The Ordinary and the Extraordinary

It’s been about six weeks since our extraordinary cold weather event and nature is recovering.  We did not lose as many plants as I feared, and those in pots in the shed mostly look great.

Everything is leafing out and blooming later than usual, but that’s to be expected.  Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is looking good and loaded with flowers.  All of our efforts to kill the native Bermuda grass in this raised bed has failed.  So I guess it’s there to stay.

Before the flowers open completely, they look almost artificial.

Their thin red petals are perfect for hummingbirds.

Purple Bearded Iris are my favorite color of iris.  These are rebloomers and actually do rebloom often.

Behind these beautiful Irises is a native ‘found’ rose bush.  Martha Gonzales rose was found in San Antonio.  It is considered to be very hardy.  But, alas, it certainly looks dead.

At the bottom of what looks like a dead Martha Gonzales are these leaves and a rose.  I’ve trimmed the bush but am uncertain what to do now.  It’s one of those wait and see times.

Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) are all aglow.  This native needs full sun and well-drained soil.  Since we have clay, it’s in a raised bed with amended soil.

Now:  get ready for the Extraordinary-

Last week I saw this stunning plant in a town south of here.  It’s called Parrot Beak Plant (Lotus Berthelotii).  With such bright flower color, of course it’s tropical.

It is so striking and gorgeous that I’m patting myself on the back for not buying one.  I’m trying to stay away from tropical plants that my poor, sweet husband has to carry into the shed.

Also, I read that it needs lots of water and cool weather to bloom.  With summer on the horizon, that’s not going to happen.  So I’ll just enjoy the pictures.

The plants that do well in our area, while some may be considered ordinary, are a blessing and certainly make gardening easier.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy plants.  And that’s pretty much the same thing.”  unknown

Inhale Deeply and Relax

Now that the sun is shining and the days are warmer here, people want to rush outside and chop off all the dead limbs and leaves frozen by the extreme cold from two weeks ago.

But horticulturists are urging that it’s too early to do that.  It’s possible that another freeze will come later this month.  Leaving the dead parts could help protect the plants if that happens.  So, we should all just chill and not get frantic about what it looks like in our yards.

So all those plants, like this miniature Indian Hawthorne, that looks dead as a door nail might have viable branches and roots.  In a couple of weeks, use the thumbnail test to see if the branches are okay.  Scratch into a limb to see if the wood is soft and alive.

That same Indian Hawthorne last spring.

We have four of these Hawthorne and would be sad to lose them, but sometimes, we just have to accept something and move on.

Native plants, like these Oxeye Daises, fared well and are ready for spring.

It has surprised me how hardy these Gulf Coast Penstemon have been.  They spread fast and now look good after the sub zero weather.

Plants in pots naturally took a bigger hit.  Pretty sure that this Rosemary will need to be replaced.

Greenery from many bulbs were already above ground.  These Dutch Irises may actually still be able to produce blooms this spring because not all of the foliage froze.

Most Iris leaves or fans look healthy.

Nice surprise – a little Hyacinth is already blooming.  Yeah.

Even in a pot, Dianthus proves to be a winner.  Really have come to appreciate these plants.  Their colors are bright and cheery.

Ditch Daylilies looking good.

Pincushion plants have proved to be incredibly hardy.

Wild Foxglove looking good.

Artemesia looks a little sad but should recover.

I was concerned about bulbs that were planted in the fall.  But these Alliums look fine.

A native evergreen Yarrow that will have white flowers looks good as new.

Some trees, on the other hand, look dead.  This Yaupon Holly looks bad.  Time will tell how damaged the roots and trunks were.

Another casualty of being in a container is this Pittsporoum.  It didn’t seem to matter how old the plant was.

Afghan Pines (Pinus eldarica) don’t look so bad.  When we plant for our zone, and the weather suddenly turns much colder than that zone, then plants are at risk.  We consider heat and drought to be the biggest factor of a plant’s survival.

The Live Oak in the background looks bad, but we need to remember that Live Oaks naturally lose their leaves in the spring and new ones appear.

We planted these Oleanders last fall. Poor things.

One of my favorite trees because it is evergreen is Cherry Laurel.  Now the experts say that deciduous trees do better in a deep, deep freeze.  The leaves on the ends of branches died, but the leaves on the inside of the tree are green.  We’ll see if it’s system was weakened.

Rejoice that spring is almost here.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” -Helen Keller

What’s Blooming and Growing in Cool Weather

Cool weather continues.  In fact, one day last week there was frost on the ground.  The world has gone wonky.

Katy Road Roses covering a six foot bush.  This rose was introduced in 1977 and was known in Texas as Katy Road because it was “found” on Katy Road in Houston.  It was actually developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the long, cold winters of the Midwest.  He named it Carefree Beauty.

Because this rose also does so well in the hot, dry summers of Texas, it was named the 2006 “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  The bush has several flushes of rich pink blooms from spring until frost.  Each flower produces a large orange rose hip.

So call it Katy Road or Carefree Beauty, it’s a great rose for the garden.

To the right side of the rose bush are Ox-Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare).  They can be aggressive but are so pretty, I think they’re worth it.

Maggie is an old Bourbon rose that blooms profusely.  It was “found” in Louidiana by Dr. William Welch of A&M and brought to Texas.  It’s a winner.

Another Bearded Iris to praise.  The solid dark purple ones are behind the purple and pale lavender ones.  I’m sure I didn’t plan that.  Just a happy accident.

These are so dark that they don’t photograph too well.

Artemisia is a plant that I think every large yard should have.  This one has been in a pot for years.  I have another one that is trying to take over a flowerbed.  To keep it in a space, simply cut off the runners.  They each have roots, so they can be potted and passed along.

To the left is native Yellow Columbine – very hardy perennial.

Artemisia has a slight silver tint and tends to be evergreen in our mild winters.  The softness of the foliage is amazing.

This Iris looks light lavender in this picture.  But in real life, it’s a true blue.  Adds a little magic to the garden.  Actually, all Irises provide elegance.

Hope you and your family are safe and well.  I pray especially for those who live in city apartments or any confined space with children and for those whose jobs have been affected by all the closings.  These times definitely call for patience.

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”  David G. Allen

April Posies

In this isolation time, the only ones who see our garden are people who open my blog.  Thank you for viewing the flowers with me.

This Amaryllis has been in the ground for about 4 years.  I put it there on a whim, not expecting it to survive the summer heat.  It blooms early and dies down.  So I guess the bulb doesn’t mind the summer heat.  Mulch helps.

Lots of flowers.  The strong winds this week may beat them to death.

Native Four Nerve Daisies spread to create a bright spot in a bed.

 

Byzantine Gladiolas (Gladiolus byzaninus) are winter hardy.  These have been in the ground for three years.  They multiply, and these need to be divided.

Byzantine Glads have been grown since 1629 and are often found in old cottage gardens.

What a glorious sight.  Reblooming Irises tend to have larger flowers and are often two-toned.  If the weather cools down in the fall, they’ll bloom again.

Because the wind is whipping everything around, I cut this one and brought it inside to enjoy.

Roses in the left background and a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Naranjo Falso ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) in this bed.

The temporary fencing is an attempt to keep critters like armadillos from digging up newly planted bulbs.  Until they grow stems, I find them laying on the ground and drying out.

This particular Mock Orange doesn’t have a strong scent but is covered with flowers.

A Salvia Greggi  that should have been trimmed back in the fall – thus, some partially bare limbs.

Another Rebloomer Iris.  Sweet color.

The first stem of Larkspur flowers just opened.  That means many more will follow.  Behind that, the crimson red flowers of Texas Quince are still holding their color.

One more Iris.  This beauty is on a really tall stem – maybe 3 feet.

I appreciate each person who looks at my blog.  I really enjoy comments.  Thanks.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”  unknown source

Early Blooms

Each day this time of the year brings unexpected weather.  It can be overcast and cold or sunny and warm.  On the warm days, it’s time to work outside pruning or planting.  I have several inside projects that I’m trying to finish on the colder days.

But as blooms keep popping up each day, I long to be outside every day.

Old fashioned heirloom Irises are blooming in the field across the driveway.  Most of these bulbs were given to me by friends and have performed for years and years.  Old Homestead Irises is another name for them.

They’re so hardly that they grow right along with the weeds and cacti.  I’ve dug up several cacti in this area, but they keep coming back.  These pass-a-long Irises don’t need much water and no attention.

This Rusty Blackhaw Verbiurum (Viburnum rufidulum) is more persnickety.  It requires some early morning light and afternoon shade.  It prefers to grow along water streams and edges of wooded areas.  So I’m pushing the envelope to even have it where I live.

It was first planted in a sunny spot, where it barely survived for two summers.  Then it was moved and seems happy here.

After several years in this more protected site, it’s finally producing some clusters of lovely white flowers.

Miniature Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis indica) loves the sun and blooms in early spring.  It maintains a nice, rounded shape naturally.

It’s a nice accent plant or in groups.

And now, my favorite perennial shrub this time of the year:  Bridal Wreath Spirea is the pièce de résistance.

The arched branches are literally dripping with clusters of flowers.

It just doesn’t get lovelier or more romantic than this spring time beauty.

In spite of the unusual circumstances of social distancing, flowers still bring beauty to the earth.  Enjoy them.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  Lady Bird Johnson

Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Bloom Time

Spring here has been on/off this year.  We still haven’t carried all the potted plants out of the shed, yet.  But it’s been warm enough for lots of flowers in the yard.

All the different colors of Iris have been beautiful.  It’s amazing that the flowers aren’t blow away because the winds have been so strong.

This small Western Catalpa or Catawba (Catalpaspeciosa) looks good in the spring but looks shabby in the hot summers.  It’s also known as Indian bean tree or cigar tree and is native to the U. S. Midwest.  The bean name comes from the 8 to 20 inch long seed pods in late summer.  The tree is three years old, but there haven’t been any beans, yet.

I was actually looking for an Orchid Tree, but a local nursery talked me into this one, instead.

Online information indicates that they should be planted in dry areas in any kind of soil and in full sun. This location checks all those boxes.

The flower shapes resemble an orchid.  We’ve debated about digging this tree up because it looks so bad with tattered leaves after enduring many days of wind , but can’t bring ourselves into taking out a living tree.

Lots of Amaryllis have bloomed in the yard, both single and double flowers.  Maybe our extra cold winter was what they needed.

Last year we bought a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis)  The picture on the label showed a fuller flower.

Also, it doesn’t have a scent like I expected.  It is supposed to be a good pollinator bush, especially for bees.  Still waiting to see how it performs.

I do love Irises.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Asia and Europe, but has naturalized in many parts of the U. S.  In Texas, we consider it a native because it’s so prolific.

Ox-Eye shines on tall stems and steals the show.  It does spread, but I consider that a good thing.  It can be dug up pretty easily.

Victoria Blue’ Salvia is a gorgeous perennial that was bred in 1978.  The flowers last a long time and can endure some shade.  It returned after a severe winter.  Love the strong, bright color.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  Hope your spring has been filled with flowers.

“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person.  Your behavior does.”  unknown

Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa

A Touch of Autumn Color

Autumn color in central Texas is definitely different than in other parts of the U.S., especially, the northeast.

The first obvious color is Prairie Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that forms colonies in limestone.

The wind can quickly blow off the leaves, leaving a somewhat bare tree with its heavy seed clusters.  Recently a friend of mine was trimming branches above her head and didn’t realize that she was standing in poison sumac.  Made me wonder how one can tell the difference between the poisonous and nonpoisonous.

 This web site shows pictures and descriptions of Poison Sumac.

But that’s like remembering which snakes look like poisonous ones and which ones are poisonous in the heat of the moment.

So I’ll try to remember to enjoy Sumac from a distance.

One of my favorite trees in our yard is Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis).  It’s a pretty tree any time of the year, although it does require some shaping as the lower limbs grow downward.

Just to show how recommendations change, Chinese Pistache was once considered too invasive.  Now it’s a Texas Superstar tree.  In my book, it’s a winner.

Its autumn color gives me a sense of season, even if the temperatures waffle from cool to hot.

The light and wind seem to give it a different color each day.

The berries have a somber look when it’s cloudy.

Or bright and shiny when sunlight hits them.

The leaves on the Texas Maple turned yellow before the wind snatched them away.  Not sure exactly which type of maple this is.  The man who bought it and planted it got what was available.  I should have asked more information.

With the inconsistent temperatures, the Yellow Lead Ball tree (Leucaena retusa) looks like spring and fall at the same time.  The yellow puffy balls have returned while the seed pods dry and drop.  This is a Texas native and has done well in our yard.

Yellow pom-poms make this a festive sight.

Red Oaks can turn a deep red or burnt orange like this one.  Autumn leaves with Showbiz red roses blooming in a pot and evergreen cedars in the background – that’s our fall.

This wispy Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) tends to bloom in late summer or early fall.  But this year, the flowers came late.  The bush doesn’t look like much.

But up close, the bright dainty flowers are pretty.  This bush has a sharp, nose wrinkling smell, so it should be planted away from the house.

A native in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico, it adapts well to our soil and climate.

Re-blooming Irises have also shown their flowers late this year.  The Strawberry Gompheras  or Globe Amaranths (Gomphrena globosa) will continue to bloom until the first freeze.

Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis) joins in the color parade.

Red Robins flew in for a quick visit one cloudy day.  They never wear out their welcome.

Hope your fall has been colorful and enjoyable.  It’s the time of year for being thankful and for spending time with friends and family.

“Being married means mostly shouting ‘What?’ from other rooms.”  unknown