Monday, March 31, 2014


I don't need to drive out into the countryside to see bluebonnets. I have plenty of them right outside my door.

They are in front of the house in the granite parking area and down the side of the house.

I cannot walk down the side of the house without crushing a few. But times are difficult. A dry hot wind and no real rain for weeks on end means their leaves are beginning to shrivel.

Years ago, before we bought the lot, I used to walk through here. The area that I call the upper meadow  was blanketed in bluebonnets in the spring. Our son, his wife and their little pup, Frisco, posed for a photo back in 2002 during a very bluebonnet spring.

After the seeds had matured I collected them to spread throughout the lot with resounding success. I even planted them across the road on my neighbors lot. I had hoped to see a similar blooming up there this year but lack of spring rain on the thin rocky soil has resulted in shriveled plants. But decomposed gravel seems to hold in moisture and the show in granite areas is as splendid as ever.

But I did find a new flower on the upper meadow. The pretty yellow Stemless Evening Primrose, Oenothera triloba. I'm hoping that it may be as prolific as the pink primrose.

Friday, March 28, 2014


If you had visited my garden 7 years ago there wouldn't have been a iris in sight. Now my garden has 4 different kinds and when the iris bloom I realize what I had been missing all those years.

All my iris are pass-a-longs from garden friends. This one came form Annie at The Transplantable Rose. Not only is this iris a beauty but it has a delicious peach fragrance.

My second iris came from Linda Hutson's garden. This is a phenomenal grower and has to be divided every two years for fear of it taking over the garden. For that reason it has been shared many times among my gardening friends.

But here is the strange thing. Last year I divided the clump closest to the house replanting some of the new rhizomes in the same place. This year the first one has opened in a much deeper color. What has happened here. I did a little investigating and found several gardeners having the same experience. and yet there are those who say this is impossible. They believe that the new colored iris was already there but had not yet reached bloom time. I suppose that is the most likely reason.

I will mark the plant when it finished flowering so that I can keep my eye on it, maybe moving it to its own location. away from the others. For now I will enjoy it.

My white cemetery iris, Iris albicans,  is planted out in deer territory.
I have one more iris and the buds are ready to open. It spent 2 years in my vegetable garden but was relocated this past fall. It seems to have enjoyed the move because it is flowering much earlier this year. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


That may seem quite a tall order-to come up with 51 reasons why to grow a plant. At this time of the year it's easy. I just go outside and count the buds on my Claret Cup cactus, Echinocereus coccineus. They begin as tiny swellings just below the spines erupting through the tough, waxy skin of the cactus.

I have counted 51 in all but I will have to wait a while before the show begins. For most of the year the cactus grows quietly among the gravels in my garden before busting into bloom over a period of several weeks.

This year they are likely to have the whole show to themselves because there are few bluebonnets and blackfoot daisies where they are planted.

I just watch and wait for the show to begin.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Back in January I had the opportunity to take a most unexpected garden tour. After all, when you go to an airport you expect to sit in the departure lounge and wait; maybe drink a cup of coffee or browse the bookstore. You do not expect to visit a garden. To do so would be a gardener's dream.

But this is Changi Airport, Singapore and they do things differently here. They even print a brochure on all the gardens you can visit. Let's see there are 5 gardens in Terminal 1, where we are waiting for our flight,  and the one I am making a bee line for is the Cactus Garden.

Cactus in Singapore? Where the humidity is shy of 100%. It must be indoors like the welcome air conditioned Dome in Garden on the Bay, which I will post about later.

Amazingly the garden is outside.

I sometimes think that you just can't go wrong when designing with agaves and cactus.

Throw in a few rocks and a few tree ferns and other ancient plants.

Maybe the odd metal sculpture like this saguaro.

Mulch with rocks and overlay with a few mat-forming sedums.

Maybe add some additional protection from the rain.

Add a few sculptures.

Is this like house leeks planted on the roofs of houses in England to ward away evil spirits?

I only had 10 minutes to rush around but if I am ever there again I will make a point of arriving with plenty of time to spare so I can visit all the gardens of Changi. In Terminal 1 additional to the Cactus Garden there is a Sculptural Tree Garden and a Lily Pad garden, Terminal 2 has a Bamboo Garden and a Sunflower Garden. Terminal 3 has a Butterfly Garden and Fern Garden. I won't even mention the pool, movie theatre etc. Who needs Duty Free!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Yesterday I spotted the first bloom on my blue gilia, Gilia rigidula. I doubt you will ever see this flower at the nurseries and I have never seen it for sale at the Wildflower Center plant sales. Maybe it is just too delicate for most gardens.

I have a very special place for it. It is atop a dry stack wall where it is slowly spreading by seed. Furthermore I have a good view from my window. This plant is difficult to transplant and I consider myself fortunate that I was successful in this and that I gave it a happy home. It seems to love this chalky, stoney spot. Blue gilia is a member of the phlox family and usually makes a prolific bloom in spring. It also blooms periodically though out the summer, usually after rainfall.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


This maybe the first time I have posted on Foliage Follow up Day but it seems appropriate today as many spring blooms are missing from my garden.
I think, like Pam I have to give first of the day to Whale's Tongue agave, Agave ovatifolia. I have two of these, both in the front courtyard garden, but they differ slightly in their structure one being more open that the other.

I was prompted to call the nursery when I noticed a pup forming underneath the one directly above. Not supposed to happen. However the seed supplier in Germany stood by his seed saying it was definitely A.ovatifolia. I'm not unhappy with this one but I don't think it is quite as attractive as the one at the top.

This Agave lophantha was a passalong. I know some who would not entertain its spiky leaves, which would rip your hands to shreds in a moment. I love it for its green color. It has that bright green streak running through the center; not unlike A. lophantha quadricolor, my next passalong. Gosh, I love this one and I can't have enough of them, which is good because my friend Bob always has tens of these to share.

I can see that this year I will need to move the bulbs of the Tulipa clusiana as the Agave parryi is making their life very difficult.

I have another Agave parryi this one 'truncata' Both came from the Desert Botanic Garden in Phoenix.

All these plants add drama and interest to the garden year round.

What would I do without Agave weberi? What would I do without my neighbor? Every one came from his garden. This agave has a high pupping propensity. I think they look magnificent among the rocks and despite a few blemishes they have survived this horrible winter.

The star of my back garden is the Yucca rostrata. How I wish I had bought more of them at the time. It was just a tiny thing in a pot and has grown incredibly over the past 6 years. What a show stopper this plant is and not dangerous at all.

Spineless prickly pear cactus and squid agave, Agave bracteosa, fill another corner of this garden. Squid agave is another heavy pup maker.

It will be quite a contrast for the secluded garden on the side of the house to have something so prickly. I made this hyertuffa pot especially for this Dyckia.
I still have lots of other green plants like pittosporum, Indian hawthorn and the beautiful viburnum but I thought I'd shine a spotlight on my prickly plants on this Foliage Follow Up Day. Thanks for hosting Pam.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Welcome to March in my garden, which is far from being its normal self following a terrible freeze just over a week ago. We are not used to having a temperature as low as 20° at this time of the year and it has taken its toll on Southern gardens. Despite this, there are some plants who just don't care and they are the ones blooming today.

In the early morning Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane showing her underskirts.

An hour later she begins her show,

Until finally her petals are fully open. In Texas these are the only tulips that can be grown successfully, naturalizing and returning whatever the weather. I think they are sorely under utilized.

This large agarita bush, Mahonia trifoliata, was just a little behind some of the others and so her blossoms managed to survive unscathed. There is an intense honey fragrance on the air today.

A cluster of unknown narcissi on the corner of the once named Spanish oak garden. I shall be sorry when their blooming finishes because they have just been magnificent this year. I think the spring bulbs have benefited from our very cold winter.

Viburnum 'Spring bouquet' Has been its most magnificent this year.

Close up of viburnum flowers.


Summer snowfake, Leucojum aestivum.

Narcissi with California poppy.

First buds on the stocks.

Gopher plant, Euphorbia rigida

Erigeron daisy.

The first of many bluebonnets to come. Please join Carol at Maydreams to share your March blooms.