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

Golden Oldies

For me, spring is a time to welcome back old friends – reliable perennials, that is.  It might be a bulb or a bush that blooms or trees leafing out.  Or it might be a flower that seems magically to grow a stem, leaves, and then flowers.  Ain’t it grand.

Stella de Oro Daylily or Stella D’oro is sometimes demeaned as being too common.  But in my book, it’s a wonderful low growing bulb with gorgeous flowers.

We have weeded this bed since this picture was taken.  This year the strong winds have forced me to take pictures whenever I can.

Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa) is a small ornamental tree that grows to a height of 12 feet.  The multiple trunks have branches growing almost to the ground.  Last year we trimmed the lower branches off to making mowing around it easier.  Plus, I like the airy look.

This Texas native can also be found in New Mexico and northern Mexico.  The small leaves makes it an excellent tree for drier areas.

The one inch puffy balls are bright yellow when they first open up, but turn golden just before they fall off.

Larkspurs have been blooming for a couple of weeks, but the old fashioned Hollyhocks have just started.

Hollyhocks are not for formal gardens, but they always remind me of the gardeners who struggled through the depression and WWII.  They’re cheerful plants that don’t require much water and little attention.

They can develop rust, but that happens only in really wet years.

Henry Duelburg (purple) and Augusta Duelburg (white) Salvias (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) that are a form of Mealy Cup Sage and may be sold under that name.  These Texas natives thrive in South and Central Texas.

In our area, these are foolproof winners.  They are zone 7 cold hardy.

I would never have heard of French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris), except for receiving a passalong from a friend.  They are cold hardy to Zone 4a.

In spite of their hardiness, the flowers have a sweet daintiness look.

“Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason.”  Ronald Reagan

Blackberry Winter Over?

Hopefully, last week was the final throes of “Blackberry Winter”, the late cold snap that comes at the time when blackberries are blooming.

The Catalpa or Catawba tree has a very short window of looking good.  Its thin leaves are torn by wind and turn crisp on the edges from summer sun.

This tree is one of my bad choices that I’m living with.  But I don’t have the heart to chop it down.  It would probably survive better as an under story tree in our area.

Privet gets a bad rap in my opinion.  I know that it spreads easily in places that have much more rain than here and more fertile soil.  But that’s not a worry here.  The butterflies love the blooms, and I like the aroma and the arching branches.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii” vine has large purple blooms.  It comes from a grower in Surrey England in 1862.  He crossed two vines to produce this hardy version.

I took this picture because I like the elongated shape of Bur Oak leaves.  The huge acorns are another characteristic of this oak variety.

Bright Red Yucca’s towering stalks of blooms stand out in a landscape.  I think I went overboard on the size of the sign, but I still like it.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows well in semi dry soil and full sun.  It’s an evergreen that spreads.

This hardy yarrow was bought at a garden club plant sale.  The tight cluster of flowers top a stem full of lacy leaves.  The blooms also last a long time.

Summer is coming, so it’s time to enjoy these mild days of spring.

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

What’s Blooming and Growing in Cool Weather

Cool weather continues.  In fact, one day last week there was frost on the ground.  The world has gone wonky.

Katy Road Roses covering a six foot bush.  This rose was introduced in 1977 and was known in Texas as Katy Road because it was “found” on Katy Road in Houston.  It was actually developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the long, cold winters of the Midwest.  He named it Carefree Beauty.

Because this rose also does so well in the hot, dry summers of Texas, it was named the 2006 “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  The bush has several flushes of rich pink blooms from spring until frost.  Each flower produces a large orange rose hip.

So call it Katy Road or Carefree Beauty, it’s a great rose for the garden.

To the right side of the rose bush are Ox-Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare).  They can be aggressive but are so pretty, I think they’re worth it.

Maggie is an old Bourbon rose that blooms profusely.  It was “found” in Louidiana by Dr. William Welch of A&M and brought to Texas.  It’s a winner.

Another Bearded Iris to praise.  The solid dark purple ones are behind the purple and pale lavender ones.  I’m sure I didn’t plan that.  Just a happy accident.

These are so dark that they don’t photograph too well.

Artemisia is a plant that I think every large yard should have.  This one has been in a pot for years.  I have another one that is trying to take over a flowerbed.  To keep it in a space, simply cut off the runners.  They each have roots, so they can be potted and passed along.

To the left is native Yellow Columbine – very hardy perennial.

Artemisia has a slight silver tint and tends to be evergreen in our mild winters.  The softness of the foliage is amazing.

This Iris looks light lavender in this picture.  But in real life, it’s a true blue.  Adds a little magic to the garden.  Actually, all Irises provide elegance.

Hope you and your family are safe and well.  I pray especially for those who live in city apartments or any confined space with children and for those whose jobs have been affected by all the closings.  These times definitely call for patience.

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”  David G. Allen