Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Also known as the paddle plant, desert cabbage or dog's tongue Kalanchoe thyrisiflora, is one of the easiest succulents to grow. Not only that, it will keep you and your friends supplied for the rest of your life.

In the past I have kept them in a shady location with only a short spell in the morning sun. But I was reading recently that it will take quite a bit of sun and sun will result in it taking on that orange glow around the edges. That definitely gives it a little more pizazz.

This year I moved the hypertuffa trough from the Spanish Oak garden into the Front courtyard garden
and filled it flapjack plants that had been in another planter. They are exposed to the full afternoon sun and seem to be doing very well.

This one in a similar exposure has only faint tinges of red. The plant is monocarpic so when it flowers   that will be the end of its life, but it will leave plenty of children and grandchildren behind.

Either way it has a become one of my favorite plants.

Friday, May 26, 2017


Wander to the back of my vegetable garden and you'll find a 4X2' stock tank water garden tucked in behind the potting shed wall.

 We added it a few years ago to fill in an empty spot that was an awkward shape. It had become a weeding nightmare and covering that extra area meant less weeding. It did not mean less work! Beautiful as a pond may be it does involve some maintenance but the rewards are high. This week I had 5 of the 'Colorado' water lilies open at the same time. Later the dwarf yellow Nymphaea Pygmaea Helvola ' opened its first bud. This water lily is more hardy and can be wintered over quite easily in freeze areas as long as the water doesn't freeze to the bottom the pond. I remember reading a long time ago that exotic water lilies will be up on stalks and hardy native ones will be floating on the water. I wonder if this is true?

Both these water lilies were divisions from my friend Pam Penick who gardens at Digging and who has an 8' stock tank garden. In the summer the Colorado water lily can quickly cover the surface of the pond. You need that to keep down the algae bloom.
To add a little height I added a couple of native limestone rocks, on which sit a ceramic frog. Today I noticed that a seed from the dwarf papyrus had settled in one of the depressions in the rock.

I have a couple of plants growing in floating islands, A variegated Japanese sedge and a dwarf papyrus. Directions on how I made these floating islands can be found here. Regrettably my lovely fish fountain succumbed to the two nights of 18° temperatures this winter. The water continued to flow which at least kept the ice from completely freezing over but caused the concrete to spall and eventually break apart. So sad to see it go. It has been replaced by a small bubbling fountain.

Those water lilies were down at the bottom of the pond during this freeze period so they survived to bring me joy again this summer. The papyrus and sedge in large buckets in the greenhouse.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Let's look at the really rewarding part of gardening; the walking around and taking in what you have achieved and then those, somewhat rare for me, moments, just sitting and enjoying the sights smells and sheer loveliness of nature.

On Thursday, I went out, camera in hand, to see if there was anything new. Wow! The Echinopsis was blooming. Three gorgeous pink flowers on what I believe is Anastasia. Isn't she gorgeous? It is a fleeting flowering with the buds opening during the night and closing by lunchtime. Their job over.

I can't tell you the number of times I have missed that fleeting moment, but not this particular day. Thank goodness I walked around in the morning because I could so easily have missed the open flowers. You can see another bud between the two flowers and that one opened on Friday. One of the withered flowers is visible to the right.

I don't know if there are night-time visitors. Maybe they don't exist here because this is not the natural habitat for the Echinopsis which comes from South America. The only visitor I have ever seen is a tiny bee and he was there again today rolling in the pollen. In fact there were two of them.

That was not the only cactus to be blooming on Thursday. Along the outside edge of the walls I found another cactus in bloom. This one is the Nipple cactus, Coryphantha sulcata, a Texas native. The flowers last a little longer, usually a couple of days. I'm happy to say that the rains last summer have prompted number of babies to pop up around the base although it will be years before ti forms a good sized clump.

There was another surprise in the front Bluebonnet( currently bluebonnet less ) meadow.

A single stem of standing cypress, Ipomopsis rubra. Where did that come from? It was right next to the clump of lace cactus and I had never noticed its feathery foliage before. The one standing cypress I did have in this bed, and which I had been watching for weeks, had had its top nipped off. Deer!!! I must think about getting some seeds to plant in this area in the hope of more flowers.

I was surprised to see the first Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera, blooming. I wonder how many different colors of flower will show up this year?

That prompted me to go up to the top meadow and see if there were any more colors. A little disappointing this year.

But I did observe all this activity on the milkweed pod.

I left them to it and walked down the culvert where I saw these tiny beauties.Mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii, and the tiny yellow, ubiquitous daisy. I must try to collect seeds from the mountain pink because I think I have a place for it inside the garden.

And returning through the gate there was the anole waiting for a photograph.

Even if you don't take your camera with you take a walk around your garden every day. You may find some surprises.

Monday, May 15, 2017


It has been a while since I posted on bloom day. Suddenly it was upon me and I had no time to gather the photos.

Surely the opening photograph for this month's Bloom day post has to be the Monarda 'Peter's Purple' He's certainly King of the garden at the moment.

And Queen of the May garden is the blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella. Not so easy negotiating the pathways at the moment.

And we have a princess too,  Clematis texensis 'Princess Diana'. What a beauty she is. Just a few weeks ago there was no sign of growth and I was sure I had lost the plant over the winter. In less than a month she has grown to almost cover the trellis.

So many bloomers. The spineless prickly pear, with two different blooms on the same plant.

I wonder why that is?

And all the day lilies.

All but the tiny orange one without names.
Echinacea purpurea, just coming into bloom.

The larkspurs, love-in-a-mist and poppies have finished already but blackfoot daisies, Melampodium leucanthum,  still keep going.

Among the other natives, the purple skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii.

Which pairs well in a rock garden setting with the square bud primrose, Calylophus berlandieri, and pink skullcaps.

Square bud primrose with ruby crystal grasses

Pink skull cap seeded in the dry creek
Scabiosa back for the third year. A rescue plant.

And Texas betony, Stachys coccinea, not a showy plant but the hummingbirds love it.

Another native, horsemint, Monarda citriodora.

The native chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata, with its delicious chocolate fragrance.

And for the first time in a while success with Cleome.

These are just a few of the flowers that are blooming in my rocky Texas garden in mid May.

Thank you Carol at Maydreams gardens for hosting Bloom day. Find out what is growing in other gardens this May Bloom Day.

Friday, May 12, 2017


I have always had a fascination with the Green Man, most often depicted in sculpture as a man's head surrounded by foliage, but occasionally depicted as a whole man.  This name only came into popular use after 1939 when Lady Raglan was researching these characters for an article she was writing, The Green Man in Church Architecture.  Until then he was known as a foliate head.
A new Green Man arrived in my garden this week. A Mother's Day gift which now graces the wall in my English garden and is a more modern depiction of a Green Man  He deserves to have his story told.

Original art by Milo Re
His origins will always remain a mystery although much has been written about the meaning of the faces. One interpretation is that he represents our connection with the earth and therefore the renewal of the plant life every spring. As I now have several presiding over my gardens I think I like that interpretation. Multiple depictions of this character date back to medieval times and before. He is found in too many cultures not to have significance, but is very prevalent in medieval churches and cathedrals of Great Britain and France, carved into the stone work. Also in carvings in India and the Middle East.

Sometimes he has a friendly face like this one on the wall in my Spanish Oak garden.

Foliate head
And less friendly faces of these smaller ones which are attached to the metal supports on an awning over a doorway. Where else would you put fringe magnets? I picked them up in England over 10 years ago and had been waiting for just the perfect place. It came last year.

Disgorging head
Foliate head

Disgorging head

Foliate head
These are all depictions of the Foliate head with leaves surrounding the head, and Disgorging head with leaves coming out of the mouth. A Bloodsucker head has leaves coming from all the orifices and probably represents death and burial.

England abounds in pubs called The Green Man, this one in the village of Grantchester.

The sign here may represent Jack-in-the-Green, a character sometimes linked to the Green Man. He danced through the streets in 16th and 17th C Britain on May Day, covered in leaves and garlands of flowers. The practice eventually met with Victorian disapproval and Jack was replaced with the May Queen. Currently there is a revival of Jack's character in many towns celebrating May Day.

I have Kingsley Amis novel, the Green Man which was also turned into a BBC production. It bears no relationship except for the fact the the pub the character ran was called The Green Man and has some supernatural experiences in which a ghostly apparition conjures up the apparition of a nasty green man. My green men are much more friendly.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Who prays for a cloudy day. Someone who is a gardener, has had no measurable rain for weeks and brilliant clear sunshine day after day, and whose plants are down on their knees praying with her. Yes, we have had cool nights but that lack of rain has my ground so dry I can't even pull out the spent plants. My drip- irrigation watering system and burnt out soils cannot support such weather conditions. When promised rain, talked about so much by the weather man, failed to materialize I had to start doing some hand watering. Pots and vegetable beds twice a day just to keep them alive.

This is inside the entrance to the garden where there is a little shade from the overhead beams. An odd mixture of plants, you may think. Barrel cactus, agaves, foxgloves and the brugmansia ( A gifted cutting from my garden friend Lori two years ago). I repotted it this year so extra watering has been the order of the day, but also fighting off spider mites this year. Despite the bloom it really does not look as healthy as it should so I am trying hard to get it back in shape. A little less stress from the sun may help.

And the foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. I am so proud to have grown them from seed planted last fall. These ones in pots are further ahead than the ones that are growing in the ground which have not started to bloom yet. They are the flowers of my childhood, found growing in the hedgerows and fields of England, as well as the flowers of my childhood fairy stories. They will always have a place in my heart and my garden.

I could take a few more cloudy days like this one and a little rain.Maybe tomorrow.