Convenient Containers

Container Gardening has become all the rage.  It is rightfully touted as useful for small spaces, like apartment balconies and as a way to make a statement.  But there is a real knack to combine plants to make it artful, which I don’t seem to possess.

I use flowerpots for totally different reasons.  Since there is little shade in my yard, I use pots to place plants in some shade.  Under trees is one of my few options, and since it is not healthy for tree roots to have the amount of water that flowers need, I don’t want to put them in the ground there.

Another use of pots is demonstrated with these Petunias.  Pots are an easy way to use the color of annuals wherever you need it.

Deciding where to put plants sometimes requires some time to think of the right place or to prepare a flowerbed for them.  Phil Colson of Atlanta says, “For their first three years in the garden, keep perennials on ‘roller skates,’ moving them around until you find the spot they like best.  Then just leave’em alone.”  This quote comes from Passalong  Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing.

These Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) came from my mother’s yard.  I’ve had them before in the ground here.  But that spot was either flooded or dry as a bone, so eventually, they died.

Sedum is another plant that needs shade, so I put them on the covered porch that gets filtered sun.

As I have confessed before, I am guilty of buying plants with no place prepared to put them.

Leaving plants in pots until you have the right spot for them can go on indefinitely.  These three plants:  Salvia Greggi, Oso Easy® Honey Bun Rose, and Ligustrum have been in these pots for at least three years.  It is amazing how long plants can be in pots before they become root bound.

This Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) is shown here in a pot, but actually made it into a flowerbed in just months.  It is called mock because it has a citrusy smell but, of course, is not an orange tree.

I found Blue Mist Spiraea or Bluebear ‘Dark Knight’ shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and am excited because  butterflies love Blue Mistflower (Coelestinum).  The flowers look alike.

This is zoned down to 5, so I plan to get this in the ground, eventually.  It is a woody perennial that should get about 5 feet tall and wide.

Still trying to decide where to put this Ragin’ Cajun Ruellia or Texas Petunia (Ruellia elegans), but it will probably be permanently in a pot.  It should endure the heat but not the cold.

Another reason I use pots is that I adore lots of plants that are not cold hardy and thus have to be moved inside for the winter.  Actually, I’m not sure how this Foxglove will perform here, but the color of the flowers were irresistible.

There are no rules on how large a “pot” can be.  Cattle feeders are poplar for lots of uses here.

Here Yellow or Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum (DC.) A. Gray protects the roots of a vine.  This is a hardy Texas native.

Clematis vines need feet in shade and the rest of the vine in the sun. Jackman clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is a perennial flowering vine hardy from zone 4 – 9.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Your comments encourage me and help me learn.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it is accepted by the majority.”  Rick Warren

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Some Favorites for Spring

Gardeners each have their own favorite plants, so I don’t usually foist my choices on others.  But today I’m going to make some recommendations.

If you have read my blog before, you know how much I love roses.  Part of the reason is because before we moved here, I didn’t have the space, sunny spots, or the time to do any gardening.

Then, surprisingly, roses not only have survived here but were a success.

Drift Roses are a relatively new type of Knock Out® Roses.  These are Coral Drift Roses.  They are low growing and constantly covered with flowers from early spring until the first freeze.

If I can have roses here in my high alkaline, clay and rock soil, then anyone can.  They are in lasagna raised beds that have amended soil.  Other than that, all they need is sun and water.

The rocks at the edge of the beds are to keep the water from washing off the slopes.  Texas has lots of limestone fossils.  This one and the following ones came from the edge of a creek on our property.

There are some roses that are exceptional performers.  Like this Belinda’s Dream that flowers on and off for months.  It has no disease problems.  Just give space for bushes to get huge – about 6 feet across.

Tropicana is a popular rose that does well in many different areas and is usually available at all kinds of nurseries.  It is a hybrid tea that blooms fairly often.

My all time favorite of the roses that I’ve tried is Double Delight because it has a strong scent that is out of this world.  It is also a hybrid tea.  I recently bought another one at a local nursery because I’m not sure how long roses bushes last.  Mine is twelves years old and doesn’t look as healthy this year as usual.  But we did have some hard freezes this winter.

Clematis vines are a great choice for gardeners.  There are many varieties available that grow well in different zones.

Many have prettier, fancier flowers than this one, but I chose one that does well here – Jackman Clematis.

Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) brightens up the early spring.  After the bareness of winter, it is just what the doctor ordered.

This soil was not amended, so it’s a tough plant.

As you see, pollinators are drawn to it.  Plus, it’s so cheery.

Another category of flowers is bulbs.  Stella de Oro Reblooming Daylily is technically not a bulb but a herbaceous root plant.

To keep it blooming, deadheading spent blooms is necessary.  It’s a gorgeous low growing, bright yellow flower that pollinators love.

There are many different flowers that fit into the vague, incorrect category “bulb”.  For example:  tulips and daffodils are bulbs, irises are rhizomes, gladiolas and crocuses are corms, and daylilies are tubers with tuberous roots.  Confusing.

My point is that plants in the “bulb” designation are a wonderful addition to any garden.  They tend to be reasonably priced; some produce new bulbs so your investment grows and can be shared; many different varieties are available to grow in different zones and climates; and most provide beautiful flowers year after year.  What a bargain.

Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea) was discovered growing beside a grave in LaGrange, Texas.  Greg Grant named the plant after the deceased.  It is one wonderful, eye catching plant.  Keep it contained because it spreads.

The white version, Augusta Duelberg, was named after his wife, whose grave was beside him.  A Texas SuperStar® plant that blooms from early spring until the first freeze.

As usual, it is best to “dance with the one who brung you” meaning it’s important to select plants that do well where you live.

“Don’t let the thoughts of failure stop you from trying, even when you fail, it’s not enough to give up.  The light bulb itself finally found success after so many trials.”  Terry Marks.

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Bits & Pieces

Life is never static, although it may seem that way during periods of our lives.  The daily ebb and flow of a routine lulls us into thinking that we’re in control of events.  But daily reports of international news remind us that sudden changes can happen to anyone.

Moving my mother into assisted living this past weekend has brought thoughts of the march of time and how important it is to enjoy each moment of life.

autumnThe beauty of nature is a gift from God that prompts me into appreciating my life as well as loved ones and strangers.

The Jackman Clematis vine (Clematis x jackmanii) has rallied with new flowers after the summer heat has mostly passed.

autumn1A new tropical hibiscus was an impulse buy that I don’t regret.  Pink Lemonade Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pink Lemonade’ ) with ruffled edges on the petals is a beauty.

Of course, it means another pot has to go into the shed this winter.

autumn5As the petals unfurls, there is a subtle change to the appearance of each flower.

autumn2Even though true autumn has not arrived, cooler nights and mornings have revived some plants while others are beginning to change into the rust colors of fall.  Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora alatocaerulea) is perennial here that is a welcome sight in the spring to me and to the caterpillars of such butterflies as the Zebra and the Gulf Fritillary.  It is the only host plant for them, so they can chomp off every leaf of a vine.  It provides both the larvae and the butterflies protection from predators because they receive a toxic compound from the plant.

autumn3Still love the older tropical Hibiscus that I’ve had for years.  The color of the blossoms are lovely.

autumn4On the same day, the plant had the above orangey flower as well as this one that is more yellow.

autumn6The stillness of this dragon fly conveyed a calm and peaceful feeling.  The copper color is appropriate as the season slowly shifts from summer to fall.

autumn7I spotted this rustic cart on a bare patch of soil in someone’s yard.  I appreciated the artistic look and their attempt to improve the looks of their space.

I urge everyone to take a deep breath and just enjoy what you see around you.  The old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” is still valid.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

Purple Blooms

Continuing with the color theme, today the focus is on purple, the color of royalty.

bloomingnow3This Jackman Clematis (Clematis jackmanii) was chosen because it is reported to be a good clematis choice for our area.  Other clematis have prettier and more complex flowers.

bloomingnow1After its initial flourish of flowers, it hasn’t bloomed again.  Clematis is supposed to be an easy vine with lots of blooms.  So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe it needs fertilizer.

bloomingnow2I do like the color and size of the blossoms.

bloomingnow7It’s crazy that some Larkspur are still blooming.

bloomingnowdMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) really are purple.  I don’t know why these look pink in the picture – probably the strong sun.  Can’t get any easier than this plant.  The biggest problem is that they spread with underground runners.

bloomingnowfAnother winner is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  The flowers are all gone now.  But I just trimmed them back for a second blooming this summer.

bloomingnowvI love the look and smell of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  The color is too subtle for some people’s taste.  But the soft pastel blends in well with stronger colors.

bloomingnowwGregg’s Blue Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) is also a light purple, almost a lavender.  It’s pale color makes it look bland except for all the butterfly activity.  That gets one’s attention.

purpleDeep purple African Violets is the prettiest violet, in my opinion.

white3One stalk of French Hollyhock (Mallva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) survived from the rust fungus.  It was actually not in the flowerbed, but just outside the yard in the weeds.  I transplanted it, so we’ll see what happens next year.

Flowerbeds5This is the flowerbed that I was going to be cautious and not over plant.  Who knew the bushes would get so big and the flowers reseed and multiply so well?  Not me, obviously.

purple3The Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are especially tall this year.  All the rain in May made everything abundant and hardy.

flowers8Such a pretty flower.

purple5The Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook) has been like a Jack in the Beanstalk plant that just keeps getting taller.

purple6Unusual flowers and foliage make it an interesting plant in the yard.  It’s another purchase from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  One of those impulse buys without much knowledge of its characteristics.

Purple robes may have belonged exclusively to the kings, but fortunately, we can enjoy it where ever we wish, including our gardens.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864