Is It a Rose?

The common or colloquial names of plants can be confusing.

In Texas, these large bushes are known as Rose of Sharon.  The flowers are a give away that it is definitely not a rose, but is, instead, a hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus).  It is in the mallow family and is native to Asia and India.

Another common name is Althea.  If you want a showy, easy to care for, large bush that is covered in flowers from late spring until late fall, this is your guy.  It thrives in zones 5 to 8 and only needs pruning once a year.  I prune off spend flower casings in late fall or early spring and trim a few branches to keep the natural shape.  Love it every year.

This is commonly called Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) with flowers that also have a hibiscus look.  This shrub is low growing with branches that spread out.  Another easy, dependable one.  They love the frequent droughts in zones 7 – 9.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is another mystery name.  The swollen bottom part of the trunk is its most unusual feature.  It must be kept at least 50 degrees at all times,  and 60 to 90 degrees is required for it to keep its leaves.

I put mine in a heated shed in the winter where it is probably a little less than 50 degrees.  It loses its leaves and takes a while to produce leaves and flowers each year.  It should be re-potted to a larger pot about every two years.  Not sure how large the pot should be that it stays in permanently.

How did these plants come to be called roses?  Nothing about them looks like roses.  I’ve not been able to find out.

Now, on to real roses.  We’ve lived here 12 years and my first rose plant was a gift.  It was a great surprise to me that it lived and bloomed.  Because all the ones I’ve planted have done so well, I just keep planting more.

In the foreground of this picture is Oso Easy Paprika, which has a wonderful indefinable color.

Mr. Lincoln was bought because it has long stems, so I thought it would be a good cut flower.  That part has been disappointing because the flowers fall apart within a day or so when cut.  But it does make a striking rose in the yard because it is tall and has a bold color.  The flowers last a long time on the bush.

These two bushes also have great colors, but I don’t know what their names are.  The Oxeye daisies were planted years ago and were a nice border.  This year, they have spread and become invasive.  But they are easy to dig up and are great pass-a-long plants.

This is one of two new beds with roses.  It has been a pleasant surprise that even though the bushes are small, they have bloomed frequently.

As I buy roses now, I’ve become more discerning.  I want hardy roses that have a scent.  This Double Delight Rose has the strongest, lovely aroma of any rose I have found.  I have an older one, but this new bed is easy to see from my kitchen window, so I chose one for this spot.

Lady of Shalott is a David Austin rose that has a wonderful aroma.  On the David Austin site, you can select roses by many categories.  I looked at those that can do well in poor soil and have a scent.

These flowers are several days old.  When The Lady Gardener first blooms, the petals in the center have some apricot color.  This small bush has bloomed profusely.

Alnwick shows off some of the characteristics of many David Austin roses:  a tight center of petals and a round, cupped perimeter.

Roses – so many varieties to choose from and so little time.  That’s a wonderful challenge.

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

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Winter Silhouettes and More

Winter seems barren and blab, but beauty in forms and shapes stand out.

I’ve always liked the bones of this bush.  It’s tall, about 6 feet, and I still don’t know what it is.  It doesn’t flower.  Its best traits are hardiness and the dark colors of its leaves.  Someday I hope to identify it.

The dried sepals of the flowers left on the branches of Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) look almost like blossoms themselves.

Althea is one of the most reliable flowering bushes for our area.  Clay and caliche don’t phase them.  I love their hibiscus looking flowers with lavender colors.

Strands of Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) hang on looking like black beads.  They’re not as shiny as when the tree is leafed out.  Other names include Texas Sophora, Pink Sophora, and Necklace Tree.

This little tree likes alkaline soil and limestone, so it’s perfect of our land.

The tree is three years old, and these are the first seed pods.  In spring pink flowers hang in small wisteria-like clusters.

Branches of oaks have interesting shapes.   Chinapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) has lots of curves.

Blue sky frames Chinese Pistasho or Chinese Pistashe (Pistacia chinensis) with its clusters of tiny berries and long thin leaves.  This tree is in the cashew family and is native to China.

Even though it isn’t native here, it is a Texas SuperStar plant because it does well in poor soil and doesn’t require lots of water.  As a young tree, it can look misshapen, but becomes a wonderful tree with fall color.  Amen to that.

As I was walking around taking pictures on a crisp, cold morning, this Northern Mockingbird was hunkered down in a large Rose of Sharon.  His feathers were puffed up for warmth, so he seemed cozy and didn’t want to leave, which made this picture possible.

As I came around behind the bushes later, he was still there.  Mockingbirds, the Texas state bird, are very common around here.

During winter, all the weeds and clutter around plants show up.  To the right of the sun dial, a Purple Sage or Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) is a voluntary plant.  Several years ago, one was growing about ten feet from this spot, so maybe that’s its origin.

Lots to be cleaned up.  Tires me out to think about it.

The wide open sky is always beautiful.

Love a buttermilk sky.  They are fairly rare here.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread…
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:
to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor E. Frankl

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Oldies but Goodies

One of the pleasures of gardening is the return each year of perennials.  Success with plants is not always the case, so it feels good when it happens.

oldiesOne sure way to achieve success in the garden is to use native plants.  All plants are native somewhere, so planting native always refers to what grows naturally in your neck of the woods.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is one of those wildflowers that comes up wherever it pleases.  If that doesn’t bother you, then it works.   I like the way the white flowers kind of glow.

oldies8Clammy Weed and Zinnas are easy to please – just a little water and sunshine.

oldies1Rose of Sharon also does well here.  Most of my bushes have the flowers that look like Hibiscus.  These have a rose look.

oldies2One of the best plant that gardeners in central Texas can have are Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  Just step up close to them and have butterflies darting all around you.oldies3Blue Mists fill in spaces among other plants.  If you like that, you’re good to go.  If not, put them in a contained flower bed.

oldies44Another beauty is Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus drummondii).  It doesn’t look like it would survive Texas sun, but this plant has been in this spot for eight or nine years.  it’s tough.

oldies4The garden is doing well when all kinds of “good” bugs live there.

oldies5Bright red of these turbans always make me smile.

oldies7Behind the Blue Mist, Mexican Petunias (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’) keep expanding.  This is another one that needs to be contained if you have limited space.

This group all came from one cutting that I took nine years ago.  If you see something you like, then ask permission to take a cutting.  If it doesn’t survive, then nothing lost.

oldies6One of my favorites:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) was planted many years ago.  I bought it long before I knew anything about it.  It is now a Texas Superstar plant.

Many hardly plants are found in cemeteries.  These were growing on a grave when they were discovered, so they were named for the name on the tombstone.

oldies9Ordinary Morning Glory reminds me of old gardens of the early settlers.  There’s a reason they have been around for years and years.  It’s impossible to kill them.

Just a few seeds from a friend and voila, you’ll have flowers forever.  But they are invasive, so beware.

oldiesaRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is one of the better behaved natives.  It stays where it is put and is not invasive.

oldiesbPretty little flowers that look more like hibiscus than roses.

oldiescStrawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) does come up profusely.  But it’s a small plant that looks good poking its head up among other flowers.

Neat and tidy in the garden isn’t my thing.

oldiesgCanyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is fighting to keep its place in a bed since Pink Gaura keeps spreading out.

oldiesdThis bush in the back yard is so bright and cheerful.  I have sought to identify it definitively.

Finally, a nursery man had one like it and told me it was a Texas Flowery Senna (Senna corymbosa).  Other names include Flowering Senna, Tree Senna, and Buttercup Bush.

After about six years, it’s about 6 feet tall and wide.  Great plant.

oldiesfSmall green flying bugs or bees flit from flower to flower.  One is on a petal in the upper middle of the picture.

Wildflowers are just weeds.  So pick the pretty ones you love and plant a few seeds.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  W. E. Johns

 

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

Valentine Brunch

There was a Ladies’ Valentine Brunch at church on Saturday the 13th of February.  I was on the planning committee and was the decorator for the event.

brunch2There are many challenges to change our fellowship hall into a space that looks somewhat classy.  First, my sweet husband agreed to bring in the padded chairs from the chapel.  That made a huge difference rather than using the battered, mismatched folding metal chairs.

We also carried out some wall decorations, metal chairs, and other items that were eye sores.

My dear husband helped in so many ways.  It could not have been accomplished without him.

brunchThere is a large window opening into the kitchen, so I used sheers and lights to block out that view and added three arrangements for a little distraction and interest.

Later I noticed the gaps in the curtains and pulled those together.

brunch7Sheers on the windows gave the whole room a softer look.

brunch3There is no budget for such events, so I purchased items that can be used again for another function.  I had sprayed some vases for a previous luncheon, so those were used to hold artificial red and white roses.  Also, I sprayed dried items and and made beaded wires.

The dried items came from my yard, like Red Yucca pods, plus some Yucca pods from the field.  The clusters of seeds came from a small Vitex tree and a Burl Curls bush.  The bushy ends on a stem are dried flowers from Sedum Brilliant.  There are also some stems with dried flower pods from Rose of Sharon bushes.

brunch5Around the vases are paper heart chains. candles, and Bible verse cards.

brunch4

brunchcThere were five beaded wires in each vase.  On each wire were red, white and silver beads.  No two were alike.  They didn’t show up well in the pictures, so I took a picture of one alone.  I wandered all over the house trying to find a good spot for the photograph but couldn’t find one.  Finally settled on this photo.

brunchaThe serving table is 16 feet long.  Since it is in front of the kitchen window, I moved the larger vase to the corner at the end of the serving line.

The planning committee borrowed dishes from another church and brought flatware from home to make it more special than using paper plates and plastic utensils.  Volunteers washed dishes afterwards.

brunch1

brunch9This vase was on the drink table.  We found a great punch recipe on the internet.  It’s called Grandma’s punch and was really delicious and was red.

brunchbWe had a duet, a solo, and a short devotional.  Another lady was in charge of the games, which were a big success.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  So the hours of preparation were worth it.

“Three things can’t be hidden: coughing, poverty, and love.”          Yiddish Proverb

The Heat Goes On

Sonny and Cher’s “The beat goes on, the beat goes on, Drums keep pounding A rhythm to the brain” resonates as the sun beats down without relief and the heat goes on.

heatgoesonThankfully, some plants thrive in the heat.  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is one of those exceptional plants for sun, heat, drought, and poor soil that are reliable, once established.

heatgoeson7Three plants were planted nine years ago in this bed and have been stars every year.

heatgoeson8This angle is from the other end of the bed.  A trellis with Passion vine is on the right and a Texas Star Hibiscus is at the other end.

heatgoeson4Bumble bees cover this whole bed from spring until late fall.

heatgoeson5The Passion Vine (Passiflora Incarnata) was planted seven years ago and was full and beautiful for years.  The flowers are unique and are show stoppers.

heatgoeson6The black and orange caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeds on Passion Flower leaves.  Sometimes they eat so many that the plant dies back.  Last year the vine did not return, so I thought it was gone.  Strangely, I rarely see any of that particular butterfly in the yard.

This year the vine came back and has flowered again.  So I guess the root system was well established.

heatgoeson3The large Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bushes still have some blossoms.

heatgoeson2I watched bees duck into the flowers and crawl all around the stigma.  Then their bodies were covered with white pollen.

heatgoeson9Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) has a strong sweet vanilla scent.  Sight alone doesn’t let you truly experience this vine.  The smell and the buzzing sounds envelope you as you draw close to it.  Some people don’t like the smell, but I love it.

heatgoesonaBees that aren’t  bumble bee provide the audio part.  They are smaller than bumble bees and are so fast that I couldn’t get a picture.  Plus, they stay mostly in the depths of the thick vine.

heatgoesonbThe name Autumn Clematis is a misnomer because they start blooming in the hottest part of the summer during the middle or last of August.  By any cooler temperatures that we have in October, the flowers are all gone.

But it is pretty much evergreen through the winter.  That actually makes it harder to cut it back.  I have tried not cutting it back.  It just becomes so thick that the inner branches die.

Flowers that bloom in our hot, dry climate are a blessing that I truly appreciate.

“Don’t worry if plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.”   Anonymous

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.