Container Uses

Flowerpots can be the solution to several problems for gardeners.

containersIf there isn’t enough shade in the yard, pots can be tucked under a tree, like this large Live Oak just on the edge of our backyard.

Plants like this Moon Flower or Datura (Datura Wrightii Regel) could not take the full force of the sun that blasts most of my yard.  It’s also known as Jimsonweed, Angel Trumpet, and Sacred Thorn Apple.  The species name honors Charles Wright who collected plants in Texas, Cuba, and his native Connecticut in the mid to late 1800s.

This semi-shady spot also addresses other issues.  Since I’m not sure Moon Flower can handle a freeze, being portable means it can go into a shed for the winter.

containers1Makes a peaceful setting, too.

containers4aAnother plant that needs shade or filtered shade is this Umbrella Plant (Cyperus alternifolius).  This came from a friend who gave me one umbrella top with a short stem.  The instructions were to place the top upside down in a jar of water.  When it rooted, it could be planted it in soil.  Weird way to root a plant, but it worked.

containers3Under this tree has also become sort of a plant refuge or hospital station.  Whenever a plant needs to recover, it goes here.  The Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica)  came from a sale at a regional garden club meeting.  I didn’t know the seller and couldn’t ask questions.  As it turns out, not all salvia can survive our sun.  When it began looking sickly, I moved here it, where it has done very well.

containers4bIt has also proved to be a good place for Poinsettias to hang out during the summer.  The heat didn’t seem to be a problem, but direct sunlight is.

containers4cPots on a semi shady porch also work well for plants like Ice Plant.

containers7And Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii).

containers4Another helpful use for containers is when you buy a plant but don’t have a place to put it in the ground.  The White Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) will probably stay in a pot and be carried inside during the winter.  The dark foliage Crape Myrtle will eventually go in the ground.

Notice that there are all kinds of pots.  Some people like all their pots to be alike or at least the same color.  I just enjoy variety in plants and pots.

containers5This Salvia Greggii will be planted in a flowerbed whenever we create a new one.  Can you hear my husband groaning?

containers8Sometimes, pots are testing grounds to see how a plant will do.  It can easily be moved to find the perfect conditions it needs.  So far, this Bamboo Muhley (Muhlenbergia dumosa) seems happy on a porch where it gets morning sun and afternoon semi-shade.

containers6aPlants that absolutely must go into the green house in the winter are in pots, like this Orange African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens).  This one and another are 10 years old.

Behind it is Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) and an Echeveria hybrid (Echeveria ‘Blue Curls’) that are destined for the green house again this winter.

containers7aSometimes a spot of color can brighten a corner, like this tropical Ixora in the Rubiaceae family.  Great use of a potted plant.

containers7abSince we carry so many pots inside for the winter, we no longer use heavy ones.  Although I do love the look of expensive large ceramic pots, that just isn’t feasible.The light weight plastic ones have come a long way in performance and looks.

“You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”  Harry S. Truman

What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

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

Orange in the Yard

The trend this year seems to be orange:  wear it and decorate with it.  Wearing it doesn’t work for my skin tones.  Nor do I use it much inside my house.  But outside it perks up spaces.

orangeyellowEvery year the old-fashioned orange Daylilies usher in spring so reliably and lift the spirits to say, “Winter is over.  Hurrah.”

orangeyellow8A generous gift of probably 60 bulbs from a friend about nine years ago, they keep on giving.  No problems, no worries.  Just plant and water occasionally.

orangeyellow9Three years ago, I moved a few that were on the edge of the bed to this spot.  The green leaves of a Rose of Sharon bush behind them makes them the star of the show.  Later, hibiscus-like flowers from the bush will provide some color.

orangeyellow3One lone Daylily that has come up around the corner of the house with some Violets that have also crept into this bed.

orangeyellowcFinal one.  Just can’t stop snapping pix of these beauties.

Orange is a funny word.  It’s one of the few words in English that no other word rhymes with.  Actually, languages are strange.  There’s a NPR radio program that answers questions about old family sayings and language, in general.  Check out  “A Way with Words” and let me know what you think..

orangeyellowaThe African Bulbine flowers combine yellow and orange.  They’re wispy and move in the breeze.  Since it originates from below the equator, it must be protected in cold weather.

orangeyellow2A striking small ornamental tree is Bird of Paradise.  There are at least three types of Bird of Paradise sold.

The one in the picture is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).  The flowers are yellow with orange stamens.   Because of old incorrect informtion, I usually call it Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Ones with bright orange flowers is Pride of Barbados  (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  These are prominent in large box stores.  My experience has been that they die in winter here.

Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) has yellow flowers and yellow stamens.  Since they all look similar, it can be confusing to choose the one that works for you.

orangeyellow4Tropicana Roses are one of those indefinable colors, but there’s an orange tint to them.  Another great performer.  This year it has been filled with flowers.  I cut them often to bring inside, but soon more appear.

orangeyellowhIxora did not fare well this past winter in the shed, but enough survived to flower.  Maybe some fresh air and sunshine will bring new growth.

orangeyellowiMost of my Ice Plants have pink flowers.  This one from a friend has orangish ones.

Maybe you can decide on a specific color pattern for your yard.  I simply can’t.  Therefore, I have a hodgepodge.  This is not what designers recommend.

“Every time I get mad, I remind myself that prison orange is not my color.”    Unknown

Pretty Pink Posies

Okay, what can I say?  I like alliteration (heading).  Years ago we had a pastor who had three point sermons using alliterative headings for each topic.  Got my attention.

Back to pink:  many little girls love the color and want their clothes, rooms,  and accessories to be pink.  I don’t remember ever having pink as a favorite and am not particularly fond of it now.

redpinkfHaving said that, there is something sweet about pink flowers.  Just look at the Gladiola above.  They have been blooming profusely and make wonderful cut flowers.

redpink2In a new flowerbed, we recently planted these Drift roses with  pinkish coral flowers.  The best thing about Drift roses are that they stay low and spread out sideways.  At least, the information about them states that they will grow no taller than one and a half to two feet.  My plan is to keep everything in this bed low.  We’ll see how that goes.

redpinkThis Pigeonberry bush (Rivina humilisL.) is also called Rouge plant and Baby peppers.  That name may come from the red berries it produces.  It, too, is supposed to stay relatively small – 1 to 3 feet.  Due to poor planning in the past, many of my plants have outgrown their space.

redpink1Pigeonberry is a Texas native and does well in zones 7 – 10.  It blooms from spring to fall plus it has berries in the winter.

redpink6Can’t pass up showing Double Delight roses when I talk about pink.  Great aroma and all around great performer.

redpink (3)This Dutch Onion probably falls in the lavender category, but has a slight pinkish hue.

redpink (4)I’m not sure how they’ll do in the summer sun and may have to move them.  But since they’re bulb plants, I figure they will peter out soon and will return next spring.

redpinklGood old Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has returned and is quickly filling in its space.

redpinkjAnd they definitely need to be confined to an area.

redpinkoAnd the Rose of Sharon Althea (Hibiscus syriacus) have leafed out and are blooming.  These were planted about five feet apart years ago and are crowding each other but continue to be healthy with many flowers.

The good or bad thing about Altheas is that they produce hundreds of new plants each year.  So you have lots to share, but you also must pull up the sprouts before they get too big.  Some come up under my rose bushes and aren’t noticeable until they reach the top of the roses.  So I end up having to cut them off each year at the ground.  This involves an almost prone position on the ground reaching under rose bushes.  Not fun.

redpinknThis is also a Rose of Sharon although the blooms look entirely different.  This is a Double Rose variety.

redpinkqThorn of Crowns looked pretty all through the winter inside, but is adjusting outside in the semi-shade and should bloom abundantly.

pinkAn African Violet on the window sill with delicate flowers.

pink1Ice Plant came back in a pot even after the cold winter.  Such a brave little soul with a vibrant color.

“Wind chimes:  When ten thin tinkling tin things twinkle and tingle in the wind twinkling and tinkling the ten thin tin things make a tingling tintinnabulation of joy”  unknown

A little much?  Sorry.  Couldn’t resist.

Visit to Another Gardener’s Yard

It’s always fun to visit different yards and to get ideas.  The following pictures were all taken at the home of a member of our Garden Club.  This was the final meeting for the year since we take summers off.

mcglothlinyardssThe home is at the edge of Brownwood with a large lot – probably three acres.  This looks back to the street with part of the circular drive between the street and this metal stand.

mcglothlinyarduuThe front part of the yard is probably 3/4 of an acre with lots of native Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyardtyLove the flowers in the chair.

mcglothlinyardzThe front flowerbed against the house is a little wider than average.

mcglothlinyardyyLooks like a Norfolk Pine in the pot.

mcglothlinyardzzManicured plantings.

mcglothlinyardxxLots of container plants in the front and back yards.

mcglothlinyard

mcglothlinyard1The first impressive sight in the backyard is the huge Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyard3Geraniums, Crocus, Ice Plant, and something I don’t recognize in pots.

mcglothlinyard6I was also struck by the flagstone patios and walkways, making it easy to walk around.  Plus, the lush St. Augustine grass with no weeds was pretty.   I know hungry water consumers are not recommended now.

mcglothlinyard4Beautiful water feature.

mcglothlinyard5This shot makes the yard look cluttered, but it isn’t.  It has a spacious feeling.

mcglothlinyard8There are several seating areas.  In the background, behind a chain link fence is their travel trailer.  The field behind the yard gives a sense of country living.

mcglothlinyard9Lots of hanging baskets.  One of these has begonias.  On the ground is a Boston Fern.

mcglothlinyardaA Pittosporum or Schefflera in the pot?

mcglothlinyardb mcglothlinyardcOn this table is succulents in hypertufa pots.  I think the small pot has Dutchman’s Pipes.

mcglothlinyarddMany groupings of small pots are scattered everywhere.

mcglothlinyardemcglothlinyardfmcglothlinyardgThese pots of begonias are a good way to add instant color.

mcglothlinyardhThe plant in the water in the tub looks like water Iris.

mcglothlinyardjThe garden shed is an attractive design.

mcglothlinyardiA small rain barrel collects water.  Any amount of water collection is a good thing in hot, usually dry Texas.  The heavy rainfall this year is way beyond an anomaly.

mcglothlinyardkInside, the shed is filled with gardening gear.  Not much room to bring in all those potted plants.

mcglothlinyardlA hay container for cattle makes a nifty flower bed.

mcglothlinyardmLooks like some newly planted begonias.

mcglothlinyardnThis corner bed at the back of the yard has Gold Lantana.

mcglothlinyardoProbably another storage shed.

mcglothlinyardpPetunias in a stacked pot holder.

mcglothlinyardrThis is probably a playhouse for grandchildren.

mcglothlinyardsLovely hanging begonias.  Hanging baskets require constant watering in our climate, so I don’t bother with them.

mcglothlinyardu

mcglothlinyardvThis is an understory tree and thus requires shade.  I’d love to have one but don’t have a place for one.

mcglothlinyardwWhat a chore it is to get ready for visitors to one’s home and yard.  Especially, members of a garden club.  There are many newly planted ferns, begonias, and other plants that will not survive the winter.  So they will either have to dig them up or just lose them.

Thanks, Debbie, for letting me take pictures for my blog and for hosting the club.  Everything looked wonderful.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom

Indian Summer Blooms

Indian summer has struck again although this time of the year doesn’t follow the strict definition.  There has been no hard frost, yet.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac adheres to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer.”

It certainly feels like an Indian summer because we’ve enjoyed a spell of wonderful cool nights and days.  But now we are back in the grips of heat with highs in the low 90’s and harsh sun rays lashing out at us.

stillbloomingpThe purple Fall Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) came out when it turned cool.  Since they are hardy, maybe they will last for a while in spite of the heat.

stillbloomingrTheir color has faded.  While waiting for them to fill out with flowers, I sacrificed getting a picture with their deeper color.

Really must force myself to divide them after the last freeze next year.  That just happens to be when everything needs attention.

stillbloomingqA great autumn plant.

stillbloomingoThe Strawberry Fields Gomphera  (Gomphrena haageana) just keeps on shining.  One of my best purchases.

autumninpots3This Ice Plant is on a covered porch, but the late afternoon sun still shines on it.

autumninpots4Very heat hardy but dies in a freeze.  So some must be brought in for a start for next year.

autumninpots1The Autumn Sedum  (Sedum  spectabile ‘Brilliant’ Stonecrop) has started blooming, although the renewed summer weather has stopped that.

autumninpots2Maybe when it gets cool again, they will finish blooming.

autumninpotsAll of these pots are in the shade most of the day with a little afternoon light hitting them.

autumninpotspost6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)  is in a pot under a large Live Oak tree. So it is in the shadows all day but gets indirect light and seems very happy.

crownofthornsAnother Crown of Thorns is on a covered porch but gets lots of low late afternoon light.  It has flourished since the top was cut off which caused branching and a fuller plant .  The plant behind it is Oxalis.

Weather wishing doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying it.  I do want some of those cool days to return.

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Thomas Sowell