Sizzling

In the middle of August the temperatures are consistently above 100.  So far, the hottest day reached 107 degrees.  So, as the saying goes, “It’s not fit for man or beast outside”, although that’s usually applied to freezing winter days.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) survives in extreme heat.  It’s twice this size now, but the bright sun washes out pictures, even early in the morning. So I’m using an earlier picture.

Turk’s Cap is a native of southern US and Mexico, so it’s no wonder that it does well here.

Just can’t praise this perennial enough.  Pollinators love it.  It grows in sun or shade.

The flowers are unique and interesting.

This picture of Dynamite Red Crape Myrtles was also taken earlier in the summer.  But, to me, red epitomizes the heat of summer.  The bushes still have some flowers on them.

Dynamite Red Crape Myrtle, a result of Carl Whitcom’s breeding that hybridized it for mildew resistance, cold hardiness and drought.  Also, it falls into the medium size crape myrtle group.  It’s a winner.

The small flowers of Strawberry Gomphrena pop because they’re so bright.

This picture is from the internet, but its details are excellent.   Each flower contains about 100 seeds, so it’s a great re-seeder plant.

This picture was also taken earlier in the summer.  I promise that the weeds and rocks have been cleared out.  The brilliant red of Showbiz Rose makes it a stunner.

Kolanchoe is a dependable bloomer in the heat as long it is not in the direct sun.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) likes the heat but not direct sunlight.  Another plus is that the flowers last for months.

The wicked thorns makes it a little difficult to haul the pot indoors for the winter.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a wonderful drought tolerant plant that holds its blooms until the first freeze.

Up close, its aroma is divine.  Just rub your hand along the foliage to carry that scent around for a little while.

Natives are always reliable in this heat.  Insects on the leaves of this Clammy Weed or Red Whisker Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) has given it a ragged look, but it survives and blooms all summer long.  It is not one of those plants you want to touch because your hands will feel sticky until you can scrub them with soap and water.

South African Bulbine is unconcerned with the heat.  The spiky leaves are actually soft.  The leaves and tall thin stems lose little moisture, so they do really well here.

It’s really quite amazing how many plants, including many others not pictured, can endure this heat.  Of course, they are all getting some extra water in this heat.

“Too hot to change board.  Sin, bad.  Jesus, good.  More details inside.”                       On a church changeable letters board.

Bold Colors

Some landscape designers prefer a small, select group of muted colors to be used throughout the yard.  I can see the serenity of that, but bold, bright colors float my boat.

Texas Bluebell Ice Cream is named after Texas Bluebell native flowers or lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorurn).  They grow in areas that get some moisture during the summer months.  In a home garden, it’s easy to provide that needed water.

A field of these is inspiring.  The petals are fragile and the centers boldly colored.  A gorgeous native.

Another biggie for Texas gardeners is or should be Milkweed.  ‘Hello Yellow’ Asclepias is probably an annual here, but I wanted to give it a go.

The leaves of Purple Oxalis or Purple Shamrock brings some color to a shady area.  This one has been in the same pot for about ten years.

This Desert Rose has been in this pot for about eight years.  Recently I saw one with brilliant colored flowers on-line, so I ordered some seeds.  I now have three very small Desert Roses growing from those seeds.

So I decided to save the seeds from these flowers.  But there are no seeds.  What?  Now I’m bumfuzzled.  Are there male and female Desert Roses?

Love the flowers.

Many of the plants with brightly colored flowers are in pots because they are tropical and need to be carried inside for winter protection.

Ixora has been in this pot for about ten years and only gets late afternoon sun.

The coral clusters of large corymbs of bright florets are stunningly beautiful and can last four to six weeks.

Corymbs are flat topped flower clusters in which the individual flower stalks grow upward from various points of the main stem to approximately the same height because the pedicels (small stem) of the lower flowers are longer than those of the upper flowers.

Other flowers with this same flower arrangement include Hawthorns.

Isn’t the internet great for finding out information.

Crepe Myrtles are the brightest and prettiest small flowering trees for our area.  My very favorite variety is this ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle.

Just look how full the clusters are.

There are three of these  ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crape Myrtles in our yard.  This is the only one that has prominent yellow stamens.

Whether you opt for mostly green shrubs, pale colored flowers, or bright primary colors, isn’t it wonderful to plan your own space?

“Be decisive.  The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”  Unknown

Summertime

“Summertime and the living is easy.”  I guess that’s true in a certain sense.  If possible, people do tend to get inside during the midday hours.  As a child, there was no air conditioning.  So we were expected to lay down for a nap during the hottest hours.  However, that luxury isn’t available for the ranchers and others who have to be outside all day here.

For the gardeners, summer means that most work has to be done before noon and much more watering is needed.  If you have a lot of plants in containers, it means lots of hand watering.

Fortunately, there are plants that love the sunshine and heat.  This is a hardy Hibsicus that I got at a club plant sale years ago.  It a generous re-seeder.  The flowers are about 4 inches wide.

This year I was able to locate a hardy Hibiscus with larger flowers.  These are 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  I was looking for the ones with dinner plate size flowers but couldn’t find them in red.

These aren’t true red but close.  So far, they’ve bloomed profusely.

Datura or Moon flowers perform well in the heat as long as they aren’t in direct sun.  They open at night and last until just after noon.

Everyone is being encouraged to plant milkweed to help Monarchs survive.  The most common one here is Antelopehorns (Asclepias asperula), which is a native and grows in our fields.  However, I wanted one that is prettier in the yard.  Thankfully this one, Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana), survived the winter in a pot.

Although Kolache is not winter hardy, it’s a go-to plant for containers in mostly shady areas.  Kolaches grow large and are easy to propagate.  Just break off a stem and stick it into potting soil.  Keep the soil moist, not wet, until it produces roots and begins to grow.  They’re great pass-along plants.

Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis) are wispy, small accent trees.  The orchid-like flowers are lovely.

The flower colors range from light pink to a darker pink or lavender.

Always a trustworthy perennial summer bloomer, Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) is aggressive, so be prepared with space for it to spread.  A low to the ground variety does not spread, so it’s an option.

In this picture a flower stalk from Red Yucca is draping over the petunias.Dainty flowers that last a day.  What is that white bug?  Only noticed it when the picture was enlarged.

If your summer months are extra hot, hope you can enjoy some cheerful flowers and some cool air conditioning.

“People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”  Dumbledore (Harry Potter book)

Carmel by the Sea

The Carmel coastline is rocky with a few sandy beaches.

On one side of a narrow street that follows the curves of the coast are homes.  The lot sizes are small because the land is so costly.  Behind the houses lining the street are other houses built up higher behind them to get an ocean view.

The tiny front yards are designed to give the most bang for their space.

Parking is along the street, so it’s necessary to walk a long way to get to certain destinations.

Closer to the town, a Stanford University marine trial station is on the beach side on a large lot.  Near there was this humongous Bottle Brush bush.

The “brushes” don’t look exactly the same as the ones sold in Texas.  Stunning, aren’t they?

Another bush along this same stretch of land is this stunner.  It was planted several places in town, so it may or may not be a native.

A long swatch of this is probably a native.  This is further from the edge of the shopping areas and seemed to be growing wild.

A chain link fence serves as a barrier to the beach.

On the Stanford University property, we could see sea lions resting on a small sandy beach.

Ice Plant is evidently a good soil erosion prevention plant.  Very few flowers were open, so it must not be their blooming season, or we just missed it.

Then came a walking path along the sea with a low rock fence.

This most unusual looking house sits on a less developed area of the inland side of the road.  What is that patchwork roof made of?  Crazy.

Lovers point is our destination.

Lots of these striking plants all over this area of California.

The water was choppy but paddle boarders, canoers, and surfers enjoyed the 4th of July in the water.  Just hoped they were experienced and knew how to miss the rocks.

The actual point of Lover’s Point has a large pile of rocks.

There are restrooms, a children’s play area, and a restaurant.  Love these hybrid daises.

The underside of the petals are a light purple.

Some of the chubbiest squirrels I’ve ever seen.  Don’t know what the tourists are feeding them.  Lots of different languages could be hear.

The roots of small native plants were tucked under the rocks.  Extremely hardy to endure the environment and the foot traffic.

Since I’ve seen lots of rock piles in Texas, not sure what the draw was.  But here we were.

Couldn’t get acclimated to the cold weather.  But enjoyed the sights.

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”  Christopher Reeve

Pretty in Pink

It always surprises me when I realize how many different pink flowers are in the yard.  I guess because pink is one of my least favorite colors for clothes or decorating.

But Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)  bushes are totally lovely and as hardy as plants come.  This was a pass-a-long from a friend. Because new plants come up each year, they have been moved to different locations in our yard and also have been gifted to others.

Don’t ya love gifts that bring pleasure for many years.

The flowers are so stunning that I can’t stop snapping pictures.  Grow in full sun and well draining soil.

The bush in the foreground is a different strand of Althea or Rose of Sharon that was ordered from a catalog.

They don’t even look like they’re in the same family.  It’s called Althea Double Purple.

More hibiscus-like flowers on another Rose of Sharon that is covered with pink goodness.  Definitely not roses, so why that common name?  Who knows. These bushes are about 9 ft. tall.

Texas Rock Roses (Pavonia lasiopetala) grows as an evergreen and is another plant that has a misnomer name.  They only get about two to three feet tall and wide.

Looks like a small hibiscus.  Full sun and a little water makes it a happy camper.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) tend to grow up but not wide.  So dainty.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has just started to bloom.  Actually, it did not bloom its first year, so I’m anxious to see how it performs.

Annual periwinkles add a bit of color in semi-shade.

Alnwick Rose by David Austin has grown and bloomed better than some of the Austin roses in my yard.

Another David Austin rose Princess Alexandra of Kent was planted this spring.  Even though it’s still a small bush, it has bloomed its head off.

Besides that, it has an impressive name.

‘Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is blooming in spite of the fact that the bulbs were disturbed last fall when a new fiber line came into the house right where they have been for years.  Their blooming period is rather short but spectacular.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

Good-bye to Spring

As an unusually long, cool, wet spring comes to an end, we’re all counting our blessings.  This wonderful weather has been wide spread and a real treat.  It’s near the end of June and no really hot temperatures.  Hooray.It’s sad to say good bye to the spectacular show of Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum.)

Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.  Emphasis on the word “one”.  A Painted Lady is enjoying a flat landing spot.

Many gorgeous spirals on the Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has brought a sweet fragrance to the back yard.

In the front yard, another Vitex, but it almost seems like a different species.  The blossoms are smaller, a paler color, and not scented.  In front of the Vitex are some Flame Acanthus, which just keep spreading.

In late fall, I cut both Vitex back severely to keep them from becoming large trees because those are not nearly as attractive.

This flowerbed is anchored by the Vitex and a large Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Between the large bush/trees are Cone Flowers and Rock Roses by the sidewalk.

Behind the Cone flowers is a Bridal Wreath Spiraea, a small Crepe Myrtle, and some Mexican Feather Grass.  So this bed is crammed full.

Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) are also waning, although some will hang on through the summer.

Another absolute favorite.

The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima) hasn’t totally greened up yet.  This is considered to be invasive but that hasn’t happened in this bed.

The ground cover around the Vitex is Stonecrop Sedum.  It helps keep the native grass out of this bed.

This year I’ve planted Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetti) in a pot so it can be carried inside in winter.  One year I tried it in a flower bed; that winter was particulary harsh and killed it.

The flowers have a similar look as Mexican Petunia.

After the initial first flush, the roses are just now starting to bloom again.  Abraham Darby has David Austin’s trademark inner petals.

A new rose that intrigues me is Scentimental.  It was hybridized by Tom Carruth.

He has created more roses than any other living American.

It’s also called a red and white stripped rose.  So far, I haven’t noticed that the smell is that strong, but still love the uniqueness of it.

“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.”  George 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 

Transition Time

Often the changing of the seasons here is abrupt with no chance to adjust from one to another.  This year has been very different with more rain and milder temperatures.  In fact, I have been hesitant to bring some more tropical plants outside yet.

Some colors never seem to photograph to the true color.  This Brilliant Veranda rose is actually a very strong red that stands out in the landscape.  It was labeled as a good size for a container plant.  Recently I tried to scoot it over, and the roots are firmly in the ground.

Another rose that never photographs well is this Drift Rose.  The flowers last a long time and are striking as a grouping.  My husband who hardly every mentions specific plants often comments on how pretty they are.

The seed pods on this Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) only last a short time in spring.

It’s an interesting plant in many ways.  One of those is that the trunks shoot out like a water sprinkler, so it’s long small trunks sway gracefully in the wind.

Larkspur is popping up all over the yard.  One of my favorite surprises during the springtime.

Not only have we had lots of rain, but the wind has been really strong, scattering rose petals.  Looks like an aisle at a wedding in some places.

Good old Henry Duelberg Salvia or Mealy Cup Sage makes pollinators and me happy.

Augusta Duelberg Salvia makes a nice contrast.

This evergreen Yarrow has lovely lacy foliage.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) on tall stems is just starting to bloom while Spiderwort (shorter purple blooms in front) is on its way out.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) like the mild weather and rains.  Sylvestris means found wild.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is showing off with exotic blooms.

Stella de Oro Daylily is a dependable short-stemed perennial bulb.  I recently heard a speaker say that they are boring because they are ubiquitous.  I think these are beautiful.

Never expected this Yellow Lead Ball (Leucaena retusa) tree to get so big.  They are considered a small tree with total height about 12 feet.  They’re drought tolerant and very hardy in our rocky hard clay.

I like the fuzzy yellow balls and so do the bees and other pollinators.

It’s fun when nature surprises us with more pleasant weather than we expected.

“Expect to have hope rekindled.  Hope to have your prayers answered in wondrous ways.  The dry seasons in life do not last.  The spring rains will come again.”          Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

 

Southeast Texas Gardening

While attending the Texas Master Gardener Convention in Victoria, we visited the local Master Gardener’s demonstration garden.  Gardening in this region is polar opposite of gardening here in our neck of the woods.  The plants there tend to be tropical and they have arable soil while we have hard clay and rocks.  They must have weeds, but I didn’t see any.The garden is across from the airport and is located around a former officer’s club.  This part of the garden was constructed over a former olympic-sized pool, which had been filled with dirt.  The total size of the gardens is over an acre.

The contrast between shade and bright sunlight made photography difficult.

Some plants, like this Duranta (Duranta erecta), can be grown in our area, but it dies in the winter.  There, it lives all year.  This one was huge.

Great plant.

This plant was unfamiliar to me.  It’s Cestrum (Cestrum aurantiacum) which grows in zones 9 -11.  Really pretty but not a choice for me.

Henry Duelberg Sage seems to be a favorite all over the state.  It’s in the mealy cup or blue sage variety and is a perennial where we live.

Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea Fabagae) bushes are simply gorgeous.  Definitely a hot climate plant.  In spite of its beauty, the beans are toxic and can be a temptation to children.

If it would live here, I’d give it a try.

Could not find a sign identifying these flowers but couldn’t pass up this picture.

At first, I wondered what was wrong with this plant.  Then I saw the sign.  Curly Leaf Leopard Plant (Ligularia tussilaginea) likes the heat but needs a bit of shade.  Aptly named.

Crested Leopard Plant (Ligularia eristata)

Ligularia (Farfugium tussilaginea “Gigantea”) are surprisingly in the aster family and are commonly know as the ragwort flower.  They have yellow flowers that resemble asters but aren’t the toxic ragwort found in some fields.

Cute bench.

Never could find a label for these.  The flowers look like they’re mixed in with larger leafed plants.

Another unidentified flower.  The red ones were lovely.

I’m sure that this Hibiscus was a new addition in preparation for this event.  Whenever an association takes on the job of hosting a convention, that means two years of work: planning and executing everything.  Kudos to the Victoria Master Gardeners for pulling off a successful convention and for this beautiful garden.

The next post will show more of the garden.

“Today I’m going to clean the house.  Oh, look, a flower (or book, etc.)”  unknown

Wonderful, Overwhelming Spring

As much as I love spring with the new life it brings, it is easy to become frustrated with all the attention the yard needs.  When you add that to other commitments, plus the unexpected ones that come up, some of the joy of it all is lost.

So, I’m trying to relax and not let the weeds or the busy schedule spoil this season.

Love Spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea).  It loves the cool mild days of spring but shags out when the heat hits.

Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis) also likes prefers the milder weather.

The leaves maintain their light green color until the first freeze.

Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) is a Texas native that does really well with morning sun and afternoon shade.

Dianthus, also called pinks, is a more hardy soul.  The roots systems of some perennials can’t survive a cold winter in a pot.  But these guys greet us in early spring.  I like the look of them in pots.  The thickness of the plant also keeps weeds out.

Blackfoot Daisies( Melampodium leucanthum) with roses is a pleasing combination.

Wish I knew the name of this rose.  It was planted years ago when that sort of thing wasn’t important to me.

For a very short period of time, blossoms hang on Eve’s Necklace bush (Sophora affinis).  Soon, black pods of seeds will form like beads of a necklace.

Good old faithful Ice Plants glow in the sunlight.  The foliage looks a little ragged as the weather warms up.  I can’t even remember how long this has been in this pot in this spot.

Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) pokes its head up briefly in the early spring.  This plant has been here for years and never seems to get much bigger.  But the root is solid.  I tried to dig it up one time – not happening.

Gulf Coast Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis) form tight clusters with lots of flowers.  Although it is considered a good plant for a marshy area, it has done very well in our drier area.  But, of course, we’ve had more rain than usual in the last year and a half.

This week the garden club had the dedication of the Blue Star Memorial to honor veterans.  The flower bed behind the plaque was built and planted by the club.  True to Texas weather, the wind whipped everything and everyone.  But it was a special event.

Hope you’re able to look past all the demands of your time and enjoy the moment.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt