Garden “Bones”

“The “bones” of a garden are the elements that are permanent and that provide its structure: trees, shrubs, arbors, walls, trellises, walkways, and statuary or other sculptural elements. They represent the garden as it appears when the growing season ends, when the color and texture provided by blooming plant material is muted by snow and bare earth.”

The above quote explains what is meant by garden bones.  Click on the link to read more.

In this post, I’m only going to focus on a few living bones:  trees and large shrubs.

When we built the house 13 years ago, this was a pasture.  The only tree was a large Live Oak behind the backyard.

In this picture, the tallest tree is a Bur Oak on the east side of the house.  Eventually, it should shade a window in the morning.  Behind that is a Red Oak and then a Texas Ash, neither of which can be seen in this picture.

To the right in the background is a Cherry Laurel.  To the far right behind the house is an old, old Live Oak.  It’s probably a hundred years old.

In the front yard is a Chinkapin Oak.  There are a couple of trees behind it.

Really wish I knew what this bush is.  It was planted years ago.

During the winter the stems or trunks of this large bush reminds me of a water fountain.

Wind provides lots of motion.

Usually we cut the stems down to the ground in late winter.  Then leaves grow all the way up the stems.  This year that chore did not get done and the stems only have pom poms of leaves on the ends.  Interesting look.

Basham’s Party Pink  (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is one of the first Crapemyrtles to bloom each year.  It seems to me that white and pink ones always bloom earlier than deeper colored ones.

One of the tallest varieties of Crapemyrtles, Basham’s Party Pink can reach 30 to 40 feet.  This one is six years old.

Flowering trees are a great attribute in a yard, if only for a few weeks or months of the year.

Most of the Goldenball Leadtrees (Leguminosae Fabaceae) I’ve seen are only 8 to 10 feet tall.  But Texas A & M reports that they can reach 25 feet tall and wide.  Oh dear, this one will be extremely crowded if it gets that wide.

Although Desert Bird of Paradise (Erythrostemon gilliesii) is a tropical tree from South America, it has naturalized in Texas.

It’s hardy and many pollinators feast on it.

Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has become favorite.  A native of China and India, it is naturalized throughout the southern U.S.

I’ve been told they bloom better and look better if pruned to maintain an 8 to 10 foot height.

What’s not to love about these striking flowers?  Plus, they perfume the air.

Generally, I prefer to zoom in on details of flowers.  But good bones are definitely the most important elements of a yard and garden.  As summer is upon us, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to have shade provided by trees in the yard.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”   Bill Vaughan

Winter Came Back

Last week old man winter snuck back when I wasn’t paying attention.

Ice covering Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree.

Ice on Yellow Lead Ball bush and Crape Myrtle.

The good news is that this winter event brought rain – over five inches.  Hip, hip, hooray.

The beautiful Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) looked really sad.

The weight of the ice on the branches was a concern.  But in a couple of days, it was melting, and the tree perked back up.

The Live Oak, too, was frosted with ice.

Another Chinese Pistache with ice.

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) with ice.  Okay, you get the picture.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native flowering small tree.  The rebar post was put there when it was small to mark the spot to avoid with the mower.  Guess it’s time to remove it.

Ice caked around a red rose hip on a climbing rose.

The hills were covered with ice, and it wasn’t fit for man nor beast to be out.  A paraphrase of a W. C. Fields quote.

From inside where it was warm and cozy, it looked dreamy.  And I’m so thankful for the rain.

“Sometimes my greatest accomplishment is just keeping my mouth shut.”  Zane Baker

Ice Adorning Plants

Usually, there’s one ice event a year in northern and central Texas.  So, hopefully, we’d have had it for this year.  It was short lived, even though the temperatures stayed in the teens for several days and low 20’s for a couple of weeks.

Although the sun hasn’t risen very high, a Red Oak glistens.

A certain beauty comes with frosty, icy weather.  At least, it’s pretty from the inside of a warm house and not on the roads.

Rose bushes planted this year are in the lower right foreground.  Quite a shock to the system.

Plants low to the ground got a blast of water from the sprinkler system.  That sounds crazy, but our rainfall last year was two thirds of the average.  We need the moisture and didn’t know the temps were going to drop that low.

This frozen bush is Flame Acanthus.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) bush still covered in seed clusters.

Chinapin Oak draped in icycles.

Don’t remember what this is, but love the jeweled look.

Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) looks top heavy with ice but remained upright.

Showbiz Rose still had rose buds when the cold hit.

Ice doesn’t bother seed pods and leaves of Yellow Lead Ball Tree (Leguminosae Leucaena retusa). A sprinkler head close to this Crape Myrtle created a heavy coat of ice.

The bones of a Texas Ash and a smaller Post Oak are highlighted in ice.

In November we transplanted two climbing roses from their pots.  Look sad, but they’re sturdy and should survive.

In the yard, I use hardy plants that will survive our winter.  Risking tender plants that will freeze is crazy, so pots are used for those that I know won’t survive.  They do well in the heated shed.

Wherever you are this season, I hope the beauty of winter can be enjoyed however you please – inside or outside.

“Change is inevitable.  Progress is optional.”  Tony Robbins

High and Low

It’s easy to miss the little beauties on the ground and those above us.

highlowIron Weed (Vernonia altissima) is a native that grows in bar ditches around here.  I gathered seeds and put them in a pot.  This one has done so so in a container but really should be sown in the grown.

The flower clusters are small but a bunch of them is eye catching.

Normally, it blooms in late spring and summer, but the cooler weather has revived it.

highlow1Up above my head Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) from the Mediterranean region has a similar climate to ours.  The flowers stand out silhouetted against the blue sky.

highlow5Native Yarrow (Achillea) provides a casual look to the garden.  In this case, I’m hoping it will spread and provide shade for the ‘feet’ of a Clematis.

Native Americans used ground yarrow boiled in water and cooled as a wash to treat sunburns.

highlow2The berries on a Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) draws my eyes upward.  This tree is a good choice for our area because it is pest free with a hardwood that is decay resistant.  It was chosen as a Texas Super Star tree for many reasons.  This great shade tree that has autumn color is one of my favorite trees.

highlow8After the heat of the summer passed, Cone flowers have popped back up.  I’m not sure which Echinacea variety this one is.

The stems are shorter this time around than the earlier spring ones.  Love these.

highlow9But a warning.  These reseed to produce a massive array.  It’s not possible to have just a few.

highlowdReally like the unusual color of these Geraniums.  The red flowers have a pink strip on each petal.  This came from my mother’s house.  Right now it needs a little TLC but still very nice.

highlow3Looking straight up, the Crossvine (bignonia capreolata) has started to crawl across the top bars of the arbor.  It’s nice when plants follow the plan.

highlow4A great vine for pollinators.

highlowfA sort of whirly jig: the wheels spin on this truck on a pole.

highlowbShasta Daisies ( Leucanthemum × superbumare) are also blooming again.  Most people enjoy their familiar and clean look.

Don’t you love the signs of fall and the cooler temperatures?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”  Ronald Reagan

Purple Spires

Bright colors in the yard make me smile.  I prefer more muted colors inside my house but purple, red, and yellow are my favorite choices for flowers.

purple3Larkspurs are still blooming where ever they choose.  They aren’t well behaved and stay where they were first seeded.  It’s always a pleasant surprise to see where they come up each spring.  The reds here are Red Yucca and Cannas.  However, the Cannas seem to be blooming more orangey than before.  So I wonder if red ones are hybrids and they are reverting back to their original color.

purple9I have a conundrum.  For years I have thought this bush was Blue Curls.  I think I bought it at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Since I had never heard of Blue Curls before, I must have seen it labeled that, but I can’t be sure.

purple8I had previously noticed the similarity of the flowers and leaves to another bush in the back of the house.  But this morning for some reason it struck me that they are much more than similar.

purple6

purple5You know how it is to get your mind set one way and not see the truth.  So I’m not going to beat myself up for this mistake.  But I do not think this is a Blue Curls.

purplecThis is a Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) tree in the back yard that was planted two years ago.  It was bought at a local nursery and was clearly labeled.

The following three pictures are of this same tree.

My reference point for a Vitex comes from a huge tree planted in the parking lot of the hospital in Brownwood.  So I didn’t expect one to look like a bush.

purpledDo you see my confusion?  I now think both are Vitex.  I have pruned the branches on the one in the front for several years to get it fuller, which has also kept it shorter.

purpleeAlso known as Chaste Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, or Indian Spice, it is a native of China and India.  But it has been grown in the southern US since 1670.

purplefDifferent parts of the tree have long been used for medicinal purposes.  Another name for Vitex is Monk’s Pepper because it was thought that its berries helped monks maintain their chastity.

It’s a great tree/shrub for pollinators.  The color of the blooms are fantastic.

purple4As I was taking pictures, a visitor strolled quickly by.

purpleffThe flower spires on Russian Sage are a light purple or lavender.

purpleiAlthough not a spire, these Petunias are a deep purple.

purplejThis pot was already filled when I bought it.  The lady did not know the names of the other two plants in it.

purplekThe foliage of Ajuga ground cover is more important to most people than the pale lavender blooms.

purplelAnd lastly, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is sandwiched between Greggi Sage and Rose bushes.  It has a wonderful aroma and is a great hardy perennial.

“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Nolan of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God.”  Richmond, Virginia daily newspaper

Valentine Brunch

There was a Ladies’ Valentine Brunch at church on Saturday the 13th of February.  I was on the planning committee and was the decorator for the event.

brunch2There are many challenges to change our fellowship hall into a space that looks somewhat classy.  First, my sweet husband agreed to bring in the padded chairs from the chapel.  That made a huge difference rather than using the battered, mismatched folding metal chairs.

We also carried out some wall decorations, metal chairs, and other items that were eye sores.

My dear husband helped in so many ways.  It could not have been accomplished without him.

brunchThere is a large window opening into the kitchen, so I used sheers and lights to block out that view and added three arrangements for a little distraction and interest.

Later I noticed the gaps in the curtains and pulled those together.

brunch7Sheers on the windows gave the whole room a softer look.

brunch3There is no budget for such events, so I purchased items that can be used again for another function.  I had sprayed some vases for a previous luncheon, so those were used to hold artificial red and white roses.  Also, I sprayed dried items and and made beaded wires.

The dried items came from my yard, like Red Yucca pods, plus some Yucca pods from the field.  The clusters of seeds came from a small Vitex tree and a Burl Curls bush.  The bushy ends on a stem are dried flowers from Sedum Brilliant.  There are also some stems with dried flower pods from Rose of Sharon bushes.

brunch5Around the vases are paper heart chains. candles, and Bible verse cards.

brunch4

brunchcThere were five beaded wires in each vase.  On each wire were red, white and silver beads.  No two were alike.  They didn’t show up well in the pictures, so I took a picture of one alone.  I wandered all over the house trying to find a good spot for the photograph but couldn’t find one.  Finally settled on this photo.

brunchaThe serving table is 16 feet long.  Since it is in front of the kitchen window, I moved the larger vase to the corner at the end of the serving line.

The planning committee borrowed dishes from another church and brought flatware from home to make it more special than using paper plates and plastic utensils.  Volunteers washed dishes afterwards.

brunch1

brunch9This vase was on the drink table.  We found a great punch recipe on the internet.  It’s called Grandma’s punch and was really delicious and was red.

brunchbWe had a duet, a solo, and a short devotional.  Another lady was in charge of the games, which were a big success.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  So the hours of preparation were worth it.

“Three things can’t be hidden: coughing, poverty, and love.”          Yiddish Proverb

Nice Cool Relief

Last week an inch and three quarters of rain brought some cooler temperatures.  It was a greatly needed relief for humans, animals, and plants.

Nice reprieve2This Golden-Ball Lead Tree (Leucana retusa) has struggled again, its second year, because some creatures (I suspect jackrabbits) strip and break its lower limbs.

Nice reprieve5But it recovered nicely the latter part of August.  It is a shrub or spindly tree that grows well in rock or caliche.  So it should feel right at home here.

Nice reprieve3The globe like flower is yellow but looks more golden with this early morning back light.

Nice reprieve4I like photographing back-light plants, so here’s another shot.  The books say Lead Ball blooms in April and May.  But here it is performing in September.  Maybe it will prove to be a spring and fall bloomer.

Nice reprieve1This vulture seems to be relaxing and enjoying the cool morning.

Nice reprieve6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) tend to bloom year round since they are considered house plants.  But they do well outside during the warm months with filtered light and slightly dry soil.  Just beware of the thorns.

Nice reprieve7The Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is slowly covering the new arbor.  I can’t wait to see the full coverage – maybe next year.

Nice reprieve8It blooms in spring and fall.

treeThis two year old Vitex Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has grown quite fast.  Vitexs are also called Hemp and Sage trees.  I need to cut off more lower limbs this winter.

Nice reprieve9Vitexs are native to India and China but have been adapted to this area for a long time.  Another common name is Monk’s Pepper, which comes from the old wives tale that in medieval times, monks made a potion from the berries that helped them maintain their vows of chastity.

Nice reprieveaVitex attract many pollinators.  The berries are still used in herbal remedies.

Vitex can grow up to 20 ft. tall with snarly trunks and branches.

Nice reprievebFor a long time, I assumed that Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) would not survive our heat because the leaves are large and thin.  Then I saw one in garden an hour away from here.

Nice reprieveeSo I grabbed one this year at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring sale.  It has bloomed way more than I expected.

Nice reprievefIt is in a pot in mostly shade.  It’s looking a little tired right now, but has provided many large flowers with a morning glory shape.

Nice reprievecBecause it has grown larger than I expected, it will need to be upgraded to a larger pot next spring.

A garden presents wonderful surprises and joys.

“I changed my password everywhere to ‘incorrect.’ That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.'” unknown