Fall Color

Yes.  We do have autumn color here in upper Central Texas.  The colors are different than in the eastern US, and they may not last as long, but they are beautiful.  I suspect that the colors don’t last as long because the temperatures stay high longer here.

Red Oaks keep some of their green leaves while others turn orange red.

Once the oak leaves fall on the ground, their color has faded to a light golden brown.

Clusters of orange-red berries drape at the ends of the branches of a Chinese Pistache tree.

The leaves of Eve’s Necklace turned golden yellow.  The seed “necklaces” are still hanging from the branches.

This Katy Road Pink rose bush has really large rose hips.  In Texas, it has retained this name because it was found at that location in Houston.  But, it was later determined that it was a Carefree Beauty rose that was developed by Dr. Buck at Iowa State University.

The size and bright orange red color, as well as the large number on a bush, makes the rose hips stand out.  Carefree Beauty roses do well in our heat and bloom from spring until the first frost.  It was named Earth-Kind® Rose of the year in 2006.

Small Mexican Buckeye trees/shrubs produce their seeds in unique shaped pods.  The seeds themselves are coal black and poisonous, as is the foliage.

In the spring, clusters of small pink flowers adorn the bush.

This small Agastache in the Hyssop family was planted a couple of months ago.  They are supposed to be cold hardy down to 10 degrees.  Heavy mulching for winter is encouraged.

Ever since it was placed in the ground, it has been covered with butterflies.  The temps have dropped in the mornings, but all sorts of butterflies continue to flock to it.  The butterfly in this picture is either Painted Lady or Tawny Emperor.

This Texas Ash is 13 or 14 years old but this is the first year the leaves have turned a deep gold color.

Hope your fall is colorful and calm.  With all the social distancing, being outside to enjoy nature is refreshing and comforting.

“Earth has no words that can convey the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus.”   Charles Sturgeon

What’s Blooming and Growing in Cool Weather

Cool weather continues.  In fact, one day last week there was frost on the ground.  The world has gone wonky.

Katy Road Roses covering a six foot bush.  This rose was introduced in 1977 and was known in Texas as Katy Road because it was “found” on Katy Road in Houston.  It was actually developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the long, cold winters of the Midwest.  He named it Carefree Beauty.

Because this rose also does so well in the hot, dry summers of Texas, it was named the 2006 “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  The bush has several flushes of rich pink blooms from spring until frost.  Each flower produces a large orange rose hip.

So call it Katy Road or Carefree Beauty, it’s a great rose for the garden.

To the right side of the rose bush are Ox-Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare).  They can be aggressive but are so pretty, I think they’re worth it.

Maggie is an old Bourbon rose that blooms profusely.  It was “found” in Louidiana by Dr. William Welch of A&M and brought to Texas.  It’s a winner.

Another Bearded Iris to praise.  The solid dark purple ones are behind the purple and pale lavender ones.  I’m sure I didn’t plan that.  Just a happy accident.

These are so dark that they don’t photograph too well.

Artemisia is a plant that I think every large yard should have.  This one has been in a pot for years.  I have another one that is trying to take over a flowerbed.  To keep it in a space, simply cut off the runners.  They each have roots, so they can be potted and passed along.

To the left is native Yellow Columbine – very hardy perennial.

Artemisia has a slight silver tint and tends to be evergreen in our mild winters.  The softness of the foliage is amazing.

This Iris looks light lavender in this picture.  But in real life, it’s a true blue.  Adds a little magic to the garden.  Actually, all Irises provide elegance.

Hope you and your family are safe and well.  I pray especially for those who live in city apartments or any confined space with children and for those whose jobs have been affected by all the closings.  These times definitely call for patience.

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”  David G. Allen

A Mixed Bag of Color and Scent

Higher temperatures indicate that summer is just around the corner.  But almost two inches of rain last week brought relief and appreciation.

Roses have been blooming like crazy.  Belinda’s Dream on the left is usually the star, but at this time, Katy Rose has outpaced it with blooms.

As the flowerbed curves on around, yellow rose bushes and Ox-eye daisies are also blooming profusely.  When walking around this bed, the heavenly scent is wonderful.

Although not a spectacular flower form, this rose bush makes up for that with the sheer number of blooms and its reliability to bloom over and over each year.

This rose and the one seen in the pot behind it are the results of propagation.  I’ve been experimenting with different methods with varying success.  These started with cuttings in small pots that were placed in a clear plastic bag.  The soil was watered well, but not soggy, and the bag sealed.  The condensation in the bag keeps the soil moist and provides a greenhouse environment.

After about six weeks, it was still alive, so I removed the bag and left the pot on the southern window sill.  Since some cuttings lived and others died, I’m not sure which bushes these came from.

In April, I was on a nature walk with a Texas Naturalist group.  This picture shows mistletoe growing on the lower trunk of a tree.  Notice also that the bark is crumbling in places.

We all have heard that the age of a tree can be determined by its number of inner rings.  That can be done with a plug taken from the tree.

The age of a tree can also be determined by the layers of the bark, which is seen in this picture.  Wow.  This information can from a retired botany professor in our group.  Isn’t that neat.

Last year I learned first hand how irresponsible it is not to trim back an Autumn Clematis.

Because the vine was so thick and heavy, the whole trellis with its bottom in concrete came out of the ground.

Now I’m seeing the consequences of not cutting this Jackman Clematis (Clematis ‘Jackmanii’) back.  I checked it in winter, but it’s dead stems seemed sparse and not a problem.

But the new growth is all bunched up on top and not attaching itself to the trellis.  My husband staked the trellis to a fence pole behind it to hopefully keep it from toppling over.

A couple of years ago I planted yellow yarrow, which spreads nicely, in the water trough container to shade the lower part of the vine.  Clematis needs shaded “feet” and sunny vines.

This Clematis is covered with flowers several times a year.

Have a super day.

“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”  Charles Bukowski

Early April Flowers

Night time temperatures are still in the lower 40’s, so it’s too early to get the more cold tender plants out of the shed.  But there are plenty of other things blooming to make spring gorgeous.

Roses are putting on a great show, even though there are still some weeds in the beds.

The red roses and white (actually they are yellow that fade to white) are both Knockouts.  The peachy roses are Oso Easy Paprika.  The tall bush in the back with pink flowers are Earth Kind.

About weeds:  gardening is hard and many of the results are out of our control due to weather.  So I think we should give ourselves a break.  It is almost impossible to get all chores done timely, especially if you don’t have help.  Gardeners are usually kind to other gardeners but hard on themselves.

On the other side of the house more roses are blooming like crazy.  This Katy Road is super hardy.  It was developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the cold and long winters of the Midwest.  It was named Carefree Beauty.

In Texas, it has been known as Katy Road Pink because it was found on Katy Road in Houston.  Amazingly, it has proven to endure our hot, dry summers.

Large orange colored rose hips are produced from every flower.

This yellow florabunda has stayed small in bush size but produces lots of roses.

The Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgarees) have spread.  Several have been dug up and potted for garden club plant sales.  Some people don’t want them in their yards because they do spread.  I like the fact that they can become pass-a-long plants.

This rose (unknown) always knocks my socks off.

Two years ago I was given this Amaryllis for Christmas.  I had tried planting Amaryllis bulbs in a flower bed with so-so results.  So I decided to put this bulb in a larger pot and place it outside in a mostly shady spot during the spring, summer, and fall.  When it got cold, I put it in the heated shed.

The stalks got tall – almost 3 feet.  The bulb doubled in size.

The double blooms are fabulous.

Reblooming Irises are as dependable as sunshine in the desert.  In fact, I’m not sure how a person would kill bulb.  Maybe by drowning them.  They don’t require much water as the ones out in our field prove.

A muted mauve type color.

Ones with purple or solid purple are my favorite irises.

The Yellow Lead Ball tree is already covered with blooms and buds about to bloom.

This small tree has proven to be a winner because it doesn’t need good soil or much water.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

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Big Fan of Roses

I have a soft spot for roses because they perfume the air, bloom for years, are faithful each year to perform, and generally add a homey atmosphere.  Many people think they are difficult, but they aren’t.  Give them full sun (even the extra hot Texas sun), some water, good drainage, and a little fertilizer.  Voila: sweet flowers.

springrosesaThe three bushes in front are Knockouts.  Behind them is an Earthkind.  One of the things that makes Knockouts so easy is that deadheading isn’t necessary.  They just keep on blooming.  If and when I have some time, I will trim them but not often.

springroses6These blooms start out pale yellow and fade to white.  Even though the flowers are simple, a bush full of them is stunning.

springroses8The Earthkind flowers are also not impressive, but a tall, healthy bush covered with them is.

springrosesghMy all time favorite in my yard is Double Delight because its scent and beauty are so stunning.

Two weeks ago I discovered a tunnel under its root system and was so afraid that I would lose the bush.  We filled in dirt and covered it with a huge rock.  Armadillos are so destructive in a yard.  Don’t be fooled by the cute pictures you see of them.  Those claws are a source of grief to a gardener.springrosesbOso Easy Paprika are more favorites.

springroseseeTheir color stands out.  The spent buds, unfortunately, do have to be lopped off before it will bloom again.  It can be a chore because it is covered with flowers all at once, so that means slowly sniping each one.

springroses7Last fall this Don Juan climber was planted inside a new sturdy trellis.  It is replacing a Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that literally lifted the dome trellis it was growing in and pulled apart the posts.  The thorns on it were also the most vicious I’ve ever seen.  The flowers were beautiful clusters but not worth the grief.

springrosesbbA look at the roses on the edge of the yard on the east side.

springrosesgMr. Lincoln is the first rose bush on the right in the former picture.  It makes a stunning sight in the garden and the flowers last a long time on the plant.

The stems are long and seem perfect for cut flower arrangements.  If they are cut when still in bud form, they will last a few days.  If not, forget it, the petals fall soon after cutting.

springrosesThere are five rose bushes in this bed.  This one is Katy Road.

springrosescTo the left of Katy Road is Belinda’s Dream.  They are both good performers with lots of blooms.  Eventually, they do need for the spent buds to be snipped off.

springrosesdThere are two yellow rose bushes and one with a gorgeous peachy orange color that I don’t know the name of.  They are all floribunda type bushes, which means they bloom profusely.

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springrosesddAt the end of that raised bed are Ox-eye Daisies.

springroseseLast fall this miniature was planted in a front bed.  I can’t find the paper work right now, so I don’t know the variety.  I used to be leery of miniatures.  But a grocery store buy that has been in a container for years proves that miniatures are hearty.

I do have some other rose bushes but these are a good representation.  Each type of rose has its pluses and minuses, so a variety is good.  The hybrids and old fashions have the aromas while others produce masses of blooms.

My own prejudice says everyone needs a rose to sweeten their life.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  Alphonse Karr

Before the First Frost

Our first freeze was a few days ago with a low of 28.  So it’s farewell to flowers and warm weather.  Being forewarned by the meteorologists, we took an afternoon and hauled pot plants into the sheds.  Of course, that time included cleaning out the sheds and carrying some things, like fertilizer spreaders, that won’t be needed this winter to the barn.

Both metal sheds have skylights and blown insulation.  One has a heater sensitive to temperatures.  That’s where ferns and other tender plants are stored.  Plants that I don’t want to freeze but can survive some cold go into the other shed.

fall2yardOne final bloom from the tropical Hibiscus.  I know I show a lot of pictures from this bush.  But, in my defense, the flower color is stunning.

fall2yard4These small pots of Ajuga Bugel Weed (Ajuga reptans) go into the shed.  If the plants were in the ground, then they should come survive.  But I’m not sure how well they would do in the pots.  Most often, Ajuga functions as ground cover, but I can’t decide where I want to use them.

The African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) definitely has to be protected.  It’s one of those plants sold way north from its home.  Probably, the big box stores intend for customers to use them as annuals.  Crazy me.  I get attached to plants.

fallyardhThese mums are local buys that will be carried inside and out as needed for decorations.  Then next spring, I’ll plant them in a flowerbed or larger pots.

fallyardiThis variety was bought at a grocery store – couldn’t resist.

fallyardjThe red tips caught my eye.

fallcolor4Roses were still blooming right up until the freeze.  These are Knock-outs with some Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  in front.

fall2yard2Katy Road Roses are central Texas hardy that survive blazing summers and intermittent freezes during the winters.

fall2yard3I don’t know the name of this rose, but it, also, is a hardy bush here.  Roses are actually easy to grow.  Until we moved here, I didn’t have a place for them.  They absolutely must have sun and some water.  Drip system works well.

fallyardgYellow Knock Out Roses.

fallyardePink Knock-Outs.

fallyardcI always dread for the last blossoms on Duranta (Duranta erecta) to die because I know it will be months and months until they bloom again in late July.

fallcolorSome of first signs of autumn here are the red berries and golden orangeish leaves on the Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis).

fallcolor3The Red Oak leaves turning copper are next.

fallcolor7This is a different Red Oak, and it’s covered with acorns.

fallcolor5Finally, the berries on Possomhaw (Ilex decidua) get larger and turn bright red.

Nature is always in flux, as we must be.

May you and your family have time together to celebrate the blessings of life.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;                                             let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.                             Let us come before him with thanksgiving                                         and extol Him with music and song.”             Psalm 95:1-2

Spotlight on Roses

The roses this spring have been exceptionally beautiful.  Every time I look out the window, I am blown over with how gorgeous everything looks.  It’s a miracle what a little rain and cool weather can do for the landscape.

rosesbloomingk Who doesn’t love roses?  In the background are three Knockout Rose bushes.  To the right of those is a climbing rose, which hasn’t bloomed yet.

rosesbloomingiIn the foreground is an Oso Easy Paprika bush with the wonderful peachy, salmon colored flowers.  And it is truly easy.  It just needs a little water, lots of sun, and deadheading in order to produce more blooms.

rosesblooming9That color is indefineable.

rosebloom8In the same long flowerbed are four hybrid rose bushes.  This one is a Grandiflora ‘Double Delight’ hybrid tea rose.  The Double Delight has the strongest and best fragrance of any rose I have.  Highly recommend it.

Behind these roses is a tangerine colored rose from the bush beside it.  That is a Floribunda ‘Tropicana’.

rosebloom9This is a Grandiflora.

roseblooma‘Mr. Lincoln’ is a classic hybrid tea rose with deep red roses and a nice scent.

All of the rose bushes in this long bed are from 8 to 10 years old.

rosesbloominghOn the other side of the house is another rose flowerbed.  This ‘Katy Road’ Rose is usually just a so-so bloomer.

rosesblooming4This year it has gone crazy and has a wonderful aroma.

rosebloom6‘Belinda’s Dream’ has always put on a show blooming over and over from spring until the first frost.  The flowers have a great form with lots of petals.

rosesbloomingdAlso in that bed are a couple of bushes with yellow flowers.

rosesblooming10They are both grandifloras, but that’s all I know.

rosesbloomingeAnd another bush with flowers that have a superb color.  The bush itself has stayed small but is outstanding because its blooms are so pretty.  Sure wish I knew the name of this rose, but that information is long gone.

rosebloom5Here’s the same bush a little later with more flowers.  The Ox Eye daisies beside it have just begun to show their stuff.

rosesblooming8This flower color is one of my favorites.

rosebloomLast fall we finished a new bed in the front yard.  So this spring we planted some drift roses.  These are ‘Coral Drift’ (Rosa ‘meidrifora’).  I chose drift roses because I wanted them to remain short and not spread out too much.

Drift® roses are the result of a cross between ground cover roses and miniature roses.  They work well in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a ground cover.  Each bush should grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.

rosebloom2So far they’ve been covered with blooms.  The flowers are more complex than knock outs with more petals.  I think these are going to be winners.

It seems that there are roses for just about any spot – as long as it’s sunny.

rosebloom7What a enormous blessings rain and a mild spring bring.  It really is true that April showers bring May flowers, or in this case, April roses.

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