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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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

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Yard

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” from Matt. 26:41 refers to people giving into temptations.  But right now, I’m applying it to working in my yard.  It’s easy to make a list of chores that need to be done, but oh, so difficult to accomplish them.  Each year it takes a little (or a lot) longer to “Tote that barge.  Lift that bale.”  That may sound a little dramatic, but lack of strength and energy is my plea.

frustrationaThe most difficult thing for me to keep up with is the weeding and containing aggressive plants.  In this picture Mexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) have finally reached out beyond where I want them to grow.  In the spring, my husband helped me dig me up the ones that were encroaching on a rose bush.  But once again they have almost surrounded it.

The petunias have been there for about 9 years and were well behaved in the past, so I shouldn’t complain.

frustrationbThis is looking the other way with the Mr. Lincoln Rose bush in front.

frustration7Although it’s isn’t as much of a problem, I sometimes don’t keep up with the chore of deadheading.  It’s especially needed on hybrid roses because they bloom so much better when the spent flowers are cut off down below the next leaf.

frustration6And there is a wonderful pay off of gorgeous blooms.  This is a new bush that I bought on a trip to Kerrville.  I was looking for a climber and found this one instead.  Chicago Peace (Rosa ‘Chicago Peace’) has a wonderful aroma.

frustration8Double Delight is still my favorite with its great color and marvelous scent.

frustration9Tropicana has also performed very well over the years.

frustrationeThis is another bed with rose bushes.  This one in front is a hardy Belinda’s Dream, which is highly recommended for this area.

frustrationdWhen the bud first opens, it’s has a nice tight flower.

frustrationfThen quickly opens to a loose rose.

frustration11Other problems in the yard are out of my control.  I thought jackrabbits were eating the flowers and leaves off of these Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants.  So I put cages around them.

frustration4Now I know that jackrabbits were not the culprits.  It’s more obvious in the next picture.

frustration1Why Monarch caterpillars are here at this time of the year, I don’t know.  The Monarchs are supposed to be in Mexico by now to wait out the winter.

Makes me wonder how many milkweed plants would be required in order to survive the caterpillars feasting on them.

foliage5Watering can be a time consuming chore.  But I always make sure to water the container plants because I know our heat would kill them in a flash without moisture.  This Ajuga (Ajuga turkestanica) from central Asia needs mostly shade.

frustrationcA hardly Geranium from a friend endures summer heat better than geraniums from a nursery.  Beside this shed, it gets mostly morning sun.

frustration5I got this at Lady Bird Johnson Center in Austin at a plant sale.  I thought it was a Plumbago.  But the flowers don’t look right for that.  Often, the plants there aren’t labeled, so I don’t really know what it is.

Whenever I feel frustrated with myself for not getting to all the yard jobs, I remind myself that I have a yard and the plants for my enjoyment.  So I try to relax and not beat myself up.

“There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.” Will Roger

Orange in the Yard

The trend this year seems to be orange:  wear it and decorate with it.  Wearing it doesn’t work for my skin tones.  Nor do I use it much inside my house.  But outside it perks up spaces.

orangeyellowEvery year the old-fashioned orange Daylilies usher in spring so reliably and lift the spirits to say, “Winter is over.  Hurrah.”

orangeyellow8A generous gift of probably 60 bulbs from a friend about nine years ago, they keep on giving.  No problems, no worries.  Just plant and water occasionally.

orangeyellow9Three years ago, I moved a few that were on the edge of the bed to this spot.  The green leaves of a Rose of Sharon bush behind them makes them the star of the show.  Later, hibiscus-like flowers from the bush will provide some color.

orangeyellow3One lone Daylily that has come up around the corner of the house with some Violets that have also crept into this bed.

orangeyellowcFinal one.  Just can’t stop snapping pix of these beauties.

Orange is a funny word.  It’s one of the few words in English that no other word rhymes with.  Actually, languages are strange.  There’s a NPR radio program that answers questions about old family sayings and language, in general.  Check out  “A Way with Words” and let me know what you think..

orangeyellowaThe African Bulbine flowers combine yellow and orange.  They’re wispy and move in the breeze.  Since it originates from below the equator, it must be protected in cold weather.

orangeyellow2A striking small ornamental tree is Bird of Paradise.  There are at least three types of Bird of Paradise sold.

The one in the picture is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).  The flowers are yellow with orange stamens.   Because of old incorrect informtion, I usually call it Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Ones with bright orange flowers is Pride of Barbados  (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  These are prominent in large box stores.  My experience has been that they die in winter here.

Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) has yellow flowers and yellow stamens.  Since they all look similar, it can be confusing to choose the one that works for you.

orangeyellow4Tropicana Roses are one of those indefinable colors, but there’s an orange tint to them.  Another great performer.  This year it has been filled with flowers.  I cut them often to bring inside, but soon more appear.

orangeyellowhIxora did not fare well this past winter in the shed, but enough survived to flower.  Maybe some fresh air and sunshine will bring new growth.

orangeyellowiMost of my Ice Plants have pink flowers.  This one from a friend has orangish ones.

Maybe you can decide on a specific color pattern for your yard.  I simply can’t.  Therefore, I have a hodgepodge.  This is not what designers recommend.

“Every time I get mad, I remind myself that prison orange is not my color.”    Unknown

Spotlight on Roses

The roses this spring have been exceptionally beautiful.  Every time I look out the window, I am blown over with how gorgeous everything looks.  It’s a miracle what a little rain and cool weather can do for the landscape.

rosesbloomingk Who doesn’t love roses?  In the background are three Knockout Rose bushes.  To the right of those is a climbing rose, which hasn’t bloomed yet.

rosesbloomingiIn the foreground is an Oso Easy Paprika bush with the wonderful peachy, salmon colored flowers.  And it is truly easy.  It just needs a little water, lots of sun, and deadheading in order to produce more blooms.

rosesblooming9That color is indefineable.

rosebloom8In the same long flowerbed are four hybrid rose bushes.  This one is a Grandiflora ‘Double Delight’ hybrid tea rose.  The Double Delight has the strongest and best fragrance of any rose I have.  Highly recommend it.

Behind these roses is a tangerine colored rose from the bush beside it.  That is a Floribunda ‘Tropicana’.

rosebloom9This is a Grandiflora.

roseblooma‘Mr. Lincoln’ is a classic hybrid tea rose with deep red roses and a nice scent.

All of the rose bushes in this long bed are from 8 to 10 years old.

rosesbloominghOn the other side of the house is another rose flowerbed.  This ‘Katy Road’ Rose is usually just a so-so bloomer.

rosesblooming4This year it has gone crazy and has a wonderful aroma.

rosebloom6‘Belinda’s Dream’ has always put on a show blooming over and over from spring until the first frost.  The flowers have a great form with lots of petals.

rosesbloomingdAlso in that bed are a couple of bushes with yellow flowers.

rosesblooming10They are both grandifloras, but that’s all I know.

rosesbloomingeAnd another bush with flowers that have a superb color.  The bush itself has stayed small but is outstanding because its blooms are so pretty.  Sure wish I knew the name of this rose, but that information is long gone.

rosebloom5Here’s the same bush a little later with more flowers.  The Ox Eye daisies beside it have just begun to show their stuff.

rosesblooming8This flower color is one of my favorites.

rosebloomLast fall we finished a new bed in the front yard.  So this spring we planted some drift roses.  These are ‘Coral Drift’ (Rosa ‘meidrifora’).  I chose drift roses because I wanted them to remain short and not spread out too much.

Drift® roses are the result of a cross between ground cover roses and miniature roses.  They work well in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a ground cover.  Each bush should grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.

rosebloom2So far they’ve been covered with blooms.  The flowers are more complex than knock outs with more petals.  I think these are going to be winners.

It seems that there are roses for just about any spot – as long as it’s sunny.

rosebloom7What a enormous blessings rain and a mild spring bring.  It really is true that April showers bring May flowers, or in this case, April roses.

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

Cut Flowers

One of the joys of a flower garden is having cut flowers in the house.  This has been an especially good year for that.

gladsThe Gladiolus bulbs that came in a packet several years ago are still producing profusely.  Sometimes they’re called Sword Lilies.

glads2It’s always a surprise to see which color will open up next.

glads3Some are daintily colored, while others are bright and bold.

glads4There are many new bulbs that need to be taken out.  Thinning is supposed to be mandatory for bulbs.  Somehow, I never seem to get around to that task.

glads5A couple of years ago I bought a different variety of glads.  They have a smaller red flower with white edges.

glads6Sometime I put all different colors together for a bouquet.  Other times I try to achieve a color scheme.

Now to my other favorite flowers for vases – roses.

roses14This is actually a spring blooming climber.  I’m late in showing it this year.  It is Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that was bought at Antique Rose Emporium years ago.

roses142One of the attractions of this particular rose is the clusters of blossoms.  When in bloom, it’s covered with flowers.

roses143Each flower is not particularly impressive.  It’s the mass of them together that I like.  As I’ve said on a previous post, this bush has the largest thorns I’ve seen on rose bushes.  I yell “ouch” often when working around it.

Therefore, I don’t use them in vases.

roses147This was the first rose bloom this year.  It’s a Knock-Out Rose.  It was unusual to be right at the ground level.  Notice the native grass I’m still fighting.

rosesaDuring the spring and summer this Oso Easy Paprika Rose bush is either covered with flowers or has no flowers.  That’s because it has to be deadheaded in order to rebloom.

rosesbI often wait until all the flowers die so they can all be cut off at once.

rosescThis is a hybrid rose that blooms fairly often, but the blooms don’t last long.

rosesg

rosesjThe flowers on the Mr. Lincoln Rose will stay pretty for several days if left on the bush.  Once they are cut, they’re gone in about a day.  These I usually just enjoy from my kitchen window.

rosesdThe flowers on Tropicana can be brought inside and will last about a week in water.

roseseSo pretty with Russian Sage behind them.

rosesfAnother hybrid I don’t know the name of.

rosemBelinda’s Dream has not bloomed as much this year as most years.

roses148This is what the blooms on my all time favorite bush Double Delight looked like early this spring.  A diluted mixture of Rose Systemic Drench by Bonide at the base of the plant took care of the problem.

roseslThese are the roses from that bush after it recovered.

roseslDouble Delight is the strongest smelling rose I have.  It is truly heavenly.

rosesmBoth the scent and the blooms last about a week.  Flowers are one of life’s joys that can occur over and over each year.

Another blessing that we tend to recognize more in July than the rest of the year is our country and our freedoms.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”  Patrick Henry

Ahhh, Roses

Just before the freeze last week, the roses had been rejuvenated by the cooler weather and were blooming like crazy.  Now they won’t be back in their element until spring.

rosesIn the above picture are Knock outs in the front and an Earth- Kind in the back left.  To the right of that is a Mutabulis and then a climbing one on a tower.

All of these types are easy, breezy.  They pretty much perform without any help from me.  I do deadhead a little, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary for re-blooming.  The Earth-Kind is about 7 feet tall.  Last year I trimmed it down so I could reach it easier and thinned it out some.  But it’s back growing faster than I can keep up with it.

rosecluster2This climber on the tower is a Madam Norbert De Velleur.   The clusters of small roses are distinct for roses.

roseclusterIn spite of their beauty, this climber has the biggest thorns I’ve ever seen with sharp curved points on the end.  They grab clothes and skin.  I have the scratches and scars to prove it.

roses5There are two of these lower growing Oso Easy rose bushes.  The color is what drew me to them.  They require deadheading in order to bloom.

roseBelinda’s Dream is another easy care bush.  The flowers are rather large and full.

rose2When they are cut as a bud that isn’t fully opened, I use them inside.  But even those don’t last long in a vase.

roseaThe tight buds only last one morning.

rosemSo there are two problems for me with Belinda’s Dream:  first, they aren’t a viable cut flower and they tend to droop over.  I had to get down on the ground for this shot.

But they are a lovely bush rose and are covered with flowers in the spring and bloom off and on all summer.

roses6There are two bushes with yellow roses side by side.  I don’t know their names.  They are florabundas based on the fact that their blooms are clustered on a branch.

rosebThis year the blossoms were the largest they have ever been.   I forgot to get a picture on the bush, so here are some in a vase.  You can see that there is one main stem with four smaller branches bearing the flowers.

rosedI think this is an Old Blush rose.  The large rose hips look like cherry tomatoes.

rosekThis rose grew on the above bush that has the rose hips.

rosejNow, to the best part.  I love, love this Tropicana rose.  The flowers last about a week in a vase and have a wonderful aroma.

roseiI saved the best for last.   Double Delight hybrid not only is beautiful, but has a strong wonderful smell.  When I bring them inside,  I just walk by them and my nose is delighted.  And I don’t have a particularly strong sense of smell.  Just wish I could waft you a little scent.

As I write this, I keep pondering why I like roses so much.  As a child my mother would always pin a red rose on our dresses before we went to church on Mother’s Day.  She told us a red rose meant your mother was still living and a white one meant she had died.  Since we didn’t have any rose bushes, I’m not sure where she got those fresh roses.  Maybe a neighbor provided them.  That was long before people shopped at a florist, except for funerals.

Anyway, that isn’t the reason for my fondness for them.  I can’t pinpoint one particular reason.  I just plain like them.  Throughout history, roses have been used to commemorate special events.

“Life is like a rose garden.  Watch for the thorns and keep the pest dust handy.”  Unknown