Some Hardy Beauties

One of the garden tasks that I usually avoid is planting annuals.  To me, a few annuals in pots is all that’s needed to bring something different into the garden.  I love the work horses of the garden – the hardy, reliable perennials.

Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) have been returning for years.  They are native to North America and were probably used by the Plains Indians for medicinal purposes.

Plus, pollinators love them because of their shape.  The flat landing strip makes it easy for butterflies and others to land and drink nectar.  The same thing is true for Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum).

Plants don’t have to be expensive.  Several years ago I scattered Larkspur seeds and voila, they appear every year in the spring.  They don’t necessarily come up where they were originally planted.  In fact, this flowerbed didn’t exist when I first put out the seeds.  Wherever the wind carries their seeds is where they will germinate.

Some of my plants remind me each year of the friend who gave me the start of a new plants or seeds.

Bulbs are another source of hardy plants because bulbs in the ground don’t freeze and produce each year.  This Pudgie Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Pudgie’) was ordered from Breck’s.  Since I live in a hot, dry spot, I used to be concerned about ordering from a company based in northern Europe.  But have learned that daylilies do very well here even though they originated in the Far East.

One of the cheapest flowers is also one of the most reliable ones.  The common Zinnia has pretty flowers that return if the seeds aren’t disturbed.  Pollinators visit them frequently.

Hardy Hibiscus have become a favorite because of their size and color.  The morning I took this picture, the humility kept fogging up my lens.

The small purple flowers on the left, French Hollyhocks (Malva Sylvestris Mauritiana), are another gift from a friend.  They can easily be grown from seeds.

New plants appear on the market all the time.  Before I buy, I try to do a little research.  But sometimes, the tag gives you a lot of information.

This Blue Frills Stokes Aster (Stokesia Blue Frills) tag stated that it is hardy down to minus 10 degrees.  It was planted last autumn and truly lived up to that claim.  It made it through our deep freeze.

We all have our favorite places to shop.  I prefer locale nurseries where they are knowledgeable about what grows well in your area.

However, I’ve found that the Lowe’s chain does carry some native plants that do well here.  In fact, they were the first stores to carry Texas Super Star plants.  But that may be changing because I was recently told that the stores are no longer allowed to do their ordering.  A central ordering system will decide on the plants offered.

Wherever I shop, I always ask for local plants.  If they hear it often enough, maybe it will filter up to the bigwigs.

Another pass-a-long that I received years ago is Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum (Sedum reflexum).  It multiples like crazy and has yellow blooms in the spring.

This sedum is also easy to dig up and share.

Viette’s Little Suzy Dwarf Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia speciosa ‘Viette’s Little Suzy’) is a modern version of old Black-Eyed Susans.  The flowers are large and lots of stems from one plant.  Can’t help but notice it.

“Friends are “annuals” that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a “perennial” that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect.”  unknown

Most Unusual Spring

Usually, by this time in May, warm or even hot days are the norm.  This year, we seem to be stuck in some colder days and some warmer days pattern.  It’s been hard to force myself to weed and do other chores outside on those colder overcast days.

However, I must admit that many of the plants have thrived in this cooler weather.  These Coral Drift Roses are full of flowers.  Drift roses only grow to a height of 3 to 3 and a half feet tall.

They are extremely tough and obviously survived our harsh winter.  Our hot, dry summers don’t phase them, either.  They bloom over and over throughout the summer and fall.  They are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniature roses.

These roses are the best for blooming and have not had any diseases in the six years they’ve been in the ground.

Love them and highly recommend them.

The camera doesn’t do justice to the color of the flowers.   They are between a deep rose and a coral color.

Another really hardy plant is Dwarf Stella D’Oro Daylily.  I like that it grows low and is a repeat bloomer.

I lost everything in these pots in February.  Replanted a Rosemary and added some annuals in the other pots.

Etoile Violette Clematis was not bothered by the cold, even in a container.  The original label stated that it is cold hardy down to minus 20.  Hope that is never tested.

Even though it’s listed as a summer bloomer, it’s a rebloomer from late spring to late fall. This vine is seven years old.

An old pot of Dianthus also is looking good.  It’s amazing how cold and heat hardy they are.

Last year, I added some Ox-Eye Daisies to this trough, mainly to keep down the weeds.  They weren’t watered much, so the ones on the left died.

I do like this bottle bush my husband made for me several years ago.

I’ve had Yellow Columbine for years, so I’m giving these red ones a try.  The label indicated that they are cold hardy down to below 0 degrees.  Nice, bright two-toned flowers.

Our recent rains have brought lots of flowers on these climbing roses.  Now I just need to deadhead them for more blooms.

Hollyhocks are starting to bloom.  Several years ago, an abundance of rain brought rust disease.  Internet information said to dig them up, roots and all and destroy.  I tried to dig them up, but must not have succeeded because they keep popping up.

Hooray, Larkspurs blooms are scattered across the back yard.  I always look forward to them.  Very cheery.

Hope your late spring is bringing lot of flowers to your space.

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.”  John Glenn

Golden Oldies

For me, spring is a time to welcome back old friends – reliable perennials, that is.  It might be a bulb or a bush that blooms or trees leafing out.  Or it might be a flower that seems magically to grow a stem, leaves, and then flowers.  Ain’t it grand.

Stella de Oro Daylily or Stella D’oro is sometimes demeaned as being too common.  But in my book, it’s a wonderful low growing bulb with gorgeous flowers.

We have weeded this bed since this picture was taken.  This year the strong winds have forced me to take pictures whenever I can.

Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa) is a small ornamental tree that grows to a height of 12 feet.  The multiple trunks have branches growing almost to the ground.  Last year we trimmed the lower branches off to making mowing around it easier.  Plus, I like the airy look.

This Texas native can also be found in New Mexico and northern Mexico.  The small leaves makes it an excellent tree for drier areas.

The one inch puffy balls are bright yellow when they first open up, but turn golden just before they fall off.

Larkspurs have been blooming for a couple of weeks, but the old fashioned Hollyhocks have just started.

Hollyhocks are not for formal gardens, but they always remind me of the gardeners who struggled through the depression and WWII.  They’re cheerful plants that don’t require much water and little attention.

They can develop rust, but that happens only in really wet years.

Henry Duelburg (purple) and Augusta Duelburg (white) Salvias (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) that are a form of Mealy Cup Sage and may be sold under that name.  These Texas natives thrive in South and Central Texas.

In our area, these are foolproof winners.  They are zone 7 cold hardy.

I would never have heard of French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris), except for receiving a passalong from a friend.  They are cold hardy to Zone 4a.

In spite of their hardiness, the flowers have a sweet daintiness look.

“Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason.”  Ronald Reagan

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

There’s Always Room for …

Remember that old slogan, “There’s always room for jello.”?  Guess it’s a good one if the slogan is still around rattling around in my memory.

Anyway, my gardening philosophy is that there’s always room for another plant.

Kindly Light Spider Lilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) blooming in their glory.

Love their shape and color.

Texas Leather Flower (Clematis texensis) was a surprise volunteer plant in a flowerbed this year.  They are native further south of us and not common even there anymore.

Small bell like flowers on the twining vine is growing on an old metal tower.  Otherwise, I probably would not have seen them.  They are surprisingly cold hardy.

This mixture of cannas, wild ornamental onions, Larkspurs, and Red Yuccas shows my preference for plants bunched together.

Unfortunately, native Bermuda grass is taking over and impossible to remove.

The grasses in the fields around our yard have gotten tall.  We were waiting until all the wildflowers dropped their seeds before shredding it down.

But there have been lots of snakes around this year.  So my husband mowed around the wildflowers and cut down the grass closest to the yard to discourage snakes from invading the yard.  Hopefully that will work.  Anyway, it will make them more noticeable if they don’t respect our space. Such a pipe dream!

Moonshine” Yarrow or Sneezewort (Achillea “Moonshine”) with its grey foilage is a reliable perennial. This yellow yarrow spreads slowly, so it’s not agressive.

This annual Superbells Pomegrante Punch (Calibrachoa) provides some bright color, which I seem to be addicted to.  I tend to not buy annuals because they are so short lived, but all the box stores entice me with their outside displays.

Reblooming Daylillies do not rebloom on a schedule, so it’s a nice surprise when they do.  I think this one is Scottish Fantasy.

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle,  you must fear or hate them.                                                         The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.                                                                                                                                Both are nonsense.  You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”    Rick Warren

Poppy Season

An overnight trip took us south to Austin and Fredericksburg.  Bright colors abound at one of my favorite nursuries:  Wildseed Farms.

Two of my husband’s favorite places are Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant and Mamacita’s Restaurant.  We indulged in both..

Guess our motto is never pass up a nursery or Mexican restaurant.

Red Corn Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) were blooming everywhere on the nursery grounds.

Very tall Chollo Cactus tower about eleven feet high in the air.

Rocket Larkspurs (Delphinium ajacis) stand primly in place.  Way too early for them in our zone 7b area.

Think this is Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus coccineus).  Also known as Claret Cup Cactus or Scarlet Beehive Cactus, they grow farther west, starting around San Angelo.  Guess it stays warm enough in the winter for them at the nursery.

Of course, this time of the year means Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).  It’s nearly the end of their prime time.  The yellow Poppies are probably California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

The metal cactus are attractive and look great in the nursery setting.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is a great pollinator plant.  Mine froze this winter, even though labels say it is cold hardy to zone 7a.

More Primroses.  The word “sweet” comes to mind when I see them.

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  How gorgeous is that.  Fields of Red Corn Poppies are so bright.

This sight reminded me that red poppies are worn to honor veterans.  The practice started after WWI.

The blue strip behind the Poppies are Bluebonnets.

The Wildseed Farms grow all these flowers for the seeds.  The owner uses larger properties near Houston to raise even more flowers.  Early last year, floods covered those fields and wiped out much of his seed supply for this year.

The Poppy petals are as thin as one-ply toilet paper and more fragile.  They flutter in the wind creating constant movement.

There are lots of walking trails near the wildflower fields and closer to the buildings, making it a pleasure to visit in a garden-like setting.

Don’t know what this tree is.  Maybe a Waterfall or Laceleaf Weeping Japanese maple?

Waterlilies in a small pond beside the tree in the previous picture.

One last look at Poppies as we exit the area.

Composed at the battlefield on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, following the death of a close friend.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Canadian John McCrae

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Purple Spires

Bright colors in the yard make me smile.  I prefer more muted colors inside my house but purple, red, and yellow are my favorite choices for flowers.

purple3Larkspurs are still blooming where ever they choose.  They aren’t well behaved and stay where they were first seeded.  It’s always a pleasant surprise to see where they come up each spring.  The reds here are Red Yucca and Cannas.  However, the Cannas seem to be blooming more orangey than before.  So I wonder if red ones are hybrids and they are reverting back to their original color.

purple9I have a conundrum.  For years I have thought this bush was Blue Curls.  I think I bought it at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Since I had never heard of Blue Curls before, I must have seen it labeled that, but I can’t be sure.

purple8I had previously noticed the similarity of the flowers and leaves to another bush in the back of the house.  But this morning for some reason it struck me that they are much more than similar.

purple6

purple5You know how it is to get your mind set one way and not see the truth.  So I’m not going to beat myself up for this mistake.  But I do not think this is a Blue Curls.

purplecThis is a Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) tree in the back yard that was planted two years ago.  It was bought at a local nursery and was clearly labeled.

The following three pictures are of this same tree.

My reference point for a Vitex comes from a huge tree planted in the parking lot of the hospital in Brownwood.  So I didn’t expect one to look like a bush.

purpledDo you see my confusion?  I now think both are Vitex.  I have pruned the branches on the one in the front for several years to get it fuller, which has also kept it shorter.

purpleeAlso known as Chaste Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, or Indian Spice, it is a native of China and India.  But it has been grown in the southern US since 1670.

purplefDifferent parts of the tree have long been used for medicinal purposes.  Another name for Vitex is Monk’s Pepper because it was thought that its berries helped monks maintain their chastity.

It’s a great tree/shrub for pollinators.  The color of the blooms are fantastic.

purple4As I was taking pictures, a visitor strolled quickly by.

purpleffThe flower spires on Russian Sage are a light purple or lavender.

purpleiAlthough not a spire, these Petunias are a deep purple.

purplejThis pot was already filled when I bought it.  The lady did not know the names of the other two plants in it.

purplekThe foliage of Ajuga ground cover is more important to most people than the pale lavender blooms.

purplelAnd lastly, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is sandwiched between Greggi Sage and Rose bushes.  It has a wonderful aroma and is a great hardy perennial.

“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Nolan of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God.”  Richmond, Virginia daily newspaper

A Smorgasbord of Color and Form

This spring’s rains has brought exceptionally beautiful sights.  There’s plenty of green and other gorgeous colors all around us.

olioThe first Cone Flower from the Echinacea genus has opened.  Even though the petals aren’t as perfectly formed as later ones will be, the pollinators don’t care.

olio1Drift Roses are covered with masses of blooms.  At the far end of the bed is a Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) with its silvery airiness and a mound of gray Santolina (S. chamaecyparissus) with its buds ready to provide small yellow flowers.

olio2I love that drift roses stay under two feet tall and continually bloom through autumn.  To the right of them is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) which will have brght red flowers in the heat of the summer.

olio3The clusters of roses make a strong visual  impact.

olio4This three year old Privet is blooming for the first time.  From the genus of Ligustrum, Privets are now considered invasive.  I’d be surprised if its seed would take hold in the hard clay in our area.

olio5It smells heavenly.

olio6Pink Guara’s (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) swaying branches look pretty in our ever present wind.  Beside the pot, the Texas Ash needs the sprouts at the base trimmed away – again.

olio7Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is blooming.  To the left of it, Duranta is slowly growing, awaiting the heat blast of August to bloom.

olio8Pretty stalks of closed buds on Red Yuccas reach up for attention.  In the background is a raised bed that will be shown in the next picture.

Note the pieces of black ground-cover cloth.  They was put down about nine years ago.  Knowing what I know now – it doesn’t keep weeds from growing through the cloth; it hinders planting something new; and seems to last forever –  I definitely would not use it again.

olio9Henry Duelburg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) continues to perform magnificently after eleven years.

olioaA wonderful plant that bees love.

olioaaTexas native Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri.) is a showy splash of yellow on a low mound of thin grassy stems.

oliobLarkspurs (Delphinium consolida) are providing their surprise locations all over the yard.  Scatter these seeds and have purple flowers popping up everywhere.

In the lower left corner are some native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea).

oliobbMore Pink Gaura in a flowerbed.

olioccA copper colored reblooming Iris.

oliodAnd a lavender and yellow one.  Can’t resist snapping pictures of these beauties in the spring.

oliocWe have always called these natives that appear in the yard Lamb’s Ears because they look and feel like the ones sold in nurseries. They have soft, velvety foliage.  But recently I learned that they are actually Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  They are sure plentiful around here.  My husband loves to mow them down, but I want a few left to grow.

The leaves get about a sixteen inches in size.  Then late in summer a tall stalk will reach about three feet in height and small yellow flowers will form an elongated cluster.  Interesting plant.

Thanks for perusing my blog and enjoy your own green space.

“When a woman wears leather clothing, a man’s heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he goes weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?
She smells like a new truck.”  unknown

Purple Blooms

Continuing with the color theme, today the focus is on purple, the color of royalty.

bloomingnow3This Jackman Clematis (Clematis jackmanii) was chosen because it is reported to be a good clematis choice for our area.  Other clematis have prettier and more complex flowers.

bloomingnow1After its initial flourish of flowers, it hasn’t bloomed again.  Clematis is supposed to be an easy vine with lots of blooms.  So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe it needs fertilizer.

bloomingnow2I do like the color and size of the blossoms.

bloomingnow7It’s crazy that some Larkspur are still blooming.

bloomingnowdMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) really are purple.  I don’t know why these look pink in the picture – probably the strong sun.  Can’t get any easier than this plant.  The biggest problem is that they spread with underground runners.

bloomingnowfAnother winner is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  The flowers are all gone now.  But I just trimmed them back for a second blooming this summer.

bloomingnowvI love the look and smell of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  The color is too subtle for some people’s taste.  But the soft pastel blends in well with stronger colors.

bloomingnowwGregg’s Blue Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) is also a light purple, almost a lavender.  It’s pale color makes it look bland except for all the butterfly activity.  That gets one’s attention.

purpleDeep purple African Violets is the prettiest violet, in my opinion.

white3One stalk of French Hollyhock (Mallva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) survived from the rust fungus.  It was actually not in the flowerbed, but just outside the yard in the weeds.  I transplanted it, so we’ll see what happens next year.

Flowerbeds5This is the flowerbed that I was going to be cautious and not over plant.  Who knew the bushes would get so big and the flowers reseed and multiply so well?  Not me, obviously.

purple3The Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are especially tall this year.  All the rain in May made everything abundant and hardy.

flowers8Such a pretty flower.

purple5The Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook) has been like a Jack in the Beanstalk plant that just keeps getting taller.

purple6Unusual flowers and foliage make it an interesting plant in the yard.  It’s another purchase from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  One of those impulse buys without much knowledge of its characteristics.

Purple robes may have belonged exclusively to the kings, but fortunately, we can enjoy it where ever we wish, including our gardens.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Oops, Should have…

Generally, I operate under the philosophy of just leaving things alone, and they’ll get better.  Or as the adages say:  “Don’t trouble trouble” and “Leave matters well enough alone.”  This doesn’t work too well for health matters, relationships, or as it turns out, for gardening.

oops6These old fashioned Hollyhocks have been a great filler for the flowerbed in the backyard for several years.  Last year, near the end of the blooming season, the leaves didn’t look healthy.  They were drying up, but, hey, the sun had been merciless, all summer.

oops4But this late spring, when hollyhocks should be green and thriving, the leaves are already drying and the flowers are small.  So after looking on the internet for hollyhock problems, I bought some Selvin for what I thought might be Japanese beetle damage.

oops5Sorry about the blurred picture.

But further reading indicated that Hollyhock rust, which is a fungus brought by rain and air currents, was probably the culprit.  The fungus overwinters with plant debris and can then show up when the new plants emerge in the spring.  Rain and dampness encourages the spread of this disease.  Normally, that is definitely not a problem here.  However, this spring, there have been many days with moisture in the air.

oops7The solution is to destroy all diseased material.  Big no-no is to put it into the compost pile.  So I cut all stems to the ground that didn’t have any flower buds on them.  I bagged these and they will go to the dump.

Then I stripped all leaves off of the other stalks and left only blooming flowers or buds.  I also took a kitchen table knife and scraped all the spots off of the stems.  Wise or not?  Don’t know.

After the flowers disappear, I will cut all stalks flush with the ground.  Everything goes into bags.

Wow, this would have taken less time if I had taken care of the problem last year.

oops8So the pinkish red flowers on tall stalks are the few hollyhocks left.  This bed may will look pretty sparse the rest of the summer.  On the positive side, the hardy Hibiscus bush flowers in the center will showcase their beauty.

oopsLet’s end this post with some pleasant snapshots.  The Larkspurs are just starting to bloom.

oops2They pop up in the most unexpected spots.

oops3The seeds were planted in this bed.  False Foxglove also appeared there this year.  The wind and birds distribute seeds all over.  That’s what makes the wildflowers so prolific and enjoyable.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson