Old Reliables

One of the great things about old friends is that they love you in spite of your flaws.  I feel the same way about plants that I can depend on.

Privet bushes (Ligustrum vulgare) are invasive in the southeastern U.S. and are much maligned by horticulturists.  But here, in our hard, rocky clay, they just survive.

In early spring, they flower heavily and provide a wonderful aroma.

This bush has been here about four years, so at some future date, I may have to eat my words.  But, for now, we are enjoying it.

And so are the butterflies.

Strong scent attracts Painted Lady butterflies.

We have been dragging the same two pots of Asparagus Fern in and out of sheds for over thirty years.  Actually, the roots would probably survive outside in the winter, but it takes a long time for the sprigs to grow back out and look nice.

At one time, I had some in hanging baskets, but that required diligent watering.

It is interesting that they aren’t really ferns but are in the lily family.

For several years, Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) Whirling Butterflies has been blooming in our yard.  I must admit that they are becoming aggressive but are fairly easy to dig up.  They haven’t yet jumped out of the flower bed where they were planted.

I also like them in pots that can be moved around the yard.  They will return after the winter, even in pots.

Dianthus will return for several years but will eventually die out.  They are lovely little flowers.

This pot came from my mother’s yard.  At 97, she recently moved into assisted living.

Another Amarylis just bloomed.  This one is in the ground.  Even though this one isn’t quite as pretty as the last one I showed, I do like the short stem.

As I’ve said before, bulb flowers just keep on giving.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are starting to bloom.  Year before last, they were divided and spread out into two different beds.  This year they have regained their fullness and filled in nicely.  Shastas are a good investment because they are reliable, add a bright clean look, and the clumps can be divided.

The Mexican Feather Grass behind them adds graceful movement.

“America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.”
David Letterman

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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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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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Giddings Stone Mansion

When we were in Brenham the first weekend in November, we visited several places besides the Antique Rose Emporium.  There was a Christmas at the Mansion tour while we were there.

The home is a 19th century Greek Revival with eleven rooms. On the back right part of house is an attached building that houses the kitchen, laundry and servants’ wing.

The home was built for J. D. Giddings and was completed in 1870.  Mr. Giddings has decided to move him family to the highest hill in Washington county after there was a yellow fever epidemic that was caused by mosquitoes living in the low lying areas.

After moving his family into the home, he died in 1878, but his wife lived there until her death years later.

Descendants lived in the house for the next three generations and it remained in the family until the 1970’s.  Today the building is used as a wedding venue and for other events.

Each year the home is decorated for Christmas by the Hermann Furniture store.  One of their family is an interior decorator.  The proceeds from the tour benefit the Heritage Society of Washington County.

It quickly became obvious that the decorations were done by a professional.   Each year the decorator chooses a theme.

Downstairs was done in glittery silvers and whites with a nature theme.

In the entry hall an upside down Christmas tree was hung.  A docent explained that this is a custom in Germany.  History does shows that an English monk traveled to Thuringia, German to spread the word of God in the 7th century.  He used the triangular shape of a fir tree to represent the Trinity.  He also hung an upside down tree to remind people of Christ on a cross.

But I don’t agree that it is a custom in Germany today.  When we lived there, we never saw one.  Rather, I think it’s an attempt by businesses to get people to buy a hanging tree as an unusual decoration.

Like the sleigh.

 

The nature part of the theme used many realistic looking stuffed animals.

The house was extremely crowded, so I couldn’t wander around as slowly as I would have liked.

It seemed that every surface was decorated and decorated well.

So simple, yet eye catching.  Guess this chair was brought from the store since it has a price tag.

The dining room table was surrounded by this portable gazebo.  I’m guessing that was brought in for this tour.

Too many trees to count.  Looking at the pictures makes me wonder if all the potted plants, like the Amaryllis were real.

I apologize about the light in some of the pictures.  It was so bright outside that the light from the windows created a glare on some shots.

My one criticism is that this display should have had a little more color.

The banister’s frosted swag fit right in with all the other decorations.

Next post will show the upstairs, which had a very different theme.

“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.”  Linus

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Bulbs Make Life Easy

A warm winter and spring rains has brought an abundant crop of all sorts of weeds.  Because they have been so rampant this year, I’ve been thinking about those gorgeous public gardens that are so pristine.  How do they achieve that enviable look that makes me drool?  An army of workers.  That’s how.  As I keep pulling weeds by my lonesome self, the flowers that are blooming in my yard keep me going.

bulbs1Some of those flowers that keep me going are from bulbs, like this Reblooming Iris.  Plant a bulb and enjoy the results for years.

bulbs5This year I discovered that rebloomers make much better cut flowers than the old fashioned irises.  Recently I provided vases of roses and irises from my yard for an event.  I cut the flowers the morning before; the rebloomers were still fresh the next day while many of the others had wilted.

bulbs6And the colors are more interesting.  But I still like the old fashioned ones with the memories they bring of the friend or relative who gave them to me.

bulbs7Sometimes, I’ve transplanted just one bulb into a spot with other plants.  I like the color against a solid background of a shrub.

bulbs8The only downsize of bulbs is that they need to be divided about every three years.  That’s not an easy task with our clay soil.  But it’s a small price to pay for the fact that they provide more plants each year and give a gift of flowers every spring.

bulbsaSpuria Iris is a new bulb to me.  It’s also known as ‘blue iris’, ‘Spurious Iris’ or ‘bastard iris’.  They bloomed early with the white old fashioneds.

bulbs2Having only grown bearded iris, they look kind of strange with their tall stalk and small, narrow foliage.

bulbs3The interesting form is intriguing.

bulbs9And finally, this Amaryllis was planted in this slightly raised bed because the soil is so much better than where the other ones are planted.  I may move them all to this bed.  Its bright color above all the emerging leaves of the Cone Flowers is eye catching.

Hope you are enjoying springtime with all the glorious flowers.

“A slip of the foot, you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue, you may never get over.”  Benjamin Franklin

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

Spring Flowers

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

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

Yes, there are weeds in this bed.

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

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

springyard7And produces masses of flower clusters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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