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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Spring Flowers

It’s easy to beat oneself up this time of the year about all the tasks that still haven’t been done yet.  I’m trying hard to do what I can and accept that it’s impossible to pull all the weeds at once.  And at the same time, just enjoy the beauty of the new flowers and how some plants have grown.

springyardhOne nice surprise was seeing these Amaryllis blooms.  This particular one hasn’t bloomed in several years.  Why now?  Who knows.

Yes, there are weeds in this bed.

springyardnSo I came back and cleaned out this flowerbed.  It’s pretty small, so it could be accomplished fairly easily.

springyard4Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei) is a show stopper each spring. It’s easy to grow, has arching branches, and is often used in bridal bouquets.

springyard7And produces masses of flower clusters.

springyard1The copper leaves of this Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) stand out in the spring.  However in this location, most of the year, the plants around it crowd out its color.  The flowers are tiny pale pink or whitish and are inconsequential to the overall look.

springyardgThis metal chick stands among the Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) in the same flowerbed as the Abelia.  I’ve heard that Flat Leaf is more tasty than Curly Parsley.  Don’t have an opinion.

columbineHooray, the Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha A.Gray)  has started to bloom.  The word columbine comes from the Latin for dove, referring to the flowers resemblance to a cluster of 5 doves.  Can’t really see it myself, but someone did.

I remember the first time I saw this plant.  About 15 years ago a group of friends were visiting Fredericksberg and walking to a restaurant.  A bank of Columbine was swaying in the wind.  One of my friends knew what they were.  It wasn’t until we moved to this location that I had room for them.

They enjoy morning sun and afternoon shade.  Who doesn’t in Central Texas?

springyard3Yellow or Golden Columbine is a spring bloomer that is hardy with beautiful green leaves after the flowers are gone and is a very reliable perennial.  Their airy, bright color and interesting flowers and foliage make them a plus in the landscape.

“I would rather sit on the tailgate of a pickup and watch a bonfire than go to a mall, any day.”  unknown

Garden Memories, Hopes

When the skies are dreary and the yard is barren, I look for any color, shape, light to lift my spirits.  Although we have not had the rough winter like most of the US, winter cold makes me long for spring.  Guess living most of my life in a dry, hot environment has become part of who I am.

afterfreeze1A few pots of Pansies are still alive – scraggly, but colorful.

afterfreeze2Green from Yellow Columbine sticks out between dead Woodland Fern.  In the spring, I’ll be mumbling about Columbine coming up unwanted in this bed.  Now I’m glad to see something alive.

afterfreeze3Good ole reliable Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum keeps on keeping on.

afterfreeze4Underneath these resting Daylily stalks lies the bulbs that will provide new stalks and gorgeous flowers in the spring.  The promise of new life encourages all gardeners.

afterfreeze5Dead Senna branches will need to be cut off to the ground in the spring, but now they provide seeds for birds.

winteryyar3Twirling Hummingbirds make me smile in all seasons.

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winteryyard2Not much rain this fall and winter, so I like the looks of some melting ice on tree branches.

winteryyardThe sunlight made them sparkle like diamonds.

winteryyard4All the Gomphera heads are white now rather than the bright red ones that will bloom in the spring.  Each of these hold about 100 seeds.  They will be so thick that thinning will be required.  I plan to move some to a new bed and to share some.

winteryyard5Pansies just amaze me.  I guess because I’m such a wuss in the cold.

winteryyard8We’ve had several Cardinals in the yard this year.  They are so wary that my attempts at photographing them has not been very successful.

winteryyard9Talk about bringing a bright color to the yard.  I love to watch them from inside a warm house.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  unknown

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

A Little Green

This is a follow-up on my winter yard post.  It’s actually pretty sad, so I plan to come up with some ideas to improve it with more evergreens for next winter.

mountainlaurel Mountain Laurels  (Sophora secundiflora) or Mescal Beans are supposed to be evergreen and to grow successfully in rocky, clay soil without much water.  This one has struggled for about six years.  Some winters all its leaves have frozen.  In the summers its has a “worm” –  the Genista moth larvae which can decimate the foliage in a few days.   We try to remember to apply a diluted liquid of Ferti-lome Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench in late spring or early summer that prevents these pests pretty well.  It is poured into the soil at the base of the plant.  One application lasts all year.

Before I selected this plant, I had read glowing reports about its hardiness and the beautiful purple hanging flower clusters that bloom in March and smell like grape Kool-aid.  So far, this Mountain Laurel has only bloomed one year, and those long anticipated flowers didn’t last long.  Of course, the dead grass around it in the photo makes it look even more pathetic.  My patience is growing thin with this shrub/small tree.

groundsucculentThis succulent ground cover, Blue Spruce Stonecrop (Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce) is great.  I got a few twigs from a family member.  It spreads nicely to about 15″ wide, but can be pulled up easily where it’s not wanted.  It has small yellow flowers on 5″ stems from spring until cold weather.

It turns a greyish color in the full sun, but is greener in semi-shade.  It is doesn’t die during the winter, but its color fades a little.

columbiThe Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) in this picture isn’t the deep green it will become when the temperature heats up and is more consistent.  It has gorgeous yellow flowers on long stems that last a long time.  Plus, there are tons of flowers, so there is a sea of yellow.

The only downside is that it can be too aggressive.  This plant is growing a long way from the original planting.

Yellow Columbines are native to the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico.  It flowers in spring, and prefers light to moderate shade and does well in Zones 3-8.  Mine get morning sun and full shade in the afternoons.

Evergreen suggestions?  I need shrubs that will survive in hot, dry conditions as well as  be able to endure freezes.  I’ll love to hear from you.

“I love going to the feed store and drinking coffee and talking about how much rain we need.”  Thomas Haden Church