A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘Wildflowers’

Additional Signs of Spring

I continue to be amazed by how much change just a week or two can bring in the springtime.   The plants that went dormant for the winter are bursting with brand new growth, while the evergreen plants are growing fuller and lusher.  It makes me wish that spring would last all year, especially considering how Central Texas heats up so quickly and moves from a short spring to a long, prolonged, dry and oppressing summer.  We’ve already had a couple of ninety degree days and are forecast to reach that high again in just a few days.  Oh, how I wish it would rain instead!  We still have received no significant rain since last September.  I sure hope the rain comes soon and sticks around for a week or two …

The salvia greggii (autumn sage) is blooming again, and – this year – is putting on a better show.  I planted these two bushes last April, so they didn’t really get going until early summer.  They are two to three times as large this season.   The Indigo Spires salvia plants are really bushing up and out, but still have not sent up any flower stalks.  I truly cannot wait for these plants to start blooming – they add a lot to that side of the bed.

salvia greggii

Indigo Spires salvia

salvia greggii

The Copper Canyon Daisies have really grown a lot the past two weeks.  If you remember, my post on 3/19 showed just a few sprouts of green shooting up from their bases.  Now they’re compact little bushes.   I expect them to reach three feet wide this year, but they’re going to be a little cramped between the salvia greggii and rosemary hedge.   They really were beautiful during their bloom period last fall.

Copper Canyon Daisies

I let the lavender get a little too leggy this season, but it still flowered.  Once it is done blooming, I will prune it back quite a bit and hopefully it will do alright.  I’ve had the bush now for a few years, so it may be time soon to make cuttings or buy another plant altogether.   I still have dried lavender from last spring.  In fact, just this past weekend, I put a handful in a pot on the stove and let it simmer half of the day.  The house smelled wonderful!

Spanish lavender

The Whirling Butterfly gauras have started blooming and won’t stop until the first frost.   They require very little care.  I give them some compost tea a couple of times a year and prune back spent racemes, but that’s it.  They are each at least three feet in diameter and now about a foot, maybe a foot and a half tall.  These plants send up a multitude of flowering branches up to four feet tall that are covered in white blooms.   The two plants together should be six feet wide by four foot tall this season.

Whirling Butterfly Gaura

Gaura bushes

The rose bush is four times larger than it was when I transplanted it last spring.  I gave it a bit of bone meal a couple of weeks ago and it is covered with thirty to forty blooms right now.  It really is a knock-out.

Double Knock-Out Rose

double the pleasure - more roses in bloom

The flare hibiscus has tripled its new growth in the past two weeks.  It will reach about four feet tall and three feet wide and eventually will be covered in large  fuschia-colored blooms.  I can hardly wait … hibiscus always brings a beautiful, tropical feel to the garden.

Perennial Hibiscus - Flare variety (blooms fuschia)

You’ve already seen the amaryllis blooms in my previous post.  You can’t see it from this photo, but another bloom has opened on the opposite side of this flower and two more will be open soon between them.  It is a gorgeous flower.

Amaryllis

The Mother-of-Thyme simply did not do well for me in between the flagstones.  A few of them appeared to have died, so I dug them up and transplanted alyssum in its place and also sowed more seeds to fill in the gaps.  I do have a couple of yellow thyme that came back and are filling in quite nicely again, however.

Sweet alyssum between pavers - yellow thyme in background

The truly wild flowers I have in the yard are limited to false garlic and primrose.  I don’t mind the primrose too much, but could do without the false garlic.

primrose growing wild along the fence line

primrose flower

Along the fence where the wildflower bed was, I have several flowering plants going strong.  The red verbena is just spectacular – literally covered all over with scarlet flowers.  The euryops seem to struggle a bit when the temperatures reach above 85, and I’m hoping this won’t be a continued issue once they are well-established (I transplanted them just a few weeks ago).  I come home in the evening and their foliage is wilted and unhappy, but by morning they look fine again.  I hope they last the summer as I really enjoy their bright, yellow profusion of blooms.   I lost a fern leaf lavender plant, but have a replacement getting acclimated.  I’ll transplant it this weekend.  I think I watered it too much.  Too much love, I guess. 🙂

Euryops flowers

Verbena in scarlet - love this plant

Fern Leaf lavender established after transplant

Here’s a look at a couple of the beds.  You can see that there is quite a bit of new growth already, but it’s still pretty bare looking.  There is room for about seven or eight milkweed plants.  I have twenty cuttings scheduled to arrive before the weekend, so those spaces will soon be filled up.

Corner of the yard - looks pretty bare as of yet

The purple prairie verbena just wasn’t going to come back, so I pulled it out.  I wasn’t able to locate additional plants in the few nurseries I tried, so I went with something different.  The homestead purple verbena is a lower profile, creeping variety.   It still blooms like crazy from late spring through fall like the purple prairie, but it should be hardy in our area.  I think it will look quite nice under and around the orange, yellow and red blooms of the milkweed as well the black-eyed susans.  It has a reputation for being a “rampant” fast-growing plant, so I hope it will fill in quickly over the spring and into the summer.

Homestead purple verbena - replaced the purple prairie verbena

Can anyone identify this plant?  I can’t remember anymore what it is, but it’s got cute little buttons of lavender flowers on it.  The foliage is having a hard time because the pill bugs are constantly eating it (prompting me to use Jenny’s – of Rock Rose Garden – solution: empty grapefruit peels turned upside down as “traps”).  Works quite well because I always have a ton of pillbugs under them, but the foliage eating continues…

I forget what this is, but the pillbugs have had a time with the leaves

The black-eyed susans are coming back strong, too.  They form a triangle in this spot of the garden.  I think they’ll be double the size this year and fill in the space nicely.  You can also see the fall aster, which continues to spread out.  It is at least four or five times the size that it was when I transplanted it last spring.

a triangle of Black-Eyed Susans

Fall aster continues to spread

The lantana is rebounding – the first plant has covered it’s woody base with new stems that already reach eight or nine inches.  I even see the beginnings of flower clusters.  The second plant is almost to the point where the other one was three weeks ago and will soon look just like this one.

Texas Lantana, plant one

Lantana, plant two, starting to come back

Turk’s cap is in the corner of the yard.  It was mostly shaded due to an over hanging Texas Lilac tree in the neighbor’s yard.  They cut their tree back a lot this spring, however, leaving the corner only slightly shaded.  I hope the Turk’s cap does well despite the additional sun exposure.   It has about six times as many leaves as it did just three weeks ago.  Also in this small bed (where the mint used to be) are two Autumn Joy sedums.

Turk's Cap

No matter how much rosemary I use for cooking (which is quite a bit!), the Tuscan Blue rosemary continues to bush out considerably.  It can get to six feet tall, but I won’t let it.  I’ll be more aggressive about pruning it this year.

Tuscan Blue rosemary

Here’s a shot of the creeping lantana.  Last year it created a ground cover that was four foot in diameter, spilling over the rock borders and into the yard and onto the path.  I had to cut it back a few times, but it is an exceptionally fast grower that blooms to frost.   I loved it so much that I bought two more for the bed along the fence line.  The butterflies love it, too!

Trailing Lantana

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the zexmenia, which is between the red and the white autumn sage bushes.  It is already twice as large as it was this time last year.  I think it may be okay in this spot for this year, but next spring I will have to transplant it.  It just won’t be able to compete with the salvias any longer.

Last, but certainly not least, is a pic of the Four-Nerve daisies.   It, too, is several times larger than last spring and continues to send up more and more and MORE flowers too beautiful not to include in this post!

Four-Nerve daisies

 

Wildflowers on Order for 2011

Having looked through countless pages of wildflowers for our area, I’ve made my final decisions for next year!  I placed my order through Wildseedfarms.com of Fredericksburg, Texas.  I loved the annuals corn poppies and cornflowers so much that I’ve ordered them again this time around.

Corn Poppies (image copyright by RoundRockGarden)

Cornflowers (image copyright by RoundRockGarden)

In addition, I chose Purple Coneflower (echinacea), which can be used medicinally.  It reportedly grows up to five feet tall and blooms from April through September.  Bees and butterflies love these!  From what I’ve read, purple coneflower is a perennial.

Purple Coneflower (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

Chicory is the next flower I chose.  It sports periwinkle-colored blooms that last only a single day, but flowers June through October, growing up to 4 feet tall.  Bees, butterflies, wasps and lacewings enjoy nectaring on chicory.  The leaves can be used as a nutritious addition to salads, while the roots can be dried in the oven, ground and used as a coffee substitute.  Chicory is a perennial.

Chicory flowers (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

To add more red to the garden, I chose the almost fluorescent Scarlet Flax.  This variety is shorter than the rest, measuring up to only two feet or less, but blooms from late spring all the way through fall.   It is also an annual.

Scarlet Flax (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

Finally, I’ve decided against the larger sunflowers this year and chose Maximilian Sunflowers.  These are wonderful sunflowers you see all over Central Texas.  Growing from 3-10 feet tall in thick mounds, they make a nice natural hedge absolutely covered in multiple blooms up to 5 inches across.  These are also perennials, and bloom from late summer through fall.

Maximilian Sunflowers (From NPS.Gov)

With the exception of the sunflowers, all of these wildflowers can be directly sown in fall.  I’ll be preparing the beds in the coming weeks and get them sown by the end of October so they can establish themselves and put on a great show in 2011.  Unlike last year, when I used a wildflower mix, I will be sowing these in groupings so as to ensure a good representation of each.

I can hardly wait to see how colorful the garden will be next year with all of these new additions, PLUS the milkweed and the native flowering plants I put in earlier this spring!  Who knows, I may also have coreopsis and primrose come up from last year’s sowing … and maybe even bluebonnets that failed to germinate!

Have you made your wildflower order yet?

Truly Wildflowers of Colorado

We recently returned from an exciting and fun-filled family vacation in the West Elk Wilderness, near Crested Butte, the “Wildflower Capitol” of Colorado.  While I’m still sorting through hundreds of photos, here are several taken of wildflowers we discovered on our hikes.  Trees and mountains to follow soon …

An alpine meadow isn't complete without lupines

Richard's Geraniums

This was similar to blue Tall Chiming Bells we saw everywhere ...

This appeared to be some type of wild rose

Blue flax

Columbines growing up through the dry branches of a fallen tree

Asters were very common

Beautiful, delicate, elegant columbine

Mulesear

This should be a Motivational Poster for "Perseverance"

Columbine and Lupines

Wildflower Season Ends and Wildflower Bed is Bare

Oh, it’s sad not being able to look out the back windows and see the wildflowers blowing in the breeze. I took a machete to them a few weeks ago and now have mowed down the bed. I’m going to get out there with a hoe and work it over again. I need to add a few bags of topsoil, a bag of compost, then wait until October before I’ll sow some more seeds. I liked the wildflower bed so much, I decided to expand it.   The wildflower bed is about 30 feet long by 1 1/2 feet wide.   I’m going to expand it to two feet wide.   I ‘ve also decided to expand it down the other fence line where I’ve already stripped sod two feet wide by over fifty feet long.  So, I’ll have 160 square feet of space to put in a lot more wildflowers.

But I also want to do other things … I want to expand the butterfly nursery and plant a dozen each of fennel, parsley, and dill plants as well as all of the milkweed I have started.  I want the butterflies to see the 80 foot long buffet line from a mile away!

Wildflower bed, minus the wildflowers. 😦

The other end of the yard showing the length of the addition.

The milkweed in the native beds are doing pretty well.  I started about six of them from cuttings a couple of months ago.  Meanwhile, the butterfly weed is looking beautiful.   I have half a dozen more butterfly weed seedlings started, as well as fifty common milkweed from the seeds I received free from LiveMonarch.org.

Common Milkweed

Another milkweed plant

Common milkweed and Butterfly Weed seedlings

The milkweed and Butterfly Weed grown from seed probably will not bloom this year (although I expect the cuttings to).  Usually it takes growing a full year before they do.  But, next summer will be a treat for the butterflies.  Hopefully, I can start raising Monarch and Queens along with the Black Swallowtails!

Look How They’ve Grown

The cup of Life is full and runneth over.  The Spirit of creation abounds at every level, constructing – in no small way – the world you see, the air you breathe, the soil beneath your feet, the beating of your heart.

You are intimately bound up in Creation, eternally connected to the unfolding of Life Itself, just as a new leaf extends in the embrace of the sun and sends its roots deep into the soil.   Look at the natural world around you.  There is no death, only change.  Spirit, like matter, is neither created nor destroyed.  It merely changes form.  There is peace in the whisperings of Spirit.  Quiet your soul and listen well.   The wellspring of Life cascades through you.  You are Its expression.

What started as a hobby has turned into a full-time fascination.  I enjoy looking at my plants on a daily basis, tending to them, assisting them in their growth.  Day-to-day, it’s difficult to notice the big changes, although I catch little details in photographs.  When I look back on pics taken months or even just weeks ago, I am amazed at how much they have grown.  I look forward with great anticipation to the coming months when many of these plants should be much larger and producing lots of flowers.

Take the Texas Lantana.  I bought them in small 1/2 gallon pots and planted them in mid-March.  Now they’ve established themselves and are beginning to spread out and bloom.  This variety can grow to be 4′ x 4′, so I should have a very large mound of lantana with two plants side by side.

Texas Lantana

The two Purple Moss Verbena plants were purchased in a similar size pot and transplanted at the same time as the lantana.  They have grown incredibly and delight the butterflies with their numerous purple blooms.   These plants should each get a couple feet tall and wide.

Purple moss verbena

The Fall Aster was purchased last year in a small 4″ pot.  I transplanted it, but it didn’t do much last fall but put out two or three blooms.  Over the winter, I cut it entirely back.  Then it started to produce more leaves as you see below.  I transplanted it again with the others in March and now it is three times as large and covered with flowers.  Shhh, don’t tell it that it is late Spring…

Fall aster

An amazingly fast grower, the Indigo Spires salvia is a truly gorgeous addition to the garden.  I bought in two plants in 1/2 gallon containers and transplanted with the others.  In just two months it has grown incredibly and is covered with those beautiful indigo spires.   These can get pretty large at 4′ x 4′.

Indigo spires salvia

The Trailing Lantana, like the others, was purchased in 1/2 gallon container and transplanted in March.  It has really begun to spread out now, and after a few weeks of not blooming, has really turned on the flowers the past week.  It should spread out 3-4′ in diameter.

Trailing lantana

And the wildflower bed is just a sea of yellow right now thanks to the Coreopsis and Mexican Hats.  Below you can see the beginning stages of the wildflower bed followed by a close-up of a section of Coreopsis and a long-view of the bed as of yesterday.   The dark coreopsis is the first I’ve seen in the bed, but may be the first of many more.

The Straight Eight cucumber vines are really starting to take off.  I’ve had to tie them a few times in the past couple of weeks as they stretch up.  I’ve included a close-up of the end of the cucumber vine, as well as one of a cucumber flower.

And, remember my landscaping project?  I installed some flagstones and planted some Mother of Thyme and Yellow Thyme between the stones.  They are filling in nicely, though I really think the Yellow Thyme is doing what I want it to.  The Mother of Thyme is growing taller than I expected.  The first image below is right after transplanting the thyme, followed by pictures taken yesterday.  They should start flowering in mid-summer.

The mammoth sunflowers have sprung up, growing inches everyday.  I can’t wait to see those dinner-sized plates of yellow happiness!  The flowers are forming already and soon will start unfolding!

Mammoth sunflowers in the morning shade

And, finally, the herb garden.  The first picture below was taken September of last year.  Eight months later, the garden scarcely has a bare spot.

September 9, 2009

What’s growing up in your garden?

Wordless Wednesday: Indian Paintbrush

Flowers = Nature's paintbrush

In Every Square Inch …

The complex web of life never ceases to amaze me.  In my backyard alone, I can cultivate certain plants and attract specific creatures who will come and live out their lives.  I can watch as all levels of life spring forth and do what they do best.  I can witness competition among different species of plants and insects.   I can watch a delicate butterfly feeding on a flower or a hungry caterpillar destroy a perfectly healthy plant.  I can watch one plant grow like crazy while another one just like it struggles to make it.   Fungi, insects, plants and animals – in my own little slice of the Earth.   And all of this has been made possible by small efforts to improve the land by adding a few attractive plants.   It just goes to show me – and amaze me – that, in every square inch, life is bursting forth, continually seeking growth and balance.

Honeybee (good) hovers above a cucumber beetle (bad) on a poppy.

A flower made of crinkled tissue paper

Natural Balance: Crab spider and Cucumber beetle (click)