Most Unusual Autumn

Rain, Rain, Rain!  So far, rainfall this month has been 11 inches.  To put that into prospective:  the average yearly rainfall here is 27 inches.  The total for 2017 was 19 inches.  So yikes, there’s flooding.  But it’s not as desperate here as it in some Texas towns, like Llano.

The temperatures have fallen in the last week to high 30’s.  Normally at this time, it’s still in the 90’s.  Some Halloweens, poor trick or treaters sweat under their costumes.  This year they may shiver.

I’m using pictures that were taken a week or so ago because we can’t get out of the house.  We also can’t get across the low water crossings because they are dangerously high with fast moving water.

The berries on the Pistachio trees precedes the leaves turning orange.  Pistachio gets bad press because they ‘re native to China.  But they do great here.  Love them.

In between some of the earlier rains, we walked out to one of the ponds.  This Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) caught my eye.  These bushes are in the same family as coffee bushes and are native to southern and eastern U. S.  This and all the other ponds are now flowing over their banks.

In spite of the crazy temperatures and abundant rain, many flowers are still blooming in the yard.  This Purple Oxalis (Oxalis regnelliihas) has survived many years in a pot, which is taken inside for the winter.  The common name of Shamrock comes from the shape of the leaves.

Cooler weather brings out the Reblooming Irises.  The Strawberry Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) will hang on until it freezes.  But, hooray, it reseeds.

Purple Hearts keep on blooming and reaching outwards until it freezes.

Purple asters make their appearance when it cools down. I think these are Aster oblongifolius.

A couple of years ago, I divided them and planted some to come on around the end of this bed.

Thornless Crown of Thorns is a beauty with blooms that last from spring until it freezes.  Since it is not cold hardy, it goes into the shed.  This one is much more human friendly since it doesn’t bring blood if you get near it.

Native and drought tolerant Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris Scaposa (DC.) Greene) are still going strong.  This bed drains well, so they’ve survived all the rain.

Large group of Gomphrena in the back draws the eye to their direction.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensisis) is native throughout the Caribbean, so it’s more tropical than our area location but does well in a container.  I like the long stems with small flowers.  Beside it is a Kalanchoe and a Spider Plant with two Boston Ferns in the back.

We normally moan about the heat and lack of rain.  It’s definitely been an early wet fall.

“Everyone wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.  But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  unknown

Spring Flowers

A colorful spring makes each day special.  It also provides abundant conversation topics between strangers and friends.

Most Texas blooming native plants, especially west of Interstate 35, say adios when the heat arrives. Who can blame them?  The summer can be unbearable.  This spring has been cooler than most.  Maybe that’s a good omen about the upcoming summer.

Texas Spiderwort (Transcantia humilis) is a native of Texas and southern Oklahoma.  It blooms March through June.

A crazy mystery about its name.   Why was it named after John Tradescant, who served as a gardener to Charles I in England in the 1600’s?  It’s a western hemisphere plant!  There must have been a reason.  Anyone know?

Golden Columbine or Golden Spur Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) has a delightful, zany flower.  It also blooms a couple of months in late spring before the weather gets hot.

Really interesting flower formation.

Several years ago Columbine was planted in a front flowerbed.  Here it is now in a side bed.  It’s also in several flower pots.  I don’t mind that birds and wind spread it because it so cheery and unique.

Found this Dianthus at Lowe’s.  It’s impossible for me to just walk past the plants.  The colors are almost neon.

Dianthus is mostly native to Europe and Asia but does very well here, especially if it’s shaded from late afternoon sun.

I think this is a Four Nerve Daisy.  Can’t even remember how long ago a couple of these were planted.

Even if it isn’t Four Nerve Daisy, I know it’s native because it was purchased at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

And then, there’s the re-blooming Bearded Irises.  Not native, but thrive here.

This light pink one is new.  As you can tell by the large cluster of the ones behind it, irises spread nicely.

Peachy gold and white ones.

Irises are just so easy.  Drop a bulb into a hole at the appropriate height;  once and done.  Plus, it creates new bulbs.  How great is that?

Another native, Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri) grows low to the ground and provides a pop of yellow.

Love the beauty of spring.

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.”  unknown

Popping Up

It’s a time of hope and joy.  I could get discouraged about all the work that needs to be done outside.  But, instead, I’m excited to see the coming beauty.

Even if all the work doesn’t get done, the flowers will bloom.

This is an exciting time when new leaves pop up.  That means flowers won’t be far behind.  There are both Crimson Pirate Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) and Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) in this bed.

Since Daffodils are the first bulb flowers to open here, they’re probably need the end of their show now.

The thing about Daffodils is that they grow so low to the ground and droop slightly, so it’s hard to really see their faces.  So bend down or get on your knees to fully appreciate them.  Yes, it is hard for me, too, to get on my knees.

There are two flowerbeds filled with Ditch Lilies greenery.  What a long lasting show they will put one.

All ornamental bulb plants have leaves that store their food during dormant periods, like winter.  So the foliage should not be cut off until they dry completely at the end of their blooming season.

Three Byzantine Gladiolus(Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus) bulbs were planted last October.  These are new for me, and I can’t wait to see them.  They are native to the Mediterranean area, so they love heat.

These were ordered from Old House Gardens, a family business in Michigan.  I’m pretty careful where I order plants from.  So although this company is far north, they have proven reliable.  They inform me if I order something that won’t grow here, and they contract out growing certain bulbs in some places in the south.  Their emails are fun as well as informational about what to plant at a certain time and what they have for sale.

Crinum Lily bulbs are very large (these were about 6 – 7 inches across) and difficult to dig up.  They can get large enough to weight 20 pounds.  Years ago three were planted close to the house for winter protection.  They have done very well and multiplied many times.  They needed to be dug up and separated but seemed like daunting task.

A new telephone fiber line going in that area forced me to perform that task.  So many were dug up quickly one evening and put in pots.  Some were damaged but I think they all will survive.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.  Crinums are worth it to me.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are low growing beauties with yellow blooms.

One of the great things about bulbs is that they’re such a nice surprise each spring.  I forgot that these Hyacinths were in this bed.

And I certainly don’t remember moving this one to this spot.

Each year I put off dividing these Ornamental Onions.  This year it’s a must job.  I need plants for two garden club plant sales, so that is my incentive.  As they say, just get ‘er done.

I have reblooming Irises all over the yard and love how their colors enrich each spot.

I’m a huge fan of bulbs.  I love how consistent and reliable they are, their gorgeous flowers and the anticipation they provide.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  Alexander Den Heijer

Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa

Orange Flowers

Orange is one of those colors that is hard to nail down in nature.

Personally, true orange seems to be too garish for my taste.  These old time Canna bulbs came from a friend about 12 years ago.  They do well in full sun, where they don’t flop over too much.

These were planted in the far corner of my backyard.  I like that they mark the edge of the yard perimeter; that they’re hardy; and that they are a reminder of old fashioned gardens.

I purchased this Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’) because it looked so cheerful.  It is tropical but survives in the heated shed in the winter.

When we took the pots out this spring, there were no flowers on it, so I didn’t recognize it.  Therefore, it was placed in the “plant hospital” until I could identify it.  Just haven’t moved it, yet.

Pine Lemonade Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pink Lemonade’ doesn’t look pink to me.

Different flower on the same plant looks more yellow.  The ruffled petals is what drew me to this tropical flower.  In Hawaii, tradition states that when a young lady wears a hibiscus behind her left ear, she is available.

Hibiscus are native not only to Hawaii but many other Pacific islands.  I’ve had this bush so long that I don’t remember the variety.

Same bush and same day as the last picture.  Nature surprises us every day.

Re-blooming Iris also has a slight twinge of orange or some unidentifiable color.

Bright or muted, color in the garden is definitely my thing.  Have you heard of Orangetheory workout gyms?  Not my thing.  Prefer working out in the yard.

“The closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program.”  Ronald ReaganSave

Save

Save

Save

Tall, Slender, and Elegant

Guess we all wish that title described us.  But, in this case, that means plants, not people.

Tall, of course, can be relative.   Larkspurs bloom on tall stems, as do Cannas, and the flowers of Red Yucca, so I’m including them.  Canna lilies, although not true lilies, grow from rhizomes and are faithful to return each spring.  Because they multiply, they are usually a pass-a-long plant.

One great thing about re-blooming Iris is that it flowers at unexpected times.

Larkspur (Delphinium consolida) are a wonderful spring blooming annual, if you’re not picky about where it pops up in years to come.  They are generous re-seeders.

I had never considering planting their seeds until I saw them in a friend’s yard.  She generously shared some seeds; so I’ve enjoyed them ever since no matter where they appear.

Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba”)  is a small flowering tree with multiple trunks.  These tend to grow tall and remain slender.  The flowers look like lovely small orchids.

Desert Willows are native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including Texas.

The thin stems of (Gaura Llindheimeri) keep growing taller throughout the hot months of summer until they hide whatever is behind them.  So I should have planted them in their own space, but I didn’t.

As they sway in the breeze, they are reminiscent of butterflies.  Thus a common name for them is Twirling Butterflies.

I also have a Pink Gaura which has reappeared after several years of being absent.  Gaura roots seem to endure very well.  They could be considered a bully, but I like them, anyway.

After my experience with Hollyhocks and Rust disease, I was undecided whether or not to dig up this one that came from some remaining roots.  After checking it over and keeping a close watch on it, it has survived disease-free and has produced beautiful flowers.  But it has been a rather dry spring.  If and when we get lots of rain, the disease will probably reappear.

Every year I rave about Henry Duelberg Saliva (Salvia farinacea).  I think it should be a staple that is used more often in zones 7b – 10a.

The white Augusta Duelberg Salvia (wife of Henry) is a companion that usually comes up in a bed of Henry Duelberg Salvia.  Don’t know how that works botanically.

In this picture, the Russian Sage is the tall slender beauty.  In front of it is Salvia Greggi and behind it is a huge Earthkind® rose bush on the left and Knockouts® on the right.

The hardiness and aroma of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) makes it a worthwhile plant, especially for arid areas.  It is native to the steppes, which are grassy plains, of southwestern and central Asia, so the name is appropriate.

Bee Balm or Monarda might not be considered elegant by some some people, but it’s a notable plant to attract pollinators.  Plus, I think it’s pretty, if it can be staked so that it won’t flop over.  I chose to put a cage around it to hold it up.

Gladiolus often need staking, but Atom Gladiola is a shorter version that doesn’t lean over too much.

These bulbs were ordered two or three years ago from Old House Gardens, which specializes in heirloom bulbs.

Although many of Old House Garden bulbs date back to the 1700’s, this particular bulb was hybridized in 1946.

The old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true to many things, including plants.  So choose what plants you think fall into the category of tall, slender, and elegant.

“When life gives you a rainy day, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Bulbs Make Life Easy

A warm winter and spring rains has brought an abundant crop of all sorts of weeds.  Because they have been so rampant this year, I’ve been thinking about those gorgeous public gardens that are so pristine.  How do they achieve that enviable look that makes me drool?  An army of workers.  That’s how.  As I keep pulling weeds by my lonesome self, the flowers that are blooming in my yard keep me going.

bulbs1Some of those flowers that keep me going are from bulbs, like this Reblooming Iris.  Plant a bulb and enjoy the results for years.

bulbs5This year I discovered that rebloomers make much better cut flowers than the old fashioned irises.  Recently I provided vases of roses and irises from my yard for an event.  I cut the flowers the morning before; the rebloomers were still fresh the next day while many of the others had wilted.

bulbs6And the colors are more interesting.  But I still like the old fashioned ones with the memories they bring of the friend or relative who gave them to me.

bulbs7Sometimes, I’ve transplanted just one bulb into a spot with other plants.  I like the color against a solid background of a shrub.

bulbs8The only downsize of bulbs is that they need to be divided about every three years.  That’s not an easy task with our clay soil.  But it’s a small price to pay for the fact that they provide more plants each year and give a gift of flowers every spring.

bulbsaSpuria Iris is a new bulb to me.  It’s also known as ‘blue iris’, ‘Spurious Iris’ or ‘bastard iris’.  They bloomed early with the white old fashioneds.

bulbs2Having only grown bearded iris, they look kind of strange with their tall stalk and small, narrow foliage.

bulbs3The interesting form is intriguing.

bulbs9And finally, this Amaryllis was planted in this slightly raised bed because the soil is so much better than where the other ones are planted.  I may move them all to this bed.  Its bright color above all the emerging leaves of the Cone Flowers is eye catching.

Hope you are enjoying springtime with all the glorious flowers.

“A slip of the foot, you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue, you may never get over.”  Benjamin Franklin