Garden “Bones”

“The “bones” of a garden are the elements that are permanent and that provide its structure: trees, shrubs, arbors, walls, trellises, walkways, and statuary or other sculptural elements. They represent the garden as it appears when the growing season ends, when the color and texture provided by blooming plant material is muted by snow and bare earth.”

The above quote explains what is meant by garden bones.  Click on the link to read more.

In this post, I’m only going to focus on a few living bones:  trees and large shrubs.

When we built the house 13 years ago, this was a pasture.  The only tree was a large Live Oak behind the backyard.

In this picture, the tallest tree is a Bur Oak on the east side of the house.  Eventually, it should shade a window in the morning.  Behind that is a Red Oak and then a Texas Ash, neither of which can be seen in this picture.

To the right in the background is a Cherry Laurel.  To the far right behind the house is an old, old Live Oak.  It’s probably a hundred years old.

In the front yard is a Chinkapin Oak.  There are a couple of trees behind it.

Really wish I knew what this bush is.  It was planted years ago.

During the winter the stems or trunks of this large bush reminds me of a water fountain.

Wind provides lots of motion.

Usually we cut the stems down to the ground in late winter.  Then leaves grow all the way up the stems.  This year that chore did not get done and the stems only have pom poms of leaves on the ends.  Interesting look.

Basham’s Party Pink  (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is one of the first Crapemyrtles to bloom each year.  It seems to me that white and pink ones always bloom earlier than deeper colored ones.

One of the tallest varieties of Crapemyrtles, Basham’s Party Pink can reach 30 to 40 feet.  This one is six years old.

Flowering trees are a great attribute in a yard, if only for a few weeks or months of the year.

Most of the Goldenball Leadtrees (Leguminosae Fabaceae) I’ve seen are only 8 to 10 feet tall.  But Texas A & M reports that they can reach 25 feet tall and wide.  Oh dear, this one will be extremely crowded if it gets that wide.

Although Desert Bird of Paradise (Erythrostemon gilliesii) is a tropical tree from South America, it has naturalized in Texas.

It’s hardy and many pollinators feast on it.

Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has become favorite.  A native of China and India, it is naturalized throughout the southern U.S.

I’ve been told they bloom better and look better if pruned to maintain an 8 to 10 foot height.

What’s not to love about these striking flowers?  Plus, they perfume the air.

Generally, I prefer to zoom in on details of flowers.  But good bones are definitely the most important elements of a yard and garden.  As summer is upon us, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to have shade provided by trees in the yard.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”   Bill Vaughan

Winter Came Back

Last week old man winter snuck back when I wasn’t paying attention.

Ice covering Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree.

Ice on Yellow Lead Ball bush and Crape Myrtle.

The good news is that this winter event brought rain – over five inches.  Hip, hip, hooray.

The beautiful Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) looked really sad.

The weight of the ice on the branches was a concern.  But in a couple of days, it was melting, and the tree perked back up.

The Live Oak, too, was frosted with ice.

Another Chinese Pistache with ice.

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) with ice.  Okay, you get the picture.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native flowering small tree.  The rebar post was put there when it was small to mark the spot to avoid with the mower.  Guess it’s time to remove it.

Ice caked around a red rose hip on a climbing rose.

The hills were covered with ice, and it wasn’t fit for man nor beast to be out.  A paraphrase of a W. C. Fields quote.

From inside where it was warm and cozy, it looked dreamy.  And I’m so thankful for the rain.

“Sometimes my greatest accomplishment is just keeping my mouth shut.”  Zane Baker

Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown

 

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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Ready or Not

Most years everyone would be anxious for signs of spring.  This year, however, since trees and plants are leafing out so early, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop – a late freeze.

earlyearlyspringIn Brownwood there are lots of Mexican Plum trees (Prunus mexicana) covered in blossoms.  The plums on this native tree are small and hard but make good jams and jellies.

earlyearlyspring1So pretty.

earlyearlyspring2Along the highway near us, the native Redbuds (Cercis canadensis var. texensisare) are flowering.

earlyearlyspring6In our yard a Cherry Laurel  (Prunus laurocerasus) is covered with racemes.   I read recently that Cherry Laurels will not grow in alkaline soil, and if it is growing, it will die at some point.  I definitely hope that person is wrong.

This one came from a sucker in my friend’s yard 12 years ago.  I would really hate to lose it because it’s evergreen and a nice shape.  Plus, it provides a thick shade.

earlyearlyspring7Although I couldn’t see them, inside the tree bees were loudly buzzing.

earlyearlyspringdIn the field between the house and the barn is this jumble of small shrubs.  The blooming Algarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) caught my eye.

earlyearlyspring4To the right of it is a Mesquite, I think.  When they leaf out, that is an omen that there will be no more freezes this winter.  It doesn’t have a single leaf on it.

earlyearlyspringeThe shape of the Algarita leaves with the sharp tips are pretty, but those and their thorns make it a look, don’t touch bush.  Some brave souls gather the berries for tea jelly.

earlyearlyspringaSpotted a few Sweet Williams or Prairie Verbenas the other day as we were out walking.  Their toughness makes me smile.  In a few weeks, there will be clusters of them in all the fields.

earlyearlyspring9Last fall we scrapped a place in the field to plant wildflower seeds.  The directions from the owner of Wild Seed Farms in Fredricksburg were to rough up the ground, toss the seeds, and then move the top soil around a little.  Soon we’ll know if we were successful.

earlyearlyspring8I’m thinking or hoping that the little plant in the center of this picture is a Bluebonnet.  The leaves look right.

earlyearlyspringfAlso, in that field are rows of Irises.  These were planting years ago.  Some years there are lots of flowers.  Other years, not so much.  I’m not as faithful about fertilizing them as I used to be.

Guarding them is a vulture made from a shovel.  I found this at a second hand place in Brownwood.  It’s call This Old House and is on the highway 279 to Brownwood Lake.  They have several pots and yard art pieces as well as furniture and knick-knacks.

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”   unknown

Morning Snow

Early this morning I stepped outside on the front porch to photograph the snowfall.

snow4The cold wind kept me close to the front door.  Snow had dusted the leaves of a Live Oak.

snow5Probably less than an inch fell, but it’s such a rare event here that it’s mesmerizing.

snow6The rays of the rising sun swept across the trees.

snow7The Chinese Pistasho had a golden glow from the sun.

snow9During the night strong winds formed small snowdrifts with shapes that reminded me of White Sands in New Mexico.

snowaIn the distance the Blue Junipers looked like Christmas trees.

snowb

snowcA snow mound formed over a flowerbed.

snowdDead leaves still clinging to a Red Oak.

snow1The side yard as seen from the back patio revealed snow on only one side of tree trunks.  Maybe it was the wind that woke me at 4 this morning.

In the foreground is a Yaupon Holly.  To the right is a bare branched Red Oak.

snow8One bush beyond the yard looked like white lace.

snowSnow on one side of the Cherry Laurel tree.

snow3More Live Oaks.

snow2Cotton ball snow on tips of Sedum Brilliant dried flowers.

snowfSnow covered Autumn Clematis, which is evergreen.

snowgNice to look at, but not drawing me out into the weather.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Dr. Suess

Ice, Again

Most of the nation is in the same boat with this winter storm.  It’s cold, icy, and dangerous out there.  So this is the fourth day we’ve been inside.  And cabin fever has descended.

Okay.  Okay.  The temperatures are much colder, the winter much longer, and the ice much thicker in many northern states.  But I purposely do not live in those areas.

snowiceAfter hearing sleet fall most of Wednesday night, on Thursday morning we awoke to what is referred to as a “winter wonderland”.  Except, that white stuff is deceiving.  Instead of snow, it is ice with a fine coating of snow powder.

snowice2Beside the flowerbed, there is a hidden sidewalk.  It’s also a hidden menace.

snowice3Thursday was overcast and in the low 20’s.  This is the first year that the Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) has retained its yellow leaves past the heat of August.  It’s a reassuring sight that I hope means its roots have become established.

snowice4This Texas Ash or Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) also has kept its leaves through many high winds.

snowice5A snow/ice covered road on the ridge looks fun to travel on, but it’s iffy even in good weather.

snowice6Love this evergreen Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana).

snowice7On Saturday the sunlight peeked out of the clouds long enough to make shadows on the white ground.  This small Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) had long shadows at midday.

snowice8Today, Sunday, the temperature rose to 37 by noontime.  Skittering leaves travel above the hard packed ice.

snowiceaTo keep from going stir crazy, we take a walk.

We didn’t slip, slide too much.  In the sun, the ice had melted just enough to walk on.  In the shady areas, it was still slick.

snowice9Tonight this will all freeze again.  It will probably still be too treacherous to travel tomorrow.

This has been an unusual weather year for us.  In January we had ice, but that’s when we usually have some cold weather and ice.  In November and December we had ice storms.  In my mind, the snow storm while we were in South Dakata  in October counts for us, too.  Now the question is:  what do the coming winter months have in store for us?

Update – today, Monday, Dec. 9:

fog1213Still have the ice.  Now a heavy fog and icy wind is forming ice on the trees.

fog1213bIf ice forms on the power lines, it could mean a power outage.  It looks like we’ll be here for awhile.  So glad we bought groceries and propane for the fireplace.

“Username or Password is Incorrect.”  Well.  At least tell me which one it is.  – T shirt humor

Preview of Spring

There are small signs of spring in spite of the fact that weather forecasts indicate more freezes coming up.  Several trees have already budded out and those buds have turned black from a freeze.

daffodilA few daffodils have already bloomed and grown ragged from the wind.  But there still more buds.

swampsunflowersSometimes it hard to determine from the first shoot of a plant what it is.  So it helps if you can remember where something is planted rather pulling up little greenery as weeds.  Spoken from experience.  These are Swamp Sunflowers, which go through some pretty stages.  After this, it will become thin, frilly leaves that drop over like a circular waterfall.

violetsJust plain old common violets that have a nice low growth with lovely whitish, purple flowers that rise above the leaves.

dayliliesOne of my favorites – orange daylilies.  Not only are they pretty but so dependable and easy.  Emphasis on the easy.

dandelionOf course, weeds are here with more on the horizon.  The dandelion has a soft inviting shape.

dandelion2Beauty comes in all forms.

henpitThe prolific henbit will always be with us.

cherrylaurelCherry Laurel in full bloom promises new leaves.

cherrylaurel2The entire tree hummed like a bee hive.

Our first evidence of spring is weeds.  That brings a somber reminder that I need to be outside with a hoe or a spray.

“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.”  Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871

Cold Snap

The weather this week has been all over the map.  The first two days had mild temperatures with 55 mph winds for hours on end.  These were followed with a relatively calm day with a high near 80 degrees.  That was a great day to work outside.  Like the snap of your fingers, a hard freeze this morning came and went quickly with a high temperature of 60 in the afternoon.icyclehollyI got outside before 7 am this morning to snap pictures of the icicles on plants.  There was no moisture last night –  just the sprinkler system that created these winter beauties.  This Yaupon Holly is dripping with ice crystals

icyclerose3A Knock Out Rose covered in ice.

icyclerose4An earth kind rose bush already leafed out.

icyclestree2The rising sun behind a Cherry Laurel Tree.

icyclestreeThe ice on this Cherry Laurel and every other plant melted so fast, there was no sound of dripping.

icepergolatwirlingbirdMakes me shiver.

icealmondThis Sweet Almond Bush has not been pruned back, yet.

icebirdbathIce on the grass, birdbath, and newly planted Redbud Tree.

Even though this was a fake winter wonderland and brief in existence, the sight was a treat to see it.

“It’s a strange world language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.”   Franklin P. Jones

Winter Yard

Recently I’ve read several articles in gardening magazines about perennials in yards.  Because perennials have the same requirements as weeds (sun and water) for growing, it is difficult to keep those flowerbeds weeded.  I’m not sure I understand that logic.  Don’t most plants need that?

Anyway, as one ages, they suggest that more flowerbed space should be converted to evergreens for easier maintenance.  Looking at my mostly dead yard this winter has made me consider more evergreens just for aesthetics.

Last week on a warm, sunny day in the 70’s, I went out to photograph anything green in the yard.  Of course, I did not take pictures of the incriminating stuff – all those bright green healthy weeds.  Here’s some of the green I found.

liveoak2 This is a native Live Oak that is quite old.  Last year we had it pruned because some branches were hanging to the ground, and there were dead branches up high from a strong wind storm.  We were told it would be healthier, and any future wind would blow through the thinned-out branches.  rosemThis Rosemary bush has become way overgrown, even with some pruning.  For the first few years I didn’t care because I was trying to fill flowerbeds.

The crazy climate where we live has just enough hard freezes to kill anything that isn’t an evergreen.  But most of the winter is quite warm.  The bright sunshine also makes it difficult to take pictures that are not washed out.

rosemary4 The butterflies have been very active on these Rosemary blossoms for several weeks. rosemary rosemary2 Because of our warm, dry winters, plants and trees still have to be watered on a fairly regular basis. cherrylaurelI’ve bragged on this Cherry Laurel before because I started it from a small plant given to me by a friend.  It has not fared as well as usual this winter.  Probably needed more water.

spiderwortMost Spiderworts are not evergreen, so this one must be a fluke.

There are many bloggers in Austin, just 150 miles south of us.  It’s surprising the difference in the survival of the plants there during “winter time”.  Many show pictures of plants that make it through the winter still blooming.  Not here.  But it makes me all the more anxious for the joy of seeing plants coming up in spring.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  Unknown