Purple Blooms

Continuing with the color theme, today the focus is on purple, the color of royalty.

bloomingnow3This Jackman Clematis (Clematis jackmanii) was chosen because it is reported to be a good clematis choice for our area.  Other clematis have prettier and more complex flowers.

bloomingnow1After its initial flourish of flowers, it hasn’t bloomed again.  Clematis is supposed to be an easy vine with lots of blooms.  So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe it needs fertilizer.

bloomingnow2I do like the color and size of the blossoms.

bloomingnow7It’s crazy that some Larkspur are still blooming.

bloomingnowdMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) really are purple.  I don’t know why these look pink in the picture – probably the strong sun.  Can’t get any easier than this plant.  The biggest problem is that they spread with underground runners.

bloomingnowfAnother winner is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  The flowers are all gone now.  But I just trimmed them back for a second blooming this summer.

bloomingnowvI love the look and smell of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  The color is too subtle for some people’s taste.  But the soft pastel blends in well with stronger colors.

bloomingnowwGregg’s Blue Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) is also a light purple, almost a lavender.  It’s pale color makes it look bland except for all the butterfly activity.  That gets one’s attention.

purpleDeep purple African Violets is the prettiest violet, in my opinion.

white3One stalk of French Hollyhock (Mallva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) survived from the rust fungus.  It was actually not in the flowerbed, but just outside the yard in the weeds.  I transplanted it, so we’ll see what happens next year.

Flowerbeds5This is the flowerbed that I was going to be cautious and not over plant.  Who knew the bushes would get so big and the flowers reseed and multiply so well?  Not me, obviously.

purple3The Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are especially tall this year.  All the rain in May made everything abundant and hardy.

flowers8Such a pretty flower.

purple5The Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook) has been like a Jack in the Beanstalk plant that just keeps getting taller.

purple6Unusual flowers and foliage make it an interesting plant in the yard.  It’s another purchase from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  One of those impulse buys without much knowledge of its characteristics.

Purple robes may have belonged exclusively to the kings, but fortunately, we can enjoy it where ever we wish, including our gardens.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Granbury, TX, Tour of Homes

Several decades ago, Granbury began to transform itself from a sleepy little town into a tourist destination.  Being about an hour from Ft. Worth makes it attractive to city folk for a day or a week-end jaunt.  Now, gift shops, restaurants, bed and breakfast homes, and special events like the Candlelight Tour of Homes this past weekend have provided a healthy economy for the area.

grandburytourMost of the homes on the tour were within walking distance of the courthouse square.  The first home we visited from the list provided with our ticket purchase was the above house built in the early ’60’s.  The most recent homeowner has decorated with as much retro furniture and accessories as she could find.

grandburytour1This nook is just off the main hallway leading to the two bedrooms.  It’s obviously Santa’s office.

grandburytour2There is a collection of angels inherited from the owner’s mother plus some that she has bought.

grandburytour3grandburytour4The dining room table placed to one side of the living room is set with dishes from her mother.

grandburytour5In the galley kitchen is a breakfast table also set with period pieces obtained from several different places.  For those of us who lived through that time, the orange and turquoise bring back memories.

I regretfully did not get an overall picture of any of the rooms.  In my defense, it was difficult with groups of people touring and the small size of the rooms.

grandburytour6The back porch had been enclosed.  Period chairs, a sofa, and small end tables make for a cozy retreat.  The angel wings were made by a local artist.

grandburytour7I tend to focus on small decorative items.

grandburytour8The next house was built in the late 1880’s.

grandburytour9To the right of the main house and set back is a new addition which had a large master bedroom and bath upstairs and a den living area downstairs.

The kitchen had also been renovated.  The homeowner answered my questions how many changes could be allowed and still have a state historical site designation.  Her answer:  inside renovations are not a major concern but outside changes are carefully monitored.  The original house must be evident from the outside.  So even if the addition was constructed to match, there must be enough different details to show it to be new.  Also, any additions must follow the original roof line.  Each step of the process required copious paperwork and approvals.

grandburytouraCute santa decoration.

grandburytourbDocents were dressed in period costumes.

grandburytourcThe next house was built in the 1880’s by the town pharmacist on 100 acres purchased at that time.

I did not take pictures inside.   Only the downstairs was open and the rooms were too small and dark.

grandburytourlOn the square across from the courthouse is Granbury Live, which is a theater where musicals are performed.  The building has served different functions in the past:  stores, offices, etc.

Several years ago we attended many productions at Granbury Live, but never noticed a separate entrance to an upstairs apartment.  In fact, the man who started the theater lived there with his wife.

grandburytourdIt is a 5,000 sq. feet home that was totally renovated by him.  He did the iron work throughout the place.

grandburytoureThe metal ladder led to a cozy sleeping area for their grandchildren.

The corrugated tin ceilings are not the underside of the actual roof, but an aesthetic western touch.

grandburytourgThe theater owner constructed the shiny metal kitchen island.

grandburytourfStars are welded on top in several places.

The kitchen was a mirror image with two of everything.  Starting at the center sink of the cabinets, each side of the kitchen were the same with dual appliances ending with a refrigerator on each side of the kitchen.  No explanation was given for this.

grandburytourhAll of the bathrooms except the master one had the same decor.  In some of them. the floors were raised because the baths had been added and needed plumbing space.

grandburytouriThe man who created all this died in a motorcycle accident around 2007.  His widow no longer lives here.  Currently, offices for a company occupy the space.

grandburytourjOne side of the large master bathroom.

grandburytourkArt decor lights along the hallways.

grandburytourmAs we left the apartment, I noticed these clever snowmen just outside a shop.  This store and many others all around the square are just examples of why tourists flood this town each weekend.

grandburytournOne wispy Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower hanging on.  I think the darker reddish plant is a potato vine.

On my next blog, I’ll finish the tour.

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

Still Blooming

Most of the perennials in my yard are going to seed.  But there are still a few blooms to enjoy.  This year everything had a late start and now an early ending.  But I’m not quite ready to call it a day in the garden, yet.

stillbloomingBloodflower (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) returned this year but in different spots from where it was planted.  Guess the wind and birds helped out a little.  This flower is also known as Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, Mexican Milkweed, and Scarlet Milkweed.

So far, it has remained a small plant in my flowerbed but is still visited by many butterflies.

stillblooming1One of the tried and true performers is Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), which is covered with Viceroy butterflies from spring until cold weather.  From my kitchen window, the tops look brown because of the butterflies.

stillblooming2Just a few more flowers left on the French Hollyhock (Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrena’).  The stems are covered with seed pods.  I’ve been busy gathering seeds from many different plants.  The Garden Club has a seed exchange in November.  This year I will be ready.

stillbloomingkThis Oleander was planted this spring.  The peachy petals attracted me, plus the hardiness of this plant.  The highway departments in several southwestern states plant them out in arid areas.  The sprinkler system doesn’t reach this one, so I’ve been carrying buckets to get it established.  Next year, it should survive mostly on whatever falls from the sky.

stillblooming3 Now it has fewer flowers but is still going.

A local rancher reminded me that they are poisonous.  He was still upset that a neighbor had some Oleanders that one of his cows has eaten and later died.  This was many years ago.  I assured him that I planted this one and some others in a fenced in area.  Now if cows somehow get out of their fenced pasture into another person’s yard, I’m sympathetic but don’t place the blame on the person growing the Oleander.

stillblooming4Another dependable bloomer is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  Everyone warns that they are invasive.  Hey, if it’s invasive, maybe it has a chance to survive our rocky clay soil and hot summers.  If last year was an indication, we can add cold winters to that list of hurdles for plants.

stillblooming5This pot of Rose Moss bloomed really well this year.  Next year, it should probably be divided.

stillbloomingfThe three Dynamite Crape Myrtles still have some bright red blossoms.  Though not as many as in this picture because it was taken a few weeks ago.  They do brighten their corner.

stillblooming8Even though they are laying on the ground, the Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) keep on blooming.  Legginess has been a problem this year for them.  I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Maybe too much water from the sprinkler system.  In the fields, they appear after showers, which means we haven’t seen any growing wild this year.

stillbloomingmThe grasshoppers have also done a number on their petals.

stillbloomingoA patch of Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) is behind the Texas Bluebells in a front flowerbed.  They multiplied beyond my hopes.  They are also named Rio Grande Globe Amaranth and are native to Texas and Mexico and love our hot weather.  But not many people around here are familiar with them.  I found them in Austin last year.

Just trying to enjoy the color that’s left in the yard because it will be gone soon.  Hope you have some special plants, songs, or whatever that brings you joy every day.  Plus,  the most important joy of all – a loved one to hug.

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”  Old farmer adage

That’s Odd

The biggest anomaly this year is the weather.  So far, we’ve only had three days of 100 or 100+ degrees.  It’s August!  That is so odd that everyone talks about the beautiful weather all the time.

Most areas around us have had several rains.  We have not, but there have been many cloudy days.

Nice summer, indeed.

oddSeveral times when I have gone into the shed, a lizard would be in the bottom of a bucket.  He must has have fallen from the ceiling.  I would dump him into the yard, but there he would be again the next day.  I don’t know if it was the same one or not.  If so, he’s a slow learner.

odd2One day from my kitchen window, I saw a 5 to 6 foot snake slithering across the grass and climbing into a tree.  By the time I could react and find my camera, he was already in the higher branches of a small Red Oak.

odd3I could never find his head for a photo.

odd4Just a Bull snake, I think.  I hope.

odd5Why is this scene strange?  Because it reminded me of a green idyllic meadow.  Usually, the grasses are dry like straw.  But here the yellow is wildflowers.  “Cows are in the meadow”… type photo.

odd6The purple Balloon flowers or Chinese Bell Flowers have not bloomed much this year.  Many of the ones that opened were white.  For the past eight years, they have been heavy bloomers.  Don’t know what happened.

odd7This is like one of those pictures where one’s eyes have to adjust and focus by staring to see the image.  The heads of Dill (Anethum graveolens)  are full of seeds.  Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar are supposed to feed on dill, although I have not seen them.

odd8Mowing around a flower bed of Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) brings on a flurry of rising butterflies swirling around me.  The flowers are small but obviously a favorite of Viceroys.

oddcThe compost heap behind a shed is producing vines.

The blue lid from a barrel is to cover food scraps and discourage racoons who often climb over the wire barrier.  Unfortunately, if they want to move the lid, they can.

odd9There are two different kinds of vines.  Last year we had canteloupe grow here.

oddbA Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) plant found its way here and is blooming.

oddaThis one looks like it is producing yellow summer squash.

I don’t often remember to pour water on the decaying compost.  But when I see the vines, it reminds me to do so.

odddWhy is this mule sniffing or eating a small cedar?  Don’t know.

praying mantisThis Praying Mantis appears to be in the process of molting, which they do several times during their lifetime.

snyderWhat is this plant, you ask.  This photo was taken in West Texas.  Those are actually plastic stems from an artificial plant.  Given the fact that watering is severely rationed, it seems like an interesting solution.

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”    Old cowboy adage

Cool is Good

What a difference the cool days and nights make.  A sigh of relief is heard from all of nature.

firecrackerBright red  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii) shines in the sunlight.  It is not covered in blooms like this today as some have fallen off.

africianbullbineBoth of the above hot weather plants are doing well with the cooler days.  Orange African Bulbine  (Bulbine frutescens) has lots of orange and yellow blossoms waving in the wind.  The bed of purple Wandering Jew also sports many lavender flowers.

bluemistGregg’s Blue Mist (Conclinium greggi) just keeps on giving to the butterflies.  I always puzzle over the name of this plant.  Where is the blue?

bouganvillaEven though Bougainvillea is a warm tropical plant, even it seems to be enjoying less heat.

turkcapTurk’s Cap, Texas Mallow, Mexican Apple, or Bleeding Heart (Malvaviscus drummondii) has outdone itself this year.

Its many good qualities include being drought tolerant, surviving heat, and growing in many types of soils, wet and dry environments, and sun and shade.  This means it is grows well in far West Texas arid sand, in East Texas gumbo soil, and in North Central Texas black clay, and in my rocky caliche.  Hooray for this great plant.

plumbagoImperial blue cap Plumbago (Plumbago auriculate) also has bloomed and bloomed this year.  It is native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial there.  It loves the sun, but will freeze back here.

iceplantThere seem to be several plants called Ice Plant.  Both of the blossoms of my two look similar, but the leaves are different shapes.  The one in this picture doesn’t bloom  as profusely as the other one.  I have been unable to find a more specific name for them.  But they are wonderful succulents.

mexican petuniaAnother plant that flourishes here and blooms from late spring to the first freeze is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  I have the tall version shown in the picture and the low ground cover one.

Sunshine is needed to grown them.  The tall ones form colonies of woody stalks and can be invasive.

mexican petunia2Their flowers have crinkly petals.

Such a nice time of the year.  It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors.

” I have CDO.  It’s the same thing as OCD, but all the letters are in alphabetical order…As it should be.”
Tee shirt humor

This and That Blooming

The milder and wetter summer here has been a boon to flowers.  By mild, I mean that the highs are in the 90’s rather than the usual 100 plus.  Usually by mid July, everything would be shriveling up.

acanthus2This Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii) is still sprouting flowers every day.  It’s also known as a Hummingbird bush and Mexican Flame.

Flame Acanthus is native from west and south-central Texas into northern Mexico.  It is named for Charles Wright,  botanical collector, who collected extensively in Texas from 1837-1852.  He also collected in Cuba and his native Connecticut.

acanthusFlame Acanthus is a deciduous shrub that blooms from summer to the end of fall.  It dies in the winter and new shoots come up in the spring.

balloonEven a few Balloon Flower or Chinese Bell Fowers blossoms are opening.  Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) bloom consistently every year.  I just need to remember to deadhead them more often because they won’t bloom without that.

bluemistbutterfliesThe Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii) are just coming into their own and attracting butterflies like honey draws flies.  Grow it in full sun where it thrives, and they will come.

gold lantanaGold Lantana brightens its corner.

gold lantana3New Gold Lantana is a Texas Superstar Plant, which means it’s drought tolerant and survives many different soil and weather conditions.

The older varieties of Lantanas are hardy but are considered weeds because the birds eat the seeds and spread them.  Also, they tend to be tall and lanky and drop their flowers after rains.

The new improved varieties have been sterilized.  They bloom profusely without the berries and spread out.  They are an asset to the garden.  Just keep the spreading characteristic in mind when planting.  Another bonus:  all Lantana is considered deer resistant.

gaurafullEach morning the wind blows through this spreading White Gaura.  It provides a good morning wave and makes me chuckle.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) is also called Lindheimer’s Beeblossom.  It is a perennial native to the U.S.  The four petal white flowers open early in the morning.  I’ve read that the flower fragrance smells like cat urine.  I don’t really detect any smell.

gauraThe buzz of the bees on the Gaura was loud when I was up close photographing them.  A few landed on me but took off with a shake of my hand.  These bee were constantly on the move.  Near the top of the picture one is visible.  These are smaller bees than the bumble bees on some other bushes in the yard.

This species is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879), who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas.  He was a German immigrant, who came as a political refugee.  Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species.

whitegaura2So delicate.

Remember the lyrics:
“Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet Me.”

It’s a joy to look out my windows and be greeted by all the flowers.

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”                John Ruskin

Rain Works Wonders

Everything looks better after a rain, except, for sopping wet dogs and cats.  But the blessed rains of this week have put new life in all the vegetation here.  Even beyond the much needed moisture, the overcast skies and lower temperatures were extra bonuses.  The lowest recorded temperature in July and the lowest high recorded in July both happened this past week.  What a fabulous week.

turkroseofsharonThe Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriaacus) loves a little extra drink.  They are all covered with flowers.  One of them is shown behind the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and Lil Miss Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in this picture.

roseofsharon2The Rose of Sharon, like all the plants that have a flower that resembles Hibiscus, can transport me to Hawaii or other tropical places I’ve visited.

hibuscus15Sweet rain drops.

hibuscus14I can’t recommend these hardy plants enough.  Even when it’s hot, hot, hot and they get little water, they survive.  They don’t bloom much without some watering, but they stay alive.

daylilyEven a Daylily (Hermerocallis fulva) bloomed with the extra dose of water.  All the buds indicate more to come.  It’s past their normal blooming time but love that pop of color.

purplesage2The desert Purple Sage, Cenizo (Scrophulariaceae Leucophyllum frutescens) blooms burst out after a rain.  Every time I see one of these bushes, childhood memories of the West come to mind.  Although I haven’t read Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, the whole western book and movie genre is very familiar.

I’m also reminded of the Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”.  Those songs were a favorite of my Dad, and every Saturday morning the radio was tuned to a country music station.  Although, country-western is not my own personal preferred music style, it brings back good thoughts about my youth.

bluemistBlue Mist is blooming enough to draw Viceroy butterflies.  As more  flowers open up, there will be tons more butterflies.  I’m not sure if this is a Conoclinium coelestinum or a Conoclinium  greggii (dissectum) because the difference between the two is slight to untrained eyes.

This week has brought blessings of full water tanks or ponds, drainage into lakes, green fields and grasses, and a wonderful respite to a hot summertime.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Purple in the Yard

Although our autumns are iffy and interspersed with many summer days, the somewhat cooler days give plants a chance to recover and bloom.

These are two small Texas Asters (Aster oblongifolius)  that I bought in the spring at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin.  Now they’re two big ones.  This is my first experience with asters.  The fact that they have spread so fast and are blooming so profusely makes me a great fan.

I also love their color and feathery petals.

The Blue Mist has continued strong all through the summer.  It’s an amazing plant not only because it’s a butterfly magnet, but because it blooms so long.  It’s like the turtle in the Tortoise and the Hare.  It just keeps on going.

The light is giving the flowers on this Butterfly Bush a burgundy color, but it actually is purple.  It has also bloomed all summer in spite of the fact that an armadillo dug a deep hole down into its roots.  We filled in the dirt numerous times.  Finally, we sprinkled Ortho Fire Ant Killer on the filler dirt and put more big rocks at the top.  The fire ant killer stinks, so we thought it might discourage pests.  So far, so good.

This is ornamental garlic.  Last year it didn’t do much but is finally filling out and blooming well.

This is that same garlic plant.  The low setting sun is giving the petals a pinkish cast.

Rosemary has pale purple or lavender flowers.  This plant has spread like wildfire.  It’s about 4 feet in diameter and 3-4 feet tall.  I trimmed it quite a bit a couple of months ago.  I need to get back at it.

Another faithful bloomer – Mexican Petunia.  It’s about four feet tall.  One small cutting was planted five years ago and has now spread to cover a five foot by eight foot area of a flowerbed.

This Plumbago has struggled all summer.  It’s in a pot, but I’m not sure where to plant it.  Duranta is a heat lover, so it has performed well all summer.  Purple jewels just drip off its branches.

A Reblooming Iris has an early bloom.  It needs to be a little cooler for them to rebloom.  These were ordered from one of those mailings that gardeners get.  It’s really not a good idea for those of us who live in an extreme southwestern climate to order from companies in the north.  But those catalogs are so tempting.  However, this one turned out to be a good purchase.  These irises bloom in the spring and again in the fall.

They need a little more water than the old farmhouse natives in this area.  My native irises are not even in the yard but in a field close to the house.  So they don’t get watered at all.  Of course, they haven’t fared too well the last couple of years, but should be okay in a year with more rain.

There are a few more purple plants still looking good.  These are some I really like.

Purple, red, and yellow are my favorite flower colors.  It’s dangerous for me to say favorite when I talk about plants because it seems many are favorites at different times.  That kinda negates the proper use of the word.

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”   Jenny Joseph

Insects in the Garden

As I water, weed, or deadhead, it’s always a joy to see the insects enjoying the garden along with me.

Like this bee on Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

Or this one on Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea).  There seem to be several different kinds of bees in our yard.  In fact, according to an article in the July, 2012 “Birds & Blooms”, some of these might not be bees but hover flies or robber flies.  They distinguish them by their wings, antennae, eyes, mouthparts, and behavior.  I personally haven’t gone out with the list and gotten up close to try to make that identification.  I respect their space.  They just look like bees to me.

So far, I’ve been able to work in the flowerbeds without them bothering me.  Only one time did a single bee come at me.  I was just walking in the yard.  It dove at me several times buzzing around my head, so I went inside.  After 30 minutes, I went out again with the same problem, so I decided it was best to stay inside until it left the area.

Love the butterflies that swarm over a whole area of the garden.

This dragonfly seems to be partial to one area of a flower bed with some late blooming gladiolas.

This Monarch butterfly feasts on Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium Coelestinum).  All these little buzzing and flittering creatures is another reason gardening is so satisfying.

“Great are the works of the LORD: they are pondered by all who delight in them.”  Psalm 111:3

Blue Mistflower

The basic soil preparation for the long, large flowerbed that was discussed yesterday was done in 2009.  I’m not going to bore you with the planting details except to say that every time we dug a hole for a new plant, we had to first dig out more rocks, some of them significant in size.

Today I want to skip ahead to the present time to look at one specific plant that has thrived in that bed.  A casual comment by someone I didn’t really know spurred me to look for Blue Mistflower (Coelestinum).  I found it at the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg.  I bought three small 4″ size pots of it.  That was three years ago.  It spreads quickly by reseeding.  Although I don’t deadhead it that much, new blooms  appear quicker with deadheading.

Blue Mist is a magnet for these butterflies all summer long.  They bring a smile as they swirl around me.

These tiny little blossoms don’t appear to have any nectar in them.

But the presence of so many butterflies proves otherwise.

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”  George Carlin