Roses Rock

Last fall I bought roses.  Then during the winter I ordered more roses.  The kicker is that there was no place to plant them (bad habit of mine).  So they went into pots.

A few, like this Rainbow’s End, even bloomed in the pots.   Sorry, wrong ID.  This is Sheila’s Perfume Rose.

Finally, in April, the new tiller arrived, so we created two new flowerbeds.  The tiller was used to loosen soil down to about three or four inches.   Then we followed the steps in creating a Lasagna Garden.  We added a final step of tilling all the soil, leaves, manure, etc. that was dumped in the bed.

At last, the beds were ready to plant the bushes.  Even though they are still small, the rose bushes have bloomed profusely since planting.

Each bush should grow to three feet wide, so we spread them apart to provide the needed space.

Alnwick by David Austin produces a nice tight rose.  All of the David Austin roses were bare root but survived in the pots.  I specifically chose roses from their list of those that do well in poor soil and also have a noticeable smell.

This Lady of Shalott by David Austin has a different form than many of his.  This one was purchased at Rose Emporium because its scent is wonderful.

Double Delight has long been one of my favorites because it has a strong, wonderful scent.

I’ve wondered if The Lady Gardener by David Austin was mislabeled.

Because this is the color shown on their website.  That one has been a disappointment even though it blooms constantly.  I guess it could be the soil.

Thomas A. Beckett produces a really large amount of blossoms.  Because these bushes need to spend their energy right now on growth of roots and branches, I have been deadheading them.  But I still want to enjoy their aroma inside, so I have bouquets with short stems.

A few years ago I bought a couple of antique glass flower frogs from e-bay.  They are heavy and work well if the vase is large enough.

To accommodate these short stems, I put the frog in a shallow dish, filled it with water, and inserted the stems in the holes of the frog.

Now the beauty and the scent of the flowers can be enjoyed inside.

If the stems are a little longer, like Sheila’s Perfume from Breck’s and Double Delight from a local nursery, then a vase with glass marbles will hold them in place.

Just absolutely adore having roses in the house.

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.”  unknownSave









Magnolia Market

If there is anyone in Texas, and maybe even the US, that hasn’t heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their HGTV show Fixer Upper show, I would be surprised.  During the success of their show, they expanded their entrepreneurship to include products, a bed and breakfast, a restaurant soon to be opened and Magnolia Market.

The purchase of silos and buildings in downtown Waco allowed them to open new stores and a whole complex.

Visitors get the obligatory picture under the sign.

We took the advice on their website that late afternoon on a weekday was the best time to visit to avoid huge crowds.

The silos themselves are not yet open but will be in the future.

There is lots of outside space for play.  The artificial grass is used for kids and adults to toss around frisbees and balls.

Tables and seating under awnings are provided so people can “dine” from the food trucks.

More tables under a large open pavilion.  The bean bag seats in the shade promote their sale in the store.  They look comfy, but we did not try them.

Shade is a necessity, not a luxury,  in the Texas sun, even in spring.

Joanna is a fan of rusty metal and objects in their unfinished condition.  Me, too.

Inside the store, the displays are so pretty that people can’t resist lingering.  I read a comment online that Joanna’s touch is evident throughout the complex.  True.

The planters outside contain real plants.  Inside, lots of artificial flowers are used and sold.  Gorgeous color of faux tulips class up a rustic table.

People have complained that most of the products for sell are imports from China.  And that they are expensive.   Really?  What would one expect?  Joanna uses those imports to decorate on Fixer Upper, and people are enamored with the results.

Of course, she also uses local craftsmen, but those items would be priced out of most people’s range.

As one exits the front door, a vignette draws attention.  Think these plants are fake, too.

Swings and tables encourage people to sit and enjoy the whole atmosphere.

The small bakery (not shown), which sells cupcakes from Joanna’s recipe, had a long line in the sun.  We decided to pass on that.

The complex also includes a seed and plant store and garden area, which will be featured in my next blog.

Thanks for reading.

“Summer peels open the magnolia blossoms one white petal at a time to scent the summer breeze with thoughts of romance.”  Susie Clevenger













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.









That’s Odd

The biggest anomaly this year is the weather.  So far, we’ve only had three days of 100 or 100+ degrees.  It’s August!  That is so odd that everyone talks about the beautiful weather all the time.

Most areas around us have had several rains.  We have not, but there have been many cloudy days.

Nice summer, indeed.

oddSeveral times when I have gone into the shed, a lizard would be in the bottom of a bucket.  He must has have fallen from the ceiling.  I would dump him into the yard, but there he would be again the next day.  I don’t know if it was the same one or not.  If so, he’s a slow learner.

odd2One day from my kitchen window, I saw a 5 to 6 foot snake slithering across the grass and climbing into a tree.  By the time I could react and find my camera, he was already in the higher branches of a small Red Oak.

odd3I could never find his head for a photo.

odd4Just a Bull snake, I think.  I hope.

odd5Why is this scene strange?  Because it reminded me of a green idyllic meadow.  Usually, the grasses are dry like straw.  But here the yellow is wildflowers.  “Cows are in the meadow”… type photo.

odd6The purple Balloon flowers or Chinese Bell Flowers have not bloomed much this year.  Many of the ones that opened were white.  For the past eight years, they have been heavy bloomers.  Don’t know what happened.

odd7This is like one of those pictures where one’s eyes have to adjust and focus by staring to see the image.  The heads of Dill (Anethum graveolens)  are full of seeds.  Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar are supposed to feed on dill, although I have not seen them.

odd8Mowing around a flower bed of Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) brings on a flurry of rising butterflies swirling around me.  The flowers are small but obviously a favorite of Viceroys.

oddcThe compost heap behind a shed is producing vines.

The blue lid from a barrel is to cover food scraps and discourage racoons who often climb over the wire barrier.  Unfortunately, if they want to move the lid, they can.

odd9There are two different kinds of vines.  Last year we had canteloupe grow here.

oddbA Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) plant found its way here and is blooming.

oddaThis one looks like it is producing yellow summer squash.

I don’t often remember to pour water on the decaying compost.  But when I see the vines, it reminds me to do so.

odddWhy is this mule sniffing or eating a small cedar?  Don’t know.

praying mantisThis Praying Mantis appears to be in the process of molting, which they do several times during their lifetime.

snyderWhat is this plant, you ask.  This photo was taken in West Texas.  Those are actually plastic stems from an artificial plant.  Given the fact that watering is severely rationed, it seems like an interesting solution.

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”    Old cowboy adage

Not a Rose

When is a “rose” not a rose?  When it belongs to a completely different family than roses.  Roses (Rosa) are woody shrubs in the Rosaceae family.  Most of us recognize a rose without even thinking about it.

So why do so many other flowers have “rose” in their name?  Who knows.  Maybe because of the romance and sentimentality associated with a true rose.

notarose3Ross Moss (Portulaca Grandiflora) is considered an annual, but is a perennial in our area.  It is a member of the Portulacaeae family.

Even in a plastic pot on the north side of the house, it returned after a cold and long winter this year.  Rose Moss can’t tolerate our heavy clay soil, so it needs a pot with good drainage.

notarose2Desert Rose (Apocynaceae Adenium Obesum) is actually a succulent member of the Oleander family.

notarosebOne of its characteristics is the formation of a bulb shape at the base of its stem as it ages.  This one only has a slight bulge so far.

notaroseMexican Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial related to the agaves.  Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek.

They don’t usually start blooming here until August, when the heat has been around awhile.  This picture is from last year.  The temps, as well as the humidity, have hit high gear, so they might be blooming in a month or so.

rockrose6Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a member of the Mallow family.  It is a small shrub that needs little moisture.  Mine doesn’t get much bigger and rarely blooms, maybe because it’s in a bed that gets watered.  It could also be that the amended soil in the lasagna bed is too good for it.  Never thought I’d say that about anyplace in my yard.

notarose4Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is in the Mallow family.  It is also known as althaea.

notarose5More pictures show the abundance of flowers.

notarose1All the bushes in the above pictures came from a friend’s cuttings.  She got them from her sister in Michigan.

pinkroseofsharonThis is a different variety of Rose of Sharon that I ordered from a catalog.  Nice color and ruffled center.

pinkroseofsharon2Doesn’t even look like the same flower.  All Rose of Sharons are hardy, hardy, hardy.  Not much water is needed to live, but it is necessary for them to bloom.

What do all these plants have in common?  They are drought tolerant, pretty, and thrive in the heat.  Despite their names, they are not in the rose family. notaroseEven a stone is called a rose.  If you use your imagination, a rose shape can be seen.

Desert Rose is a variety of gypsum that forms in the spaces between sand particles. It traps the loose sand in a unique flower-like crystal structure.  They tend to be small.  These are 1.5 inches across.

Rose rocks are found in Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma rose rock was formed during the Permian Period, 250 million years ago, when western and central Oklahoma’s  shallow sea coverage was receding.   It is the official rock of Oklahoma.  Didn’t even realize that states had designated rocks.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue:  no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”                     Eleanor Roosevelt

New Flowerbed

Yep.  Another lasagne garden flowerbed was created this spring.  But this one has a twist that helped another problem.

frontbed10For years I’ve bemoaned the fact that the front walkway is too narrow.  We’ve learned that the wide open vistas require that everything be bigger to fit the scale.

Besides needing a flowerbed to break up the yard space and another space for plants, we opted for a plan that would also visually widen the flagstone walk.

frontbed6By using rocks in the same color palette of the flagstones, the eye is tricked into perceiving this as one space.  After building the lasagne flowerbed in the early spring, we hired a young man to install the metal divider to keep the soil out of the rocks.

So far, so good on that. frontbed5This view is from one end of the bed.  As you can tell, the plants were given space to grow.  On the left is a Dwarf Crape Myrtle.  In the middle and in the foreground is a Blue Curls bush, and a clump of Texas Bluebells is on the right.

frontbed4This picture shows the bed in June after the rock border was finished.  I’m very pleased with the look. frontbed8Then, boom.  In the center of the bed a monster plant has taken over stretching out to about 7 feet.  All these plants came from either the Garden Club plant sale or the annual spring sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  I thought I was choosing carefully and researched the plants I wanted.

The day after the Wildflower Center sale, I was knocked down with a severe case of allergies that turned into a bronchial infection.  All this to say that the planting of all those purchased plants did not happen until weeks later.  So even though, I was still sick, it came to a point where they had to be put into the ground.   The placement was rather helter-skelter..

frontbed11This unknown plant was not a conscious buy.  Either it was mislabeled or I grabbed one from a different section than I intended.  Does anyone know what on earth this is?

Several low branches that covered other plants have been cut off.  The reddish trunk is about 3 inches in diameter.

frontbed12The long fronds or whatever they are look soft but are actually scratchy and have some sharp points on them.

The plan is to try to transplant this alien when it gets cooler.  There are some places away from other plants where it would look good.  If that proves impossible, it will be tossed.

frontbed9Love the twirling hummingbirds.

“Old age is the most unexpected thing of all the things that can happen to a man.”  James Thurber

Lasagna Flowerbeds

Lasagna Gardening is like magic gardening.  I’m sure this concept is as old as the hills.  It has just been given a new name with a modern twist.

When I first learned about it last year, we tried it right away.  I was so impressed – no backbreaking digging in the clay and rocks.  No trying to kill the grass and weeds where a bed will be placed.

Lasagna gardening is simply layering organic materials.  The first layer provides a moist, dark environment that encourages worms to burrow in and loosen up the soil.Last year we created a fourteen foot long bed.  In October of this year, we extended it another eleven feet. Then, in early November, we added another twelve feet making a total length of 37 feet.  The width ranges from seven to nine feet.

October is the optimal planting time here.  I was originally told that a lasagne bed should set over the winter and “cook” (materials break down) before any planting.  This year since we put so much dirt on top, I decided to go ahead and plant right after creating the bed.  Hopefully, it will still work as well.

The first step in making this flowerbed is to lay down corrugated cardboard.  Several layers of newspaper could also work.  Then soak the cardboard.  Each layer should be watered after putting it down.

Then we gathered buckets of dried manure.  This might be difficult for city dwellers to obtain.  But it’s not really a necessary layer.These were broken into smaller pieces.

The shovels and other tools are holding down the cardboard so the wind won’t blow it away.  The manure is scattered on top of the cardboard and watered down.

The next step is gathering leaves and twigs.  I added crushed egg shells that I had saved.  You could also use fruit and vegetable scraps, tea and coffee grounds or bags, compost material, shredded newspaper and junk mail, pine needles, peat moss, or trimmings from the garden.  We don’t like to use grass clippings or weeds because we already have a problem with those getting into beds.  Some people say it’s okay to use them if they haven’t gone to seed. These are scattered on top of the manure.

Finally, some soil that we had delivered a couple of years ago was dumped on top.  We just scooped up leftover dirt from another project.

This equipment won’t be available to everyone.  The first time we made a bed, we just carried everything in buckets.  But this size bed required some serious hauling.

Three plants from the first section needed to be moved.  They were transplanted here.  Then a few new plants were added.  This time I hope the spacing is correct and will allow for growth.

We used the few bags of mulch we had to cover around the plants.  More will be added later.

This project is still requires work – just not the kind that requires youth and brawn.

“He that flings dirt at another dirtieth himself the most.”  Thomas Fuller

Novice Gardener Mistakes

As far as major mistakes novice gardeners make, I think there are four important ones. This knowledge comes from experience.  As I continue to garden, I’ll probably become aware of others.  The first one is not laying out a plan.   After we learned this at the Neil Sperry’s Landscape Design Classes we attended, it was too late to follow that advice completely.  Many of our choices had already been “set in stone”.

The second error is choosing the wrong plants.  Mostly this applies to how they are affected by climate, soil, and weather.  It can also be placement in your yard or space.  Shade plants definitely don’t survive in the Texas summer sun.  And sun plants do truly need sunshine, especially to bloom.

The next two mistakes I will illustrate with some pictures.  It pains me to show these pictures because I’m embarrassed by my mistakes.  But here goes…This picture was taken last fall after we had removed  two rose bushes that were between the row in front and the one in the back.  We also removed a rose bush at the left of the row of roses in the back.  Even after removing those bushes, it’s still too crowded.

This shows the back row of the rose bushes in late spring of this year.  The far left bush is an Earth Kind Rose.  The middle rose is a Mutabulis.  Both of these are extremely hardy.  The climbing rose in the trellis frame is Madame Norbert Lavavasseur.

This overcrowding plant mistake comes from not knowing the requirements of specific plants.  First of all, I had no idea that these would flourish and grow so well.  Also, I did not know that rose bushes need at least a 6′ square of growing room.

I expected the climbing rose to have a center trunk with outward growing branches.  Instead, it has many branches growing from the ground.  So far, each branch has grown 6′.  I’ve cut a few,  but they flower from old growth.  This particular bush is difficult to work with because the branches are not limber and are full of very vicious, large thorns.

The fourth mistake is not doing proper and timely pruning.  As you can see, I have some major pruning to do this fall or winter.

Okay.  Here are my excuses.  Actually, there is no excuse for ignorance.  My only defense is that  I was so grateful to have anything growing and blooming that I didn’t want to risk losing anything by cutting them back.

By the way, we were able to successfully transplant the three rose bushes that were removed.

This is a new raised flower bed on the west side of the house.  The rocks surrounding it came from the long flower bed on the east side of the yard.  The transplanted rose bushes bloomed really well this spring.

I’m claiming the old adage:  if you can’t change your mistakes, don’t obsess about them.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”   Albert Einstein.

Back to the beginning…

At first, we planted a few trees in the yard and some plants around the perimeter of the house.  Today’s post is about establishing the large flower bed along the edge of the yard on the east side where we had previously planted a few shrubs.  It looked sparse and boring.  Now the plan was to connect them into one long, curved bed. This bed is 100’ long and varies in width from 6’ to 12’ – serious labor.

First, we killed the grass in that area with Round-Up.  A week later, we hoed, raked, and pulled all the dead grass out of the ground that we could and discarded it.

Then, we roto-tilled expanded shell into the clay.

Then we laid down yard cloth to keep Bermuda from growing, and finally, mulch.

During all this, we dug up many, many large rocks and hauled them to a field.  We learned many lessons and would probably do several things differently, including better pre-planning of the whole process.

“Gardening requires lots of water, most of it in the form of perspiration. “ Lou Erickson