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

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Indian Summer Blooms

Indian summer has struck again although this time of the year doesn’t follow the strict definition.  There has been no hard frost, yet.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac adheres to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer.”

It certainly feels like an Indian summer because we’ve enjoyed a spell of wonderful cool nights and days.  But now we are back in the grips of heat with highs in the low 90’s and harsh sun rays lashing out at us.

stillbloomingpThe purple Fall Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) came out when it turned cool.  Since they are hardy, maybe they will last for a while in spite of the heat.

stillbloomingrTheir color has faded.  While waiting for them to fill out with flowers, I sacrificed getting a picture with their deeper color.

Really must force myself to divide them after the last freeze next year.  That just happens to be when everything needs attention.

stillbloomingqA great autumn plant.

stillbloomingoThe Strawberry Fields Gomphera  (Gomphrena haageana) just keeps on shining.  One of my best purchases.

autumninpots3This Ice Plant is on a covered porch, but the late afternoon sun still shines on it.

autumninpots4Very heat hardy but dies in a freeze.  So some must be brought in for a start for next year.

autumninpots1The Autumn Sedum  (Sedum  spectabile ‘Brilliant’ Stonecrop) has started blooming, although the renewed summer weather has stopped that.

autumninpots2Maybe when it gets cool again, they will finish blooming.

autumninpotsAll of these pots are in the shade most of the day with a little afternoon light hitting them.

autumninpotspost6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)  is in a pot under a large Live Oak tree. So it is in the shadows all day but gets indirect light and seems very happy.

crownofthornsAnother Crown of Thorns is on a covered porch but gets lots of low late afternoon light.  It has flourished since the top was cut off which caused branching and a fuller plant .  The plant behind it is Oxalis.

Weather wishing doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying it.  I do want some of those cool days to return.

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Thomas Sowell

Blooming Now

Old friends return each year when perennials bloom.

oxalis2This Oxalis (Oxalis regnellii atropurpurea) has been in the same container for several years.  It dies down each winter, and I add some soil on the top in the spring before the plant returns and starts blooming.  Works for me.  So far, it’s okay with the plant.

oxalis5One of the characteristics of this plant is the three pronged pinwheel shape.  That’s the reason both the purple and the green varieties are nicknamed Shamrocks.

oxalis7Oxalis’ delicate pink flowers against the background of the purple leaves demand a second look.  Oxalis needs filtered light but no harsh direct sun.

balloonflowersBalloon flowers have grown in this spot for four or five years.  They don’t like to be transplanted, so it’s best to plant them where you want them to stay.  They are also well behaved, in that, they don’t stray into their neighbor’s territory.  Actually, I would like them to spread a little more and a little faster.

These get quite a bit of direct morning sun, but no afternoon sun.

gladvaseGladiolas of several shades of red, yellow, white, and light purple have provided many bouquets for the house.

gladThe white edging and the slightly different shape of this one confuses me.  Now, I can’t remember if I transplanted some, and they metamorphosed a little.  Or if someone gave me a different variety of bulbs.  Guess it doesn’t matter.  They are a nice little change.

“Think about a seed.  Once it lands, it’s stuck.  It can’t move to find better soil, moisture or sunlight.  It’s able to create every part of itself to grow and reproduce with the help of air, water and sun.”   David Suzuki