The Lady Wore Red

Chris De Burgh’s “Lady in Red” lyrics include these lines:

“I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight.  I’ve never seen you shine so bright.”

A red dress is an attention getter.  Red flowers have that same effect in the garden.

ladyinredEven a common old fashioned plant like Canna Lilies are still striking.  Not only do the bright flowers shine, but the large leaves fill up a space.

They have the added bonus of being low maintenance and easy to grow.  They probably bloom better with a little more water, but mine do fine with less than ideal amounts.  The rhizomes multiply yearly which makes it easy to share the bounty.

ladyinred5Dynamite Crape Myrtles have a deep, deep red color.  For all of central Texas, Crape Myrtles are one of the best flowering small trees around.  They come in so many different colors and are a trustworthy performer.

I’ve read that Dynamites are fast growers.  That has not been my experience.  Granted, the soil here is dense clay with lots of caliche and rocks.

They did not even bloom for the first two years and only had a few flowers the third year.  Just when I was about ready to give up, they were covered with full, gorgeous clusters.

ladyinred6Crimson Pirate Daylily is new this year.  We’ll see how hardy it is in this climate.

ladyinredbThe Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has bloomed several times this year and none last year.  Sometimes plant performance is a conundrum.

ladyinred9The wind whips it around pretty hard.

ladyinredaThe pods for new blooms are clustered behind the one already open.  So far, only one flower at a time blooms.

ladyinred8On a different branch a flower pod awaits its turn.

ladyinredcTurk’s Cap flowers are small but so attractive.  The large, thin leaves look totally unsuitable for our hot summers.  But it’s in full sun and has survived for five years, continues to grow and get larger.

ladyinreddRed Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have shoots coming up all around the mother plant.  It surprised me to learn that hollyhocks are short lived with only a 2 to 3 year lifespan.  However, they readily reseed.

ladyinredp.jpgFlame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus Nees var. wrightii) looks so unimpressive from a distance with the red washing out in the sun.

ladyinredfUp close each tubular flower seems bold.  Also known as Hummingbird bush, Wright’s desert honeysuckle, Wright acanthus, Mexican flame, and Wright’s Mexican flame.  So it’s no surprise that hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects flit around it.

ladyinredgAll the new little bushes sprouting in my beds attest to the fact that it reseeds profusely.

ladyinredo.jpgBack in full force, Strawberry Field Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) has filled out this spot nicely.  Each flower contains about 60 seeds.  That accounts for all the new plants this year.

Gomphrena also makes a good dried flower.  I tried a few last year.  If cut when the color is vivid, the color holds pretty well.

ladyinredr.jpgOne Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) still has a few blooms but has mostly gone to seed.  It is indigenous to the southeastern US and is a member of the phlox family.

Standing Cypress or Texas plume, Red Texas star, Red gilia has been difficult for me to get established.  I don’t know if that is because it is biennial here or that the seeds are not sprouting.  But it is such a striking plant that I keep trying.

“One of the most breathtaking concepts in all of scripture is the revelation that God knows each of us personally and that we are in His mind both day and night.”  Dr. James Dobson

New Flowerbed

Yep.  Another lasagne garden flowerbed was created this spring.  But this one has a twist that helped another problem.

frontbed10For years I’ve bemoaned the fact that the front walkway is too narrow.  We’ve learned that the wide open vistas require that everything be bigger to fit the scale.

Besides needing a flowerbed to break up the yard space and another space for plants, we opted for a plan that would also visually widen the flagstone walk.

frontbed6By using rocks in the same color palette of the flagstones, the eye is tricked into perceiving this as one space.  After building the lasagne flowerbed in the early spring, we hired a young man to install the metal divider to keep the soil out of the rocks.

So far, so good on that. frontbed5This view is from one end of the bed.  As you can tell, the plants were given space to grow.  On the left is a Dwarf Crape Myrtle.  In the middle and in the foreground is a Blue Curls bush, and a clump of Texas Bluebells is on the right.

frontbed4This picture shows the bed in June after the rock border was finished.  I’m very pleased with the look. frontbed8Then, boom.  In the center of the bed a monster plant has taken over stretching out to about 7 feet.  All these plants came from either the Garden Club plant sale or the annual spring sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  I thought I was choosing carefully and researched the plants I wanted.

The day after the Wildflower Center sale, I was knocked down with a severe case of allergies that turned into a bronchial infection.  All this to say that the planting of all those purchased plants did not happen until weeks later.  So even though, I was still sick, it came to a point where they had to be put into the ground.   The placement was rather helter-skelter..

frontbed11This unknown plant was not a conscious buy.  Either it was mislabeled or I grabbed one from a different section than I intended.  Does anyone know what on earth this is?

Several low branches that covered other plants have been cut off.  The reddish trunk is about 3 inches in diameter.

frontbed12The long fronds or whatever they are look soft but are actually scratchy and have some sharp points on them.

The plan is to try to transplant this alien when it gets cooler.  There are some places away from other plants where it would look good.  If that proves impossible, it will be tossed.

frontbed9Love the twirling hummingbirds.

“Old age is the most unexpected thing of all the things that can happen to a man.”  James Thurber

Bold Red

Guess I’ve mentioned before that I really love the way red flowers brighten up an outside space.  It’s so strong and vibrant.  This post shows some examples.

redspheresThese Strawberry Field Gomphrenas (Gomphrena haageana) really do remind me of strawberries.  These are the first ones I’ve tried, so I hope they love the heat, as advertised.

redsphereLove the red with little yellow tips that look like stars.

victor crepeThe flowers on this Victor Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) don’t look as deep a red as the picture on the label indicated.  But it has just started blooming, so we’ll see.   I’m counting on the dwarf size promised on the tag.

turkscapThe bright red flowers of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) stand out against the dark green leaves.

turkscap2This variety of Turk’s Cap is named after a Scotsman, Thomas Drummond, who traveled to America in 1830 to collect plant specimens from western and southern US.  He spent twenty-one months in parts of Texas.  He also noted 150 species of birds.

turkAlthough I don’t know who named this plant Turk’s Cap, it comes from its resemblance to the old turbans worn by the men in the Ottoman Empire.  This is a painting of Mehmet the Conqueror who ruled in the 1400’s.  He ended the Byzantine Empire and set up the Ottoman Empire composed of Turkish tribes.

When the Ottoman Empire fell at the end of WWI,  Mustata Kemal Ataturk set up a democratic government in Turkey and eliminated the use of turbans, fezs and the Ottoman script.  He is known as the father of the modern Turks.

turkscap3My Turk’s Cap has survived very well in full sun and is a reliable perennial.  It is now on the Texas Star plant list.

dynamitecrepe3This Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Whit II’) has bicolor blossoms this year.

dynamitecrepeSo I’m guessing that this variety of Crape Myrtle is the result of cross breeding.  Maybe the bush is now producing the two colors from those original different types.

dynamitecrepe2The three bushes I have are seven years old and are covered with showy flowers this year

“One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well.”  Louis Kronenberger.

Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles, Lagerstroemia, are prominent over much of Texas.  They bloom profusely and are no big deal to most people.  But I want to brag on these little beauties.  They have been in the ground for six years and are just this year what I had hoped for.  As you can see, they aren’t very tall but are beautiful.

This picture is from last year.  That was the first time they were covered in blooms.  Their beginning was rough as they struggled to survive in the thick clay and caliche.

This year the blooms are even fuller.  This variety is Dynamite Red.  I don’t know if the various varieties perform differently or not.  This may just be a slow growing type.

But I wanted the reddest red I could find.  In the fall the leaves turn deep red.  This year in late winter we planted two crape myrtles with light colored blooms on the other side of the yard.  Right now they require extra water because they are also having a difficult time surviving.

These three Crape Myrtles anchor the long flower bed at one end.  In the future these Crape Myrtles will probably become too crowded, but I’m hoping that trimming the bottom of the trunks will take care of that problem.

Right now I’m just enjoying their rich color and appreciate their survival.

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.”  Eric Butterworth