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

The Lady Wore Red

Chris De Burgh’s “Lady in Red” lyrics include these lines:

“I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight.  I’ve never seen you shine so bright.”

A red dress is an attention getter.  Red flowers have that same effect in the garden.

ladyinredEven a common old fashioned plant like Canna Lilies are still striking.  Not only do the bright flowers shine, but the large leaves fill up a space.

They have the added bonus of being low maintenance and easy to grow.  They probably bloom better with a little more water, but mine do fine with less than ideal amounts.  The rhizomes multiply yearly which makes it easy to share the bounty.

ladyinred5Dynamite Crape Myrtles have a deep, deep red color.  For all of central Texas, Crape Myrtles are one of the best flowering small trees around.  They come in so many different colors and are a trustworthy performer.

I’ve read that Dynamites are fast growers.  That has not been my experience.  Granted, the soil here is dense clay with lots of caliche and rocks.

They did not even bloom for the first two years and only had a few flowers the third year.  Just when I was about ready to give up, they were covered with full, gorgeous clusters.

ladyinred6Crimson Pirate Daylily is new this year.  We’ll see how hardy it is in this climate.

ladyinredbThe Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has bloomed several times this year and none last year.  Sometimes plant performance is a conundrum.

ladyinred9The wind whips it around pretty hard.

ladyinredaThe pods for new blooms are clustered behind the one already open.  So far, only one flower at a time blooms.

ladyinred8On a different branch a flower pod awaits its turn.

ladyinredcTurk’s Cap flowers are small but so attractive.  The large, thin leaves look totally unsuitable for our hot summers.  But it’s in full sun and has survived for five years, continues to grow and get larger.

ladyinreddRed Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have shoots coming up all around the mother plant.  It surprised me to learn that hollyhocks are short lived with only a 2 to 3 year lifespan.  However, they readily reseed.

ladyinredp.jpgFlame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus Nees var. wrightii) looks so unimpressive from a distance with the red washing out in the sun.

ladyinredfUp close each tubular flower seems bold.  Also known as Hummingbird bush, Wright’s desert honeysuckle, Wright acanthus, Mexican flame, and Wright’s Mexican flame.  So it’s no surprise that hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects flit around it.

ladyinredgAll the new little bushes sprouting in my beds attest to the fact that it reseeds profusely.

ladyinredo.jpgBack in full force, Strawberry Field Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) has filled out this spot nicely.  Each flower contains about 60 seeds.  That accounts for all the new plants this year.

Gomphrena also makes a good dried flower.  I tried a few last year.  If cut when the color is vivid, the color holds pretty well.

ladyinredr.jpgOne Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) still has a few blooms but has mostly gone to seed.  It is indigenous to the southeastern US and is a member of the phlox family.

Standing Cypress or Texas plume, Red Texas star, Red gilia has been difficult for me to get established.  I don’t know if that is because it is biennial here or that the seeds are not sprouting.  But it is such a striking plant that I keep trying.

“One of the most breathtaking concepts in all of scripture is the revelation that God knows each of us personally and that we are in His mind both day and night.”  Dr. James Dobson

What’s Blooming

Although most things are not in full bloom in the yard, there are some flowers.  Enough time has elapsed since our last freeze to access the losses from the winter.  Dead trees and bushes have been pulled up, so it’s time to enjoy some the freshness of spring.

yardsummerstartxThe Mexican Feather Grass  (Nassella tenuissima) came through all that cold like a breeze.  This is a Texas native from the Trans Pecos area that tolerates limestone based soils – hooray.

yardsummerstartkThis time the dark clouds actually materialized into some rain: an inch last week and almost two inches yesterday and this morning.  Time for a happy dance.

Beside the larger Mexican Feather Grass are some green new clumps that came up in several places.  I transplanted them close to the parents so there will be an even fuller display swaying in the wind.

yardsummerstartyHenry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) or sage is a reliable plant that spreads and puts on a show every year.  The first three tiny plants were put in eight years ago.

yardsummerstartzIt blooms from spring until the first freeze in the full sun.  And that’s Texas sun!  This one deserves the Texas Superstar status it has and is for anyone who needs a drought tolerant, hardy bit of color.

yardsummerstartwThese Gopher Plants were planted a month ago.  There are several different botanical names for plants that look like this.  The only thing I know for sure is that it is an euphoriba.  I had heard that it was a good plant for this area and is from the Mediterranean region, which usually means drought tolerant.

The Gopher Plant name comes from the fact that they are poisonous to gophers.  Wouldn’t they also be poisonous to other animals?

yardsummerstartvSince I bought it (and I had to search for it), I’ve read that it does not survive in clay soils.  Oh, well.  I’m watching it closely to see if it needs to go into a pot.

Note the single grass like green shoots behind it.  These only grow in this area and plague me.  I’ve pulled and sprayed.  Nothing seems to work.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

yardsummerstart8The Balloon Flowers are starting to open.  For eight years, they have done very well, but they don’t spread.  I’ve read that they also do not survive dividing.  So I finally bought a few more to fill in the space.  It seems that no nursery in our area carries Balloon Flowers, so these were bought at Lowe’s in the metroplex.

The other stems with lacy leaves are some Larkspur that came up in this bed.

yardsummerstart7Another reliable sight each year is the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

yardsummerstart6More Larkspur in another bed.  I let them bloom where ever they appear since they perk up any flowerbed.

yardsummerstartThis Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) is my prize for the year.  This is a gorgeous wildflower that grows in bar ditches. It is also called Texas plume, Red Texas Star, or Red Gilia.  Two years ago I bought a few at the Lady Bird Johnson Center plant sale.  This is the first time any have bloomed.

yardsummerstart2Love, love their brilliance.

yardsummerstart3The tubular flowers look similar to some other plant blooms, like Acanthus, but the color is stronger.  Just doesn’t get any prettier.

“Do one thing today for someone.  It may not mean much to you, but it might mean the world to them.”  Unknown