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

Utility Areas

Most all houses have them – those areas where gardening tools are stored or where the nitty gritty of potting, etc. are done.  Sometimes they’re screened off or hidden behind large shrubs, especially in towns or cities.

In the country, sometimes those storage places are placed at the edge of a yard or some distance from the house.

We have two identical sheds built at different times that serve gardening functions.  To make them somewhat a part of the landscape, there are some container plants around them.

Shown on the left is a pot of Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea) and Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) on the right.  Both of these are favorites because the color is bold, and both are so reliable.

Henry Duelberg, also known as Mealy Sage, is a hardy Texas native perennial.  Gomphrena, also known as Rio Grande globe amaranth, is an annual but reseeds freely.

The area around the sheds is bare ground.  On both sides of the concrete entrance to this shed, Gomphrena came up as volunteers.  The wind or birds brought the seeds from a flowerbed in the yard.

The Gomphrena has flourished here better than in the yard.  Obviously, their preference is for less water.

Several pots are displayed around the sheds.  Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetiiis) is growing in the center pot.

Blue Potato Bush or Paraguay Nightshade is an evergreen in South America.

Here, it’s proven to be a good perennial, even in a pot.  If the winter temps drop past the teens, that might not be the case.

Firebush (Hamelia patens) really is a tropical that has to be carried into the shed in the winter.  It can survive in lower Texas and never looks as lush here as it does there.

White flowered Rose Moss with White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) in a pot provides a nice blend of both plants.

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.  True power is sitting back and observing things with logic.  True power is restraint.  If words control you, that means every else can control you.  Breathe and allow things to pass.”  Warren Buffet

Discouraged by Summer?

Weary of summer?  I certainly am.  Every year the crispy plants and hot, hot temperatures make me question why I live in upper central Texas.  But then in winter, it all feels worth it.

Reliable perennials make gardening easier.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) doesn’t mind the heat as much as I do.  Being in the shade helps.

It just keeps on blooming and stretching out with stems growing longer and longer. It is a good ground cover and so easy to root in water.  So, I just share it with anyone who wants it.

I’ve heard the flowers called Moses in a basket.  This picture doesn’t show it, but it does look like the flower is nestled in a small little boat.

Year after year, Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) has come back in the same pot.  The plant has been in this pot for about 20 years.  Even though it’s called a fern, it is not a true fern.  It’s in the family of lilies and tulips.

Semi-shade or just morning sun makes this a happy camper.

And every year, tiny little flowers bloom.  These flowers turn into red berries that contain the seeds.

Obedience Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) doesn’t even begin to bloom until August.  This year it looks sparse.  I think a vine growing in it has hindered its success.

Greggii Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii)  just keeps on giving.  The butterflies continue to land there and feed away.  A must-have plant for gardeners desiring butterflies.

I’ll end with this reminder for us all:

“When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Count Your Many Blessings hymn

Pink Hues

Summertime’s heat and strong sun has taken a toll on plants.  It’s hard to keep everything watered.

However, these climbing rose bushes are hardy.

This one with pale pink flowers is an old fashioned or antique rose.

Crinums are some hardy bulbs.  They thrive in the southern part of the US.

Ellen Bosanquet Crinum Lilies grow from large bulbs that multiply freely.  Their deep, rich color is spectacular.  No care needed.  Just a little water, but bulbs have survived for years in abandoned home sites.

Perennial Dianthus ‘Raspberry Surprise’ is a joy to see each spring.  They also bloom all summer but do better in partial shade.

Even though this is a Texas Purple Sage, the flowers look more pink than purple to me.  It’s also called Texas Barometer Bush and Texas Silverleaf (Leucophyllum frutescens).  Some bushes do have a true purple color flower.

This sage can survive dry desert conditions, but It only blooms after a rain shower.  We had a quick one a few weeks ago.

When plants come up that I don’t recognize, it’s a mystery.  Maybe it’s my memory, but sometimes I’m sure that I did not plant that particular plant.

For instance, this flower growing close to the ground.  For weeks, I watched the deep dark purple foliage trying to guess what it was.  Then, voila, one morning this gorgeous flower appeared.

Certainly, it was a nice surprise but I like to put a name with a plant.  It certainly looks like a Rose Mallow.  An internet search makes me think that it’s a Hibiscus ‘Dark Mystery’ rose mallow.

Another surprise in this same flowerbed.  To the left are leaves from a Amaryllis.  At first I thought that’s what this was, but it’s definitely too hot for that, and there’s no foliage.

So I think it’s a Naked Lady.  A little research showed it to be a Naked Lady or Surprise Lily (Amaryllis Belladonna).  Aptly named.  The foliage dies and then the stem grows.  They bloom in the summer.  Mystery solved.  Since it’s a bulb, I guess I did plant it.  Crazy.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms.” unknown

Native and Adapted Plants

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas A&M Extension Agents have been on a mission for years.  They have been preaching about the benefits of native plants.  They also add that many plants have adapted well to our climate.

Native plants are winter hardy, evergreen, or spread seeds.  So that means they survive to grow and bloom in season.  Native also means that it grows naturally in your area.  However, many natives that are not in your immediate vicinity do well in your climate.

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) can be seen occasionally in our pastures.  But they are much more prolific further south.  But they survive our winters.

These look like tulips, but they open up more later in the morning.

Both of these plants were bought at the same time, but one flower is a deeper purple than the other one.  I’ve had both of these for several years.  Their seeds have not produced other plants.  Mystery.

There are vastly different regions in Texas.  Rainfall varies from 54 inches annual average in the east to 10 inches in the west.  Soils range from acidic to alkaline and from sand to clay to caliche to loam.  Winter temperatures, plus rainfall, and soils make native plants area specific.  Sometimes, I try to stretch it, but end up having too many pot plants to carry inside.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dudecandra) is one of those natives that pops up all over the yard.

A friend gave me seeds years ago.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads by underground rhizomes, but it’s fairly slow.  This has been here 10 or more years.

It’s surprising how well this thin leafed plant does in full sun or shade.

Love the turban flowers.

Iron Weed ((Veronia baldwinii fasciculata) seeds were given to me about 5 years ago.  So it also spreads slowly.

The blooms don’t last a long time.  They do grow in the ditches not too far away.

Sages are great performers in our area.  I have a flower bed full of Henry Duelburg Salvia or Mealycup Sage (Saliva farinacea).  The wind blew some seeds into a field nearby, so I dug them up and put them in several pots.  Some were taken to a club plant sale.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a Texas native.  However, the ones I’ve noticed around here are not as large as the ones I have bought.  Pollinators love this plant.

Passion Vine is also a Texas native.  Don’t think they grow naturally in our area but are well-adapted.

It actually has a tropical look.

Gregg’ Mistflower, more commonly known as Blue Mistflower, (Conoclinium greggii) is a Texas native that grows gangbusters here.  To the left is Mexican Petunia that is so well adapted that it’s invasive.

One of the best plants to attract butterflies is Bluemist Flower.

There are many, many more Texas natives that do well in a home landscape.  If chosen carefully, they can be successful and bring beauty to the yard.

”When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”  Chief Tecumseh

Red Hot

High temperatures have finally arrived.  So thankful for the mild June we had.  But, of course, it is July.  So we’re due for heat.

Backdraft Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia hybrid) by Proven Winners makes a bold statement.

These are not particular about soil and are fairly drought tolerant.

The flowers last a pretty long time.  Each clump produces several stems.

The red balls are Strawberry Fields Gomphrena or Amaranth (Gomphrena haageana).  Their bold color provides some oomph to the yard.  These are great re-seeders.

Black Diamond Crapemyrtle with its black leaves makes a good backdrop for green foliage.

Texas Mahonia (Mahonia B. swaseyi) with its red and orange red berries fits right in with the other colors and pulls it all together.  Not really planned that way – just a lucky accident.

Frans Hals Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Frans Hals’) is blooming.  It’s one of the shorter stemmed daylilies.  Like the bold colors.

Atom Gladiolus are shorter than most gladiolas, so they don’t fall over as much.  The flowers are also smaller.  But the silver white outline around the petals give then a unique look.

Good old fashioned Canna Lilies given to me by a friend years ago.  They slowly multiply and are dependable to bloom every year.  These are at the outer edge of the yard and don’t get much water and certainly no care.

Happy Independence Day – July the 4th.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela

Blooms before Blast

It’s coming.  We all know it’s coming.  That blazing inferno that we call “summer” will descend any day now.  So far, June has been mild and a joy.  The yard is full of flowers.

Rock Rose (Patonia lasipotela) is one of my favorite Texas native flowering bushes.  For some reason, I cannot get a really good picture of the whole bush.  The sun, whether early or late, bleaches out color and detail.

Covered with dainty hibiscus-like flowers , it grows in full sun and stands up well to the harsh light.  What a great perennial.

A tall border of Rose of Sharon or Althea on the east side of the yard blooms all summer long until the first freeze.  They are about 10 to 11 ft. tall with a spread of about 6 ft.

Their flowers are stunning but not a rose.  Growing up in West Texas, I was unfamiliar with hibiscus.  Now I get to have all these flowers that resemble the exotic hibiscus.

A website reports that young leaves can be eaten and that the flowers and leaves can be brewed as a tea.  Not saying that I would try that.

Native to China, it gets thumbs up here.

This David Austin rose has his trademark rose center.  Although it continues to produce gorgeous flowers, the foliage looks pitiful.  It’s practically a barren bush with pretty roses.  Not sure what’s wrong.

Another Rose of Sharon with very different flowers.  It also has a more upright column look.

This year there are more flowers than usual.

The leaves look like the other Rose of Sharon but the flowers don’t.

Also a sign of summer, this grasshopper munches on an Mr. Lincoln rose.

Blue Mist Flower covered a large section of this flower bed.  But the native Bermuda grass was choking it out.  So last fall, we dug up the plants and as many grass roots as we could get. We covered the whole area with a heavy coat of mulch.

Then we transplanted the Blue Mist into metal planters.

Viceroy Butterflies feed on Blue Mist all summer long.  Now, if we can just keep the grass from growing here.  That’s a lifelong struggle.

Hope you are enjoying these mild days of June.

“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”    James Dewar

Easy Peasy and Hardy

Plant choice is one of the basic principles of success in the garden.  Research and observing what does well in your area can be fun and helpful.

Crape Myrtles do really well in upper central Texas.  These are the first blooms of the season on  Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia fauriei x indica),               which is one of the tallest varieties.  It can reach 30 feet.  In 8 years, it is already about 10 ft., so this picture is taken looking up.

It was named in honor of Bill Basham, who worked for the city of Houston as a horticulturist in the 1970’s.

Vitex or Chaste (Vitex agnus-castus) woody shrubs or small trees thrive in our hot summers.  This one is growing in a flower bed, so it’s full on the bottom.

Abuzz with bees when in bloom.

The blooms are Texas’ answer to Lilacs.

This Vitex in the back yard must be mowed around, so it’s trimmed in close at the bottom.  The branches of both bushes are pruned at the top to keep it’s size fairly compact.  It can get leggy and unattractive if not pruned in late fall.

This is a different variety from the Vitex in the front yard.  Most are not specifically labeled at nurseries naming the type of Vitex, so it’s a guessing game.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) are very hardy here.  Maintenance consists of dividing the clumps every few years.

A wonderful perennial that adds brightness to borders of flowerbeds.

In a field across the driveway, we seeded wildflowers last fall.

One of my favorite ones that is successful here is American Basket Flowers (Plectocephalus americanus).  Buds may look like thistles, but Basket flower stems are not prickly.

Like most wildflowers, it reseeds very well.

Horse Mint or Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodoraCerv. ex Lag.) and Coreopsis are happy in this area.

Not all Texas wildflowers do well in every part of Texas.  Our property also has Prairie Verbena, Snow on the Mountain, and Indian Blankets.  In some years when there is more rain, Texas Bluebells can be seen.

Of course, all of these wildflowers are very drought tolerant.

If you’re like me, part of the fun is reading and hearing about plants.  And, of course, shopping for them at local plant sales and privately owned nurseries.

“Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”  Lori Deschene

Summer’s Heat is Coming

The fiery dragon is moving in closer with flames of heat not too far away.  Can feel him breathing down our necks.  Spring was just a brief hiatus.

Another picture of Eyeliner Lilies.  There was a close-up on my last post.  I’m so impressed with their height and sturdiness. What beauties.

Also, another shot of the Ditch Lilies with a mass of color.

Grey Santolina or Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) sports bright yellow button flowers.

A squirrel has discovered the treasure trove of acorns in the yard.  The extra large acorns laying on the ground from two Bur Oaks are providing many feasts.

Shasta Daisies are just staring to bloom.  Something else that needs to be divided.  That’s just part of being a gardener.  As I tell my husband, it’s an opportunity to stay limber, busy, and healthy.

The thing about daylilies is just that – they last one day.  But they will bloom again and again.  The flowers of “Always Afternoon” Daylily are large and striking.

Native Blue Mist or Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) leafs out and blooms in late spring.  It’s one hardy bush with cold hardiness in zones 5 – 9.

This Yellow Canna has little flecks of gold on the yellow petals.

It’s warm enough for “Bubba” Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) to bloom and for sweat on the brow when laboring in the sun.  Their orchid-like flowers are a refreshing sight.

Hope you are healthy as you survive this isolation time.  Maybe it will be ending soon.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”         John Wooden

Lilies and More

Here we are – still isolated, same as you.  One plus from all this time at home is more time to spend outside and to get some work done.

Now for some lilies:  this Apricot Fudge Lily was planted last year.  The stem on this double Asiatic lily with apricot flowers should be taller next year.

Return star – second year of Eyeliner Lily has brought a taller plant and more flowers.

Its lovely crisp flowers last several days.  A breeder in Holland created this hybrid between an Asiatic Lily and the Easter Lily.

Good old Ditch Lilies were planted 14 years ago and perform every year without fail.

Perennial Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) on tall stems add texture diversity.

Before they open, they’re encased in a rounded pod with a point at the top.  This one looks like a pixie with a hat.

I just can’t help myself from showing roses.  Brilliant Veranda is a small bush that does well in a pot.  I had it in a pot for 3 years, but fire ants loved to hang out there.  So last year, it was moved to a bed.  The color is just like the name says – brilliant.

This Astible was a mail order plant that arrived last year while we were out of town.  It didn’t look like it would survive, so I hastily put it in this pot.  It will be moved to an area that gets some shade and receives regular water.

Native perennial Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) keep filling in spaces.  However, they aren’t taking my suggestion to grow into the area in the bottom right of the picture.  Just got to be patience.

They prefer rocky, well-drained soil and do not like clay.  Inour raised bed, the soil has been amended and is looser than clay, so they’re happy.

Although I’ve never been able to see them, four dark purple veins are supposed to be clearly visible on both sides of the ray.

Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is in full bloom.

It’s unique blossoms draws everyone in for a closer look.  This bush was planted way too close to the house and leans out for light.  The rope ties it to the stake to keep it somewhat upright.

“In the blink of an eye your life can change.  Be sure to make the most out of each moment.  Today is a gift from God.”  Matt McMillen