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

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

Flit, Flutter, Flap

Faster than the speed of light:  at least, that’s what it seems like when you’re trying to photograph flying creatures.

Although I’m definitely not knowledgeable about identifying butterflies, this is a type of Giant Swallowtail feeding on Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).

Flame Acanthus grows in poor rocky soil and in direct hot sun, so it’s great for our location.  It’s a perennial that does better if it is severely cut back in the early spring.  It starts to leaf out late in the spring, but from then until the first frost, it is covered with small tubular red flowers.

Here’s a Swallowtail on Obedient Plants (Physostegia virginiana).  Obedient Plants, native to North America, freely reseed, so they spread easily.

Another Black Swallowtail on Acanthus.

Queen Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) camp out on Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) all summer long.

They swarm the tiny powder puff flowers flitting from flower to flower.  If you want butterflies in your yard, Bluemist and Flame Acanthus will do the trick.

Some Dusty Miller is hanging over the Bluemist, but their meal is found in the Bluemist.

Vine Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha vitis) is common to the southwestern US.  Thanks, moth, for being perfectly still so I could get a picture.

A  Monarch (Danaus plexippus) stops on her journey to Mexico to enjoy the Bluemist Flowers.  Also known as the Milkweed Butterfly because that’s the only food source for their caterpillars.

Thankfully, the Monarch Butterflies aren’t as picky as their caterpillars.  This one enjoys Purple Asters.  Actually, it looks like two are feeding on the same flower.

This beauty – Pipevine Swallowtail or Blue Swallowtail (Battus philenor) adds color to the garden.

Detail is seen in this bright orange Dragonfly resting on a fence.

Giant Sulfurs or Cloudless Giant Sulfurs (Phoebis sennae) must love red flowers.  They have been a constant presence in our yard for a month.  This one is feasting on Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), the last one left from summer.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) attracts of Sulfurs.

Sulfurs are also fans of Flame Acanthus.

Other butterflies like this small one that I can’t identify are flitting here and there.

“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  St. AugustineSave







Red Hot Summertime

Back in the days before central air (the dark ages), an afternoon nap was mandated.  We would lie down while Mother read to us.  Soon she would be asleep, and we would be restless and anxious to get outside again.

Today, any work that needs to be done outside must be finished by noon.  This morning I mowed and moved the pots seen in this picture.  So it looks much more manicured now.  Coral Drift Roses still blooming.  If they are deadheaded, they will bloom until frost.

Salvia Greggii holds up well in the heat.

Today there are so many different Geraniums on the market.  The colors and scents vary.  They do better here if they only get indirect sunlight or early morning sun.

Flame Acanthus or Hummingbird Bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii)) provides nectar for pollinators.  It can take poor soil, hot sun, and is root hardy to zone 7.

Critters visit off and on all day.

The bright red of Strawberry Fields Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) draws attention like a neon sign.  They are native to Texas and Mexico and are strong reseeding annuals.  Away from the yard, they pop up around the compost heap.

Pink Coneflowers (Echinacea) attract butterflies, who like to land on their dome shape.

Roadrunner strolls across the yard nibbling here and there.  He froze when he sensed my presence at the door.

So thankful for A/C, shade, and iced tea.

“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”  Joseph Wood KrutchSave





Awesome Autumn

In our region, every drop of rain and every cool day is a blessing.  Makes us all feel rejuvenated.

autumnblooms Vitex still has blooms.

autumnblooms12Flame Acanthus has gotten a lot of attention from butterflies lately.  Here some fast little Sulphurs zip from flower to flower making it a challenge to photograph even a blur of yellow.

autumnblooms1This Giant Swallowtail lingered at each tubular blossom.

autumnblooms2Beauty in motion.

autumnblooms6Swallowtails have a wingspan of 4 to 5 and a half inches, so it’s easy to spot them.

autumnblooms3Globe Mallow is covered with bright orange cup shaped flowers.  Boy, I never expected this native to get so large.

autumnblooms4The orange flowers pop on the grey-green ruffled leaves.  The bush is a nice contrast to all the green leafed bushes around it.

autumnblooms5The flowers on the Blue Plumbago or Cape Plumbago are dropping daily.  The blue flowers are so pale that in bright light they look white.  Soon it will be time to carry it into the shed.

autumnblooms7Roses are putting on a final extravaganza.  I love how rose bushes perform year after year.

autumnblooms8Pale peachy color on the flowers from this bush is stunning.  I’ve had it so long that I don’t remember the variety.

autumnblooms9A tight bud.

autumnbloomsaTropical Ixora (Ixora coccinia) is known as jungle flame.  It amazes me that the flowers bloom almost indefinitely.  The evergreen shrub has a rounded shape with glossy foliage.

Being a plant that naturally grows in Asian heavily wooded areas, it prefers shade.  Mine is grown in a pot that is tucked into a corner where it only receives late afternoon sun as it is low on the horizon.

autumnbloomsbReblooming Irises are back, although on very short stems.

autumnbloomsccVariegated Fritillary on a Pink Coneflower (Echinacea).  Most of the Coneflowers have dried, but a few have appeared in recent weeks.  Coneflower is an easy plant to grow.  It reseeds and multiples every year.

bunches5Back in August after a heavy rainfall, this trellis that has Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) was growing so thickly that it toppled over.  We cut back the vines to the ground, put in more concrete, and righted the trellis.

Since that time, the vine is growing like crazy.  It’s going to be difficult to keep this thing in check.  Okay. Maybe it’s becoming invasive.

autumnbloomsdCopper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) blooms in late fall and is always a nice surprise.  It is native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico and truly doesn’t need much water.

Up close it also stinks, so deer don’t like it.  It’s not a problem outside but reeks in a confined space.

autumnbloomsddIt flowers on the ends of wispy stems that bounce around in the wind.

autumnbloomsdddNice bright yellow flowers.  This might be a Painted Lady butterfly on it.

“Love is like wildflowers; it’s often found in the most unlikely places.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson








A small town in the midst of scrub brush in flat West Texas has a garden, which was the result of one man’s labor.

eden01The Garden of Eden has some surprising elements.  It’s been two years since I last visited, and it has changed some.

eden1A large plastic tank has recycling water – nice soothing sound.

eden2An old milk can is used as the spout vessel.  I’m surprised that it hasn’t rusted out.

eden3Flame Acanthus (Aniscanthus quadrifidus var. quadrifidus var. wrightii) is scattered throughout the garden.  Once established, it’s very hardy.

eden4No surprise that hummingbirds and butterflies visit the tubular flowers.  It is drought tolerant and even does well in poor soils.

eden5Coral Honeysuckle or Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has become a bramble beside the metal archway where it was originally trained to grow.

eden7A banana tree growing in West Texas.  Hard to believe that it can withstand the dry heat or the winter temperatures.  Yet, here it is producing bananas.

eden6This was a volunteer plant that came up and no one has been able to identify it.

eden8Lots of pretty grasses.  Although many ornamental grasses last only one year, this one must be perennial.

edenaNative Morning Glory grabs hold of lots of bushes and intertwines in the stems and leaves.  Here it is growing among Mexican Petunias.

edenbThe yellow flowers are Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans), which is a beloved plant that is native to far West Texas in the Big Bend area.  It is a tall shrub with gorgeous flowers that is drought tolerant and abides limestone soils.

However, cold winters have done mine in.  But I keep trying to save one.

eden02Although this garden has been turned over to the city and depends on volunteers for maintenance, the man who planted it is still very much involved.

edencTypical agave with Mexican Petunias behind them.  Agaves are not all that cold hardy, so I’m surprised to see them here.

edendTangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolate ‘Tangerine Beauty’) is a perfect fit for this part of Texas.  It is cold hardy, endures the hot summers, and is pretty, to boot.

edeneTexas Sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum) is a common sight in pastures and is extremely hardy.  It has sharp edges, so it should not be planted close to walkways.

edenfAnother hardy plant, Salvia Greggii Red Sage has a pleasant scent, especially when brushed as one passes by it.  It is a semi woody plant that is native to Texas and Mexico.  It thrives in the heat but does not tolerant wet feet.

edengAs a soft plant for touching, Artemesia in the Mugwort family is a wonderful choice.  They are grown for their silvery-green foliage and for their wonderful aroma.

edenhMore Yellow Bells

edeniFour O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) were grown by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.  They spread profusely.  Where each black seed falls, a new plant will spring up.  The seeds can be seen in the picture where spend flowers have fallen.

edenjPalo Verde Trees (Parkinsonia aculeata) are desert trees that have pretty yellow flowers in the spring.  Maybe the mild winters the last few years have allowed this one to get a foothold.
edenkA clever tin man that I would like to duplicate but finding the right size cans could be a problem.

Although most of the plants in this garden are what one would expect to see in this area, it seems lush with the paths winding through tall shrubs and full plantings.

“Knowledge is knowing what to say.  Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”  unknown













Early Morning Golden Glow

In an attempt to beat the harsh sunlight, I went out early to get some pictures.  Only when I looked at them on the computer did I notice the eerie gold cast from the rising sun.

earlymorning glowBy the gate a couple of young rabbits were hopping around.  At first, they looked like cottontails.

earlymorning glow1But some of the pictures show characteristics of jackrabbits – tall ears, long front legs, and coloring.  So it seems that the jackrabbit population in the yard is growing.

earlymorning glow2In the backyard flowerbed everything is waning.  Flame Acanthus (Wright Anisacanth) or hummingbird bush on the left with slender red blossoms provides a perfect tube for hummingbirds to feed.

reblooming1The flaky bark on the branches, along with its shape, makes a nice winter accent.  Acanthus does well in sunny, well-drained soil. It is hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy to zone 7.

reblooming3The Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) with the yellow flowers had a burst of reblooming after a few cooler days a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous bush when covered with bright yellow flowers.

earlymorning glow4In the background of the previous picture is this new arbor structure.  The plan is for this Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top to make a shady nook.

The stats say that the vines grow 50 feet, so I think it will happen.  It also seems to be evergreen here.  Another vine in the same family, Trumpet, is greatly maligned as being too aggressive.  They both have pretty orange tubular flowers.  So far, I’m happy with the look.

earlymorning glow5The root system of this Mexican or Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) still concerns me because it’s so close to the house, and the tree itself is larger than I expected it to grow.

earlymorning glow6Bees were extremely busy in the early morning.

earlymorning glow7So active that getting a pix required some patience.

earlymorning glow9For some reason, the Duranta (Duranta erecta) has not bloomed very much this year.  I suspect it’s because I did not do a good job of fertilizing everything or applying mulch this year.  The bees were enjoying the few flowers on it.

earlymorning glow8Also, the Morning Glory only has a few blossoms.

earlymorning glowcClammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra),a  small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s one of those plants that comes up in different spots every year.  Insect holes in the leaves appear every year.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty little bush.

earlymorning glowaA couple of wildflowers, Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbiaceae), came up in a flowerbed.  At first, I kept planning to dig them up.  Then, I decided to leave them because they brighten up the area.

earlymorning glowbThe actual flowers are yellow and tiny set in white and green bracts.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad. The end.”  unknown