Surviving the Heat

The unrelenting sun is taking its toll.  Some things, like the Cone Flowers, are wilting faster than usual.  This is my fault because I haven’t done a good job of watering flowerbeds this year.

I read that the heavy rains in the spring work as a detriment when the inferno of summer comes because our plants are not accustomed to going from wet soil to dry.

surviving1Potted plants, like this Kalanchoe, that have the advantage of mostly shade survive fine.  They don’t mind the heat, just the sun.

surviving9A different Kalanchoe thrives outside in the shade.

surviving7Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’) or Firecracker Flower has done surprisingly well in mostly shade.  It, too, likes the heat and humidity, but not the sun.  No humidity here, so it must not be absolutely necessary for this plant.

survivingbIt definitely is an attention getter on the front porch.  Looks goods against the pot of Dusty Miller succulent.  This pot goes into the heated shed for the winter.

survivingcThe part of the stem just below the flower is the seed pods.  Each little point contains a seed of roughly the same shape.

survivingThis Desert Rose (Adenium obesumlso) needs winter protection.  Mine only seems to bloom right after it comes out of the shed in early spring.  They are known more for their trunks that are bulbous at the bottom than their flowers.survivingaMore pot plants:  pepper plant and Boston Fern to the back left.  The Woodland Fern on the right is in the ground.

surviving5Out by a shed is a Plumbago with white flowers, a Scented Geranium, a Crepe Myrtle with black leaves and a Mexican Oregano.

surviving6Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) with pink tubular flowers.

survivingbbAn Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) from South Africa in a large pot with Purple Heart behind it.  In its native land, it grows in grasslands with well drained soil.  Further south in Texas, it does well directly in the ground.  Here it is an annual that must be protected in the winter.

survivingccThis rose, The Showbiz Rose, is in a pot because right now I don’t have a place available in a flowerbed.  It is a heavy blooming floribunda.

It was purchased at the nursery at Biltmore.  Really, I should never be allowed to walk through a nursery just to look.

survivingdBut who could resist this beauty?

Now that you’ve seen some of my plants in pots, is it any wonder that my husband dreads the end of fall and the beginning of spring?

surviving3Now to some easy care plants, like this New Gold Lantana.  Basically, put it in the ground and forget about it.

surviving4Mexican Petunias have finally become aggressive after about 10 years.  Easy as pie if you have enough space for them.

survivingeA skittish Cardinal enjoying seeds in the grass.  Usually, they bolt at the slightest movement.

surviving2I was rather late coming to the fad of grasses as yard plants.  But I do like Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima).  I’ve read that it can be invasive, but so far, that hasn’t been the case here.

“Misers are not fun to live with, but they are great ancestors.”  Tom Snyder

Old Fashioned Christmas

There were five homes on the Lampasas tour of homes, which benefited the Lampasas County Museum.  Lampasas is a small town in Central Texas with a population of around 7,000.

lampasasA small house built in 1938 is an in-town residence for a couple who live on a ranch.

lampasas1This cute snowman is constructed from different sizes of corrugated metal.

lampasas2A collection of snowmen are scattered throughout the house.

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lampasas6Across the street was this house built in 1952.  When his childhood home came up for sale, the present owner bought it.  It also is a city home for a ranch dweller.

lampasas7The reason for this picture is that I’ve never seen a porcelain sink like this.  It is original to the house.

lampasas11At the edge of town is a rock house constructed in the ’30’s.

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lampasas8This looks like a handmade pot.

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lampasasbClever use of deer antlers in a deer theme center piece.

lampasascWooden cabinet came from a monastery where it was used to store candles.

lampasasdFrom a favorite aunt, this handmade gift has a sweet sentimental message.

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lampasasfA hand blown knob on a chest which was passed down in the family.

lampasasgI’m not a fan of pedestal sinks because there is no place to put make-up or toothpaste or anything.  This one is larger and has some surface to use.

lampasashThe homeowner’s daughter told us that her mother made these manger scene blocks when she was a child.  They are durable with felt characters glued on wood, so children can play with them.  And now, the grandchildren enjoy them.

lampasasiUnusual concrete block covered with lizards or geckos.

lampasasjVery peaceful backyard with the land sloping down to a small creek.  Around here, the word “creek” implies that occasionally there is water running in the bed.

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lampasasnThe homeowner appeared to be crafty, so she might have made these.

lampasasmStanding behind the home, we can see the guest house built for the homeowner’s mother in 2006.  A covered walkway leads from the main house to the guest one.

lampasasoThe guesthouse matches the main house with a stone facade.

lampasaspInside the living room and kitchen are open and flow together.

lampasasqPaddington Bear hosts a tea party.

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lampasast An elevated deck provides a nice view of the backyard and a spot for pots of pansies and Boston Fern.

lampasasuCute iron birdfeeder.

Some people don’t “get” going on home tours.  But we consider it a fun outing.

“Facial recognition software can pick a person out of a crowd but a vending machine can’t recognize a dollar with a bent corner.”  Unknown

Visit to Another Gardener’s Yard

It’s always fun to visit different yards and to get ideas.  The following pictures were all taken at the home of a member of our Garden Club.  This was the final meeting for the year since we take summers off.

mcglothlinyardssThe home is at the edge of Brownwood with a large lot – probably three acres.  This looks back to the street with part of the circular drive between the street and this metal stand.

mcglothlinyarduuThe front part of the yard is probably 3/4 of an acre with lots of native Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyardtyLove the flowers in the chair.

mcglothlinyardzThe front flowerbed against the house is a little wider than average.

mcglothlinyardyyLooks like a Norfolk Pine in the pot.

mcglothlinyardzzManicured plantings.

mcglothlinyardxxLots of container plants in the front and back yards.

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mcglothlinyard1The first impressive sight in the backyard is the huge Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyard3Geraniums, Crocus, Ice Plant, and something I don’t recognize in pots.

mcglothlinyard6I was also struck by the flagstone patios and walkways, making it easy to walk around.  Plus, the lush St. Augustine grass with no weeds was pretty.   I know hungry water consumers are not recommended now.

mcglothlinyard4Beautiful water feature.

mcglothlinyard5This shot makes the yard look cluttered, but it isn’t.  It has a spacious feeling.

mcglothlinyard8There are several seating areas.  In the background, behind a chain link fence is their travel trailer.  The field behind the yard gives a sense of country living.

mcglothlinyard9Lots of hanging baskets.  One of these has begonias.  On the ground is a Boston Fern.

mcglothlinyardaA Pittosporum or Schefflera in the pot?

mcglothlinyardb mcglothlinyardcOn this table is succulents in hypertufa pots.  I think the small pot has Dutchman’s Pipes.

mcglothlinyarddMany groupings of small pots are scattered everywhere.

mcglothlinyardemcglothlinyardfmcglothlinyardgThese pots of begonias are a good way to add instant color.

mcglothlinyardhThe plant in the water in the tub looks like water Iris.

mcglothlinyardjThe garden shed is an attractive design.

mcglothlinyardiA small rain barrel collects water.  Any amount of water collection is a good thing in hot, usually dry Texas.  The heavy rainfall this year is way beyond an anomaly.

mcglothlinyardkInside, the shed is filled with gardening gear.  Not much room to bring in all those potted plants.

mcglothlinyardlA hay container for cattle makes a nifty flower bed.

mcglothlinyardmLooks like some newly planted begonias.

mcglothlinyardnThis corner bed at the back of the yard has Gold Lantana.

mcglothlinyardoProbably another storage shed.

mcglothlinyardpPetunias in a stacked pot holder.

mcglothlinyardrThis is probably a playhouse for grandchildren.

mcglothlinyardsLovely hanging begonias.  Hanging baskets require constant watering in our climate, so I don’t bother with them.

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mcglothlinyardvThis is an understory tree and thus requires shade.  I’d love to have one but don’t have a place for one.

mcglothlinyardwWhat a chore it is to get ready for visitors to one’s home and yard.  Especially, members of a garden club.  There are many newly planted ferns, begonias, and other plants that will not survive the winter.  So they will either have to dig them up or just lose them.

Thanks, Debbie, for letting me take pictures for my blog and for hosting the club.  Everything looked wonderful.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom

Porch Sitting

Porch sitting is an American past time, especially this time of the year.  But enjoying the outdoors gathered with friends is not unique to the US of A.  Think about Paris cafes, Aussies and their barbies, campfires outside of yurts in Asia and thatched homes in Africa, and picnics just about anywhere.

frontyard614iOutside decorating has become an art form.  While I don’t have that skill, I do like plants just about anywhere outside.

By the front porch are some pots that have some perennials and some annuals for color.  Truthfully, I leave whatever survived the winter and then fill in with annuals.

The large pot on the left has some Artemisia that has been there several years.  To that, Coleus and Impatiens (Vincas) were added.

The right back pot has some Yellow Columbine that ended up there by wind or was carried by birds.  In the pot in front of it is Autumn Sedum, that thankfully, made it through all that cold this past winter.

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frontyard614z3The late evening sun makes the Coleus glow.

frontporch2Beside that grouping of pots is this Asparagus Fern that is over 24 years old.

frontyard614z2At the other end of the porch is this white pot.  You can see a little green on top.

In the background is another Asparagus Fern.

frontyard614yEvery year I get impatient for the Rose Moss to come out.  Sometimes I even go buy other plants to put in this pot.  This year I’m determined to wait for it to fill out and bloom.

frontporchLooking back to the corner are three pots of Boston Fern.  These are also 24 years old.  Who would keep plants that long or even care?  An old lady, I guess.

The deer horns in the wagon weren’t really planned.  It just seems that when anyone finds horns in the pastures, they get deposited here or on a table on the back porch.

frontporch1The Boston Ferns have been divided many times.  In fact, there are three other pots around the house in other places.  Some have been given away, but most people aren’t interested in storing a big pot in the winter.

frontporch3This bunny pot holds an heirloom Geranium.  It must not be getting enough sun and needs to be moved.  I really like the bunny but can’t seem to find the right size pot for it.

Hope you have some time this summer for some serious porch sitting with friends and family to laugh and enjoy each other or for some alone time to spend in quiet contentment.

“Doing nothing is very hard to do.  You never know when you’re finished.”  Unknown

Peek in Green House

Can’t wait to find out which outside plants survived the coldest weather we’ve had in many years.  Of course, I’m really hoping that most of the perennials make it.

shedBut the ones in the shed/greenhouse have been toasty warm and thrived.  The 8 year old heater did a good job of keeping the inside from freezing.

shed2There used to be a coiled hose in the greenhouse.  But last year I replaced it with this pocket hose.  It works so much better because it doesn’t get caught on branches and other things  in the shed.  It stretches nicely and is easy to use.  I’m not sure how one would work out in the yard with all the critters to chew on it.

shed3The blooms that were on the Ixora when we put the pot in the shed in early November are still going strong.  Love that bright color and the fact that the flowers last so long.  Of course, it is tropical and must have heat, although the dryness of the air during the summer here doesn’t seem to matter.

shed4The African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) also is healthy.  Last spring I planted some sprigs in the ground.  They did well.  But what are the chances that they will come back?  They are not hardy to 7B, where we are.

shed5This large Aloe Vera always blooms during the winter in the greenhouse but not outside during the summer.  Can’t figure that one out.

shed6I usually see the blooms just after they’ve died, so they must not last a week.

shed7A new bloom is starting at the base.

shed8Kalanchoe also does extremely well in the hothouse environment and blooms better than when outside.  These are ready to be cut back.  So they will provide lots of cuttings to root for our Garden Club plant sale.

The white walls are sheets of styrofoam we cut to fit for insulation.

shed9All these Aloe Vera will be put in the Garden Club sale.  That large Aloe Vera just keeps producing all these pups.

shedd1Part of a fiberglass panel shows in this picture.  These allow wonderful sunlight to flood the shed.

shedd3The Boston Ferns have flourished better than in some past winters in the shed.

shedd4I have learned to move the Tropical Hibiscus away from the heat source.  Tiny white mites tend to cover it in the greenhouse.  But it does better next to the door.  That seems counter intuitive to me.  But it works.

Beside it is a Tricolor Butterfly Bush that I bought late in the fall and potted it just before storing it here.  Hopefully, it will live.  Anyone else anxious to get on with spring?

“Perennial:  any plant which, had it lived, would have bloomed year after year.”  Henry Beard

Twice a Year Chore

One of the dreaded chores of gardening doesn’t occur that often, but we definitely don’t like it.  It involves cleaning out the shed from all the clutter accumulated during the long months when it wasn’t used as a green house and then lugging in the plants.  Our 12′ x 16′ metal shed was built to be used both for storage and protecting potted plants during the winter.  So to make room for the plants, we have to move some tools and other items to the barn.

Almost every year, we carry plants inside after a cold spell, and then it warms up again for another month.  But once, we have put them inside, they stay inside until spring.  In March or April when we hope freezes have passed, we  bring out the plants. This means it has been warm for awhile.  But there have been late freak freezes in past years.

This garden wagon has saved our backs.  For several years we used a wheel barrel, bringing one large pot at a time.  It was tricky not to dump those heavy pots. It still takes both of us.  The two pots shown are smaller and light; but when two large, heavy pots are on board, it takes my husband pulling and me pushing and holding the pots upright.

The first winter we stored plants here, they just barely survived.  We used a heater (the red one in the corner) that responds to temperature.  But the bare metal walls didn’t provide much of a barrier from the cold.

So the following summer, we bought large sheets of styrofoam and cut them to fit around the metal shelves for the walls.  We glued them, but they did not really stick well.  But there are enough pots on the shelves to hold the styrofoam in place.

This large Aloe Vera has become a bugaboo to move.  It tends to be top heavy and gets away from me.  It fell off the cart again this year.  So there are always broken tips on this plant.  We have transplanted it into a bigger pot several times.  So far, it has survived.

The winter after we put the styrofoam up, some of the plants on the floor were shoved up under the bottom shelf.  This still put them too close to the outside cold.  Now we store buckets and extra pots against the wall.  This adds an extra layer of insulation and puts the plants in the sunlight.The shed has a water faucet and a center drain hole in the concrete.  Winter sun shines in a small window on the west side, and four fiberglass roof panels to let in light.

Over the years, my fern collection has grown to six pots of Boston Fern and three pots of Asparagus Fern.  I started with one of each 22 years ago.  Each time we divide them, my husband says no more.  Then the roots get so crowded, it’s a necessity.  It’s difficult to give them away because we’re the crazy ones who are willing to store them in the winter.  OK.  I’m the one that can’t throw them away.

Hey, don’t judge how a gardener looks at the end of a long day working outside in a roaring wind.

I’m so grateful that my husband is willing to help me with my gardening obsession.

“You don’t need a green thumb to be a gardener, just brown knees.”  Author Unknown