Pops of Color

As summer drags on with no rain, the field grasses are drying, so that’s a drab sight.   Some brightness in the yard is definitely needed.

Old fashioned Geraniums ignore the heat and keep on blooming, but they can’t handle full sun.

I got a start of these several years ago at a club plant sale and have kept several pots since then.  They’re easy to propagate by cutting off a stem and sticking it into soil.  Sometimes I remember to dip the stem in a rooting compound and sometimes I don’t.

Rose Moss(Portulaca grandiflorais) is another good old reliable.  This pot has been on my porch for about six years.  Every spring I question whether or not it survived the winter cold.  Then, just when I’m about to give up, they sprout and bloom.

When I think about how long some of these plants have been in the same pot, it surprises me.  This Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) is probably 11 years old.

Every winter, it goes into the heated shed, so I don’t know if it would recover otherwise. Cold hardiness is zone 7 – 11, but I don’t trust the new 8 zone listed for us.

I think this is Antimima concinna, a type of Ice Plant, that is in the Aizoaceae family.  The Aizoaceae family is huge with over 1800 species and is mostly endemic to Southern Africa.

This has been in this pot so long that I don’t even remember where it came from.  This lovely small flower is another one that will return after a severe winter.

http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/aizoaceae.html is a good source for all these succulents that look so much alike.

Tropical Ixora (Ixora coccinea) grows in most tropical areas but is prominent in Asian tropical countries.  The leaves feel stiff.  The clusters of tangerine colored flowers last a long time on the stems.

Mine is in mostly shade but gets a shot of late afternoon sun.  About 12 years old, this plant is a winner in my book.

Gorgeous.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is truly thorny, so it’s difficult to re-pot.  Mostly, I keep cutting off the long stems and starting new plants for plant sales or passalongs.  The stems need to harden a couple of days before planting.

About six years ago, I got a cutting from a friend.  The flowers last for months and are in a lovely color.  Native to Madagascar, they are tropical.

This spring I found a Thornless Crown of Thorns or Gerold’s Spurge (Euphorbia geroldii) at a nursery near Kerrville.  Whoopee.  It’s great to not dodge the thorns.

It is hardly to 30 degrees and likes semi-shade.  Mine gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will bloom just about year round, if brought inside during the winter.

Love it.

Finally, my Bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spectabilis)  is blooming.  Every year, I get impatient for this beauty to strut its stuff.

It needs lots of hot sun, lots of water, and some fertilizer to get it going.  The first time I saw this plant years ago on Turks and Caicos, I was smitten.  Even on those wind swept islands, it bloomed and flourished.

Such a beauty.

Hope some color is brightening your summertime.

“Credit is what keeps you from knowing how far past broke you are.  Debt is slavery of the free.”  unknown

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Flower Bunches

One philosophy of landscape designers is to plant large sweeps of one color for a bold eye catching display.  They also say to have a limited number of plant varieties in a yard.  Now I don’t follow either of those landscape rules.  Not that I doubt their validity.  It just that I prefer a cottage garden look.

bunches2At this time of the year, those mass plantings that I do have look kind of scraggly after a long summer.

In my opinion, one of the best plants to draw butterflies is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii).  But even large groups of them aren’t that impressive except for all the activity of beautiful butterflies darting all around.

bunches4To really see the flowers themselves requires a close up shot.  They are like little puffs of pale lavender.

bunches3Migrating Monarchs stop to feast for a day or two.

bunchesThis year I vow to divide the Purple Asters.  If only making that statement would get the job done.

bunches1Some plants like this Russian Sage grew and spread beyond what I had expected.  Putting one tiny plant in the ground, I certainly did not leave enough room for them to expand.  So they are wedged between Earthkind® Roses and Salvia Greggi.

bunches6I have planted these Coral Drift Roses since this picture was taken.  They are low growing, spreading bushes with clusters of roses from spring until frost.

Last year we planted five along one edge of a bed.  I had planned to put something else along the other edge.  I tried some irises, but it looked lopsided after their blooms ended.  So these are to fill in to make one larger group of roses.

buncheskHere is a close up from one of the bushes from last year.  Drift roses are a variety of Knock-out® roses.

bunches7Sometimes groups of flowers can be small but their brilliant color still grabs one’s attention.  This Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) came from a friend.  Many stems have been cut and rooted and shared.

Note the thorns on the stems.  I have a cheap pair of kitchen tongs I use to handle them.  Most of these stems will be cut off soon because it is too difficult to put the pot in the shed without tearing skin.

bunches8Gorgeous clusters of bright red from this Bougainvillea, still blooming in late October, steals the spotlight.  It also has thorns and will need to be repotted in a larger container as well as trimmed back.

bunchesbAnother striking blossom made up of tiny flowers is found on the Vitex tree or large shrub (Vitex agnus-castus) .  Its upright bunches are very attractive.

Whatever your garden style is, just enjoy it.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”  unknown

Finally…

…rain, rain, rain and a lot of it for this area in August.  Hooray.  Week before last was an inch and over six inches this past week.  Lower temps and water – what a blessing.

finallyTo see raindrops on plants is awesome.  Everything, including this Purple Heart, needed some relief.

finally1And maybe the moisture will chase away the grasshoppers.

finally2…some beads on the Eve’s Necklace tree (Sophora affinis) after a 3 year wait.  Maybe all this extra water will end the choleric leaf condition.

finally3… the Bougainvilla is blooming.  On the advice of a friend, I tried plant food for Camellias to prod the plant to flower.  That filled the branches with healthy looking leaves but no flowers.  Then, by chance, I noticed food specifically for Bougainvillas at a big box store.

It took a couple of weeks before I saw results.  But suddenly, boom, the blooms appeared.

finally4Love the neon color.

finally6…I bought a pepper plant with purple leaves.  A well known horticulturist in Texas stated that he thought we should only have plants with green leaves, as nature intended.  But I decided that I liked the variety of colors available.

finally7No peppers yet but adds interest.

finally5… a small native Rio Grande Copper Lily (Habranthus tubishpathus (L’Her.) Traub) that I planted years ago has started blooming again.  The Mexican Feather Grass had taken over that spot, so it may have been blooming all along.  But I spotted it the other day and was pleased to see that it had survived.

finally8…a Crape Myrtle with black leaves – Black Diamond Red Hot.  They’ve been around for a few years but are new to my yard.  Not sure if they are as hardy as the other Crape Myrtles.

finally9…a fern that can take full sun.  Really.  I’ve tested it.  The friend that I got this from did not know what kind it is.  Internet research hasn’t found one that is an exact match.

The original I received was small.  It has grown and also put out some pups.

finallya…a motivation to always trim back the Autumn Clematis in the winter.  This is what happens when vines are full and get soaked with rain several days in a row.  Fell completely over.

finallybThe concrete holding the trellis just popped right out of the ground.

finallycA few blooms can be seen on the sides.

heatgoeson9In full bloom last year.  Lesson learned.

As a child, time seemed interminable waiting for things like Christmas to come.  Guess as an adult, we still get anxious for some things like rain to happen.

“A recent study has shown that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.”  unknown

Autumn is Awesome

The cooler days and nights with highs in the 60’s has rejuvenated us all.  Plus a few misty days and overcast skies has relieved all plant life from being attacked by harsh sunlight.

So I’m taking a break from the Arkansas posts to show what’s happening in the yard.

fallyardbMost of the Bluemist Flowers have faded but these are full and fluffy – reminds me of tiny pompoms.

fallyard12Potted Bougainvillea’s colors have deepened and are a tropical delight to enjoy.

fallyard11Even the Russian Sage has more blooms.

fallyard10Some flowers are bravely hanging onto an old-fashioned Geranium.  Wind gusts have been high lately.

fallyard9Salvia Greggi in a pot provides bright color.

fallyard8Boston Ferns in the back with a large Kalanchoe in front are massed in a corner by the house.  In front is Coleus and an Airplane or Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

The Coleus came from cuttings from a friend.  I’ve already taken cuttings inside to create another pot next year.  They will root in water and still make a pretty decoration while doing so. Also, I may need them to start again next spring since I don’t know how well this will survive in the house this winter.

The Spider Plant has been in this pot for years.  They prefer to be root bound.  Everything in this picture was a pass along plant except the ferns.  And those come from the original two that I bought, which have been divided many times over the years.

fallyard7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has a few blooms.

fallyard6Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) has lost most of its leaves but still has some wonderful velvet blossoms.

fall2yard5The one I had last year did not make it through the winter.  So I’ve taken some cuttings and hope they will root in case a freeze does this one in.

fallyard2Gray Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea incana) still has a few flowers, which surprised me.  I consider this was a hot weather bloomer.

fallyard3This little bee was flitting back and forth searching for an open bud.  Since this picture was taken many flowers have opened.

fallyard4Gray santolina or lavender cotton (S. chamaecyparissus) has some interesting characteristics.  It grows tight with little space between its branches.  I like the rounded shape and love the soft texture of it.  There aren’t many plants that I touch as I pass by, but this is one.

fallyard1Cooper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) has its main blooming in late fall with a less spectacular blooming in the spring.  It is drought tolerant and one tough cookie once established.

fallyardThis daisy is a Texas native that is found only in nurseries that carry natives.  I found it at Natives of Texas in Kerrville.  An odd quirk of this plant is its smell.  It stinks and reminds me of kerosene.  That made for bit of a smelly car on the way home from Kerrville.  But a plus is that deer stay away from it.

Cool days, some rain, and long lasting flowers make autumn, when we have it, special.

“Autumn’s the mellow time.”   William Allingham

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Tropical Plants

Even though I absolutely cannot stand humidity, the lush greenery and flowers that are the result of all that moisture captivate me.  There is something magical and mysterious about tropical jungles and the plants that grow there.  So I have the desire to grow a few.

tropics6Bougainvillea is available at almost every nursery in Texas.  It actually does very well here because it loves our heat.

It likes to be root bound, which is good because the pots don’t have to be too large to transport inside.

tropics3It’s main requirements are sunshine and water, so if I am faithful to water, it will bloom and bloom.  But there should be good drainage in the pot, so that it does not have standing water.  I water them two or three times a week in the hottest part of the summer.

The fact that Bougainvillea cannot survive cold weather can also be accommodated with inside shelter during the winter.  So it’s is not a crazy choice for Central Texas.

tropics4The vibrant color is what grabs me.

I’ve read that fertilizer specifically made for Hibiscus works well, but I have not tried that.

When we carry the pots inside, we cut back the branches.  This has always been done to prevent being grabbed by the thorns.  As it turns out, it blooms on new growth, so cutting back is a good thing and should be done before spring.

tropics5Just cannot not beat this beauty.

tropicsAnother tropical plant that has been successful for me is Ixora (Ixora coccinea).  This one is about 10 years old and has been in this pot most of that time.

I fertilize it the same as other potted plants, which is not often.  But I do sprinkle timed fertilizer granules in the spring and maybe again in early fall.

tropics1Isn’t the color amazing?

This pot also goes into the shed/greenhouse when the temperatures drop near freezing.  Usually some of the flowers die but the leaves remain throughout the winter.

purchase2Now we get to a really foolish purchase.  I knew when I bought this Fuchsia that it probably would not survive here, but couldn’t resist the chance to try.  It was actually bought at a nursery that normally only sells reliable plants for local areas.  This was an impulse buy, which is hardly ever wise.

purchase3The unusual drooping flowers enticed me.  But if I had done some research, I would have known that temperatures above 80 degrees weaken the plant, and that it cannot tolerate too much sunshine.  I did have it in shade, but then the high temperatures came.

Fuchsia also needs frequent watering and regular fertilizer.  So the likelihood of survival was doomed from the day I bought it.

purchase4Very exotic.

purchase5Alas, it only lasted three months.

As experienced gardeners say:  Learn to love the plants that grow well in your environment.  A lesson that some of us have to learn over and over.

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”  Harold Coffin