Spring Blooms

Spring isn’t here in my mind until the first flowers appear.  Then I get excited.

There are several types of iris.  Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) is considered a boggy land iris.  How I ended up with them, I can’t remember.  But they have come back for a couple of years in our dry climate.

Their form is different from the more familiar Bearded Iris.  The word Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which is appropriate since there are so many different flower colors in the Iris family.

The Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlett), starts to bloom when the weather is still cold.  The earlier blooms are now fading but the newer ones are deep red.

This is the very first sign of flowers on my Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) in five years old.  It was first planted in a full sun area, so two years ago, we moved it to a shadier spot.  Then it started to keep its green leaves through the summer.  Hurray.

Actually, someone told me they were difficult to grow in this area of Texas.  So, I took that as a challenge.

Spiderworts (Tradescantia Giantea) are blooming.  This first one was low to the ground but they’re atop tall stems now.

The foliage on Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is yellow early in the spring but will darken to a copper color later.

A couple of pots of Dianthus made it through the winter fine.  They both came from my mother’s fenced backyard.  It gets really cold in Snyder, but there was protection away from the wind.  So I wasn’t sure they would survive the super cold winter on our windy hill.

Really like the gradation of these colors.

Bridal Wreath Spirea is showing off again.

Just doesn’t get any better than this.

Male Chinapin Oak with long, yellow catkins hanging before its leaves form.  Pollen from these flowers are carried by the wind to pollinate the flowers on the female trees.

The hanging yellow pollen flowers are pretty but a problem for people with allergies.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorne has pretty little flowers.  The one we planted last year got some freeze damage from our unusually cold winter.  Hopefully, it will fully recover.  We planted two others this year because we liked their look.

Earlier this spring I put out three Amaryllis that have been in pots for three years.  Christmas gifts that keep on giving.

This one has bloomed in a new flowerbed.  Other shrubs around it haven’t yet gotten big enough to protect it from the wind and hot western sun, so the blossoms may not last long.

Because of several different circumstances, I haven’t done much flowerbed weeding, yet.  But that’s not stopping me from enjoying the flowers.  Have a blessed spring just inhaling the beauty around you.

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”  Langston Hughes

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

 

A B C D

The name of this post may seem odd, but it will make sense as you read it.

A is for Anxious for spring wildflowers.  Anxious to find out if the hard freezes killed any plants.  Anxious for warm days of spring.  Anxious for bulbs to bloom and for the beauty of green trees, shrubs, grass, etc.

B is for Bulbs – all kinds.  Sorry this picture is blurry.  This plant will be clearer in another picture in this post.

I planted these long ago and don’t remember what they are.  I love that bulbs are so reliable and always seem like a great surprise when they return and bloom.

C is for Coyote Carcasses hanging on a fence.  When we first came to the area, that sight puzzled us.  The explanation given was that the purpose was to scare off coyotes from the vicinity.

Now, that makes no sense.  Seems like it is giving reasoning powers to a wild creature that are way above their brain power.

So I did a little research.  The practice started in the mid 1900’s when ranchers paid cowboys to get rid of coyotes.  It served as proof of kills so they could collect the bounties.

Before someone gets indignant about cruelty to animals, it is important to note that coyotes are more than just a nuisance.  They kill cows, sheep, goats, pets, and any other animals in the area, including all of our Blackbucks.  It was and is vital for ranchers and farmers to protect their livelihoods.  Fences don’t keep out coyotes.

D is for Daffodils – a cheerier subject.

Daffodils announce that spring is just around the corner.

There is the small pink flowers of the unknown bulb plant.  Anyone know what it is?

The bees appreciate the appearance of daffodils.  Daffodils are native to the areas that border the Mediterranean Sea. There are 50 species of Daffodils with over 13,000 hybrids.

I like that these stems are short, even though it means almost laying on the ground to get pictures.

Texas Scarlett Quince makes a good backdrop for pale colored Daffodils..

Daffodils need well drained soil, full sun, and about an inch of water a week.  It is important to leave the foliage after the flowers die.  They will not return if you cut the leaves back.  When the leaves start getting limp, I gently fold them down closer to the ground.

They also need to be dug up and divided every five to ten years.  Well worth the effort.

Since I badmouthed Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’), recently in a post, I thought I should show it further along in the season.  With lots of bright red flowers, it draws the eye and makes a nice accent low bush.

Daffodowndilly

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
‘Winter is dead.’

A. A. Milne

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Pop of Red

Nothing like bright red in winter to brighten the landscape.

This Possumhaw holly (Llex decidua) tree has finally reached an age where it produces lots of berries, and they are a larger size than the past two years.  A US native, it grows wild where is enough moisture.

Female plants bear fruit and need a male plant near by.  We only have the one Possumhaw, so I can’t explain why it produces berries.  But I’m glad it does.

Reportedly consistently moist fertile soil is needed.  Not here.  Guess this is one tough little tree.

This gnarly, thorny Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’)    grows close to the ground making it impossible to clear out dead leaves and weeds from under it.  Scratched and bleeding arms are the results.

this plant’s only saving grace is that it provides the first color of the year and that it can be seen from the main area of the house.

Other varieties of Flowering Quince grow upright and have more flowers on them.  I chose the Texas native for its hardiness.  If I were buying again, I would go for pretty.

A stunning early morning sunrise is a great way to start the day.

This picture was taken in late fall but is appropriate for the pop of color theme.  Cardinals are active here in the winter.  With all their darting up/down, it looks like they’re avoiding gun fire.  It’s rare that I have a chance to get a pix.

These two Amaryllis were planted at the same time.  Crazy that the one on the left has no flowers and the one on the right, no foliage.

I don’t buy Amaryllis for myself but love and enjoy them as gifts.  I put them in tall vases to help them stay upright.  I’ll probably move this one to a taller vase so the stem won’t have to be staked.

Can’t get much redder or brighter in color than this.

A sunrise with a buttermilk sky makes me smile.

“When red-headed people are above a certain social grade, their hair is auburn.”  Mark Twain

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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

What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

Early Blooms in February

This post is an interruption of my series on our trip to Costa Rica.  Although not spectacular, I wanted to show what is happening in the yard here during the waning days of winter.

unknown3I have racked my brain trying to remember when I planted these bulbs, where I got them, and what they are.  Once again, my garden record keeping or lack of is embarrassing.

unknown2These bloomed the middle of February.

unknownAnyone know what they are?

earlybloomsThen, the last of February two inches of ice fell.

earlyblooms1Eastern Meadowlarks have been pecking around in the dried grass.  They are skittish and dart around making them difficult to photograph.

earlyblooms2Ice melted and daffodils are looking good.  The bush in the back with small orange red blooms is Texas Scarlett Quince.

earlyblooms7Individual blooms of Quince aren’t anything to write home about, but their bold color makes them pop in the landscape.  Plus, the buds begin to open late in February.

earlyblooms3Just got curious about the difference between daffodils and jonquils.  They are both in the narcissus genus.  Jonquils refer to a specific type of daffodil known as Narcissus jonquila.

Some characteristics to compare them:

Daffodils:  One bloom to a stem, long slender stems, not very fragrant, corolla (flower) comes in many different colors

Jonquils:  More than one bloom to a stem, rounded stems, extremely fragrant, only yellow corolla

earlyblooms4All seem to have heads bowed.

earlyblooms5Gopher plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa) is in euphorbia family, which is the largest genus of flowering plants.  This family includes over 2,000 species from small weeds to towering cactus like plants.

Gopher plants grow up to 3 feet tall and have this unusual flower.  Flowers die away to form seed pods, smallish in size yet huge in power.  When ripe, the pods open explosively; flinging the seed about 50 feet  all around the mother plant.

earlyblooms6Last fall I dug up a few Gopher plants because I wasn’t sure they would survive freezing temperatures.   The ones in the pot stored  in the shed have long, leggy stems and more spread out flowers.

Euphorbia plants all have one thing in common: the sap of the plant is highly poisonous.  Sap flows from the roots through the plant stems, making every part of the foliage toxic to animals who may attempt to snack from it.  The name of the plant may come from the fact that gophers, whose favorite food is roots, eat them and succumb to the poison.

Spring is on the way.  Yippee!

“Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think ‘That can’t be right!'”  Ged Backland

Hippity Hop

Just as we all had relaxed into spring with some rather warm days, the weather forecast predicts a freezing frost for tonight.  Just like the Easter bunny, the temperatures are hopping up and down, again.

Many people have planted bedding plants and their veggie gardens.  I put in a few bedding plants on Saturday but am glad I didn’t finish the task.  Mesquite trees have bloomed; that is supposed to be a full proof sign that freezes are over.  See previous post about Mesquite Legend.

yard2Several natives are blooming, like this Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri).  However, these should be okay if it freezes.

yardThe same is true for this Texas Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), which is well established.

yard4This Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) was planted last year, but these are the first blooms since then.  I really don’t want to find out what a freeze will do to it.

yard11The wind is too strong to get a close up picture, so I cut a couple of small sprigs to bring inside.

yard112Lovely for bouquets because the long stems droop over slightly.

The leaves should turn color in the fall to hues of red, orange, and yellow with another round of flowers.  Because our summers are so harsh, I’m not sure that will happen here.

yard3Finally I was able to get a picture of one of the Cardinals that live in the area.  Only possible because of zoom lens because anytime I crack a door, they’re gone.

yard5In bloom already is this mystery bush.   The leaves are different than most of the other flowering shrubs here.  I can’t find a record of its purchase and don’t remember where I bought it.  I really do try to keep up with the receipts,  What can I say?

yard6Another small bush planted last spring from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant sale.  I was bowled over when I saw the blooms the other day.

yard7Blue Wild Indigo or Blue False Indigo (Baptisis abstralis) is a flowering bush native to mid-western North American.  The False Blue name means that it has been used as a substitute for the dye producing plant Indigofera tinctoria.   Common names also include rattle weed, rattle bush, and horsefly weed.

yard10Hummingbirds arrived about two weeks ago.  Already they number around 40 or 50.

yard8Maybe they are in a frenzy because they sense a temperature change.  The wind already has a sharp chill.

yard9This picture was taken at a different feeder just after the other one.  Unfortunately, if it freezes, most of these will die.  This has happened before.

Spring can be unpredictable and is proving to be extremely so this year.

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein

First Blooms

The temperatures continue to bounce up and down like a kid on a trampoline.  The last two days have been in the 80’s, but today tiny ice pellets are being blown sideways in a bone chilling 21 degrees.  So good bye to the flowers that have already bloomed.  These pictures were taken yesterday.

quince4 Texas Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is the first noticeable color in my yard.

quinceThis plant is three years old, so there are more flowers on the branches than last year.

quince3With loose form, the flowers don’t last but a few days.

daffodils2Then came the daffodils.  Last year I moved the bulbs from a bed beside the house.  They had not done very well for seven years in that location.  So when I read that they should be in a bed away from the house, I decided to try it.

But the wind whips them around pretty good.

daffodilsThe color seems paler than last year.  Maybe it’s my imagination.

rosemary4The Rosemary bush has bloomed off and on for a couple of months during some warm days.

rosemary3These pictures are not particularly good, but I’m trying to show several things.  In this one is a bug with two orange stripes (type unknown) in the upper middle of the photo.  Also, the orchid like shape of the flower petals is noticeable..

rosemary5A yellow butterfly is feeding in the middle of this picture.  Bees and all kinds of insects were flitting around.  Most were too speedy for me to get a picture.

rosemaryThis shot illustrates the amount of flowers on the plant.  As I’ve said before, this out-of-control bush needs to be cut back.  I did some lopping last year but don’t really know the correct way to trim it.

Sunny days and flowers bring the promise of spring.  Then there are the days where winter bears down again.

“If you think your best days are behind you, they are.  If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.”  Jon Gordon

Quince Blooms

This winter I decided that I would definitely try to force a flowering shrub to bloom.  Texas Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles) seemed like an easy one because it blooms so early.

quincebranchI did not take a picture right after I cut the small branch off.  But it had small round green buds.  My understanding is that the buds must have already formed for this to work.

quincebranch1A week after cutting the branch, the buds started to open.  And I must admit that I did not do all the steps recommended on the internet.  For instance, I did not split the end of the branch which goes in water, nor did I submerge the whole branch in warm water and soak it overnight.  Neither did I change the water every few days.

quincebranch3I did place the branch in water and put it in a sunny window sill.  The vase was moved in the above picture in an attempt to get a better picture without the glare of light coming through the window.

quincebranch5This forcing buds apparently is foolproof because in two weeks these blossoms opened.

quincebranch6And tiny leaves sprouted.  Some trees that work well are almond, apple, cherry, dogwood,  peach, and redbud.  The bushes that can be forced are forsythia, hawthorn, honeysuckle, lilac, magnolia, pussy willow, spirea, wisteria, and witch hazel.  Maybe others, too.

quincebranch4The only disappointment was that the flowers are pink rather than their natural red.  Maybe that’s because I didn’t follow all the steps, but I doubt it.

When the winter weather keeps me inside, I long for a little gardening activity.  This was a super easy way of bringing the outside in for a little while.

“Housework can’t kill you.  But why take a chance?”  Phyllis Diller