Shade Welcome

For those who have mostly shady yards, there are different problems than for those of us who have mostly sunny yards.  Since some plants absolutely require shade, I have a few spots where they can grow.

The leaf shape of Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) gives it another common name, False Shamrock.  But the leaf color gives it a distinctive look of boldness.

Woodland Fern does well here because it can handlefrom-spring-into-fall heat, and the roots survive a cold winter.  This flowerbed against the house doesn’t receive direct sun.  Ferns enjoy a little dappled light, just like they would received in the woods.

One shady spot I have is at the back of the yard under a large Live Oak.  So pots of shade loving plants can go there.  The pot with white flowers is Plumbago (Plumbago capensis).  I actually prefer the Plumbago with purple flowers, but the one I had died.

The taller stems behind the Plumbago are Ornamental Garlic.  The larger leaves on the right side belong to a Datura or Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).

In this same area in a blue pot is Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) or Christ Plant.  Love the small flowers but am leery of the thorns.

All the plants are in pots because I don’t want to disturb the roots of the tree.  Also, some of them need inside protection during the winter.

One corner of a covered back porch has shade most of the day.  This area is filled with pots of Coleus and Old Fashioned Geraniums, meaning an old variety that is not sold in nurseries.  The past two years I have become a fan of a variety of Coleus with their lovely leaf colors and shapes.

Some of the Coleus are pass-a-longs from friends.  They root well in water.

This Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) also sits on a stand in that corner.  Just about the easier plant there is to grow.  The “spiders” that grow on long stems from the center become new plants when put into soil.

This is a corner of a front covered porch where pots of plants have been gathered.  Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming now.  To the left of that in another pot is some Columbine foliage.

A large pot of Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) is long lived when brought inside for the winter.  It will also recover from winter because the fibrous roots are very hardy.  But it takes a long time for the foliage to grown back and to become attractive again.

At the back of that covered porch is a line of Boston Ferns that are 25 years old.  They have been divided several times.  The rabbit container holds another Old Fashioned Geranium.

Purple Heart or Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) returns every spring like clockwork in a shady flowerbed.Actually, shade is a welcome relief for lots of living creatures, including me during this long lived summer and continued drought.  The temperatures have fallen a bit, so that’s a treat.  Seriously need some rain.

Hope your autumn is cool and crisp with lovely yellow, orange, and auburn colors.

“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to over throw the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.”  Abraham Lincoln

Old Reliables

One of the great things about old friends is that they love you in spite of your flaws.  I feel the same way about plants that I can depend on.

Privet bushes (Ligustrum vulgare) are invasive in the southeastern U.S. and are much maligned by horticulturists.  But here, in our hard, rocky clay, they just survive.

In early spring, they flower heavily and provide a wonderful aroma.

This bush has been here about four years, so at some future date, I may have to eat my words.  But, for now, we are enjoying it.

And so are the butterflies.

Strong scent attracts Painted Lady butterflies.

We have been dragging the same two pots of Asparagus Fern in and out of sheds for over thirty years.  Actually, the roots would probably survive outside in the winter, but it takes a long time for the sprigs to grow back out and look nice.

At one time, I had some in hanging baskets, but that required diligent watering.

It is interesting that they aren’t really ferns but are in the lily family.

For several years, Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) Whirling Butterflies has been blooming in our yard.  I must admit that they are becoming aggressive but are fairly easy to dig up.  They haven’t yet jumped out of the flower bed where they were planted.

I also like them in pots that can be moved around the yard.  They will return after the winter, even in pots.

Dianthus will return for several years but will eventually die out.  They are lovely little flowers.

This pot came from my mother’s yard.  At 97, she recently moved into assisted living.

Another Amarylis just bloomed.  This one is in the ground.  Even though this one isn’t quite as pretty as the last one I showed, I do like the short stem.

As I’ve said before, bulb flowers just keep on giving.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are starting to bloom.  Year before last, they were divided and spread out into two different beds.  This year they have regained their fullness and filled in nicely.  Shastas are a good investment because they are reliable, add a bright clean look, and the clumps can be divided.

The Mexican Feather Grass behind them adds graceful movement.

“America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.”
David Letterman








Porch Sitting

Porch sitting is an American past time, especially this time of the year.  But enjoying the outdoors gathered with friends is not unique to the US of A.  Think about Paris cafes, Aussies and their barbies, campfires outside of yurts in Asia and thatched homes in Africa, and picnics just about anywhere.

frontyard614iOutside decorating has become an art form.  While I don’t have that skill, I do like plants just about anywhere outside.

By the front porch are some pots that have some perennials and some annuals for color.  Truthfully, I leave whatever survived the winter and then fill in with annuals.

The large pot on the left has some Artemisia that has been there several years.  To that, Coleus and Impatiens (Vincas) were added.

The right back pot has some Yellow Columbine that ended up there by wind or was carried by birds.  In the pot in front of it is Autumn Sedum, that thankfully, made it through all that cold this past winter.


frontyard614z3The late evening sun makes the Coleus glow.

frontporch2Beside that grouping of pots is this Asparagus Fern that is over 24 years old.

frontyard614z2At the other end of the porch is this white pot.  You can see a little green on top.

In the background is another Asparagus Fern.

frontyard614yEvery year I get impatient for the Rose Moss to come out.  Sometimes I even go buy other plants to put in this pot.  This year I’m determined to wait for it to fill out and bloom.

frontporchLooking back to the corner are three pots of Boston Fern.  These are also 24 years old.  Who would keep plants that long or even care?  An old lady, I guess.

The deer horns in the wagon weren’t really planned.  It just seems that when anyone finds horns in the pastures, they get deposited here or on a table on the back porch.

frontporch1The Boston Ferns have been divided many times.  In fact, there are three other pots around the house in other places.  Some have been given away, but most people aren’t interested in storing a big pot in the winter.

frontporch3This bunny pot holds an heirloom Geranium.  It must not be getting enough sun and needs to be moved.  I really like the bunny but can’t seem to find the right size pot for it.

Hope you have some time this summer for some serious porch sitting with friends and family to laugh and enjoy each other or for some alone time to spend in quiet contentment.

“Doing nothing is very hard to do.  You never know when you’re finished.”  Unknown

Tour of Homes: Part 2

This post continues our visit to Weatherford and the Candlelight Tour of Homes offered by the Parker County Heritage Society.

weatherfordtourIncluded on the tour was the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.  The museum is small.  To me, that size is a plus.  I’ve been to many large museums and know that I can only absorb a certain amount of information before my body and brain shuts down.

weatherfordtour2The scene to the left just before you step into the lobby is a nice view of Red Oaks that still had leaves.

Just inside, the ticket counter and exhibits are to the left.   A large reception space for weddings and other events are in a glass enclosed area to the right.

weatherfordtour3This stagecoach stands in the large foyer.  It was handmade by       J. W. Brown, a man who lived in Weatherford.  He repaired two stagecoaches in 1975.  Then he built 60 before his death in 2011 at age 83.  Some of them have been used in movies and TV shows.  He also built buggies, buckboards, surreys, chuck wagons, and even Roman chariots.

weatherfordtour4This looks much more comfortable than the old stagecoaches.  Note the leather straps that the body rests on.  That must make for an easier ride.  The detail in his work is awesome.

weatherfordtour8A special exhibit honoring Mary Martin, a native daughter, celebrated her 100th birthday.  The above picture is from a needlepoint rug she made as a novice needle-pointer.  The whole rug, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 feet, is still intact.  A video of a production with her son, Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing on “Dallas”, was showing on a big screen TV.  Other displays include letters and gifts to others.


weatherfordtour6In one section about early settlers a method of cabin construction was set up.  The boards are cut in slants that keep the logs from slipping off one another.


tourweatherford3This is the Brevard House that was built between 1890 and 1900.  It has original floors, woodwork, pocket doors, and decorative hardware.  It has been enlarged and modernized over the years.

It was crowded inside with lots of people touring, so I didn’t get photos inside.

tourweatherford1While waiting on the porch for our group to enter,  I snapped a few shots.  I thought it was clever to insert these Christmas decorations into an Asparagus Fern.  Also, I wondered how the fern was still green after all the freezing weather we’ve all had.

tourweatherford2The young homeowner must enjoy creative decorating.  Old springs from a chair cushion was displayed with modern holiday decorations.

tourweatherfordJust outside the porch was this ornamental tree.  Although it was pretty good size, I think it’s a Yaupon Holly.

Both of these places were great choices for the tour.

“Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”  attributed to Mark Twain

Twice a Year Chore

One of the dreaded chores of gardening doesn’t occur that often, but we definitely don’t like it.  It involves cleaning out the shed from all the clutter accumulated during the long months when it wasn’t used as a green house and then lugging in the plants.  Our 12′ x 16′ metal shed was built to be used both for storage and protecting potted plants during the winter.  So to make room for the plants, we have to move some tools and other items to the barn.

Almost every year, we carry plants inside after a cold spell, and then it warms up again for another month.  But once, we have put them inside, they stay inside until spring.  In March or April when we hope freezes have passed, we  bring out the plants. This means it has been warm for awhile.  But there have been late freak freezes in past years.

This garden wagon has saved our backs.  For several years we used a wheel barrel, bringing one large pot at a time.  It was tricky not to dump those heavy pots. It still takes both of us.  The two pots shown are smaller and light; but when two large, heavy pots are on board, it takes my husband pulling and me pushing and holding the pots upright.

The first winter we stored plants here, they just barely survived.  We used a heater (the red one in the corner) that responds to temperature.  But the bare metal walls didn’t provide much of a barrier from the cold.

So the following summer, we bought large sheets of styrofoam and cut them to fit around the metal shelves for the walls.  We glued them, but they did not really stick well.  But there are enough pots on the shelves to hold the styrofoam in place.

This large Aloe Vera has become a bugaboo to move.  It tends to be top heavy and gets away from me.  It fell off the cart again this year.  So there are always broken tips on this plant.  We have transplanted it into a bigger pot several times.  So far, it has survived.

The winter after we put the styrofoam up, some of the plants on the floor were shoved up under the bottom shelf.  This still put them too close to the outside cold.  Now we store buckets and extra pots against the wall.  This adds an extra layer of insulation and puts the plants in the sunlight.The shed has a water faucet and a center drain hole in the concrete.  Winter sun shines in a small window on the west side, and four fiberglass roof panels to let in light.

Over the years, my fern collection has grown to six pots of Boston Fern and three pots of Asparagus Fern.  I started with one of each 22 years ago.  Each time we divide them, my husband says no more.  Then the roots get so crowded, it’s a necessity.  It’s difficult to give them away because we’re the crazy ones who are willing to store them in the winter.  OK.  I’m the one that can’t throw them away.

Hey, don’t judge how a gardener looks at the end of a long day working outside in a roaring wind.

I’m so grateful that my husband is willing to help me with my gardening obsession.

“You don’t need a green thumb to be a gardener, just brown knees.”  Author Unknown