Old Reliables

One of the great things about old friends is that they love you in spite of your flaws.  I feel the same way about plants that I can depend on.

Privet bushes (Ligustrum vulgare) are invasive in the southeastern U.S. and are much maligned by horticulturists.  But here, in our hard, rocky clay, they just survive.

In early spring, they flower heavily and provide a wonderful aroma.

This bush has been here about four years, so at some future date, I may have to eat my words.  But, for now, we are enjoying it.

And so are the butterflies.

Strong scent attracts Painted Lady butterflies.

We have been dragging the same two pots of Asparagus Fern in and out of sheds for over thirty years.  Actually, the roots would probably survive outside in the winter, but it takes a long time for the sprigs to grow back out and look nice.

At one time, I had some in hanging baskets, but that required diligent watering.

It is interesting that they aren’t really ferns but are in the lily family.

For several years, Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) Whirling Butterflies has been blooming in our yard.  I must admit that they are becoming aggressive but are fairly easy to dig up.  They haven’t yet jumped out of the flower bed where they were planted.

I also like them in pots that can be moved around the yard.  They will return after the winter, even in pots.

Dianthus will return for several years but will eventually die out.  They are lovely little flowers.

This pot came from my mother’s yard.  At 97, she recently moved into assisted living.

Another Amarylis just bloomed.  This one is in the ground.  Even though this one isn’t quite as pretty as the last one I showed, I do like the short stem.

As I’ve said before, bulb flowers just keep on giving.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are starting to bloom.  Year before last, they were divided and spread out into two different beds.  This year they have regained their fullness and filled in nicely.  Shastas are a good investment because they are reliable, add a bright clean look, and the clumps can be divided.

The Mexican Feather Grass behind them adds graceful movement.

“America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.”
David Letterman

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High and Low

It’s easy to miss the little beauties on the ground and those above us.

highlowIron Weed (Vernonia altissima) is a native that grows in bar ditches around here.  I gathered seeds and put them in a pot.  This one has done so so in a container but really should be sown in the grown.

The flower clusters are small but a bunch of them is eye catching.

Normally, it blooms in late spring and summer, but the cooler weather has revived it.

highlow1Up above my head Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) from the Mediterranean region has a similar climate to ours.  The flowers stand out silhouetted against the blue sky.

highlow5Native Yarrow (Achillea) provides a casual look to the garden.  In this case, I’m hoping it will spread and provide shade for the ‘feet’ of a Clematis.

Native Americans used ground yarrow boiled in water and cooled as a wash to treat sunburns.

highlow2The berries on a Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) draws my eyes upward.  This tree is a good choice for our area because it is pest free with a hardwood that is decay resistant.  It was chosen as a Texas Super Star tree for many reasons.  This great shade tree that has autumn color is one of my favorite trees.

highlow8After the heat of the summer passed, Cone flowers have popped back up.  I’m not sure which Echinacea variety this one is.

The stems are shorter this time around than the earlier spring ones.  Love these.

highlow9But a warning.  These reseed to produce a massive array.  It’s not possible to have just a few.

highlowdReally like the unusual color of these Geraniums.  The red flowers have a pink strip on each petal.  This came from my mother’s house.  Right now it needs a little TLC but still very nice.

highlow3Looking straight up, the Crossvine (bignonia capreolata) has started to crawl across the top bars of the arbor.  It’s nice when plants follow the plan.

highlow4A great vine for pollinators.

highlowfA sort of whirly jig: the wheels spin on this truck on a pole.

highlowbShasta Daisies ( Leucanthemum × superbumare) are also blooming again.  Most people enjoy their familiar and clean look.

Don’t you love the signs of fall and the cooler temperatures?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”  Ronald Reagan

Pure White Flowers

The rains have stopped and the sun is out.  Now we get to enjoy the results of our unusual rainfall: 14 inches in May.  Woohoo!  Blooming flowers bring a special beauty to the whole outdoors.

We were one of the fortunate ones to receive enough rain to fill tanks and creeks, but not so much that there was destructive flooding.  Our hearts go out to those in other parts of Texas still suffering lost of loved ones, property, and everything they had.

white4This White Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’) is just starting to bloom after its stay in the shed over the winter.  It’s also known as Cape Leadwort.  Sometimes common plant names are just plain funny.

bloomingnow9I’ve wanted a Datura (Datura wrightii) for a few years and found one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at their spring plant sale.  They require mostly shade, so the only place I have is under a large Live Oak tree at the back of the backyard.  So vigilance is required to see it bloom.

bloomingnowaThe common name is Angel’s Trumpet, along with Moonflower.  Several other plants are also called Moonflower.  They are part of ‘witches’ weeds’ because they are poisonous.  Hence, they could be used to create a deadly potion.

Other names include Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple, and Stinkweed.

bloomingnow8Datura was used as a narcotic for American Indian religious ceremonies.

Although it sounds scary, it’s pretty and safe if there are no young children or pets that would chew on it.

bloomingnowlShasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) brighten up a flowerbed.  It is a hybrid created by an American horticulturist in 1890.

bloomingnowkShastas grow in a clump and should be divided every 2 to 3 years.  That’s on my to-do list this year when the bloom period is over.  They need full sun and survive very well in zones 4 – 9, even in our lousy caliche clay.

bloomingnowzPollinators flock to them.  Although I’m not very good at identifying butterflies, this looks like a Common Buckeye.

bloomingnowzz

bloomingnowzzzJust love the bright freshness of daisies.

“When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.”      Mark Batterson

Robust Flower Bed

Still have the same dilemma that I always have when planting.  Beds usually become too crowded because the plants get bigger than I imagined they would.  Or there is too much space around the plants.

frontbedhjpgThis bed is visible from the front porch and front windows.

frontbeddI like the colors and the plants individually but overall design needs work.

frontbedbThe yellow border is made up of Stonecrop Sedum.  From a small start taken from my mother’s yard, I have scattered it around in several beds.  This year I put some around the edge of one end of this bed to create a border.

The positive characteristics of this sedum is that it roots and spreads quickly, is drought tolerant, and covers nicely.

frontbed8As soon as summer heats up, the yellow will disappear and leave tall dead stems that will need to be cut off, unless they don’t bother you.  The green will become a dull greyish green.  So it’s not a perfect plant.

frontbedcThis is the first Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) I’ve had that is covered in blooms with a bright orange color.  I have two others in a different bed that look pretty bland.

This plant seems misnamed because it doesn’t attract butterflies like other plants that grow nearby.

frontyard614uIn front of the Butterfly Weed Bush is a native Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) that has filled out this year.  A friend assured me that I would like it when she gave it to me.  And she’s right even though the blooms are not large.

frontbed1These Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum) have spread and bloomed like crazy this year.  These were also a pass-along from a friend.

frontbedNot sure which specific Gomphera these are, but they are a neon magenta color.  I planted them because I didn’t think last year’s Gomphera were coming back.

frontbedmThe Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) have gotten leggy this year, so they are susceptible to being trampled by whatever creatures stomp through them at night.

Some interesting facts about Texas Bluebells:
The Japanese have been breeding them for over 70 years and know them as Lisianthus.  They have developed pink, white and deep purple varieties with both single and double petals.

Texas Bluebells are little known now because they are so pretty.  People have picked them so much that the native flowers haven’t been able to reseed in the wild.

frontbed7Bluebell are delicate looking flowers but are hardy in nature, if left alone.

frontbedkThis monster just keeps growing.  If it didn’t die in the winter, it might just take over the yard.  I don’t remember what it is, but it was bought at a Lady Bird Johnson Center sale, so it’s a native.

frontbedlSandwiched between that plant on the left and the Cone Flowers on the right is another mystery plant.  I don’t think I planted it, but it grew here last year, too.  I keep waiting for it to bloom hoping to identify it.  The leaves look like those of a mum.  If it doesn’t bloom this year, it’s out of here.

frontbedjThe Cone Flowers(Echinacea) did a great job of reseeding because many more are coming up.  The Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) with the red flowers did return but apparently did not seed.  I’m still hoping that some of those seeds will set for next year.

frontbedaLove the look and color of these Coneflowers.

frontbediThe Blue Curls bush (Phacelia congesta) also is growing like a weed.

frontbed9The Blue Curls flowers on stalks are a soft muted purple.

frontbednIn fact, the bush has gotten so big that the wind whirligig won’t move.

frontbed4The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) also is jammed up against a bush.  Small clumps came up all around the original plants.  I have moved several to get a fuller look at this end of the bed, but some four legged varmits keep digging them up.

Makes me wonder if I’ll ever get it right.  I like a nice full look, but not this crowded.

frontbedfLast year three small Strawberry Fields Gompheras (Gompherena haageana) were planted here.  I asked the man at the nursery if they would reseed.  He said “Maybe.”

This year I had given up hope but the other day noticed the mass of tiny plants.

frontbedfgjpgThey are already blooming and getting their height.  So I have plenty of Gompheras to share.

Guess I’ll keep muddling along trying to get the look I want in the flower beds.

“The biggest lie I tell myself is “I don’t need to write that down.  I’ll remember it.'”  Unknown

White Petals

One of the trends in gardening now is “white gardens”.  All the shrubs in one area are green.  The only flowers in that area are white.  The gardens tend to have geometric shapes and be rather formal.  That’s just not my taste.

daisyBut I do like a cluster of white flowers in a flowerbed.  These were labeled Shasta Daisies when I bought them, but they look like some Ox Eye Daisies that a friend gave me a couple of years ago.  So I don’t know for sure what kind of daisy these are.

daisy2What a bright and happy flower.  Their blooms last for days.  Why are  daisies and roses considered old fashioned?  Sure, our grandmothers liked them, but so do I.

rainlilliesRecent rains brought out the Rain Lilies (Cooperia pedunculata).  Their tiny heads pop up on a  5 to 9″ stem above the grass.   Here briefly, then gone.

whitepopAnd out in the field there are White Prickly Poppies (Argemone albiflora subsp. texana) scattered here and there.  The large 4″ flowers blooms appear daily over a long blooming time, from March to October.

whitepoppyTheir rice paper thin petals fold up in the evening.  The flower itself is about 4″ across.  By nighttime, there’s not a trace of a flower on the stems.

whitepoppAn assortment of insects enjoy the pollen as the wind ruffles the flower petals.What a contrast between the light airy petals and the harsh, sharp greyish greenery.  The stems and leaves are so prickly that even cattle won’t eat them.

When writing this, it surprised me to realize that I don’t have many white flowers in my yard.

“We suffer most when the White House busts with ideas.”  Henry Louis Mecken