Thursday, June 27, 2013


Today is another stinker. A couple of hours outside in the morning and then I'm holed up in the house for the rest of the day.

But there are a few plants in my garden that seem unaffected by such temperatures. Let's see who is not afraid of the heat.

This gomphrena may be called 'fireworks' but it will be around long after July 4th.

Chocolate may melt in the sun but chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata, shows up every morning.

This is their time of year. Scutellaria wrightii is a native so why not.

"All I want is the sun, forget the water",  says the Ruellia.

"And my petals are made of paper" says the statice. Not much to dry out there.

"I don't even show up until the heat of summer is turned on full", says the plumbago.

The most prolific of all is the blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella. It just enjoys every season.

Texas lantana will sneak up on every patch of bare ground.

As will the narrow leaf zinnia. The mild winter has meant a proliferation of seedlings.

"With my feet in the water I have the best spot of all" says Helvola.
Let's see what we all look like at the end of the summer!

Friday, June 21, 2013


I'll have to give my Spanish bayonet yucca a triple A for wow factor.

This one is leaning over into the landscape and will have to be removed after blooming. I wonder who will get that job!

There are just an incredible number of blooms on each stand. They are packed together so tightly they can barely open.

What a show.

Monday, June 17, 2013


The tomato season is nearly over at my house. It has been a mixed year. The stink bugs, leaf-footed bugs and tomato horn worms have taken care of a good number of the crop, as usual. However, this year I grew a new to my garden tomato, Black Krim, and I have to say I have not been disappointed.

For once the fruit looks almost as good as the one on the seed package and definitely worth growing for flavor and size. The only disappointment has been the number of fruit but with the growers now coming out with grafted tomatoes next year's crop may be more vigorous. I'm certainly going to have a go at grafting myself. When you start from seed there are always more plants than you need and why not experiment. For now we are just going to enjoy these in an insalata caprese salad......again!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Bloom day again! Thanks Carol at Maydreams for hosting the day.

I have to give my Spanish bayonet yucca, Yucca aloifolia,  an opportunity to star in June's bloom day. Not quite in full bloom yet but by next month blooming will be over and it has waited 12 years for the chance. Maybe this will be an annual event from now on. The difficulty will be cutting back the stalk after it has finished. It must be 10' up.
Recent rains have been kind to my Texas garden. here is what is blooming today.
Colorado water lily

Texas mud baby, Echinodorius cordifloius

Trailing purslane

Peter's purple bee balm, Monarda fistulosa.

Dittany of Crete,Oreganum dictamus.

Dwarf papyrus, Cyperus haspens

Blanket flowers, Gaillardia pulchella.

Purple cone flower, Echinacea purpurea.
Hope your garden is having a wonderful June Bloom day.

Friday, June 14, 2013


When I see a cactus in flower it makes my heart leap. The flower may only be there for a brief moment but it draws bees and beetles in like a magnet. They have just a short window to do their job.
The excitement this week came from seeing this.

The balloon cactus, Notocactus magnificus, in my home made hypertufa pot, is about to bloom for the second time. This is a response to the recent rains when the pleated ribs swelled with water and buds began to form in the center. Just half an hour after I took this photo the sun reached the plant and within minutes the flowers opened.

This time I was there as the flowers opened and was able to capture them in all their perfection. Not all the flowers opened at once. Just the outer ring. It must be natures way of spreading the chances of pollination. As yet no pollinators had arrived.

The second happening to cause great excitement was anticipation of the blooming of a 12 year old Spanish bayonet yucca, Yucca aloifolia.
As I looked through the kitchen window the other morning I saw something unusual in the center of the tallest spike. Could it be about to bloom?

Not one bud but three blooms have appeared. It will be some days before the flowers open but what a thrill it will be.

I wonder if they will be like those on the twist-leaf yucca Yucca rupicola, which is currently blooming in my garden.

This yucca is endemic to the Edward's Plateau on which our garden sits.  Protected from browsing deer, who love the asparagus-like stalks when they first appear, it bloomed for the first time last year.
Growing up in England no one had cactus. After all they were new world plants.
As they have become more popular and easier to find in the nurseries I have mixed them in with my other similarly adapted plants. Here's a selection of just a few.

A flyer arrived in my mailbox this week. The Cactus and Succulent Society of America is having their convention here this week and their plant sale is open to the public.

I'll be there and I may just be tempted to add to my collection.

Monday, June 10, 2013


A couple of weeks ago we had a really good rain. Certain plants respond promptly to rain and one of these is the Texas sage, Leucophyllum frutescence. Texas sage is the common name that many give this plant despite the fact that it is not a member of the sage family. Other names include the cenizo or Texas rain sage. Whichever name you give it is spectacular when in boom.

This one is outside the walls behind the pool garden. It came from a volunteer seedling and couldn't be happier in the raised mound of rubble soil.

It has become quite large and is now enjoyed from inside the house. Step back and see just where it grows.

It may actually be the tidiest part of the garden. We had to define the septic field from the house. The easy thing would have been to just let the grass grow up to the wall but that would have been too easy. So David constructed a pathway around the back creating a couple of beds with some of the limestone rubble  that came out of the inside garden. There is no irrigation here and yet there are a number of plants that survive here. In this area a trailing rosemary sits alongside a crape myrtle ( also from seed). Deer may sometimes browse the lower leaves of the crape but the other plants are left.

Further along Salvia leucantha, native Texas lantana, prickly pear and a mullein grow. They are all from divisions or seeds. If you think the pathway is looking tidy then it is as a result of my efforts in the last week. Every morning I tackled an ever advancing section of the path, scraping the ground with my hoe and raking up the weeds. It is my surprise for David when her returns from a faraway fishing trip. My plan is to solarize the area during the rest of the summer to prevent more weeds from sprouting. This area will be kept free of plants from now on! I'm nearly there and should finish the remaining path by the weekend but for now you get to see the good bits!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


I am not one for adding colorful accessories to the garden and I doubt you will think this is color. It is very subtle.

These umbrellas are the palest shade of mint green. They just add a little splash of color, which may be lost to the camera in the intense afternoon sun. Of course the five Spanish oaks, for which this garden was once named, are gone; killed by the intense heat and drought of 2 years ago. We used to have lovely filtered shade in here. Now we have glaring afternoon sun. Thoughts of adding an over head arbor may be in the future.
Anyway I went to an estate sale yesterday and saw these umbrellas. They weren't over priced but I thought I could wait until today when the price dropped 50%. Honestly they were a bargain and if you know me I only like bargains. I wonder why no one else wanted them? What luck. They even came with the stands.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


It has been coming on for quite a while. The realization that things must change in my garden. Despite the fact that many days I am perfectly happy to spend 8 hours out there doing this and that, it is mostly doing that...I refer to pulling out.
I read recently that nature is no gardener except in the high alpine regions. You have to be tough to survive up there; fierce wind, little precipitation and short summers. All this makes for small, low growing plants who flower and make their seed within a few weeks. All stays neat and tidy.

Norton lakes, Idaho

 Apparently Texas isn't as tough, as we who live here, think it is. I pull out hundreds of mother natures misplacements. I wonder who would win if I just let them do their thing. Would it be the trailing wine cup. This one in the sunken garden is threatening to take over skullcaps and blackfoot daisies. I need to get it out of there but removing that turnip sized root from between the sandstone will not be an easy job.

Or maybe the takeover would be by plains coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria. I could just imagine my septic field covered with their blooms but somehow, no matter how many seeds I put out there they don't want to grow.

And then there are the blanket flower,Mexican feather grass, mealy blue sage. This is after I tidied up a little.

And the bluebonnets. They would much rather grow where I don't want them in the English garden.

So what will be the new me? Limited plants in the pathways. Just enough plants to trap debris when we have heavy downpours. The drains have to be protected.
I have been mulling over this for almost a year but recently I hurt my back. I think it was in a weakened state from years of gardening and the act of pulling out a root, which gave way, and falling backwards had me incapable of moving for 3 days. Now I am doing exercises every day. Something I should have been doing every morning for years. Tidiness is arriving on my doorstep very late in life but I am determined to make the move. I made my start in the vegetable garden. I'm even amazed myself at how much better this looks with most of the plants removed from the pathways.

As I mentioned I have to leave a few so that when we get a heavy downpour any debris will be trapped among the plants and not block the center garden drain.

I can now walk unimpeded to the water garden to admire my latest blooms.

Yes, I am beginning to like the new, old me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


But she may have to wait a long time to get Pavonia lasiopetala, 'Ellen's legacy'.

This probable variant of the common pink rock rose appeared in the garden of  Carol Stacy Brinkman among her pink rock roses. She named the new color, 'Ellen's Legacy' in honor of her mother. When she  contacted the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center they sent out Joe Marcus to check the plant. The Wildflower Center then took cuttings which you can now see growing at the center. However, all propagules and seeds belong to Carol who is currently working with Euro American who developed the Proven Winners name. It will likely take more than 2 years to determine if the plant has commercial value and even though Carol has applied to the International Cultivar Registry Authority to retain the name there is no guarantee that this would happen if the plant became commercially available.

It is not that I don't like my own rock rose. I do. It is a carefree plant which seeds readily and demands nothing. It blooms all summer long with cheery pink blooms. Oh, but I would love that red one. I think I'll just go out and check mine in the hope that I too have a red one!