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

Winter Color

Winter has been mild so far here, which is fine with me.  So there are some tiny bits of color scattered around the yard.

First, I must apologize for the quality of some of the pictures – not totally in focus.

Dianthus have survived a couple of freezes really well.

This Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) has had some blooms that don’t stay open for more than a day.  It’s a native with dusty green curly leaves and is a good performer in both the summer heat and a mild winter.

Texas Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) usually has some flowers in January or February.One lone Daffodil has opened up.

Several years ago I bought this at a garden club sale and was told that it was an evergreen fern.  Turns out, it is a native Yarrow with white flowers.  But it is evergreen.

Pittsporoum in a pot provides some green, but the tips of the leaf edges are a little crisp from an earlier freeze.

Another native Yarrow has completely different leaves.  I think this is Moon Dust Yarrow (Achillea ‘Novaachdus’).  It is somewhat evergreen with dusty green leaves and does not reseed.

This hardy Ice Plant is amazing.  It’s been in the same pot on the back porch for years.  In cold weather, the foliage looks a little ragged, but it keeps on blooming even in freezing weather.  The pot is in a corner spot which protect it from harsh winds.

Yes.  I do know that this is a weed.  But the Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) will be easy to pull out of this pot when I want to get rid of it.

I think it’s pretty, and it is color.  Can’t be too choosy in the winter.

Spectacular sunrises start the day with cheery color.

On a cloud covered morning came brilliant red on the horizon.

While we’re enjoying a mild winter, I realize that further north, a polar vortex has struck with devastating temperatures.  I pray for safety for everyone experiencing this.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”   Edith Sitwell

More Ice Pix

Everything looks picture worthy as I tramp around the ice covered yard.

Ice gives Yaupon Holly a sparkle.

Brr.  No one wants to live here in this cold.

Snapping off of the frozen branches from the Texas Kidneywood bush would be easy.

Possum Haw berries in a globe of ice.  Possumhaw Holly is a great small native tree with multiple trunks.

Icy Red Yucca branches under an overcast sky makes me shiver.

The two preceding pictures show Blue Mistflowers.

At the tip of tall trunks of Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), heavy ice keeps the branches from swaying in the wind.

Ice covered rose bushes have an ethereal look.

Spaghetti strands of Dried Mexican Feather Grass flops on the ground.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorn is one of the few evergreen bushes in our yard.  The frosty ice coating is gorgeous.

Tall, thin stems of Obedient Plant form upside down icicles.

Bright red Rose Hip with copper colored Rose leaves provides color in a drab wintry scene.

I enjoy some winter when the harsh weather only comes a few days at a time.  But basically, I’m a warm weather person.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Dark and Light Contrasts

Shadows and bright sunlight in the same picture can be too harsh of extremes.  Unfortunately, here in Texas, that’s a reality and difficult to avoid.

The plants in the sun can look more like sculptures rather than living things.  So I’m trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with these extreme exposures.  Please bear with me.

Chandor Gardens uses many different oriental structures because they fascinated the original owner and builder.

Patterns on the large stepping stones are created by the sunlight breaking through the tree branches above.  The same sunlight creates a white Fourth of July sparkler of one of the hanging Spider Plants.

This rough stone pedestal has oriental statutes standing on flat surfaces.  Not my favorite thing.

The top crossbars on this pergola have curved edges to give it an oriental look.  The red Japanese Maple adds contrasting color with the surrounding greenery.

The long lower area of grass near the original residence was once used for lawn bowling, I think.  Gotta be a bugaboo to mow that, so the modern version is artificial turf.

Looking away from the house gives a sense of how long this sunken spot is.

The dense shrubs and trees provide shade and make it fairly comfortable to be here on a hot summer day.

There isn’t much whimsy in this formal garden, so I was surprised to see this addition.  I personally like little touches like this.

Looks like one of the many sages popular in Central and Northern Texas.  They can take the heat.

Boxwood hedges are used to define areas.

Since this garden is a hundred years old, keeping structures in sturdy condition is part of the upkeep.  This bridge was replaced a few years ago.

Nandina shrubs with red berries have become maligned choices because they are originally from Asia.  Some people consider them invasive.  I feel these accusations are a little strong.  Roses also came to us from Asia via Europe.

There is a serenity about this place that draws us back again and again.

Looks natural and wild but probably requires a lot of work.

Lots of water in small ponds provide a sense of coolness.

Love this curve promenade leading to the house area.  It also makes a grand entrance for brides who are wed here.

As summer heats up, hope you find some soothing cool shade.

“Gardening is about poetry and fantasy. It is as much an activity of the imagination as of the hands.”  by “Centipede” in The Guardian, April 7, 1892

Storybook Sculptures

Abilene, Texas, calls itself Storybook Capital of the World.  Scattered around the downtown area are sculptures of characters from children’s books as well as various other sculptures.

I’m starting with my least favorite:  Dino Bob from the book Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.

Never heard of this book.

The Man in the Moon is represented by a moon up on a tall pole.

Also, unknown to me.  Don’t give up.  It gets better.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King stands outside the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature building.

Everman Park, beside the renovated train depot, contains the Dr. Seuss Sculptures.  A nice job of landscaping this area uses hardy Texas plants, like the New Gold Lantana in the picture.  This lantana is a hybrid and makes a 6 to 8 foot ground cover.

Although this isn’t Dr. Seuss, it’s at the park entrance.  Santa Calls sculpture depicts three children who travel to the North Pole.  Santa sent a flying machine called Yuletide Flyer.The beloved Cat in the Hat turns a rainy day into unexpected fun for children.

Some  small Magnolia trees had blossoms.  It’s unusual to see Magnolias in Central Texas, but this is probably a Little Gem Magnolia, which is a late bloomer, smaller than most Magnolias, and survives in zones 5 – 9.

The Lorax speaks for the trees and warns of the dangers of disrespecting the environment.

Yurtle the Turtle, who claims to be the king of the pond, climbs on his subjects in an attempt to reach higher than the moon.  A good message to us all not to feel more important than others.

In spite of derogatory remarks in the news recently about Dr. Seuss, I think he had an important role.  He got many kids interested in reading and learning and did it in an extremely fun way.

The Grinch tries to sabotage Christmas in Whoville.

Another small Magnolia surrounded by Knockout Roses, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and a Boxwood hedge.  The roses may be Drift Roses, which are a type of Knockouts.

Russian Sage is a good choice for arid areas.  It has a lovely scent and is hardy.  It does spread, so these will become overcrowded at some point.

Sam, I am, encourages everyone to try Green Eggs and Ham.

In the second book to feature Horton, Horton Hears a Who, he once again becomes the protector of a helpless creature.  A small piece of dust that talks to Horton asks for help.  Even though he is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals, Horton states that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. SeussSave

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Gray/Silver Foliage

When I think of my favorite plants, flowers always come to mind.  But there are advantages to more muted plants.

Dusty Miller or Silver Dust (Centaurea Cineraria) originates from an island off of Italy.  It’s an old fashioned plant grown in the thirties, forties, and fifties by rural people.

Silver gray plants provide a shimmer or cool calmness to the landscape.  This one was bought in the spring and has exploded.  Many plants with gray foliage, including Dusty Miller, grow well in full sun.

The individual leaves are not that striking.

But when silver/gray plants are framed by a background of dark green, an interesting contrast occurs.  Sunlight lights up the silver color and makes them a focal point.

Globe mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) has round, cupped orange flowers in the spring.  But its foliage is also worthy of attention.

Its ruffled leaves have a different form than most gray plants.

Native to the drier regions of North and South America, in the Southwest of the U.S., sheep and goats graze on them.

When purchased, this was labeled Prairie Sage, but I haven’t been able to positively identify it.  It doesn’t bloom, has a tendency to flop down from the middle, and keeps most of its foliage during the winter.

The silver color is attractive but not sure I would recommend it.

This was given to me, unidentified.

Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is aromatic and has a wonderful soft texture.  My only compliant is that it tends to become misshapen.

But I do love the look and touch of it.

My favorite silver/gray plant is Powis Castle Artemisia (Artemisia arborescens x absinthium) because it is soft, hardy, and can grow in sun or filtered sun, although I think it does better in mostly sun.

A versatile plant that fits in most landscapes.  This one is in a pot, but it does well in the ground.

This is not an extensive list of gray plants, just some that I have grown.

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”  Arthur YorinksSave

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San Antonio Gardens, Part II

The hot summers and mild winters of San Antonio make it possible to grow tropical plants there.

sanaI fell in love with the Potterweeds (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).  This is a red one.  It is supposed to be drought tolerant and grow like a weed.

sana1While standing in front of this bush for several minutes, I saw several different kinds of butterflies.  I think the one on the left is a Gulf Fritillary and the one on the right, a Common Mestra

sana3This Angelonia or Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia) is an annual with upright flower spikes that resemble miniature snapdragons.

Only Angelonia from the Serena series can be grown from seed.

sana4Don’t recognize this plant.

sana5Bat-faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) gets it name from the dark area on the tip of the flower.  It takes a good imagination to see a bat face there.sanaccI tried to get a picture that would show the face, but I don’t see it.

They are native to Mexico and Central America and are only perennials in zone 10 and higher.sana6In this part of the garden, there are four square beds that form a large square with walkways in between.  Each square has the large tropical plant that probably stands 8 or 9 feet tall with shorter flowering bushes surrounding it.  The tall plants look like giant cannas, but they are probably something more exotic.  And none of them had flowers.

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sana7This Blue Potterweed has a Praying Mantis posing for a picture.

sana8Tall trees provide nice shady nooks.  The lady in red is one of several volunteer Master Gardeners working in the gardens that morning.

sana9Our group is observing huge Crape Myrtles and listening to the extension agent provide information.

sanajEasy to recognize Lantana is a good old reliable in Texas.  This particular one might be ‘Dallas Red’.

The unusual butterfly is an Orange Skipperling.

sanajjHardy Hibiscus do well in our area, also.

sanajjjWish I knew the name – no label.  In the Shrimp Plant family?

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sanakkkYellow Jabobinia or Brazilian Plume (Justicia aurea) grows in light to full shade in zones 8b and higher.

sanalFrustrating when botanical gardens don’t have everything labeled.

sanallVariegated Tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’) is an annual except in zone 11 and further south.

sanalllIt is a non-bloomer that loves heat and the sun.

sanamLike the light play through the Elephant Ears, which are native to Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

sanammsanammmThe horticulturist at this botanical gardens must also love Potterweed, since they use it so much.  Here it is with Potato Vine.

A visit to a lush tropical garden is a treat.  Even though it doesn’t translate into useful information for my garden, it’s fun to see what other parts of the world grow.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

In Fredericksburg

Recently my husband and I drove to Fredericksburg to scout out gardens.  My mission was to fine appropriate places that a class of prospective Master Gardeners could visit as a group to provide additional information and to observe different garden styles.

fredericksburgThe first stop was the Master Gardeners demonstration garden at the Ag Extension Office.  Although it isn’t the prettiest area, it shows a specific trait that is valuable for Texas gardens.  It does not receive supplemental water – only rain water.  Tough plants, only.

fredericksburg1Mostly native plants and a few others that have acclimated to the region are used.  It looked like there had been little rain recently.

fredericksburg2Mexican Feather Grass and native Redbuds are drought tolerant.

fredericksburg3Some of the plants here are Salvia Greggii, Purple Sage, and Cross Vine.

fredericksburg4The next garden was the Biblical Garden at the United Methodist Church.  It is small but a pretty spot.  Someone has done research to match the names of plants mentioned in the Bible with common names of plants today.

fredericksburg6Since Israel is arid, many plants that survive there also do well here.

fredericksburg7This sign identifies the plant with the yellow flowers in the former picture.

fredericksburg8A Pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is referenced in Song of Solomon 4:14.

fredericksburg9Palm branches were used in John 12:13 and are common in Palm Sunday services.

fredericksburgaPapyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is seen on the left, and Bulrush (Typhaspp.) on the right.  Exodus 2 relates the well known account of the basket woven to hold baby Moses.  Both of these plants are considered possibilities for that with papyrus being the most likely.  It is also what was used for paper by the early Egyptians.

fredericksburgbAlthough this could actually be Papyrus, it looks a lot like Umbrella Plant (Cyperus alternifolius).

fredericksburgbbTrailing Rosemary is in the foreground and Purple Plumbago is growing under the tree.

fredericksburhNext we visited the Texas Rangers Heritage Museum, which is still a work in progress.  Flowerbeds lined the parking areas and around the pavilion.  But it seems I didn’t get pictures of those.  Guess I was enamored with the sculptures.

fredericksburhhThe plants in the flowerbeds were pretty predictable – Purple Sage, Salvias, and Cactus.  Several plants had died.  It will be interesting to see how this area is developed.

Next post will show more public gardens that we visited.

“Real Gardeners buy at least 10,000 plants over the course of a lifetime without having any idea where they will put them when they get home.”  unknown

A Smorgasbord of Color and Form

This spring’s rains has brought exceptionally beautiful sights.  There’s plenty of green and other gorgeous colors all around us.

olioThe first Cone Flower from the Echinacea genus has opened.  Even though the petals aren’t as perfectly formed as later ones will be, the pollinators don’t care.

olio1Drift Roses are covered with masses of blooms.  At the far end of the bed is a Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) with its silvery airiness and a mound of gray Santolina (S. chamaecyparissus) with its buds ready to provide small yellow flowers.

olio2I love that drift roses stay under two feet tall and continually bloom through autumn.  To the right of them is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) which will have brght red flowers in the heat of the summer.

olio3The clusters of roses make a strong visual  impact.

olio4This three year old Privet is blooming for the first time.  From the genus of Ligustrum, Privets are now considered invasive.  I’d be surprised if its seed would take hold in the hard clay in our area.

olio5It smells heavenly.

olio6Pink Guara’s (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) swaying branches look pretty in our ever present wind.  Beside the pot, the Texas Ash needs the sprouts at the base trimmed away – again.

olio7Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is blooming.  To the left of it, Duranta is slowly growing, awaiting the heat blast of August to bloom.

olio8Pretty stalks of closed buds on Red Yuccas reach up for attention.  In the background is a raised bed that will be shown in the next picture.

Note the pieces of black ground-cover cloth.  They was put down about nine years ago.  Knowing what I know now – it doesn’t keep weeds from growing through the cloth; it hinders planting something new; and seems to last forever –  I definitely would not use it again.

olio9Henry Duelburg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) continues to perform magnificently after eleven years.

olioaA wonderful plant that bees love.

olioaaTexas native Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri.) is a showy splash of yellow on a low mound of thin grassy stems.

oliobLarkspurs (Delphinium consolida) are providing their surprise locations all over the yard.  Scatter these seeds and have purple flowers popping up everywhere.

In the lower left corner are some native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea).

oliobbMore Pink Gaura in a flowerbed.

olioccA copper colored reblooming Iris.

oliodAnd a lavender and yellow one.  Can’t resist snapping pictures of these beauties in the spring.

oliocWe have always called these natives that appear in the yard Lamb’s Ears because they look and feel like the ones sold in nurseries. They have soft, velvety foliage.  But recently I learned that they are actually Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  They are sure plentiful around here.  My husband loves to mow them down, but I want a few left to grow.

The leaves get about a sixteen inches in size.  Then late in summer a tall stalk will reach about three feet in height and small yellow flowers will form an elongated cluster.  Interesting plant.

Thanks for perusing my blog and enjoy your own green space.

“When a woman wears leather clothing, a man’s heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he goes weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?
She smells like a new truck.”  unknown

Peel Mansion Gardens

This should be the last post from our autumn trip to Arkansas.  The Peel Mansion was built in 1875 by Colonel Samuel West Peel.  His wife used the garden areas for food crops to feed their nine children and staff.

Colonel Peel,  a pioneer businessman and US congressman, traveled on business and to Washington often.  So his wife ran the homestead and farm, which included a 180 acre apple orchard.

houseArk1We did tour the house, but I didn’t take pictures inside.  The house is in the left side of this picture.  It was definitely a grand house, even for today.  It lay in disrepair for many years after their deaths but has renovated with the original woods cleaned up and shining.

The Maidenhair Tree or ‘Ginkgo biloba’ is the oldest known species of trees on earth.  I’ve always loved the leaves on this tree and wish they would grow here in our clay and hot climate.  Just have to enjoy them when I have the chance to see them.

houseArkdThis was my kind of garden that meanders around with all different kinds of trees, shrubs, and flowers growing.  There seemed to be a surprise around every turn.

I love the tall Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana).  Some internet sources state that it survives in zones 8 – 10, while another sources says all zones, and even other sources say a tender annual.  So it’s a mystery.

houseArk2The beds were filled with all sorts of flowers.  I love the red leaves that are scattered through the garden.  The source of them will be seen shortly.houseArk3

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houseArk7Black and Blue Sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’) is hardy in zones 8 – 10.  I bought one at a garden club meeting in Waco, so they must have it in the ground there.  But, I plan to grow it in a pot.

houseArk6This looks like a Dahlia to me.  They don’t survive in our Texas Fire Breathing Dragon sun.

houseArkjjThis is the tree responsible for those brilliant red leaves – a gorgeous Sugar Maple.

houseArk8From another angle, the bright red tree can be seen from many parts of the garden.

houseArkllI drool over this tree.

houseArk9This looks like it’s in the Coxcomb or the Gomphera family.

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houseArkgLove the color of these zinnas.

houseArkhChinese Lantern Plant or Strawberry Ground Cherry (Physalis alkekengi) has a unique look.

houseArkhhI recognize the Castor Bean plant (Ricinus communis) from my childhood in West Texas.  So I’m sure it would grow here.  This plant is the source of castor oil: that dreaded remedy for colds we were given as kids.  Yuck.  That dates me, for sure.

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houseArkmGuess it’s because spiky plants are common here, but the twisted branches of this little tree appealed to me.

If you know the names of any of the plants I did not try to identify, I’d love to hear what they are.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I enjoy hearing from you.

“If you have a garden and a library, then you have everything you need.”  Cicero