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

Surprise, Surprise

Not only have we had rains, but cool, crisp temperatures have been welcomed.  It’s way earlier than usual for below 80’s temps.  Gone were shorts and tee shirts.  Low 50 degrees brought out jackets and jeans.

Of course, that didn’t last.  Today, it’s 85.  There still some flowers to enjoy in late summer.

Appropriately named Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) is in full bloom.  This vine was brought to the US in the late 1800’s from Asia.  It has naturalized in the eastern states and is considered invasive in places that get lots of rain.  Not here.

The foliage is looking chloric this year.  Maybe some iron should be added in the spring.

One of its characteristics is the strong, sweet aroma that permeates a large area.

To be manageable, it must be cut back to the ground in the winter.  Growing quickly in the spring, the foliage will soon cover the trellis again.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) blooms in late August.  It’s considered a tropical plant but does well here if planted in a protected area.  Beautiful petite flowers cluster on arching branches.

Schoolhouse Lily or Oxblood Lily (Rhodophiala bifida) has never done really well for me.  Their bold red color exists for about a week.  One of those “it’s here – it’s gone” experiences.

South African Bulbine (Bulbine natalensis) thrive in our heat, but are only cold hardy done to 20 degrees.  So we transfer it to the shed for the winter.  It’s a succulent with the grass like structure storing water.

Rose Moss or purslane (Rhodobryum roseum) is an underused plant.  An inexpensive plant that can be put directly in the ground here.  It dies back when it freezes and will grow back in the spring.  There are lots of colors available.

It’s a super easy plant that doesn’t need much water.  In fact, it doesn’t do well in standing water, so the soil needs to drain well.

Since autumn is almost here, it’s time to start planting.   Autumn is the optimal time because plants’ roots will grow all winter and be somewhat established before summer temperatures arrive.

“Fall is summer’s flamboyant farewell.”  A.A. Fitzwilliam

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

Halt

Sometimes life is just bopping along; then suddenly we’re stopped in our tracks.  If it’s major, there are catastrophic results, like loss of life.  If it’s minor, it’s usually just an irritant.  Then there are different levels in-between.

Recently, I spent too much time in a certain position pulling weeds, which resulted in sciatica nerve pain that has halted my activities.  For now, I’m sidelined from yard work.

So, yes, I know there are weeds in the following pictures.

My option is to just observe all the weeds popping up following abundant rains and sigh.  Elegant Candy re-blooming day lily has an interesting color combination.

This Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) was sold as a Texas native.  In reality, they are native to East Asia.  They have a nice rounded shape and are perennials in zones 5 to 9.

The color is rather delicate, so lean in close to truly see its beauty.  Butterflies and bees do like them, but this shrub doesn’t have the super allure of Gregg’s Blue Mist.

Love daylily time.  These common Ditch Lilies have just opened up.

They’re called common, but I think they’re real beauties.

Woodland Ferns have filled in this flowerbed.  Columbine keeps claiming some space and will be pulled out at some time.

Rose Moss gives a cheery greeting as you step up to the porch.

Shasta Daisies are bursting into bloom.

Bright small yellow puffs top off Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyoarissus).

The silvery sheen of Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is alluring as the wind ruffles its leaves.

Ragin Cajun False Petunia (Ruellia elegans) is a small clump that blooms profusely.  It’s from Brazil and Argentina and is hardy zones 8a to 10b, so I’m hoping it survives our winter.  The hummingbirds have been visiting it often.

Hope your late spring is full of joy and wonder.

“My life is like my internet browser.  I have 19 tabs open, 3 are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.” unknown 

Still Blooming

Most of the perennials in my yard are going to seed.  But there are still a few blooms to enjoy.  This year everything had a late start and now an early ending.  But I’m not quite ready to call it a day in the garden, yet.

stillbloomingBloodflower (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) returned this year but in different spots from where it was planted.  Guess the wind and birds helped out a little.  This flower is also known as Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, Mexican Milkweed, and Scarlet Milkweed.

So far, it has remained a small plant in my flowerbed but is still visited by many butterflies.

stillblooming1One of the tried and true performers is Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), which is covered with Viceroy butterflies from spring until cold weather.  From my kitchen window, the tops look brown because of the butterflies.

stillblooming2Just a few more flowers left on the French Hollyhock (Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrena’).  The stems are covered with seed pods.  I’ve been busy gathering seeds from many different plants.  The Garden Club has a seed exchange in November.  This year I will be ready.

stillbloomingkThis Oleander was planted this spring.  The peachy petals attracted me, plus the hardiness of this plant.  The highway departments in several southwestern states plant them out in arid areas.  The sprinkler system doesn’t reach this one, so I’ve been carrying buckets to get it established.  Next year, it should survive mostly on whatever falls from the sky.

stillblooming3 Now it has fewer flowers but is still going.

A local rancher reminded me that they are poisonous.  He was still upset that a neighbor had some Oleanders that one of his cows has eaten and later died.  This was many years ago.  I assured him that I planted this one and some others in a fenced in area.  Now if cows somehow get out of their fenced pasture into another person’s yard, I’m sympathetic but don’t place the blame on the person growing the Oleander.

stillblooming4Another dependable bloomer is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  Everyone warns that they are invasive.  Hey, if it’s invasive, maybe it has a chance to survive our rocky clay soil and hot summers.  If last year was an indication, we can add cold winters to that list of hurdles for plants.

stillblooming5This pot of Rose Moss bloomed really well this year.  Next year, it should probably be divided.

stillbloomingfThe three Dynamite Crape Myrtles still have some bright red blossoms.  Though not as many as in this picture because it was taken a few weeks ago.  They do brighten their corner.

stillblooming8Even though they are laying on the ground, the Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) keep on blooming.  Legginess has been a problem this year for them.  I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Maybe too much water from the sprinkler system.  In the fields, they appear after showers, which means we haven’t seen any growing wild this year.

stillbloomingmThe grasshoppers have also done a number on their petals.

stillbloomingoA patch of Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) is behind the Texas Bluebells in a front flowerbed.  They multiplied beyond my hopes.  They are also named Rio Grande Globe Amaranth and are native to Texas and Mexico and love our hot weather.  But not many people around here are familiar with them.  I found them in Austin last year.

Just trying to enjoy the color that’s left in the yard because it will be gone soon.  Hope you have some special plants, songs, or whatever that brings you joy every day.  Plus,  the most important joy of all – a loved one to hug.

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”  Old farmer adage

Not a Rose

When is a “rose” not a rose?  When it belongs to a completely different family than roses.  Roses (Rosa) are woody shrubs in the Rosaceae family.  Most of us recognize a rose without even thinking about it.

So why do so many other flowers have “rose” in their name?  Who knows.  Maybe because of the romance and sentimentality associated with a true rose.

notarose3Ross Moss (Portulaca Grandiflora) is considered an annual, but is a perennial in our area.  It is a member of the Portulacaeae family.

Even in a plastic pot on the north side of the house, it returned after a cold and long winter this year.  Rose Moss can’t tolerate our heavy clay soil, so it needs a pot with good drainage.

notarose2Desert Rose (Apocynaceae Adenium Obesum) is actually a succulent member of the Oleander family.

notarosebOne of its characteristics is the formation of a bulb shape at the base of its stem as it ages.  This one only has a slight bulge so far.

notaroseMexican Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial related to the agaves.  Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek.

They don’t usually start blooming here until August, when the heat has been around awhile.  This picture is from last year.  The temps, as well as the humidity, have hit high gear, so they might be blooming in a month or so.

rockrose6Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a member of the Mallow family.  It is a small shrub that needs little moisture.  Mine doesn’t get much bigger and rarely blooms, maybe because it’s in a bed that gets watered.  It could also be that the amended soil in the lasagna bed is too good for it.  Never thought I’d say that about anyplace in my yard.

notarose4Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is in the Mallow family.  It is also known as althaea.

notarose5More pictures show the abundance of flowers.

notarose1All the bushes in the above pictures came from a friend’s cuttings.  She got them from her sister in Michigan.

pinkroseofsharonThis is a different variety of Rose of Sharon that I ordered from a catalog.  Nice color and ruffled center.

pinkroseofsharon2Doesn’t even look like the same flower.  All Rose of Sharons are hardy, hardy, hardy.  Not much water is needed to live, but it is necessary for them to bloom.

What do all these plants have in common?  They are drought tolerant, pretty, and thrive in the heat.  Despite their names, they are not in the rose family. notaroseEven a stone is called a rose.  If you use your imagination, a rose shape can be seen.

Desert Rose is a variety of gypsum that forms in the spaces between sand particles. It traps the loose sand in a unique flower-like crystal structure.  They tend to be small.  These are 1.5 inches across.

Rose rocks are found in Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma rose rock was formed during the Permian Period, 250 million years ago, when western and central Oklahoma’s  shallow sea coverage was receding.   It is the official rock of Oklahoma.  Didn’t even realize that states had designated rocks.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue:  no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”                     Eleanor Roosevelt

End of Season for Some

With summer’s heat dragging on, some plants give their last sigh.  Summer is definitely not over yet, but its toll can be seen in the yard.

rosemoss5This picture was taken just before this Rose Moss (Portulaca grandiflora) wilted.  This pot is on the front porch on the north side of the house.  Each year I replant it with Rose Moss.

Such an easy plant because it likes the heat, sun and needs little water.

rosemoss3If I really wanted to keep it for the following year, it could probably be carried into the shed, and it would survive.  But it’s relatively inexpensive to buy small pots of it.  Or it can be cultivated from seed.

caladiumCaladiums are also easier to replace than save each year.  They like the heat but can’t tolerate direct sun.  So place them under a tree or in another shady area.  They also need regular water.

caladium2In the spring, Caladiums perk up a bare spot on the porch or anywhere.  I usually alternate colors each year.  Next year I’ll look for one in the red tones.

If you want to save Caladiums for the next year, the tubers must be dug up before they lose their color.  There are other specific steps involved.  I have never tried to save them because it sounds like a lot of trouble.  But if I wanted a large mass of Caladiums, it might be more economical.

crazyfrogsThis picture is just for grins.  Leave’em laughing, as they say.

These two bikers were in front of an antique store in San Sabe.  I resisted the temptation to buy them for yard art.  I figured that they would be laying on the ground most of the time because of our strong wind.  But seeing them gave me a chuckle.

“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”  Langston Hughes