Monday, July 28, 2008

Window Boxes--mid summer

The window boxes outside my breakfast room window are just beautiful! In this heat there is not lots of lushness in my garden, but I can always count on the plants here to look good. I don't have anything that blooms here--just greenery. Over the years the boxes have changed looks many times. I have tried so many different plants, but discovered that what works best is a mixture of many things.

There are 2 boxes resting on brackets. My husband made the boxes for me trying to match the cedar on the house--which it does!

Remember the
"airplane" plants from the 70's? That's what I started with. But I must confess--I thought I was buying Liriope grass! I just grabbed them up quickly at Home Depot one day. Pleasant surprise as they have worked so well!

What makes the window boxes the most fun, is that I go around my yard and pinch off this and that, then just stick it right in the dirt. I have to make sure I water enough, but they are easy to water. There is very little sun because of the tree, so I only use shade plants.

Coleus is one of the best plants to "stick" in the boxes. I have so many different kinds of coleus--their color really adds to all the green.

I also pinch off my wandering jew and nestle it somewhere.
Last year I pinched off some ivy (I think it might be swedish ivy, but I am not sure.) I thought it was dead back in the spring, but it was not and it has grown and grown!

These little window boxes give me so much pleasure and fun. I think they are without a doubt one of my favorite things. They are very simple, didn't really cost anything, but they hold a very special place in my heart!

"It's the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Crispy Dilemma

I have a dilemma. Before we had one of the Bradford Pear trees removed, our backyard was almost full shade. Taking down that one tree has completely changed one side of the little yard. Several years ago I planted hostas in the little bed that runs along the fence. They always come back, and always last until late fall. However, now with all the sun on this one side--they are crispy critters!

The hostas don't go all along the entire bed, they are in an area that curves out on each end.

You can see how burned they are getting, plus the sun has faded the bright green color they usually are to very light green.

So, here lies my dilemma. The Hostas are alive, they just look very unhappy. Should I just leave them alone? Should I dig them up?

Should I wait until next year and make a decision? They get plenty of water, it's the hot sun that is baking them.

This time of the year, especially with the hot, dry summer we are having, everything looks pretty unhappy (except for the Rudbeckia--they are always happy!). But, even if next summer is not as hot, the hostas will still get sun most of the day. I hate to dig up plants that are still alive. I don't like giving up on them. What to do, what to do. This is one to ponder...any thoughts will be very welcomed and appreciated!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Pass-along Plant and Fred

My sweet neighbor Jane gave me some cuttings from an Angel Wing Begonia. I am really excited! I have seen these beautiful plants, but never had one myself. Jane got the cuttings from her sister Sally. My instructions are to plant the cuttings as soon as they root. Since I've never had one, I wanted to know more about these hybrid begonias. According to Wikipedia, Angel Wing Begonias resulted from a cross between begonia aconitifolia and begonia coccinea made by a plant breeder from California in 1926. "The plant gets its name from the shape and color of its leaves. Usually Angel Wing grow upward on one stem. They flower and produce blooms that range in color from red to white." Interesting also I read that the leaves range in color as well. The top is dark green with kind of silver specks, but the underside is dark red. The article I read says they are easy to grow as long as you keep them moist. That I can do! In all my research today, I came across comments from gardeners that have grown them. All of them said these begonias will not bloom without good light. Because they are advertised as shade plants, they are sometimes placed in a spot without any light--so good thing I saw this advice! So, thank you Jane and Sally very, very much!! I will take good care of this "angel" and hope it will grow to be big and beautiful!

Oh, and Fred???
This is where Fred lives. He sleeps here all day, and as I was watering last night, he let me take his picture. He's not very patient, so I didn't get a real good shot of him before he yelled "stop that!"

This is Fred!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Deadhead.....or not!

I have gardened since I was a little girl. I learned most things from my Mother, who learned most things from her Mother. I think lots of gardeners will say the same thing. One of my Mother's most important gardening jobs is deadheading. That lady is a conscientious deadheader! And, I learned early on there is a proper way to deadhead. Mother is especially particular about petunias--and her petunias are beautiful and live forever (even re-seed!) in this Texas heat! (You can't just pick off the spent flower, you must pinch back to the first set of leaves! ) However, my curiosity has gotten the best of me lately, and I want to know; do I have to deadhead everything? So, I decided to do some research, and this is what I found.

Deadheading, as you know, is removing spent flowers. There are different types or ways of deadheading; deadheading buds, deadheading flower stems, pinching back, shearing back and pruning. It's lots of trouble though, so why deadhead? Because not only does it keep the plants looking more attractive, but if the old dying flowers remain on the plant, they go to seed and stop producing flowers. Okay, but now I want to know if all flowers must be deadheaded. I have read and read trying to figure this one out.

I always deadhead my geraniums; I read you do not need to deadhead profusion zinnias so I have not and they are beautiful. I read to leave the old blooms of coneflowers on for the birds. I don't deadhead my Black Eye Susans, I am too busy picking them (so would that be considered deadheading even though they are not really dead?) , but I don't think they bloom as long as others I have seen.

Coleus are easy. They are not here for the flowers they produce, so just pinch the little flowers off so the energy can go back to the plants. I will admit though--I have several coleus and sometimes I let them flower a little. But I will not hesitate to prune these beauties way back so they will be bushy.

To deadhead or not to deadhead--that is the question. In my searching the Internet and reading articles I found a list that really helped me. I hope it will help you too. I know I am not the only one that dreads going out to the garden with pruners in hand to really shear a plant back, but I have no problem heading out armed with my garden scissors to take off the old blooms. My only problem is forgetting my glasses and accidentally taking off the prettiest flower along with the dead! Oh well....if I do, I have plenty of vases!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"It's not easy being green..."

I sat in the swing earlier this morning drinking my coffee thinking of how nice everything in my little backyard looked even though it's the middle of summer. I always take my camera with me on these early mornings outside, and as I tried to think about what "flower" to take a picture of, it dawned on me that while the blooming plants are pretty, it's the "green things" that make this little yard look so lush this early Saturday morning. The Perennial Gardener did a post recently on things ignored in your garden. I thought of her post this morning as I looked around at all the pretty green because I realized what I ignore in my garden is what the garden is made of. It's the basis from where we start. It's the beginning. We add flowers for color, and I love my flowers, but on this Saturday morning, I am loving the green. I love the different shades of green, I love the texture and I love the definition it gives to my yard. It's not easy being green--you are ignored and taken for granted. So, thank you to all the green in my yard for making my little garden look so good this morning!

One of my many hostas

Maiden Hair Grass

Wood Fern behind the pond

Boston Fern around the Bradford Pear Tree

Umbrella Plant

Coleus in old picnic tin

Asparagus fern

Wandering jew planted in old chair

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Seeds are here!

The seeds I ordered from The Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg have arrived! (Can you believe I am thinking flowers 2009? Of course you can!)

I am hoping the Bluebonnets I had this past spring will
re-seed, but just in case, I ordered more seeds. I will soak them the night before planting, and they will be "scattered" by September first.

I have never grown Purple Coneflower from seed, but thought I would give that a try, so I ordered seeds for me and seeds to share. I am having such good luck with the little clasping coneflowers--so I ordered more seeds for them.

My Mother had beautiful California Poppies, so I ordered more poppy seeds for her. And I am trying 2 new things this next year: African Daisy and Scarlet Sage. I know--I can buy the plants at a nursery, but I wanted to try my luck with seeds. There is just something about digging in the dirt, adding a tiny little brown seed (that looks so dried up it would never grow), giving it water and plenty of sunshine--and going out one day and seeing that first seedling! It's magical!

"This very act of planting a seed in the earth has in it to me something beautiful.
I always do it with a joy that is largely mixed with awe!" Celia Thaxter

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bloom Day....

...but not in my yard. I was so impressed with a garden in Lake City I wanted to use pictures from their garden. Lake City Colorado is very small. Just one main street--with wooden sidewalks! I fell in love with this small, quaint mountain town. There are lots of flowers around, but I noticed what I thought might be a park filled with flowers, so while my husband was off handling car things, I took the chance to check it out. Actually it's a town garden. There are several plots, each gardened by a different store owner. What a great idea! I was so impressed with the thought of everyone working together to create something so beautiful. I know there are community vegetable gardens, but I have never seen a community flower garden. It was simple, but very, very pretty. Wouldn't it be wonderful if life was always like this --- everyone working together to create something so beautiful as this small Lake City garden.

This part of the garden was called

White Columbine in with the blue

Of course, all mountain gardens have poppies!

The largest peony I have seen. This bush was loaded with these and beautiful!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rocky Mountain High!

Most summers my husband and I (and our kids when they were young) go camping at a lake up from Crested Butte, Colorado. This past winter Crested Butte got record snow--good for them, but our campsite at Lake Irwin was still in the snow when it was time for our vacation. So..we decided to visit another part of Colorado this year. For the past week we have been camping at River Hill campground near Creede, Colorado. I was excited about exploring a new place, but very apprehensive too. I knew I loved Lake Irwin--would I love this part of Colorado?

My husband first took me camping in the Rockies on our honeymoon, 33 years ago. I fell in love with the mountains, and with camping. It's not just the cool weather..I find a peace in the mountains I don't find anywhere else. There is such serenity getting up in the morning and seeing a blue sky, smelling the pine trees, and enjoying a cup of coffee sitting by the fire. We hike, we fish, we cook out and just enjoy the outdoors.

Our campsite this year was in the mountains, just not high up in the mountains. The best part-it was right on the Rio Grande river! We could hear the rushing sound of the river the minute we stepped out of the car. This was a different place, but the feeling was the same. I found my peace here. We had a wonderful trip...

This is Daisy (yes, I named her!) She hung out at our campsite. I know deer are a nuisance for lots of gardeners, but we don't have them where I live, so I enjoyed seeing Daisy.

Creede is an old mining town. We also went to Lake City which is also an old mining town. (the stories I could tell you about that town from years ago!!) We took lots of old roads and saw lots of old mines and ghost towns.

I love waterfalls, and this was the place for them! We took about a 6 mile (round trip) hike back to a beautiful waterfall. (and would you believe we met 2 couples from the Dallas area on this hike!)

The wildflowers were not as pretty here as they are in Crested Butte--I wonder why? But I still enjoyed the few I found. This is a picture of Lanceleaf Chiming Bells.

And of course, Colorado's state flower, Columbine.

Yes, this was a different trip. It was a different Colorado, but it was mountains. I still love Lake Irwin, but I enjoyed this trip--we will definitely return.
I get a lump in my throat every time I have to leave the mountains, but I know I must go home. I must return to Texas--it's where I live, it's where I bloom.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. John Muir

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

What a great way to start this holiday morning--I took my Mother to the Dallas Arboretum. I wanted to see the crepe myrtles, which were beautiful, but of course we found lots of other wonderful things to see and smell as well!

This is one of the beautiful crepe myrtles. I think we saw one of every color. They were spectacular!

This is the little thatched roof cottage. It changes with every season, but always looks pretty.

This cute little house is in the pioneer village.
I could sit on this porch with a cup of coffee!

These marigolds were breath taking. I love oranges, so they were one of my favorites.

View of White Rock Lake. No deer around here, so statues will have to do!

The ducks were happy today... were the butterflies!

And from my LAST....the rudbeckias are blooming!!

Happy 4th of July everyone. Have a safe weekend and good week.
God Bless America!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Coneflower are so popular here in Texas. It seems like everyone has them, and has really good luck with them. I think Pam from Digging has the prettiest pictures I have ever seen. I would love to see hers in person. (In fact, I would love to see her entire garden--the pictures are beautiful!) I am drawn to coneflowers. I remember as a little girl having them in our front flower bed. I loved them and told my Mother "when I grow up I will have pink daisies like this in my yard!" Purple Coneflowers do the best, but there are several other varieties now. The word I hear from other gardeners is that these hybrids will not come back faithfully like the original purple. The corner bed where I have my coneflowers was pretty torn up last year, however one my peach colored plants did come back.

This is called "Big Sky." It is a peachy pink, and does not have the big orange center like the original purple.

This coneflower is "White Swan." It has done really well this year. In fact, I bought another one since I had such luck with this one.

This is a new coneflower I bought called
"Harvest Moon." It is just now blooming and will be a pumpkin yellow. Really pretty color!

Another new companion with the Harvest Moon is this yellow called "Sunrise." It's not a very bright yellow now, but it may darken as it opens.

What I love about these new coneflowers is the fragrance. They smell so sweet!
However, I was working in a back bed smelling such a wonderful scent 2 days ago, trying to figure out what it was when I leaned over and smelled a purple coneflower right at my feet and realized that is what I was smelling! Ummm!
I did not know the original purples smelled so good!

And finally, how cute is this! This is a
"clasping coneflower" I planted these from seeds I bought last summer. No sweet fragrance with these, but that's fine. No need to smell good when you are just so darn cute!!!