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

Spiky Plants Plus Some Softer Ones

I’m not a big fan of gardens with only a few colors and shapes.  Variety and surprise is what intrigues me.

The first time I saw Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) in the high desert around Santa Fe, I wanted to try that plant here.  Russian Sage has not disappointed.  Heat and sun make it thrive and spread.

Yes, it does get supplemental water, which boosts growth.  Bees love it.

This year I remembered to plant a couple of Dill plants (Anethum graveolens) to feed Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  They are annuals and the caterpillars usually eat them to the ground.  But oh, what beautiful butterflies are the results.

The flowers of Vitex are spiky, standing upright on the bush.  Vitex’s origins in Mediterranean and western Asia make it a good plant for the Texas climate.

Bees humming and butterflies darting around draws me close to enjoy the sights and sounds.

Daylilies are still blooming.

Flowers are a balm to my soul.

Golden Rod (Solidago sphacelata Golden Fleece) is not the culprit that causes allergies.  Ragweed spreads its pollen by the wind.  But Golden Rod is pollinated by insects.  So Ragweed’s pollen dispersed in the air is what causes the allergy problems.

This is a dwarf Golden Fleece Goldenrod.  When paired with bright Zinnias, they create a great composition.

 

 

The bright colored balls of Globe Amaranth contains hundreds of seeds.  At the end of fall, the flowers die, and the seeds are spread by the wind.  I love them and don’t mind that they appear in multiple places each spring.

What a beautiful, soft color.

Agastache is another great pollinator plant.

The flowers on the spikes are a light lavender.

These Ornamental Onions have an unusual shape with their clusters of tiny onions on a tall stem.  We have dug out the plants trying to get rid of the native Bermuda Grass.  Obviously, the grass has deep roots and returns each year.  So we’ve thrown in the towel on this project.

Different sizes and shapes of leaves in a garden also add interest.  Cannas may be common place, but their reliability makes me love them.  Plus, there are a few different flower colors available.

Creating a garden is like decorating a house.  There are many different styles and personal preferences.  I don’t think people should be confined by fads or the opinions of experts.  Just have fun and enjoy your own space.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”  Will Rogers

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

Resilient Plants

Isn’t it amazing how resilient plants are?  They can survive drought, floods, artic cold, blazing sun, suffocating heat, and neglect.

Even with the odd weather this year, our plants look spectacular.

‘Eye Liner’ Lilies are taller and fuller with more blooms than ever.  One bulb was planted in 2019.  They are a cross between Easter Lily and an Asian hybrid.

The stems are straight and sturdy.

Standing above other plants, they’re easy to view from a window.

One last shot.  So happy with these lilies.

Red Yucca blooms provide nectar for hummingbirds.

‘Always Afternoon’ Daylily clump is wider than usual with more flowers.  Planted in 2018, it’s probably time to divide it.

Caryopteris, native to East Asia, does amazingly well here.

Pollinators love them.

Ditch Lilies never fail to brighten up the spring.  They are a little late this year, as is most everything.

I’m on a mission to convince people to give bulbs a chance.  They are one of the most reliable plants you can have.  Most have the added bonus of multiplying.

These were planted in 2006.  The soil is clay, so it’s like they’re planted in cement.  I would love to share but can’t dig them up.

One ‘Inwood’ Daylily bulb was planted in 2017.  Not all daylilies multiply at the same rate.  Some hybrids don’t seem to multiply.

Nepeta Walker’s Low Catmint in is the foreground pot.  It’s new this year and has quickly filled out the pot with foliage and scent.

Hope your garden is blooming and bringing joy.

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  Vincent Van Gogh

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

Red Hot

High temperatures have finally arrived.  So thankful for the mild June we had.  But, of course, it is July.  So we’re due for heat.

Backdraft Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia hybrid) by Proven Winners makes a bold statement.

These are not particular about soil and are fairly drought tolerant.

The flowers last a pretty long time.  Each clump produces several stems.

The red balls are Strawberry Fields Gomphrena or Amaranth (Gomphrena haageana).  Their bold color provides some oomph to the yard.  These are great re-seeders.

Black Diamond Crapemyrtle with its black leaves makes a good backdrop for green foliage.

Texas Mahonia (Mahonia B. swaseyi) with its red and orange red berries fits right in with the other colors and pulls it all together.  Not really planned that way – just a lucky accident.

Frans Hals Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Frans Hals’) is blooming.  It’s one of the shorter stemmed daylilies.  Like the bold colors.

Atom Gladiolus are shorter than most gladiolas, so they don’t fall over as much.  The flowers are also smaller.  But the silver white outline around the petals give then a unique look.

Good old fashioned Canna Lilies given to me by a friend years ago.  They slowly multiply and are dependable to bloom every year.  These are at the outer edge of the yard and don’t get much water and certainly no care.

Happy Independence Day – July the 4th.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela

Visit to Chandor

Since Chandor Gardens is now part of the Weatherford Parks Department, they are responsible for its maintenance.  Kudos to them.  It is always pristine and well cared for and no weeds, which is quite a feat.One of my favorite things is this gate.  It was a gift to Chandor.  I’m amazed how well the grapes have kept their color over the years.

Just imagine how much this would cost today.  The detail is exquisite.

Like the brick border to this flowerbed.

The bridge over a small pond is one of the well known landmarks of this garden.

Foo dog statues are scattered through out the garden.  They became popular in Chinese Buddhism and were used in imperial palaces and tombs.  I always wondered why they don’t look like dogs.  So I looked it up. They are not dogs but lions.  Chinese name is “shi”, which means lion.

Because shade is predominate, there are few flowers in the garden.  Just enough light for a day lily in this spot.

Glass decorative pieces look like Chuhily, but those might be too pricey for this garden.  I do love his work and go to his exhibitions anytime we’re near them.

Nice use of Coleus.

These look like Easter Lilies.

Chandor’s originial house is on the right.  It’s only open to the public for special events.

This little statue always makes me think of Napoleon.  But Chandor was British, so it’s probably Lord Nelson.

This long, arched entrance leading to the house is impressive. The brick work looks old.  It probably requires repairs often.

It’s surprising to see Spider Plants or Airplane Plants (Chorophytum comosum) planted in the ground.  They are usually in pots or hanging baskets.  But since annals are used to fill in spots at this garden, I guess workers just lift them out and put them in the green house for winter.

Spider Plants are native to South Africa, but are used often in our area because they do well in the heat.

Thanks for reading about our visit to this garden.

“Humility makes you disappear, which is why we avoid it.”                                               Paul E. Miller from “A Praying Life”

Queen for a Day

Okay, I’m showing my age, but does anyone remember hearing about the old TV show “Queen for a Day”?  It started in the late 1940’s as a radio show and became a popular daytime TV show in in the 50’s and early 60’s.

My mother and thousands of other ladies watched as women told sob stories to be chosen as queen and receive gifts like refrigerators.  The winner was crowned, draped with a red velvet robe and placed on a throne.  She reigned for a day.

In the garden, daylilies like “Elegant Candy” (Hemerocallis ‘Elegant Candy’) reign for a day in all their splendor.  In fact, the word Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words meaning beauty and day.

Many daylilies, like this “Early Snow” grow low to the ground with the flower raised on a stem about a foot tall.

The spider shape of “Frans Hals” grows on a taller stem.  Probably named after an artist during the Dutch Golden Age with most of the best work done during the 1600’s.  Frans Hals painted mostly portraits or groups of people.

The deep color of the center of “Inwood” grabs attention.

Hardy Hibiscus in the mallow family is truly stunning.  The tissue-papery flowers may last more than a day.  I haven’t determined that.

These hibiscus are winter hardy and relatively drought tolerant with huge flowers – 8″ across.  The branches do tend to flop, so stakes are necessary.  Sorry I don’t remember the color.

The dark color of “Passion for Red”  makes it a true beauty.

Rose Mallow ‘Luna Pink Swirl’ (Hibiscus moscheutos) is cold hardy to zone 5.  It’s a keeper and a beauty.  The flowers last one day with more buds waiting to open.

Another queen for a day (or night) is Moon Flower (Datura wrightii).  It’s a Texas native that needs shade with filtered light.

The blue flowers are Black and Blue Sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’) in a pot in front of the Moon Flower.  This plant also needs semi-shade:  at least in the hot Texas sun.

“Scottish Fantasy”

“Viva la Vida” is double cross lily.  An Asiatic hybrid was crossed with a fragrant Oriental and then crossed back with another Asiatic lily.  This one doesn’t truly apply for queen for a day since its blooms last a few days.

Viva la Vida is Spanish for “Live that Life”.  There’s also a song by that name.

The last painting by Frida Kahlo in 1954 was named Viva la Vida.

I’m a big fan of bulbs, corm, and tubers like daylilies, irises, and crinums.  They’re a great investment that multiples over time.

“We might think that we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”  Jenny Uglow

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