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

Here Comes Summer

The mild summer temps have been a wonderful treat.  Just keep wondering how long before the stifling heat is turned on.

Daylilies have kept blooming because of the mild weather.  Pretty sure this one is “Elegant Candy”.  It does look yummy.

Spider Lily finally bloomed.  It looks bedraggled.  Think the grasshoppers attacked it.  Last fall I bought three more from a youth organization.  But they didn’t make it through the winter.

I think the Daylilies are finally done.  Sure have enjoyed them.  “Early Snow” has a pure, crisp look.

Tiger Lilies bloomed this week.  So glad to see that they survived.

Thankfully some things can be expected to last all summer, like these Rose Mosses (Portulaca grandiflora).  They had to be replaced this year for the first time in ages.  The cold winter days killed lots of plants in pots.

Another standby is Oxalis also known as wood sorrel or false shamrock.  Of course, it was in the green house for the winter.  This plant has been in this pot for ages.

The Thornless Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia geroldii) was also in the greenhouse.  I lost the mother plant, which was on the floor.  I’m so glad that I had propagated it.  This smaller pot was on an upper shelf, so it stayed warmer.

I also have a Crown of Thorns with thorns. It’s Euphorbia milii.  So they’re both in the same family.

Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) under a small multi-trunk bush have shot up seeking sunlight.  It just wouldn’t be summer without them.

It’s getting warm enough for Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) to grow and get ready for flowering.  They will grow another three feet and won’t bloom until the hottest part of August.  Although it certainly isn’t swampy here, they do great in our heat.

Hope your summertime is filled with flowers, family, and fun.

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”  old French proverb

Tall and Bold

Some plants just make a statement crying for attention.

The bright red flowers on the long, arching stems of Texas Red Yucca draws eyes and hummingbirds.  Every time I look at this flowerbed, I regret that I planted these yuccas here.  They should be in a gravel bed standing alone.

This was a novice gardener’s mistake:  crowding them with other plants.

I do like that the Red Cannas echo their color and that the Rose of Sharon bushes provide an interesting backdrop.

One thing that I like about Alliums is that the flower balls are on tall stems.  The color of these are nice and bold.  Unfortunately, alliums have a short life in my yard.

Texas Mahonia does well in the center of a flowerbed.  Its leaves are prickly but don’t reach out to grab you.  It’s especially pretty this time of the year with its berries.

Native American Basket Flower stands taller than most wildflowers.  It grows well in the fields and in the yard.  I don’t always have success starting from seeds, but these have thrived and spread.

Vitex definitely grows tall.  In fact, it’s getting harder to trim it to this size.  Some varieties of Vitex do well as a tree.  Not sure about the two I have.

Falso Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) is impressive with its swaying trunks.

Golden Lead Ball Tree is a native that has exceeded my expectations.  Each year, I’m surprised by how much it has grown.

The fuzzy pom-poms make it unique.

Crepe Myrtles are usually outstanding small trees in our area..  However, they did not survive the extreme cold of Uri very well.  We’ve had to cut a lot of dead wood off of all of them.  Just glad to see some blooms on this one.

The large leaves is what makes Catalpa trees bold.  Every year the leaves survive better and longer in the summer.  The wind and heat usually takes a toll on them and tears the thin leaves.

Summer gardening means we have to get up early and get outside to work, so we can get back inside, where it’s cool. Then we can look out the windows to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

“Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street…with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.”  unknown

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.”

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

Windy Days

The weather continues to be a challenge for yardwork.  Cool days and extra strong winds make it unpleasant to do much outside, especially to take pictures.

It’s been strange to see what has survived and what has not.  Some things even seem to have thrived since that bitter, bitter cold.  One Amaryllis bloomed but had a 3 inch stem.  This one looks really healthy.

The Catalpa tree has never looked better.  Of course, the strong sun and the wind will shred the leaves and make it look ragged by the end of summer.  It is surviving better now that its roots have gone deeper with some age.

There has been an abundance of orchid-like blossoms.

The stems of the Byzantine Gladiolus (Gladiolus communis subsp. byzanins) haven’t been as strong as usual, but flowers are still pretty.

A native of the Mediterranean area, they do well here because our climate is similar, except for crazy winters like this February.  We tend to have drought, like that area.

False Indigo Bush (Amorpha fruticosa) looks great.  I love how the multiple trunks sway in the wind.

A unique looking tree or shrub.

Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Naranjo falso Philadelphus x virginiatis) has shown how apt its name is with all the fallen petals.  In spite of the name, it is native to western North America.

The branches can get leggy.

Native Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri) has been in this spot for 14 or 15 years and has not spread.  It is native to Texas, Mexico, and some other southern states.

Most nurseries do not carry this primrose.  This year I did find another one (in front) at a Master Gardener plant sale.  Don’t know why I didn’t buy more.

This patch of Spiderwort looks like a jungle.  Weeds love to hide under their foliage and pop up full grown.

Every time I weed this bed, tiny black bugs get in my hair and sting my scalp.  Don’t think they’re fleas.  After awhile, I just have to stop and go inside to shower and wash my hair.  This sounds like an excuse but is really true.

Just look at those weeds.  Grr.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Hope your day is sunny, calm, and filled with smelling flowers.

“1N73LL1G3NC3  15  7H3  4B1L17Y  70  4D4P7  70  CH4NG3.”                      573PH3N  H4WK1NG

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

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