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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Early April Flowers

Night time temperatures are still in the lower 40’s, so it’s too early to get the more cold tender plants out of the shed.  But there are plenty of other things blooming to make spring gorgeous.

Roses are putting on a great show, even though there are still some weeds in the beds.

The red roses and white (actually they are yellow that fade to white) are both Knockouts.  The peachy roses are Oso Easy Paprika.  The tall bush in the back with pink flowers are Earth Kind.

About weeds:  gardening is hard and many of the results are out of our control due to weather.  So I think we should give ourselves a break.  It is almost impossible to get all chores done timely, especially if you don’t have help.  Gardeners are usually kind to other gardeners but hard on themselves.

On the other side of the house more roses are blooming like crazy.  This Katy Road is super hardy.  It was developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the cold and long winters of the Midwest.  It was named Carefree Beauty.

In Texas, it has been known as Katy Road Pink because it was found on Katy Road in Houston.  Amazingly, it has proven to endure our hot, dry summers.

Large orange colored rose hips are produced from every flower.

This yellow florabunda has stayed small in bush size but produces lots of roses.

The Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgarees) have spread.  Several have been dug up and potted for garden club plant sales.  Some people don’t want them in their yards because they do spread.  I like the fact that they can become pass-a-long plants.

This rose (unknown) always knocks my socks off.

Two years ago I was given this Amaryllis for Christmas.  I had tried planting Amaryllis bulbs in a flower bed with so-so results.  So I decided to put this bulb in a larger pot and place it outside in a mostly shady spot during the spring, summer, and fall.  When it got cold, I put it in the heated shed.

The stalks got tall – almost 3 feet.  The bulb doubled in size.

The double blooms are fabulous.

Reblooming Irises are as dependable as sunshine in the desert.  In fact, I’m not sure how a person would kill bulb.  Maybe by drowning them.  They don’t require much water as the ones out in our field prove.

A muted mauve type color.

Ones with purple or solid purple are my favorite irises.

The Yellow Lead Ball tree is already covered with blooms and buds about to bloom.

This small tree has proven to be a winner because it doesn’t need good soil or much water.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

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Gardens at Biltmore

The gardens at Biltmore are fabulous, as expected.

gardensThe wooded garden area is huge, and I doubt that we saw all of it.  It is naturalistic in design, but definitely has some order to it.  There are wide paved paths through sunny and shady areas.

Most of the shrubs were unfamiliar to me.

biltmoreflowersBut a few had labels.  This Weigela (Weigela florida) in the honeysuckle family is gorgeous.

gardens2At one spot, there was a glimpse into the more formal gardens.  The wooden arbor seen here is in the center of the gardens that are laid out symmetrically.

gardensdAt the main steps that lead down into the formal gardens, almost the whole garden is in view.  In the far back is the conservatory with tropical plants.  These were popular on large estates during the Victorian age.  Today, they are found in large public gardens.

gardens4A type of Beebalm, maybe.  A reader provided the information that this is a Centaurea.  Glad to know.

gardens5Tall spikes of Gomphrena pop with the shaded wall background.

gardens6Japanese Iris require an acidic soil, so we certainly cannot grow them here.

gardensaaAlmost all of the flowers were planted in generous groupings.

gardensaaaThe white tree in the background at the right caught my attention.

gardensbCloser, it’s still a mystery.

gardensbbAh ha – a Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus).  I’ve only seen ones with orange blossoms in our area.

gardenscLots of different types of Bearded Irises scattered throughout the garden.

gardensccA large rose garden area had all kinds of different varieties.  It was a little too early in the year for them to be in full bloom.

gardensdd

gardenseBehind the wall at the back of the gardens are greenhouses plus a nursery.

biltmoreflowers3Love the contrasting colors.

gardensf

biltmoreflowers4The Peonies blew me away.

biltmoreflowers6It is just too hot and dry here to grow them.

biltmoreflowers7But, if I could, I’d have a whole yard of them.

biltmoreflowers8Love them all.

gardensgPretty color in the petals but unknown to me.

gardensggThis white plant was very strange and was in two different spots.  I couldn’t tell if they were bulbs that needed to keep their foliage until it all shriveled up or if it was a plant with that color of foliage.

gardenshEuphorbia Lime Green bush.

gardenshhVery striking.

gardensiiThe flower beds along the outside walls were wide and layered.  Very attractive with the wooded garden behind them.  Wonder how they weed?

gardenskClematis

gardenskkAzaleas that must be young plants.

gardensjjIn one corner of the wall was what looked like a house.  I figured it was a storage area for gardening supplies, but it might have been a house for a gardener at one time.  Behind the lady, who was a gardener putting out bedding plants, and to her right is an arched exit that leads into more wooded garden areas.

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”  Lindley Karstens

Irises, Mostly

Irises starting to bloom is spring welcoming us to her beauty.  On recent cloudy days, blustering spring winds bite and made us doubt that spring has arrived.  But there probably won’t be any more true cold weather coming.

iris6Many years ago in a field next to the yard around the house I planted old fashioned, pass along iris bulbs from different friends and family members.

iris2During the first few years, I was diligent about fertilizing them on or near Valentine’s Day and Halloween, which are the recommended times.  Now they’re lucky to be fertilized anytime.

iris4Over the years, the neglect has taken a toll on them.  They need to be divided.  So far, I haven’t taken care of that.  The weeds and cactus have been pulled or hoed at different times, but that is a daunting, never ending chore.

iris7They keep plugging along, but each year the stems are a little less tall and the flowers a little smaller.  Poor dears.

irisdIn that same field there are many tiny flowers that carpet the area.

irisbPretty sure these yellow flowers are Texas Groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus).

iris9I haven’t had much success trying to research the many yellow wildflowers of Texas, as well as the many small flowers.  As I thumb through the wildflower pictures, the similarities are too close for definitive identification.

iris8Patches of Sweet William or Prairie Verbena are starting to dot the landscape.

iris3These are the first flowers to appear in the field where we prepared the soil and planted wildflower seeds.  We scattered several packages of mixed seeds as well as specific ones, so I don’t know what these red flowers are.

irisIn the yard, these re-blooming Irises were planted about seven years ago.  I have divided them and planted some in different beds around the yard.  While the native irises don’t need much water, these do well in the yard because they do need regular watering.

iris1First color to bloom.

springyard9Behind the irises is a Crape Myrtle and a Bridal Spirea.  Coming up in the bed are Coneflowers and other perennials.  Although I have weeded the area, there are probably more weeds showing their persistent little heads.

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”  Unknown

Mostly White Blooms

Continuing with my color theme.  These flowers all have white as part of their blooms.

bloomingnowiWhen we dug up this spiky plant from the field, we didn’t think it was a Yucca because the prevalent ones around here have wider and shorter green leaves.

bloomingnow4Since the proof is in the pudding, the flower in spring proved that it was indeed a Yucca.  The reason we had not seen this type blooming in the fields is that the cows probably chomped off the flowers as soon as the buds opened up.

bloomingnow5Their whitish and yellowish cluster is very distinctive.

bloomingnow6This Ornamental Onion plant was bought at a Garden Club plant sale several years ago.

bloomingnoweIts zany pods are actually clusters of individual onion bulbs that can be planted.  Its oniony smell is only noticeable if you brush up against it.

whiteOf all the different color Reblooming Iris in my yard, the white and creamy yellow ones are the only ones that actually do rebloom with any consistency.

flowerbushes6Several years ago I bought a sage (Salvia greggii)  that was labeled Lip Stick.  It has never really done anything and only bloomed the first season.

Then this year on the other side of the yard from that small scrawny bush, flowers on an Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) produced flowers that looked like the Lip Stick one.  I guess that means it is just a mutation.

Flowerbeds7This Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) returns each spring – sometimes in the same place and other times somewhere else in this flowerbed.

The tall plant with red flowers is a Hardy Hibiscus.

Flowerbeds8Guara definitely provides movement in the yard.  The wind blows these delicate flowers on long stems so that it looks like a dreamy dance.

This summer has surprised us all with temperatures still under 100, and it’s the middle of July.  A blessing to be enjoyed daily.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”  Jim Ryun

 

 

 

 

bloomingnowt

 

Bulb Blooms

Talk to any gardener or anyone who tries to garden, like me, and you’ll find someone who can’t wait to talk about a successful plant in their yard.  Be warned.  This post is about just such a flower.

bulb flowersbSeveral years ago, I planted four Amaryllis bulbs.  These were gifts received during the Christmas season.  When I heard that a friend in the metroplex had had success with growing them, I had to give it a try.bulb flowers6 Selecting a spot where they might succeed was the most difficult part.  I chose a bed next to the house where it would be somewhat protected from the wind and the late afternoon sun.

Only two of the four bulbs have ever bloomed, although the leaves of the other two come up every year.  Poor things have not been fed regularly.

bulb flowers5The bulbs are not watered most of the year.  They only need watering just before they bloom and until after the leaves have all dried up.  The trick is remembering to give them a drink at the right time.

bulb flowers4They last longer as cut flowers because of the heat and wind here.

bulb flowers7Plus, they can be enjoyed up close.

bulb flowerscAmaryllis should have four flowers on each stem, but mine only produce two flowers.  The rocky, clay soil and harsh environment may account for that.  That flower bed was dug up and most of the rocks removed.  Then good soil was mixed in with the original soil, but clay and rocks seem to work their way up into the top soil.

The one rule for bulbs that I do obey is to not cut the leaves off until they have all died.  Those green leaves provide the nutrients for the bulb.

bulb flowers9In a field next to the driveway about 50 Bearded Iris bulbs were planted eight years ago.  These bulbs had been given to me by friends and family.  A few I bought at an Iris farm in Argyle, north of Fort Worth.

The first three years they bloomed profusely with large flowers.  But, I also fed them twice a year, as recommended.  On Halloween and Valentine’s Day or close to those times is the proper fertilizing dates.  As time passed, I became lax in their care because I had to drag three connected hoses about 75 feet to reach them.

bulb flowersaSo, sadly, this year the flowers have been sparse and small.  Rainfall has only been one half an inch this year, so there has been little water.  I keep meaning to dig some up and bring them into the yard.  But then, they would get too much water.

The good thing is that old fashioned iris bulbs will still be viable for years to come.  So next year, if I water and fertilize, they should flourish again.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the work needed to keep plants maintained.  I would love to find someone willing to work, so I’ll keep looking.

“The greatest glory never comes from winning, but from rising each time you fall.  A person is defined by what he chooses to do with his life, not by what happens to him.”  Clay Aiken

Little Surprises

The temperatures are still teetering back and forth between freezing and the nice warm 70’s.  Winter one day and summer the next.  So any little sign of spring boosts one’s spirit.

verbenaRemember the line from a song in Guys and Dolls:  “Good Ole Reliable Nathan”?   That’s exactly what I think of when I see these flowers growing in the yard, fields, or caliche roads.

In my opinion, the Prairie Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) or Sweet William is our best wildflower.  They last from spring through fall and aren’t particular about soil or rainfall.  In the years when there is ample rain, they just spread out making a carpet of light purple.  In years like this one with paltry rain, they are pale colored and standing alone.

irisThe first Bearded Iris has bloomed.  My white ones have always bloomed first.  These are the kind that grow in neglected conditions and are found by old dilapidated buildings.  They don’t mind the heat or drought.  In dry years, the flowers are on short little stems or they don’t bloom at all.  In wetter years, their stems are tall and strong with huge, full flowers.  My favorites are the deep purple ones.

My bulbs were given to me by a friend.  These are in a field about six yards on  the other side of the driveway, so they don’t get watered.  Some years, I remember to hook up hoses together to reach them and fertilize them.

bushroseThe Earth-Kind rose bushes are looking good. The foliage is full with a promise of beautiful roses soon.

Earth-Kind Roses were developed by Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Texas A & M.  They perform well in many types of soil, are heat and drought tolerant, and require less water.

grapehyacithEarlier this week as I was driving down a county road, and out of the side of my eye, I spied some color.  So I backed up to investigate.  Scattered along about 50 feet, these small purple flowers raised their heads among the weeds in the bar ditch.  Yep.  They’re Grape Hyacinth (Muscari botryoides).  Lovely treat.

After we have good health and the necessities, It’s the little things in life that make each day special.  For some of us, a new flower bud opening up brings a smile inside and out.

“Live your life so that when people speak evil of you no one will believe it.”  Unknown