Monday, September 17, 2012

Vitex Montrose Purple

This was our sunset last night.  The mild temperatures and rain we've been blessed with this week past has put me in the mind set of planting new shrubs and trees, as well as getting my bulb order together for the fall.

This weekend I bought two Vitex 'agnus-castus'.  These are also known as Chaste Trees and Texas Lilacs.  I have wanted a Chaste Tree ever since I saw them in full bloom lining the entry drive to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine.  They reminded me of big, giant Budlias, or butterfly bushes.  The flowers on this tree is what I love the most.

The variety of my Vitex is Montrose Purple which produce large 8 - 12 inch purple panicles.  Mine are small shrub-size right now but they'll grow fast.  You can grow them as large shrubs or trim to grow as small trees.  They will quickly grow to 10-20 feet tall.  I plan to limb them up and grow them as trees.

Other positives about this tree is that, once established, they are drought tolerant.  The foliage is fragrant.  Bees love 'em, deer don't.

For those of you who are into holistic health practices, you might find it interesting that an extract made from Vitex supposedly controls PMS.  Which means any of you guys out there who have to endure such punishment every 28 days might want to consider planting a couple of these.

This is what I hope mine will look like one day. (photo from website)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

See How They Grow

A short update on what's going on in the front bed.  It is starting to stay hot in Fort Worth and the rains are dwindling I'm afraid.

This Spring I have been getting to know my new garden and have already learned where I have gone wrong.  I can definitely say that replacing and replanting are in my near future.

The Camellia and the hydrangea I planted early in Spring are going to have to be moved.  As the warm weather creeps up on us, so is the sun on the part of the bed where these two plants rest.  It is becoming way too much sun for them.  

Same for the impatiens that were planted there.  They are struggling and it hurts to watch them.  A trip to the neighborhood nursery is on the agenda this week to pick out some annual color that can't get enough sun.

The Cannas are growing and blooming nicely.  I'm dead-heading practically every evening.  See these bright yellow-orange blooms?  In all these plants my brother and sister-in-law gave me a year ago, there is one canna that is different from all the rest.  Come winter I'll pull it up and plant it somewhere else on its own.  It's bloom is a completely different style and the leaves and stems are much heftier than the bright orange ones in the background.

Texas Sage in bloom.

The lilies getting ready to open up.

I thought I was buying three blue salvia and one of them turned out to be very white.  I'm taking a shining to the white one.

After pulling out all the pansies I filled in that space with Spanish Moss.

I love the succulent leaves and the bright flowers.  I love that each plant has multi colors on them.  They are very festive and they will do well in our heat  and drought this summer.

Gladiolas.  Still picking caterpillars off.

When I find caterpillars, I pick them off and put them in my bug box with enough of the host plants to feed on.  Let me tell ya, all these caterpillars do is eat and poop, eat and poop.  When they've eaten and pooped enough they crawl around looking for a little branch to attach to and form their cocoon.  Then they become the beautiful butterfly they were meant to be.

I check the box on a regular basis and when I see they have emerged from their cocoon I lift the lid on the box and they fly away when they are ready.
Esperanza.  I think this will fair very well where I placed it.  It's also drought tolerant and loves the sun

Hanging pots on front porch are doing well.  We have two purple jews and an airplane plant in the center spot.

Well, hello there.  This is Chrysanthemum who is a baby cottontail that is growing up in my front garden.  Looks like she is enjoying a little Yarrow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Odds and Ends Around the Yard

In between work and rain, I've been trying to fill up the front bed.  It's a big space to fill but I'm slowly getting it filled in.  I've got several types of flowers that I'm starting from seed that will be added later.  This is my Coralbean showing off its vivid red spikes.  Other than the bloom the plant looks a little sickly.  The bush is a new transplant and hopefully it will look a little healthier as the season progresses.

The Japanese Maple has leafed out beautifully.  I really didn't know what to expect after the intense heat and drought of last summer.  It was the only thing planted in the bed prior to Texas becoming a furnace.


The two peach trees we planted right after we moved in last year had a rough time of the summer as well.  They both went into shock and lost their leaves after turning yellow.  Many prayers were said over these trees.  One succumbed to a boring insect of some sort and one survived.....barely.

I can't tell you how tickled and thankful I was to look out one day and see two small, lower branches that had leaves and a peach blossom on them.  The upper branches don't have a leaf on them.  I have been watching this little peach like a mother hen.  It is so adorable and here, it's only about 3/4" long.

Looks like we'll have tomatoes on the table soon!

96 of these little impatiens were planted.  Two days after they were in the ground I found them covered with black caterpillars eating through them, cutting them to the ground.  I used a dish washing soap, vinegar, salt spray on them and they acted like I just seasoned their meal.  I had to get the Sevin dust after them and now I'm waiting to see if they are going to survive.

I bought some red and white caladiums that will be planted right behind the impatiens.

Day Lilies that my sister pulled out of her OKC garden and brought to me.

The Cannas were gynormous last year.  Here they are cut back, ready to give us another spectacular show.

This is where the new canna growth will come up.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Elephant Ears

This past October I ordered some Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta) to plant in the front bed this spring.  There's nothing like seeing these huge, mammoth ears swaying in the breeze.  Your eyes can't help but be drawn to them in the garden.

This year I wanted something a little different from the plain green varieties that you find at the Home Depot and big box nurseries.  Plant Delights Nursery out of North Carolina had just the sort of plants I had in mind.  They specialize in rare perennial plants that gardeners and collectors seek.

Allow me to introduce you to the new inhabitants of my garden.  By the way, I just want to tell you, the folks at Plant Delights Nursery really impressed me with the care they take in shipping these plants and instructions they provide you with on how to care (and not care) for them when they arrive.

Black Magic
This is what Black Magic looked like when it arrived and I put him in the ground.  When new leaves appear, they are bright green and as they grow larger and older they turn a beautiful purple-black.  Black Magic gives a very dramatic look to your garden; especially when it's growing next to a plant that is bright green.

Lovey and I have had Black Magic elephant ears for many years and they are gorgeous and also grow well in large planters.

This is a photo of what Black Magic will look like as he matures.  See how pretty he is against the green plant in the background?  Please note that the photos I'm showing you of the mature plants come from the PDN website. 

Black Magic will grow to a width & height of 5'-6'.  The leaves will span 2'.

Mojito looks quite poorly doesn't he?  After I got him in the ground he got a little wind battered.

This is what Mojito's leaves will look like as they get larger.

Mojito will grow to a width & height of 3'.  Not sure how big the leaves will get.

You can't tell right now, but as Rhubarb grows it will have bright red stalks, thus the name. 

The stalks will grow to 4' with large bright green leaves.

Silver Leaf Dwarf
This is Sliver Leaf Dwarf and I think I'm most interested to see how this will look when it's clump is mature.

It is truly a dwarf in the elephant ear world, with it's clump growing only to about 18" high and 2' wide.  It will have leaves of velvety, medium green, each highlighted by a wide silver streak down the center vein with smaller silver veins radiating from the center to the leaf edge. The plants are adorned all summer with small yellow spathe and spadix flowers.

As these 'children' grow, I'll share their progress.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My little patch of tulips are blooming.  I planted three types, the red ones are Apledoorn, Golden Apledoorn are the yellow and the little orange one you see in the foreground is Daydream.   Appearing a little later than the others the Daydreams will provide me with longer, pleasurable viewing time.  I planted about 50 and most of them have popped up through the soil.

When I select my bulbs I first decide on my color combinations.  Then I try to get a variety according to height that the tulip will grow and also whether it will bloom early, mid or late season.  This will extend the time you have lovely tulips in your garden.

If you recall I purchased my bulbs at the Garden Club of Houston Bulb & Plant Mart back in October.  In the northern regions of the U.S. gardeners plant their tulips in the Fall and the bulbs enjoy their needed cold spell from the cold winters.  Since we have mild winters in Texas most tulip bulbs need to be refrigerated for 14 to 16 weeks.  This tricks the bulbs into thinking they've gone through a cold winter underground

This is how we have to do it.
I laid a cloth in the bottom of the crisper drawer, deposited my tulips and announced to the world, "NO FRUIT IN THIS REFRIGERATOR FOR AS LONG AS THESE BULBS ARE IN HERE!".

When fruits start to ripen they release a plant hormone in the form of ethylene gas.  Ethylene gas is also known as the 'death' or 'ripening' hormone.  This is a good thing when it comes to ripening your fruit, like putting avocados in a brown paper bag to make them ripen quicker.  However, it is evil for tulip bulbs because the ethylene gas will destroy the flower inside the bulbs.

Ideally, you want to plant the bulbs when the soil is still fairly cool (45° to 50°F) so they have time to establish healthy roots before the ground really warms up they start to poke up through the soil.  This can be (and was) a challenge for me because I had to wait longer to plant because it was always raining or muddy, then BOOM it started getting hot.  They seemed to have fared well.

I'll re-visit the tulips when I show you what to do when the flowers are gone and the foliage isn't too pretty.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Starting From Seed - Jack Beans

These seeds were passed on to me by my father-in-law's girlfriend.  They are seeds from her Jack Bean vines in her back yard.  I am not familiar with these so I had to do a little research.

It carries the horticulture name of Canavalia ensiformis.  It's an American tropical vine that has clusters of purple flowers with long pods and beans that are edible.  The pods will reach a length of 10 to 14 inches, and a width of 1 to 1½ inches.  Wow!  Those are big pods!

I also read that the vines are grown for forage.  So, I'm assuming when they say the beans are edible, they are saying that cattle will like them.  Well, the plant seems interesting and I do love vines so I think I'll give these a try.

To see if the seeds are good I put them between two wet paper towels, zipped them in a baggie and put them on top of the refrigerator for a couple of days.

After about a week, this is what I had.

I made holes in the bottom of some soup cans with a nail, for drainage and planted the seedlings in seed starting mix.

We'll see how they progress.  I have several weeks before I will have to put them in the ground and decide how I will trellis them up.   Will share with you then how they are coming along!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Spheres

When the driveway was poured Lovey had them pour several of these niches along one side of the driveway. 

There are three of them and each is 4' x 4'.  (this photo is looking down the driveway towards the street).  That's our neighbor's home across the street.  Their yard is so beautiful and manicured and they have lovely gardens.

I can stand at our kitchen window and gaze out on their pretty landscaping.  I hope ours isn't too much of an eye sore for them to look at. 

Lovey found these to place there.  I kind of liked them as architectural objects by themselves.  They are actually planters but the opening is a small one so it gives the appearance of being solid.  If I painted them red you might feel like you're at Target.

We planted a Sky Pencil Holly (ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil') in each pot.
We liked these because they are evergreen and require very little maintenance.  They can grow 10' but we'll keep them trimmed shorter, probably to 5'.

We dressed them up a little for the holidays.

Come Spring I'll plant some potato vines to cascade down the sides.