Native or Not

Defining and identifying which plants are native is not easy because, first of all, there is no definitive definition.

Wikipedia definition:  “Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area (trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants). Some native plants have adapted to very limited, unusual environments or very harsh climates or exceptional soil conditions.”

Sometimes it is difficult to find natives for sale at nurseries.  This False Foxglove was growing along our county road, so I dug up a couple of clumps about four years ago.

Texas Native Plant Society defines natives as plants that were growing naturally here when the European settlers came or plants that were growing naturally in this state at the beginning of the Holocene Recent Epoch, which began about 8,000 – 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age.

Really?

Actually, in Texas we are lucky to have Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center because they have native plant sales twice a year.

Another way to get natives is from a friend or an acquaintance.  This plant came from a garden club sale.  It is Western Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) that was growing in Texas at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, and thus is considered native by some botanists.

Now, how does anyone know that?  Is there a notebook somewhere that has descriptions and drawings of this plant?

The feathery soft leaves are nice in small vases with small flowers.

This was also bought at a garden club sale.  I thought it was native but after some research, I believe it is Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea Moonshine).  It is a sterile, non-reseeding variety.

Looks like it will grow much taller than I realized.  The reason it was planted in this cattle feeder was to shade the “feet” of a Clematis vine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture definition of “native plant” is “a plant that lives or grows naturally in a particular region without direct or indirect human intervention.” That definition also might apply to many “naturalized” plants that were introduced long ago, but are now thriving and spreading without human intervention.

Dripping with blossoms, the Yellow Lead Ball Tree is a pretty small multi-branched tree.

Crossvine or Trumpet Flower (Bignonia capreolata) is a sought-after vine because it is a vigorous grower and has tubular flowers that draws pollinators.

Don’t confuse this with Trumpet Creeper or Cow-itch Vine (Campsis radicans) which is invasive.

Plants that were introduced by man during the last three hundred or so years and that have adapted to our landscape and climate are referred to as “naturalized.”  Some of these are aggressive and are considered invasive or noxious.

Mexican Buckeye or Texas Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) has pink/white flowers while it is leafing out and bears these unusual seed pods.  In fall the leaves are supposed to turn yellow.  This one was planted in early February.

Texas Primrose (Calylophus drummondianus var. berlandieri)is a Texas Native that has needle-like foliage.

It thrives in rocky bar ditches.

Long swaths of Pink Evening Primrose or Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) along the highway makes me want to stop and get up close to them.

Simple, yet lovely.

Native Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) does not like to be watered.  These appear in flower beds but die out if over watered.

Ox-eye  or Margarita Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgarde) is considered by many to be a native but is actually native to Europe and parts of Asia.

The whole idea of native versus non-native is a hot topic right now in Texas.  Some people are offended by planting anything but natives.  But as the definitions show, that is not an exact science.  Others think that natives do not belong in urban settings.

Personally, I plant what will survive and do well in my region.  If I like something that won’t survive our winter, then I put it in a pot.  Then it can be moved into a shed.  My philosophy:   be practical and lighten up.

Sorry this is so long.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

“Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.  I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.”  Lady Bird Johnson

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

What Is and Is to Come

Last days of winter – maybe.  Warms days followed by cold days creates a confusing message to nature.

The dried blossoms of Sedum Autumn Joy can be sprayed and used in flower arrangements.  Silver paint makes them look classy.

Plus, Sedum Autumn Joy is a wonderful succulent that is reliable.  Green leaves are already popping up.

Bi-color Iris (Dietes bicolor) or African Iris or Fortnight Lily forms a clump with long sword like leaves.  It’s a native to South Africa, so I’m hoping that it will recover from the hard freezes this year.

Texas Flowering Senna produces tons of seed pods.  After giving lots away, these were left.  The strange thing is that with all these seeds, there are no seedlings that come up under the bush.

Texas Flowering Senna displays stunning yellow flowers that last for about seven months.  Can’t wait.

The leaves of Red Yucca are still green but the tall flower stems are dry.  The flowers leave a hard shell with black seeds.

Most of its leaves are still clinging to one Red Oak in the yard.  The strong winds haven’t dislodged them  yet.  Before long, new leaves will sprout.

There are several varieties of Senna.  Not sure which one this is.

Interesting flower seed pods and branch forms.

Clusters of dried False Foxglove seed pods make me anxious for the return of their white petals with pink splotches.This time of year wild creatures are astiring.  A group of wild turkeys passed through behind the house.  Stealthily, I cracked open the back door and poked my camera through it.

From the road wild turkeys don’t appear to have much color, but a zoom lens shows their pretty feathers.

Looks like two old gossipers speaking solemnly about something.

Guess mating season has started, meaning new little ones.

Can you tell that I am ready for spring with its warm weather and pretty colors.  I know, I know.  It’s still February.  Just daydreaming.

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”  Joey Adams

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Smorgasbord of Color and Form

This spring’s rains has brought exceptionally beautiful sights.  There’s plenty of green and other gorgeous colors all around us.

olioThe first Cone Flower from the Echinacea genus has opened.  Even though the petals aren’t as perfectly formed as later ones will be, the pollinators don’t care.

olio1Drift Roses are covered with masses of blooms.  At the far end of the bed is a Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) with its silvery airiness and a mound of gray Santolina (S. chamaecyparissus) with its buds ready to provide small yellow flowers.

olio2I love that drift roses stay under two feet tall and continually bloom through autumn.  To the right of them is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) which will have brght red flowers in the heat of the summer.

olio3The clusters of roses make a strong visual  impact.

olio4This three year old Privet is blooming for the first time.  From the genus of Ligustrum, Privets are now considered invasive.  I’d be surprised if its seed would take hold in the hard clay in our area.

olio5It smells heavenly.

olio6Pink Guara’s (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) swaying branches look pretty in our ever present wind.  Beside the pot, the Texas Ash needs the sprouts at the base trimmed away – again.

olio7Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is blooming.  To the left of it, Duranta is slowly growing, awaiting the heat blast of August to bloom.

olio8Pretty stalks of closed buds on Red Yuccas reach up for attention.  In the background is a raised bed that will be shown in the next picture.

Note the pieces of black ground-cover cloth.  They was put down about nine years ago.  Knowing what I know now – it doesn’t keep weeds from growing through the cloth; it hinders planting something new; and seems to last forever –  I definitely would not use it again.

olio9Henry Duelburg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) continues to perform magnificently after eleven years.

olioaA wonderful plant that bees love.

olioaaTexas native Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri.) is a showy splash of yellow on a low mound of thin grassy stems.

oliobLarkspurs (Delphinium consolida) are providing their surprise locations all over the yard.  Scatter these seeds and have purple flowers popping up everywhere.

In the lower left corner are some native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea).

oliobbMore Pink Gaura in a flowerbed.

olioccA copper colored reblooming Iris.

oliodAnd a lavender and yellow one.  Can’t resist snapping pictures of these beauties in the spring.

oliocWe have always called these natives that appear in the yard Lamb’s Ears because they look and feel like the ones sold in nurseries. They have soft, velvety foliage.  But recently I learned that they are actually Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  They are sure plentiful around here.  My husband loves to mow them down, but I want a few left to grow.

The leaves get about a sixteen inches in size.  Then late in summer a tall stalk will reach about three feet in height and small yellow flowers will form an elongated cluster.  Interesting plant.

Thanks for perusing my blog and enjoy your own green space.

“When a woman wears leather clothing, a man’s heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he goes weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?
She smells like a new truck.”  unknown

A Blooming Spring

Flowers everywhere makes me giddy.  Last year’s rains and some small ones this year have created beauty that delights.

otherplantsThis Dianthus, also called Pinks, is nine years old.  I definitely wish I knew the variety because I’ve planted others trying to fill in the area, but they’ve all bit the dust.

Should have removed the watering wand before I took this picture.  It’s enlightening what you notice about your yard from photos.

otherplants4A new project we started last year.  We worked on the plans from a picture I had in my head.  Luckily an excellent concrete crew could pull it off.  It was tricky with the raised planters on each side.

otherplants1The goal is for this Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top of the metal structure.  Crossvine is a Texas native, evergreen, and a vigorous grower.

otherplants3The vines tend to hang downward, so I try to keep an eye on them and tie the runners up and weave them in and out the railing.

otherplants2The blooms have been spectacular this spring.

otherplants5Another Amaryllis bloomed among the emerging Cone Flowers.  I think this was put in this bed because I thought the soil had been enriched better than where I had planted some other Amaryllis.

otherplants6This flowerbed in the back is a hodgepodge of plants.  I must like that look because I do it so often.  On the left the dried branches of an Acanthus haven’t be cut, yet.  It looks artistic to me.  Maybe a rationalization.  Recently Neil Sperry wrote about current garden work that needs to be done:  “At this time of year, if you miss a day, you fall behind by a week.”  So true.

To the right of that is a Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus Berlandieri), then some yellow daisies.  Behind them, the Texas Quince (Chaenomeles japonica  ” Texas Scarlet’) is still blooming.

The white flowers are False Foxglove, which comes from a start that I dug from the side of a county road three years ago.  Good ole wildflowers.

otherplants7otherplants8There is a tinge of on the inside of the False Foxglove flowers.

 

otherplants9In that same bed beside the Canyon Creek Abelia, a Pink Gaura is making its first appearance this year.  In the center of the picture is one of its tiny pinkish white flower.  They will be waving in the wind as the branches get longer.

otherplantsbThe reason I selected this Clematis is not because it’s my favorite Clematis but because they do well here.  The mass of flowers is evidence of that.  This is a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’.

otherplantsaI had tried a red flower variety but it didn’t make it.  Sometimes, we have to be realistic about what works.

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”         Ronald Reagen

Oops, Should have…

Generally, I operate under the philosophy of just leaving things alone, and they’ll get better.  Or as the adages say:  “Don’t trouble trouble” and “Leave matters well enough alone.”  This doesn’t work too well for health matters, relationships, or as it turns out, for gardening.

oops6These old fashioned Hollyhocks have been a great filler for the flowerbed in the backyard for several years.  Last year, near the end of the blooming season, the leaves didn’t look healthy.  They were drying up, but, hey, the sun had been merciless, all summer.

oops4But this late spring, when hollyhocks should be green and thriving, the leaves are already drying and the flowers are small.  So after looking on the internet for hollyhock problems, I bought some Selvin for what I thought might be Japanese beetle damage.

oops5Sorry about the blurred picture.

But further reading indicated that Hollyhock rust, which is a fungus brought by rain and air currents, was probably the culprit.  The fungus overwinters with plant debris and can then show up when the new plants emerge in the spring.  Rain and dampness encourages the spread of this disease.  Normally, that is definitely not a problem here.  However, this spring, there have been many days with moisture in the air.

oops7The solution is to destroy all diseased material.  Big no-no is to put it into the compost pile.  So I cut all stems to the ground that didn’t have any flower buds on them.  I bagged these and they will go to the dump.

Then I stripped all leaves off of the other stalks and left only blooming flowers or buds.  I also took a kitchen table knife and scraped all the spots off of the stems.  Wise or not?  Don’t know.

After the flowers disappear, I will cut all stalks flush with the ground.  Everything goes into bags.

Wow, this would have taken less time if I had taken care of the problem last year.

oops8So the pinkish red flowers on tall stalks are the few hollyhocks left.  This bed may will look pretty sparse the rest of the summer.  On the positive side, the hardy Hibiscus bush flowers in the center will showcase their beauty.

oopsLet’s end this post with some pleasant snapshots.  The Larkspurs are just starting to bloom.

oops2They pop up in the most unexpected spots.

oops3The seeds were planted in this bed.  False Foxglove also appeared there this year.  The wind and birds distribute seeds all over.  That’s what makes the wildflowers so prolific and enjoyable.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson

G.W. Bush Library

First, before I discuss our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, let me give thanks for recent rains.  Over the past two weeks, we have been blessed with six and a third inches.  Other people in the area received much more.  But we all have had showers of blessings including all of central Texas and even the Panhandle.  Desperately needed moisture has brought a sigh of relief because some cities were 90 days away from no water.

gwbush4Now to the museum on the SMU campus in Dallas.  The outside is simple in design, but note what looks like a small square building with windows and columns on top of the roof.

gwbushjThis cupola or whatever this is called is an interesting feature to the structure.  The Davis Mountains scene on all four walls is part of a changing scene screen.

gwbushmIt doesn’t look like a screen, and I know nothing about the technology.  The pictures slowly and constantly move around to the right on all four sides.

gwbushnThen the scene changes again.

gwbushlStepping outside from the above main foyer, there is a patio area in the center of the building.  This Desert Willow tree (Chilopsis linearis) provides nice color.

gwbushkAlso, in this patio were the statutes of both Bush presidents.

gwbush5Of course, one whole section was dedicated to 9/11 with sirens wailing, pictures and information.   This twisted metal from the towers served as a reminder of another “day that will live in infamy.”

Another section, where pictures were not allowed, was a gallery of paintings done by President Bush.  Those depicted were all world leaders during his presidency.  Beside each painting was information about where and when they met.  In a short video, he said that he was well aware that the signature on each was worth more than the painting.

gwbushhA few hands on exhibits were enjoyed by children and adults, like this one featuring their dog, Spot.

gwbushfOutside the Oval Office replica was the garden, which was similar to the famous White House Rose Garden, except this one was planted with Texas native plants.

gwbushgAnother view looking from just outside the Oval Office.

gwbusheThe Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) always wash out in midday photographs.

gwbushdWater Irises grew in a small pond area.

gwbusha

gwbushbThe plant database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists all Foxgloves in Texas as False Foxgloves.  In our area, those are only white or pale ivory.

gwbushcI would love to find some of the pink or yellow ones.

gwbush9Nice combination of Agaves and small flowers in all the beds.

gwbushThe presidential library is on a corner.  This is the side street with a more formal planting of trees and grass.  To the left of this area, the ground slopes up beside the building and the front entrance is on the next level.

gwbush2I was impressed with these shutters that were permanent, attractive, and a  clever way to deal with the hot, direct sunlight.

gwbush3The architect included other smart shading techniques.

gwbushsAlong the side of the building, this was the only section that was planted in rows.

gwbush8All other plantings looked like a wildflower prairie.

gwbush7A few smaller areas of grass gave the whole area an ordered, rather then messy feeling.

gwbushtScattered among the native grasses were all sorts of wildflowers, like this Horse Mint (Monarda punctata).

gwbushuCould not get close enough to examine the red flowers, but maybe they are Penstemon.

gwbushrA few Mexican Hats (Ratibida columnaris), Thistles, and lots of different kinds of yellow flowers.

gwbushqThis might be American basket-flower (Centaurea americana).

gwbushpI was taken with them.

gwbushoThis Butterfly Weed’s (Asclepias tuberosa) bright orange screams for attention.

Worth a visit even though I didn’t feel as connected to the man as I did at his father’s library.  Maybe it was just me.  Another day might have brought a different reaction.

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”  Washington Irving

Not Another Freeze, Please

Since our last cold spell, several plants have bloomed or re-bloomed from earlier freezes.  The temperatures have been in the mid to high 80’s recently.  Meteorologists have predicted mid 30’s tonight on May 1.  That would be the lowest temperature ever recorded in this area in May.  Since trees are fully leafed out, surely they would lose their leaves again.

The early morning temperatures started in the 50’s today and are steadily going down.  I really doubt that it will drop to freezing.  But stranger things have happened.

bottlebrush2The Bottle Brush (Callistemon) is looking good.

bottlebrushThe leaves on this bush are hard and very sharp.  If your bare arms hit against them, you get a poke or prick. These hard leathery leaves are probably the reason they do so well here.  They retain their water, like the leaves of native bushes.

spiderwort3Spider Worts (Tradescantia x andersonia) are flourishing.  These are reliable perennials.  Mine had a difficult start because jackrabbits kept eating the tender shots down to the ground.  I finally caged the plants so they couldn’t reach them.

oxeyeOx Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are opening up, but don’t have much height, yet.  This is considered a weed, and I’ve read that it’s illegal to sell the seeds in the state of Washington.  But around here, it’s a pass-along plant, which is how I got mine.

foxglove2The native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea) have really filled out and spread in one year.

foxglove3When I dug up those little scrawny plants out of the hard caliche beside the road, I never dreamed that they would be such a pretty sight in my yard.

osoeasyroseThe Oso Easy Paprika rose bushes are covered with blooms.  They have proved to be a really good investment.  But I never see them for sale anymore.

yellowroseKnockout Roses are blooming with their small flowers.  But a bush full of the flowers is stunning.

Now, what will changing weather do to all the plants?  It’s definitely out of our hands.

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”  George Washington Carver