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

Summer’s Heat is Coming

The fiery dragon is moving in closer with flames of heat not too far away.  Can feel him breathing down our necks.  Spring was just a brief hiatus.

Another picture of Eyeliner Lilies.  There was a close-up on my last post.  I’m so impressed with their height and sturdiness. What beauties.

Also, another shot of the Ditch Lilies with a mass of color.

Grey Santolina or Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) sports bright yellow button flowers.

A squirrel has discovered the treasure trove of acorns in the yard.  The extra large acorns laying on the ground from two Bur Oaks are providing many feasts.

Shasta Daisies are just staring to bloom.  Something else that needs to be divided.  That’s just part of being a gardener.  As I tell my husband, it’s an opportunity to stay limber, busy, and healthy.

The thing about daylilies is just that – they last one day.  But they will bloom again and again.  The flowers of “Always Afternoon” Daylily are large and striking.

Native Blue Mist or Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) leafs out and blooms in late spring.  It’s one hardy bush with cold hardiness in zones 5 – 9.

This Yellow Canna has little flecks of gold on the yellow petals.

It’s warm enough for “Bubba” Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) to bloom and for sweat on the brow when laboring in the sun.  Their orchid-like flowers are a refreshing sight.

Hope you are healthy as you survive this isolation time.  Maybe it will be ending soon.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”         John Wooden

Blackberry Winter Over?

Hopefully, last week was the final throes of “Blackberry Winter”, the late cold snap that comes at the time when blackberries are blooming.

The Catalpa or Catawba tree has a very short window of looking good.  Its thin leaves are torn by wind and turn crisp on the edges from summer sun.

This tree is one of my bad choices that I’m living with.  But I don’t have the heart to chop it down.  It would probably survive better as an under story tree in our area.

Privet gets a bad rap in my opinion.  I know that it spreads easily in places that have much more rain than here and more fertile soil.  But that’s not a worry here.  The butterflies love the blooms, and I like the aroma and the arching branches.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii” vine has large purple blooms.  It comes from a grower in Surrey England in 1862.  He crossed two vines to produce this hardy version.

I took this picture because I like the elongated shape of Bur Oak leaves.  The huge acorns are another characteristic of this oak variety.

Bright Red Yucca’s towering stalks of blooms stand out in a landscape.  I think I went overboard on the size of the sign, but I still like it.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows well in semi dry soil and full sun.  It’s an evergreen that spreads.

This hardy yarrow was bought at a garden club plant sale.  The tight cluster of flowers top a stem full of lacy leaves.  The blooms also last a long time.

Summer is coming, so it’s time to enjoy these mild days of spring.

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

On the Road…

We’ve been living like moles, shut in our house, like the rest of the country.  This Coronavirus time will go down in history as a unprecedented time of individual isolation and challenges.

But for all Texans, the call of wildflowers is strong this time of the year.  So we grabbed some snacks and continued with the isolation, but in our car.

Heading south into the Hill Country, the fields are full of wildflowers.

From the highway, it was hard to distinguish what the white flowers were.

Up close, it was easy to identify them as White Prickly Poppy (Argemone albifora ‘texana’).  Since it’s so early in the spring, they are short but will grow to about 30″ tall.

Note the prickly leaves.  Before we moved from the city to the country, these were unfamiliar.  But now, they’re one of my favorites.  Even though the pedals are thin and delicate, they withstand strong wind.

The Bluebonnets along the highway grow in tall grass, so that only the flowers are visible.  There are no shoulders along the highways in the Hill Country, which is unusual for Texas.  Therefore, it’s difficult to find a spot to park for picture taking.  Maybe, this is by design because too much foot traffic can damage the flowers.

Anyway, we found a space to park.  As I was stepping carefully around the flowers, these bright Wine Cups (Callirhoë  involucrata) grabbed my attention.

Finally, I was able to get a close-up of the beloved state flower, Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).  Although there are several different bluebonnets, these are the most common.

Another favorite in Texas are the Indian Paintbrushes or Texas Paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa).  Their color makes a nice contrast to the Bluebonnets.

Leaving the highway and turning onto a small road, this Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) still looks great.  Known for their ability to grow in the worst possible soil, Redbuds are short lived and are just about at the end of their glory time.

Most Texas wildflowers are tiny and low to the grown and unidentifiable to the average person.  These flowers are about 3/4″ wide.

These were less than half of an inch across.

There are lots of yellow flowers that unfortunately look so much alike that I can’t name them.

We spotted an old cemetery off the highway.  These are great places for peaceful reflection, quiet walks, and for seeing some flowers.

Oxford Cemetery has both old and new tombstones.

The older stones have an uniqueness and aging that make them attractive.

Sadly, many older graves are for young infants because their mortality rates were so high in the 1880’s.

It took me awhile to identify these because they are so low to the ground.  Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is usually much taller.

I love the fact that at some point, someone cared enough and took the time to plant Irises in different places in this cemetery.

As long as people aren’t in groups now, the great outdoors is still available for walks and soul renewal.

“Overnight successes are generally years in the making.  And most progress is made in isolation, far from the public eye.”     Andrew Yang

On the Cusp of Winter

Although there was one early freeze, the temperatures since that night have been up and down, but still fairly mild.

This Red Oak has been losing its leaves slowly and is currently pretty bare.

So these pictures are a few weeks old.  Early morning light casts a golden light on the leaves.

…and gives the acorns a polished mahogany look.

Acorns and dead leaves cover the ground around all the Oaks.

Dried leaves of Crinim Lilies insulate the bulbs that will bring spring beauty.

A skeletal Bur Oak stands tall against the blue sky.  Burs produce huge acorns – the cap of one still hanging on.

The brittle, dried remains of Purple Cone flowers(Echinacea purpurea) provide visible interest in a winter garden.

Piet Oudolf, a Dutch gardener has become internationally known for his New Perennial Movement.  Basically, this means he advocates for how plants, mainly perennials, will look in all four seasons.  So these Cone flowers have a distinctive winter look that is noteworthy.  He designed several prominent public gardens in the US around this concept.Stalks of American Basketflowers  (Centaurea americana) stand tall and proud throughout the winter.  They have become one of my favorite Texas native wildflowers.

Leaves of Chinapin Oaks with their slender long shape don’t look like the leaves of most other Oaks.

Dried Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers look prickly but are actually soft.

Globe Mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) tends to be evergreen or blue-gray green during the winters.  Some late orange buds remaining on plant.

The tops of tall Rose of Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) form a sculpture against the sky.

More orange leaves from a Red Oak.

Fragile stems of a wildflower that I can’t identify.  They are volunteers each summer in a flowerbed.

The brilliant red leaves of a Red Oak on our county road stopped us in our tracks.

These small trees never have a chance to grow into full grown trees because the county maintenance crews periodically chop down the trees and other plants on the sides of the roads.

My observation – the native Red Oaks have deeper reds than those purchased from a nursery.

“The problem with winter sports is that–follow me closely here–they generally take place in winter.”   Dave Barry

Relaxing Garden

It was a quiet morning at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.  We almost had the garden to ourselves.

Clever set of benches built into a pergola type cover that leads into the central part of the garden.

To me, the bronze statues of children was as strong an attraction as the shrubs and flowers.  Early October was still warm enough for Begonias and other flowering plants.

Angel Wing Begonias, named for the shape of their leaves, is a hardy hybrid.  Seeds from the annual Flamingo Celosia (Celosia spicata) must be saved in order to propagate it.  Mine never looked this bright and healthy.

Same group of plants with some Lantana added.   This one looks like Lil Miss Lantana, but it could be another hybrid.

Many garden designers suggest that it’s best to stick to the same plants throughout the garden.  I don’t personally agree, but the bright colors were nice.  I like to see plants that surprise me.

This new display is a little difficult to comprehend.  This is a giant butterfly.  The wings will probably be planted with colorful flowers in the spring.  The standing metal part in the center is the actual body of the butterfly.  Looks like it’s intended to be viewed from above.

Nice calming stream.

If this is man-made, lots of boulders had to brought in.

It’s hard not to feel the joy of a child experiencing this garden.  Sure made me smile.

The only other people we encountered in the gardens were mothers with young children and babies in strollers.  What a perfect way to expose your children to nature.

Loved the form of this Japanese Thundercloud Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’).  It’s obvious to see how it got its name.

The only indications that it was Autumn were the cool morning and the Ornamental Cabbages and dried grasses.

Next post will be the last one on the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”  Peter Marshall

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)