Tall, Slender, and Elegant

Guess we all wish that title described us.  But, in this case, that means plants, not people.

Tall, of course, can be relative.   Larkspurs bloom on tall stems, as do Cannas, and the flowers of Red Yucca, so I’m including them.  Canna lilies, although not true lilies, grow from rhizomes and are faithful to return each spring.  Because they multiply, they are usually a pass-a-long plant.

One great thing about re-blooming Iris is that it flowers at unexpected times.

Larkspur (Delphinium consolida) are a wonderful spring blooming annual, if you’re not picky about where it pops up in years to come.  They are generous re-seeders.

I had never considering planting their seeds until I saw them in a friend’s yard.  She generously shared some seeds; so I’ve enjoyed them ever since no matter where they appear.

Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba”)  is a small flowering tree with multiple trunks.  These tend to grow tall and remain slender.  The flowers look like lovely small orchids.

Desert Willows are native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including Texas.

The thin stems of (Gaura Llindheimeri) keep growing taller throughout the hot months of summer until they hide whatever is behind them.  So I should have planted them in their own space, but I didn’t.

As they sway in the breeze, they are reminiscent of butterflies.  Thus a common name for them is Twirling Butterflies.

I also have a Pink Gaura which has reappeared after several years of being absent.  Gaura roots seem to endure very well.  They could be considered a bully, but I like them, anyway.

After my experience with Hollyhocks and Rust disease, I was undecided whether or not to dig up this one that came from some remaining roots.  After checking it over and keeping a close watch on it, it has survived disease-free and has produced beautiful flowers.  But it has been a rather dry spring.  If and when we get lots of rain, the disease will probably reappear.

Every year I rave about Henry Duelberg Saliva (Salvia farinacea).  I think it should be a staple that is used more often in zones 7b – 10a.

The white Augusta Duelberg Salvia (wife of Henry) is a companion that usually comes up in a bed of Henry Duelberg Salvia.  Don’t know how that works botanically.

In this picture, the Russian Sage is the tall slender beauty.  In front of it is Salvia Greggi and behind it is a huge Earthkind® rose bush on the left and Knockouts® on the right.

The hardiness and aroma of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) makes it a worthwhile plant, especially for arid areas.  It is native to the steppes, which are grassy plains, of southwestern and central Asia, so the name is appropriate.

Bee Balm or Monarda might not be considered elegant by some some people, but it’s a notable plant to attract pollinators.  Plus, I think it’s pretty, if it can be staked so that it won’t flop over.  I chose to put a cage around it to hold it up.

Gladiolus often need staking, but Atom Gladiola is a shorter version that doesn’t lean over too much.

These bulbs were ordered two or three years ago from Old House Gardens, which specializes in heirloom bulbs.

Although many of Old House Garden bulbs date back to the 1700’s, this particular bulb was hybridized in 1946.

The old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true to many things, including plants.  So choose what plants you think fall into the category of tall, slender, and elegant.

“When life gives you a rainy day, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Heat Lovers

The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.

heatlovingDesignated a Texas Superstar Plant, the Texas Star Hibiscus, doesn’t look like a hibiscus.

heatloving1It has not been a heavy bloomer for me, but the flowers are unique.

heatlovingfTo me, the only reason to plant Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii A. Gray) is to attract butterflies.  These are truly covered from late spring to late fall with Viceroys.

The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.

heatloving2Bluemist flowers are small and not that noticeable or impressive.  The purple flowers to the right are a few larkspurs hanging on.

heatlovingg

heatlovingdOn the porch that provides indirect light, A Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has outgrown its container.  That should be fun to transplant.

It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant.  Color of the flowers is so pretty.

heatlovingeIce plant has been in this pot for years.

heatloving3A Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) that is a couple of years old has gorgeous blooms.

heatloving4This will grow into a tree with several trunks that arch out from the center.

heatloving5Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wildflower that came from the same lady who gave me the Crown of Thorns. The seeds are carried by the wind, so it comes up in unexpected places.

heatloving6Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) must be watered regularly to bloom.  But it is so worth it.  The other bush with red blooms is Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Dynamite’).  Both of these bushes are about 10 years old..

heatloving7Love Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. Ex G. Don SSP Russellianum) and Strawberry Gompheras (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) and Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

heatloving8One of my favorite flowering bushes, Duranta doesn’t begin to bloom until mid July when the temps rev up.

heatlovingaIt is in the verbena family.  The clusters of tiny flowers are breathtaking.

heatloving9Although Duranta does well in our hot, hot summers, it is iffy in cold weather.  Mine is on the east side of the house, so it gets morning sun and no direct northern winds.  A heavy mulch when it starts to get cold protects the roots.  So it’s a great plant if you have just the right place for it.

heatlovingbRecently we bought three new Crape Myrtles from a guy attending a gardening seminar.  He said that they are a new type called ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle and will grow to 10 – 12 feet tall.

heatlovingcLove the color of the flowers and that they have been blooming since they were planted.

Right after these pictures were taken, some of the branches were broken off and the flowers eaten.  Jackrabbits, I think.  Grrr!   So I put cages around them to protect them.

“… it looks to me like the upcoming U.S. presidential election will force Americans, to paraphrase the great American writer Gore Vidal, to cast their ballot against the evil of two lessers.”  Ted Woloshyn

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

G.W. Bush Library

First, before I discuss our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, let me give thanks for recent rains.  Over the past two weeks, we have been blessed with six and a third inches.  Other people in the area received much more.  But we all have had showers of blessings including all of central Texas and even the Panhandle.  Desperately needed moisture has brought a sigh of relief because some cities were 90 days away from no water.

gwbush4Now to the museum on the SMU campus in Dallas.  The outside is simple in design, but note what looks like a small square building with windows and columns on top of the roof.

gwbushjThis cupola or whatever this is called is an interesting feature to the structure.  The Davis Mountains scene on all four walls is part of a changing scene screen.

gwbushmIt doesn’t look like a screen, and I know nothing about the technology.  The pictures slowly and constantly move around to the right on all four sides.

gwbushnThen the scene changes again.

gwbushlStepping outside from the above main foyer, there is a patio area in the center of the building.  This Desert Willow tree (Chilopsis linearis) provides nice color.

gwbushkAlso, in this patio were the statutes of both Bush presidents.

gwbush5Of course, one whole section was dedicated to 9/11 with sirens wailing, pictures and information.   This twisted metal from the towers served as a reminder of another “day that will live in infamy.”

Another section, where pictures were not allowed, was a gallery of paintings done by President Bush.  Those depicted were all world leaders during his presidency.  Beside each painting was information about where and when they met.  In a short video, he said that he was well aware that the signature on each was worth more than the painting.

gwbushhA few hands on exhibits were enjoyed by children and adults, like this one featuring their dog, Spot.

gwbushfOutside the Oval Office replica was the garden, which was similar to the famous White House Rose Garden, except this one was planted with Texas native plants.

gwbushgAnother view looking from just outside the Oval Office.

gwbusheThe Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) always wash out in midday photographs.

gwbushdWater Irises grew in a small pond area.

gwbusha

gwbushbThe plant database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists all Foxgloves in Texas as False Foxgloves.  In our area, those are only white or pale ivory.

gwbushcI would love to find some of the pink or yellow ones.

gwbush9Nice combination of Agaves and small flowers in all the beds.

gwbushThe presidential library is on a corner.  This is the side street with a more formal planting of trees and grass.  To the left of this area, the ground slopes up beside the building and the front entrance is on the next level.

gwbush2I was impressed with these shutters that were permanent, attractive, and a  clever way to deal with the hot, direct sunlight.

gwbush3The architect included other smart shading techniques.

gwbushsAlong the side of the building, this was the only section that was planted in rows.

gwbush8All other plantings looked like a wildflower prairie.

gwbush7A few smaller areas of grass gave the whole area an ordered, rather then messy feeling.

gwbushtScattered among the native grasses were all sorts of wildflowers, like this Horse Mint (Monarda punctata).

gwbushuCould not get close enough to examine the red flowers, but maybe they are Penstemon.

gwbushrA few Mexican Hats (Ratibida columnaris), Thistles, and lots of different kinds of yellow flowers.

gwbushqThis might be American basket-flower (Centaurea americana).

gwbushpI was taken with them.

gwbushoThis Butterfly Weed’s (Asclepias tuberosa) bright orange screams for attention.

Worth a visit even though I didn’t feel as connected to the man as I did at his father’s library.  Maybe it was just me.  Another day might have brought a different reaction.

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

A Dramatic Entrance

What?  An ice storm before Thanksgiving.  Temperatures in the 70’s would be more usual.  So winter has made a grand entrance.

icestorm2The orange-gold leaves of a Chinese Pistachio covered with an icy lace.

icestormTwo Crape Myrtles become stark white.

icestorm3Notice the ice on the ground under this leaning Ratama.  It was sweeping the grass in a stooped manner before I took a small hammer and knocked off as much ice as possible.  I really, really, want this little tree to survive.

icestorm4But this Desert Willow did collapse.  It already had a weakened root system.  We left the stakes and ropes around it too long.  Plus, it got too much water in the flowerbed.  I’ll miss the beautiful orchid-like flowers.  So we’ll take this lesson to heart.

icestorm5Branches of a different Chinese Pistachio hang low.

icestorm6The ice is thick on this Blue Curls bush.

icestorm7Ice emphasizes the structure of a plant and makes it beautiful in another dimension.

icestorm8The top of the pergola takes on an artistic look.

icestorm9Yellow leaves and branches of this Hackberry are crusted with ice.

icestormaAny blade, large or small, presents a perfect surface for ice to coat.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your family.  May you be blessed and be a blessing as you gives thanks for every good gift from above.

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age.  Thanksgiving opens the door.  It changes a child’s personality.  A child is resentful, negative – or thankful.  Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.”  Sir John Templeton

Flowering Trees

It makes sense that a person who loves flowers would also love flowering trees.  I definitely fit into that category.  Trees that have flowers tend to be small trees; at least, the ones I know about.  Doesn’t matter.  Ornamental is good.

birdofparadise2 Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is a small tree that can be kept trimmed to a bush shape.  That also makes it fuller.  It should have full sun, although mine is on the east side of the house and gets only morning sun.

birdofparadise4When it freezes, the Mexican Bird of Paradise will drop its foliage.  Because of space constraints, we cut the branched trunk back pretty severely.  This one is in a flower bed next to the house.  I don’t recommend that.  Who knew it would do so well and get so big?

birdofparadise5The leaves resemble those of a mesquite.  Its uniqueness are the yellow flowers with the long red stamens or as my granddaughter calls them – eyelashes.birdofparadise2In the heat of the summer, the tree is covered with the yellow blossoms.

desertwillow8One of my favorite flowering trees is the Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis).  This one was labeled Bubba Desert Willow.  Sounds real Texan.  It’s also called Desert Catalpa and is native to the far southwestern part of the state, which is extremely arid.

desertwillow3This Desert Willow I want to keep with multi-branched trunks.  The wood is so sinewy that the native Indians used it to make bows.

desertwillow7On the other side of the house is a Desert Willow that has one main trunk.  They can grow to 20 – 30 feet tall.

desertwillow4The flowers are spectacular with a deep rose or wine color.  Their shape is like that of an orchid.  They grow on the tips of new growth branches.

desertwillow6I have tried unsuccessfully to get a close up picture of a flower.  The wind blows their branches so much that every photo is blurred.

Desert Willow grows in dry washes in the wild.  When cultivated, it should not be over watered.

ratama4One of my new favorites is Ratama (Parkinsonia aculeata ) or a Texas Paloverde (cercidium texanum).  I’ve heard these two names used interchangeably.  But other people have told me they are two different trees.  Anyway, I can’t tell the difference because I’ve never seen them together.  Other names used are Jerusalem Thorn and Mexican Palo Verde.

My understanding is that this is not the same tree as the Blue Paloverde seen in Arizona.

ratamaThey are smallish trees that can grow to 25′ tall.  The bark is green, and the leaves are long and narrow and don’t really look much like leaves.

This Ratama was purchased in the spring a year ago. It made it through the winter last year.  I was relieved because this is pushing the northern boundary for them.

ratama2Their branches also sway in the wind all day long, so I’m pleased this photo came out as clear as it did.

Some trees provide shade and others are just for show.  If there’s room in a yard, I think both enhance the great outdoors.

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”       Cree Proverb