Summer White

Many years ago mothers in the south gave this advice to their daughters:  “Never wear white until Easter and never wear white after Labor Day.”  Who makes up these rules?

Anyway, kids today certainly don’t hear things like that.  In past times, It wasn’t even necessary to say to dress modestly.  That was understood.  Oops.  I’m talking about one of my pet peeves – parents not teaching their children to dress appropriately for the occasion.

almond2Back to wearing white.  This little bush of Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata) is dressed with white blossoms.  It wears a sweet perfume, which the bees and other pollinators are drawn to.  Me, too.  I love its sweet almond vanilla aroma.

almondverbena2Almond Verbena loves the summer sun here but dies with the winter freezes.  The blooms resemble those of a butterfly bush or Buddleia.

They can grow up to 15 feet tall.  I’ve had this one three years, and it has only reached 3 feet.  Maybe it’s because it dies in the cold and grows slowly in the spring.

almond3It is a native of Argentina.  The branches tend to bend down, like a weeping willow.

It’s a pity that Almond Verbenas are not stocked in most nurseries.  I found this one in Austin.

whitehibiscusOne day recently as I was weeding, I walked behind the flowerbed that I normally see from my kitchen window.  On one Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bush, all the flowers on the back side were stark white.  What in the world?  Don’t know why.  Maybe a soil deficiency?

whitebirdThis iron bird has lost most of it white paint.  Still cute.

whiteweedTwo years ago a friend gave me seeds for Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma).  Although I had never heard of it or seen it, Clammy Weed is a native wildflower found in many parts of Texas.

Clammy Weed gets this name because it is slightly sticky to the touch.  It is hardy, grows in full sun, and reseeds well.

angelbasketFor some reason, I can’t toss this poor little whitish grey angel in the trash, yet.

mexicantuberoseMexican Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) are bulb plants that were domesticated by pre-Columbian Indians of Mexico, according to Dr. William C. Welch, horticulturist at Texas A & M.  It was one of the first plants taken back to Spain by the conquistadors.  It is still a much used garden plant there and in Mexico.

mexicantuberose2All I know is that they have a strong pleasing scent.  Mexican tuberoses flower on a tall stalk, like a daylily.  They look nice with another plant behind them to showcase them or with nothing behind them but a solid blue sky.  This is a Senna bush behind these two.

mexicantuberose3 Last year, I tried to divide a clump.  I wasn’t sure they would survive because a large bulb was covered in smaller bulbs, which I could not pull off.  So I cut through the bottom large bulb.  This picture shows one that came from a divided bulb.  There are also several other survivors, so I was relieved.

This tuberose is in front of an Acanthus.  Tuberose bulbs are also not easy to find.  I ordered mine from a grower in Michigan that specializes in heirloom bulbs.

White flowers can add a nice, clean look to a garden.

“Those who think it permissible to tell white lies soon grow colorblind.”  Unknown

Rain Works Wonders

Everything looks better after a rain, except, for sopping wet dogs and cats.  But the blessed rains of this week have put new life in all the vegetation here.  Even beyond the much needed moisture, the overcast skies and lower temperatures were extra bonuses.  The lowest recorded temperature in July and the lowest high recorded in July both happened this past week.  What a fabulous week.

turkroseofsharonThe Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriaacus) loves a little extra drink.  They are all covered with flowers.  One of them is shown behind the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and Lil Miss Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in this picture.

roseofsharon2The Rose of Sharon, like all the plants that have a flower that resembles Hibiscus, can transport me to Hawaii or other tropical places I’ve visited.

hibuscus15Sweet rain drops.

hibuscus14I can’t recommend these hardy plants enough.  Even when it’s hot, hot, hot and they get little water, they survive.  They don’t bloom much without some watering, but they stay alive.

daylilyEven a Daylily (Hermerocallis fulva) bloomed with the extra dose of water.  All the buds indicate more to come.  It’s past their normal blooming time but love that pop of color.

purplesage2The desert Purple Sage, Cenizo (Scrophulariaceae Leucophyllum frutescens) blooms burst out after a rain.  Every time I see one of these bushes, childhood memories of the West come to mind.  Although I haven’t read Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, the whole western book and movie genre is very familiar.

I’m also reminded of the Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”.  Those songs were a favorite of my Dad, and every Saturday morning the radio was tuned to a country music station.  Although, country-western is not my own personal preferred music style, it brings back good thoughts about my youth.

bluemistBlue Mist is blooming enough to draw Viceroy butterflies.  As more  flowers open up, there will be tons more butterflies.  I’m not sure if this is a Conoclinium coelestinum or a Conoclinium  greggii (dissectum) because the difference between the two is slight to untrained eyes.

This week has brought blessings of full water tanks or ponds, drainage into lakes, green fields and grasses, and a wonderful respite to a hot summertime.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is a hardy, deciduous shrub with flowers that look like the tropical hibiscus.  It is also known as Shrub Althera, Rose Altera, or St. Joseph’s Rod.  They are very low maintenance.

All three of these shrubs came from a friend in the metroplex.  I had always admired her Rose of Sharons.  She had brought small plants from her sister’s yard in Michigan back to Texas.  A few months before we moved, she gave me some pots with small bushes.  The tallest one was one foot.  This is what they look like eight years later.  They are about 7′ now and would probably be taller in better soil.

The first time this friend visited me here, I showed her the bushes and commented that I was happy that they came from bushes with different color flowers.  She said that wasn’t true.  They all came from the same bush.  Look at the subtle difference in the color shades.

We decided that it had to be the soil, even though the bushes are close to each other.  I don’t know another explanation.

One problem or plus, depending on your point of view, with this bush is that new plants come up all around the bushes.  When they are very small, they can easily be pulled up.  But by the time they are a foot tall, they have a long tap root and are much more difficult to get up.  Of course, that root is part of what helps them survive the heat and sun in Texas. They do need water to bloom.

Although you need space for these shrubs, they make great borders behind other plants in the garden or as a hedge along the perimeter of a yard.  The flowers are beautiful.  Sharing just requires a little digging and potting.   In the fall or early spring, little clusters of bud pods where flowers bloomed will need to be cut off the branches before spring blooming.  Pruning can help the shape the bush or contain its size.

“Live in a way that every moment matters.  Capture every thought, every scent, every note of music, every glint of sunlight on water, every chance to help another human soul.”  Grandma Rose in The Language of Sycamores by Lisa Wingate.