Gray/Silver Foliage

When I think of my favorite plants, flowers always come to mind.  But there are advantages to more muted plants.

Dusty Miller or Silver Dust (Centaurea Cineraria) originates from an island off of Italy.  It’s an old fashioned plant grown in the thirties, forties, and fifties by rural people.

Silver gray plants provide a shimmer or cool calmness to the landscape.  This one was bought in the spring and has exploded.  Many plants with gray foliage, including Dusty Miller, grow well in full sun.

The individual leaves are not that striking.

But when silver/gray plants are framed by a background of dark green, an interesting contrast occurs.  Sunlight lights up the silver color and makes them a focal point.

Globe mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) has round, cupped orange flowers in the spring.  But its foliage is also worthy of attention.

Its ruffled leaves have a different form than most gray plants.

Native to the drier regions of North and South America, in the Southwest of the U.S., sheep and goats graze on them.

When purchased, this was labeled Prairie Sage, but I haven’t been able to positively identify it.  It doesn’t bloom, has a tendency to flop down from the middle, and keeps most of its foliage during the winter.

The silver color is attractive but not sure I would recommend it.

This was given to me, unidentified.

Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is aromatic and has a wonderful soft texture.  My only compliant is that it tends to become misshapen.

But I do love the look and touch of it.

My favorite silver/gray plant is Powis Castle Artemisia (Artemisia arborescens x absinthium) because it is soft, hardy, and can grow in sun or filtered sun, although I think it does better in mostly sun.

A versatile plant that fits in most landscapes.  This one is in a pot, but it does well in the ground.

This is not an extensive list of gray plants, just some that I have grown.

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”  Arthur YorinksSave

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Eden

A small town in the midst of scrub brush in flat West Texas has a garden, which was the result of one man’s labor.

eden01The Garden of Eden has some surprising elements.  It’s been two years since I last visited, and it has changed some.

eden1A large plastic tank has recycling water – nice soothing sound.

eden2An old milk can is used as the spout vessel.  I’m surprised that it hasn’t rusted out.

eden3Flame Acanthus (Aniscanthus quadrifidus var. quadrifidus var. wrightii) is scattered throughout the garden.  Once established, it’s very hardy.

eden4No surprise that hummingbirds and butterflies visit the tubular flowers.  It is drought tolerant and even does well in poor soils.

eden5Coral Honeysuckle or Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has become a bramble beside the metal archway where it was originally trained to grow.

eden7A banana tree growing in West Texas.  Hard to believe that it can withstand the dry heat or the winter temperatures.  Yet, here it is producing bananas.

eden6This was a volunteer plant that came up and no one has been able to identify it.

eden8Lots of pretty grasses.  Although many ornamental grasses last only one year, this one must be perennial.

edenaNative Morning Glory grabs hold of lots of bushes and intertwines in the stems and leaves.  Here it is growing among Mexican Petunias.

edenbThe yellow flowers are Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans), which is a beloved plant that is native to far West Texas in the Big Bend area.  It is a tall shrub with gorgeous flowers that is drought tolerant and abides limestone soils.

However, cold winters have done mine in.  But I keep trying to save one.

eden02Although this garden has been turned over to the city and depends on volunteers for maintenance, the man who planted it is still very much involved.

edencTypical agave with Mexican Petunias behind them.  Agaves are not all that cold hardy, so I’m surprised to see them here.

edendTangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolate ‘Tangerine Beauty’) is a perfect fit for this part of Texas.  It is cold hardy, endures the hot summers, and is pretty, to boot.

edeneTexas Sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum) is a common sight in pastures and is extremely hardy.  It has sharp edges, so it should not be planted close to walkways.

edenfAnother hardy plant, Salvia Greggii Red Sage has a pleasant scent, especially when brushed as one passes by it.  It is a semi woody plant that is native to Texas and Mexico.  It thrives in the heat but does not tolerant wet feet.

edengAs a soft plant for touching, Artemesia in the Mugwort family is a wonderful choice.  They are grown for their silvery-green foliage and for their wonderful aroma.

edenhMore Yellow Bells

edeniFour O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) were grown by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.  They spread profusely.  Where each black seed falls, a new plant will spring up.  The seeds can be seen in the picture where spend flowers have fallen.

edenjPalo Verde Trees (Parkinsonia aculeata) are desert trees that have pretty yellow flowers in the spring.  Maybe the mild winters the last few years have allowed this one to get a foothold.
edenkA clever tin man that I would like to duplicate but finding the right size cans could be a problem.

Although most of the plants in this garden are what one would expect to see in this area, it seems lush with the paths winding through tall shrubs and full plantings.

“Knowledge is knowing what to say.  Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”  unknown

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Focus on Foliage

My passion is flowers, but sometime I buy plants solely for their foliage.

grayDusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)  is what I consider an old fashioned plant because my grandmother always had one.  This one has struggled in a pot and really should be in the ground.  It originates in the Mediterranean area, so does well in our climate.

gray2Artemisia (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’) is a wonderful bush with soft leaves.  It, too, does better in the ground, although this one has lived in this pot for six years.

foliagefPrairie Sage (Artemisia Ludoviciana) is also known as silver wormwood, western mugwort, Louisiana wormwood, white sagebrush, and gray sagewort.

The name comes from Artemisia. wife of Mausolus, ancient king of Caria.  Ludoviciana is from the latin form meaning “of Louisiana” and probably refers to St. Louis, since it’s close to prairieland.

foliagegPrairie Sage grows throughout the Grass Prairie Region.  It can grow to 40 inches in height and prefers disturbed areas along roads and railways, dry areas on rocky, sandy or gravelly loams.

The plan was for a small bush, but it’s only two years old.  Another time when I should have read the small print.

foliagehMine is in full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade.

foliagedI buy a lot of native plants at the annual spring plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Center.  Sometimes I get one that isn’t labeled.  I thought I was buying Joe Pyle Weed but this certainly doesn’t match the pictures on the internet.

foliageeThis reaches 6 feet and is about four feet wide.  Not what I had in mind.

foliage1It doesn’t bloom but has a nice a shape in the winter because its long branches come from the center and form a water sprinkler shape.  In February, I cut it back to the ground.

If anyone knows what this is, please let me know.

foliage3Woodland Fern does well in the shade here although it had gotten rather sparse after nine years.  So I plugged in two additional plants this year for fullness.

foliage4gray3Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) was an impulse buy six years ago from a booth at a small town fair.  I didn’t expect it to get so big.  Transplanting it into a larger pot takes two people and some finesse.

foliageaThe curls gives it an unusual look.

foliagecEvery edge is covered with sharp barbs.  I’ve backed into it a few times and have to carefully extricate my clothing.

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.  Unless there are three other people.” Orson Welles

Porch Sitting

Porch sitting is an American past time, especially this time of the year.  But enjoying the outdoors gathered with friends is not unique to the US of A.  Think about Paris cafes, Aussies and their barbies, campfires outside of yurts in Asia and thatched homes in Africa, and picnics just about anywhere.

frontyard614iOutside decorating has become an art form.  While I don’t have that skill, I do like plants just about anywhere outside.

By the front porch are some pots that have some perennials and some annuals for color.  Truthfully, I leave whatever survived the winter and then fill in with annuals.

The large pot on the left has some Artemisia that has been there several years.  To that, Coleus and Impatiens (Vincas) were added.

The right back pot has some Yellow Columbine that ended up there by wind or was carried by birds.  In the pot in front of it is Autumn Sedum, that thankfully, made it through all that cold this past winter.

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frontyard614z3The late evening sun makes the Coleus glow.

frontporch2Beside that grouping of pots is this Asparagus Fern that is over 24 years old.

frontyard614z2At the other end of the porch is this white pot.  You can see a little green on top.

In the background is another Asparagus Fern.

frontyard614yEvery year I get impatient for the Rose Moss to come out.  Sometimes I even go buy other plants to put in this pot.  This year I’m determined to wait for it to fill out and bloom.

frontporchLooking back to the corner are three pots of Boston Fern.  These are also 24 years old.  Who would keep plants that long or even care?  An old lady, I guess.

The deer horns in the wagon weren’t really planned.  It just seems that when anyone finds horns in the pastures, they get deposited here or on a table on the back porch.

frontporch1The Boston Ferns have been divided many times.  In fact, there are three other pots around the house in other places.  Some have been given away, but most people aren’t interested in storing a big pot in the winter.

frontporch3This bunny pot holds an heirloom Geranium.  It must not be getting enough sun and needs to be moved.  I really like the bunny but can’t seem to find the right size pot for it.

Hope you have some time this summer for some serious porch sitting with friends and family to laugh and enjoy each other or for some alone time to spend in quiet contentment.

“Doing nothing is very hard to do.  You never know when you’re finished.”  Unknown

Day Trip

Remember when an afternoon drive in the country was a major form of entertainment?  Since we live in the country, we now drive to the city for a change of pace.  Recently, we spent a day in Waco.  Now when we lived in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, we didn’t even consider Waco a city.  But it has grown and our definition of city has changed.

eastterracehouseHistoric Waco Foundation has four homes open to the public on a staggered monthly schedule during the year.  We visited the East Terrace home of industrialist J. W. Mann.  It was built in 1872 with additions in 1880 and 1884.  It is named for the terraces from the house down to the Brazos River in front of the house.

The house is quite large and was known for the first indoor bathroom in the community and for miles away.

eastterracehouse2The Mann family had the house built and were the only ones to ever occupy it.  After their deaths, the house fell into disrepair.  The city managed the renovation after it was deeded to them.  Much of the original furniture was still in homes in the surrounding area.  People donated it back to the Foundation.

A personal guided tour by a knowledgeable docent gave information about the history and life during that time period.

The Dr. Pepper museum in downtown Waco was the next stop.  The displays provide details about the discovery and early marketing of products.  An exhibit of large photographs depicts the devastation of the 1953 tornado in downtown Waco.  This museum, too, is worth a visit.

carleenbright.4jpgThe Carleen Bright Arboretum in the suburb of Woodway is a quiet, small garden in a neighborhood setting.  Since we were the only ones wandering around, it was very quiet.

carleenbright.2jpgAt the perimeter of the garden area was a nature trail.carleenbright.3jpgThe trail meandered around to a small creek.  A one point, there was a steep drop off.

carleenbright.7jpgThe arboretum area itself is small – less than six acres.  It all seems like a work in progress.  There is a new large meeting hall for weddings and other events.

carleenbright.6jpgcarleenbright.5jpgThere was not a large variety of plants.  There were several large plantings of Artemisia, which does well in the summer heat if it doesn’t get too much direct sunlight.carleenbright.8jpgThe Dinner Plate Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) were lovely.

carleenbright.9jpgcarleenbright.10jpgSeveral bushes of different colors of Hibiscus were planted side by side.

carleenbright.12jpgcarleenbright.11jpgPride of Barbados, the national flower of the island of Barbados, has become a very popular plant in Texas.  Both locations have the summer heat and sun.  However, the parts of Texas that have that hot summer can also have cold winters.  So, often, the Pride of Barbados dies when it freezes.

carleenbright.13jpgSurprisingly, some Daylilies were still blooming.

carleenbrightColeen Bright Arboretum was a nice peaceful stop.

Our final stop of the day was the Waco Mammoth Site.  This is a major find of Columbian Mammoths, named for Christopher C. in the US.  Since the discovery of the first bone in 1978, it has taken many years for further excavation and the construction of a museum site.  There are still many areas that require more digging.

Inside a large display building is the dig site.  Bones in situ provide visitors with a realistic view of the find.  The Columbian Mammoths were about two feet taller than the Wooly Mammoths.  The life size painting on a wall gives perspective to the unearthed bones.               www.wacomammoth.com

All in all, a very nice getaway day.

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”  John Burroughs