Fabulous Flowers

Two months ago the temperatures were below zero, but today it will be in the high nineties.  Isn’t nature full of surprises?

There are still some questions about what will recover from that extreme cold.  However, flowers are appearing every day.

One of the showiest bushes in my yard is Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).

Every year more and more clusters of flowers appear.

It may be a short-lived glory, much like a wedding day.  However, memories live on.

Plant in full sun and enjoy its beauty.

Native False Foxglove or Wild Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea) is stunning this year.  It is not related to the European Foxglove, but is in the penstemon family.

Native Columbine’s flowers are exotic.

Sorry that I haven’t quite mastered that magical photography hour just after sunrise.

Columbine or Aquilegia is evergreen and remained green under the snow coverage.  It prefers morning sun and afternoon shade.

Someone has compared the flowers to jester’s hats.  Not sure I see it.

Another native that survived the cold very well is Gulf Coast Penstemon or Brazos Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis).  Plant this where you don’t mind that it spreads.  It’s easy to dig up but will cover an area quickly.  Full sun and as for most plants, well draining soil.

Bulbs are one of my favorite types of plants.  Daffodils are still blooming.  Different types of daffodils or narcissus (not sure which one this is) bloom at different times.

Bulbs are unique in that they produce their own energy and food.  The bulb is like a battery.  Its recharger is the foliage.  Therefore, the foliage needs to be left until it fully dies.  It may look tattered for a while.  The dead parts in this picture could be trimmed off.

One of the bonuses of bulbs is that they multiply and need to be divided every few years for the best flowers.  Voila: new free plants.  Irises is one of the hardiest bulbs around.

Spanish Bluebells is another hardy bulb.  Their flowers don’t last a long time.  The foliage is attractive on its own.

Hope your spring is filled with beauty.

“Spring is painted in daffodil yellows, robin egg blues, new grass green and the brightness of hope for a better life.”   Toni Sorenson

Hope for Gardeners

The old expression “Hope springs eternal” definitely defines gardeners’ attitudes.  Now as it warms up and we see a little green outside, our hope for a great spring ratchets up. (I mean ‘ratchets up’ from the old timey meaning, not the hip-hop one.)

Of course, the weeds are alive and well, but some other plants are, too.

Every year I plan to take this Texas Scarlett Quince  (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’) out.  Then it flowers for a short time, so it stays to see another day.

Because it is the first thing to bloom, it adds some much needed color.  This year its flowers were delayed due to Uri.  When did weathermen start naming winter storms?

Some Daffodils already had foliage before the storm, so those got zapped and probably won’t bloom this year.

Just appreciate those brave little souls who are flowering.

Only one daffodil in this bed made it.

Native Yarrow (Achillea millefolum) is amazing.  Millifoium means a thousand leaves.  It’s a native evergreen and is as tough as nails.  Plus, it spreads.  The flowers are white clusters on a stem above the foliage.

I wondered if the Amaryllis bulbs would survive.  Here they are standing tall.  The other little plants are either Gulf Coast Penstemon or Gomphrena.  Both are in this bed.

Just planted these Dwarf Candytufts (Iberis sempervines).  After the horrible freeze, cold hardiness is more important than ever.  The label says these are cold hardy down to minus 20.  Wow.

What a bright spot in the early spring garden.  I’ll be watching to see how it performs.

Hope you are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel where you live.  Spring, warm days, sunshine, and flowers will come.

“Let your hope, not your hurts, shape your future.”  Robert H. Schuller

Little Dabs of Color

Here at the tiptop of Central Texas, our winters are a little colder and our rainfall more sparse than most of the beloved tourist area that includes Fredericksburg, Austin, and San Antonio.

Although our winter wasn’t particularly cold this year, there were a few freezes.  So everything died back, and the yard has been a drab sight.

The first color that arrived about the middle of January was Texas Flowering Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’).  Except for the brilliant red flowers that last a few months, the plant is not worthy of much attention.

The Daffodils bloomed in mid February.  These has been in the ground for years.  Such a great return for your money.

New bulbs were planted last fall in a different bed.  These were all purchased at a Master Gardeners’ bulb sale in Tyler.

The one with white pedals and yellow cup or corona  is Abba (Narcissus tazetta).  To their left, yellow pedals with gold cup is Jonquil ‘Golden Dawn’.

On the left, behind the daffodils, is evergreen native Yarrow.  A wonderful spreading plant that sports white flowers.

Truthfully, I can’t tell the different in Daffodils, Narcissus, and Jonquils.

Direct from the internet:  “In general, “daffodil” refers to the large-flowered varieties, “narcissus” to small-flowered and early-blooming types bearing clusters of blossoms, and “jonquil” denotes N. jonquilla, often with fragrant, yellow flowers.”

Confused?  Me, too.

Dutch Hyacinth (Hyancinthus orientalis ‘Blue Festival’) grows low to the ground, about 8 to 10 inches tall.

A pretty little accent, these were purchased six years ago from Old House Gardens.

Great old standby, native Possum Haw produces lots of berries.  The birds don’t eat them until just before they’re ready to drop off.

Another great native – Orange Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) .  The small cupped orange blossoms stand out against the curly gray foliage.

Pollinators also love this bush.

So happy to see some color and spring just on the horizon.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”   Seneca

Hints of Spring

It’s starting to warm up and green up.  Of course, it’s likely we’ll have a surprise freeze.  But I’m glad spring’s coming.

Daffodils have been blooming for a while.

I’ve considered buying some other varieties with stronger color, but the bloom season is so short that it doesn’t seem worth it.

Each year a new weed is added to the mix.  This particular one – I don’t know what it is – is mighty prolific.

Texas Flowering Quince has been blooming for about a month.  Most of the flowers are on the lower branches.  You can see that abundant weed under the branches.  The thorns make it hard to clean out around the long branches.

A few Hollyhocks are up and leafed out.  A few years ago the Hollyhocks had rust disease.  I thought I dug them all up.  But here they are.

Some Hyacinths are blooming.  They’re so short that sometimes I don’t notice them.

Beautiful small hints of a new season.  Love the shapes of the bell-like flowers.

We started pruning last month but so much more to do.  Really enjoying the sunny days when it’s not too cold or windy to work outside.  The task I always dread is the weeding.  Guess everyone does.

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”                               Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips

Dallas Arboretum does a bang up job of seasonal flower displays.  It may not be Holland, but the tulips were spectacular.

Just inside the entrance gate is the first tulip bed we saw.

Stopped me in my tracks.

This is my favorite tulip – bright red with yellow edges on the petals.

Dark center gives it even more interest.

In a large open field-like area, there were many beds with different color combinations.  Other types of bulbs mixed in added more colors and textures.  Clusters of Delft Blue Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) filled some spaces.

One really huge oval shaped bed was about 75 feet in length.

Violas were used as borders and fillers.  This one is Penny Blue Viola (Viola Cornuta)

These small flowers made me realize that I don’t know the difference between violas and pansies.  So I did a little research. They have a similar look and are both in the viola family.  Both are cold hardy, but neither do well in warmer weather.

Pansies have larger blooms but fewer ones and take a longer time to spread.  Pansies are the favorite of buyers because the blotch faces on the flowers are familiar.

Violas have more blooms, perform better, fill in faster, and look better earlier than pansies.

Some of the tulips, like these yellow ones are hybrids with double petals.  This is Monte Carlo Double Early.  They look more like peonies than tulips.

The small orangish flowers are Nature Orange Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana).

More double and single tulips, yellow pansies, and yellow daffodils.

Got to admire how the colors of the different flowers coordinate.

To plant tulips in Texas is a monumental task.  First, they have to be chilled for a certain length of time.  Then, planted at just the right time.  And to plant multiple large swaths of colors together and with other plants that compliment each other blows my mind.  Sure, the Arboretum has a large staff to do that and many volunteers.  But still, kudos to the master mind behind it and to the workers who did the labor.

A totally different look with white daffodils and maroonish tulips.

A border of pink and blue Hyacinths.

Pale colors here look peaceful.

Here maroon tulips are paired with a pale yellow viola that makes the tulips really pop.

There’s mixture of singe and double tulips.

Another area with my favorites.  In the background, notice the low trimmed hedge in a circle shape close to the tree.  Interesting.

It was a special treat to slowly amble around and soak in the beauty of these early spring flowers.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.”  John Quincy Adams

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

A B C D

The name of this post may seem odd, but it will make sense as you read it.

A is for Anxious for spring wildflowers.  Anxious to find out if the hard freezes killed any plants.  Anxious for warm days of spring.  Anxious for bulbs to bloom and for the beauty of green trees, shrubs, grass, etc.

B is for Bulbs – all kinds.  Sorry this picture is blurry.  This plant will be clearer in another picture in this post.

I planted these long ago and don’t remember what they are.  I love that bulbs are so reliable and always seem like a great surprise when they return and bloom.

C is for Coyote Carcasses hanging on a fence.  When we first came to the area, that sight puzzled us.  The explanation given was that the purpose was to scare off coyotes from the vicinity.

Now, that makes no sense.  Seems like it is giving reasoning powers to a wild creature that are way above their brain power.

So I did a little research.  The practice started in the mid 1900’s when ranchers paid cowboys to get rid of coyotes.  It served as proof of kills so they could collect the bounties.

Before someone gets indignant about cruelty to animals, it is important to note that coyotes are more than just a nuisance.  They kill cows, sheep, goats, pets, and any other animals in the area, including all of our Blackbucks.  It was and is vital for ranchers and farmers to protect their livelihoods.  Fences don’t keep out coyotes.

D is for Daffodils – a cheerier subject.

Daffodils announce that spring is just around the corner.

There is the small pink flowers of the unknown bulb plant.  Anyone know what it is?

The bees appreciate the appearance of daffodils.  Daffodils are native to the areas that border the Mediterranean Sea. There are 50 species of Daffodils with over 13,000 hybrids.

I like that these stems are short, even though it means almost laying on the ground to get pictures.

Texas Scarlett Quince makes a good backdrop for pale colored Daffodils..

Daffodils need well drained soil, full sun, and about an inch of water a week.  It is important to leave the foliage after the flowers die.  They will not return if you cut the leaves back.  When the leaves start getting limp, I gently fold them down closer to the ground.

They also need to be dug up and divided every five to ten years.  Well worth the effort.

Since I badmouthed Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’), recently in a post, I thought I should show it further along in the season.  With lots of bright red flowers, it draws the eye and makes a nice accent low bush.

Daffodowndilly

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
‘Winter is dead.’

A. A. Milne

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What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

Early Blooms in February

This post is an interruption of my series on our trip to Costa Rica.  Although not spectacular, I wanted to show what is happening in the yard here during the waning days of winter.

unknown3I have racked my brain trying to remember when I planted these bulbs, where I got them, and what they are.  Once again, my garden record keeping or lack of is embarrassing.

unknown2These bloomed the middle of February.

unknownAnyone know what they are?

earlybloomsThen, the last of February two inches of ice fell.

earlyblooms1Eastern Meadowlarks have been pecking around in the dried grass.  They are skittish and dart around making them difficult to photograph.

earlyblooms2Ice melted and daffodils are looking good.  The bush in the back with small orange red blooms is Texas Scarlett Quince.

earlyblooms7Individual blooms of Quince aren’t anything to write home about, but their bold color makes them pop in the landscape.  Plus, the buds begin to open late in February.

earlyblooms3Just got curious about the difference between daffodils and jonquils.  They are both in the narcissus genus.  Jonquils refer to a specific type of daffodil known as Narcissus jonquila.

Some characteristics to compare them:

Daffodils:  One bloom to a stem, long slender stems, not very fragrant, corolla (flower) comes in many different colors

Jonquils:  More than one bloom to a stem, rounded stems, extremely fragrant, only yellow corolla

earlyblooms4All seem to have heads bowed.

earlyblooms5Gopher plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa) is in euphorbia family, which is the largest genus of flowering plants.  This family includes over 2,000 species from small weeds to towering cactus like plants.

Gopher plants grow up to 3 feet tall and have this unusual flower.  Flowers die away to form seed pods, smallish in size yet huge in power.  When ripe, the pods open explosively; flinging the seed about 50 feet  all around the mother plant.

earlyblooms6Last fall I dug up a few Gopher plants because I wasn’t sure they would survive freezing temperatures.   The ones in the pot stored  in the shed have long, leggy stems and more spread out flowers.

Euphorbia plants all have one thing in common: the sap of the plant is highly poisonous.  Sap flows from the roots through the plant stems, making every part of the foliage toxic to animals who may attempt to snack from it.  The name of the plant may come from the fact that gophers, whose favorite food is roots, eat them and succumb to the poison.

Spring is on the way.  Yippee!

“Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think ‘That can’t be right!'”  Ged Backland

Flowers at Mayfield Park

This is the last post about our visit to Mayfield Park in Austin.  The back area of the garden is devoted to flowers and is planted and maintained by volunteers.  I suspect they also selected and furnished the flowers.

mayfieldpark46This purple flower really caught my eye.  I don’t know what it is but who love to find out.

mayfieldpark47The color and whole appearance is attractive to me.

mayfieldpark44Then I came across another bed with the same flower in a   brilliant pink color.

mayfieldpark43mayfieldpark42Just wanted to keep snapping pictures of them.

We visited on a Saturday, which, of course, was a busy day.  Lots of photographers were taking pictures of couples, probably engagement pictures.  Others were shooting high school girls; so I figured that were doing graduation pix.  All this to say that I was trying to stay out of their way.  So I didn’t feel that I saw all the different flowers.

mayfieldpark49These sunlit tulips were beautiful.  Makes me wish that it were really possible to grow them here, and that the bulbs would survive like they do in cooler climates.

mayfieldpark41Wonderful peach color.

mayfieldpark51More daffodil types than I have ever seen except in bulb catalogs.

mayfieldpark50An unusual two toned one with a pale peach.

newmayfieldThis appeared to be a new plot.  All the plots of individuals ran together, so it was difficult to know if each plot was small like this one or if this part had just been replaced.  Occasionally, a volunteer’s name was displayed on a raised metal sign.

mayfieldpark53mayfieldpark48See what I mean about all different kinds of daffodils.

mayfieldpark45Someone else liked the peach tulips and had them in their bed.

mayfieldpark40A few Grape Hyacinths poked up among the leaves.

Having volunteers responsible for the garden area certainly helps out the park employees.  Since the flowers are seasonal and not native, I wonder how often they are changed out.

mayfieldpark23One last picture of a peacock.  Their shrill call and physical beauty is part of this park.

Lovely park to visit when one is in Austin.

“I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad.  Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.”  Helen Keller