Garden Preferences

What kind of garden makes you smile?  When I see very formal gardens, like those in European castle gardens, I feel intimidated.  Of course, they’re beautiful with perfect, precise lines with lots of clipped topiaries.  But all I can think of is the maintenance and how restricted they make me feel.

The type of garden that makes me happy is one with lots of different types of plants.  I lean towards ones with cluttered flowerbeds – not messy, but full of beautiful plants.  I would consider myself to be an eclectic gardener because I love so many different types of plants.

Natives, like Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus), would definitely have a place in my garden.  First, they are extremely hardy and dependable.  Second, they require less water than many other plants.  Third, the pollinators need them.

Turk’s Cap has such intricate flowers.  Absolutely love them.

A must-have native for me is Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea).  There are so many others that I could name, like Caryopteris, Columbine, Gaura, Hollyhock, and Zinnias.  Just think of the flowers in your grandmother’s flowerbeds and the memories they evoke.

John Fanick Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is another Texas Native.

I would also throw in some wildflowers.  Iron Weed (Vernonia gigantea) blooms in the hottest part of the summer.  I especially like American Basket Flower and Texas Blue Bells.  The early spring ones like Bluebonnets, Indian Blankets, and Paint Brushes are well known and loved.

Clammy Weed (Iltis Capparaceae) is less known.  They bloom in the summer. The seed pods burst and the wind scatters them all over, so they are surprises the next year, like Larkspurs.

Flowering bushes add a special treat.  Crepe Myrtles add so much color and beauty.

 

Look at those big, full clusters.  How could anyone not like them?

These Dynamite Crepe Myrtles needed some serious pruning after the freeze.  We cut off lots of dead, thick branches.  But they look gorgeous now.

The color of the flowers used to be a darker red, but they are fuller this year in this lighter color.  Other flowering small trees that I really like are Golden Lead Ball, Rose pf Sharon and Eve’s Necklace.

 

And I will always have some tropical plants in pots.  That is, as long as we are physically able to haul them into the shed for the winter.  African Bulbine (Bulbine natalensis), with its long stems blowing in the wind are fascinating.  It’s a succulent from South Africa.

Ixora is native to the Philippians and the surrounding area of Asia.

Rhizomes, like this Bearded Iris, will always be an important part of my garden.  Daylilies and Cannas are good old southern staples in warm climates.

Daylilies are tuberous roots.  Love all kinds of daylilies.  They can be tucked into any small empty space.

Let’s not forget bulbs, like Crinums, Daffodils and Giant Spider Lilies.  The choices are endless.

Some plants have sentimental importance to me.  This Kolanchoe was given to me by my mother.  A plant given to me always reminds me of that person.

Kolanchoe is native to Madagascar and parts of western Africa.  It was also the first plant sent into space to the Soviet Salyut 1 space station in 1979.

This has been long, but I hope it brings to mind what you like in a garden.  Just embrace those choices and don’t worry about what is “correct” according to landscapers.

“The philosopher who said that work well done never needs doing over never weeded a garden.”  Ray D. Everson

Cool Misty Morn

The last two days have been rainy and blessed us with a little over an inch and a half, so far.  It’s still misty with a heavy cloud cover.

This flowerbed in front is filled with all sorts of plants.  In bloom right now are purple Brazos or Gulf Coast Penstemon, Blue Irises, and Four Nerve Daisies.  Both the Penstemon and Daisies are Texas natives.  The Penstemon can crowd out other plants, so I’ve been digging some up to share.

The small tree to the right is a Lacy Oak.  The light green tree/bush on the left is a Golden Lead Ball Tree.  In the background is a Live Oak just starting to leaf out.

To the left of that bed is a Eve’s Necklace in front and a Chinese Pistache behind it.

Dianthus is one brave little flower.  They survived the cold in pots!

The bright red Dianthus, also in a pot, were in a more protected area.

Looking another direction, there are Yellow Columbines (Aquilegia flavescens) close to the house, Smoke bushes (Cotinus coggygria), a Texas Ash behind them and in the far bed, dead looking Crepe Myrtles.

The Columbines are native, as is the Ash.  Another, larger Texas Ash in the back of the house is toast.  It was shading the pergola, so it’s a sad loss.

The verdict on Crepe Myrtles from the devastating ice storm is still out.  Some of ours are sprouting leaves or have new stems at the bottom of the tree.  Others are still bare and don’t look promising.

The pink Roses are Carefree Beauties, also known as Katy Road.  The bare space between the rose bush and the daisies is where we took out an old rose bush.  But it’s sprouting from the roots.

Across the road are three Afghan Pines.  The extreme cold did a number on them.  We’ll see if they survive.

Ox-Eye Daisies are hardy and spread quickly.  They’re another good pass-along plant.

In the past few years, I’ve come to really appreciate Coleus.  I generally prefer a flowering plant, but the colors of the foliage available are beautiful.  Of course, they’re aren’t cold hardy, but mine survive in the green house.

Hope you’re enjoying listening to the rain fall or just soaking up the sunshine outside.  Whatever the weather, it’s time to smile for yourself and for others.

“Sometimes I just look up and say, ‘I know that was you.’  Thank you.”

Springtime? One Day, Yes and the Next Day, No

Just when spring seems to have sprung, winter ricochets back to zap us again.  Fortunately, some plants can withstand a short spell in the 30’s.

Texas Mahonia (Mahonia swayeyi) was purchased at Medina Natives Nursery four years ago.

These tiny flowers will become berries.  Being a Texas native, it’s very hardy.  It has many similarities with Agarita in our fields.  But it’s not nearly as thorny.

This crazy-looking Allium makes me smile.

Ditch Daylilies are poised to bloom.  Some Yellow Columbine migrated to this spot.

The Ixora in this pot had to be replaced.  I’d like to blame the extreme cold in February, but it didn’t do well last year.  Even though it’s topical and is native to the Philippines and surrounding areas, it survived for 15 years in this pot.  The unusual color of the flowers is almost indescribable.

The stars of the show this time of the year are the Irises.  True blue flowers are rare, so this is special.

The word Iris comes from the Greek goddess of rainbows.  The many different colors of Irises explains that.  Sketched pictures of irises have been found on Egyptian walls in pyramids and other grave sites.

Takes my breath away.

Three years ago I bought a few Penstemons.  The purple ones have spread to fill up this flower bed.  This is the sole remaining pink one.

Eve’s Necklace is a small ornamental tree with bright green leaves and strands of sweet smelling flowers in early spring.

Those strands of flowers will become strands of black seeds encased in  black pods.  It’s a great small tree.  Before I bought this one, a friend said that everyone should have an Eve’s Necklace.  Planted the thought in my brain.

“Spring is the time of the year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”  Charles Dickens

The Ordinary and the Extraordinary

It’s been about six weeks since our extraordinary cold weather event and nature is recovering.  We did not lose as many plants as I feared, and those in pots in the shed mostly look great.

Everything is leafing out and blooming later than usual, but that’s to be expected.  Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is looking good and loaded with flowers.  All of our efforts to kill the native Bermuda grass in this raised bed has failed.  So I guess it’s there to stay.

Before the flowers open completely, they look almost artificial.

Their thin red petals are perfect for hummingbirds.

Purple Bearded Iris are my favorite color of iris.  These are rebloomers and actually do rebloom often.

Behind these beautiful Irises is a native ‘found’ rose bush.  Martha Gonzales rose was found in San Antonio.  It is considered to be very hardy.  But, alas, it certainly looks dead.

At the bottom of what looks like a dead Martha Gonzales are these leaves and a rose.  I’ve trimmed the bush but am uncertain what to do now.  It’s one of those wait and see times.

Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) are all aglow.  This native needs full sun and well-drained soil.  Since we have clay, it’s in a raised bed with amended soil.

Now:  get ready for the Extraordinary-

Last week I saw this stunning plant in a town south of here.  It’s called Parrot Beak Plant (Lotus Berthelotii).  With such bright flower color, of course it’s tropical.

It is so striking and gorgeous that I’m patting myself on the back for not buying one.  I’m trying to stay away from tropical plants that my poor, sweet husband has to carry into the shed.

Also, I read that it needs lots of water and cool weather to bloom.  With summer on the horizon, that’s not going to happen.  So I’ll just enjoy the pictures.

The plants that do well in our area, while some may be considered ordinary, are a blessing and certainly make gardening easier.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy plants.  And that’s pretty much the same thing.”  unknown

Inhale Deeply and Relax

Now that the sun is shining and the days are warmer here, people want to rush outside and chop off all the dead limbs and leaves frozen by the extreme cold from two weeks ago.

But horticulturists are urging that it’s too early to do that.  It’s possible that another freeze will come later this month.  Leaving the dead parts could help protect the plants if that happens.  So, we should all just chill and not get frantic about what it looks like in our yards.

So all those plants, like this miniature Indian Hawthorne, that looks dead as a door nail might have viable branches and roots.  In a couple of weeks, use the thumbnail test to see if the branches are okay.  Scratch into a limb to see if the wood is soft and alive.

That same Indian Hawthorne last spring.

We have four of these Hawthorne and would be sad to lose them, but sometimes, we just have to accept something and move on.

Native plants, like these Oxeye Daises, fared well and are ready for spring.

It has surprised me how hardy these Gulf Coast Penstemon have been.  They spread fast and now look good after the sub zero weather.

Plants in pots naturally took a bigger hit.  Pretty sure that this Rosemary will need to be replaced.

Greenery from many bulbs were already above ground.  These Dutch Irises may actually still be able to produce blooms this spring because not all of the foliage froze.

Most Iris leaves or fans look healthy.

Nice surprise – a little Hyacinth is already blooming.  Yeah.

Even in a pot, Dianthus proves to be a winner.  Really have come to appreciate these plants.  Their colors are bright and cheery.

Ditch Daylilies looking good.

Pincushion plants have proved to be incredibly hardy.

Wild Foxglove looking good.

Artemesia looks a little sad but should recover.

I was concerned about bulbs that were planted in the fall.  But these Alliums look fine.

A native evergreen Yarrow that will have white flowers looks good as new.

Some trees, on the other hand, look dead.  This Yaupon Holly looks bad.  Time will tell how damaged the roots and trunks were.

Another casualty of being in a container is this Pittsporoum.  It didn’t seem to matter how old the plant was.

Afghan Pines (Pinus eldarica) don’t look so bad.  When we plant for our zone, and the weather suddenly turns much colder than that zone, then plants are at risk.  We consider heat and drought to be the biggest factor of a plant’s survival.

The Live Oak in the background looks bad, but we need to remember that Live Oaks naturally lose their leaves in the spring and new ones appear.

We planted these Oleanders last fall. Poor things.

One of my favorite trees because it is evergreen is Cherry Laurel.  Now the experts say that deciduous trees do better in a deep, deep freeze.  The leaves on the ends of branches died, but the leaves on the inside of the tree are green.  We’ll see if it’s system was weakened.

Rejoice that spring is almost here.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” -Helen Keller

What’s Blooming and Growing in Cool Weather

Cool weather continues.  In fact, one day last week there was frost on the ground.  The world has gone wonky.

Katy Road Roses covering a six foot bush.  This rose was introduced in 1977 and was known in Texas as Katy Road because it was “found” on Katy Road in Houston.  It was actually developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University to withstand the long, cold winters of the Midwest.  He named it Carefree Beauty.

Because this rose also does so well in the hot, dry summers of Texas, it was named the 2006 “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  The bush has several flushes of rich pink blooms from spring until frost.  Each flower produces a large orange rose hip.

So call it Katy Road or Carefree Beauty, it’s a great rose for the garden.

To the right side of the rose bush are Ox-Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare).  They can be aggressive but are so pretty, I think they’re worth it.

Maggie is an old Bourbon rose that blooms profusely.  It was “found” in Louidiana by Dr. William Welch of A&M and brought to Texas.  It’s a winner.

Another Bearded Iris to praise.  The solid dark purple ones are behind the purple and pale lavender ones.  I’m sure I didn’t plan that.  Just a happy accident.

These are so dark that they don’t photograph too well.

Artemisia is a plant that I think every large yard should have.  This one has been in a pot for years.  I have another one that is trying to take over a flowerbed.  To keep it in a space, simply cut off the runners.  They each have roots, so they can be potted and passed along.

To the left is native Yellow Columbine – very hardy perennial.

Artemisia has a slight silver tint and tends to be evergreen in our mild winters.  The softness of the foliage is amazing.

This Iris looks light lavender in this picture.  But in real life, it’s a true blue.  Adds a little magic to the garden.  Actually, all Irises provide elegance.

Hope you and your family are safe and well.  I pray especially for those who live in city apartments or any confined space with children and for those whose jobs have been affected by all the closings.  These times definitely call for patience.

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”  David G. Allen

April Posies

In this isolation time, the only ones who see our garden are people who open my blog.  Thank you for viewing the flowers with me.

This Amaryllis has been in the ground for about 4 years.  I put it there on a whim, not expecting it to survive the summer heat.  It blooms early and dies down.  So I guess the bulb doesn’t mind the summer heat.  Mulch helps.

Lots of flowers.  The strong winds this week may beat them to death.

Native Four Nerve Daisies spread to create a bright spot in a bed.

 

Byzantine Gladiolas (Gladiolus byzaninus) are winter hardy.  These have been in the ground for three years.  They multiply, and these need to be divided.

Byzantine Glads have been grown since 1629 and are often found in old cottage gardens.

What a glorious sight.  Reblooming Irises tend to have larger flowers and are often two-toned.  If the weather cools down in the fall, they’ll bloom again.

Because the wind is whipping everything around, I cut this one and brought it inside to enjoy.

Roses in the left background and a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Naranjo Falso ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) in this bed.

The temporary fencing is an attempt to keep critters like armadillos from digging up newly planted bulbs.  Until they grow stems, I find them laying on the ground and drying out.

This particular Mock Orange doesn’t have a strong scent but is covered with flowers.

A Salvia Greggi  that should have been trimmed back in the fall – thus, some partially bare limbs.

Another Rebloomer Iris.  Sweet color.

The first stem of Larkspur flowers just opened.  That means many more will follow.  Behind that, the crimson red flowers of Texas Quince are still holding their color.

One more Iris.  This beauty is on a really tall stem – maybe 3 feet.

I appreciate each person who looks at my blog.  I really enjoy comments.  Thanks.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”  unknown source

Early Blooms

Each day this time of the year brings unexpected weather.  It can be overcast and cold or sunny and warm.  On the warm days, it’s time to work outside pruning or planting.  I have several inside projects that I’m trying to finish on the colder days.

But as blooms keep popping up each day, I long to be outside every day.

Old fashioned heirloom Irises are blooming in the field across the driveway.  Most of these bulbs were given to me by friends and have performed for years and years.  Old Homestead Irises is another name for them.

They’re so hardly that they grow right along with the weeds and cacti.  I’ve dug up several cacti in this area, but they keep coming back.  These pass-a-long Irises don’t need much water and no attention.

This Rusty Blackhaw Verbiurum (Viburnum rufidulum) is more persnickety.  It requires some early morning light and afternoon shade.  It prefers to grow along water streams and edges of wooded areas.  So I’m pushing the envelope to even have it where I live.

It was first planted in a sunny spot, where it barely survived for two summers.  Then it was moved and seems happy here.

After several years in this more protected site, it’s finally producing some clusters of lovely white flowers.

Miniature Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis indica) loves the sun and blooms in early spring.  It maintains a nice, rounded shape naturally.

It’s a nice accent plant or in groups.

And now, my favorite perennial shrub this time of the year:  Bridal Wreath Spirea is the pièce de résistance.

The arched branches are literally dripping with clusters of flowers.

It just doesn’t get lovelier or more romantic than this spring time beauty.

In spite of the unusual circumstances of social distancing, flowers still bring beauty to the earth.  Enjoy them.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  Lady Bird Johnson

Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown