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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Cafe at the Ridge Gardens, Part 2

Lots of creativity in the gardens at the Ridge.

Displays on the long porch outside the Cafe include this old wash tub with an interesting mixture of succulents.

Not sure what the original purpose of this long wooden container was.  Looks old.  Anyone know?

Not a big fan of pink flamingos in the yard, especially in Texas.  But these glass ones are classier than the plastic ones usually seen.

Drawing a blank on this flower identification.  Anyone?

The gift shop was originally built as a storage building.

The gift shop displays some of its wares on the porch.  Cute chubby bumble bee.

Another building contains potting soils, fertilizers, etc.  I’ve been trying to figure out what the sign was painted on.  Looks like a hood but is tapered too much – maybe a race car.

Even a pile of rocks (which Central Texas has plenty of) can be spruced up.

An old colander makes a nifty planter.  Vincas or Periwinkles are a great annual for our hot summers.   They are so bright and cheery.

Old tire is considered a hillbilly planter of choice.  But it certainly has character.  This one has Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea Flamenco Samba), some Petunias, and Blackfoot Daisy.  Don’t know what the small purple flowers are.

Really sturdy and heavy picnic tables.

The grass is artificial.  We were told that liquids penetrate it, and that it is strong and long lasting.

Plenty of pots and succulents to choose from.

I was fascinated by these posts for the outside patio.

These tree trunks serve a purpose.

Molded to look like tree trunks, they are coolers to ice drinks for a gathering outside.

This has a Spanish mission look to me.  Very southwestern.

In the spaces between the flagstones, small succulents have been planted close to the edge of the walkway.  Lil Miss Lantana on the right with its pink blooms loves Texas sun.

Don’t know if this wishing well is a true well or not.  But it is iconic for garden lovers.

Birdbath makes a perfect miniature succulent garden.

Another old wash tub.  They’re hard to find without paying an arm and a leg for them.

Check out counter for garden purchases.

Just like at the grocery store checkout, before you pay out, more items to tempt you. Unusual containers that are already filled make it easy to take home a completed pot.

On the left is a Thorn of Crowns plant without the thorns.  So beautiful that I couldn’t resist.

Have an old broken mixer or one you don’t use?  Make it a planter.  Great imagination.

Great place to visit, especially for gardeners.

“You know you are a gardener when everything you see becomes a planter.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Heat Lovers

The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.

heatlovingDesignated a Texas Superstar Plant, the Texas Star Hibiscus, doesn’t look like a hibiscus.

heatloving1It has not been a heavy bloomer for me, but the flowers are unique.

heatlovingfTo me, the only reason to plant Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii A. Gray) is to attract butterflies.  These are truly covered from late spring to late fall with Viceroys.

The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.

heatloving2Bluemist flowers are small and not that noticeable or impressive.  The purple flowers to the right are a few larkspurs hanging on.

heatlovingg

heatlovingdOn the porch that provides indirect light, A Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has outgrown its container.  That should be fun to transplant.

It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant.  Color of the flowers is so pretty.

heatlovingeIce plant has been in this pot for years.

heatloving3A Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) that is a couple of years old has gorgeous blooms.

heatloving4This will grow into a tree with several trunks that arch out from the center.

heatloving5Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wildflower that came from the same lady who gave me the Crown of Thorns. The seeds are carried by the wind, so it comes up in unexpected places.

heatloving6Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) must be watered regularly to bloom.  But it is so worth it.  The other bush with red blooms is Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Dynamite’).  Both of these bushes are about 10 years old..

heatloving7Love Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. Ex G. Don SSP Russellianum) and Strawberry Gompheras (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) and Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

heatloving8One of my favorite flowering bushes, Duranta doesn’t begin to bloom until mid July when the temps rev up.

heatlovingaIt is in the verbena family.  The clusters of tiny flowers are breathtaking.

heatloving9Although Duranta does well in our hot, hot summers, it is iffy in cold weather.  Mine is on the east side of the house, so it gets morning sun and no direct northern winds.  A heavy mulch when it starts to get cold protects the roots.  So it’s a great plant if you have just the right place for it.

heatlovingbRecently we bought three new Crape Myrtles from a guy attending a gardening seminar.  He said that they are a new type called ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle and will grow to 10 – 12 feet tall.

heatlovingcLove the color of the flowers and that they have been blooming since they were planted.

Right after these pictures were taken, some of the branches were broken off and the flowers eaten.  Jackrabbits, I think.  Grrr!   So I put cages around them to protect them.

“… it looks to me like the upcoming U.S. presidential election will force Americans, to paraphrase the great American writer Gore Vidal, to cast their ballot against the evil of two lessers.”  Ted Woloshyn

Nice Cool Relief

Last week an inch and three quarters of rain brought some cooler temperatures.  It was a greatly needed relief for humans, animals, and plants.

Nice reprieve2This Golden-Ball Lead Tree (Leucana retusa) has struggled again, its second year, because some creatures (I suspect jackrabbits) strip and break its lower limbs.

Nice reprieve5But it recovered nicely the latter part of August.  It is a shrub or spindly tree that grows well in rock or caliche.  So it should feel right at home here.

Nice reprieve3The globe like flower is yellow but looks more golden with this early morning back light.

Nice reprieve4I like photographing back-light plants, so here’s another shot.  The books say Lead Ball blooms in April and May.  But here it is performing in September.  Maybe it will prove to be a spring and fall bloomer.

Nice reprieve1This vulture seems to be relaxing and enjoying the cool morning.

Nice reprieve6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) tend to bloom year round since they are considered house plants.  But they do well outside during the warm months with filtered light and slightly dry soil.  Just beware of the thorns.

Nice reprieve7The Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is slowly covering the new arbor.  I can’t wait to see the full coverage – maybe next year.

Nice reprieve8It blooms in spring and fall.

treeThis two year old Vitex Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has grown quite fast.  Vitexs are also called Hemp and Sage trees.  I need to cut off more lower limbs this winter.

Nice reprieve9Vitexs are native to India and China but have been adapted to this area for a long time.  Another common name is Monk’s Pepper, which comes from the old wives tale that in medieval times, monks made a potion from the berries that helped them maintain their vows of chastity.

Nice reprieveaVitex attract many pollinators.  The berries are still used in herbal remedies.

Vitex can grow up to 20 ft. tall with snarly trunks and branches.

Nice reprievebFor a long time, I assumed that Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) would not survive our heat because the leaves are large and thin.  Then I saw one in garden an hour away from here.

Nice reprieveeSo I grabbed one this year at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring sale.  It has bloomed way more than I expected.

Nice reprievefIt is in a pot in mostly shade.  It’s looking a little tired right now, but has provided many large flowers with a morning glory shape.

Nice reprievecBecause it has grown larger than I expected, it will need to be upgraded to a larger pot next spring.

A garden presents wonderful surprises and joys.

“I changed my password everywhere to ‘incorrect.’ That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.'” 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.

Decorating Outside the Box

The 33rd Annual Candlelight Tour of Homes was held the second weekend in December in Weatherford, TX.  Eleven sites were open for a very reasonable ticket price.  These included homes, museums, a children’s home and a garden.

weatherforddecor7First, we bought our tickets at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.  I think it’s on the tour each year, but there is always a special exhibit.

weatherforddecorThis Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) in the entry area caught my eye because the branches are so tall.

weatherforddecor1Plus, the leaves and flowers are sparse.

crownofthornsThis is one I have at home.  Following advice online, I cut the top off when it reached about 10 inches tall.  Then it branched out.

weatherforddecor2And here is the inspiration for the name – Crown of Thorns.  And, of course, the reference to the one that was forced on Jesus at his trial.

weatherforddecor3Now to the special exhibit:  paintings of Homer Norris.  The ones that appealed to me the most were of children.

weatherforddecor4Homer was one of eleven children born to a brilliant yet poor Aledo welder during the bleak days of the Great Depression.  He was drawn to the romantic history of Parker County’s artifacts and relics and the stark beauty of the area.

weatherforddecor5

weatherforddecor6This pictures evoke strong emotions about childhood.

weatherforddecoryNow to the house that provided the title for this post.

weatherforddecor8Just stepping upon the porch, I had the sense that a creative woman lived here.  That may sound sexist, but usually, the lady of the house does the decorating.

weatherforddecor9Mercury glass ornaments hanging from the porch – what a simple, but attractive detail.

weatherforddecoraThe home owners made good use of old items, like these washtubs and blades from a windmill.

weatherforddecorbThe staircase ornaments looked old but probably weren’t.

weatherforddecorc

weatherforddecordAlthough this would be a great mantel vignette, it is on top of a bookcase.

weatherforddecoreIn a small hallway, simple hanging ornaments on one side keeps it interesting.

weatherforddecorfOn the opposite wall these small boxes hold a variety of items.  A few Christmassy things have been added, like the jar of floating cranberries.

weatherforddecorgMost of the older homes we saw used several small Christmas trees scattered throughout the house, rather than a large one that takes up lots of space.

weatherforddecorhNow this, I could make next year.

weatherforddecoriA bedside table with unusual items.

weatherforddecorjDon’t you love how old factory thread spools and a cotton carder can be highlighted with some seasonal candy?

weatherforddecorkOld homes have character, but they also have drawbacks with small bathrooms.  Plus, most only had one bathroom.  So some renovation is necessary to provide modern conveniences.

weatherforddecorlYou’ll see a theme.  This lady likes old window frames.

weatherforddecorm

weatherforddecornA candy dish filled with old door handles.  The small details really added to this home.

weatherforddecoroThis old store display rack for cards stands in one corner of the living area.

weatherforddecorp

weatherforddecorqWhat a lovely table setting.

weatherforddecorsThe kitchen was updated or added on.

The homeowner made these wreathes from one old Methodist hymnal.  I looked closely at them.  They appear to be pages from the hymn book cut into squares, probably about 3 or 4 inches.  Then each square is gathered up from the center, twisted, and stuck into a styrofoam wreath with a pin.

weatherforddecort

weatherforddecoruAll of her antique (or at least, old) finds were displayed creatively.  This hanging cabinet was made from scrap lumber and old reclaimed doors.

weatherforddecorwAs we left the house, this tree along the street hung over the fence.

weatherforddecorxI don’t know what it is, but it was full of these small berries.

weatherforddecorvA carriage ride was included in the tour ticket.  This one was waiting outside this home, so we hopped on for a short spin.

Wherever you live, it’s fun to take in events in the area.  I recommend giving them a try.

The next post will finish up this particular tour.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.  May your lives be filled with the joy of Christmas all year long.

“The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14