On the Wild Side

With our dry, hot summer keeping us mostly inside, the yard is definitely in need of some TLC.  As the mornings are becoming cooler, we must tackle the weeds and trim bushes, etc.

A volunteer plant in this pot is American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana).  I pulled this plant out of this pot a couple of years ago.  Must not have gotten all the tap root or a bird likes this perch to deposit seeds.

Poke salad, which is not a salad at all, has been eaten by Native Americans, African Americans and Southern people for decades.  But.  That’s a big but.  The plant is  poisonous and can only be consumed after taking precautions.  First, in the spring, only the young leaves and stems without any red in them are safe.  They must be boiled in at least two changes of water.  The big, juicy roots are extremely toxic and not to be eaten at all.

With this information, I wouldn’t even try them.

Chile tepin or Pequin pepper was named the official state native pepper in 1997.  They are  5–8 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale.  I just grow them for their looks and give the peppers to our son who likes the fire in the mouth taste.

Another volunteer in a pot is this big leafed plant. Just ignore the small weeds.

This is the flower at the top of its long stem.  I have no idea what it is, although I do remember planting some seeds in this pot.  Anyone know what it is?

A Texas native, Texas Kidneywood has grown amok.  It used to be a erect bush and not leaning in all directions.  I don’t know if I should trim it up or not.

Bees and other pollinators don’t seem to care how it looks.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) seeds were given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Each year the seed pods break open and the wind scatters them.  It’s a North American native that loves our dry, hot summers.

Repeat blooming Irises behave a lot like natives because they’re hardy and can endure whatever weather comes along.  They are tough as nails rhizomes that multiply and have beautiful flowers.

Another gorgeous iris.  Their stems aren’t as tall this time of the year, but they still put on a great show.

A change of scenery.  Last Saturday we attended the annual Fall Landscaping Symposium in San Angelo.  Since this is an AgriLife building, they had to join the San Angelo tradition of displaying painted rams.

A little A & M humor.

The pictures show some of our state symbols, like Bluebonnets, Mocking Birds, Side Oats grass, and cotton.  Prickly pear cactus are the bottom of the legs in the previous picture.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them is dirt.”  John Muir

Winter in Reality

Most years we don’t have any winter weather.  There’s a few days of freezing temperatures, but no precipitation to create a wintery scene.

So sometimes we help Mother Nature along.  This was a time when it was below freezing and we forgot to turn off the sprinkler system in the flower beds.

With the sprinkler head on the other side of this trellis, a different view shows up.

Same flower bed and icicles hang from a birdhouse.

Another time it rained during the night and it was so cold that the moisture froze on plants and branches.  Henry Duelberg Salvia soaked up the water making very thick ice on the small branches.

The ice makes for a dramatic beauty.

I guess people who live where winter is severe and common aren’t as enamored with these scenes as we are.

Ice on a Chinese Pistache looks lacy, especially with the green of a Live Oak framing it in the background.

Shrubs that I can’t identify at this point.  A different Live Oak provides the backdrop.

The Live Oak and shrubs taken from the back porch.

Evergreen Cherry Laurel sags under the weight of ice. In the background, the ridge looks like someone shook some powdered sugar over the trees.

Up close to the Cherry Laurel.

Branches from another Chinese Pistache draping in front of a metal pergola.

A Yaupon Holly.

Texas Kidney Bush (Eysenhardtia texana) gets its name from the fact that Indians and settlers used the beans in the pods as treatment for kidney problems.

A rose hip encased in ice.

Our winter, if we have one, usually occurs in January.  Ice is more common than snow, and it is hazardous to travel on icy roads.  Crews usually cover the highways with sand or tiny gravel.  But the backroads are not treated, so we usually stay home until it melts.

“If I’m walking on thin ice, I might as well dance my way across.”  Mercedes Lackey

Hip, Hip, Hooray

Blessings falling from heaven – 3 inches of rain.  Relief from heat and scorching sun.

This pot of Moon Flower or Jimsomweed (Datura stramonium) sits under a Chinese Pistache tree, so it’s shady most of the day.  It just keeps blooming and blooming.

One of the best things about Moon Flowers is that they produce hard seed pods with a generous amount of seeds.  If they drop off where another plant is desired, just leave them there.  Then gather the remaining pods, but watch out for the sharp points on them.

I usually put them in a uncovered container and take them inside for the winter.  Then in the spring, the pods will start to disintegrate.  Using a knife, the seeds can be scraped out.  Plant some seeds and have instant pass-a-long plants or just share the seeds.

Texas Purple Sage or Texas Ranger Sage (Leucophyllum freutescens) only blooms after rains.  This shrub is native to northern Mexico, New Mexico and the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas.

The pale colored flowers only last a few days, so the beauty is shortlived.

Most roses don’t bloom during really hot weather.  Belinda’s Dream blooms off and on from early spring until the first frost.  It doesn’t bloom heavily during the hottest days but is one of the hardiest rose bushes for our area.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native that isn’t showy until it blooms at the end of the summer.  Most of the time, it doesn’t look like much.  That’s why it’s at the back of the yard.

Then it rains and voila:  flowers and bees.

It’s flowers are fragrant and draw lots of bees.

Tropical Hibiscus may not seem worth the trouble in the center of Texas, since it has to be taken inside during the winter.  The flowers on the previous one I had were prettier than this one.  But it had been in the pot for about 14 years and was root bound.  I think I found the other one in San Angelo.

Old fashioned Geraniums were purchased at a local club plant sale 13 years ago.  They had come from someone’s grandmother in East Texas.  Each fall, I cut off some branches and root them so I’ll have some plants the following spring.

Autumn is coming – a great time to plant.

“If you are going anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books.”  Roald Dahl

More Ice Pix

Everything looks picture worthy as I tramp around the ice covered yard.

Ice gives Yaupon Holly a sparkle.

Brr.  No one wants to live here in this cold.

Snapping off of the frozen branches from the Texas Kidneywood bush would be easy.

Possum Haw berries in a globe of ice.  Possumhaw Holly is a great small native tree with multiple trunks.

Icy Red Yucca branches under an overcast sky makes me shiver.

The two preceding pictures show Blue Mistflowers.

At the tip of tall trunks of Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), heavy ice keeps the branches from swaying in the wind.

Ice covered rose bushes have an ethereal look.

Spaghetti strands of Dried Mexican Feather Grass flops on the ground.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorn is one of the few evergreen bushes in our yard.  The frosty ice coating is gorgeous.

Tall, thin stems of Obedient Plant form upside down icicles.

Bright red Rose Hip with copper colored Rose leaves provides color in a drab wintry scene.

I enjoy some winter when the harsh weather only comes a few days at a time.  But basically, I’m a warm weather person.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Newbies

Newbie means that they are new in my yard and some of them are new to me, period.

newbiesA good source of hardy plants is garden club events.  This was bought at a regional meeting where the host club sold plants.  The prices are always reasonable, the plants are reliable, and the cause is good.

Many times I don’t know the plant but I trust the source.  This one was labeled Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra), so I expected some red berries.  This has pink berries and flowers that look a lot like Lantana.  It is hardiness zone 8 and 9, so it will have to go in a shed during the winter.

Barbados Cherry are large shrubs, and it will evidently have large red berries.

newbies1Another good source for plants in Central Texas is the Lady Bird Johnson Center.  Texas Kidneywood or Bee Brush (Eysenhardtia texana) is doing well in our alkaline soil.

newbies2It has a slight citrus smell and attracts pollinators.  The Mesquite looking leaves is a sign that it will do well in an arid climate.

newbies7Bought at a garden event, this plant was tagged Germander.  From what I’ve read, it’s an herb that is in the mint family.  It has grown, but doesn’t have much scent and hasn’t flowered.  The jury is still out on it.

newbies4Another garden club event purchase, Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) is a woody vine that grows up to 10 ft.  Senecio means confused old man which refers to its matted growth if not supported by a trellis or fence.

newbies6Since it is tropical, it has to brought inside here.  So I’m not quite sure how I will work out support for its branches.

newbies8New here means that at last I’ve gotten Lavender to survive.  I’ve tried it a couple of times before.  First, I thought it didn’t need much watering, so it withered.  The next one I watered a little, but rain from a roof flowed into it and drowned it.

These were given to us when we paid for a gardening seminar.  I’ve watered them but the pots drain really well.  So far, so good.

newbies9Oxblood Lily or Schoolhouse Lily (Rhodophiala bifida) is thought to be native to Texas but actually was brought here from Argentina in the early 1800’s.  My blooms were short lived, but so bright that they seem worth it.  Don’t really remember where I got them.

Experimenting in the garden can be fun and challenging.

“Long after this election is over Trump and Hillary will still be rich.  Half of us will be able to claim we ‘won’.  The other half will have 4 years to say that’s why I didn’t vote for ____.’

‘Just remember that we live in a different America than they do.  We have to live, work, and eat with each other in OUR America.  We don’t get to hop on a private jet and fly away from our communities’ problems.  We are what makes this country what it is, not the President.

‘He/she will not stop crime in our neighborhoods.  He won’t stop people from stealing your identity, and she will not stop any one from shooting up our local night clubs.  Hillary will not come teach your child right from wrong, but you can.  Trump will not come to your home and teach your child math, but you can.

‘WE as a UNITED people with sound morals, values, and ethics can make this country whatever we want.

‘Vote for whomever you want, but remember WE are the ones that shape our communities, not them.”     Barbara Janovetz