Garden “Bones”

“The “bones” of a garden are the elements that are permanent and that provide its structure: trees, shrubs, arbors, walls, trellises, walkways, and statuary or other sculptural elements. They represent the garden as it appears when the growing season ends, when the color and texture provided by blooming plant material is muted by snow and bare earth.”

The above quote explains what is meant by garden bones.  Click on the link to read more.

In this post, I’m only going to focus on a few living bones:  trees and large shrubs.

When we built the house 13 years ago, this was a pasture.  The only tree was a large Live Oak behind the backyard.

In this picture, the tallest tree is a Bur Oak on the east side of the house.  Eventually, it should shade a window in the morning.  Behind that is a Red Oak and then a Texas Ash, neither of which can be seen in this picture.

To the right in the background is a Cherry Laurel.  To the far right behind the house is an old, old Live Oak.  It’s probably a hundred years old.

In the front yard is a Chinkapin Oak.  There are a couple of trees behind it.

Really wish I knew what this bush is.  It was planted years ago.

During the winter the stems or trunks of this large bush reminds me of a water fountain.

Wind provides lots of motion.

Usually we cut the stems down to the ground in late winter.  Then leaves grow all the way up the stems.  This year that chore did not get done and the stems only have pom poms of leaves on the ends.  Interesting look.

Basham’s Party Pink  (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is one of the first Crapemyrtles to bloom each year.  It seems to me that white and pink ones always bloom earlier than deeper colored ones.

One of the tallest varieties of Crapemyrtles, Basham’s Party Pink can reach 30 to 40 feet.  This one is six years old.

Flowering trees are a great attribute in a yard, if only for a few weeks or months of the year.

Most of the Goldenball Leadtrees (Leguminosae Fabaceae) I’ve seen are only 8 to 10 feet tall.  But Texas A & M reports that they can reach 25 feet tall and wide.  Oh dear, this one will be extremely crowded if it gets that wide.

Although Desert Bird of Paradise (Erythrostemon gilliesii) is a tropical tree from South America, it has naturalized in Texas.

It’s hardy and many pollinators feast on it.

Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has become favorite.  A native of China and India, it is naturalized throughout the southern U.S.

I’ve been told they bloom better and look better if pruned to maintain an 8 to 10 foot height.

What’s not to love about these striking flowers?  Plus, they perfume the air.

Generally, I prefer to zoom in on details of flowers.  But good bones are definitely the most important elements of a yard and garden.  As summer is upon us, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to have shade provided by trees in the yard.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”   Bill Vaughan

Honor the Brave

Brownwood, Texas, population of around 20,000, has created a memorial to soldiers from all U.S. wars and the military in general.

The Brownwood Garden Club was asked to create a flowerbed around this sign.  So we paid for the rock work, which looks great.  The ground is extremely hard, so we filled the bed with good soil and planted some drought tolerant plants.

Kudos to the committee who planned and executed everything.

The committee also planted around the Brown County Medal of Honor winner.  I had never heard of the Philippine Insurrection until recently when I was going through some old family photographs.

As it turns out, my mother’s uncle served there.  He’s seated.

The memorial reminds me of the WW II one in D. C.  in that it consists of monuments around a concrete circle.

Unfortunately I forgot to count the number of granite slabs.  But all wars in which the U.S. has participated are represented.

The land of the free is possible because of the brave who served and are serving.

This one appears to be the first monument put up because I think it’s concrete and more difficult to read.

Camp Bowie in Brownwood was the largest base in the U.S. during WW II.  Today it serves as a training site for the National Guard.

In the background is a Howitzer, used during WW II.

Did not see any information that dates this jeep.

Used by U.S. soldiers every where they were sent during WW II, “Kilroy was here” signs scribbled on any available site proved to be a morale booster.   Soldiers were relieved to see that other Americans had preceded them.

It is thought that the original legend of Kilroy dates to World War II and a man named James J. Kilroy (1902-1962), who lived in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Click on Kilroy to read the full story.

Developed by Bell Helicopter in Ft. Worth, Hueys were designed to be used for medical evacuations.  The first one was flown in 1956.

Sad to report that four of the monuments were destroyed.  It is still unclear if the strong straight-line winds in the area toppled them or it was vandalism.  The Jaycees are in the process of raising $40,000 to replace them.

My thanks to all the past and present men and women who have served to keep our country free.

“O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!”

Katherine Lee Bates

Dark and Light Contrasts

Shadows and bright sunlight in the same picture can be too harsh of extremes.  Unfortunately, here in Texas, that’s a reality and difficult to avoid.

The plants in the sun can look more like sculptures rather than living things.  So I’m trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with these extreme exposures.  Please bear with me.

Chandor Gardens uses many different oriental structures because they fascinated the original owner and builder.

Patterns on the large stepping stones are created by the sunlight breaking through the tree branches above.  The same sunlight creates a white Fourth of July sparkler of one of the hanging Spider Plants.

This rough stone pedestal has oriental statutes standing on flat surfaces.  Not my favorite thing.

The top crossbars on this pergola have curved edges to give it an oriental look.  The red Japanese Maple adds contrasting color with the surrounding greenery.

The long lower area of grass near the original residence was once used for lawn bowling, I think.  Gotta be a bugaboo to mow that, so the modern version is artificial turf.

Looking away from the house gives a sense of how long this sunken spot is.

The dense shrubs and trees provide shade and make it fairly comfortable to be here on a hot summer day.

There isn’t much whimsy in this formal garden, so I was surprised to see this addition.  I personally like little touches like this.

Looks like one of the many sages popular in Central and Northern Texas.  They can take the heat.

Boxwood hedges are used to define areas.

Since this garden is a hundred years old, keeping structures in sturdy condition is part of the upkeep.  This bridge was replaced a few years ago.

Nandina shrubs with red berries have become maligned choices because they are originally from Asia.  Some people consider them invasive.  I feel these accusations are a little strong.  Roses also came to us from Asia via Europe.

There is a serenity about this place that draws us back again and again.

Looks natural and wild but probably requires a lot of work.

Lots of water in small ponds provide a sense of coolness.

Love this curve promenade leading to the house area.  It also makes a grand entrance for brides who are wed here.

As summer heats up, hope you find some soothing cool shade.

“Gardening is about poetry and fantasy. It is as much an activity of the imagination as of the hands.”  by “Centipede” in The Guardian, April 7, 1892

Cozy Chandor Gardens

Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX, was originally a private space that is now owned by the city park system and is open to the public.  Its size is small compared to most public gardens but full of interesting nooks and crannies.

Since it’s two hours away from us, we visit about once a year.  Like most gardens, it’s constantly changing.  This concrete bowl is new.  The surrounding beds are full of annuals.

The bold midday sun makes it all look artificial and blurs the edges of the Snapdragons.

The small tufts of purple flowers is Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), a native to Caribbean islands that requires warmer winters to be perennial.

All the annals make a bright welcome.

A sidewalk from the entrance leads to the ticket office in the main house.  This little cherub sits on a wall where there are steps down to the next level of the garden.

The house was the home of the Chandors, owners and creators of the buildings and gardens.

The purple twinges on the Agaves reflect the purple ground cover.  The green Mondo Grasses line the walkway.

I heard the garden horticulturist explain to a group that the agaves were lifted out and stored in a green house during the winter.

This garden was established in the 1930’s, so the large, mature trees provide lots of shady areas.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) need mostly shade and lots of warm weather.  They are native to US southeast, which is perfect for them.

This man made-waterfall is especially impressive when one realizes the time frame of the construction and the lack of heavy equipment available.

Water Irises line the edge of the water pool, and a rose bush grows to the side of them.

The abundance of different varieties of trees and shrubs create cozy, protected spots.

Different levels of the garden provide interest.  I don’t know if these were natural or created.  Flowers are tucked into small and large spaces.

Mr. Chandor was fascinated by the Orient and used Japanese statuary throughout the garden.

Several varieties of Japanese Maples were planted.

One of my favorite features is this side entrance gate.

It was a gift to Mr. Chandor from a friend.

Looking through the gate beckons one to unknown treasures inside.  Entering opens that trove that gardeners love.

The next post will show other parts of the garden.  Thanks for visiting.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”   John Quincy Adams

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

Bloom Time

Spring here has been on/off this year.  We still haven’t carried all the potted plants out of the shed, yet.  But it’s been warm enough for lots of flowers in the yard.

All the different colors of Iris have been beautiful.  It’s amazing that the flowers aren’t blow away because the winds have been so strong.

This small Western Catalpa or Catawba (Catalpaspeciosa) looks good in the spring but looks shabby in the hot summers.  It’s also known as Indian bean tree or cigar tree and is native to the U. S. Midwest.  The bean name comes from the 8 to 20 inch long seed pods in late summer.  The tree is three years old, but there haven’t been any beans, yet.

I was actually looking for an Orchid Tree, but a local nursery talked me into this one, instead.

Online information indicates that they should be planted in dry areas in any kind of soil and in full sun. This location checks all those boxes.

The flower shapes resemble an orchid.  We’ve debated about digging this tree up because it looks so bad with tattered leaves after enduring many days of wind , but can’t bring ourselves into taking out a living tree.

Lots of Amaryllis have bloomed in the yard, both single and double flowers.  Maybe our extra cold winter was what they needed.

Last year we bought a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis)  The picture on the label showed a fuller flower.

Also, it doesn’t have a scent like I expected.  It is supposed to be a good pollinator bush, especially for bees.  Still waiting to see how it performs.

I do love Irises.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Asia and Europe, but has naturalized in many parts of the U. S.  In Texas, we consider it a native because it’s so prolific.

Ox-Eye shines on tall stems and steals the show.  It does spread, but I consider that a good thing.  It can be dug up pretty easily.

Victoria Blue’ Salvia is a gorgeous perennial that was bred in 1978.  The flowers last a long time and can endure some shade.  It returned after a severe winter.  Love the strong, bright color.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  Hope your spring has been filled with flowers.

“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person.  Your behavior does.”  unknown

A Classical Garden

Recently, a garden club member invited us to see her garden.  I was blown away to find such a garden in Brownwood, Texas.

To me, it has all the elements of a classical garden – formality, large statues, topiaries, precision, and clean, neat lines.

The garden was especially colorful because blooming annuals are displayed in pots and tucked into bare spaces in beds.

Personally, I don’t invest in many annals because I’m cheap, I guess.  So I can’t identify many of them.  I do recognize Coleus, Petunias, and the purple Oxalis.

Snapdragons?

Another thing this garden has going for it is the raised beds.  There’s not very deep, but contain good, loose soil.

The whole backyard is surrounded by a ten foot wall.  That’s a plus because it blocks the wind from blowing in weeds.

There are 50 rose bushes in the yard.  I like that they are surrounded by other plants, mostly annals.

The flagstone pathways keep it all neat.

Not a  single weed.  It’s not surprising that the yard owner also owns a nursery.  So plant knowledge and maybe some help from employees keeps this place shipshape.

All these pictures were taken about 1 o’clock, with the sun directly overhead.  This creates harsh light and dark shades.  Not the best pictures.

Caladium, which is another annual, Hosta, and a water thirsty perennial Hydrangea all need shade.

The peachy color is alluring.

I think this is Penstemon, but it might be Foxglove.

The white flowers are Peonies, which surprised me because peonies need a long period of cold weather and a neutral soil pH.  Neither of these are part of this situation.  So these might have to be replaced periodically.

A beautiful garden anomaly for this town.  Just enjoyed the visit and returned to my life in a field of native grasses and weeds.

“The sad part about getting old is that you stay young on the inside but nobody can tell anymore.”  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

Bluebonnet Bonanza

Because the Bluebonnet season is so short, any time a Texan sees a field of them, it’s an obligation to stop.  Usually, it’s necessary to turn around and find a safe place to park on the side of the highway.

This season is the time to beware of red tail lights in front of you because natives and tourists alike will come to a screeking halt and hop out for photographs.

As we were returning home yesterday from College Station, it was raining and the temperature dropping.  But I couldn’t resist tromping around in the mud to get a few shots.

There are actually four different varieties of Bluebonnets, but the Lupinus texensis is the one seen most often.  Dramatic sweeps in fields along the roadsides of Central Texas make an impressive sight.

A few Indian Paintbrushes were scattered around.  There are also several varieties of Castilleja.  Some have deeper color.  I don’t know which one this is.

Bastard Cabbage is an invasive that ranchers hate in their fields.  But the yellow made a nice contrast to the blue.

Bluebonnets like rocky, uncultivated soil and need good drainage.  That’s why they’re often seen like water flowing down a hillside.

The foliage of Bluebonnets show up nicely here.  Just as the winter is ending, these distinctive little leaves lie close to the ground before it’s bloom time.

The wind was whipping around chilling me to the bone.  Even close to the ground, it was pushing these Pink Primroses (Oenothera speciosa) sideways.

The wind blurred this, but it’s the only one near me where the inside of the flower was open.

Prairie Verbenas (Glandularia bipinnatifida) are also blooming.  They will last a long time, until late fall.  Loved by many because they survive the hot, dry summers.

A wet, misty day, but lovely.

“Life’s like bluebonnets in the spring.  We’re only here for a little while.  It’s beautiful and bitter sweet.”  Aaron Watson

Spring Blooms

Spring isn’t here in my mind until the first flowers appear.  Then I get excited.

There are several types of iris.  Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) is considered a boggy land iris.  How I ended up with them, I can’t remember.  But they have come back for a couple of years in our dry climate.

Their form is different from the more familiar Bearded Iris.  The word Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which is appropriate since there are so many different flower colors in the Iris family.

The Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlett), starts to bloom when the weather is still cold.  The earlier blooms are now fading but the newer ones are deep red.

This is the very first sign of flowers on my Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) in five years old.  It was first planted in a full sun area, so two years ago, we moved it to a shadier spot.  Then it started to keep its green leaves through the summer.  Hurray.

Actually, someone told me they were difficult to grow in this area of Texas.  So, I took that as a challenge.

Spiderworts (Tradescantia Giantea) are blooming.  This first one was low to the ground but they’re atop tall stems now.

The foliage on Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is yellow early in the spring but will darken to a copper color later.

A couple of pots of Dianthus made it through the winter fine.  They both came from my mother’s fenced backyard.  It gets really cold in Snyder, but there was protection away from the wind.  So I wasn’t sure they would survive the super cold winter on our windy hill.

Really like the gradation of these colors.

Bridal Wreath Spirea is showing off again.

Just doesn’t get any better than this.

Male Chinapin Oak with long, yellow catkins hanging before its leaves form.  Pollen from these flowers are carried by the wind to pollinate the flowers on the female trees.

The hanging yellow pollen flowers are pretty but a problem for people with allergies.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorne has pretty little flowers.  The one we planted last year got some freeze damage from our unusually cold winter.  Hopefully, it will fully recover.  We planted two others this year because we liked their look.

Earlier this spring I put out three Amaryllis that have been in pots for three years.  Christmas gifts that keep on giving.

This one has bloomed in a new flowerbed.  Other shrubs around it haven’t yet gotten big enough to protect it from the wind and hot western sun, so the blossoms may not last long.

Because of several different circumstances, I haven’t done much flowerbed weeding, yet.  But that’s not stopping me from enjoying the flowers.  Have a blessed spring just inhaling the beauty around you.

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”  Langston Hughes