Menard Community Garden

Menard, Texas, is a small town with concerned citizens.  One couple has taken on the project of educating children about gardening through the Junior Master Gardener program.  They have classes for students from kindergarten through junior high.

This couple also maintains the citys Marjorie Russel Education memorial garden.

menardgarden5Following a relatively wet year, the garden has grown tremendously.  My husband and I were there in early spring this year to help other volunteers do clean-up to get ready for the new season.

menardgardenOn this visit with the Master Gardener students who were finishing their course for certification, the garden was alive with butterflies.  Bluemist Flowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) is a must have plant for central Texans to attract butterflies.  I admit that I’m prejudged about this plant because it has been so successful in my own yard.

menardgarden1A Viceroy butterfly busy feeding.  In front of the Blue Mist Flower is Artemisia, another wonderful plant.

menardgarden2Monarch butterflies absolutely must have milkweed plants to survive.  This tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is one of the showier milkweeds that is a beauty in the garden.  Unfortunately, mine freeze each year and don’t return.

On the right are rose hips from spent roses.

menardgarden3Lots of Zinnas are scattered throughout the garden.  Anyone who says they can’t afford plants should consider buying cheap zinna seeds.  The flowers reseed, so they keep on giving.

menardgarden4Behind the zinnas is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) which adds another dimension of form and texture to the garden.

menardgardencThe layers of plants, even with their intertwining, appeal to me.  Guess I just like a jungle look.  Not for everyone; I understand.

menardgarden6Not only do the Junior Master Gardeners meet here and plant their own plots, anyone in the community can rent one of these plots for $10 to $30, depending on what they can afford.  The city provides the water, and the couple in charge do the watering.  What a deal.

menardgarden8Another popular plant that appeals to pollinators is Salvia Greggii.  Not sure what kind of butterfly this is.

menardgarden7I think this is a Black Swallowtail.

menardgarden9This Salvia Greggii is called Lipstick.  The grower that came up with this name had quite an imagination.

menardgardenaBluemist Flower usually has lots of dead blossoms.  Doesn’t seem to bother the butterflies.

menardgardenb

menardgardendThere are several fruit trees in the garden, including this Fig.   Many of the plants and trees have been donated.

menardgardeneRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a hardy Texas native with small flowers.

I admire people who give of themselves to their communities.

“Trump and Clinton are like divorced parents fighting over custody of us. And we just wanna live with Grandma.”  unknown

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Blooming in the Heat

Whenever I go outside to move the water hose from tree to tree, I feel like I should apologize to all the plants for the heat.  It’s unbelievable that they can live in 100 plus temperatures that continues for days.

In spite of the heat that takes one’s breath away, some plants continue to bloom.

flowers5Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, or Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’ is a survivor.flowers6Butterflies love it.  Monarchs must have milkweed to survive, so this is a pretty one to have in your yard.

flowers8Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)  or false dragonhead has gotten tall and is still blooming.

flowers9Friends have warned that it is invasive.  Anything that lasts in the hottest part of summer is okay in my book.  Plus, it’s attractive.

flowersgGood ole Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Physostegia virginiana) is a Texas native that never gives up.

flowershIt, too, could be considered invasive, but I love that it has spread.

flowersfTo get the orientation of this picture, Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii Torr.) or Baldwin’s ironweed or Western Ironweed, is growing in the pot to the right, but has twisted up to the left.  It’s also called Tall Ironweed.  Now I know why.  This fall I plan to plant this in the ground somewhere, keeping in mind that it is aggressive.

flowersePink Gaura (Gaura angustifolia) Southern Bee Blossom or
Morning Honeysuckle with tons of swaying blossoms is a favorite.

flowersbBees were flitting so quickly that I couldn’t get a good picture.  But there’s a side view of one here.

flowersdSo much activity with these branches and pollinators.

flowerscIt was also covered with Viceroy butterflies.  Lovely.

Hope you find some beauty in this heat – maybe looking out of a window to a favorite view.

“Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat cake.”  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

Red, Yellow, and Blue

A trip anywhere usually means a stop at a nursery for me whenever time allows.  Even if I don’t buy, it is good for my soul.  Just to look at plants and read about them rejuvenates me.  My husband is a good sport but strolls through much faster than I do.

butterflyweed2Silky Deep Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’)  is a Monarch butterfly plant that has bright colors.  The branches are 2 to 3 feet tall and tend to lean.

butterflyweed5It is only cold hardy to zones 10 – 11, so I’m hoping its roots will survive the winter.  I will also try to gather seeds in case it doesn’t come back in the spring.

butterflyweedThe brilliant colors are what it’s all about.

bluecaryopteris2Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight’) blooms in full summer sun into the fall.  When I bought this a month and a half ago in Fredericksburg, I did not realize that it was a Blue Mist because the flowers are different than the Greggi Blue Mist I have.  But they have that same misty look.  Duh.

But in my defense, the label named it Caryopteris, and I obviously did not know that was the botanical name for Blue Mist.  Is it even possible to learn all those Latin names at my age?

bluecaryopterisFrom what I’ve read, it should not be planted in heavy wet clay.  That would mean a raised bed in my yard.  But the other Blue Mist I have is in clay and has taken over by spreading.  Our clay doesn’t stay wet long because it rarely gets soaked.

beebluebluecaryopteris3I love the Blue Mists because they attract so many butterflies and bees.

Every day I praise God for the glorious world He created.

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”  Ben Franklin