Good Repeats

With so many flowers continuing to bloom, this autumn has been like a second spring.  As crazy as it sounds, cool weather in autumn is not the norm here.  It’s been a special treat this year.

The purchase of two small plants in 4″ pots made about 10 years ago has turned out to be one of my best buys.  Bright red of Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) is always a welcome sight.  Since it’s an annual that reseeds freely, large groups of it show up each spring.

A Hardy Hibiscus that was bought about 10 years ago at a garden club plant sale has proved to be a boon.  Anything with the word “hardy” (meaning cold hardy for our area) in its name can withstand our dry and hot summer, as well as our sometimes extreme cold periods.

This Oxalis or Shamrock plant has been in this same pot for about eight years.  By the end of summer, the leaves are bedraggled, but the flowers look fresh.

This Coral Honeysuckle bush (Lonicera sempervirens L.) is only three years old.   It doesn’t look as well as it did in the spring, but there are flowers for the pollinators.  Another great performer.

The plant everyone loves to complain about is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex).  It’s an aggressive spreader.  But if there’s room for it, it is hardy to the extreme and will become an old standby .  This grouping started out as one single cutting that I took twenty years ago.

Personally, I love the color of the flowers.  They are not shy about blooming.  So it has its pluses.  Mexican Petunias are native to Mexico and further south.

“Calories are tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.”  unknown

A Little Rain, Please

A brief shower does wonders for the land and for our morale.  We had two quick rains within a week.  Both of them together did not add up to an inch.  But as a result of a little rain, the temperatures are cooler and water from the sky perks everything up.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is drooping a little from the heat and isn’t blooming as much as earlier.   It’s native to southeastern US and to Texas.  One of it’s other names is Texas Mallow.  It’s a hardy perennial, even in our clay soil.

It looks like it would be difficult to get nectar from the tight blooms, but bees manage very well.

The plant dies down to the ground in the winter.  In the spring, it’s a beauty.

This Prairie Sage was planted 6 years ago, and I don’t remember where I got it.  It may be Artemisia ludoviciana, but it doesn’t look like the pictures I found on the internet.

It does spread by rhizomes but not aggressively.  Its lacy look provides a nice silvery accent in the yard.

After being in full sun all summer, these Purple Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum setaceum “Rubrum”) have lost their purple color in the plumes and foliage.

I don’t buy many annuals but consider these worth the cost.  These came in small pots.  It’s interesting that the far one did not grow as tall or full as they usually do.

This metal Roadrunner is stuck into the ground in front of a concrete planner.  Metalbird company started in New Zealand, but has an American branch.

Ixora is a tropical plant from Asia.  I’ve had one in a pot for about 18 years, which has become pretty root bound.  So I purchased another small plant.

The flowers are so pretty.  In Asia it’s grown in full sun, but here in Texas, my pots receive some sun, but not all day.  Our Death Star tends to burn leaves.

Purple Shamrock Plant or Oxalis (Oxalis regnellii) is also called Wood Sorrel.  It’s looking pretty sad at the end of the season.  The flowers are pale pink.  This one has been in this pot for many, many years and should probably be repotted into a larger pot.

Mine gets filtered light and is taken inside during the winter.  The green leafed Oxalis is considered a weed by some people, especially in the lawn.  I don’t think I would mind that.

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is another plant that needs an upgrade in pot size.  Native to South Africa, it can grow to be a large 10 ft. tall shrub there.  I’ve tried it in full sun but seems to do better in filtered or morning light.

Hope you are getting some relief from the summer heat.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”  E. B. White

Shade Welcome

For those who have mostly shady yards, there are different problems than for those of us who have mostly sunny yards.  Since some plants absolutely require shade, I have a few spots where they can grow.

The leaf shape of Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) gives it another common name, False Shamrock.  But the leaf color gives it a distinctive look of boldness.

Woodland Fern does well here because it can handlefrom-spring-into-fall heat, and the roots survive a cold winter.  This flowerbed against the house doesn’t receive direct sun.  Ferns enjoy a little dappled light, just like they would received in the woods.

One shady spot I have is at the back of the yard under a large Live Oak.  So pots of shade loving plants can go there.  The pot with white flowers is Plumbago (Plumbago capensis).  I actually prefer the Plumbago with purple flowers, but the one I had died.

The taller stems behind the Plumbago are Ornamental Garlic.  The larger leaves on the right side belong to a Datura or Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).

In this same area in a blue pot is Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) or Christ Plant.  Love the small flowers but am leery of the thorns.

All the plants are in pots because I don’t want to disturb the roots of the tree.  Also, some of them need inside protection during the winter.

One corner of a covered back porch has shade most of the day.  This area is filled with pots of Coleus and Old Fashioned Geraniums, meaning an old variety that is not sold in nurseries.  The past two years I have become a fan of a variety of Coleus with their lovely leaf colors and shapes.

Some of the Coleus are pass-a-longs from friends.  They root well in water.

This Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) also sits on a stand in that corner.  Just about the easier plant there is to grow.  The “spiders” that grow on long stems from the center become new plants when put into soil.

This is a corner of a front covered porch where pots of plants have been gathered.  Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming now.  To the left of that in another pot is some Columbine foliage.

A large pot of Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) is long lived when brought inside for the winter.  It will also recover from winter because the fibrous roots are very hardy.  But it takes a long time for the foliage to grown back and to become attractive again.

At the back of that covered porch is a line of Boston Ferns that are 25 years old.  They have been divided several times.  The rabbit container holds another Old Fashioned Geranium.

Purple Heart or Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) returns every spring like clockwork in a shady flowerbed.Actually, shade is a welcome relief for lots of living creatures, including me during this long lived summer and continued drought.  The temperatures have fallen a bit, so that’s a treat.  Seriously need some rain.

Hope your autumn is cool and crisp with lovely yellow, orange, and auburn colors.

“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to over throw the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.”  Abraham Lincoln

Bold Colors

Some landscape designers prefer a small, select group of muted colors to be used throughout the yard.  I can see the serenity of that, but bold, bright colors float my boat.

Texas Bluebell Ice Cream is named after Texas Bluebell native flowers or lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorurn).  They grow in areas that get some moisture during the summer months.  In a home garden, it’s easy to provide that needed water.

A field of these is inspiring.  The petals are fragile and the centers boldly colored.  A gorgeous native.

Another biggie for Texas gardeners is or should be Milkweed.  ‘Hello Yellow’ Asclepias is probably an annual here, but I wanted to give it a go.

The leaves of Purple Oxalis or Purple Shamrock brings some color to a shady area.  This one has been in the same pot for about ten years.

This Desert Rose has been in this pot for about eight years.  Recently I saw one with brilliant colored flowers on-line, so I ordered some seeds.  I now have three very small Desert Roses growing from those seeds.

So I decided to save the seeds from these flowers.  But there are no seeds.  What?  Now I’m bumfuzzled.  Are there male and female Desert Roses?

Love the flowers.

Many of the plants with brightly colored flowers are in pots because they are tropical and need to be carried inside for winter protection.

Ixora has been in this pot for about ten years and only gets late afternoon sun.

The coral clusters of large corymbs of bright florets are stunningly beautiful and can last four to six weeks.

Corymbs are flat topped flower clusters in which the individual flower stalks grow upward from various points of the main stem to approximately the same height because the pedicels (small stem) of the lower flowers are longer than those of the upper flowers.

Other flowers with this same flower arrangement include Hawthorns.

Isn’t the internet great for finding out information.

Crepe Myrtles are the brightest and prettiest small flowering trees for our area.  My very favorite variety is this ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle.

Just look how full the clusters are.

There are three of these  ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crape Myrtles in our yard.  This is the only one that has prominent yellow stamens.

Whether you opt for mostly green shrubs, pale colored flowers, or bright primary colors, isn’t it wonderful to plan your own space?

“Be decisive.  The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”  Unknown

Most Unusual Autumn

Rain, Rain, Rain!  So far, rainfall this month has been 11 inches.  To put that into prospective:  the average yearly rainfall here is 27 inches.  The total for 2017 was 19 inches.  So yikes, there’s flooding.  But it’s not as desperate here as it in some Texas towns, like Llano.

The temperatures have fallen in the last week to high 30’s.  Normally at this time, it’s still in the 90’s.  Some Halloweens, poor trick or treaters sweat under their costumes.  This year they may shiver.

I’m using pictures that were taken a week or so ago because we can’t get out of the house.  We also can’t get across the low water crossings because they are dangerously high with fast moving water.

The berries on the Pistachio trees precedes the leaves turning orange.  Pistachio gets bad press because they ‘re native to China.  But they do great here.  Love them.

In between some of the earlier rains, we walked out to one of the ponds.  This Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) caught my eye.  These bushes are in the same family as coffee bushes and are native to southern and eastern U. S.  This and all the other ponds are now flowing over their banks.

In spite of the crazy temperatures and abundant rain, many flowers are still blooming in the yard.  This Purple Oxalis (Oxalis regnelliihas) has survived many years in a pot, which is taken inside for the winter.  The common name of Shamrock comes from the shape of the leaves.

Cooler weather brings out the Reblooming Irises.  The Strawberry Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) will hang on until it freezes.  But, hooray, it reseeds.

Purple Hearts keep on blooming and reaching outwards until it freezes.

Purple asters make their appearance when it cools down. I think these are Aster oblongifolius.

A couple of years ago, I divided them and planted some to come on around the end of this bed.

Thornless Crown of Thorns is a beauty with blooms that last from spring until it freezes.  Since it is not cold hardy, it goes into the shed.  This one is much more human friendly since it doesn’t bring blood if you get near it.

Native and drought tolerant Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris Scaposa (DC.) Greene) are still going strong.  This bed drains well, so they’ve survived all the rain.

Large group of Gomphrena in the back draws the eye to their direction.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensisis) is native throughout the Caribbean, so it’s more tropical than our area location but does well in a container.  I like the long stems with small flowers.  Beside it is a Kalanchoe and a Spider Plant with two Boston Ferns in the back.

We normally moan about the heat and lack of rain.  It’s definitely been an early wet fall.

“Everyone wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.  But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  unknown

Shade Lovers

Finding shady areas for plants can be a challenge if you live where the sun glares down with full force for months at a time.  Shade doesn’t have to be a totally dark area, but one where there is no direct sunlight.

In my case, that means covered porches or close to the trunks of large trees.  My porch areas can look messy because I also root many plants there.  Here are Coleuses, Old fashioned Geraniums, and an Aloe Vera.

Coleus may seem like an old lady plant; since I’m an old lady and it’s only been a favorite the last couple of years, that fits.  But it brings color in areas where flowers won’t bloom.

This one came from a cutting about four years ago.  Coleuses root easily in water and are great pass-along plants.

The lime green ones really brighten up a shady place.

This is an attempt at a fairy garden.  Problem is:  when you water, pebbles and other small articles tend to wash away or fall over.  Variegated Ice Plant has grown like wildfire.

A professional gardener for a public garden made the statement that neatness is more important than what you plant.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  And, let’s face it, it’s difficult to keep a garden weeded and cleared of debris when you don’t have a staff.  That’s my excuse.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) branches bend over and grow crookedly.  This one will definitely have to be cut back before carrying it into the shed for winter.  Maybe some friends would like a cutting?

The thorns are vicious.  This one came from a cutting about six or seven years ago.  Several cuttings have been made from the original planting and propagated and given away.

This was bought at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  It can’t take our cold winters, like many of the other plants shown in this post.  It also has sharp thorns.  I keep telling myself to toss it, but here it is after two years.

These three pots of plants have been here for years and years.  The Red Apple Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia) on the left and the Autumn Joy Sedum are perennial, and thankfully do not have to be toted into the shed for the winter.  These are succulents, so broken stems can be planted directly into potting soil.

The Purple Oxalis  is not cold hardy.

The Sedum will put on a show with pink flower clusters soon.

Pale pink flowers contrast nicely with the purple leaves of Oxalis, which is in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is another new favorite.  The smell is wonderful.  It does not reseed but can be propagated with cuttings rooted in water.

To the left is another Autumn Joy Sedum, Kalanche on the right, and Asparagus Fern in the back.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) is an extremely hardy perennial ground cover.  As demonstrated by this picture, it spreads rapidly and should be contained.  This flowerbed is surrounded by a porch and a sidewalk on two sides.

The light pink flowers always show up white in my pictures.  The stems can be broken or cut and rooted in water.  Another good pass-along plant.

“You can lead a man to congress, but you can’t make him think.”  Milton Berle

A Classical Garden

Recently, a garden club member invited us to see her garden.  I was blown away to find such a garden in Brownwood, Texas.

To me, it has all the elements of a classical garden – formality, large statues, topiaries, precision, and clean, neat lines.

The garden was especially colorful because blooming annuals are displayed in pots and tucked into bare spaces in beds.

Personally, I don’t invest in many annals because I’m cheap, I guess.  So I can’t identify many of them.  I do recognize Coleus, Petunias, and the purple Oxalis.

Snapdragons?

Another thing this garden has going for it is the raised beds.  There’s not very deep, but contain good, loose soil.

The whole backyard is surrounded by a ten foot wall.  That’s a plus because it blocks the wind from blowing in weeds.

There are 50 rose bushes in the yard.  I like that they are surrounded by other plants, mostly annals.

The flagstone pathways keep it all neat.

Not a  single weed.  It’s not surprising that the yard owner also owns a nursery.  So plant knowledge and maybe some help from employees keeps this place shipshape.

All these pictures were taken about 1 o’clock, with the sun directly overhead.  This creates harsh light and dark shades.  Not the best pictures.

Caladium, which is another annual, Hosta, and a water thirsty perennial Hydrangea all need shade.

The peachy color is alluring.

I think this is Penstemon, but it might be Foxglove.

The white flowers are Peonies, which surprised me because peonies need a long period of cold weather and a neutral soil pH.  Neither of these are part of this situation.  So these might have to be replaced periodically.

A beautiful garden anomaly for this town.  Just enjoyed the visit and returned to my life in a field of native grasses and weeds.

“The sad part about getting old is that you stay young on the inside but nobody can tell anymore.”  unknown

Pops of Color

As summer drags on with no rain, the field grasses are drying, so that’s a drab sight.   Some brightness in the yard is definitely needed.

Old fashioned Geraniums ignore the heat and keep on blooming, but they can’t handle full sun.

I got a start of these several years ago at a club plant sale and have kept several pots since then.  They’re easy to propagate by cutting off a stem and sticking it into soil.  Sometimes I remember to dip the stem in a rooting compound and sometimes I don’t.

Rose Moss(Portulaca grandiflorais) is another good old reliable.  This pot has been on my porch for about six years.  Every spring I question whether or not it survived the winter cold.  Then, just when I’m about to give up, they sprout and bloom.

When I think about how long some of these plants have been in the same pot, it surprises me.  This Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) is probably 11 years old.

Every winter, it goes into the heated shed, so I don’t know if it would recover otherwise. Cold hardiness is zone 7 – 11, but I don’t trust the new 8 zone listed for us.

I think this is Antimima concinna, a type of Ice Plant, that is in the Aizoaceae family.  The Aizoaceae family is huge with over 1800 species and is mostly endemic to Southern Africa.

This has been in this pot so long that I don’t even remember where it came from.  This lovely small flower is another one that will return after a severe winter.

http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/aizoaceae.html is a good source for all these succulents that look so much alike.

Tropical Ixora (Ixora coccinea) grows in most tropical areas but is prominent in Asian tropical countries.  The leaves feel stiff.  The clusters of tangerine colored flowers last a long time on the stems.

Mine is in mostly shade but gets a shot of late afternoon sun.  About 12 years old, this plant is a winner in my book.

Gorgeous.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is truly thorny, so it’s difficult to re-pot.  Mostly, I keep cutting off the long stems and starting new plants for plant sales or passalongs.  The stems need to harden a couple of days before planting.

About six years ago, I got a cutting from a friend.  The flowers last for months and are in a lovely color.  Native to Madagascar, they are tropical.

This spring I found a Thornless Crown of Thorns or Gerold’s Spurge (Euphorbia geroldii) at a nursery near Kerrville.  Whoopee.  It’s great to not dodge the thorns.

It is hardly to 30 degrees and likes semi-shade.  Mine gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will bloom just about year round, if brought inside during the winter.

Love it.

Finally, my Bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spectabilis)  is blooming.  Every year, I get impatient for this beauty to strut its stuff.

It needs lots of hot sun, lots of water, and some fertilizer to get it going.  The first time I saw this plant years ago on Turks and Caicos, I was smitten.  Even on those wind swept islands, it bloomed and flourished.

Such a beauty.

Hope some color is brightening your summertime.

“Credit is what keeps you from knowing how far past broke you are.  Debt is slavery of the free.”  unknown

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August’s Heat

The last weekend in August is the time for the ‘Hotter Than Hell’ annual bicycle ride in Wichita Falls, Texas.   This event brings out tons of people who torture themselves on a up and down hill course in 100 plus temperatures.  I mean:  who does this?

But then, who lives in this climate?  The answer:  native Texans and many who have come to the sun belt to enjoy the wonderful winters.

augustheat4What else survives the heat?   There are actually quite a few plants that have adapted to extreme heat as well as the native plants.

This Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) is seven years old.  I like the curly, unpredictable growth habit.  However, it does not survive winter, even here, so it has to be brought in.

augustheat6That’s difficult since it has grown so large.  The spikes on the ridges are extremely sharp.  Last year a tall spike broke off.  No problem, I just planted it and now have another Elkhorn.  The white sap is poisonous, so handle with care.

augustheatIn the back to the right is an ornamental pepper plant, which has struggled this year.  It wilts between waterings, which is about three to four days apart.  It has several smaller plants that came up this year, so I probably should have taken them out of this pot.

The plant in front is Escheverua ‘Blue Curl’ which needs bright, but not direct light.  That requirement applies to most succulent plants.

augustheat2Some things are starting to look ragged at the end of summer.  Like this ten year old Oxalis.  But it’s hanging in there.

augustheat5It’s a challenge to find enough shade in our yard for plants that need it.  Above is Coleus and Purple Heart that get early sun as the sun hovers over the horizon.

augustheat3The potted Petunias have surprised me because they have lasted from spring into August.  I will definitely use some of them again next year.

augustheatbHere is a Moon Flower plant in another shady area and the pot with the new Elkhorn.

augustheataThe flowers of Moon Flower or Jimson Weed (Datura wrightii) are always a delight.

augustheatc

augustheat9The metal pickup on a pole is about five feet tall.  That is a gauge for how tall the Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has gotten.

augustheat7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala Scheele) is not a consistent bloomer, but I enjoy it when flowers appear.

augustheat8The flowers actually look more like a hibiscus than a rose.

augustheatdJust this year Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’)  was designated a Texas Superstar Plant.  I wondered why because we have two that are four years old, and this is the first year for them to bloom.  So I did a little research.  Although the plant label that came with them did not state this information, they do not do well in alkaline soils.  We definitely have that in spades.

augustheateThis year, I’ve poured the water on them and the blooms are gorgeous.

Crape Myrtles do so well in the whole central Texas area that I was surprised to learn that this one has different soil needs.  I certainly won’t dig them up.  But now I know they need extra water.

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center just sent out an article to encourage all the gardeners in Texas who are weary of the sun and hot temps this time of the year.  It pointed out some positives to note:  dried, brown, fried flowers provide seeds for birds and next year’s crops of flowers; act as mulch and insulate the ground from the heat; dried flowers provide beauty in form; and brown is not an ugly color.  That’s a great spin for us all.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”  Walter Winchell

Autumn is Awesome

The cooler days and nights with highs in the 60’s has rejuvenated us all.  Plus a few misty days and overcast skies has relieved all plant life from being attacked by harsh sunlight.

So I’m taking a break from the Arkansas posts to show what’s happening in the yard.

fallyardbMost of the Bluemist Flowers have faded but these are full and fluffy – reminds me of tiny pompoms.

fallyard12Potted Bougainvillea’s colors have deepened and are a tropical delight to enjoy.

fallyard11Even the Russian Sage has more blooms.

fallyard10Some flowers are bravely hanging onto an old-fashioned Geranium.  Wind gusts have been high lately.

fallyard9Salvia Greggi in a pot provides bright color.

fallyard8Boston Ferns in the back with a large Kalanchoe in front are massed in a corner by the house.  In front is Coleus and an Airplane or Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

The Coleus came from cuttings from a friend.  I’ve already taken cuttings inside to create another pot next year.  They will root in water and still make a pretty decoration while doing so. Also, I may need them to start again next spring since I don’t know how well this will survive in the house this winter.

The Spider Plant has been in this pot for years.  They prefer to be root bound.  Everything in this picture was a pass along plant except the ferns.  And those come from the original two that I bought, which have been divided many times over the years.

fallyard7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has a few blooms.

fallyard6Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) has lost most of its leaves but still has some wonderful velvet blossoms.

fall2yard5The one I had last year did not make it through the winter.  So I’ve taken some cuttings and hope they will root in case a freeze does this one in.

fallyard2Gray Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea incana) still has a few flowers, which surprised me.  I consider this was a hot weather bloomer.

fallyard3This little bee was flitting back and forth searching for an open bud.  Since this picture was taken many flowers have opened.

fallyard4Gray santolina or lavender cotton (S. chamaecyparissus) has some interesting characteristics.  It grows tight with little space between its branches.  I like the rounded shape and love the soft texture of it.  There aren’t many plants that I touch as I pass by, but this is one.

fallyard1Cooper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) has its main blooming in late fall with a less spectacular blooming in the spring.  It is drought tolerant and one tough cookie once established.

fallyardThis daisy is a Texas native that is found only in nurseries that carry natives.  I found it at Natives of Texas in Kerrville.  An odd quirk of this plant is its smell.  It stinks and reminds me of kerosene.  That made for bit of a smelly car on the way home from Kerrville.  But a plus is that deer stay away from it.

Cool days, some rain, and long lasting flowers make autumn, when we have it, special.

“Autumn’s the mellow time.”   William Allingham