Unrelenting Heat

It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  The summer merry-go-round keeps circling around and around.

So how could any plant survive this?

First of all, the plants in the yard have received more watering than usual.

Some plants actually live and bloom better in the heat, like this Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata).  The foliage is green most of the year.  But it’s flowering performance with its strong sweet smell comes in the hottest part of summer – mid August into September.

One warning:  prune it back to the ground by the beginning of spring, or it will be so heavy, it will tumble down and bring the trellis with it.  The optimum time is early winter.

The flowers disappeared from Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) when the heat cranked up, but the foliage is pretty and unique all by itself.  The ruffled leaves are soft to the touch.

This lovely plant is new to me this year.  Although I can’t find the tag, I think it is Rose Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena Globosa).  The leaves are wider than other gomphrenas, and it grows in a rounded mound.

Strawberry Field Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) are individual plants with a bright red ball at the top of each stem.  They reseed so freely that just a few can guarantee many flowers for years to come.

Another successful bush for this heat is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).

Bees and other pollinators flock to it.

Caryopteris or Bluemist shrub (Cayopteris x clandonensis) shines in the heat.  The main concern is more about its cold hardiness.  But it has survived some low temperatures.

Celosia is a large plant family that includes several annuals, such Cockscomb.  This one is Flamingo Feather (Celosia spicata).  All celosias do well in the heat.  The trick is to save their seeds.  I’m hoping to do that with this plant.

A favorite in Texas is Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  There’s no question that it’s a stunner.  But the problem is that it isn’t cold hardy here.  So it has to be brought inside for the winter.  That’s possible for a few years before it gets too large.
So I’ll just enjoy it for now.

Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii) is listed as cold hardy for here in Zone 8.  But I have lost one already, so for right now it is carried to a protected area each winter.

A plant that should not be grown here is Firebush (Hamelia patens).  I resisted getting one as long as I could.   It does very well two zones warmer than here.  For now, it’s in a pot.

Sometimes, I think my love of plants is madness.

Of course, the very best plants for any region are the native ones.  If they grow in a field with no supplemental water, that is a dead give away that they’re perfect for the area.  Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) forms large colonies in the dry fields.

Sometimes a few will come up in the yard, so I let them grow.  Obviously, this Swallowtail butterfly appreciates it.

 “To find some who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, this is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault 

Visit Chandor Gardens

Another look at what Chandor Gardens has to offer.

There are surprises along the pathways and stairs that climb to different levels of the garden.

Some of the newer structures don’t exactly fit in with the more formal sections, but are unique.

For the waterfall, the original builder and owner, Douglas Chandor, had to haul in soil and large rocks.  This was done without large equipment and one helper.

Pentas were in bloom and placed in several places in the garden.  They didn’t show any wilting from the heat but were fresh and lovely.

Maybe Bleeding Heart but don’t know for sure.

Stepping stones across a shallow pool.

Tied Bamboo poles give the illusion of sails on a small Chinese sampan boat.

Chinese statuary in different spots all around the garden makes me wonder why Chandor was so taken with that culture.

Chinese Button Bush (Adina Ruella) looks a little like the North American Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  But it’s parts are more distinct and pop out against dark foliage.  This was in a mostly shady area on the edge of a small stream.

Chandor’s home is used for special events.

This Magnolia looks healthy, even in the extreme dry heat.

One of the many water features, this Pixie Pond is another place to relax and enjoy the sound and sight of water.

Cast stone pixies in different poses are placed on top of the stone (or brick) edges around the pond.  Chandor chose them and placed them himself, probably in the late 40’s.

The next post will be the final one on Chandor Gardens.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  Thomas Fuller

Crazy Heat Continues

Even though it’s difficult to fathom, there are many plants that not only survive the heat, but are at their peak during the dog days of August.

Texas Rock Rose  (Pavonia lasiopetala) blooms on and on throughout the summer.  Can’t beat it for performance when temperatures are 100 plus.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is a haven for bees and other pollinators in the summertime.  If it’s planted in a tight place, like this one is, it’s necessary to tie the branches upright so they don’t sprawl out.  This rope is tied to a metal stake.Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is the blue-purple blooms while the white ones are named after his wife Augusta.  Found in a Texas cemetery growing on their graves, they are also sold as Mealy Cup Sage.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best salvias around and should be a staple in gardens where the summers are hot and dry.

Mint also pays no attention to the heat.  It’s so aggressive that the word “aggressive” doesn’t even describe it.  I first planted it in a flower bed.  It spread so quickly by underground runners that pulling it out was a chore.  In fact, it will take a concerted effort to monitor new shoots coming up and totally removing all of the underground parts from that bed.

Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) is in the mint family, so it too can be aggressive.  However, it spreads much slower than mint does.  The lovely foxglove like flowers bloom during the hottest part of the summer.

Another take-over-the-world plant is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  If there’s a theme here, it’s that plants with underground runners that root and produce a new plant must have space and diligent watchfulness to keep it controlled.

However, if you live where the summers heat up with no moisture and have hard rocky clay soils, these are be beautiful, reliable plants.

Old fashioned Dusty Miller has survived winters and summers in this pot.  When planted, it was to be a temporary solution until I found the right spot for it.  But now, it looks perfect in this pot.Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) and Hardy Hibiscus give the garden a wow factor.  Although the blossoms only last one day, their flowers are so large and stunning and the blooming is so prolific that they are both super stars.

“My garden, like my life, seems to me every year to want correction and require alteration.”  Alexander Pope

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)

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

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

 

 

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

Wildflowers and Memories

My last post showed gorgeous Texas wildflowers in a cemetery.  As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Past the thick patch of Indian Paintbrushes and some scattered White Prickly Poppies is the entrance into the Sutherland Springs cemetery.  That name may not conjure up any memories for you, but it is a sharp reminder of a tragedy that shattered this small community.

A lone gunman filled with hate and revenge stepped into this small church and took the lives of 26 innocent people.

Rather then walk into another church service in this building, the members turned it into a memorial for family and friends.  Instead, they rented a temporary building for services.  At the present time, a new stone building is nearing completion where they won’t be reminded of that day as they gather for worship.

Markers and mementos to honor the dead are placed all around the classic white chapel building with its idyllic steeple.  Some families were almost decimated that day.

This town is close to San Antonio, where the whole surrounding area has groves of these Huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana).  They are considered nuisance trees by some people, like Mesquites in the upper Central Texas and, especially, West Texas.

Huisache is often one of the first trees to invade abandoned fields.  The most noticeable characteristics are their fragrant yellow puff blooms and their fern-like foliage.  They have white thorns, which are more noticeable on a young tree.  Huisaches require full sun and little water after they are established.Being in lower Central Texas, the area has mild winters with rare freezes, which is ideal for many wildflowers and some tropical plants.  It’s one of the more garden spots in the state.

As we focus on the natural beauty, we know that God is in control of the earth and the healing of this community.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;”  Psalm 13:5

No matter what the circumstances, we can trust the heart of God.

Waiting for Spring

So close, but not quite yet.  Warm days feel like spring is here, but are followed by colder days that remind us to be patient.

An early morning drive gives a full view of the rising sun in all its glory.

That big yellow ball of fire makes a spectacular appearance.

As I eagerly await flowers blooming in my yard, I’m reminded that it’s okay to just go buy some flowers.  Or just enjoy ones given to you or gift someone with a gorgeous bouquet.

Carnations have never been a favorite of mine.  But the new lush colors have made them a great choice for arrangements.

But nothing beats a rose for cut flowers.  Although these commercial ones have no scent because they were bred to have tall, strong stems and many petals.  Still beautiful.

Yeah.  Roses speak of love and delicate creations.That early morning drive took us to a garden meeting.  A woman from the Hubbard area, where we were, is a true farm woman, and it sounded like her family is pretty self sustaining.  She raises seven and a half (she’s expecting) children, lots of goats, chickens, and cows.

She was at the meeting to give a short talk and sell her products.  The usual goat products of soaps and lotions as well as some creams for pain and other products were available.

But the highlight of the meeting was the baby kid.  In fact, the whole meeting was disrupted as people jumped up with their phones to get pictures.  At least, I was polite enough to wait until the end of the meeting.  Okay, that’s patting my own back.

Meanwhile, in our backyard, the Cherry Laurel is covered with blossoms.  Another encouraging sign that the arrival of spring isn’t far away – at least here.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”   Margaret Atwood

Ice, Ice, Ice

First of the year freeze has come and gone.  Almost, like clockwork, every January, there will be ice in the northern half of Texas.

With just mist in the air and a few drops of rain, ice formed on almost every surface outside, except for concrete areas and roadways.  The grass, Algerita bush, and the evergreen Blue Juniper to the left have ice crystals on them.

The branches of the huge Live Oak behind the backyard are weighted down with ice.  Although we have officially never had this tree examined to determine its age, it’s estimated to be over a hundred years old.

I always worry when the branches touch the ground, fearing they will break.  But, fortunately, the ice usually only lasts a couple of days.

Ice on stems and leaves of dead Cannas becomes a work of art.

Frozen water in a bird bath gives the edges of the concrete a pearlized look.  The glass knob-looking item in the center is actually an antique electrical insulator from a telephone pole.

Thin stems of Gaura are encased in ice.

Green leaves of Desert Bird of Paradise enveloped in ice.

Edged in ice, this trellis has a sophisticated, lacy appeal.

With its multiple tiny stems, a rose bush creates the most fantastic ice sculpture.

Mexican Feather Grass.

Dried Blue Mistflower stems.  Can you tell I’m enamored with the ice?

It’s surprising what lives with freezing temperatures.  These Four Nerve Daisies still have flowers.  What hardy natives they are.

Copper Canyon Daisy ice sculpture.

Pokeweed in a pot.

More rose bushes.

Not sure what this plant is.  Love the look.

Since we only have ice once or twice a year, it’s a real novelty.  So I get carried away with taking pictures.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”  Japanese proverb