Popping Up

It’s a time of hope and joy.  I could get discouraged about all the work that needs to be done outside.  But, instead, I’m excited to see the coming beauty.

Even if all the work doesn’t get done, the flowers will bloom.

This is an exciting time when new leaves pop up.  That means flowers won’t be far behind.  There are both Crimson Pirate Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) and Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) in this bed.

Since Daffodils are the first bulb flowers to open here, they’re probably need the end of their show now.

The thing about Daffodils is that they grow so low to the ground and droop slightly, so it’s hard to really see their faces.  So bend down or get on your knees to fully appreciate them.  Yes, it is hard for me, too, to get on my knees.

There are two flowerbeds filled with Ditch Lilies greenery.  What a long lasting show they will put one.

All ornamental bulb plants have leaves that store their food during dormant periods, like winter.  So the foliage should not be cut off until they dry completely at the end of their blooming season.

Three Byzantine Gladiolus(Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus) bulbs were planted last October.  These are new for me, and I can’t wait to see them.  They are native to the Mediterranean area, so they love heat.

These were ordered from Old House Gardens, a family business in Michigan.  I’m pretty careful where I order plants from.  So although this company is far north, they have proven reliable.  They inform me if I order something that won’t grow here, and they contract out growing certain bulbs in some places in the south.  Their emails are fun as well as informational about what to plant at a certain time and what they have for sale.

Crinum Lily bulbs are very large (these were about 6 – 7 inches across) and difficult to dig up.  They can get large enough to weight 20 pounds.  Years ago three were planted close to the house for winter protection.  They have done very well and multiplied many times.  They needed to be dug up and separated but seemed like daunting task.

A new telephone fiber line going in that area forced me to perform that task.  So many were dug up quickly one evening and put in pots.  Some were damaged but I think they all will survive.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.  Crinums are worth it to me.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are low growing beauties with yellow blooms.

One of the great things about bulbs is that they’re such a nice surprise each spring.  I forgot that these Hyacinths were in this bed.

And I certainly don’t remember moving this one to this spot.

Each year I put off dividing these Ornamental Onions.  This year it’s a must job.  I need plants for two garden club plant sales, so that is my incentive.  As they say, just get ‘er done.

I have reblooming Irises all over the yard and love how their colors enrich each spot.

I’m a huge fan of bulbs.  I love how consistent and reliable they are, their gorgeous flowers and the anticipation they provide.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  Alexander Den Heijer

Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa

Reliable Perennials Perform Over and Over

Cooler mornings and evenings means a few hours to work or relax outside comfortably.

The plants must also appreciate a break from the heat.

This bed of Henry Duelburg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is always abuzz with hungry bees.  It is also sold under the name Blue Mealy Cup Sage.

What a wonderful, rewarding perennial.  Every year it blooms and blooms.

It is so hardy that it’s known as the cemetery sage.  For good reason, it was chosen as a Texas Superstar plant.

It’s almost impossible to point the camera and not get a picture of a bee.  I think these are bumble bees since they never bother me.

One last shot.  This salvia, like most, does spread.  But, in this case, I consider that a plus.

It’s also easy to transplant.  I dug some of the Augusta Duelberg (Salvia farinacea ‘Augusta Deulberg’), with white flowers up and put them in this pot.

Some other reliable perennials are Turk’s Cap on the left, Salvia Greggi on the right, and Rose of Sharon in the background.

This year, the orange Ditch Daylilies have made a reblooming curtain call.  My two larger beds of these lilies are all blooming.  Crazy.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads to a large mass that deserves loud applause.  Hummingbirds and butterflies love it.

Garlic foliage and flowers on tall stems move gracefully in the wind.  Not sure if these are just ornamental or also edible.  Just got them for the flowers.

Only kind of grasshopper I like are those that don’t destroy plants.  Behind this pot are Coral Drift Roses.

Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans) is drought tolerant and grows well in limestone soils.  So it seems perfect for my location.

The problem is that it sometimes freezes and doesn’t return.  The cold hardiness for Yellow Bells is zone 9.  I live in zone 7b.  So this past winter, I cut it to the ground, piled up mulch, and turned a ceramic pot over it.  Hooray.  It made it.  But it has been extremely slow to get any height and flowers this year.  So I guess there will be a repeat performance this winter to protect it.

“Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom and no one would have noticed.”  Karl MarxSave

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What’s That?

Still hot, but it’s August.

Now to the topic:  figuring out mysteries in the garden.

Looking through all my resources and the internet, this one is still an unsolved identification.  It came up in a flowerbed this year.  It’s spindly, about two feet tall but leaning over, sparse leaves with white and pink somewhat aster flowers.

Pretty in a wildflower way.  Anyone know what it is?

A couple of these plants came up in the Wood Fern bed.  I dug them up and potted them before they bloomed.  Then I searched for what they are.  The closest match is Wild Cowpea (Vigna luteola) in the bean family.

According to Wildflowers of Texas, Wild Cowpeas bloom most profusely in the fall months.  Many insects are attracted to its pollen and nectar.

“Strange as it seems” begins a line in ‘Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’.  That is fitting for spring blooming Ditch Lilies to be flowering at the height of summer.

Several flowers on tall stalks have appeared in all three flowerbeds where these daylilies are planted.

Just as pretty as they were in spring.  What is going on?

There is no real mystery about this Foxtail Fern except that I never expected it to get so big.  Have just kept upgrading it to larger pots.  Guess it can be divided when it outgrows the largest pot we can manage to carry to the shed for winter.

This Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) has a long fox looking tail.  The decision here is whether to cut it off or not.  Sometimes, this Muhly looks like grass that should be mowed.  It is a warm season grass native to Southern Arizona and northern Mexico.

Unlike Bamboo, it is not invasive because it is a clumper and does not seed well.  It is hardy zones 8 – 11.

The question here is should this Crocosmia, which is in the iris family, be moved to a shadier spot.  They are native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa.

Most instructions for Crocosmia states that these bulbs should be in full sun.  However, directions for planting in full sun should be questioned here.  As we natives say, Texas sun and full sun are not the same thing.

The few bulbs of Croscosmia I planted a year ago haven’t done much and this is the only one to bloom.  Guess it’s time to experiment with their location.

When you garden, there’s always a question or two about where, how, and what to plant.  Then nature presents other complications and mysteries.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”          Prov. 16:24Save

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Bulbs Blooming

Different varieties of Lilies brighten up a spring yard.

Three Crinum Lilies, planted a few years ago, have begun to reproduce.  With our blazing sun from spring through fall, they would melt in full sun.  So these are planted on the east side of the house which protects them from the harshest sun.

They do well in southern U.S. because they love heat and moisture.  Here we have heat, but extra water is needed.

“Ellen Bosanquet” Crinum Lily (Crinum “Ellen Bosanquet’) with its deep rose color is lovely.

Crinums have huge bulbs.

Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) have also spread.  Like other daylilies, each bloom lasts for a day.  But these open early in the morning and truly last until the sun dips.

Although it is recommended that Kindly Lights should be protected during mid-day hours, these are in full sun most of the day.

Really like the spider shaped petals.

Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) has a striking deep burgundy color with golden highlights.

Very reliable bulb.

The tiny stones seen in the upper left of the picture are expanded shale, which is a wonderful amenity for clay soil.  It’s expensive but lasts forever.

Good old “Ditch Lilies” come back for the 11th spring.  What more can one ask for?

Pretty color and the foliage lasts until first frost.

These Daylilies were planted in two long flowerbed on opposite ends of the house.  One receives morning sun and one afternoon sun, and they perform equally well.  Such a hardy plant.  Love them.

If you haven’t tried bulbs, I think they deserve a chance.

“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”             Albert Einstein

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Some Favorites for Spring

Gardeners each have their own favorite plants, so I don’t usually foist my choices on others.  But today I’m going to make some recommendations.

If you have read my blog before, you know how much I love roses.  Part of the reason is because before we moved here, I didn’t have the space, sunny spots, or the time to do any gardening.

Then, surprisingly, roses not only have survived here but were a success.

Drift Roses are a relatively new type of Knock Out® Roses.  These are Coral Drift Roses.  They are low growing and constantly covered with flowers from early spring until the first freeze.

If I can have roses here in my high alkaline, clay and rock soil, then anyone can.  They are in lasagna raised beds that have amended soil.  Other than that, all they need is sun and water.

The rocks at the edge of the beds are to keep the water from washing off the slopes.  Texas has lots of limestone fossils.  This one and the following ones came from the edge of a creek on our property.

There are some roses that are exceptional performers.  Like this Belinda’s Dream that flowers on and off for months.  It has no disease problems.  Just give space for bushes to get huge – about 6 feet across.

Tropicana is a popular rose that does well in many different areas and is usually available at all kinds of nurseries.  It is a hybrid tea that blooms fairly often.

My all time favorite of the roses that I’ve tried is Double Delight because it has a strong scent that is out of this world.  It is also a hybrid tea.  I recently bought another one at a local nursery because I’m not sure how long roses bushes last.  Mine is twelves years old and doesn’t look as healthy this year as usual.  But we did have some hard freezes this winter.

Clematis vines are a great choice for gardeners.  There are many varieties available that grow well in different zones.

Many have prettier, fancier flowers than this one, but I chose one that does well here – Jackman Clematis.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) brightens up the early spring.  After the bareness of winter, it is just what the doctor ordered.

This soil was not amended, so it’s a tough plant.

As you see, pollinators are drawn to it.  Plus, it’s so cheery.

Another category of flowers is bulbs.  Stella de Oro Reblooming Daylily is technically not a bulb but a herbaceous root plant.

To keep it blooming, deadheading spent blooms is necessary.  It’s a gorgeous low growing, bright yellow flower that pollinators love.

There are many different flowers that fit into the vague, incorrect category “bulb”.  For example:  tulips and daffodils are bulbs, irises are rhizomes, gladiolas and crocuses are corms, and daylilies are tubers with tuberous roots.  Confusing.

My point is that plants in the “bulb” designation are a wonderful addition to any garden.  They tend to be reasonably priced; some produce new bulbs so your investment grows and can be shared; many different varieties are available to grow in different zones and climates; and most provide beautiful flowers year after year.  What a bargain.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea) was discovered growing beside a grave in LaGrange, Texas.  Greg Grant named the plant after the deceased.  It is one wonderful, eye catching plant.  Keep it contained because it spreads.

The white version, Augusta Duelberg, was named after his wife, whose grave was beside him.  A Texas SuperStar® plant that blooms from early spring until the first freeze.

As usual, it is best to “dance with the one who brung you” meaning it’s important to select plants that do well where you live.

“Don’t let the thoughts of failure stop you from trying, even when you fail, it’s not enough to give up.  The light bulb itself finally found success after so many trials.”  Terry Marks.

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Yellow in the Yard

Whenever I look at photos from the yard, sometimes color jumps out at me.  That’s why I’m doing several posts focusing on a specific flower color.

orangeyellowbKindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) is another great bulb flower.  Its spider like blooms last all day.  I usually avoid plant catalogs from northern climates because we simply can’t grow so many of their plants here.  But I have found one I really like.  Old House Gardens is a family owned bulb company in Michigan.  But many of their bulbs are grown in the south.  They provide specific information about growing conditions for each type of bulb.  Their newsletter advertising specials also has interesting information.

orangeyellow7Square-Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri Spach) is a Texas native and has been a good performing perennial for me.  It tends to flop down in the middle of the summer, but don’t we all.

orangeyellow6Not really sure what this is, but I think it’s Parralena (Dyssodia pentachaeta) or Common Dogweed.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

orangeyellow1New Gold Lantana, Lantana Hybrid, is faithful to return when the weather gets warm, along with the weeds and grass growing in it.

orangeyelloweThis Golden Showers Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) blooms all summer long and is a show stopper.

orangeyellowfAs it stops flowering, seed pods hang from its branches.

orangeyellowgThis Senna (I don’t know which variety) from a friend doesn’t flower all that much, but there are plenty of new plants each spring.  They’re easy to pull when small.

dragonflyOne of the bonuses of working in the yard are the creatures that fly around.  But to be clear, I only like the non-stinging and non-biting kind.  For some reason, mosquitoes love me.  Even when I spray with a Deet product, I come in covered with bites.

dragonfly2The strong wind was blowing this stem around, but the dragonfly hung on.

dragonfly3The outer part of the wings are transparent, so the grass can be seen beneath them.

Isn’t it amazing how many different varieties of plants and insects there are.

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” Washington Irving

Shades of Red Flowers

“The Lady in Red” movie title, which I haven’t seen, indicates that red is an eye catching color.  Maybe the cut of the dress was, too.  Anyway, red in the yard definitely draws the eye.

redpinkdRed Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) and red Cannas both are easy red focuses and relatively inexpensive choices.  Since cannas multiple, plenty of space is needed for them to spread out.

Red Yuccas should not be planted where I put these.  The problem is that surrounding plants grow into them.  Now I know why I’ve seen them planted alone in a graveled area.  It’s almost impossible to pull intruding plants out of a yucca without wearing some kind of armor.

redpink8The height of the flower stalks on Red Yuccas make them a focal point.

redpinkaHummingbirds like the tubular flowers.  Another name for Red Yucca is Hummingbird Yucca.  I don’t know how much nectar they actually get from them, but they look like they’re feeding.

redpinkbThis Drummond Phlox (Phlox drummondii ‘Hook’)  bloomed but has since faded away.  I bought it at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at their April plant sale.  Maybe it’s one of the casualties from a wet May.

redpinkrKangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos Red) is an Australian native that is supposed to be hardy to zone 8.  I’m a little leery that it will make it through our winter, so it will probably remain a pot plant which is taken into the shed when cold weather comes.

The label said they make good cut flowers.  If they produce lots of flowers, I’ll try that.  The color is unusual and seems to change every time I look at it.

redpink9Flowers on Bubba Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis ‘bubba’ Desert Willow) are almost orchid like with nice colors.  I have two on opposite sides of the house.  They haven’t bloomed much yet this year.  But they do well in the heat and should burst out in blooms soon.

redpink3Red Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Red’ Red Autumn Sage) is highly recommended for drought tolerant gardens.  It’s a woody shrub that returns each spring.

redpink4The aroma of the leaves when you brush up against them is an added bonus.

redpinkmA pot of begonias on a patio table is a bright spot of color that I can enjoy both outside and from a kitchen window.

redpink7Mr. Lincoln hybrid Roses are a bold red.

redpinkcCrimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) was planted last spring and did very well this year.  The stalk on this variety was only 1 to 1 1/2′ tall, which is nice for the front of the bed.

Even though daylilies only flower in the spring, these bloomed for weeks.  Every year I become more of a daylily fan.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn’t get you anywhere.”  Corrie ten Boom

Orange in the Yard

The trend this year seems to be orange:  wear it and decorate with it.  Wearing it doesn’t work for my skin tones.  Nor do I use it much inside my house.  But outside it perks up spaces.

orangeyellowEvery year the old-fashioned orange Daylilies usher in spring so reliably and lift the spirits to say, “Winter is over.  Hurrah.”

orangeyellow8A generous gift of probably 60 bulbs from a friend about nine years ago, they keep on giving.  No problems, no worries.  Just plant and water occasionally.

orangeyellow9Three years ago, I moved a few that were on the edge of the bed to this spot.  The green leaves of a Rose of Sharon bush behind them makes them the star of the show.  Later, hibiscus-like flowers from the bush will provide some color.

orangeyellow3One lone Daylily that has come up around the corner of the house with some Violets that have also crept into this bed.

orangeyellowcFinal one.  Just can’t stop snapping pix of these beauties.

Orange is a funny word.  It’s one of the few words in English that no other word rhymes with.  Actually, languages are strange.  There’s a NPR radio program that answers questions about old family sayings and language, in general.  Check out  “A Way with Words” and let me know what you think..

orangeyellowaThe African Bulbine flowers combine yellow and orange.  They’re wispy and move in the breeze.  Since it originates from below the equator, it must be protected in cold weather.

orangeyellow2A striking small ornamental tree is Bird of Paradise.  There are at least three types of Bird of Paradise sold.

The one in the picture is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).  The flowers are yellow with orange stamens.   Because of old incorrect informtion, I usually call it Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Ones with bright orange flowers is Pride of Barbados  (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  These are prominent in large box stores.  My experience has been that they die in winter here.

Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) has yellow flowers and yellow stamens.  Since they all look similar, it can be confusing to choose the one that works for you.

orangeyellow4Tropicana Roses are one of those indefinable colors, but there’s an orange tint to them.  Another great performer.  This year it has been filled with flowers.  I cut them often to bring inside, but soon more appear.

orangeyellowhIxora did not fare well this past winter in the shed, but enough survived to flower.  Maybe some fresh air and sunshine will bring new growth.

orangeyellowiMost of my Ice Plants have pink flowers.  This one from a friend has orangish ones.

Maybe you can decide on a specific color pattern for your yard.  I simply can’t.  Therefore, I have a hodgepodge.  This is not what designers recommend.

“Every time I get mad, I remind myself that prison orange is not my color.”    Unknown

Garden Memories, Hopes

When the skies are dreary and the yard is barren, I look for any color, shape, light to lift my spirits.  Although we have not had the rough winter like most of the US, winter cold makes me long for spring.  Guess living most of my life in a dry, hot environment has become part of who I am.

afterfreeze1A few pots of Pansies are still alive – scraggly, but colorful.

afterfreeze2Green from Yellow Columbine sticks out between dead Woodland Fern.  In the spring, I’ll be mumbling about Columbine coming up unwanted in this bed.  Now I’m glad to see something alive.

afterfreeze3Good ole reliable Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum keeps on keeping on.

afterfreeze4Underneath these resting Daylily stalks lies the bulbs that will provide new stalks and gorgeous flowers in the spring.  The promise of new life encourages all gardeners.

afterfreeze5Dead Senna branches will need to be cut off to the ground in the spring, but now they provide seeds for birds.

winteryyar3Twirling Hummingbirds make me smile in all seasons.

winteryyard3

winteryyard2Not much rain this fall and winter, so I like the looks of some melting ice on tree branches.

winteryyardThe sunlight made them sparkle like diamonds.

winteryyard4All the Gomphera heads are white now rather than the bright red ones that will bloom in the spring.  Each of these hold about 100 seeds.  They will be so thick that thinning will be required.  I plan to move some to a new bed and to share some.

winteryyard5Pansies just amaze me.  I guess because I’m such a wuss in the cold.

winteryyard8We’ve had several Cardinals in the yard this year.  They are so wary that my attempts at photographing them has not been very successful.

winteryyard9Talk about bringing a bright color to the yard.  I love to watch them from inside a warm house.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  unknown