Poppy Season

An overnight trip took us south to Austin and Fredericksburg.  Bright colors abound at one of my favorite nursuries:  Wildseed Farms.

Two of my husband’s favorite places are Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant and Mamacita’s Restaurant.  We indulged in both..

Guess our motto is never pass up a nursery or Mexican restaurant.

Red Corn Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) were blooming everywhere on the nursery grounds.

Very tall Chollo Cactus tower about eleven feet high in the air.

Rocket Larkspurs (Delphinium ajacis) stand primly in place.  Way too early for them in our zone 7b area.

Think this is Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus coccineus).  Also known as Claret Cup Cactus or Scarlet Beehive Cactus, they grow farther west, starting around San Angelo.  Guess it stays warm enough in the winter for them at the nursery.

Of course, this time of the year means Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).  It’s nearly the end of their prime time.  The yellow Poppies are probably California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

The metal cactus are attractive and look great in the nursery setting.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is a great pollinator plant.  Mine froze this winter, even though labels say it is cold hardy to zone 7a.

More Primroses.  The word “sweet” comes to mind when I see them.

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  How gorgeous is that.  Fields of Red Corn Poppies are so bright.

This sight reminded me that red poppies are worn to honor veterans.  The practice started after WWI.

The blue strip behind the Poppies are Bluebonnets.

The Wildseed Farms grow all these flowers for the seeds.  The owner uses larger properties near Houston to raise even more flowers.  Early last year, floods covered those fields and wiped out much of his seed supply for this year.

The Poppy petals are as thin as one-ply toilet paper and more fragile.  They flutter in the wind creating constant movement.

There are lots of walking trails near the wildflower fields and closer to the buildings, making it a pleasure to visit in a garden-like setting.

Don’t know what this tree is.  Maybe a Waterfall or Laceleaf Weeping Japanese maple?

Waterlilies in a small pond beside the tree in the previous picture.

One last look at Poppies as we exit the area.

Composed at the battlefield on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, following the death of a close friend.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Canadian John McCrae

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Purple Spires

Bright colors in the yard make me smile.  I prefer more muted colors inside my house but purple, red, and yellow are my favorite choices for flowers.

purple3Larkspurs are still blooming where ever they choose.  They aren’t well behaved and stay where they were first seeded.  It’s always a pleasant surprise to see where they come up each spring.  The reds here are Red Yucca and Cannas.  However, the Cannas seem to be blooming more orangey than before.  So I wonder if red ones are hybrids and they are reverting back to their original color.

purple9I have a conundrum.  For years I have thought this bush was Blue Curls.  I think I bought it at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Since I had never heard of Blue Curls before, I must have seen it labeled that, but I can’t be sure.

purple8I had previously noticed the similarity of the flowers and leaves to another bush in the back of the house.  But this morning for some reason it struck me that they are much more than similar.

purple6

purple5You know how it is to get your mind set one way and not see the truth.  So I’m not going to beat myself up for this mistake.  But I do not think this is a Blue Curls.

purplecThis is a Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) tree in the back yard that was planted two years ago.  It was bought at a local nursery and was clearly labeled.

The following three pictures are of this same tree.

My reference point for a Vitex comes from a huge tree planted in the parking lot of the hospital in Brownwood.  So I didn’t expect one to look like a bush.

purpledDo you see my confusion?  I now think both are Vitex.  I have pruned the branches on the one in the front for several years to get it fuller, which has also kept it shorter.

purpleeAlso known as Chaste Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, or Indian Spice, it is a native of China and India.  But it has been grown in the southern US since 1670.

purplefDifferent parts of the tree have long been used for medicinal purposes.  Another name for Vitex is Monk’s Pepper because it was thought that its berries helped monks maintain their chastity.

It’s a great tree/shrub for pollinators.  The color of the blooms are fantastic.

purple4As I was taking pictures, a visitor strolled quickly by.

purpleffThe flower spires on Russian Sage are a light purple or lavender.

purpleiAlthough not a spire, these Petunias are a deep purple.

purplejThis pot was already filled when I bought it.  The lady did not know the names of the other two plants in it.

purplekThe foliage of Ajuga ground cover is more important to most people than the pale lavender blooms.

purplelAnd lastly, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is sandwiched between Greggi Sage and Rose bushes.  It has a wonderful aroma and is a great hardy perennial.

“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Nolan of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God.”  Richmond, Virginia daily newspaper

A Smorgasbord of Color and Form

This spring’s rains has brought exceptionally beautiful sights.  There’s plenty of green and other gorgeous colors all around us.

olioThe first Cone Flower from the Echinacea genus has opened.  Even though the petals aren’t as perfectly formed as later ones will be, the pollinators don’t care.

olio1Drift Roses are covered with masses of blooms.  At the far end of the bed is a Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) with its silvery airiness and a mound of gray Santolina (S. chamaecyparissus) with its buds ready to provide small yellow flowers.

olio2I love that drift roses stay under two feet tall and continually bloom through autumn.  To the right of them is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) which will have brght red flowers in the heat of the summer.

olio3The clusters of roses make a strong visual  impact.

olio4This three year old Privet is blooming for the first time.  From the genus of Ligustrum, Privets are now considered invasive.  I’d be surprised if its seed would take hold in the hard clay in our area.

olio5It smells heavenly.

olio6Pink Guara’s (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) swaying branches look pretty in our ever present wind.  Beside the pot, the Texas Ash needs the sprouts at the base trimmed away – again.

olio7Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is blooming.  To the left of it, Duranta is slowly growing, awaiting the heat blast of August to bloom.

olio8Pretty stalks of closed buds on Red Yuccas reach up for attention.  In the background is a raised bed that will be shown in the next picture.

Note the pieces of black ground-cover cloth.  They was put down about nine years ago.  Knowing what I know now – it doesn’t keep weeds from growing through the cloth; it hinders planting something new; and seems to last forever –  I definitely would not use it again.

olio9Henry Duelburg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) continues to perform magnificently after eleven years.

olioaA wonderful plant that bees love.

olioaaTexas native Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri.) is a showy splash of yellow on a low mound of thin grassy stems.

oliobLarkspurs (Delphinium consolida) are providing their surprise locations all over the yard.  Scatter these seeds and have purple flowers popping up everywhere.

In the lower left corner are some native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea).

oliobbMore Pink Gaura in a flowerbed.

olioccA copper colored reblooming Iris.

oliodAnd a lavender and yellow one.  Can’t resist snapping pictures of these beauties in the spring.

oliocWe have always called these natives that appear in the yard Lamb’s Ears because they look and feel like the ones sold in nurseries. They have soft, velvety foliage.  But recently I learned that they are actually Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  They are sure plentiful around here.  My husband loves to mow them down, but I want a few left to grow.

The leaves get about a sixteen inches in size.  Then late in summer a tall stalk will reach about three feet in height and small yellow flowers will form an elongated cluster.  Interesting plant.

Thanks for perusing my blog and enjoy your own green space.

“When a woman wears leather clothing, a man’s heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he goes weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?
She smells like a new truck.”  unknown

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

Oops, Should have…

Generally, I operate under the philosophy of just leaving things alone, and they’ll get better.  Or as the adages say:  “Don’t trouble trouble” and “Leave matters well enough alone.”  This doesn’t work too well for health matters, relationships, or as it turns out, for gardening.

oops6These old fashioned Hollyhocks have been a great filler for the flowerbed in the backyard for several years.  Last year, near the end of the blooming season, the leaves didn’t look healthy.  They were drying up, but, hey, the sun had been merciless, all summer.

oops4But this late spring, when hollyhocks should be green and thriving, the leaves are already drying and the flowers are small.  So after looking on the internet for hollyhock problems, I bought some Selvin for what I thought might be Japanese beetle damage.

oops5Sorry about the blurred picture.

But further reading indicated that Hollyhock rust, which is a fungus brought by rain and air currents, was probably the culprit.  The fungus overwinters with plant debris and can then show up when the new plants emerge in the spring.  Rain and dampness encourages the spread of this disease.  Normally, that is definitely not a problem here.  However, this spring, there have been many days with moisture in the air.

oops7The solution is to destroy all diseased material.  Big no-no is to put it into the compost pile.  So I cut all stems to the ground that didn’t have any flower buds on them.  I bagged these and they will go to the dump.

Then I stripped all leaves off of the other stalks and left only blooming flowers or buds.  I also took a kitchen table knife and scraped all the spots off of the stems.  Wise or not?  Don’t know.

After the flowers disappear, I will cut all stalks flush with the ground.  Everything goes into bags.

Wow, this would have taken less time if I had taken care of the problem last year.

oops8So the pinkish red flowers on tall stalks are the few hollyhocks left.  This bed may will look pretty sparse the rest of the summer.  On the positive side, the hardy Hibiscus bush flowers in the center will showcase their beauty.

oopsLet’s end this post with some pleasant snapshots.  The Larkspurs are just starting to bloom.

oops2They pop up in the most unexpected spots.

oops3The seeds were planted in this bed.  False Foxglove also appeared there this year.  The wind and birds distribute seeds all over.  That’s what makes the wildflowers so prolific and enjoyable.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson

What’s Blooming

Although most things are not in full bloom in the yard, there are some flowers.  Enough time has elapsed since our last freeze to access the losses from the winter.  Dead trees and bushes have been pulled up, so it’s time to enjoy some the freshness of spring.

yardsummerstartxThe Mexican Feather Grass  (Nassella tenuissima) came through all that cold like a breeze.  This is a Texas native from the Trans Pecos area that tolerates limestone based soils – hooray.

yardsummerstartkThis time the dark clouds actually materialized into some rain: an inch last week and almost two inches yesterday and this morning.  Time for a happy dance.

Beside the larger Mexican Feather Grass are some green new clumps that came up in several places.  I transplanted them close to the parents so there will be an even fuller display swaying in the wind.

yardsummerstartyHenry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) or sage is a reliable plant that spreads and puts on a show every year.  The first three tiny plants were put in eight years ago.

yardsummerstartzIt blooms from spring until the first freeze in the full sun.  And that’s Texas sun!  This one deserves the Texas Superstar status it has and is for anyone who needs a drought tolerant, hardy bit of color.

yardsummerstartwThese Gopher Plants were planted a month ago.  There are several different botanical names for plants that look like this.  The only thing I know for sure is that it is an euphoriba.  I had heard that it was a good plant for this area and is from the Mediterranean region, which usually means drought tolerant.

The Gopher Plant name comes from the fact that they are poisonous to gophers.  Wouldn’t they also be poisonous to other animals?

yardsummerstartvSince I bought it (and I had to search for it), I’ve read that it does not survive in clay soils.  Oh, well.  I’m watching it closely to see if it needs to go into a pot.

Note the single grass like green shoots behind it.  These only grow in this area and plague me.  I’ve pulled and sprayed.  Nothing seems to work.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

yardsummerstart8The Balloon Flowers are starting to open.  For eight years, they have done very well, but they don’t spread.  I’ve read that they also do not survive dividing.  So I finally bought a few more to fill in the space.  It seems that no nursery in our area carries Balloon Flowers, so these were bought at Lowe’s in the metroplex.

The other stems with lacy leaves are some Larkspur that came up in this bed.

yardsummerstart7Another reliable sight each year is the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

yardsummerstart6More Larkspur in another bed.  I let them bloom where ever they appear since they perk up any flowerbed.

yardsummerstartThis Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) is my prize for the year.  This is a gorgeous wildflower that grows in bar ditches. It is also called Texas plume, Red Texas Star, or Red Gilia.  Two years ago I bought a few at the Lady Bird Johnson Center plant sale.  This is the first time any have bloomed.

yardsummerstart2Love, love their brilliance.

yardsummerstart3The tubular flowers look similar to some other plant blooms, like Acanthus, but the color is stronger.  Just doesn’t get any prettier.

“Do one thing today for someone.  It may not mean much to you, but it might mean the world to them.”  Unknown

Dash of Red, Pink, and Purple

At a very slow pace, plants are greening with a few flowers.  As usual, I’m anxious for it to look like spring all at once.

Backbreaking weeding has made everything look better.  It’s not over yet; just not as overwhelming as it was a couple of weeks ago.

blooming8The trusty  Knock-out Roses are blooming like crazy.  Another post gives more details about these roses.

blooming8bPlain and simple, but tough as nails.

blooming9bThis year I planted a couple of Dianthuses to fill in the bed.  Like the deeper color of this one.

blooming9Dianthus makes a hardy ground cover.  They look like miniature carnations because they are in the same family.

dianthusI’ve read that Dianthus only last a couple of years, but mine have come back each spring for  8 years.  Small clumps have come up in other beds.  This year I transplanted some of those close to the original plant hoping to get a dense cover.

Even though Dianthus should be planted in rich, well drained soil in a cool climate, this is proof that they can survive in poor soil in a hot climate.  They need full sun anywhere.

blooming2The Belinda’s Dream bush is sporting a few roses.  It’s no wonder this variety is recommended in almost every book and gardening magazine because they are definitely hardy.

bloomingaOne lone Larkspur looks forlorn up against the foundation.   A few Larkspurs are scattered here and there.  This is across the yard from where the seeds were planted last year.

larkspurAnother one is a couple of feet from the darker colored one.   The friend who gave me the seeds said that hers are sparse this year, too.

sageThis Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) was just planted. It is also called Velvet Sage.

Pictures really highlight the flaws in your yard.  Even though I have picked rocks out of flowerbeds more times than I can count, there they are.  When I dug the hole to plant this sage and another one next to it, more rocks were brought to the surface.

Still need to put down mulch.  So I’m showing you my yard, warts and all.  If I waited until all looked good, I could not write this blog.

sage2In the background are the two Larkspurs and beside the sage is a new grayish Prairie Sage.

larkspur2In an attempt to show the velvet texture of the flowers, I held it up to try to steady it in the wind, but the picture blurred.  After several tries, I decided to just go with it.

The yard looks a little pathetic right now, so I’m enjoying every flower that opens up.

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”  Henry Ward Beecher