Gray Days of Winter Around the Corner

Enjoying a few more days of some color in the yard.

A few Jackman Clematis purple flowers hang on the vine.

Although all the foliage is gone, some Whirling Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) still  waves in the wind.  Behind that are some red blossoms on a Flame Acanthus.

Henry Duelburg Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea) doesn’t want to say goodbye just yet.

This year the Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) won’t be carried inside, so it may pass away completely.  Each year we haul it in and each spring it takes forever for it to recover, and it seldom blooms.  So I give up.  It belongs in zones 10 – 11, but I was trying to push the envelop.

On a misty, overcast day, native Flame Prairie Sumac (Rhus Lanceolata) looks like it’s on fire.

This year the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) has lots of tiny orange red berries.  I love the fact that it’s an evergreen tree.

Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua) berries are a little bigger and redder.  A winter treat for the birds. It’s a Texas native and a very hardy small tree with multiple trunks.

The tree/bush is very full of berries.

A few buds have shown up on the Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) .  It quit blooming months ago when the heat got too intense.  It’s also called Apricot Mallow based on the color of its flowers.

Maggie Rose (Rosa ‘Maggie’) just keeps on blooming.  It’s a fragrant bourbon rose that likes our climate.

Bought this bush a couple of years ago and kept it in a shed until I had a place for it.  It has surprised me because the limbs have grown so long and gangly, and the magneta globe flowers are so tiny.

Have lost the tag and can’t identify it.

It has a tendency to spread out.  So it’s really too close to other plants.  I’ll worry about that next year.

Several of the David Austin roses I have don’t flower very well.  But this Thomas A. Beckett blooms often and the bush looks healthy.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) flowers last a long time.

I moved this Mint to a container because it was taking over a flower bed.  Even in tight confines, it’s doing well here.

“One kind word can warm three months.”  Japanese proverb

Unrelenting Heat

It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  The summer merry-go-round keeps circling around and around.

So how could any plant survive this?

First of all, the plants in the yard have received more watering than usual.

Some plants actually live and bloom better in the heat, like this Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata).  The foliage is green most of the year.  But it’s flowering performance with its strong sweet smell comes in the hottest part of summer – mid August into September.

One warning:  prune it back to the ground by the beginning of spring, or it will be so heavy, it will tumble down and bring the trellis with it.  The optimum time is early winter.

The flowers disappeared from Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) when the heat cranked up, but the foliage is pretty and unique all by itself.  The ruffled leaves are soft to the touch.

This lovely plant is new to me this year.  Although I can’t find the tag, I think it is Rose Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena Globosa).  The leaves are wider than other gomphrenas, and it grows in a rounded mound.

Strawberry Field Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) are individual plants with a bright red ball at the top of each stem.  They reseed so freely that just a few can guarantee many flowers for years to come.

Another successful bush for this heat is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).

Bees and other pollinators flock to it.

Caryopteris or Bluemist shrub (Cayopteris x clandonensis) shines in the heat.  The main concern is more about its cold hardiness.  But it has survived some low temperatures.

Celosia is a large plant family that includes several annuals, such Cockscomb.  This one is Flamingo Feather (Celosia spicata).  All celosias do well in the heat.  The trick is to save their seeds.  I’m hoping to do that with this plant.

A favorite in Texas is Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  There’s no question that it’s a stunner.  But the problem is that it isn’t cold hardy here.  So it has to be brought inside for the winter.  That’s possible for a few years before it gets too large.
So I’ll just enjoy it for now.

Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii) is listed as cold hardy for here in Zone 8.  But I have lost one already, so for right now it is carried to a protected area each winter.

A plant that should not be grown here is Firebush (Hamelia patens).  I resisted getting one as long as I could.   It does very well two zones warmer than here.  For now, it’s in a pot.

Sometimes, I think my love of plants is madness.

Of course, the very best plants for any region are the native ones.  If they grow in a field with no supplemental water, that is a dead give away that they’re perfect for the area.  Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) forms large colonies in the dry fields.

Sometimes a few will come up in the yard, so I let them grow.  Obviously, this Swallowtail butterfly appreciates it.

 “To find some who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, this is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault 

Carmel

Carmel proved to be just as pristine and unique as expected.

The downtown shopping area was adorned with flowers in pots and beds everywhere available for planting.

Bougainvilleas were huge, full of blooms and gorgeous.  The mild climate allows every bush and vine to flourish.  The Morning Glory in the foreground is climbing up the building.

Upscale shopping is the name of the game.  Lots of tempting shops.

The succulents on tall stems are everywhere along the coast but I couldn’t find anyone that could give them a name.  The pot to the lower right contains Cigar Plant (Cup0hea ignea).  Should have gotten a closer picture of that.

Landscapers must do a booming business in this town.

The lavender colored flowers are probably Pincushion flowers.

Lovely sentimental bronze statue.  Note the heart in her hand.

All different kinds of architecture.

But the one that surprised me were the Hobbit looking ones.

Probably cost a lot of money to get this roof that looks like a drunk laid the shingles.

Sunglasses in a bush – very Californian.

Another ubiquitous succulent with lovely pink flowers.  Wonder if it’s too hot here to grow that.  But I would need to know its name.

Wondered if this pot is hypertufa.  And how is it attached?

Wandered into a storybook setting.

An outdoor eating area of a restaurant with a fire pit attracts these Western Bluebirds.  No one seemed to be worried that they might land on their plate.

Just doesn’t get any quainter than this.

The source of those mysterious dried flowers that come in florist arrangements.  When dried, Purple Statice Sea Lavender outlasts the fresh flowers by a long shot.

Had a lovely day strolling in and out of shops.  But mostly, the flower caught my attention.

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

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

Rose Emporium, Part 2

The Antique Rose Emporium is so much fun to visit.

Yes, it is about antique, heritage, or old fashioned found roses, but there’s so much more.  They also sell other types of roses, plus succulents and other plants.

Another draw to this nursery is the large gardens that are perfect for strolling and savoring the smells.  The tall mushroom looking trellis is constructed from heavy rebar.  The rose covering it is either Lady Banks or Peggy Martin.  Both of these are vigorous growers, which is not a strong enough description of either one of them.

A huge stand of Mexican Cigar Plants (Cuphea melvillea) borders two sides of the walkway leading to the chapel, where their seminars are held.

They provide a bright, cheery welcome.

The chapel is off in the distance behind this prairie style planting of Salvias, Pink Muhly grass, roses, Purple Sage, and various other plants.

Morning light behind the grasses give them a nice glow.

I especially like how these clusters look like tiny stacked diamonds sparkling.

This tropical beauty is Sky Vine Thunbergia.  One tall and wide archway is overflowing with this vine.  Such a refreshing look.

The flowers on this bush look like Mexican Oregano but the leaves don’t.  Anyone know what it is.  Please let me know with a comment.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoy your family more than you enjoy the food.

“Thanksgiving dinners takes eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Halftime takes twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence.”  Erma Bombeck

Autumn White

We have been blessed by all the rain last week.  The ground is wet, plants are green (including abundant weeds), and the tanks (stock ponds) are gradually filling up.

The cultural ban on southern ladies wearing white after Labor Day has always been ridiculous.  It is totally ignored these days, except for a few older ladies in high society.

Anyway, the white flowers on this lovey lady are frilly and pretty.  I was told it is Society Garlic; but after some research, it could be chives or onions.

It’s really strange that this plant has been in the same pot about 7 years and this is the first time it has bloomed.  The individual flowers look a lot like Sweet Autumn Clematis.

Moon Flowers or Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) have bloomed all through the summer and continues during the fall.  It is a poisonous night-bloomer found in hotter areas of the US and in northern Mexico

It has lots of common names:  moon flowers, thorn apple, moon lily, moon flower, Indian apple, angel’s trumpet, devil’s trumpet, tolguacha, locoweed and Jimson weed.

Texas Kidneywood Tree are slow growers but drought tolerant, which is an important trait here.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native shrub that blooms intermittently from April to October.  The recent rains have increased the amount of flowers that grow in an upright cluster like the native Vitex.

It does well in rocky limestone soil, which is perfect here.  In the same family as acacias and mimosas, it lacks the thorns.  Another plus is that it attracts pollinators.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) is in full bloom with its strong vanilla scent.

Talk about flaunting white.  This vine isn’t picky about soil.  It just needs good drainage and is a beautiful sight.

Several websites claim that it is invasive, but that has not been a problem for me.  Its mass of flowers probably does produce lots of seeds, but maybe the soil is too hard here.

Hope your weather is fall-like with cooler temperatures.

“You know you’re getting old when you barely do anything all day, but still need to take a nap to continue to barely do anything.” unknown author

Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM is a unique city with a recognizable southwestern look.

Heavily influence by both Mexican and Indian cultures, this city has blended them both into a unique style.

Adobe buildings might seem to be the style of choice.  But, in fact, a city ordinance requires that all buildings use both these materials and style.  Flat roof and flat, smooth stucco sides are characteristics of this style.

Many native plants are seen throughout the city.  I think this is Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum).

Santa Fe has been in an extended drought period.  Large lawns are taboo.  Only small accent lawn areas can be found.  In fact, most lot sizes for houses are small.

Another common sight is this type of fence.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s inexpensive or if the style is just popular.

Stone fences, patios, and walkways are ubiquitous.  It’s a readily available material, but not sure about construction costs.  Wonder how old this mailbox is?  Another modern one near the gate is in current use.

Many fences of all types are covered with vines, like this Clematis.

Smoketree or Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) has a mysterious look.  This one has already lost the smoke puffs on the ends of the branches.

Yarrow is a popular accent plant.

Ox Carts from Mexico or Costa Rica are used as decorations.

Flower beds abound.

Art Galleries are a big draw for tourists.  In the early 1900’s Anglo artists moved into the area and were fascinated by the people, the landscape, the arid climate, the colors, and the light.

This followed the earlier artist colonies that had formed in the late 1800’s in nearby Taos.  By the early 1920’s, prominent artists were producing varied styles of art in both places.  Thus began the art scene that continues today.

Sculptures and paintings from traditional to modern are available.

Old doors from Mexico, clay pots, carved wood pieces, jewelry, and other collectables are plentiful.  The only drawback might be the price of a particular item.

In an isolated area with congested traffic downtown, this city is still worth the visit.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”   Thomas Edison

A Mixed Bag of Color and Scent

Higher temperatures indicate that summer is just around the corner.  But almost two inches of rain last week brought relief and appreciation.

Roses have been blooming like crazy.  Belinda’s Dream on the left is usually the star, but at this time, Katy Rose has outpaced it with blooms.

As the flowerbed curves on around, yellow rose bushes and Ox-eye daisies are also blooming profusely.  When walking around this bed, the heavenly scent is wonderful.

Although not a spectacular flower form, this rose bush makes up for that with the sheer number of blooms and its reliability to bloom over and over each year.

This rose and the one seen in the pot behind it are the results of propagation.  I’ve been experimenting with different methods with varying success.  These started with cuttings in small pots that were placed in a clear plastic bag.  The soil was watered well, but not soggy, and the bag sealed.  The condensation in the bag keeps the soil moist and provides a greenhouse environment.

After about six weeks, it was still alive, so I removed the bag and left the pot on the southern window sill.  Since some cuttings lived and others died, I’m not sure which bushes these came from.

In April, I was on a nature walk with a Texas Naturalist group.  This picture shows mistletoe growing on the lower trunk of a tree.  Notice also that the bark is crumbling in places.

We all have heard that the age of a tree can be determined by its number of inner rings.  That can be done with a plug taken from the tree.

The age of a tree can also be determined by the layers of the bark, which is seen in this picture.  Wow.  This information can from a retired botany professor in our group.  Isn’t that neat.

Last year I learned first hand how irresponsible it is not to trim back an Autumn Clematis.

Because the vine was so thick and heavy, the whole trellis with its bottom in concrete came out of the ground.

Now I’m seeing the consequences of not cutting this Jackman Clematis (Clematis ‘Jackmanii’) back.  I checked it in winter, but it’s dead stems seemed sparse and not a problem.

But the new growth is all bunched up on top and not attaching itself to the trellis.  My husband staked the trellis to a fence pole behind it to hopefully keep it from toppling over.

A couple of years ago I planted yellow yarrow, which spreads nicely, in the water trough container to shade the lower part of the vine.  Clematis needs shaded “feet” and sunny vines.

This Clematis is covered with flowers several times a year.

Have a super day.

“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”  Charles Bukowski

More Pictures from Rose Emporium

Although this nursery in Brenham is named Antique Rose Emporium, there is so much more there than roses.

Like these Cleome Spider Flowers (Cleome hasslerana).  It’s an annual that reseeds.  Every time I see them, I promise myself that I’ll order seeds and try them.

Notice the white rose buds to the left of the picture.  One reason I enjoy this nursery so much is how they mix roses with other flowers.

Not sure what these small flowers are.

Lots of garden art from small gnomes to larger objects create odd and interesting vingettes.

These are some fancy, feathery Dianthus.

Wish I knew where they buy all their unusual yard art because they don’t have it for sale.

Pretty sure this is Zexmenia, a hardy Texas native with low water requirement.

How about this strange combination.  But it works.  What is that old contraption?

Dwarf Mexican Petunias  (Ruellia brittoniana) circle behind the angel.  They are a Texas Superstar plant and are not as aggressive as the taller ones.

Unfortunately, they never seem to have these Celosia from the Amaranth family for sale.

I also like the cluttered look of the flowerbeds.  Beware, Neat Freaks, this is probably not your kind of place.

These are huge Morning Glories.

Really like the stacked pots.  These suckers are heavy, so where ever they are positioned is permanent.  Couldn’t quite figure out how the top pot is elevated.

Airy Cosmos always provide fun movement in the garden.  I’m also going to give these a try.  But they need some space.

Every time we’ve visited this nursery, seasonal annuals are planted around this lady.  Can’t decide if these are a new type of mum or marigold.  Maybe neither.

The nursery acquired its name from the fact that antique roses were all they sold at the beginning of the business.  The owner was one of the original Rose Rustlers in Texas that propagated roses from those in cemeteries and old homesteads.  Those were treasured because they had scents, were hardy in unforgiving weather, and lasted decades after they were planted.

Now, the owner has branched out to some new roses that are scented and hardy.  He has hybridized a few himself and has recently hired a young man to extent their efforts with some new methods.

“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”  unknown