Sunday, October 28, 2018

Butterflies abound!

I absolutely adore this time of year.  Everything seems to just burst into bloom.  Of them all, perhaps my favorite fall flower is the White Mistflower.  Most of the year, it looks like a pretty ugly bush.  In fact, I must admit, I sometimes just ignore it, watering everything around it.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fall Rains

This has to be one of the most unusual Septembers in my memory.  It started raining on Labor Day, and has been raining pretty much ever since. And since I planted a bunch of new plants on Labor Day weekend, I have been feeling like a champ!!

This is probably the prettiest my side bed has looked, since I first planted it.  The Salvia gregii has burst into bloom, what with all of the rain, and the Henry Deulberg sage in the back is also in bloom.  It is in the hottest, driest part of the garden, and limps its way through August.  But it is really shining right now.

You can see the new Anthony Waterer Spirea I got from my freebie Lowe's sale is filling in.  The bottle brush, that died back to nothing after this cold winter, has a few stalks going.  No blooms this year, but I am happy it is alive.  

Heart Leaf Skullcap Revival

This past Spring, I went on a quest to find and grow some Heartleaf Skullcap.  it proved to be somewhat difficult to find, and even harder to grow (for me).

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Birthday Plants

For my birthday this year, Dave gave me another gift card to the Natural Gardener.  He saw how much I enjoyed last year's, and thought I'd enjoy it again this year.  And he was right :o)  

Despite my birthday being in July, I couldn't really purchase anything immediately.  I knew I was leaving for a week to head up to see my mother, and new plants need to be watered every day.  So I waited until after I get back.  Which turned out to be a good thing, because Natural Gardener is having a 25% off all plants sale.  Woot!

August really isn't a good time to be planting in Austin, but I figure since I will be home, I can water the plants in every day for the next few weeks, and then when the fall weather comes in September, they will be ready to take off.

Because it is the summer off season, the selections at NG were slimmer than normal.  They had more variety in the two inch plans then in the larger size, so I wound up only getting a few of the larger plants, and lots of smaller ones.  

I also wanted a bunch of shorter plants to fill out the front of the bed, but wound up coming home with only two shorter varieties.  But - the sale goes on through next weekend, and I still have some dollars left on the card, so we'll see what I can pick up next weekend.

Here is what I got:

Desert Willow "Bubba", Chilopsis linearis "Bubba"
Size:  15' - 20' Full Sun. Deciduous shrubby tree with long narrow leaves and dark purple, white throated orchid-like flowers on and off spring thru fall.  Drought and deer resistant. Fine in any well drained soil.  Apprecitaes supplemental water in summer.

I went to a NG class a few weeks ago, and discovered the tree that I loved, and thought was either a Mimosa or Mesquite, was actually a Desert Willow.  Since then I have been wanting one.  This one had some blooms on it, so it already looks nice!

Originally, I was planning to place this in a back corner of the front yard, but after seeing the flowers, and how much I lvoe it, I decided to give it a more forward spot in the front yard - where I will be able to see it on a regular basis.  Truth is, one day, if this one grows well, I may purchase another to put in the spot I was originally thinking of.

Compact Pomegranate, Punica granatum "compactum"
Size: 6-7'  Exposure:  Sun to Part Shade
Compact deciduous shrub with frequent bright orange blooms followed by medium sized ornamental fruit.  Drought and heat resistant.  Very showy and adaptable to most soils as long as it is well-drained.

I have had the dwarf pomegranate in the back yard for many years, and have always loved its bright orange flower, and how incredibly durable it is.  I wanted to add one to the front bed.  

I pulled out the existing American Agave and put this in its place, hoping to add some color and foliage to the area in the garden.

Yarrow Red Cassis, Achillea millefolium
Ht: 2' Sun
Vigorous grower, salmon pink flowers.  Spreads by stolons

I am thinking about putting these where the sunflower annuals are currently growing.

Mexican Mint marigold, Mexican Tarragon
Ht: 2-3ft Full sun / Part Shade

I am thinking about putting this in the back side garden near the bird bath

Shrubby Purple Skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii
Height: 6-10 inches Full Sun

I am thinking about putting these in the south upper portion of my front garden, in front of the rock roses.

Mexican Oregano, Poliomintha Longiflora
Height: 2- 5ft, Spread:3-6 feet Evergreen, Full Sun to Part shade

Dallas Red Lantana
Ht: 3 - 4 ft Full Sun, Part Sun

Purple Moss Verbena  Glandularia pulchella (Verbena tenuisecta)
Ht: 12 - 36 inches, Hardy to 15 degrees  Growth:  fast
Exposure:  Full sun
Spreading perennial ground cover.  Lavender flowers spring through fall.  Extremely drought tolerant once established.  Attracts butterflies and bees. Native to S America but very well adapted throughout the Southwest.

I love the vibrant purple of these flowers.  They are one of the first to bloom for me in the spring.  They are tough as nails.  Perfect!

Henry Duelberg Sage 
I have been wanting to fill out the garden bed with the existing Sage, so I purchased two more, to fill in that area.

Skyflower Duranta
This has been such a powerhouse for me in the front bed (and on the back porch until the super cold winter killed it this year. During the summer, when all of the plants are looking limp and weak, this plant blooms and has fresh green leaves. I have wanted to add one more to the front bed.  

I think I am going to move the existing mealy blue sage - which is really too small for the spot it occupies, and put the skyflower duranta in its place

David Verity Cigar Plant
Ht: 2-3 ft, full sun I wouldn't have purchased these, but in their Butterfly Garden, NG had three of them that really shined, so I decided to pick one up for $2.50.  Why not try something new?

Mexican Bush Sage - purchased with Birthday money, though much later then all the others.  Driving around town towards the end of September, early October, I saw lots of Mexican Bush sage in bloom, and they looked so beautiful, I had to purchase two.  I didn't know quite where I was going to put them, but found two nice spots in my front garden.  I bought large one gallon sized plants, and I am so happy with how big they already are.  I need to start purchasing larger plants from now on - especially in the fall.  That way they can make it through the winter... of course, when if they die, it makes it all that more painful...  See the Diamanita that I purchased, and then immediately lost.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The hot, hot days of July

We have just entered into the hottest part of the year.  For the next eight weeks, we will be counting the number of consecutive days over 100 degrees, and number of days without rain.  I can't even whisper to my little plants, "Hang on a little longer", because we still have a long way to go!

But, that being said, we were also very fortunate to get a nice wet, cool week right after July 4th, so the plants are entering this time of year strong and healthy.

Here are some beauties that are doing well despite the most recent hot spell.

This night blooming cactus is always a joy to see when I first walk out in the morning!

Esperanza is one of the summer's true work horses, dark leafy greens with brilliant yellow flowers.  My huge one in the back won't bloom until the fall, but most of the smaller ones will bloom all summer.

The Texas Sage spends most of the year as a nondescript silver-grey bush. But after a summer rain, it bursts out in the most gorgeous of color!!

This photo doesn't do justice to my Skyflower.  Come July, it seems to just drip in purple blooms.

And I love how the gaura drape over the edge of the stone wall. They bloom for a week or so, then go dormant, but in another month, they seem to be back to blooming again.  For some reason (probably water and a little shade from the rose bush behind it), these gaura do much better than the ones more to the center of my garden.

My Ruellia are my water gauge.  When the soil gets dry, the will lose their flowers and shrivel up their leaves.  Given them some afternoon water, and the quickly pop back up again.

The Morning Glory has become more of a weed, than an appreciated flower.  It seems only to grow where it shouldn't.  I have tried transplanting it to its own space many times, but it never roots.  But I can't seem to pull it up from around the garden and porch!

Thursday, July 5, 2018


I went to Lowe's today to pick up some PVC pipe to fix a pipe in our attic.  As always, I swung by the clearance rack to see if they had anything of interest.  I spotted one or two plants that looked like a deal.  As I was looking for a cart to carry them, a shopper whispered to me - "Special deal right now - $5 for a cart full".  The manager confirmed that she just wanted to get rid of the plants.

I grabbed a nearby cart, and started filling it with perennials.  

The first question both my husband and teenagers asked is, "How many of them will live?"  Probably not all.  Maybe not half, but hey, for $5 for 20 plants, or $0.25 per plant, what did I have to lose??

Now, I guess I will be spending all weekend figuring out where to put them and digging holes :o)

Here is what I gathered up - some of them, I didn't even know what they were. I had left my phone in the car, so I couldn't even google to see if these plants were Texas-tolerant. And it turns out over half of them probably won't make it through either the brutal summer or the mild winter.  But again... just a quarter lost.

Vitex Agnus-Castus
The one I am most excited about was the Vitex Agnus-Castus
- which I have been wanting to purchase, even at full price.  This is a huge (20 gallon?) plant and will take goodness knows how long to plant.  I am going to rope the boys in to helping me dig this one hole tomorrow morning -- early.  

Lagerstroemia "Pilag-V" Midnight magic Crepe Myrtles and Garnet King Crepe Myrtle I purchased three crepe myrtles.  Two 5 gallon Lagerstroemia "Pilag-V" Midnight magic Crepe Myrtles  and one gallon sized Garnet King Crepe Myrtle.

2 Gold Star Esperanza - again, I was just thinking that I wanted a few more Esperanza for my front garden. They are so durable, and so bright and cheerful.  I thought I needed a few more to balance out the one I already had.  Perfect!!

 - Dave and I were just having a conversation about how much I liked this bush, and how much he didn't like it. I think it works well for a back story plant in the shade.  I love the small flowers in the summer and the lovely berries in the fall.  I may plant this outside the fence, behind our yard, or I might plant it in the far left side of the garden, which currently doesn't have anything growing there

Now come the list of plants that I picked up to fill the rest of the cart.  Some I liked the look of, others I thought were an interesting variety of a plant I already knew.  In many cases, the plants are not adapted for Texas heat, so these plants will go in the ground last - and if even one of them lives, I will call it a win :o)

Salvia Greggi Balmirvio - Mirage Violet Autmn Sage. Salvia Greggi has been such a powerhouse plant for me.  I have multiples in all of my bed.  This one is an unusual (at least for me) violet colored flower, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Munstead Red Stonecrop  - Sedum Telephium - Just picked these up because I love the durability of Sedums and have started devoting a small part of my garden to some.  I know nothing about this plant, or if it will survive.

2 Sunflowers - Okay, these are not even perennials, but considering they are my all-time favorite flower, I thought I'd plant them in the wildflower bed for a little color this summer.

Callistemon Little John - Bottle Brush - I have one of these, and to be honest, it suffers greatly after a cold winter.  But this is a slightly different variety (more bushy and dense then my other).  I have seen this variety around town, and it seems to do better after a cold winter.  So i thought I'd give it a try - maybe in a more sheltered location.

Brilliant Hibiscus - Hibiscus Rosa - In looking this up, this will have to be a container plant for me, since it is not cold-hardy

Crassula spp - No idea even what this is.  it looks like it might be a house plant.

Donkey Ear - I really liked the look of this plant, it looks like it will be a container plant, but it sure looks like fun.

Anthony Waterer Spirea - Yeah, I had absolutely no idea what this was.  But I  picked up two of them - I hadn't realized I had two until I unpacked them.  It looks like these require more water, and may not do well here in Central Texas (now I am really wishing i had had my phone with me to research some of these plants!  oh well!)

Silver Princess Boxleaf Euonymus - loved the variegated foliage, but again, it looks like a water-needy plant. It might not even make it through the summer.

Early Amythest BeautyBerry - I was intrigued by this different variety of Beauty Berry.  But again, it looks like it needs a lot of water

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May Flowers

I love how the colors of early summer are so much more vibrant than the pastels of spring. Lots of red and purple with a little yellow thrown in.  Each season has its own flair.

For the first time, my Peter's Bee Balm (purchased last year) is blooming, and I love the way it complements the cone flower behind it!  I purchased one small plant last year, and realized I should have purchased five.  But when I went back to get more, they were all gone.  This first year, the plant has already spread, so I am hoping that next year, they will fill in even better!  I love the firecracker look of its flower.

The Yucca's are especially beautiful this year, and I love the way they bookend my garden! 

My new (from last year) Butterfly Blue Pincushion Flowers were getting lost among the blue bonnets, but since we finally made it to Memorial Day Weekend, I pulled up all the blue bonnets, giving them a chance to shine.

And the Lantana in the front bed, probably the first plants I planted at the house, are always a joy this time of year!

And for history's sake, here is a front on look at the garden.  From this angle, you can see that I still need to fill the bed in some, since the blue bonnets have been pulled up. But from the side angle, it looks great!

Monday, May 21, 2018

First Summer Project

I wasn’t intending for this to be my first summer project, but with the wet ground from yesterday’s rain, and the cool morning temperatures, I didn’t think there would be a better time.

The mountain laurels have outgrown the small bed we made for them years ago, so I expanded it by pulling up about two feet of grass all around the bed.  It took around four hours.  I am exhausted, but think it looks a lot better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring Flowers!

Winter is finally firmly in the rear view mirror, and the first bright blooms of spring are popping up. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Time of Hope

After such a cold winter, we are more than ready for spring.  Every day, I walk the path of my gardens looking to see what new sprouts I see.
Blogging tips