Sweet Rain

This week we’re received almost 2 inches of rain.  Depending on where you live, that may not sound like much, but it’s a blessing to us.

Rain and cooler temperatures is a boon to everything.  More irises blooming.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has shot up in height.  Some are over 4 ft. tall.

Each stem seems insignificant, but together, twirling in the wind, they are a lovely sight.

Last year, we planted a Greek Myrtle (Myrtus communis).  It appealed to me because it’s evergreen.  Immediately after planting, one side died.  So I was surprised to see all the flowers this year.

After planting it in the middle of a flower bed, I read that they should be planted alone.  Oh, well, we’ll see what happens in the future.

The flowers are striking and appear to be twinkling, like stars in the sky.

The other day, I gave this Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree a hair cut.  Each spring the lower branches dip down to the ground.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of that.  Anyway, it becomes impossible to move around the tree.  Cutting off the low hanging branches doesn’t seem to hurt the tree at all.

The raised bed to the right of the tree is where we planted some small Pink Muhly grasses about two months ago.Kindly Light Dayilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) are a bright spot in the yard.

Old Fashioned Hollyhocks or Grandma’s Hollyhocks stand tall and proud.

Some are so tall that they look in danger of falling over.

Want a drought tolerant plant that spreads and has a wonderful aroma when touched, try Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  They are native to the Himalayas, so it seems that they would not do well in our dry area.  Strangely, the Himalayas in India have massive amounts of precipitation, but in Tibet, arid conditions exist.

A worthy plant for our area.  Full sun needed.

On the edge of our porch sits this pot of Rose Moss that has been here for years.  Some or all of the moss returns in the spring.  This year, it needed to be supplemented with some new plants.  Love the yellow ones.

Hope your spring (almost summer) has received some rain.

“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.”  Booker T. Washington

Hints of Spring

It’s starting to warm up and green up.  Of course, it’s likely we’ll have a surprise freeze.  But I’m glad spring’s coming.

Daffodils have been blooming for a while.

I’ve considered buying some other varieties with stronger color, but the bloom season is so short that it doesn’t seem worth it.

Each year a new weed is added to the mix.  This particular one – I don’t know what it is – is mighty prolific.

Texas Flowering Quince has been blooming for about a month.  Most of the flowers are on the lower branches.  You can see that abundant weed under the branches.  The thorns make it hard to clean out around the long branches.

A few Hollyhocks are up and leafed out.  A few years ago the Hollyhocks had rust disease.  I thought I dug them all up.  But here they are.

Some Hyacinths are blooming.  They’re so short that sometimes I don’t notice them.

Beautiful small hints of a new season.  Love the shapes of the bell-like flowers.

We started pruning last month but so much more to do.  Really enjoying the sunny days when it’s not too cold or windy to work outside.  The task I always dread is the weeding.  Guess everyone does.

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”                               Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

Hibiscus and Lookalikes

Exotic Hibiscus flowers conjure up the romantic South Pacific islands.

Tropical Hibiscus has a special beauty.  The tall pistil is one of its characteristics.

However, they can be a pain to grow in hot, dry central Texas.  This one has been in a pot for years and is probably very root bound.  But, as long as it lives, it will be taken into a heated shed during the winter.  So, I guess it’s worth the trouble.

This is the same plant and is looking a little ragged in this especially dry summer.

Luckily, there are plants with that look that do extremely well here.  They endure the hot summers and some cold times in the winter.  Rose of Sharon or Althea shrubs (Hibiscus syriacus) become very large and are covered with these exquisite flowers.

Bees love them.

Their flower colors range from white to pink to deep lavender.

The bright red center of these flowers are striking.

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has small hibiscus like flowers.  They grow in dry rocky soils.  The flowers last one day, but with a little water, there will be more the next day.

Hardy Hibiscus is exactly what its name says.  It is a perennial that is tough and has the beauty of a delicate tropical flower.

Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has a more unique look with its two color petals and long finger leaves.  But it still has that tall pistil.

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) provide the look of hibiscus, with a shorter pistil.  They stack up on a central stalk that branches out.

All of these plants come from the Mallow (Malvaceae) family.  There are 4225 known species.  These are very diverse because included with all these lovely flowers are okra, cotton, and cacao.  Only a botanist could understand the complications of plant orders.

But what I see is that all the flowers in this blog have tall pistils, where the male and female parts provide reproduction.  Also, the flower petals mostly have the same form.

Plus, all add beauty to gardens.  When the temperature is stagnant in the triple digits, hardy plants are a blessing.

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.” –Thomas Cooper

Paper Thin Reds

Do you know a plant collector?  Or maybe, you are one.  That is the classification I fit into as a gardener.   It’s exciting to try new plants for the first time.  I’m always thrilled when they live and seem to be happy in my yard.

hibuscus5Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) have always fascinated me.  I always planned to get one.  There were some last year at our Garden Club’s plant sale, so I grabbed one.  Now in the heat it is blooming and blooming.

hibuscus4Love the whole look of it.

One of the best things about the hardy Hibiscus is that it will return in early summer after dying in the winter.  So it’s carefree.  A tropical Hibiscus, on the other hand, has to be hauled into a green house for the winter.

hibuscus7The flowers don’t appear here in zone 7b until mid summer.  Hardy Hibiscus adds a pop to the garden after spring flowers have died off.

backflowerbed2There were always old fashioned tall Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) in my grandmother’s garden.  I don’t know why this is the first time I’ve planted one.  This one was purchased at the Lady Bird Johnson Center spring sale of Texas natives.

hollyhock4These misshapen blooms are the result of grasshoppers.  At least, they haven’t stripped the plant, yet.

hollyhock2The brilliant color makes them a striking plant.  Although I’ve read that hollyhocks don’t bloom the first year, this one has.

hollyhock5Hollyhocks love full sun and can grow to be 8 feet tall.  With their large leaves, they occupy more space than I expected.  Since they reseed, eventually these will be too crowded.  More poor planning on my part.

The Hardy Hibiscus and the Hollyhock grow side by side.  It’s amazing how much their red blooms look alike.

pinkgauraTechnically, this is a Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  But the flowers look a little red, so I included it in this post.

Whenever I see lindheimeri in the botanical name of a plant, I picture the Texas botanist who discovered and cataloged so many plants.  He would go on foraying trips and bring back all these samples.  His wife would help him dry them and place them in paper to preserve them.  And paper was a valuable commodity at that time.

pinkgaura2Gauras are another one of those plants that sways softly in the wind.  The small flowers are on the tip of long stems.

pinkgaura3It’s necessary to look at the flowers up close to appreciate their delicate beauty.

The variety of flowering plants that will grow in this area alone is staggering.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrows, but only saps today of its strength.”  A. J. Cronin