Shade Welcome

For those who have mostly shady yards, there are different problems than for those of us who have mostly sunny yards.  Since some plants absolutely require shade, I have a few spots where they can grow.

The leaf shape of Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) gives it another common name, False Shamrock.  But the leaf color gives it a distinctive look of boldness.

Woodland Fern does well here because it can handlefrom-spring-into-fall heat, and the roots survive a cold winter.  This flowerbed against the house doesn’t receive direct sun.  Ferns enjoy a little dappled light, just like they would received in the woods.

One shady spot I have is at the back of the yard under a large Live Oak.  So pots of shade loving plants can go there.  The pot with white flowers is Plumbago (Plumbago capensis).  I actually prefer the Plumbago with purple flowers, but the one I had died.

The taller stems behind the Plumbago are Ornamental Garlic.  The larger leaves on the right side belong to a Datura or Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).

In this same area in a blue pot is Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) or Christ Plant.  Love the small flowers but am leery of the thorns.

All the plants are in pots because I don’t want to disturb the roots of the tree.  Also, some of them need inside protection during the winter.

One corner of a covered back porch has shade most of the day.  This area is filled with pots of Coleus and Old Fashioned Geraniums, meaning an old variety that is not sold in nurseries.  The past two years I have become a fan of a variety of Coleus with their lovely leaf colors and shapes.

Some of the Coleus are pass-a-longs from friends.  They root well in water.

This Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) also sits on a stand in that corner.  Just about the easier plant there is to grow.  The “spiders” that grow on long stems from the center become new plants when put into soil.

This is a corner of a front covered porch where pots of plants have been gathered.  Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming now.  To the left of that in another pot is some Columbine foliage.

A large pot of Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) is long lived when brought inside for the winter.  It will also recover from winter because the fibrous roots are very hardy.  But it takes a long time for the foliage to grown back and to become attractive again.

At the back of that covered porch is a line of Boston Ferns that are 25 years old.  They have been divided several times.  The rabbit container holds another Old Fashioned Geranium.

Purple Heart or Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) returns every spring like clockwork in a shady flowerbed.Actually, shade is a welcome relief for lots of living creatures, including me during this long lived summer and continued drought.  The temperatures have fallen a bit, so that’s a treat.  Seriously need some rain.

Hope your autumn is cool and crisp with lovely yellow, orange, and auburn colors.

“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to over throw the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.”  Abraham Lincoln

Last View at Chandor Gardens

A few more pictures from our quiet stroll through Chandor Gardens.

Garden paths lead to calming scenes with water.

And some rather bizarre scenes of Chandor’s obsessions with Chinese culture.  This looks like volcanic rock used as a display case for oriental statutes.

Another display of red panels gives a suggestion about the importance of red in the Chinese culture, where it represents luck, joy, and happiness.  Brides wear red to ward off evil.

About eight Staghorn Ferns hang from a large oak.

Ah, back to a soothing pool surrounded by greenery.

Rare for this area is a pot of Kent’s Beauty Oregano with its fluffy flowers.

A lush area with lots of foliage.

As we head to the Chandor home, more water and assorted plants.

More potted plants topped off with a new variety of Coleus.

On the back side of the house is an enclosed patio area that has an intimate feeling.

Inside the walled area is a long planting of Pentas and Caladiums,which are cheery and refreshing.

One of my favorite features is this gate leading out of the patio.

The story goes that Chandor admired the gate at a friend’s house.  His friend then gifted it to him.  From the note, they may have been used over windows at Vincent’s home.

Now these lovely gates can be admired by all who visit this public garden.

What a special place Chandor Gardens is to this small town situated in a dry climate.

“At the heart of gardening, there is a belief in the miraculous.”  Mirabel Osler

Critters in the Yard

When critters that we love and the ones that we don’t like, enter into our space, it makes life interesting.

Butterflies are my all favorite critter in the yard.  This Queen is feasting on Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower.

Snakes terrify me.  This one scaled a six foot pole.  It went inside the hole of the birdhouse and slithered back out.  Don’t know if it was hoping for bird eggs or just bored.

This is a bluebird house and since we haven’t had any bird birds nest there, it’s just ornamental.

This snake may be harmless, but that doesn’t matter to me.  Makes me cringe.

Occasionally, a wild turkey wanders around the yard.  They are skittish and react to the slightest noise.

Pretty feathers, but it looks like it was designed by a committee.

A small bird kept flying out of this flowerpot on the back porch.  It looked like a Tufted Titmouse but moved too quickly for a photo.

Finally, when I was watering this old Kalanchoe, I spotted the reason.  Twigs had been brought into the pot and sort of a tunnel built to where the eggs were laid.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), a Texas native, draws lots of pollinators.

As the wind sways the tall stems, bees and other pollinators hang on.

Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida) loves this shaded spot and covers this plot quickly each spring.

Remnants of a spider web can be seen on the top of the wheel.

This ruffled Coleus was recently propagated from a large one.  The stems grow quickly.  Very attractive.

Shade Lovers

Finding shady areas for plants can be a challenge if you live where the sun glares down with full force for months at a time.  Shade doesn’t have to be a totally dark area, but one where there is no direct sunlight.

In my case, that means covered porches or close to the trunks of large trees.  My porch areas can look messy because I also root many plants there.  Here are Coleuses, Old fashioned Geraniums, and an Aloe Vera.

Coleus may seem like an old lady plant; since I’m an old lady and it’s only been a favorite the last couple of years, that fits.  But it brings color in areas where flowers won’t bloom.

This one came from a cutting about four years ago.  Coleuses root easily in water and are great pass-along plants.

The lime green ones really brighten up a shady place.

This is an attempt at a fairy garden.  Problem is:  when you water, pebbles and other small articles tend to wash away or fall over.  Variegated Ice Plant has grown like wildfire.

A professional gardener for a public garden made the statement that neatness is more important than what you plant.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  And, let’s face it, it’s difficult to keep a garden weeded and cleared of debris when you don’t have a staff.  That’s my excuse.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) branches bend over and grow crookedly.  This one will definitely have to be cut back before carrying it into the shed for winter.  Maybe some friends would like a cutting?

The thorns are vicious.  This one came from a cutting about six or seven years ago.  Several cuttings have been made from the original planting and propagated and given away.

This was bought at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  It can’t take our cold winters, like many of the other plants shown in this post.  It also has sharp thorns.  I keep telling myself to toss it, but here it is after two years.

These three pots of plants have been here for years and years.  The Red Apple Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia) on the left and the Autumn Joy Sedum are perennial, and thankfully do not have to be toted into the shed for the winter.  These are succulents, so broken stems can be planted directly into potting soil.

The Purple Oxalis  is not cold hardy.

The Sedum will put on a show with pink flower clusters soon.

Pale pink flowers contrast nicely with the purple leaves of Oxalis, which is in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is another new favorite.  The smell is wonderful.  It does not reseed but can be propagated with cuttings rooted in water.

To the left is another Autumn Joy Sedum, Kalanche on the right, and Asparagus Fern in the back.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) is an extremely hardy perennial ground cover.  As demonstrated by this picture, it spreads rapidly and should be contained.  This flowerbed is surrounded by a porch and a sidewalk on two sides.

The light pink flowers always show up white in my pictures.  The stems can be broken or cut and rooted in water.  Another good pass-along plant.

“You can lead a man to congress, but you can’t make him think.”  Milton Berle

Indian Summer

After the threat of a freeze two weeks ago, we lugged in most of the potted plants and covered others with sheets.  It was in the mid thirties for two days.  Then back up to the middle 90’s since then.  With some record highs, it’s a crazy Texas autumn.

Although some gardeners don’t consider it worthwhile to take Coleus in for the winter, I do.  Sure, I could buy new ones in the spring, but then I wouldn’t have this one that came from a friend’s mother.

In the warm shed, Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) bloomed again.  That’s the pretty pink ones at the top.  The other pink ones are Crown of Thorns.  Note the sharp thorns that define them.

Another pot of Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) that was gingerly carried inside.  Those thorns reach out and grab your skin.

Most of the plants, like this White Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata Escapade White), were looking spiffy.  Re-flowering occurred after the summer heat had ended and some pleasant days of 70s were a boon to us all.

Ditto for the Purple Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) or Sky Flower.

It’s a shame these flowers are all in the shed where I can’t enjoy their last hurrah.  But the rule in our household is that once the plants are carried inside, that’s where they will stay until spring.

Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) was looking good.  If we lived just a couple of zones south of here, the evergreen foliage would survive the winter and be good to go next year.

Can’t get much cheerier than this color.

Same with American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).  It might be okay here, but I don’t want to take a chance.  We just might have a hard freeze sometime this winter.

I really hated to hide this beauty away.  The cooler temperatures had brought back all its glory.  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) is one showy plant.

Some bulbs, like this Stella de Oro Daylily have been reblooming.

Dianthus or Pinks (Dianthus ssp.) should die down during the winter, but return in the spring.

In the fields, good ole Prairie Verbena or Sweet William (Verbena bipinnatifia)  blooms and blooms.

There’s always the roses to enjoy.  This flower on Belinda’s Dream (Rosa hybrida Belinda’s Dream) reminds of the kid Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back Kotter” with his hand waving in the air, demanding attention.

Belinda’s Dream definitely deserves attention.  It was the first rose chosen as an Earthkind Rose and is still a hardy, disease resistant, consistent performer.  Love it.

The bright fire engine red of Show Biz Rose (Rosa Tanweieke)  keeps on blooming.  it is a floribunda rose that was hybridized by Tantau and introduced in 1985.  To me, it’s a reminder of our visit to the Biltmore where we bought it at their nursery.

The plants in my yard are friends that bring memories of certain people or places.  Thanks for taking time to read my blog.

“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take you breath away.”  anonymousSave

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Up Close

When flowers and plants become a passion, as with any hobby, then your time and money are in jeopardy.

As my love affair with roses continue, I have found another favorite:  Sheila’s Perfume Floribunda Rose.  I was a little hesitant to order a rose from Breck’s, but it arrived healthy and does have the promised aroma.

Couldn’t be happier with it.  Such a beautiful color and the scent is marvelous.

It is planted in a pot until the flowerbed is prepared.  Back-breaking work is in progress to get it ready.

Since I have discovered that I can overwinter Coleus in the shed, I’m really enjoying the different colors of them on the market.

Another Coleus and a ground cover I don’t know the name of.

After last year’s success with Petunias, I had to plant some this year.  Who knew they would last all summer and into the fall.  The Spiral Tush Curly Wurly (Juncid effusus) was saved from the pot the petunias were in last year.  Like the look of the combination of them.

The fresh look of Irises brightens up spring.  All the irises in the yard are re-bloomers, so I can enjoy them in the spring and again in the fall.

Bearded iris are my favorite.

Black Iris that I don’t remember ordering.  Senior citizen moments are frustrating.

Sweet Broom (Cytisus x spachianus) called to me as I entered Walmart.  Great marketing technique – grab shoppers’ attention even before they enter the door.  This plant needs six hours of daily sun.  Good to go there, but it is winter hardy for zone 9 – 11, so we’ll see how that goes.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are one of the few short daylilies.  I’m trying to keep up with pulling spent flowers, so they will continue to bloom.

Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are putting on a grand show.

One Hollyhock has returned.  A couple of years ago, rust spots covered them.  So they had to be dug up.  Obviously, some roots remained for this one.  So far, so good.  No sign of rust.

The Spider Worts (Tradescantias)  are just finishing their spring flowering.

I’ll just enjoy the bright color of this lone one.

Hope your springtime is filled with a chance to enjoy lots of flowers.

“The best thing about being over 40 is that we did all of our stupid stuff before the invention of the internet, so there’s no proof.”    unknown

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August’s Heat

The last weekend in August is the time for the ‘Hotter Than Hell’ annual bicycle ride in Wichita Falls, Texas.   This event brings out tons of people who torture themselves on a up and down hill course in 100 plus temperatures.  I mean:  who does this?

But then, who lives in this climate?  The answer:  native Texans and many who have come to the sun belt to enjoy the wonderful winters.

augustheat4What else survives the heat?   There are actually quite a few plants that have adapted to extreme heat as well as the native plants.

This Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) is seven years old.  I like the curly, unpredictable growth habit.  However, it does not survive winter, even here, so it has to be brought in.

augustheat6That’s difficult since it has grown so large.  The spikes on the ridges are extremely sharp.  Last year a tall spike broke off.  No problem, I just planted it and now have another Elkhorn.  The white sap is poisonous, so handle with care.

augustheatIn the back to the right is an ornamental pepper plant, which has struggled this year.  It wilts between waterings, which is about three to four days apart.  It has several smaller plants that came up this year, so I probably should have taken them out of this pot.

The plant in front is Escheverua ‘Blue Curl’ which needs bright, but not direct light.  That requirement applies to most succulent plants.

augustheat2Some things are starting to look ragged at the end of summer.  Like this ten year old Oxalis.  But it’s hanging in there.

augustheat5It’s a challenge to find enough shade in our yard for plants that need it.  Above is Coleus and Purple Heart that get early sun as the sun hovers over the horizon.

augustheat3The potted Petunias have surprised me because they have lasted from spring into August.  I will definitely use some of them again next year.

augustheatbHere is a Moon Flower plant in another shady area and the pot with the new Elkhorn.

augustheataThe flowers of Moon Flower or Jimson Weed (Datura wrightii) are always a delight.

augustheatc

augustheat9The metal pickup on a pole is about five feet tall.  That is a gauge for how tall the Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has gotten.

augustheat7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala Scheele) is not a consistent bloomer, but I enjoy it when flowers appear.

augustheat8The flowers actually look more like a hibiscus than a rose.

augustheatdJust this year Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’)  was designated a Texas Superstar Plant.  I wondered why because we have two that are four years old, and this is the first year for them to bloom.  So I did a little research.  Although the plant label that came with them did not state this information, they do not do well in alkaline soils.  We definitely have that in spades.

augustheateThis year, I’ve poured the water on them and the blooms are gorgeous.

Crape Myrtles do so well in the whole central Texas area that I was surprised to learn that this one has different soil needs.  I certainly won’t dig them up.  But now I know they need extra water.

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center just sent out an article to encourage all the gardeners in Texas who are weary of the sun and hot temps this time of the year.  It pointed out some positives to note:  dried, brown, fried flowers provide seeds for birds and next year’s crops of flowers; act as mulch and insulate the ground from the heat; dried flowers provide beauty in form; and brown is not an ugly color.  That’s a great spin for us all.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”  Walter Winchell

Easy, Breezy Plants

It rained off and on very slowly for the first three days this week.  We’ve received an inch and a third.  The bulk of the rainfall will be east of I 35 corridor.  Weather reports for us always includes that dividing line.  Just reminds us that we’re part of dry West Texas.

Monday night lightning and thunder storms with strong winds blew over a wrought iron cafe table, chairs, and bench.  But around the metroplex, serious damages to buildings, cars, and people occurred.

nearspring1Beautiful clouds and soft rain.  Sure glad I got some work done last week cleaning out flowerbeds.  Still a ton to do, but this is a nice respite.

nearspringeInside, this Kalanchoe is looking good.  This is a fail proof plant for just about anyone.  This particular one came from a friend a couple of years ago and started out as a tiny stem broken from the plant she had.

nearspringdGorgeous clusters of flowers.  When the weather warms up, it will go outside in a spot with indirect light.

nearspringcThis Kalanchoe I actually bought because its flowers have more layers of petals. I also bought one with white flowers.  A friend had told me that she bought flowers from this particular grocery store – Aldi’s.  So I checked it out and these were on sale.

Of course, they were dry and needed some TLC.  But they perked right up with larger pots and some much needed water.

nearspringfI keep snipping off stems of a Coleus and starting new plants for our garden club plant sale next month.  The original one came from a friend who is keeping an old heirloom plant from her mother-in-law’s family.

She has brought it inside during the winter for years and years and keeps potting new starts.  The cuttings are put into water to root.

nearspringgThis is another one from the original plant she gave me.  It’s looking leggy and needs to to be trimmed.  That makes the stems branch and be fuller as well as creating a new plant.

nearspringhThis came from the friend who told me about the grocery store plants.  It’s a Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya).  Whenever I can get out to the shed, I’ll repot it into a larger pot, so maybe it won’t needing watering so much.

It’s fun to have some really easy plants and some to share with others.

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian.” Henry Ford