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

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

Simple Small Surprises

Some people think that the big moments – like a once-in-a-lifetime trip, attending an spectacular event, or a wedding with all the bells and whistles – are the most important part of life. Those major events are memorable and photographs can be enjoyed for years.

But the majority of life is made up of life as usual; just earning a living and doing the daily tasks that need to be done.  So, the old saying “take time to smell the roses” is truly excellent advice for enjoying everyday life.

About three months ago, we bought a trailer load of compost.  With everything that has been happening, we just finished distributing it around the flower beds.  So as we slowly finished that and some other projects this week, I noticed some small sweet things that  brightened my day.

The Pincushion (Scabiosa pincushion) flowers stopped blooming when summer heat hit.  The cooler weather has brought a few flowers.

Pincushion Flowers get their name from how the center of the flower looks like pins (stamens) stuck into a cushion.  Pincushions were in common use when more people sewed their clothes.  Some of us old fogies still have them.

Growing low to the ground, a Scentimental rose catches my eye.  I love the stripped petals.

Early in the mornings, flocks of robins spread out in the yard.  Then, the usual residents join them for breakfast.  When I crack the door just a little to get a picture, they all scatter.  Someone must yell, “Hurry, everyone return to your hiding place.”  So they fly into trees and bushes.

This Mockingbird flew to the top of a Chinese Pistache tree.

A couple of pairs of Cardinals live in the bushes but are very shy about getting their picture taken.

It surprised me to see a Gulf Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis) flowering.

Indian Summer Rudbeckia or Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) were planted in September.  They both had flowers.  But a day later, the flowers were gone.  Probably bitten off by a jackrabbit.  So I caged them.  This week I noticed one had a new flower.

This might be Mystic Blue Spirals, but I doubt it because the foliage isn’t shiny.  The plant has been in this pot for years and looks about like this from spring through fall. This group of Reblooming Irises has bloomed off and on since spring.  Not all Reblooming Irises perform this well.  The color is spectacular.

Appreciation and gratitude define how we experience life and react to the good and the difficult parts of life. They also make life infinitely sweeter.

“The best part of life’s journey is who you get to share it with.”  unknown

Sweet Rain

This week we’re received almost 2 inches of rain.  Depending on where you live, that may not sound like much, but it’s a blessing to us.

Rain and cooler temperatures is a boon to everything.  More irises blooming.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has shot up in height.  Some are over 4 ft. tall.

Each stem seems insignificant, but together, twirling in the wind, they are a lovely sight.

Last year, we planted a Greek Myrtle (Myrtus communis).  It appealed to me because it’s evergreen.  Immediately after planting, one side died.  So I was surprised to see all the flowers this year.

After planting it in the middle of a flower bed, I read that they should be planted alone.  Oh, well, we’ll see what happens in the future.

The flowers are striking and appear to be twinkling, like stars in the sky.

The other day, I gave this Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree a hair cut.  Each spring the lower branches dip down to the ground.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of that.  Anyway, it becomes impossible to move around the tree.  Cutting off the low hanging branches doesn’t seem to hurt the tree at all.

The raised bed to the right of the tree is where we planted some small Pink Muhly grasses about two months ago.Kindly Light Dayilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) are a bright spot in the yard.

Old Fashioned Hollyhocks or Grandma’s Hollyhocks stand tall and proud.

Some are so tall that they look in danger of falling over.

Want a drought tolerant plant that spreads and has a wonderful aroma when touched, try Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  They are native to the Himalayas, so it seems that they would not do well in our dry area.  Strangely, the Himalayas in India have massive amounts of precipitation, but in Tibet, arid conditions exist.

A worthy plant for our area.  Full sun needed.

On the edge of our porch sits this pot of Rose Moss that has been here for years.  Some or all of the moss returns in the spring.  This year, it needed to be supplemented with some new plants.  Love the yellow ones.

Hope your spring (almost summer) has received some rain.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  Booker T. Washington

April Posies

In this isolation time, the only ones who see our garden are people who open my blog.  Thank you for viewing the flowers with me.

This Amaryllis has been in the ground for about 4 years.  I put it there on a whim, not expecting it to survive the summer heat.  It blooms early and dies down.  So I guess the bulb doesn’t mind the summer heat.  Mulch helps.

Lots of flowers.  The strong winds this week may beat them to death.

Native Four Nerve Daisies spread to create a bright spot in a bed.

 

Byzantine Gladiolas (Gladiolus byzaninus) are winter hardy.  These have been in the ground for three years.  They multiply, and these need to be divided.

Byzantine Glads have been grown since 1629 and are often found in old cottage gardens.

What a glorious sight.  Reblooming Irises tend to have larger flowers and are often two-toned.  If the weather cools down in the fall, they’ll bloom again.

Because the wind is whipping everything around, I cut this one and brought it inside to enjoy.

Roses in the left background and a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Naranjo Falso ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) in this bed.

The temporary fencing is an attempt to keep critters like armadillos from digging up newly planted bulbs.  Until they grow stems, I find them laying on the ground and drying out.

This particular Mock Orange doesn’t have a strong scent but is covered with flowers.

A Salvia Greggi  that should have been trimmed back in the fall – thus, some partially bare limbs.

Another Rebloomer Iris.  Sweet color.

The first stem of Larkspur flowers just opened.  That means many more will follow.  Behind that, the crimson red flowers of Texas Quince are still holding their color.

One more Iris.  This beauty is on a really tall stem – maybe 3 feet.

I appreciate each person who looks at my blog.  I really enjoy comments.  Thanks.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”  unknown source

Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Most Unusual Autumn

Rain, Rain, Rain!  So far, rainfall this month has been 11 inches.  To put that into prospective:  the average yearly rainfall here is 27 inches.  The total for 2017 was 19 inches.  So yikes, there’s flooding.  But it’s not as desperate here as it in some Texas towns, like Llano.

The temperatures have fallen in the last week to high 30’s.  Normally at this time, it’s still in the 90’s.  Some Halloweens, poor trick or treaters sweat under their costumes.  This year they may shiver.

I’m using pictures that were taken a week or so ago because we can’t get out of the house.  We also can’t get across the low water crossings because they are dangerously high with fast moving water.

The berries on the Pistachio trees precedes the leaves turning orange.  Pistachio gets bad press because they ‘re native to China.  But they do great here.  Love them.

In between some of the earlier rains, we walked out to one of the ponds.  This Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) caught my eye.  These bushes are in the same family as coffee bushes and are native to southern and eastern U. S.  This and all the other ponds are now flowing over their banks.

In spite of the crazy temperatures and abundant rain, many flowers are still blooming in the yard.  This Purple Oxalis (Oxalis regnelliihas) has survived many years in a pot, which is taken inside for the winter.  The common name of Shamrock comes from the shape of the leaves.

Cooler weather brings out the Reblooming Irises.  The Strawberry Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) will hang on until it freezes.  But, hooray, it reseeds.

Purple Hearts keep on blooming and reaching outwards until it freezes.

Purple asters make their appearance when it cools down. I think these are Aster oblongifolius.

A couple of years ago, I divided them and planted some to come on around the end of this bed.

Thornless Crown of Thorns is a beauty with blooms that last from spring until it freezes.  Since it is not cold hardy, it goes into the shed.  This one is much more human friendly since it doesn’t bring blood if you get near it.

Native and drought tolerant Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris Scaposa (DC.) Greene) are still going strong.  This bed drains well, so they’ve survived all the rain.

Large group of Gomphrena in the back draws the eye to their direction.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensisis) is native throughout the Caribbean, so it’s more tropical than our area location but does well in a container.  I like the long stems with small flowers.  Beside it is a Kalanchoe and a Spider Plant with two Boston Ferns in the back.

We normally moan about the heat and lack of rain.  It’s definitely been an early wet fall.

“Everyone wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.  But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  unknown

Spring Flowers

A colorful spring makes each day special.  It also provides abundant conversation topics between strangers and friends.

Most Texas blooming native plants, especially west of Interstate 35, say adios when the heat arrives. Who can blame them?  The summer can be unbearable.  This spring has been cooler than most.  Maybe that’s a good omen about the upcoming summer.

Texas Spiderwort (Transcantia humilis) is a native of Texas and southern Oklahoma.  It blooms March through June.

A crazy mystery about its name.   Why was it named after John Tradescant, who served as a gardener to Charles I in England in the 1600’s?  It’s a western hemisphere plant!  There must have been a reason.  Anyone know?

Golden Columbine or Golden Spur Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) has a delightful, zany flower.  It also blooms a couple of months in late spring before the weather gets hot.

Really interesting flower formation.

Several years ago Columbine was planted in a front flowerbed.  Here it is now in a side bed.  It’s also in several flower pots.  I don’t mind that birds and wind spread it because it so cheery and unique.

Found this Dianthus at Lowe’s.  It’s impossible for me to just walk past the plants.  The colors are almost neon.

Dianthus is mostly native to Europe and Asia but does very well here, especially if it’s shaded from late afternoon sun.

I think this is a Four Nerve Daisy.  Can’t even remember how long ago a couple of these were planted.

Even if it isn’t Four Nerve Daisy, I know it’s native because it was purchased at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

And then, there’s the re-blooming Bearded Irises.  Not native, but thrive here.

This light pink one is new.  As you can tell by the large cluster of the ones behind it, irises spread nicely.

Peachy gold and white ones.

Irises are just so easy.  Drop a bulb into a hole at the appropriate height;  once and done.  Plus, it creates new bulbs.  How great is that?

Another native, Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri) grows low to the ground and provides a pop of yellow.

Love the beauty of spring.

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.”  unknown

Popping Up

It’s a time of hope and joy.  I could get discouraged about all the work that needs to be done outside.  But, instead, I’m excited to see the coming beauty.

Even if all the work doesn’t get done, the flowers will bloom.

This is an exciting time when new leaves pop up.  That means flowers won’t be far behind.  There are both Crimson Pirate Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) and Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) in this bed.

Since Daffodils are the first bulb flowers to open here, they’re probably need the end of their show now.

The thing about Daffodils is that they grow so low to the ground and droop slightly, so it’s hard to really see their faces.  So bend down or get on your knees to fully appreciate them.  Yes, it is hard for me, too, to get on my knees.

There are two flowerbeds filled with Ditch Lilies greenery.  What a long lasting show they will put one.

All ornamental bulb plants have leaves that store their food during dormant periods, like winter.  So the foliage should not be cut off until they dry completely at the end of their blooming season.

Three Byzantine Gladiolus(Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus) bulbs were planted last October.  These are new for me, and I can’t wait to see them.  They are native to the Mediterranean area, so they love heat.

These were ordered from Old House Gardens, a family business in Michigan.  I’m pretty careful where I order plants from.  So although this company is far north, they have proven reliable.  They inform me if I order something that won’t grow here, and they contract out growing certain bulbs in some places in the south.  Their emails are fun as well as informational about what to plant at a certain time and what they have for sale.

Crinum Lily bulbs are very large (these were about 6 – 7 inches across) and difficult to dig up.  They can get large enough to weight 20 pounds.  Years ago three were planted close to the house for winter protection.  They have done very well and multiplied many times.  They needed to be dug up and separated but seemed like daunting task.

A new telephone fiber line going in that area forced me to perform that task.  So many were dug up quickly one evening and put in pots.  Some were damaged but I think they all will survive.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.  Crinums are worth it to me.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are low growing beauties with yellow blooms.

One of the great things about bulbs is that they’re such a nice surprise each spring.  I forgot that these Hyacinths were in this bed.

And I certainly don’t remember moving this one to this spot.

Each year I put off dividing these Ornamental Onions.  This year it’s a must job.  I need plants for two garden club plant sales, so that is my incentive.  As they say, just get ‘er done.

I have reblooming Irises all over the yard and love how their colors enrich each spot.

I’m a huge fan of bulbs.  I love how consistent and reliable they are, their gorgeous flowers and the anticipation they provide.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  Alexander Den Heijer

Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa