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

Nature Keeps Us Guessing

Getting close to the end of May and more rain is a welcome surprise.  We’ve had a few hotter days but nothing to complain about.

Lilies are starting to bloom.  Sorry that I can’t remember where I got these and what their name is.

Apricot Fudge Lily is a healthy lily that is faithful to come up in the late spring.

Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) have been in this bed for years. The colors of the flower petals seem to be paler than usual.

On the left is Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissu) which is so soft to the touch.  It originates in the Mediterranean area, so it loves the heat.  Right at home here.

Graham Thomas Rose is called an heirloom rose but was bred by David Austin in 1983.  It is considered to be one of his most popular roses.  It’s tall and loves summer heat.  Look at the abundance of the petals.

Love the color of this tropical Hibiscus.

Shasta daisies create a nice bright spot in the garden.

Native evergreen Yarrows are great survivors.  They made it through the horrific cold this winter and shine as good as ever.

The fern like foliage contrasts with other garden leaves.

Dianthus have so many good qualities.  The only negative is that deadheading takes a while because they produce so many flowers.  Guess that shouldn’t even be considered a negative.

A true heirloom rose from Antique Rose Emporium.  I don’t know which one it is because I received an unidentified cutting at one of their seminars.  It blooms continuously all through the summer and into the fall.

Thanks for reading.  Your comments are welcome.

Texans don’t call someone pretentious or foolish… they say he’s “all hat and no cattle.”

Easy Peasy and Hardy

Plant choice is one of the basic principles of success in the garden.  Research and observing what does well in your area can be fun and helpful.

Crape Myrtles do really well in upper central Texas.  These are the first blooms of the season on  Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia fauriei x indica),               which is one of the tallest varieties.  It can reach 30 feet.  In 8 years, it is already about 10 ft., so this picture is taken looking up.

It was named in honor of Bill Basham, who worked for the city of Houston as a horticulturist in the 1970’s.

Vitex or Chaste (Vitex agnus-castus) woody shrubs or small trees thrive in our hot summers.  This one is growing in a flower bed, so it’s full on the bottom.

Abuzz with bees when in bloom.

The blooms are Texas’ answer to Lilacs.

This Vitex in the back yard must be mowed around, so it’s trimmed in close at the bottom.  The branches of both bushes are pruned at the top to keep it’s size fairly compact.  It can get leggy and unattractive if not pruned in late fall.

This is a different variety from the Vitex in the front yard.  Most are not specifically labeled at nurseries naming the type of Vitex, so it’s a guessing game.

Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) are very hardy here.  Maintenance consists of dividing the clumps every few years.

A wonderful perennial that adds brightness to borders of flowerbeds.

In a field across the driveway, we seeded wildflowers last fall.

One of my favorite ones that is successful here is American Basket Flowers (Plectocephalus americanus).  Buds may look like thistles, but Basket flower stems are not prickly.

Like most wildflowers, it reseeds very well.

Horse Mint or Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodoraCerv. ex Lag.) and Coreopsis are happy in this area.

Not all Texas wildflowers do well in every part of Texas.  Our property also has Prairie Verbena, Snow on the Mountain, and Indian Blankets.  In some years when there is more rain, Texas Bluebells can be seen.

Of course, all of these wildflowers are very drought tolerant.

If you’re like me, part of the fun is reading and hearing about plants.  And, of course, shopping for them at local plant sales and privately owned nurseries.

“Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”  Lori Deschene

Summer’s Heat is Coming

The fiery dragon is moving in closer with flames of heat not too far away.  Can feel him breathing down our necks.  Spring was just a brief hiatus.

Another picture of Eyeliner Lilies.  There was a close-up on my last post.  I’m so impressed with their height and sturdiness. What beauties.

Also, another shot of the Ditch Lilies with a mass of color.

Grey Santolina or Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) sports bright yellow button flowers.

A squirrel has discovered the treasure trove of acorns in the yard.  The extra large acorns laying on the ground from two Bur Oaks are providing many feasts.

Shasta Daisies are just staring to bloom.  Something else that needs to be divided.  That’s just part of being a gardener.  As I tell my husband, it’s an opportunity to stay limber, busy, and healthy.

The thing about daylilies is just that – they last one day.  But they will bloom again and again.  The flowers of “Always Afternoon” Daylily are large and striking.

Native Blue Mist or Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) leafs out and blooms in late spring.  It’s one hardy bush with cold hardiness in zones 5 – 9.

This Yellow Canna has little flecks of gold on the yellow petals.

It’s warm enough for “Bubba” Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) to bloom and for sweat on the brow when laboring in the sun.  Their orchid-like flowers are a refreshing sight.

Hope you are healthy as you survive this isolation time.  Maybe it will be ending soon.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”         John Wooden

Dreams of Spring

So much work to do to prepare the flowerbeds for the arrival of spring.  As we get older, short periods of outdoor work is needed to build up strength and endurance.

Thankfully, there are a few plants that don’t require any backbreaking labor.

Native Coral Honeysuckle, also called Trumpet Honeysuckle or Woodbine (Lonicera Sempervirens L.) is one such vine.

Each individual flower will open up and provide nectar for hummingbirds.

Eventually, this vine will probably outgrow this tripod.  After two years, it’s already extending out.

Coral Honeysuckle is semi-evergreen.  Natives really are the best.  But I constantly get suckered in by other plants at the nursery.

So glad to see that the Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa caucasica) have returned.  By the end of summer, they were looking pretty pathetic.  There is an annual called Pincushion, but this one is the perennial type.

I love, love bulbs, rhizomes, and corms.  Each year I’m surprised by the different beauties.  The expression “dig, drop, done” is so true.  But every few years, they should be divided.

New growth of perennials, like Shasta Daisy, is such a welcome sight.  The promise of beautiful flowers makes me so happy.

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”  unknown

Good-bye to Spring

As an unusually long, cool, wet spring comes to an end, we’re all counting our blessings.  This wonderful weather has been wide spread and a real treat.  It’s near the end of June and no really hot temperatures.  Hooray.It’s sad to say good bye to the spectacular show of Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum.)

Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.  Emphasis on the word “one”.  A Painted Lady is enjoying a flat landing spot.

Many gorgeous spirals on the Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has brought a sweet fragrance to the back yard.

In the front yard, another Vitex, but it almost seems like a different species.  The blossoms are smaller, a paler color, and not scented.  In front of the Vitex are some Flame Acanthus, which just keep spreading.

In late fall, I cut both Vitex back severely to keep them from becoming large trees because those are not nearly as attractive.

This flowerbed is anchored by the Vitex and a large Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Between the large bush/trees are Cone Flowers and Rock Roses by the sidewalk.

Behind the Cone flowers is a Bridal Wreath Spiraea, a small Crepe Myrtle, and some Mexican Feather Grass.  So this bed is crammed full.

Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) are also waning, although some will hang on through the summer.

Another absolute favorite.

The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima) hasn’t totally greened up yet.  This is considered to be invasive but that hasn’t happened in this bed.

The ground cover around the Vitex is Stonecrop Sedum.  It helps keep the native grass out of this bed.

This year I’ve planted Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetti) in a pot so it can be carried inside in winter.  One year I tried it in a flower bed; that winter was particulary harsh and killed it.

The flowers have a similar look as Mexican Petunia.

After the initial first flush, the roses are just now starting to bloom again.  Abraham Darby has David Austin’s trademark inner petals.

A new rose that intrigues me is Scentimental.  It was hybridized by Tom Carruth.

He has created more roses than any other living American.

It’s also called a red and white stripped rose.  So far, I haven’t noticed that the smell is that strong, but still love the uniqueness of it.

“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.”  George Washington

Halt

Sometimes life is just bopping along; then suddenly we’re stopped in our tracks.  If it’s major, there are catastrophic results, like loss of life.  If it’s minor, it’s usually just an irritant.  Then there are different levels in-between.

Recently, I spent too much time in a certain position pulling weeds, which resulted in sciatica nerve pain that has halted my activities.  For now, I’m sidelined from yard work.

So, yes, I know there are weeds in the following pictures.

My option is to just observe all the weeds popping up following abundant rains and sigh.  Elegant Candy re-blooming day lily has an interesting color combination.

This Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) was sold as a Texas native.  In reality, they are native to East Asia.  They have a nice rounded shape and are perennials in zones 5 to 9.

The color is rather delicate, so lean in close to truly see its beauty.  Butterflies and bees do like them, but this shrub doesn’t have the super allure of Gregg’s Blue Mist.

Love daylily time.  These common Ditch Lilies have just opened up.

They’re called common, but I think they’re real beauties.

Woodland Ferns have filled in this flowerbed.  Columbine keeps claiming some space and will be pulled out at some time.

Rose Moss gives a cheery greeting as you step up to the porch.

Shasta Daisies are bursting into bloom.

Bright small yellow puffs top off Grey Santolina (Santolina chamaecyoarissus).

The silvery sheen of Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is alluring as the wind ruffles its leaves.

Ragin Cajun False Petunia (Ruellia elegans) is a small clump that blooms profusely.  It’s from Brazil and Argentina and is hardy zones 8a to 10b, so I’m hoping it survives our winter.  The hummingbirds have been visiting it often.

Hope your late spring is full of joy and wonder.

“My life is like my internet browser.  I have 19 tabs open, 3 are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.” unknown 

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

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High and Low

It’s easy to miss the little beauties on the ground and those above us.

highlowIron Weed (Vernonia altissima) is a native that grows in bar ditches around here.  I gathered seeds and put them in a pot.  This one has done so so in a container but really should be sown in the grown.

The flower clusters are small but a bunch of them is eye catching.

Normally, it blooms in late spring and summer, but the cooler weather has revived it.

highlow1Up above my head Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) from the Mediterranean region has a similar climate to ours.  The flowers stand out silhouetted against the blue sky.

highlow5Native Yarrow (Achillea) provides a casual look to the garden.  In this case, I’m hoping it will spread and provide shade for the ‘feet’ of a Clematis.

Native Americans used ground yarrow boiled in water and cooled as a wash to treat sunburns.

highlow2The berries on a Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) draws my eyes upward.  This tree is a good choice for our area because it is pest free with a hardwood that is decay resistant.  It was chosen as a Texas Super Star tree for many reasons.  This great shade tree that has autumn color is one of my favorite trees.

highlow8After the heat of the summer passed, Cone flowers have popped back up.  I’m not sure which Echinacea variety this one is.

The stems are shorter this time around than the earlier spring ones.  Love these.

highlow9But a warning.  These reseed to produce a massive array.  It’s not possible to have just a few.

highlowdReally like the unusual color of these Geraniums.  The red flowers have a pink strip on each petal.  This came from my mother’s house.  Right now it needs a little TLC but still very nice.

highlow3Looking straight up, the Crossvine (bignonia capreolata) has started to crawl across the top bars of the arbor.  It’s nice when plants follow the plan.

highlow4A great vine for pollinators.

highlowfA sort of whirly jig: the wheels spin on this truck on a pole.

highlowbShasta Daisies ( Leucanthemum × superbumare) are also blooming again.  Most people enjoy their familiar and clean look.

Don’t you love the signs of fall and the cooler temperatures?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”  Ronald Reagan

Pure White Flowers

The rains have stopped and the sun is out.  Now we get to enjoy the results of our unusual rainfall: 14 inches in May.  Woohoo!  Blooming flowers bring a special beauty to the whole outdoors.

We were one of the fortunate ones to receive enough rain to fill tanks and creeks, but not so much that there was destructive flooding.  Our hearts go out to those in other parts of Texas still suffering lost of loved ones, property, and everything they had.

white4This White Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’) is just starting to bloom after its stay in the shed over the winter.  It’s also known as Cape Leadwort.  Sometimes common plant names are just plain funny.

bloomingnow9I’ve wanted a Datura (Datura wrightii) for a few years and found one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at their spring plant sale.  They require mostly shade, so the only place I have is under a large Live Oak tree at the back of the backyard.  So vigilance is required to see it bloom.

bloomingnowaThe common name is Angel’s Trumpet, along with Moonflower.  Several other plants are also called Moonflower.  They are part of ‘witches’ weeds’ because they are poisonous.  Hence, they could be used to create a deadly potion.

Other names include Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple, and Stinkweed.

bloomingnow8Datura was used as a narcotic for American Indian religious ceremonies.

Although it sounds scary, it’s pretty and safe if there are no young children or pets that would chew on it.

bloomingnowlShasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) brighten up a flowerbed.  It is a hybrid created by an American horticulturist in 1890.

bloomingnowkShastas grow in a clump and should be divided every 2 to 3 years.  That’s on my to-do list this year when the bloom period is over.  They need full sun and survive very well in zones 4 – 9, even in our lousy caliche clay.

bloomingnowzPollinators flock to them.  Although I’m not very good at identifying butterflies, this looks like a Common Buckeye.

bloomingnowzz

bloomingnowzzzJust love the bright freshness of daisies.

“When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.”      Mark Batterson