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

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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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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.

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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

Irises, Mostly

Irises starting to bloom is spring welcoming us to her beauty.  On recent cloudy days, blustering spring winds bite and made us doubt that spring has arrived.  But there probably won’t be any more true cold weather coming.

iris6Many years ago in a field next to the yard around the house I planted old fashioned, pass along iris bulbs from different friends and family members.

iris2During the first few years, I was diligent about fertilizing them on or near Valentine’s Day and Halloween, which are the recommended times.  Now they’re lucky to be fertilized anytime.

iris4Over the years, the neglect has taken a toll on them.  They need to be divided.  So far, I haven’t taken care of that.  The weeds and cactus have been pulled or hoed at different times, but that is a daunting, never ending chore.

iris7They keep plugging along, but each year the stems are a little less tall and the flowers a little smaller.  Poor dears.

irisdIn that same field there are many tiny flowers that carpet the area.

irisbPretty sure these yellow flowers are Texas Groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus).

iris9I haven’t had much success trying to research the many yellow wildflowers of Texas, as well as the many small flowers.  As I thumb through the wildflower pictures, the similarities are too close for definitive identification.

iris8Patches of Sweet William or Prairie Verbena are starting to dot the landscape.

iris3These are the first flowers to appear in the field where we prepared the soil and planted wildflower seeds.  We scattered several packages of mixed seeds as well as specific ones, so I don’t know what these red flowers are.

irisIn the yard, these re-blooming Irises were planted about seven years ago.  I have divided them and planted some in different beds around the yard.  While the native irises don’t need much water, these do well in the yard because they do need regular watering.

iris1First color to bloom.

springyard9Behind the irises is a Crape Myrtle and a Bridal Spirea.  Coming up in the bed are Coneflowers and other perennials.  Although I have weeded the area, there are probably more weeds showing their persistent little heads.

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”  Unknown

Blooming Irises and Bridal Wreath Spirea

Over the years I’ve received iris bulbs from family and friends.  These have been the heirloom or old-fashioned kind – great pass along plants.

irisbThey were planted in a field across from our driveway because heirloom irises cannot endure regular watering.  That’s the reason they can be found near old abandoned homesteads and in cemeteries.

iris4So they perform poorly some years depending on the amount and timing of rainfall.

irisdThis year they have bloomed abundantly and have provided many bouquets for the house.  There are probably a 100 bulbs although I haven’t counted them.  Many should be divided, but I can’t seem to muster the energy to do that at the proper time of hot August and September.

iriseThere hasn’t been oodles of rain – just enough at the right times.  A few drops on these petals are from just a misting of rain.

iriscThey hold their own among the weeds and wild grass.  In the past I have attempted to pull weeds from around them, but they come back so quickly that I’ve given up.  I do mow paths around the rows just to make it easier to see them and to cut the flowers.

irisfA few years ago I ordered some reblooming irises to plant in the yard.  These actually need regular water.

In the background of this picture, you can see beyond our actual yard.

iris7Last year I divided those and put some in other flower beds around the house, so now some are visible from windows in every direction.  Makes for a lovely spring view.

iris9If the weather cooperates, they all should rebloom in the fall.

irisaAlthough purple ones are my favorite, the muted shades offer a soft touch.

iris8iris6

iris3It’s amazing that the wind doesn’t beat them to death each year.  Even though the individual blooms don’t last but a few days, there are enough new blooms each day that the show lasts for weeks.

irisThird year was the charm for this Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).  For the first two years, the small smattering of flowers made me doubt the wisdom of buying this plant.

iris2This year every branch was crammed full of gorgeous blossoms.

iris1Spring has been a great surprise this year with fields full of wildflowers and a yard full of flowers.

“What we all knew to be true: what makes you cool in middle school makes you a failure in life.”   Unknown