Indian Summer

After the threat of a freeze two weeks ago, we lugged in most of the potted plants and covered others with sheets.  It was in the mid thirties for two days.  Then back up to the middle 90’s since then.  With some record highs, it’s a crazy Texas autumn.

Although some gardeners don’t consider it worthwhile to take Coleus in for the winter, I do.  Sure, I could buy new ones in the spring, but then I wouldn’t have this one that came from a friend’s mother.

In the warm shed, Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) bloomed again.  That’s the pretty pink ones at the top.  The other pink ones are Crown of Thorns.  Note the sharp thorns that define them.

Another pot of Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) that was gingerly carried inside.  Those thorns reach out and grab your skin.

Most of the plants, like this White Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata Escapade White), were looking spiffy.  Re-flowering occurred after the summer heat had ended and some pleasant days of 70s were a boon to us all.

Ditto for the Purple Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) or Sky Flower.

It’s a shame these flowers are all in the shed where I can’t enjoy their last hurrah.  But the rule in our household is that once the plants are carried inside, that’s where they will stay until spring.

Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) was looking good.  If we lived just a couple of zones south of here, the evergreen foliage would survive the winter and be good to go next year.

Can’t get much cheerier than this color.

Same with American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).  It might be okay here, but I don’t want to take a chance.  We just might have a hard freeze sometime this winter.

I really hated to hide this beauty away.  The cooler temperatures had brought back all its glory.  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) is one showy plant.

Some bulbs, like this Stella de Oro Daylily have been reblooming.

Dianthus or Pinks (Dianthus ssp.) should die down during the winter, but return in the spring.

In the fields, good ole Prairie Verbena or Sweet William (Verbena bipinnatifia)  blooms and blooms.

There’s always the roses to enjoy.  This flower on Belinda’s Dream (Rosa hybrida Belinda’s Dream) reminds of the kid Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back Kotter” with his hand waving in the air, demanding attention.

Belinda’s Dream definitely deserves attention.  It was the first rose chosen as an Earthkind Rose and is still a hardy, disease resistant, consistent performer.  Love it.

The bright fire engine red of Show Biz Rose (Rosa Tanweieke)  keeps on blooming.  it is a floribunda rose that was hybridized by Tantau and introduced in 1985.  To me, it’s a reminder of our visit to the Biltmore where we bought it at their nursery.

The plants in my yard are friends that bring memories of certain people or places.  Thanks for taking time to read my blog.

“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take you breath away.”  anonymousSave

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Some Favorites for Spring

Gardeners each have their own favorite plants, so I don’t usually foist my choices on others.  But today I’m going to make some recommendations.

If you have read my blog before, you know how much I love roses.  Part of the reason is because before we moved here, I didn’t have the space, sunny spots, or the time to do any gardening.

Then, surprisingly, roses not only have survived here but were a success.

Drift Roses are a relatively new type of Knock Out® Roses.  These are Coral Drift Roses.  They are low growing and constantly covered with flowers from early spring until the first freeze.

If I can have roses here in my high alkaline, clay and rock soil, then anyone can.  They are in lasagna raised beds that have amended soil.  Other than that, all they need is sun and water.

The rocks at the edge of the beds are to keep the water from washing off the slopes.  Texas has lots of limestone fossils.  This one and the following ones came from the edge of a creek on our property.

There are some roses that are exceptional performers.  Like this Belinda’s Dream that flowers on and off for months.  It has no disease problems.  Just give space for bushes to get huge – about 6 feet across.

Tropicana is a popular rose that does well in many different areas and is usually available at all kinds of nurseries.  It is a hybrid tea that blooms fairly often.

My all time favorite of the roses that I’ve tried is Double Delight because it has a strong scent that is out of this world.  It is also a hybrid tea.  I recently bought another one at a local nursery because I’m not sure how long roses bushes last.  Mine is twelves years old and doesn’t look as healthy this year as usual.  But we did have some hard freezes this winter.

Clematis vines are a great choice for gardeners.  There are many varieties available that grow well in different zones.

Many have prettier, fancier flowers than this one, but I chose one that does well here – Jackman Clematis.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) brightens up the early spring.  After the bareness of winter, it is just what the doctor ordered.

This soil was not amended, so it’s a tough plant.

As you see, pollinators are drawn to it.  Plus, it’s so cheery.

Another category of flowers is bulbs.  Stella de Oro Reblooming Daylily is technically not a bulb but a herbaceous root plant.

To keep it blooming, deadheading spent blooms is necessary.  It’s a gorgeous low growing, bright yellow flower that pollinators love.

There are many different flowers that fit into the vague, incorrect category “bulb”.  For example:  tulips and daffodils are bulbs, irises are rhizomes, gladiolas and crocuses are corms, and daylilies are tubers with tuberous roots.  Confusing.

My point is that plants in the “bulb” designation are a wonderful addition to any garden.  They tend to be reasonably priced; some produce new bulbs so your investment grows and can be shared; many different varieties are available to grow in different zones and climates; and most provide beautiful flowers year after year.  What a bargain.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea) was discovered growing beside a grave in LaGrange, Texas.  Greg Grant named the plant after the deceased.  It is one wonderful, eye catching plant.  Keep it contained because it spreads.

The white version, Augusta Duelberg, was named after his wife, whose grave was beside him.  A Texas SuperStar® plant that blooms from early spring until the first freeze.

As usual, it is best to “dance with the one who brung you” meaning it’s important to select plants that do well where you live.

“Don’t let the thoughts of failure stop you from trying, even when you fail, it’s not enough to give up.  The light bulb itself finally found success after so many trials.”  Terry Marks.

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Big Fan of Roses

I have a soft spot for roses because they perfume the air, bloom for years, are faithful each year to perform, and generally add a homey atmosphere.  Many people think they are difficult, but they aren’t.  Give them full sun (even the extra hot Texas sun), some water, good drainage, and a little fertilizer.  Voila: sweet flowers.

springrosesaThe three bushes in front are Knockouts.  Behind them is an Earthkind.  One of the things that makes Knockouts so easy is that deadheading isn’t necessary.  They just keep on blooming.  If and when I have some time, I will trim them but not often.

springroses6These blooms start out pale yellow and fade to white.  Even though the flowers are simple, a bush full of them is stunning.

springroses8The Earthkind flowers are also not impressive, but a tall, healthy bush covered with them is.

springrosesghMy all time favorite in my yard is Double Delight because its scent and beauty are so stunning.

Two weeks ago I discovered a tunnel under its root system and was so afraid that I would lose the bush.  We filled in dirt and covered it with a huge rock.  Armadillos are so destructive in a yard.  Don’t be fooled by the cute pictures you see of them.  Those claws are a source of grief to a gardener.springrosesbOso Easy Paprika are more favorites.

springroseseeTheir color stands out.  The spent buds, unfortunately, do have to be lopped off before it will bloom again.  It can be a chore because it is covered with flowers all at once, so that means slowly sniping each one.

springroses7Last fall this Don Juan climber was planted inside a new sturdy trellis.  It is replacing a Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that literally lifted the dome trellis it was growing in and pulled apart the posts.  The thorns on it were also the most vicious I’ve ever seen.  The flowers were beautiful clusters but not worth the grief.

springrosesbbA look at the roses on the edge of the yard on the east side.

springrosesgMr. Lincoln is the first rose bush on the right in the former picture.  It makes a stunning sight in the garden and the flowers last a long time on the plant.

The stems are long and seem perfect for cut flower arrangements.  If they are cut when still in bud form, they will last a few days.  If not, forget it, the petals fall soon after cutting.

springrosesThere are five rose bushes in this bed.  This one is Katy Road.

springrosescTo the left of Katy Road is Belinda’s Dream.  They are both good performers with lots of blooms.  Eventually, they do need for the spent buds to be snipped off.

springrosesdThere are two yellow rose bushes and one with a gorgeous peachy orange color that I don’t know the name of.  They are all floribunda type bushes, which means they bloom profusely.

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springrosesddAt the end of that raised bed are Ox-eye Daisies.

springroseseLast fall this miniature was planted in a front bed.  I can’t find the paper work right now, so I don’t know the variety.  I used to be leery of miniatures.  But a grocery store buy that has been in a container for years proves that miniatures are hearty.

I do have some other rose bushes but these are a good representation.  Each type of rose has its pluses and minuses, so a variety is good.  The hybrids and old fashions have the aromas while others produce masses of blooms.

My own prejudice says everyone needs a rose to sweeten their life.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  Alphonse Karr

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Yard

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” from Matt. 26:41 refers to people giving into temptations.  But right now, I’m applying it to working in my yard.  It’s easy to make a list of chores that need to be done, but oh, so difficult to accomplish them.  Each year it takes a little (or a lot) longer to “Tote that barge.  Lift that bale.”  That may sound a little dramatic, but lack of strength and energy is my plea.

frustrationaThe most difficult thing for me to keep up with is the weeding and containing aggressive plants.  In this picture Mexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) have finally reached out beyond where I want them to grow.  In the spring, my husband helped me dig me up the ones that were encroaching on a rose bush.  But once again they have almost surrounded it.

The petunias have been there for about 9 years and were well behaved in the past, so I shouldn’t complain.

frustrationbThis is looking the other way with the Mr. Lincoln Rose bush in front.

frustration7Although it’s isn’t as much of a problem, I sometimes don’t keep up with the chore of deadheading.  It’s especially needed on hybrid roses because they bloom so much better when the spent flowers are cut off down below the next leaf.

frustration6And there is a wonderful pay off of gorgeous blooms.  This is a new bush that I bought on a trip to Kerrville.  I was looking for a climber and found this one instead.  Chicago Peace (Rosa ‘Chicago Peace’) has a wonderful aroma.

frustration8Double Delight is still my favorite with its great color and marvelous scent.

frustration9Tropicana has also performed very well over the years.

frustrationeThis is another bed with rose bushes.  This one in front is a hardy Belinda’s Dream, which is highly recommended for this area.

frustrationdWhen the bud first opens, it’s has a nice tight flower.

frustrationfThen quickly opens to a loose rose.

frustration11Other problems in the yard are out of my control.  I thought jackrabbits were eating the flowers and leaves off of these Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants.  So I put cages around them.

frustration4Now I know that jackrabbits were not the culprits.  It’s more obvious in the next picture.

frustration1Why Monarch caterpillars are here at this time of the year, I don’t know.  The Monarchs are supposed to be in Mexico by now to wait out the winter.

Makes me wonder how many milkweed plants would be required in order to survive the caterpillars feasting on them.

foliage5Watering can be a time consuming chore.  But I always make sure to water the container plants because I know our heat would kill them in a flash without moisture.  This Ajuga (Ajuga turkestanica) from central Asia needs mostly shade.

frustrationcA hardly Geranium from a friend endures summer heat better than geraniums from a nursery.  Beside this shed, it gets mostly morning sun.

frustration5I got this at Lady Bird Johnson Center in Austin at a plant sale.  I thought it was a Plumbago.  But the flowers don’t look right for that.  Often, the plants there aren’t labeled, so I don’t really know what it is.

Whenever I feel frustrated with myself for not getting to all the yard jobs, I remind myself that I have a yard and the plants for my enjoyment.  So I try to relax and not beat myself up.

“There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.” Will Roger

Spotlight on Roses

The roses this spring have been exceptionally beautiful.  Every time I look out the window, I am blown over with how gorgeous everything looks.  It’s a miracle what a little rain and cool weather can do for the landscape.

rosesbloomingk Who doesn’t love roses?  In the background are three Knockout Rose bushes.  To the right of those is a climbing rose, which hasn’t bloomed yet.

rosesbloomingiIn the foreground is an Oso Easy Paprika bush with the wonderful peachy, salmon colored flowers.  And it is truly easy.  It just needs a little water, lots of sun, and deadheading in order to produce more blooms.

rosesblooming9That color is indefineable.

rosebloom8In the same long flowerbed are four hybrid rose bushes.  This one is a Grandiflora ‘Double Delight’ hybrid tea rose.  The Double Delight has the strongest and best fragrance of any rose I have.  Highly recommend it.

Behind these roses is a tangerine colored rose from the bush beside it.  That is a Floribunda ‘Tropicana’.

rosebloom9This is a Grandiflora.

roseblooma‘Mr. Lincoln’ is a classic hybrid tea rose with deep red roses and a nice scent.

All of the rose bushes in this long bed are from 8 to 10 years old.

rosesbloominghOn the other side of the house is another rose flowerbed.  This ‘Katy Road’ Rose is usually just a so-so bloomer.

rosesblooming4This year it has gone crazy and has a wonderful aroma.

rosebloom6‘Belinda’s Dream’ has always put on a show blooming over and over from spring until the first frost.  The flowers have a great form with lots of petals.

rosesbloomingdAlso in that bed are a couple of bushes with yellow flowers.

rosesblooming10They are both grandifloras, but that’s all I know.

rosesbloomingeAnd another bush with flowers that have a superb color.  The bush itself has stayed small but is outstanding because its blooms are so pretty.  Sure wish I knew the name of this rose, but that information is long gone.

rosebloom5Here’s the same bush a little later with more flowers.  The Ox Eye daisies beside it have just begun to show their stuff.

rosesblooming8This flower color is one of my favorites.

rosebloomLast fall we finished a new bed in the front yard.  So this spring we planted some drift roses.  These are ‘Coral Drift’ (Rosa ‘meidrifora’).  I chose drift roses because I wanted them to remain short and not spread out too much.

Drift® roses are the result of a cross between ground cover roses and miniature roses.  They work well in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a ground cover.  Each bush should grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.

rosebloom2So far they’ve been covered with blooms.  The flowers are more complex than knock outs with more petals.  I think these are going to be winners.

It seems that there are roses for just about any spot – as long as it’s sunny.

rosebloom7What a enormous blessings rain and a mild spring bring.  It really is true that April showers bring May flowers, or in this case, April roses.

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”
Ben Hogan

Cut Flowers

One of the joys of a flower garden is having cut flowers in the house.  This has been an especially good year for that.

gladsThe Gladiolus bulbs that came in a packet several years ago are still producing profusely.  Sometimes they’re called Sword Lilies.

glads2It’s always a surprise to see which color will open up next.

glads3Some are daintily colored, while others are bright and bold.

glads4There are many new bulbs that need to be taken out.  Thinning is supposed to be mandatory for bulbs.  Somehow, I never seem to get around to that task.

glads5A couple of years ago I bought a different variety of glads.  They have a smaller red flower with white edges.

glads6Sometime I put all different colors together for a bouquet.  Other times I try to achieve a color scheme.

Now to my other favorite flowers for vases – roses.

roses14This is actually a spring blooming climber.  I’m late in showing it this year.  It is Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that was bought at Antique Rose Emporium years ago.

roses142One of the attractions of this particular rose is the clusters of blossoms.  When in bloom, it’s covered with flowers.

roses143Each flower is not particularly impressive.  It’s the mass of them together that I like.  As I’ve said on a previous post, this bush has the largest thorns I’ve seen on rose bushes.  I yell “ouch” often when working around it.

Therefore, I don’t use them in vases.

roses147This was the first rose bloom this year.  It’s a Knock-Out Rose.  It was unusual to be right at the ground level.  Notice the native grass I’m still fighting.

rosesaDuring the spring and summer this Oso Easy Paprika Rose bush is either covered with flowers or has no flowers.  That’s because it has to be deadheaded in order to rebloom.

rosesbI often wait until all the flowers die so they can all be cut off at once.

rosescThis is a hybrid rose that blooms fairly often, but the blooms don’t last long.

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rosesjThe flowers on the Mr. Lincoln Rose will stay pretty for several days if left on the bush.  Once they are cut, they’re gone in about a day.  These I usually just enjoy from my kitchen window.

rosesdThe flowers on Tropicana can be brought inside and will last about a week in water.

roseseSo pretty with Russian Sage behind them.

rosesfAnother hybrid I don’t know the name of.

rosemBelinda’s Dream has not bloomed as much this year as most years.

roses148This is what the blooms on my all time favorite bush Double Delight looked like early this spring.  A diluted mixture of Rose Systemic Drench by Bonide at the base of the plant took care of the problem.

roseslThese are the roses from that bush after it recovered.

roseslDouble Delight is the strongest smelling rose I have.  It is truly heavenly.

rosesmBoth the scent and the blooms last about a week.  Flowers are one of life’s joys that can occur over and over each year.

Another blessing that we tend to recognize more in July than the rest of the year is our country and our freedoms.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”  Patrick Henry

Dash of Red, Pink, and Purple

At a very slow pace, plants are greening with a few flowers.  As usual, I’m anxious for it to look like spring all at once.

Backbreaking weeding has made everything look better.  It’s not over yet; just not as overwhelming as it was a couple of weeks ago.

blooming8The trusty  Knock-out Roses are blooming like crazy.  Another post gives more details about these roses.

blooming8bPlain and simple, but tough as nails.

blooming9bThis year I planted a couple of Dianthuses to fill in the bed.  Like the deeper color of this one.

blooming9Dianthus makes a hardy ground cover.  They look like miniature carnations because they are in the same family.

dianthusI’ve read that Dianthus only last a couple of years, but mine have come back each spring for  8 years.  Small clumps have come up in other beds.  This year I transplanted some of those close to the original plant hoping to get a dense cover.

Even though Dianthus should be planted in rich, well drained soil in a cool climate, this is proof that they can survive in poor soil in a hot climate.  They need full sun anywhere.

blooming2The Belinda’s Dream bush is sporting a few roses.  It’s no wonder this variety is recommended in almost every book and gardening magazine because they are definitely hardy.

bloomingaOne lone Larkspur looks forlorn up against the foundation.   A few Larkspurs are scattered here and there.  This is across the yard from where the seeds were planted last year.

larkspurAnother one is a couple of feet from the darker colored one.   The friend who gave me the seeds said that hers are sparse this year, too.

sageThis Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) was just planted. It is also called Velvet Sage.

Pictures really highlight the flaws in your yard.  Even though I have picked rocks out of flowerbeds more times than I can count, there they are.  When I dug the hole to plant this sage and another one next to it, more rocks were brought to the surface.

Still need to put down mulch.  So I’m showing you my yard, warts and all.  If I waited until all looked good, I could not write this blog.

sage2In the background are the two Larkspurs and beside the sage is a new grayish Prairie Sage.

larkspur2In an attempt to show the velvet texture of the flowers, I held it up to try to steady it in the wind, but the picture blurred.  After several tries, I decided to just go with it.

The yard looks a little pathetic right now, so I’m enjoying every flower that opens up.

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”  Henry Ward Beecher