On the Cusp of Winter

Although there was one early freeze, the temperatures since that night have been up and down, but still fairly mild.

This Red Oak has been losing its leaves slowly and is currently pretty bare.

So these pictures are a few weeks old.  Early morning light casts a golden light on the leaves.

…and gives the acorns a polished mahogany look.

Acorns and dead leaves cover the ground around all the Oaks.

Dried leaves of Crinim Lilies insulate the bulbs that will bring spring beauty.

A skeletal Bur Oak stands tall against the blue sky.  Burs produce huge acorns – the cap of one still hanging on.

The brittle, dried remains of Purple Cone flowers(Echinacea purpurea) provide visible interest in a winter garden.

Piet Oudolf, a Dutch gardener has become internationally known for his New Perennial Movement.  Basically, this means he advocates for how plants, mainly perennials, will look in all four seasons.  So these Cone flowers have a distinctive winter look that is noteworthy.  He designed several prominent public gardens in the US around this concept.Stalks of American Basketflowers  (Centaurea americana) stand tall and proud throughout the winter.  They have become one of my favorite Texas native wildflowers.

Leaves of Chinapin Oaks with their slender long shape don’t look like the leaves of most other Oaks.

Dried Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers look prickly but are actually soft.

Globe Mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) tends to be evergreen or blue-gray green during the winters.  Some late orange buds remaining on plant.

The tops of tall Rose of Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) form a sculpture against the sky.

More orange leaves from a Red Oak.

Fragile stems of a wildflower that I can’t identify.  They are volunteers each summer in a flowerbed.

The brilliant red leaves of a Red Oak on our county road stopped us in our tracks.

These small trees never have a chance to grow into full grown trees because the county maintenance crews periodically chop down the trees and other plants on the sides of the roads.

My observation – the native Red Oaks have deeper reds than those purchased from a nursery.

“The problem with winter sports is that–follow me closely here–they generally take place in winter.”   Dave Barry

What Happened to Autumn?

The middle of October was still in the throes of summer.  Here we are on the last day of October.  Last night was a hard freeze.  So all those jobs that we postponed because it was too hot and had planned to do in autumn, probably won’t get done this year.

Today the sun is shining.  Apparently, the freeze didn’t kill anything.

Autumn Purple Asters are in bloom.  These were divided a few years ago.  It looks like that task needs to be repeated.

Pretty little fellows.

Last spring I planted a couple of Country Girl Mums (Chrysanthemum ‘County Girl’).  They got so tall that they flopped over.  So this coming year, I plan to trim them back a bit in the summer.

But aren’t they gorgeous?  They have full pedals, like daisies.

Not readily available in box stores.  Look for them in a local, privately owned nursery.

Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth) is also difficult to find.  But well worth the search.  They reseed beautifully.

The spots on this Cannova Yellow Canna Lily from Monrovia makes it a little different from the usual canna lily.Good old dependable Belinda’s Dream survived the summer well and produced another flurry of blooms when the weather cooled just a tad.

This unknown native showed up a couple of years ago in a flowerbed.  They’re easy to pull up, so it’s not a problem when they pop up.  I pull some and leave some because they fill in some bare spots once the Purple Coneflowers and Daisies give up the ghost in the relentless heat of summer.

I’ve looked in my native flower books to identify them.  So far, no luck.

Three new Smoke Bushes (Cotinus coggygria) made it through the summer.  Maybe next year they will bloom with smokey plumes in the fall.  Thankfully, they are drought tolerant.

I think this is a Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth.  It grows differently than the Strawberry Gomphrena because they are individual plants.  This one is a short rounded shrub.

This is a rose that I propagated, so I don’t know which one it is.  I propagate several different kinds of roses at the same time.  They are labeled at first.  When they get transplanted, my labeling system breaks down.  Need to work on that.

Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) is still blooming and attracting some butterflies.

If the cold weather continues, all these beauties will die and reappear next spring.

The next blog will show a few more flowers that are hanging on.

“Don’t let the world convince you that trusting is for fools and forgiving is for the weak.  These gifts are blessings given to you that prove that you have an amazing capacity to love and that you have goodness in your heart.” Brigitte Nicole

Crystal Bridges

Alice Walton grew up in Bentonville, sort of an art wasteland.  Her exposure to art came from library books.  She and her mother painted watercolors together.  Her first purchase of a major work by Picasso came from money she earned working at her father’s store.

Now, a wealthy woman from her father, Sam Walton’s estate, she decided to have an art museum in Bentonville, which is free to the public.

A lake was dug and the buildings placed across it, like covered bridges.

The crystal part of the name came from all the glass walls.

The art is protected from the light because it hangs in rooms in the center of the buildings.  The collection is American art with some very notable artists included.  The art begins with artists from the revolutionary time and continues into the modern time.

One temporary exhibit was in a small dark room with a curving pathway through it.  Two people were allowed inside at a time.

Mirrors, lights, and hanging Japanese lanterns created an other worldly experience.

Outside, a well kept area invites people to stroll through the grounds.  Now that’s what an American Beauty Berry bush should look like – full of clusters of magenta colored berries.

Behind the museum is a native forest that has walking trails and art displayed.  This Chiuily art in a boat looks like it’s on a sea of grass.  The early morning dew, paired with spots of sunlight, emphasized the bright colors of the glass.

Pieces of art by what looks like amateurs to me were mystifying.

Some sculptures were huge, like this canoe one.

Guess they are encouraging modern art.

Dale Chihuly’s glass masterpieces are amazing.  I’m blown away every time I see them.

Still wonder how on earth these individually blown glasses are connected together.

So impressive.

“Flowers in Bloom Now” by Yayir Kusama is constructed from steel and urethane paint.  One of her trademarks is Polka dots.

This deer stands about 11 feet tall.  Strange.

Most of the woods is too shady for many flowers.  These Toad Lilies, with their tiny flowers, caught my eye.

If you’re ever in Bentonville, love art and nature, impressive Crystal Bridges is a must visit.

“To me, people everywhere need access to art and that’s what we didn’t have here, and that’s why Crystal Bridges is so important.  It’s important that it be located here.”      Alice Walton

Chandor Gardens

One of my favorite public gardens is Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX.  The travel time from our house to the gardens is two and a half hours, so it’s an easy day trip.

Another reason we enjoy it so much is that it’s mostly shady with some open areas that are sunny.  Even in the summertime, if the mercury hasn’t shot up too high, it’s comfortable to visit there.

Originally, the gardens were private and the result of the dream of one man.  He and a hired hand did most of the construction.  An Englishman, Douglas Chandor, married a Texas gal who wanted to live in her hometown.

Work on the garden began in 1936.  Chandor was a renown portrait artist, who painted presidents, famous people, and a queen.  He brought that artist eye to the garden that he labored on for many years.

Chandor built the Chi-Ling fountain using statutes found in New York city, Coke and 7 Up bottles, colored marbles, and his handmade ceramic tiles.  Because the original fountain was crumbling apart, restoration was completed this year re-using as much of his materials as possible.

Two rows of soda bottles continue around the base of the fountain.

I was glad to see that they saved the original parts from the fountain and have them displayed in a section of Mondo Grass.

Every time we visit, new items have been added, like these twisted glass accents that pop right out of the white Caladiums.

Usually, Canna Lilies have red, orange, or yellow flowers.  These are the first pink ones I’ve seen.

Monkey Grass and Little Ruby Alternanthera form a thick groundcover.

The large concrete pot gives nice height to the ground covers.  There doesn’t seem to be any bare ground in the gardens.  The only places without plants are walkways.

Chandor was enchanted with China and Asian art and styles.  I don’t care for the
Buddhas, but his use of water and rock is admirable.  He embedded marbles in the  Buddha Niche and decorated the rock walls with lotus blossoms created with cut rocks. Water pours out of the blossoms.

Six of these dividers form a line between two sections of the garden.  I don’t think these are original.

Chandor’s love for the Orient is evident everywhere.

Moon Gate was built in 1949 and was constructed by the artist with mortar, stone, roof tiles, split sewer pipe, bottles, and handmade ceramic figurines.

Looking up, these figurines look authentic.

Chandor Gardens is a fascinating place and has a peacefulness to it.  We usually visit on week days, so it’s extra quiet to stroll the meandering pathways.

The work of one man is enjoyed by many visitors.  Just thinking of all those years of back breaking labor, as well as continuing with his portraits of the famous is overwhelming.  It’s a good thing he spend half of each year in New York painting.

The city of Weatherford now owns the estate and keeps up the gardens.  Quite a chore for a small town.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

Pretty in Pink

It always surprises me when I realize how many different pink flowers are in the yard.  I guess because pink is one of my least favorite colors for clothes or decorating.

But Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)  bushes are totally lovely and as hardy as plants come.  This was a pass-a-long from a friend. Because new plants come up each year, they have been moved to different locations in our yard and also have been gifted to others.

Don’t ya love gifts that bring pleasure for many years.

The flowers are so stunning that I can’t stop snapping pictures.  Grow in full sun and well draining soil.

The bush in the foreground is a different strand of Althea or Rose of Sharon that was ordered from a catalog.

They don’t even look like they’re in the same family.  It’s called Althea Double Purple.

More hibiscus-like flowers on another Rose of Sharon that is covered with pink goodness.  Definitely not roses, so why that common name?  Who knows. These bushes are about 9 ft. tall.

Texas Rock Roses (Pavonia lasiopetala) grows as an evergreen and is another plant that has a misnomer name.  They only get about two to three feet tall and wide.

Looks like a small hibiscus.  Full sun and a little water makes it a happy camper.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) tend to grow up but not wide.  So dainty.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has just started to bloom.  Actually, it did not bloom its first year, so I’m anxious to see how it performs.

Annual periwinkles add a bit of color in semi-shade.

Alnwick Rose by David Austin has grown and bloomed better than some of the Austin roses in my yard.

Another David Austin rose Princess Alexandra of Kent was planted this spring.  Even though it’s still a small bush, it has bloomed its head off.

Besides that, it has an impressive name.

‘Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is blooming in spite of the fact that the bulbs were disturbed last fall when a new fiber line came into the house right where they have been for years.  Their blooming period is rather short but spectacular.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

Bountiful Bulbs, Rhizomes, Tubers

Call me old fashioned, but I love bulbs.  At different times of the year there will be irises, lilies, crinums, cannas, hyacinths, or daffodils blooming in my yard.  They are just so easy.  Plant them, water them, and forget them.  Each year they will reward you with gorgeous blooms.

Right now daylilies are opening up to reveal bright or pale colors.  All of the daylilies in these pictures are from Breck’s.  I think this one is Funny Valentine.

Daylilies may seem bland to some people, but they actually have different shaped petals: ruffles or no ruffles, some wide and others narrow.  The colors range all over, but no blues that I’ve seen.

All of these are reblooming meaning they bloom in the spring and in the fall.

Early Snow Daylily

Always Afternoon Daylily is interesting because the top petals are ruffled and the lower only slightly curled.

Scottish Fantasy

Bold colored Erin Lea’s deep golden color makes it stand out.

Passion for Red is also bright.

Sunday Gloves – who names these?

Crimson Pirate spider daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’)

Cannas form colonies because their bulbs multiply quickly.  So only buy one or two and in five years or less, you’ll have plenty to gift family and friends.

This group has red blossoms, although the early morning light makes them look splotchy in this picture.

This year I’m trying Asian lilies.  So far, I love them.  They have a real wow factor.  The stems are less than a foot tall, so the big flowers don’t tip over.  This one is Eyeliner.  Each bloom has lasted for several days.

Planted in full sun until late afternoon doesn’t seem to be problem.

Since I sing the praises of bulbs to anyone who will listen, Breck’s should give me a discount as their ambassador.

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”  unknown

There’s Always Room for …

Remember that old slogan, “There’s always room for jello.”?  Guess it’s a good one if the slogan is still around rattling around in my memory.

Anyway, my gardening philosophy is that there’s always room for another plant.

Kindly Light Spider Lilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) blooming in their glory.

Love their shape and color.

Texas Leather Flower (Clematis texensis) was a surprise volunteer plant in a flowerbed this year.  They are native further south of us and not common even there anymore.

Small bell like flowers on the twining vine is growing on an old metal tower.  Otherwise, I probably would not have seen them.  They are surprisingly cold hardy.

This mixture of cannas, wild ornamental onions, Larkspurs, and Red Yuccas shows my preference for plants bunched together.

Unfortunately, native Bermuda grass is taking over and impossible to remove.

The grasses in the fields around our yard have gotten tall.  We were waiting until all the wildflowers dropped their seeds before shredding it down.

But there have been lots of snakes around this year.  So my husband mowed around the wildflowers and cut down the grass closest to the yard to discourage snakes from invading the yard.  Hopefully that will work.  Anyway, it will make them more noticeable if they don’t respect our space. Such a pipe dream!

Moonshine” Yarrow or Sneezewort (Achillea “Moonshine”) with its grey foilage is a reliable perennial. This yellow yarrow spreads slowly, so it’s not agressive.

This annual Superbells Pomegrante Punch (Calibrachoa) provides some bright color, which I seem to be addicted to.  I tend to not buy annuals because they are so short lived, but all the box stores entice me with their outside displays.

Reblooming Daylillies do not rebloom on a schedule, so it’s a nice surprise when they do.  I think this one is Scottish Fantasy.

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle,  you must fear or hate them.                                                         The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.                                                                                                                                Both are nonsense.  You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”    Rick Warren

Halt

Sometimes life is just bopping along; then suddenly we’re stopped in our tracks.  If it’s major, there are catastrophic results, like loss of life.  If it’s minor, it’s usually just an irritant.  Then there are different levels in-between.

Recently, I spent too much time in a certain position pulling weeds, which resulted in sciatica nerve pain that has halted my activities.  For now, I’m sidelined from yard work.

So, yes, I know there are weeds in the following pictures.

My option is to just observe all the weeds popping up following abundant rains and sigh.  Elegant Candy re-blooming day lily has an interesting color combination.

This Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) was sold as a Texas native.  In reality, they are native to East Asia.  They have a nice rounded shape and are perennials in zones 5 to 9.

The color is rather delicate, so lean in close to truly see its beauty.  Butterflies and bees do like them, but this shrub doesn’t have the super allure of Gregg’s Blue Mist.

Love daylily time.  These common Ditch Lilies have just opened up.

They’re called common, but I think they’re real beauties.

Woodland Ferns have filled in this flowerbed.  Columbine keeps claiming some space and will be pulled out at some time.

Rose Moss gives a cheery greeting as you step up to the porch.

Shasta Daisies are bursting into bloom.

Bright small yellow puffs top off Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyoarissus).

The silvery sheen of Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is alluring as the wind ruffles its leaves.

Ragin Cajun False Petunia (Ruellia elegans) is a small clump that blooms profusely.  It’s from Brazil and Argentina and is hardy zones 8a to 10b, so I’m hoping it survives our winter.  The hummingbirds have been visiting it often.

Hope your late spring is full of joy and wonder.

“My life is like my internet browser.  I have 19 tabs open, 3 are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.” unknown 

Transition Time

Often the changing of the seasons here is abrupt with no chance to adjust from one to another.  This year has been very different with more rain and milder temperatures.  In fact, I have been hesitant to bring some more tropical plants outside yet.

Some colors never seem to photograph to the true color.  This Brilliant Veranda rose is actually a very strong red that stands out in the landscape.  It was labeled as a good size for a container plant.  Recently I tried to scoot it over, and the roots are firmly in the ground.

Another rose that never photographs well is this Drift Rose.  The flowers last a long time and are striking as a grouping.  My husband who hardly every mentions specific plants often comments on how pretty they are.

The seed pods on this Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) only last a short time in spring.

It’s an interesting plant in many ways.  One of those is that the trunks shoot out like a water sprinkler, so it’s long small trunks sway gracefully in the wind.

Larkspur is popping up all over the yard.  One of my favorite surprises during the springtime.

Not only have we had lots of rain, but the wind has been really strong, scattering rose petals.  Looks like an aisle at a wedding in some places.

Good old Henry Duelberg Salvia or Mealy Cup Sage makes pollinators and me happy.

Augusta Duelberg Salvia makes a nice contrast.

This evergreen Yarrow has lovely lacy foliage.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) on tall stems is just starting to bloom while Spiderwort (shorter purple blooms in front) is on its way out.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) like the mild weather and rains.  Sylvestris means found wild.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is showing off with exotic blooms.

Stella de Oro Daylily is a dependable short-stemed perennial bulb.  I recently heard a speaker say that they are boring because they are ubiquitous.  I think these are beautiful.

Never expected this Yellow Lead Ball (Leucaena retusa) tree to get so big.  They are considered a small tree with total height about 12 feet.  They’re drought tolerant and very hardy in our rocky hard clay.

I like the fuzzy yellow balls and so do the bees and other pollinators.

It’s fun when nature surprises us with more pleasant weather than we expected.

“Expect to have hope rekindled.  Hope to have your prayers answered in wondrous ways.  The dry seasons in life do not last.  The spring rains will come again.”          Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

 

Gardens in Victoria

This is the last post about the Master Gardener demonstration garden in Victoria near the coast in southeast Texas.

Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) blazes that bright orange color that screams hot climate.  Information indicates that it can grow in zones 8 and 9.

However, I have one in a pot that must be carried into a shed for the winter.  It takes it a long time to recover each summer.  So I think zone 8 is stretching it.

But what a fabulous flower color.

Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenvergia dumosa) is an interesting shrub with loose, draping branches.  It also requires a mild winter.

Crimson Pirate Daylily is one of my favorites.  Pretty spider shape, not too tall and brilliant color.

This garden is impressive in so many ways.  First, there are hundreds of different kinds of plants.  It is well organized and neat.  These gardeners also have so much creativity.

The queen butterfly is one of our most prominent butterflies.  This clever one is made from a section of heating vent.

There are also lots of structures that draw one into the garden.  The mesh building in the far right upper corner of this picture is an enclosed butterfly walk-in area.

Many Texans consider the welfare of Monarch Butterflies to be part of their responsibility since their migration path comes straight from Mexico through Texas.  Milkweed plants are vital for their survival because it’s the only plant where they lay their eggs and the only food source for their caterpillars. Milkweed mostly grows in uncultivated land areas.  But now, many homeowners grow it in their yards.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is one food source for Swallowtail butterflies.

This looks like it could be in the Scabosia family.  But I don’t know what it is and would love to find out.

Absolutely stunning.

There is an area that has small gardens donated by individuals or with specific themes.

While in Victoria, we also visited the city’s rose garden.  The layout is wonderful with paved pathways and excellent structures.  Since I’ve seen pictures of this online with mature bushes, I’m guessing that it was wiped out by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and has recently rebuilt.

A few large bushes survived.

Also read that the city accepted rose bush donations to plant.  My only complaint about this garden is that there were no ID tags to name the roses.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”  J.M. Barrie