Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Hints of Spring

It’s starting to warm up and green up.  Of course, it’s likely we’ll have a surprise freeze.  But I’m glad spring’s coming.

Daffodils have been blooming for a while.

I’ve considered buying some other varieties with stronger color, but the bloom season is so short that it doesn’t seem worth it.

Each year a new weed is added to the mix.  This particular one – I don’t know what it is – is mighty prolific.

Texas Flowering Quince has been blooming for about a month.  Most of the flowers are on the lower branches.  You can see that abundant weed under the branches.  The thorns make it hard to clean out around the long branches.

A few Hollyhocks are up and leafed out.  A few years ago the Hollyhocks had rust disease.  I thought I dug them all up.  But here they are.

Some Hyacinths are blooming.  They’re so short that sometimes I don’t notice them.

Beautiful small hints of a new season.  Love the shapes of the bell-like flowers.

We started pruning last month but so much more to do.  Really enjoying the sunny days when it’s not too cold or windy to work outside.  The task I always dread is the weeding.  Guess everyone does.

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”                               Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

Ice, Ice, Ice

First of the year freeze has come and gone.  Almost, like clockwork, every January, there will be ice in the northern half of Texas.

With just mist in the air and a few drops of rain, ice formed on almost every surface outside, except for concrete areas and roadways.  The grass, Algerita bush, and the evergreen Blue Juniper to the left have ice crystals on them.

The branches of the huge Live Oak behind the backyard are weighted down with ice.  Although we have officially never had this tree examined to determine its age, it’s estimated to be over a hundred years old.

I always worry when the branches touch the ground, fearing they will break.  But, fortunately, the ice usually only lasts a couple of days.

Ice on stems and leaves of dead Cannas becomes a work of art.

Frozen water in a bird bath gives the edges of the concrete a pearlized look.  The glass knob-looking item in the center is actually an antique electrical insulator from a telephone pole.

Thin stems of Gaura are encased in ice.

Green leaves of Desert Bird of Paradise enveloped in ice.

Edged in ice, this trellis has a sophisticated, lacy appeal.

With its multiple tiny stems, a rose bush creates the most fantastic ice sculpture.

Mexican Feather Grass.

Dried Blue Mistflower stems.  Can you tell I’m enamored with the ice?

It’s surprising what lives with freezing temperatures.  These Four Nerve Daisies still have flowers.  What hardy natives they are.

Copper Canyon Daisy ice sculpture.

Pokeweed in a pot.

More rose bushes.

Not sure what this plant is.  Love the look.

Since we only have ice once or twice a year, it’s a real novelty.  So I get carried away with taking pictures.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”  Japanese proverb

Rose Emporium Visit

Back in Brenham at the Antique Rose Emporium, there’s lots to see.

Nice bouquet of roses and Celosia in the seminar meeting room.

On the grounds, there are plenty of flowers to enjoy, like this Country Girl Mum (Dendranthema zawadskii).  They are heirlooms from Russia that bloom in the fall and are spreaders.

A Queen butterfly loves it, too.

The Rose Emporium abounds with many decorating ideas for the yard.

Candle bush or candlestick cassia (Cassia alata), becomes a small tree or large bush.
Pollinators are drawn to the bright yellow blossoms, but it needs warm winters.

Wonder if this structure was originally a keyhole garden.

This bloom was way above my head.  It looks like a Datura or Moon Flower.  Datura stramonium is commonly called Jimson weed, Stink weed, Loco Weed, Thorn Apple, Angel’s Trumpet, Devil’s Trumpet, Devil’s Snare, Devil’s See, Mad Hatter, etc.

Most of these names are the result of the fact that the plant is poisonous and have huge seed pods that are so prickly you can’t handle them.  But when they fall to the ground and decay, the small black seeds fall out and propagate new plants.

To me, the flowers justify growing them.

Cosmos can be used to fill any barren spot in the garden.  They will quickly fill the space.

A small rose, Lynn’s Legacy, spoke to me.  I like the cupped shape of the petals.  Also, that it can be grown in a pot.

Dahlias has always been a flower for the northern United States in my mind because they don’t seem suited for our heat.  So, I was surprised to see one growing there.

That area has better soil than we do.  I don’t know if Dahlias have a chance in our caliche clay soil and extreme heat.

Very pretty and tempting.

Porterweed has attracted a Gulf Fritillary.

At the back of the meeting room, small vases of heritage roses were displayed.  One of the main characteristics of heirloom roses, besides being hardy, is the scent.  So this was a chance to smell them and be enticed to buy some bushes.

Very Texas rose display.

It was a great couple of days to hear wonderful, knowledgeable speakers that came from long distances and to enjoy the gardens.

“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”  Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Most Unusual Autumn

Rain, Rain, Rain!  So far, rainfall this month has been 11 inches.  To put that into prospective:  the average yearly rainfall here is 27 inches.  The total for 2017 was 19 inches.  So yikes, there’s flooding.  But it’s not as desperate here as it in some Texas towns, like Llano.

The temperatures have fallen in the last week to high 30’s.  Normally at this time, it’s still in the 90’s.  Some Halloweens, poor trick or treaters sweat under their costumes.  This year they may shiver.

I’m using pictures that were taken a week or so ago because we can’t get out of the house.  We also can’t get across the low water crossings because they are dangerously high with fast moving water.

The berries on the Pistachio trees precedes the leaves turning orange.  Pistachio gets bad press because they ‘re native to China.  But they do great here.  Love them.

In between some of the earlier rains, we walked out to one of the ponds.  This Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) caught my eye.  These bushes are in the same family as coffee bushes and are native to southern and eastern U. S.  This and all the other ponds are now flowing over their banks.

In spite of the crazy temperatures and abundant rain, many flowers are still blooming in the yard.  This Purple Oxalis (Oxalis regnelliihas) has survived many years in a pot, which is taken inside for the winter.  The common name of Shamrock comes from the shape of the leaves.

Cooler weather brings out the Reblooming Irises.  The Strawberry Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) will hang on until it freezes.  But, hooray, it reseeds.

Purple Hearts keep on blooming and reaching outwards until it freezes.

Purple asters make their appearance when it cools down. I think these are Aster oblongifolius.

A couple of years ago, I divided them and planted some to come on around the end of this bed.

Thornless Crown of Thorns is a beauty with blooms that last from spring until it freezes.  Since it is not cold hardy, it goes into the shed.  This one is much more human friendly since it doesn’t bring blood if you get near it.

Native and drought tolerant Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris Scaposa (DC.) Greene) are still going strong.  This bed drains well, so they’ve survived all the rain.

Large group of Gomphrena in the back draws the eye to their direction.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensisis) is native throughout the Caribbean, so it’s more tropical than our area location but does well in a container.  I like the long stems with small flowers.  Beside it is a Kalanchoe and a Spider Plant with two Boston Ferns in the back.

We normally moan about the heat and lack of rain.  It’s definitely been an early wet fall.

“Everyone wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.  But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  unknown

Hardy and a Surprise

Plants that stand up to weather and time are excellent investments.

This Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is about 11 years old and continues to thrive in its small confined place.

It’s a large shrub with clusters of unusual yellow flowers that attract pollinators.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) has been another survivor.  It’s also about 11 years old.

Although it’s a tropical plant, it can survive here if it’s planted in a place protected from north winds.  So it’s not a shoo-in for our area.

Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is the best plant to attract Queen butterflies.  The flowers themselves are unimpressive, but they definitely provide the needed nectar.

If you plant them, they will come.  And stay for the duration until winter.

Always a pleasure to look out the window and see the flurry of activity on these flowers.

Also very hardy is a large variety of weeds that are tenacious.  It’s a constant struggle to keep them out of the flowerbeds.  But that’s to be expected since we live in the middle of pastures.

Pink Surprise Lily or Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera) was definitely a surprise for me this year.  According to my records, the bulb was planted 4 years ago and has never bloomed before.

At zone 8a, we’re out of its normal range.  The optimum zones are 6a to 7b.  When it was planted, the zone maps put our area at 7b.  Revised maps show we’re in a hotter zone.

I’ve since learned that the best growing conditions include a cold, long winter.  Since we did have colder temperatures and a later spring, I guess that explains why it finally bloomed.  Also, this lily prefers a dry, hot summer.  Voila.  We have that in spades.

The leaves appear first and die; then the naked stem with flowers appear.

Iron Weed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a native that grows in bar ditches and bloom with some moisture.  They can be gangly growing 3 ft. tall with flowers right at the top of the stem.  Their best feature is the purple color of the flowers.

I got a fistful of seeds from a friend about 4 years ago.  The plants reseed and will spread out.

“Respect old people.  They graduated high school without Google or Wikipedia.”  unknown

Summer White

Generally, brightly colored flowers are my first choice for the yard.  However, white ones add sophistication and calm in the garden.

This Moon Flower, Thorn-apple, or Jimsonweed (Datura wrightii Regel) usually produces pure white flowers.  This one has a slight pinkish tinge.  Not sure why.  This is a shady area most of the day with some early morning light.

Please ignore the clutter below the flower.

Datura is a narcotic and if ingested, could be lethal.

This Butterfly plant is in a container.  It seems to have done better in the heat than the ones in a flowerbed.  It could be because I’m more conscientious about watering potted plants because I’m afraid they will dry out quickly.

White Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri) is a pollinator magnet, plus it looks lovely swaying in the wind.  Note the visitor in the upper right corner of picture.

This Purple Datura actually looks white with a hint of purple along the edges of the petals.  Pictures on the internet show some with a deep purple color.  The Purple Datura originates several places in Asia.

The leaves also differ from the white Datura.

Daturas are annals that have large, prickly seeds that drop to the ground.  If conditions are good, a new plant will grow.  Or the seeds can be saved to start new plants.

Night bloomers, so early morning is the time to see their flowers.

Love the double petals.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia trachysperma) is in the Cleonmaceae family and has the look of the more popular Spider Flower or Cleome.

Seeds from Clammy Weed from a friend who is into natives.  Plant one and have a generous crop next year.

The plant’s height is about a foot tall.  Many consider it a weed, like the name.  And, it is definitely sticky or clammy.

One characteristic of the Southern Crinim Lily is the growth of the bulb to a large size and the multiplication of the bulb.  While it may be difficult to dig up, it’s a great pass-along plant that will be appreciated by the person receiving it.

The flowers tend to droop slightly.

There are conflicting views on the web – what?  Old views say that white clothes are cooler in the heat, while darker ones absorb the heat.  This view was practiced by the rich in the 18th and 19th century.

New views espouse that black is actually cooler because skin is hot in the summer and therefore reflects the heat back to the body from a white garment.

Anyway, white looks cool in the summer.  Just enjoy whichever floats your boat.

“It sometimes strikes me how immensely fortunate I am that each day should take its place in my life, either reddened with the rising and setting sun, or refreshingly cool with deep, dark clouds, or blooming like a white flower in the moonlight.  What untold wealth!”   Rabindranath Tagore

Fading into Summer

Some spring flowers, especially bulbs, slowly fade away as the heat of summer looms heavy and seems to drop like a blanket.

Stella de Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis Stella D’Oro) is a profusive bloomer with dainty flowers close to the ground.  They have a pretty long blooming period, but give up when high temps arrive.

Ditch Daylilies or Tawny Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) also have a long bloom period.  This picture was taken at the height of the spring.

Still, a few hang on.  These are old fashioned lilies that have been around a long time and are as tough as nails.

This common daylily is a different species than the typical hybridized daylilies sold at nurseries.  They may be only available as a passalong plant.

Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) is a show stealer.  This spider-look lily was developed in 1949 and is still popular.

Paired with Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’), the look is fantastic.

Some nurseries advertise Crimson Pirate as a summer lily.  But here, in Texas, it is a spring one.

Crinim Lily bulbs are huge and multiply often.  They like the heat and can survive in full sun but appreciate some afternoon shade.  These had to be moved out of a flower bed when fiber cable was installed.  I was surprised that they bloomed this year.

Crinim Lilies are old timey Southern passalong bulbs.  They can be found at abandoned houses where they have survived for many years without any care.

Bee Balm, Monarda, Bergamot, or Oswego tea is also at the end of its spring time show.  This picture was snapped a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a hardy perennial that grows 2 to 3 ft. tall and needs staking.  I put a wire cage around them, which works well.

The form of these flowers always makes me think of the Shaggy Dog movie.  Not only are they pretty and bright, pollinators love them.  Bees and hummingbirds visit them often.

With the temperatures into the three digits, early morning is the only time to garden and to actually enjoy the garden.  Hope you can find a time to enjoy being outside, wherever you live.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Prov.12:18

Bloom Time

Spring here has been on/off this year.  We still haven’t carried all the potted plants out of the shed, yet.  But it’s been warm enough for lots of flowers in the yard.

All the different colors of Iris have been beautiful.  It’s amazing that the flowers aren’t blow away because the winds have been so strong.

This small Western Catalpa or Catawba (Catalpaspeciosa) looks good in the spring but looks shabby in the hot summers.  It’s also known as Indian bean tree or cigar tree and is native to the U. S. Midwest.  The bean name comes from the 8 to 20 inch long seed pods in late summer.  The tree is three years old, but there haven’t been any beans, yet.

I was actually looking for an Orchid Tree, but a local nursery talked me into this one, instead.

Online information indicates that they should be planted in dry areas in any kind of soil and in full sun. This location checks all those boxes.

The flower shapes resemble an orchid.  We’ve debated about digging this tree up because it looks so bad with tattered leaves after enduring many days of wind , but can’t bring ourselves into taking out a living tree.

Lots of Amaryllis have bloomed in the yard, both single and double flowers.  Maybe our extra cold winter was what they needed.

Last year we bought a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis)  The picture on the label showed a fuller flower.

Also, it doesn’t have a scent like I expected.  It is supposed to be a good pollinator bush, especially for bees.  Still waiting to see how it performs.

I do love Irises.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Asia and Europe, but has naturalized in many parts of the U. S.  In Texas, we consider it a native because it’s so prolific.

Ox-Eye shines on tall stems and steals the show.  It does spread, but I consider that a good thing.  It can be dug up pretty easily.

Victoria Blue’ Salvia is a gorgeous perennial that was bred in 1978.  The flowers last a long time and can endure some shade.  It returned after a severe winter.  Love the strong, bright color.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  Hope your spring has been filled with flowers.

“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person.  Your behavior does.”  unknown

A Classical Garden

Recently, a garden club member invited us to see her garden.  I was blown away to find such a garden in Brownwood, Texas.

To me, it has all the elements of a classical garden – formality, large statues, topiaries, precision, and clean, neat lines.

The garden was especially colorful because blooming annuals are displayed in pots and tucked into bare spaces in beds.

Personally, I don’t invest in many annals because I’m cheap, I guess.  So I can’t identify many of them.  I do recognize Coleus, Petunias, and the purple Oxalis.

Snapdragons?

Another thing this garden has going for it is the raised beds.  There’s not very deep, but contain good, loose soil.

The whole backyard is surrounded by a ten foot wall.  That’s a plus because it blocks the wind from blowing in weeds.

There are 50 rose bushes in the yard.  I like that they are surrounded by other plants, mostly annals.

The flagstone pathways keep it all neat.

Not a  single weed.  It’s not surprising that the yard owner also owns a nursery.  So plant knowledge and maybe some help from employees keeps this place shipshape.

All these pictures were taken about 1 o’clock, with the sun directly overhead.  This creates harsh light and dark shades.  Not the best pictures.

Caladium, which is another annual, Hosta, and a water thirsty perennial Hydrangea all need shade.

The peachy color is alluring.

I think this is Penstemon, but it might be Foxglove.

The white flowers are Peonies, which surprised me because peonies need a long period of cold weather and a neutral soil pH.  Neither of these are part of this situation.  So these might have to be replaced periodically.

A beautiful garden anomaly for this town.  Just enjoyed the visit and returned to my life in a field of native grasses and weeds.

“The sad part about getting old is that you stay young on the inside but nobody can tell anymore.”  unknown