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

In Fredericksburg

Recently my husband and I drove to Fredericksburg to scout out gardens.  My mission was to fine appropriate places that a class of prospective Master Gardeners could visit as a group to provide additional information and to observe different garden styles.

fredericksburgThe first stop was the Master Gardeners demonstration garden at the Ag Extension Office.  Although it isn’t the prettiest area, it shows a specific trait that is valuable for Texas gardens.  It does not receive supplemental water – only rain water.  Tough plants, only.

fredericksburg1Mostly native plants and a few others that have acclimated to the region are used.  It looked like there had been little rain recently.

fredericksburg2Mexican Feather Grass and native Redbuds are drought tolerant.

fredericksburg3Some of the plants here are Salvia Greggii, Purple Sage, and Cross Vine.

fredericksburg4The next garden was the Biblical Garden at the United Methodist Church.  It is small but a pretty spot.  Someone has done research to match the names of plants mentioned in the Bible with common names of plants today.

fredericksburg6Since Israel is arid, many plants that survive there also do well here.

fredericksburg7This sign identifies the plant with the yellow flowers in the former picture.

fredericksburg8A Pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is referenced in Song of Solomon 4:14.

fredericksburg9Palm branches were used in John 12:13 and are common in Palm Sunday services.

fredericksburgaPapyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is seen on the left, and Bulrush (Typhaspp.) on the right.  Exodus 2 relates the well known account of the basket woven to hold baby Moses.  Both of these plants are considered possibilities for that with papyrus being the most likely.  It is also what was used for paper by the early Egyptians.

fredericksburgbAlthough this could actually be Papyrus, it looks a lot like Umbrella Plant (Cyperus alternifolius).

fredericksburgbbTrailing Rosemary is in the foreground and Purple Plumbago is growing under the tree.

fredericksburhNext we visited the Texas Rangers Heritage Museum, which is still a work in progress.  Flowerbeds lined the parking areas and around the pavilion.  But it seems I didn’t get pictures of those.  Guess I was enamored with the sculptures.

fredericksburhhThe plants in the flowerbeds were pretty predictable – Purple Sage, Salvias, and Cactus.  Several plants had died.  It will be interesting to see how this area is developed.

Next post will show more public gardens that we visited.

“Real Gardeners buy at least 10,000 plants over the course of a lifetime without having any idea where they will put them when they get home.”  unknown

Purple Spires

Bright colors in the yard make me smile.  I prefer more muted colors inside my house but purple, red, and yellow are my favorite choices for flowers.

purple3Larkspurs are still blooming where ever they choose.  They aren’t well behaved and stay where they were first seeded.  It’s always a pleasant surprise to see where they come up each spring.  The reds here are Red Yucca and Cannas.  However, the Cannas seem to be blooming more orangey than before.  So I wonder if red ones are hybrids and they are reverting back to their original color.

purple9I have a conundrum.  For years I have thought this bush was Blue Curls.  I think I bought it at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Since I had never heard of Blue Curls before, I must have seen it labeled that, but I can’t be sure.

purple8I had previously noticed the similarity of the flowers and leaves to another bush in the back of the house.  But this morning for some reason it struck me that they are much more than similar.

purple6

purple5You know how it is to get your mind set one way and not see the truth.  So I’m not going to beat myself up for this mistake.  But I do not think this is a Blue Curls.

purplecThis is a Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) tree in the back yard that was planted two years ago.  It was bought at a local nursery and was clearly labeled.

The following three pictures are of this same tree.

My reference point for a Vitex comes from a huge tree planted in the parking lot of the hospital in Brownwood.  So I didn’t expect one to look like a bush.

purpledDo you see my confusion?  I now think both are Vitex.  I have pruned the branches on the one in the front for several years to get it fuller, which has also kept it shorter.

purpleeAlso known as Chaste Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, or Indian Spice, it is a native of China and India.  But it has been grown in the southern US since 1670.

purplefDifferent parts of the tree have long been used for medicinal purposes.  Another name for Vitex is Monk’s Pepper because it was thought that its berries helped monks maintain their chastity.

It’s a great tree/shrub for pollinators.  The color of the blooms are fantastic.

purple4As I was taking pictures, a visitor strolled quickly by.

purpleffThe flower spires on Russian Sage are a light purple or lavender.

purpleiAlthough not a spire, these Petunias are a deep purple.

purplejThis pot was already filled when I bought it.  The lady did not know the names of the other two plants in it.

purplekThe foliage of Ajuga ground cover is more important to most people than the pale lavender blooms.

purplelAnd lastly, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is sandwiched between Greggi Sage and Rose bushes.  It has a wonderful aroma and is a great hardy perennial.

“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Nolan of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God.”  Richmond, Virginia daily newspaper

Lilies and More

Back home, the results of recent rains continue to shine.  I’ll post more about our trip later.

bulbsThe Kindly Light Daylily’s (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) bright color and quirkly petals scream for attention.

bulbs1They spread nicely, too.

bulbs9Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) like most daylilies isn’t very picky.  It like well-drained soil, full sun or partial sun, and tolerates heat and humidity.

bulbs6The flowers on the old fashioned, pass along Daylilies aren’t as large as they used to be.  They desperately needed to be divided, but the heavy clay makes that a difficult job.  Maybe I could plan a dividing party.  Wonder who would come?

bulbs4Two Daylily bulbs were growing out in the grass, so I transplanted them.  Now they’ve spread.  In front of them is a Salvia Greggi.

bulbs2

bulbs5Sorry the hanging flower buds on this Clematis are a little out of focus.  I have waited for four years for this to bloom and almost yanked it out of the ground a number of times, but patience paid off.  So far, the flowers are not that impressive.

bulbs7Purple Leatherflower Clematis (Clematis pitcheri Torr.A. Gray) is a Texas native and is fairly heat and drought tolerant.

The purple in the background is Larkspur.

bulbs8Because all clematis like their feet in the shade and the vine in the sun, I stacked some rocks at the bottom of it in an attempt to shade the roots from the low west afternoon sun.  But now the plants around it have grown up enough to help shade them.

bulbsaDesert Rose (Adenium obesum) is finally blooming again.  It’s weird shaped trunk bottom is supposed to be part of its charm.  Each year, it is supposed to be repotted to a just slightly larger pot with the bulb lifted a little higher.  I haven’t done that yet because I don’t want to disturb the blooms.

To the left is a pot of Kolanchoe.  So many new kinds of Kolanchoe are being developed, which I hope are as hardy as the older ones.  Beside that is a new type of Dusty Miller that is a succulent.  On top of the cart is a Begonia.

bulbsbThis Beebalm ( Monarda  didyma) has grown really tall.  To keep it from laying on the ground, I put a wire cage around it.  It was probably planted in the wrong place since they prefer full sun and space for wind to blow around and through them.

bulbscCrazy looking flowers.  I’m still waiting to see lots of pollinators on them.

bulbsdSo much is growing and blooming now that it is hard to focus.  We have been so blessed with rain and mild weather.  The heavy duty heat will come, so we need to savor this time.

“Cavities are like parking tickets; they show up by surprise and take all your pocket money.”  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

Austin Gardens Tour, Part 2

The city of Austin is in the Hill Country and spreads out over cedar covered hills giving it a green vista.  The city center and original settlement is on about the only level ground.  A few of the home gardens on the tour were located there.

But the newer houses and most expensive real estate is on the hills on the outer edges of the city.  Those sites make challenging landscaping for home owners.  This post shows plants from three of those gardens.

austingardenspThis home had a mostly shady garden in an area that hugged the house.   The rest of the land sloped down to a dry creek bed.

This Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guarantica) grows in shade here with dapples of sunlight.  But most salvia will also do well in sun.

austingardensqStairs led up to the swimming pool on a raised area where the back door to the home was located.  There were palms at several of the homes, but I don’t know what kind of palms.

austingardensrThe lights on the bottle bush was a nice touch.

austingardenssTo the right is the raised area.  Steps led down to another small garden area.  The orange flowers look like Crossvine.

austingardenst This Mexico native is a good low water plant but won’t survive our winters.

austingardensuThe previous yard and this one were both professionally landscaped.

austingardensvThe main feature of this yard was the stunning view.   Behind me as I take this picture is a large grassy lawn.

austingardenswThis last yard was very nicely laid out.  Oak Leaf Acanthus (Acanthus mollis) is a new plant to me.  Information on the net states that  stiff, spiky tubular-shaped flowers emerge from the center of the plant.  Flowers can be white, lilac or rose in color. If this plant is in a hot climate, it needs afternoon shade.  That would be Texas.  It prefers moist soils but will tolerate drier soil.

austingardensxI think this pretty purple plant is Persian Spears.

austingardensyAlthough I’m not especially drawn to agaves, I like Queen Victoria Century Plant (Agave victoriae-reginae). It’s not winter hardy here, but I could probably try it in a container.

austingardenvvWingpod Pursulane (Portulaca umbraticola) is a US native  succulent.  This gardener did a nice job of landscaping with several beds outlined with different materials.  You can see a back row of bricks and a side wood border.

austingardenszThere is a wild one aggressive purslane that comes up in my flowerbeds.  Maybe that’s why it is in a contained area in this garden.

austingardenwwNot sure which sage this is.

austingardenxxIn the bright light behind the kneeling girl is a Shrimp Plant with yellow blooms.  It’s a native of Mexico and does very well in zones 8 and above.

austingardenzzLike the clean, fresh color of this Coleus.

austingardenzzzThis cluster of Plumbago plants (Plumbago auriculata) was in the yard beside the featured garden we were visiting.  Very attractive planting.

That’s the last of the Austin gardens.  There were a nice variety of gardens – shady, sunny, all native, more formal, or less formal natural settings. There was only one garden that I feel should not have been on the tour.  It was sadly neglected.  The reason I mention this is because the houses were scattered all over Austin and required a lot of driving.  So a stop that wasn’t worth the time or gas should not have been included.  Otherwise, it was a worthwhile tour.

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”   Elizabeth Murray