever is behind them.  So I should have planted them in their own space, but I didn’t.

As they sway in the breeze, they are reminiscent of butterflies.  Thus a common name for them is Twirling Butterflies.

I also have a Pink Gaura which has reappeared after several years of being absent.  Gaura roots seem to endure very well.  They could be considered a bully, but I like them, anyway.

After my experience with Hollyhocks and Rust disease, I was undecided whether or not to dig up this one that came from some remaining roots.  After checking it over and keeping a close watch on it, it has survived disease-free and has produced beautiful flowers.  But it has been a rather dry spring.  If and when we get lots of rain, the disease will probably reappear.

Every year I rave about Henry Duelberg Saliva (Salvia farinacea).  I think it should be a staple that is used more often in zones 7b – 10a.

The white Augusta Duelberg Salvia (wife of Henry) is a companion that usually comes up in a bed of Henry Duelberg Salvia.  Don’t know how that works botanically.

In this picture, the Russian Sage is the tall slender beauty.  In front of it is Salvia Greggi and behind it is a huge Earthkind® rose bush on the left and Knockouts® on the right.

The hardiness and aroma of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) makes it a worthwhile plant, especially for arid areas.  It is native to the steppes, which are grassy plains, of southwestern and central Asia, so the name is appropriate.

Bee Balm or Monarda might not be considered elegant by some some people, but it’s a notable plant to attract pollinators.  Plus, I think it’s pretty, if it can be staked so that it won’t flop over.  I chose to put a cage around it to hold it up.

Gladiolus often need staking, but Atom Gladiola is a shorter version that doesn’t lean over too much.

These bulbs were ordered two or three years ago from Old House Gardens, which specializes in heirloom bulbs.

Although many of Old House Garden bulbs date back to the 1700’s, this particular bulb was hybridized in 1946.

The old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true to many things, including plants.  So choose what plants you think fall into the category of tall, slender, and elegant.

“When life gives you a rainy day, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles.”  unknown

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Something Different

Gardeners are attracted to the beauty of nature.  Sometimes, unique plants bring fascination.  For me, often, that translates to tropical plants that cannot live through our winters.

But some plants with unusual forms do very well here.  Like this Ornamental Onion that has not only survived but spread.

Can’t even remember where I got this.

These zany looking flowers are actually their reproduction method.  Each cluster is made up of tiny bulblets that fall to the ground and become new plants.

I really don’t know if these are edible or not.  A speaker talking about foraying for wild plants said that a person can eat anything once.  But, that sounds like dangerous advice to me.

This Rainbow’s End (cv. SAValife) own root miniature is different because its roses are all different colors all at the same time.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles came on the market a few years ago.  Even Walmart carries them.

The ones I’ve seen in bloom have white blossoms.  This one is Black Diamond Red Hot, which is supposed to have hot red flowers.

A local nursery was selling tropical Popcorn Cassia (Cassia didymobotrya), which is supposed to smell like popcorn.

The leaves look like a plant that would do well here, but it is zoned for 14 to 15.  This means that it will freeze below 40 or 50 degrees.  I should have researched before buying it.

One of my biases is that nurseries sell plants that will not last in their area so customers will buy something else next year.  Can’t believe that I fall into that trap over and over.

“Oh no.  You did it again.”

Swamp Sunflower is a misnomer for this plant.  It grows very well in our drier soil.  The tiny forest is about 15 inches tall now.

They grow tall – about 8 to 9 ft. before flowering with small sunflowers that bloom in late summer.

“Forget trying to walk a mile in my shoes.  Try spending a day wandering around in my mind.  Now, that will give you something to worry about.”  unknown

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Up Close

When flowers and plants become a passion, as with any hobby, then your time and money are in jeopardy.

As my love affair with roses continue, I have found another favorite:  Sheila’s Perfume Floribunda Rose.  I was a little hesitant to order a rose from Breck’s, but it arrived healthy and does have the promised aroma.

Couldn’t be happier with it.  Such a beautiful color and the scent is marvelous.

It is planted in a pot until the flowerbed is prepared.  Back-breaking work is in progress to get it ready.

Since I have discovered that I can overwinter Coleus in the shed, I’m really enjoying the different colors of them on the market.

Another Coleus and a ground cover I don’t know the name of.

After last year’s success with Petunias, I had to plant some this year.  Who knew they would last all summer and into the fall.  The Spiral Tush Curly Wurly (Juncid effusus) was saved from the pot the petunias were in last year.  Like the look of the combination of them.

The fresh look of Irises brightens up spring.  All the irises in the yard are re-bloomers, so I can enjoy them in the spring and again in the fall.

Bearded iris are my favorite.

Black Iris that I don’t remember ordering.  Senior citizen moments are frustrating.

Sweet Broom (Cytisus x spachianus) called to me as I entered Walmart.  Great marketing technique – grab shoppers’ attention even before they enter the door.  This plant needs six hours of daily sun.  Good to go there, but it is winter hardy for zone 9 – 11, so we’ll see how that goes.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are one of the few short daylilies.  I’m trying to keep up with pulling spent flowers, so they will continue to bloom.

Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are putting on a grand show.

One Hollyhock has returned.  A couple of years ago, rust spots covered them.  So they had to be dug up.  Obviously, some roots remained for this one.  So far, so good.  No sign of rust.

The Spider Worts (Tradescantias)  are just finishing their spring flowering.

I’ll just enjoy the bright color of this lone one.

Hope your springtime is filled with a chance to enjoy lots of flowers.

“The best thing about being over 40 is that we did all of our stupid stuff before the invention of the internet, so there’s no proof.”    unknown

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Some Favorites for Spring

Gardeners each have their own favorite plants, so I don’t usually foist my choices on others.  But today I’m going to make some recommendations.

If you have read my blog before, you know how much I love roses.  Part of the reason is because before we moved here, I didn’t have the space, sunny spots, or the time to do any gardening.

Then, surprisingly, roses not only have survived here but were a success.

Drift Roses are a relatively new type of Knock Out® Roses.  These are Coral Drift Roses.  They are low growing and constantly covered with flowers from early spring until the first freeze.

If I can have roses here in my high alkaline, clay and rock soil, then anyone can.  They are in lasagna raised beds that have amended soil.  Other than that, all they need is sun and water.

The rocks at the edge of the beds are to keep the water from washing off the slopes.  Texas has lots of limestone fossils.  This one and the following ones came from the edge of a creek on our property.

There are some roses that are exceptional performers.  Like this Belinda’s Dream that flowers on and off for months.  It has no disease problems.  Just give space for bushes to get huge – about 6 feet across.

Tropicana is a popular rose that does well in many different areas and is usually available at all kinds of nurseries.  It is a hybrid tea that blooms fairly often.

My all time favorite of the roses that I’ve tried is Double Delight because it has a strong scent that is out of this world.  It is also a hybrid tea.  I recently bought another one at a local nursery because I’m not sure how long roses bushes last.  Mine is twelves years old and doesn’t look as healthy this year as usual.  But we did have some hard freezes this winter.

Clematis vines are a great choice for gardeners.  There are many varieties available that grow well in different zones.

Many have prettier, fancier flowers than this one, but I chose one that does well here – Jackman Clematis.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) brightens up the early spring.  After the bareness of winter, it is just what the doctor ordered.

This soil was not amended, so it’s a tough plant.

As you see, pollinators are drawn to it.  Plus, it’s so cheery.

Another category of flowers is bulbs.  Stella de Oro Reblooming Daylily is technically not a bulb but a herbaceous root plant.

To keep it blooming, deadheading spent blooms is necessary.  It’s a gorgeous low growing, bright yellow flower that pollinators love.

There are many different flowers that fit into the vague, incorrect category “bulb”.  For example:  tulips and daffodils are bulbs, irises are rhizomes, gladiolas and crocuses are corms, and daylilies are tubers with tuberous roots.  Confusing.

My point is that plants in the “bulb” designation are a wonderful addition to any garden.  They tend to be reasonably priced; some produce new bulbs so your investment grows and can be shared; many different varieties are available to grow in different zones and climates; and most provide beautiful flowers year after year.  What a bargain.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea) was discovered growing beside a grave in LaGrange, Texas.  Greg Grant named the plant after the deceased.  It is one wonderful, eye catching plant.  Keep it contained because it spreads.

The white version, Augusta Duelberg, was named after his wife, whose grave was beside him.  A Texas SuperStar® plant that blooms from early spring until the first freeze.

As usual, it is best to “dance with the one who brung you” meaning it’s important to select plants that do well where you live.

“Don’t let the thoughts of failure stop you from trying, even when you fail, it’s not enough to give up.  The light bulb itself finally found success after so many trials.”  Terry Marks.

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Early April Flowers

Night time temperatures are still in the lower 40’s, so it’s too early to get the more cold tender plants out of the shed.  But there are plenty of other things blooming to make spring gorgeous.

Roses are putting on a great show, even though there are still some weeds in the beds.

The red roses and white (actually they are yellow that fade to white) are both Knockouts.  The peachy roses are Oso Easy Paprika.  The tall bush in the back with pink flowers are Earth Kind.

About weeds:  gardening is hard and many of the results are out of our control due to weather.  So I think we should give ourselves a break.  It is almost impossible to get all chores done timely, especially if you don’t have help.  Gardeners are usually kind to other gardeners but hard on themselves.

On the other side of the house more roses are blooming like crazy.  This Katy Road is super hardy.  It was developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the cold and long winters of the Midwest.  It was named Carefree Beauty.

In Texas, it has been known as Katy Road Pink because it was found on Katy Road in Houston.  Amazingly, it has proven to endure our hot, dry summers.

Large orange colored rose hips are produced from every flower.

This yellow florabunda has stayed small in bush size but produces lots of roses.

The Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgarees) have spread.  Several have been dug up and potted for garden club plant sales.  Some people don’t want them in their yards because they do spread.  I like the fact that they can become pass-a-long plants.

This rose (unknown) always knocks my socks off.

Two years ago I was given this Amaryllis for Christmas.  I had tried planting Amaryllis bulbs in a flower bed with so-so results.  So I decided to put this bulb in a larger pot and place it outside in a mostly shady spot during the spring, summer, and fall.  When it got cold, I put it in the heated shed.

The stalks got tall – almost 3 feet.  The bulb doubled in size.

The double blooms are fabulous.

Reblooming Irises are as dependable as sunshine in the desert.  In fact, I’m not sure how a person would kill bulb.  Maybe by drowning them.  They don’t require much water as the ones out in our field prove.

A muted mauve type color.

Ones with purple or solid purple are my favorite irises.

The Yellow Lead Ball tree is already covered with blooms and buds about to bloom.

This small tree has proven to be a winner because it doesn’t need good soil or much water.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

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