Utility Areas

Most all houses have them – those areas where gardening tools are stored or where the nitty gritty of potting, etc. are done.  Sometimes they’re screened off or hidden behind large shrubs, especially in towns or cities.

In the country, sometimes those storage places are placed at the edge of a yard or some distance from the house.

We have two identical sheds built at different times that serve gardening functions.  To make them somewhat a part of the landscape, there are some container plants around them.

Shown on the left is a pot of Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea) and Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) on the right.  Both of these are favorites because the color is bold, and both are so reliable.

Henry Duelberg, also known as Mealy Sage, is a hardy Texas native perennial.  Gomphrena, also known as Rio Grande globe amaranth, is an annual but reseeds freely.

The area around the sheds is bare ground.  On both sides of the concrete entrance to this shed, Gomphrena came up as volunteers.  The wind or birds brought the seeds from a flowerbed in the yard.

The Gomphrena has flourished here better than in the yard.  Obviously, their preference is for less water.

Several pots are displayed around the sheds.  Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetiiis) is growing in the center pot.

Blue Potato Bush or Paraguay Nightshade is an evergreen in South America.

Here, it’s proven to be a good perennial, even in a pot.  If the winter temps drop past the teens, that might not be the case.

Firebush (Hamelia patens) really is a tropical that has to be carried into the shed in the winter.  It can survive in lower Texas and never looks as lush here as it does there.

White flowered Rose Moss with White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) in a pot provides a nice blend of both plants.

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.  True power is sitting back and observing things with logic.  True power is restraint.  If words control you, that means every else can control you.  Breathe and allow things to pass.”  Warren Buffet

Native and Adapted Plants

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas A&M Extension Agents have been on a mission for years.  They have been preaching about the benefits of native plants.  They also add that many plants have adapted well to our climate.

Native plants are winter hardy, evergreen, or spread seeds.  So that means they survive to grow and bloom in season.  Native also means that it grows naturally in your area.  However, many natives that are not in your immediate vicinity do well in your climate.

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) can be seen occasionally in our pastures.  But they are much more prolific further south.  But they survive our winters.

These look like tulips, but they open up more later in the morning.

Both of these plants were bought at the same time, but one flower is a deeper purple than the other one.  I’ve had both of these for several years.  Their seeds have not produced other plants.  Mystery.

There are vastly different regions in Texas.  Rainfall varies from 54 inches annual average in the east to 10 inches in the west.  Soils range from acidic to alkaline and from sand to clay to caliche to loam.  Winter temperatures, plus rainfall, and soils make native plants area specific.  Sometimes, I try to stretch it, but end up having too many pot plants to carry inside.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dudecandra) is one of those natives that pops up all over the yard.

A friend gave me seeds years ago.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads by underground rhizomes, but it’s fairly slow.  This has been here 10 or more years.

It’s surprising how well this thin leafed plant does in full sun or shade.

Love the turban flowers.

Iron Weed ((Veronia baldwinii fasciculata) seeds were given to me about 5 years ago.  So it also spreads slowly.

The blooms don’t last a long time.  They do grow in the ditches not too far away.

Sages are great performers in our area.  I have a flower bed full of Henry Duelburg Salvia or Mealycup Sage (Saliva farinacea).  The wind blew some seeds into a field nearby, so I dug them up and put them in several pots.  Some were taken to a club plant sale.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a Texas native.  However, the ones I’ve noticed around here are not as large as the ones I have bought.  Pollinators love this plant.

Passion Vine is also a Texas native.  Don’t think they grow naturally in our area but are well-adapted.

It actually has a tropical look.

Gregg’ Mistflower, more commonly known as Blue Mistflower, (Conoclinium greggii) is a Texas native that grows gangbusters here.  To the left is Mexican Petunia that is so well adapted that it’s invasive.

One of the best plants to attract butterflies is Bluemist Flower.

There are many, many more Texas natives that do well in a home landscape.  If chosen carefully, they can be successful and bring beauty to the yard.

”When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”  Chief Tecumseh

Golden Oldies

For me, spring is a time to welcome back old friends – reliable perennials, that is.  It might be a bulb or a bush that blooms or trees leafing out.  Or it might be a flower that seems magically to grow a stem, leaves, and then flowers.  Ain’t it grand.

Stella de Oro Daylily or Stella D’oro is sometimes demeaned as being too common.  But in my book, it’s a wonderful low growing bulb with gorgeous flowers.

We have weeded this bed since this picture was taken.  This year the strong winds have forced me to take pictures whenever I can.

Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa) is a small ornamental tree that grows to a height of 12 feet.  The multiple trunks have branches growing almost to the ground.  Last year we trimmed the lower branches off to making mowing around it easier.  Plus, I like the airy look.

This Texas native can also be found in New Mexico and northern Mexico.  The small leaves makes it an excellent tree for drier areas.

The one inch puffy balls are bright yellow when they first open up, but turn golden just before they fall off.

Larkspurs have been blooming for a couple of weeks, but the old fashioned Hollyhocks have just started.

Hollyhocks are not for formal gardens, but they always remind me of the gardeners who struggled through the depression and WWII.  They’re cheerful plants that don’t require much water and little attention.

They can develop rust, but that happens only in really wet years.

Henry Duelburg (purple) and Augusta Duelburg (white) Salvias (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) that are a form of Mealy Cup Sage and may be sold under that name.  These Texas natives thrive in South and Central Texas.

In our area, these are foolproof winners.  They are zone 7 cold hardy.

I would never have heard of French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris), except for receiving a passalong from a friend.  They are cold hardy to Zone 4a.

In spite of their hardiness, the flowers have a sweet daintiness look.

“Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason.”  Ronald Reagan

Crazy Heat Continues

Even though it’s difficult to fathom, there are many plants that not only survive the heat, but are at their peak during the dog days of August.

Texas Rock Rose  (Pavonia lasiopetala) blooms on and on throughout the summer.  Can’t beat it for performance when temperatures are 100 plus.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is a haven for bees and other pollinators in the summertime.  If it’s planted in a tight place, like this one is, it’s necessary to tie the branches upright so they don’t sprawl out.  This rope is tied to a metal stake.Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is the blue-purple blooms while the white ones are named after his wife Augusta.  Found in a Texas cemetery growing on their graves, they are also sold as Mealy Cup Sage.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best salvias around and should be a staple in gardens where the summers are hot and dry.

Mint also pays no attention to the heat.  It’s so aggressive that the word “aggressive” doesn’t even describe it.  I first planted it in a flower bed.  It spread so quickly by underground runners that pulling it out was a chore.  In fact, it will take a concerted effort to monitor new shoots coming up and totally removing all of the underground parts from that bed.

Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) is in the mint family, so it too can be aggressive.  However, it spreads much slower than mint does.  The lovely foxglove like flowers bloom during the hottest part of the summer.

Another take-over-the-world plant is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  If there’s a theme here, it’s that plants with underground runners that root and produce a new plant must have space and diligent watchfulness to keep it controlled.

However, if you live where the summers heat up with no moisture and have hard rocky clay soils, these are be beautiful, reliable plants.

Old fashioned Dusty Miller has survived winters and summers in this pot.  When planted, it was to be a temporary solution until I found the right spot for it.  But now, it looks perfect in this pot.Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) and Hardy Hibiscus give the garden a wow factor.  Although the blossoms only last one day, their flowers are so large and stunning and the blooming is so prolific that they are both super stars.

“My garden, like my life, seems to me every year to want correction and require alteration.”  Alexander Pope

Southeast Texas Gardening

While attending the Texas Master Gardener Convention in Victoria, we visited the local Master Gardener’s demonstration garden.  Gardening in this region is polar opposite of gardening here in our neck of the woods.  The plants there tend to be tropical and they have arable soil while we have hard clay and rocks.  They must have weeds, but I didn’t see any.The garden is across from the airport and is located around a former officer’s club.  This part of the garden was constructed over a former olympic-sized pool, which had been filled with dirt.  The total size of the gardens is over an acre.

The contrast between shade and bright sunlight made photography difficult.

Some plants, like this Duranta (Duranta erecta), can be grown in our area, but it dies in the winter.  There, it lives all year.  This one was huge.

Great plant.

This plant was unfamiliar to me.  It’s Cestrum (Cestrum aurantiacum) which grows in zones 9 -11.  Really pretty but not a choice for me.

Henry Duelberg Sage seems to be a favorite all over the state.  It’s in the mealy cup or blue sage variety and is a perennial where we live.

Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea Fabagae) bushes are simply gorgeous.  Definitely a hot climate plant.  In spite of its beauty, the beans are toxic and can be a temptation to children.

If it would live here, I’d give it a try.

Could not find a sign identifying these flowers but couldn’t pass up this picture.

At first, I wondered what was wrong with this plant.  Then I saw the sign.  Curly Leaf Leopard Plant (Ligularia tussilaginea) likes the heat but needs a bit of shade.  Aptly named.

Crested Leopard Plant (Ligularia eristata)

Ligularia (Farfugium tussilaginea “Gigantea”) are surprisingly in the aster family and are commonly know as the ragwort flower.  They have yellow flowers that resemble asters but aren’t the toxic ragwort found in some fields.

Cute bench.

Never could find a label for these.  The flowers look like they’re mixed in with larger leafed plants.

Another unidentified flower.  The red ones were lovely.

I’m sure that this Hibiscus was a new addition in preparation for this event.  Whenever an association takes on the job of hosting a convention, that means two years of work: planning and executing everything.  Kudos to the Victoria Master Gardeners for pulling off a successful convention and for this beautiful garden.

The next post will show more of the garden.

“Today I’m going to clean the house.  Oh, look, a flower (or book, etc.)”  unknown

Last of Rose Emporium Snapshots

This is the final post from our last visit to the Antique Rose Emporium.

As expected, even at the end of the blooming season, there were tons of beautiful roses.

Wandering around, it is a welcoming garden with no pressure to buy.

Shrimp Plant or Mexican Shrimp or false hop (Justicia brandegeeana) is an evergreen shrub with interesting flowers.  It is native to Mexican and Florida and is a zone 9 -11 bush.

Because this nursery is so large, there’s room for massive plantings that show the beauty of many different plants.

Smile, please.

Knock Out Rose with another plant intertwined.

A statute for a formal garden with petunias.

Someone there has a sense of humor.  A cemetery for broken pots.

A grave for Cracked Up and Busted…

and for Rest in Pieces and Dead Broke.

Old house and gazebo add to the quaint feeling of the place.

Climbing roses on the gazebo.

Part of the plantings around the gazebo include this Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) bush.  Native to Canada, and eastern US, it spreads to Texas.  American Indians used plant parts to break fevers with the heavy sweating it caused.  Therefore, it’s also known as feverwort or sweating plant.

Should know this plant but can’t bring the name to mind.  Anyone?

Angel Wind Begonias for sale.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) attracting butterflies, as usual. Fabulous plant.

A huge stand of Cigar Plant (Cuphea melvillea) is dense along a walkway.

Mexican Bush Sage’s (Salvia leucantha) velvety flowers make it an outstanding flowering bush.  A Texas native, it grows really well further south of us.  Although it is perennial, it sometimes doesn’t survive our winters.

Cute stone pixies waiting to be bought.

Walking back to the parking lot, this old piece of farming equipment is a reminder of days gone by.

“Maybe if we tell people that the brain is an app, they will start using it.” unknown

Roses and More

This year, Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, is celebrating its 30th year of operation.

Inside the chapel, where the annual symposium is held, rose decorations set the theme.

This wreath hung on the podium.  By the way, the speakers we heard on Friday were excellent.

A frame on an easel held this vase of gorgeous roses.  We all wandered up to try and figure out how it was created.  I think wet florist foam was behind the half pot and all the rose stems were stuck in it.

A couple of these frames were hung on blacked out windows.

And, of course, there had to be a cowboy boot filled with sweet smelling roses.  We were so glad we attended this special event, even though we were only able to stay for one day.

Arriving early and using the lunch hour to wander around the nursery is always a treat.  This is so much more than a nursery.  It’s like an arboretum.  There are flower beds everywhere filled with all kinds of plants, like this fancy Zinna.

One of the things I like about this place is the whimsy scattered all around.  A living bedroom provides a smile.

All sorts of plantings show ideas for lots of different tastes.

Beds of simple, common flowers like these Dianthus or Pinks illustrate that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive.  Although, it definitely can be because it becomes a consuming hobby.  I speak from experience.

Simple, yet elegant setting.

A dying vine with some berries left provided a viewing spot for this bird above our heads.  He certainly seemed oblivious to our presence.

A small fenced in area contained lettuces and other greens and edibles growing beside flowers.

Brightly colored peppers are eye catching.

A bed of one of my favorite perennials:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  Another common name is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage.  Loves the sun and attracts bees.

But the heart of this place is roses.  So many choices to choose from.

Several posts will follow to show more of Antique Rose Emporium.  Thanks for stopping by.

“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”  Maud Casey

Reliable Perennials Perform Over and Over

Cooler mornings and evenings means a few hours to work or relax outside comfortably.

The plants must also appreciate a break from the heat.

This bed of Henry Duelburg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is always abuzz with hungry bees.  It is also sold under the name Blue Mealy Cup Sage.

What a wonderful, rewarding perennial.  Every year it blooms and blooms.

It is so hardy that it’s known as the cemetery sage.  For good reason, it was chosen as a Texas Superstar plant.

It’s almost impossible to point the camera and not get a picture of a bee.  I think these are bumble bees since they never bother me.

One last shot.  This salvia, like most, does spread.  But, in this case, I consider that a plus.

It’s also easy to transplant.  I dug some of the Augusta Duelberg (Salvia farinacea ‘Augusta Deulberg’), with white flowers up and put them in this pot.

Some other reliable perennials are Turk’s Cap on the left, Salvia Greggi on the right, and Rose of Sharon in the background.

This year, the orange Ditch Daylilies have made a reblooming curtain call.  My two larger beds of these lilies are all blooming.  Crazy.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads to a large mass that deserves loud applause.  Hummingbirds and butterflies love it.

Garlic foliage and flowers on tall stems move gracefully in the wind.  Not sure if these are just ornamental or also edible.  Just got them for the flowers.

Only kind of grasshopper I like are those that don’t destroy plants.  Behind this pot are Coral Drift Roses.

Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans) is drought tolerant and grows well in limestone soils.  So it seems perfect for my location.

The problem is that it sometimes freezes and doesn’t return.  The cold hardiness for Yellow Bells is zone 9.  I live in zone 7b.  So this past winter, I cut it to the ground, piled up mulch, and turned a ceramic pot over it.  Hooray.  It made it.  But it has been extremely slow to get any height and flowers this year.  So I guess there will be a repeat performance this winter to protect it.

“Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom and no one would have noticed.”  Karl MarxSave

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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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Oldies but Goodies

One of the pleasures of gardening is the return each year of perennials.  Success with plants is not always the case, so it feels good when it happens.

oldiesOne sure way to achieve success in the garden is to use native plants.  All plants are native somewhere, so planting native always refers to what grows naturally in your neck of the woods.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is one of those wildflowers that comes up wherever it pleases.  If that doesn’t bother you, then it works.   I like the way the white flowers kind of glow.

oldies8Clammy Weed and Zinnas are easy to please – just a little water and sunshine.

oldies1Rose of Sharon also does well here.  Most of my bushes have the flowers that look like Hibiscus.  These have a rose look.

oldies2One of the best plant that gardeners in central Texas can have are Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  Just step up close to them and have butterflies darting all around you.oldies3Blue Mists fill in spaces among other plants.  If you like that, you’re good to go.  If not, put them in a contained flower bed.

oldies44Another beauty is Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus drummondii).  It doesn’t look like it would survive Texas sun, but this plant has been in this spot for eight or nine years.  it’s tough.

oldies4The garden is doing well when all kinds of “good” bugs live there.

oldies5Bright red of these turbans always make me smile.

oldies7Behind the Blue Mist, Mexican Petunias (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’) keep expanding.  This is another one that needs to be contained if you have limited space.

This group all came from one cutting that I took nine years ago.  If you see something you like, then ask permission to take a cutting.  If it doesn’t survive, then nothing lost.

oldies6One of my favorites:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) was planted many years ago.  I bought it long before I knew anything about it.  It is now a Texas Superstar plant.

Many hardly plants are found in cemeteries.  These were growing on a grave when they were discovered, so they were named for the name on the tombstone.

oldies9Ordinary Morning Glory reminds me of old gardens of the early settlers.  There’s a reason they have been around for years and years.  It’s impossible to kill them.

Just a few seeds from a friend and voila, you’ll have flowers forever.  But they are invasive, so beware.

oldiesaRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is one of the better behaved natives.  It stays where it is put and is not invasive.

oldiesbPretty little flowers that look more like hibiscus than roses.

oldiescStrawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) does come up profusely.  But it’s a small plant that looks good poking its head up among other flowers.

Neat and tidy in the garden isn’t my thing.

oldiesgCanyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is fighting to keep its place in a bed since Pink Gaura keeps spreading out.

oldiesdThis bush in the back yard is so bright and cheerful.  I have sought to identify it definitively.

Finally, a nursery man had one like it and told me it was a Texas Flowery Senna (Senna corymbosa).  Other names include Flowering Senna, Tree Senna, and Buttercup Bush.

After about six years, it’s about 6 feet tall and wide.  Great plant.

oldiesfSmall green flying bugs or bees flit from flower to flower.  One is on a petal in the upper middle of the picture.

Wildflowers are just weeds.  So pick the pretty ones you love and plant a few seeds.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  W. E. Johns