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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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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Early Bird Blooms

Seesawing temperatures has confused us all.  Each day is a surprise.  There is always a possibility of a freeze as late as the middle of April hanging over our heads.  Several years ago on Easter, snow covered the blooming Bluebonnets.

I’ve been working to get plants cut back or pruned and debris picked up.  This is the first time this Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia x ‘Canyon Creek’) has been visible since this time last year.  The Guara grew up in front of it and had grown up under it.  So we dug that up and moved it.

The coppery color of the leaves is very pretty.  Later, small white flowers will cover its branches.

Some of the roses are blooming like crazy.  I didn’t get this Knock-Out bush pruned back.  I concentrated on tea roses because it is more critical to get them cut in February.

The bushes are way too tall and wide, but they can be trimmed anytime.

This Earth-Kind bush is about eight feet tall.  Too tall for me to trim easily.

The yellow flowers of this Knock Out Rose fade to a pale, almost white, before they die.

The Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) is all dressed up for spring.  Interestingly, it is in the rose family and is not related to other Laurels.

It is totally covered with clusters of off white flowers.

The whole tree is abuzz with bees.  The black berries attract birds, but some fall to the ground.  In some places people complain that too many sprouts grow from them.  Not a problem here with the hard packed ground.

Warnings are given about how poisonous the leaves and fruit are.  They contain cyanide.

It’s a relatively fast grower.  This one is 12 years old and has been worry free and is evergreen.  Hooray.

Bridal Wreath Spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia) is starting to bloom.

Aptly named, it will be completely covered with flowers in a couple of weeks.

Lots of dark skies with promises of rain that don’t pan out.  Much patience is required while waiting for spring rains.

The Chinkapin Oak (Quercus meuhlenbergii)  is a Texas SuperStar tree with leaves that are more elongated than most oaks.  It is in the white oak family, which means it is less susceptible to oak wilt disease.

Pretty small Hyacinths blooms carry a strong scent.

The Gray Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea incana) is sporting its first flowers.  Trimming it back can be done after some other things are done.  Also, needs weeding.  This Texas native’s bright orange cupped flowers stand out against its silvery gray foliage.  Very hardy.

Busy time in the yard.  Pruning is just about finished.  Weeding is an ongoing task.  But lovely flowers are reward enough.

“Being defeated is often only a temporary condition.  Giving up is what makes it permanent.”  Marilyn Vos Savant

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Moss Mountain

The next stop on our trip early in May was Moss Mountain, the farm of P. Allen Smith.  He is considered a plant and animal guru.  His program on HGTV features short vignettes about flower and vegetable gardening as well as raising farm animals and cooking.

mossmThe large post oak in front of the house is named Big Sister.

mossm1On specific days each month, tours of the farm and house are open to the public.  Reservations are necessary, and it’s not cheap.

Allen was not there that day, but the whole day was orchestrated very well.

Lunch was served at noon.  We ate in a room in the barn that had round tables to accommodate 80 people.  The large white tent has long tables for larger groups.

mossm4The house was built in 2007-2008 in the Greek Revival style, which was popular in the south during the mid 1800’s.

I had assumed that the property was inherited, but it was found by his friend who had flown a plane over the area and described it to Allen.

mossm2A dry rub of sulfur was put on the brick to provide an old house look.  The room protruding out on the left side is an art studio.  He also does some painting.

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mossm6The room on the right side of the house is the kitchen.

mossm7Behind the house in the gardens are three other buildings.  One is seen here.

mossm8My pictures don’t do justice to the gardens.  Behind the house are two parallel walkways through the bushes, flowers, and trees.  They are on different levels since the ground slopes down towards the Arkansas River.

mossm9Most of the flowerbeds were designed like this one with tall shrubs in the back, shorter ones in front of those, and low annuals in front.  Lots of manpower needed to plant all those flowers.

mossmaaThis is the side door into the art studio.

mossmbA corner bed where a pathway from the house joins another walkway.  The lime green plant is Stonecrop Sedum.  It was used in several places to frame a bed.

mossmbbGerbera Daisies with Petunias

mossmccWe did not go into the two smaller houses in the back because the doors were closed.

mossmdThis shows the slope down to the first path behind the house.

mossmddI was surprised that pots around the garden contained agaves.  That area is in the same plant zone I’m in:  8a, used to be 7b.  Some years during cold winters, they would freeze.  Maybe they do bring them inside, but that looks like a heavy metal container.

mossmeAllen designed these white towers.

mossmeeAlthough I don’t know the size of the gardens around the house; I’m guessing it would be two or three acres.

Most of the rose bushes around the house appeared to be Knockouts.

mossmfThis hexagon or octagon (can’t remember) building was on lowest side of the garden paths.

mossmffThere was straw on the floor, but I don’t know the building’s purpose.

mossmgIn the background is the river.  Many of the gardens are organized and neat but informal in the plantings.

mossmggPathways led to some garden rooms or sections that are somewhat closed off.

mossmhAs I remember, these are testing beds.  There were small signs in several beds throughout the gardens that indicate that different growers had provided plants.

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mossmjjThese gates open to a more formal garden style.

mossmkThis grassy area is between two rows of trees leading to this statue and hedge.

One of the amazing things about Moss Mountain is how much has been accomplished in a few years.  There will be more posts about this tour.

“It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.”  Old Cowboy Adage

Big Fan of Roses

I have a soft spot for roses because they perfume the air, bloom for years, are faithful each year to perform, and generally add a homey atmosphere.  Many people think they are difficult, but they aren’t.  Give them full sun (even the extra hot Texas sun), some water, good drainage, and a little fertilizer.  Voila: sweet flowers.

springrosesaThe three bushes in front are Knockouts.  Behind them is an Earthkind.  One of the things that makes Knockouts so easy is that deadheading isn’t necessary.  They just keep on blooming.  If and when I have some time, I will trim them but not often.

springroses6These blooms start out pale yellow and fade to white.  Even though the flowers are simple, a bush full of them is stunning.

springroses8The Earthkind flowers are also not impressive, but a tall, healthy bush covered with them is.

springrosesghMy all time favorite in my yard is Double Delight because its scent and beauty are so stunning.

Two weeks ago I discovered a tunnel under its root system and was so afraid that I would lose the bush.  We filled in dirt and covered it with a huge rock.  Armadillos are so destructive in a yard.  Don’t be fooled by the cute pictures you see of them.  Those claws are a source of grief to a gardener.springrosesbOso Easy Paprika are more favorites.

springroseseeTheir color stands out.  The spent buds, unfortunately, do have to be lopped off before it will bloom again.  It can be a chore because it is covered with flowers all at once, so that means slowly sniping each one.

springroses7Last fall this Don Juan climber was planted inside a new sturdy trellis.  It is replacing a Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that literally lifted the dome trellis it was growing in and pulled apart the posts.  The thorns on it were also the most vicious I’ve ever seen.  The flowers were beautiful clusters but not worth the grief.

springrosesbbA look at the roses on the edge of the yard on the east side.

springrosesgMr. Lincoln is the first rose bush on the right in the former picture.  It makes a stunning sight in the garden and the flowers last a long time on the plant.

The stems are long and seem perfect for cut flower arrangements.  If they are cut when still in bud form, they will last a few days.  If not, forget it, the petals fall soon after cutting.

springrosesThere are five rose bushes in this bed.  This one is Katy Road.

springrosescTo the left of Katy Road is Belinda’s Dream.  They are both good performers with lots of blooms.  Eventually, they do need for the spent buds to be snipped off.

springrosesdThere are two yellow rose bushes and one with a gorgeous peachy orange color that I don’t know the name of.  They are all floribunda type bushes, which means they bloom profusely.

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springrosesddAt the end of that raised bed are Ox-eye Daisies.

springroseseLast fall this miniature was planted in a front bed.  I can’t find the paper work right now, so I don’t know the variety.  I used to be leery of miniatures.  But a grocery store buy that has been in a container for years proves that miniatures are hearty.

I do have some other rose bushes but these are a good representation.  Each type of rose has its pluses and minuses, so a variety is good.  The hybrids and old fashions have the aromas while others produce masses of blooms.

My own prejudice says everyone needs a rose to sweeten their life.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  Alphonse Karr

Before the First Frost

Our first freeze was a few days ago with a low of 28.  So it’s farewell to flowers and warm weather.  Being forewarned by the meteorologists, we took an afternoon and hauled pot plants into the sheds.  Of course, that time included cleaning out the sheds and carrying some things, like fertilizer spreaders, that won’t be needed this winter to the barn.

Both metal sheds have skylights and blown insulation.  One has a heater sensitive to temperatures.  That’s where ferns and other tender plants are stored.  Plants that I don’t want to freeze but can survive some cold go into the other shed.

fall2yardOne final bloom from the tropical Hibiscus.  I know I show a lot of pictures from this bush.  But, in my defense, the flower color is stunning.

fall2yard4These small pots of Ajuga Bugel Weed (Ajuga reptans) go into the shed.  If the plants were in the ground, then they should come survive.  But I’m not sure how well they would do in the pots.  Most often, Ajuga functions as ground cover, but I can’t decide where I want to use them.

The African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) definitely has to be protected.  It’s one of those plants sold way north from its home.  Probably, the big box stores intend for customers to use them as annuals.  Crazy me.  I get attached to plants.

fallyardhThese mums are local buys that will be carried inside and out as needed for decorations.  Then next spring, I’ll plant them in a flowerbed or larger pots.

fallyardiThis variety was bought at a grocery store – couldn’t resist.

fallyardjThe red tips caught my eye.

fallcolor4Roses were still blooming right up until the freeze.  These are Knock-outs with some Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  in front.

fall2yard2Katy Road Roses are central Texas hardy that survive blazing summers and intermittent freezes during the winters.

fall2yard3I don’t know the name of this rose, but it, also, is a hardy bush here.  Roses are actually easy to grow.  Until we moved here, I didn’t have a place for them.  They absolutely must have sun and some water.  Drip system works well.

fallyardgYellow Knock Out Roses.

fallyardePink Knock-Outs.

fallyardcI always dread for the last blossoms on Duranta (Duranta erecta) to die because I know it will be months and months until they bloom again in late July.

fallcolorSome of first signs of autumn here are the red berries and golden orangeish leaves on the Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis).

fallcolor3The Red Oak leaves turning copper are next.

fallcolor7This is a different Red Oak, and it’s covered with acorns.

fallcolor5Finally, the berries on Possomhaw (Ilex decidua) get larger and turn bright red.

Nature is always in flux, as we must be.

May you and your family have time together to celebrate the blessings of life.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;                                             let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.                             Let us come before him with thanksgiving                                         and extol Him with music and song.”             Psalm 95:1-2

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown