Friday, March 30, 2012

Oh, My!

Abraham Darby has only been in my garden for a couple of years.  He's stuck in the back, where I have to go behind the main rose garden to see him.  The plan is for him to eventually grow high enough as a climber to bloom over the other roses in another year or two.

Seeing a flash of color, I decided to travel back there to see if he was blooming.

Oh, my!  

Gorgeous.  Huge (every bloom is 3-1/2" across!).  Fragrant. 

So many petals stuffed into one bloom!

Don't look for me in the garden - this year I'm going to be behind the garden.  Enjoying Abe.  

Abraham Darby

Watch out, Tamora!  If you don't start blooming soon, Abraham Darby just might knock you off your throne as my favorite Austin rose.

I'm joining Chris at The Redneck Rosarian for Fill the Frame Fridays.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Come Hither

Years ago, a friend of mine moaned to her mother that no male was paying attention to her.  What's a girl to do?  Her mother replied, "Give him the come hither look."  She then gave a low, flirty stare out of the corner of her eyes.  I laughed, thinking "come hither" was a joke.

But a few years later, that same friend and I liked the same young man.  And while we were all together one day, I saw her give him the "come hither" look.  Obviously, she knew her mother wasn't joking, because he asked her out!

Darn it!

Golden Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Aurea')

Whenever I see a photo of a garden that I think is beautiful, I try to analyze why it works and what it is that I find so appealing.  I may not be able to copy the garden, but I can possibly copy the concept.

I looked at one of my favorite photos for a long time.  It was of a central pathway with plantings on either side.  I felt as if I could figure out why that garden looked so beautiful, perhaps I could mimic some of those design qualities in my pathway garden.

I noticed a couple of things.  One, they repeated the same color on both sides of the pathways, and repeated that color all the way down the pathway.  Although it looked like it was just an abundance of color and flowers, in reality it was a finely tuned design.  The repeat of the same color all the way down the pathway drew the eye forward, and also begged you to walk down the path.  I nicknamed it the "come hither" design element.

The "come hither" element in my pathway garden comes from the golden barberries (berberis thunbergii 'Aurea').  Bright, with small leaves, they don't initially hit you as a big part of the design scheme.  But, I'm hoping, that subconsciously the repeat of these plants pulls you forward.

You can see three in this picture.  There are actually six of these bushes in this garden.

I love these golden barberries.  I love their lemon-lime coloring, their naturally rounded shape, their small size (mine are between 2-3 ft high and wide), and their little leaves.  I think their lime green coloring goes well with so many other plants, too.  And come fall, they turn a beautiful burnt orange.  The only thing I can say against them is they have thorns.  But it seems like everything in my garden has thorns, so I'm used to that feature.

Golden barberry is deciduous, and grows in zones 3 through 10.  They are my "come hither" plant.  Can't you see them giving you a low, flirty stare?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Tracery.  A word that is not in my every day language.  But it was the word chosen for Word 4 Wednesday.  Have you heard of Donna's meme?  Every month, Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk picks a word randomly, and bloggers write a post using that word.  Today the word is tracery.

Tracery?  Hmmm.....  Sometimes her words are quite challenging.

Tracery's an architectural word, the definition being:

  1. Ornamental stone openwork, typically in the upper part of a Gothic window.
  2. A delicate branching pattern.

Well, I don't have any gothic windows in my garden.  But I did see this the other day which reminded me of stained glass:

Before I had a chance to look up what I thought was a butterfly, Cynthia of On a Hays County Hill identified it as an Eight-spotter Forester moth (Alypia octomaculata).   A moth!  Not a butterfly.  A moth that is frequently seen during the day.

Like this Hummingbird Clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe), that is also often seen during the day:

What does this have to do with tracery?

Well, as I was noticing the Eight-spotted Forester's wings, and the beautiful (although hard to see) pattern on the clearwing hummingbird moth, I realized there was tracery everywhere in the garden.

In every butterfly:

In the smallest of blooms:

Even foliage:




I couldn't stop seeing it, once I had started!

Man-made tracery may be pretty.

But nothing compares to the intricate patterns and beauty of nature.
I guess that's why God is often called the Great Architect.

Look for tracery in your garden.  I guarantee you'll see it.

Thanks, Donna, for another word that opened my eyes to seeing the garden in a different perspective.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's Blooming!

I'm a plopper.  I admit it.  When I first started my garden, I was a planner, but I soon became a lover of plants, and so my plopping days began.  In fact, my walking garden was designed to be a plopping garden!

Marcia of Birds, Blooms, Books, etc., generously gave me some purple irises last year.  I plopped them in the walking garden.  I have other irises in that garden.  Mostly white ones, but also some purple ones.  As a plopper, I didn't remember exactly where I had placed Marcia's irises.   So when purple irises started blooming, I wasn't sure if it was my purple irises, or the ones I received from Marcia.

But because I blog, I can look back to see which iris was here last year.

This is the iris I received from Marcia.  It's a beautiful, deep, royal purple, with frilly petals that have a white edge and a pure white top.  I love it.  Thanks, Marcia!

Plopper, planner, novice or expert - blogging is wonderful because:

  • I've met some of the sweetest, most generous, and helpful people.  All with an interest in a hobby I love.
  • I've got a record of my garden.  That has really helped me see the differences in the garden from year to year.

If you're not a blogger, but have been thinking about it, I say - try it!  At the very least, start taking pictures of your garden.  You will be amazed how useful - and enjoyable - it can be to have a daily record of your garden and its blooms.

Has having a daily pictorial of your garden helped you?

Sunday, March 25, 2012


My sister loves to take shortcuts.  No matter where she is driving, she knows a shortcut.  Sometimes she knows so many shortcuts, I think it takes us longer to get there than if we had just gone the regular route.

Well, that's kind of what happened to me.  I tried to take a shortcut, and in this instance it worked, but it's not the advised way to go.

You see, when I started gardening, I realized that nothing would live in our soil.  It was pure clay.  Brick almost.  What's a girl to do?  Amend is the regular route.  But I wanted a shortcut.

I really knew nothing about my crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) when I bought it, except it was a plant native to many southern states, including Texas.  It seemed to me that native plants that might grow in the naturally hard soil.  And I could skip a step.

Except for a few areas (which still includes where this vine is planted), my soil is nicely amended now.  But it took a long time to get it that way.  And miraculously, the crossvine turned out to be a beautiful shortcut.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

If you want to try a crossvine, here's some thing you might want to know:
  • Sometimes it won't bloom until it reaches the top of the structure.  I had to wait a few years for mine to reach the top of the wall and start blooming, but its evergreen leaves were pretty to look at while I waited.
  • It attaches itself by little tendrils with sticky pads, so it will climb almost anything.  I put mine on a trellis to start it growing up the outside wall, but after it got the hang of it, it just took off.
  • It's a natural hummingbird magnet.
  • Evergreen, it grows in zones 6 through 9, up to 40 ft, in full sun to partial shade.
  • Blooms in spring, and again in fall.

Mine is allowed to just grow and hang down upon itself.  As it takes pruning easily, I've seen others train their crossvine neatly across their house, up an arbor, draping a gazebo, across the top of a fence, or climbing a tree.  It is said if you cut into the stem, you can see a cross sign, thus the name crossvine.

Versatile.  Tough.  Attracts hummingbirds.  Evergreen.  Easy.  An orange spectacle when it blooms.  My shortcut.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Foundation Favorite

Want to know one of my favorite foundation plants?

'Bay Breeze' Dwarf Indian Hawthorn (Raphiolepis indica).  Also known as 'Hines Darkleaf'.

Mine are planted in a hedge between my front porch and the sidewalk.  I love that:

1)  They stay small, so I can sit and still look over them, but have a sense of privacy.
2)  They're evergreen, so even in December they are cheerful to see.
3)  They bloom in spring.

They're almost no care.  I have been known to throw some fertilizer under them, and I have also been known to forget to do that for years at a time.

'Bay Breeze' (Hines Darkleaf) Indian Hawthorn

I have to shape mine to keep them off the sidewalk, but other than that, they are truly one of the easiest plants in my garden.  Don't shape them before they bloom in spring - you might cut off that year's blooms.

They love full sun, but can be planted in part shade.  And any plant that loves full sun in hot Texas really, really loves the sun!  I have some planted in a place that is full shade, and they are leggy and rarely bloom.  I keep thinking I will need to put something else in that place, and I will eventually, but it's hard to pull out a plant that is still evergreen with lots of leaves on it, even if it is unhappy.

The only problem I can see with this plant as a foundation planting is the fact that they attract bees when they're blooming.  It doesn't bother me, but if I had a lot of visitors or was allergic to bees, I might not want these near my front door.

'Bay Breeze' grows in zones 8 to 11, to 3 ft. tall and wide, with a nice rounded shape.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Passed Along

I'm always a bit skeptical of pass-along plants.  You know the ones.  Plants that get passed to new gardeners, usually because they multiply so quickly the passer-alonger is happy to get rid of a portion of them.  I have been the recipient of some pass-along plants, and it didn't take long to realize I needed to pass on most pass-along plants.

But these were different.  I just couldn't seem to pass them by.  Sweet little pink flowers with leves like shamrocks.  They were blooming in several areas of my daughter's yard, looking so sweet and cheerful.  I decided to take a few, and asked her permission.  She was thrilled that I wanted something from her yard.

I knew I might regret that action.  But so far, I've just been enchanted.  They're blooming with the pansies right now.  I'm actually thrilled that they survived - they weren't planted for a few days after digging them up.  And they weren't actually dug up - more like ripped by hand.  But here they are - survivors.  I wonder if the fact that they can survive just about anything is a sure sign of invasiveness.

These are oxalis, or wood sorrel.  And yes, I might regret this impulse.  I'm fully aware they might become a bit invasive.  But with such a sweet little flower, would I really care?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lost and Sometimes Found

I try very hard to keep up with plant labels.  Really, I do.  I have an organizer just for this.  Divided into the different sections of my garden, I can usually find the labels fairly quickly.

Well, not always.

I know there are much better ways to do this than keeping the labels.  But I like to see the photos, and from where I purchased the plants.  And sometimes seeing the label jogs my memory.

Unfortunately, I don't always put them in the organizer in a timely manner.  Which means, sometimes tags are placed here and there, stuffed in places that I think I'll come back to later, when I have the time to put them in the organizer.

And sometimes I lose them.  :(

And sometimes I find them again!  :)

Like the name of this daffodil.  I love this daffodil.  I love it's pure white color, and the scent was so sweet!  I was enchanted by it.  And it bloomed perfectly alongside the carnations.  I wanted to make a note of its name, so I could get more next year.

But I looked, and looked, and looked, and could not find its tag.  Finally!  Two weeks later - I have found it!

Thalia daffodil

Thalia daffodil is the name of this daffodil!

But I seem to have lost the name of this iris.

Unknown iris

If I find the tag, I'll be sure to let you know its name!  Because I want to remember it myself!  Doesn't it look pretty with the scabiosa?

And I'll try to re-organize my tags.  When I find the time to get to that.

Do you have any plant label organizing tips for me?

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 2012 Garden Book Reviews

It's that time again!  It's the 20th of the month, and time for Garden Book Reviews!  You're invited to join in each month - I'd love to hear your review of any book that you've read with a gardening theme.

With my review today, you're in for a treat - or not - depending upon your perspective.  I'm going to tell you about my very favorite garden book.  If I could only have one garden book, this would be the book I would choose.  When I started designing my garden, I literally carried this book around with me everywhere I went - inside and out.  It's been rained on, and the pages are close to falling out.  But every time I need inspiration, or get stuck in working out a new bedding plan, I turn to this book.

But it's not for everyone.  It's about formally designed gardens.  So, if you don't like that style of gardens, just jump down to the linky to join in with your own garden book review.  But if you like symmetrical, balanced, classical gardens, read on:


Art of the Formal Garden
by Arend Jan Van Der Horst

Symmetry with romantic plantings.  That is this entire book in a nutshell.  Not only are there fabulous photographs, but also garden plans, complete with plantings.  I don't usually look at garden plans, as they never seem to fit in my garden.  But this is not a 'follow this plan' type of book.  This book gives you so many options, it allows you to come up with your own creative solutions.    

The chapters are divided into different aspects found in formal gardens - hedges, herbaceous borders, water, arches and pergolas, ornaments, paths, etc.  In each chapter, he gives the design element, describes specific examples used in different gardens, then lists many more additional choices of what might work in your own garden.  My mind would race at the possibilities!  With so much inspiration, I found that I could take the design principles and easily fit them in my own garden.   

I purchased the softcover, but I so wish I had splurged for the hardcover.  Who should read this book?  Anyone that wants formal, symmetrical, or balanced design in their garden.  I hope if you like formal, romantic gardens, you will find a copy of this book to read.  You won't be disappointed!


Now it's your turn!  Joining is easy, and we love to hear about new or old garden books.

You know the rules:
1) Any book about gardening, gardens, or has a garden influence in it is fine, except:
2) No links/reviews about growing substances that are illegal in the United States.  (I know I don't have to worry about my blogging buddies, but I thought I needed to clarify in case someone new tries slipping one in!)

I promise to read your post, and I hope you'll read the other participants' posts, too.  You never know - you may find your next favorite garden book!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Azalea Trail Photos!

Want to see some color?  Want to see spring?  It's here!!!

Yes, it's almost time for the annual Tyler Azalea and Spring Flower Trails!  So, I goofed off today and drove around, enjoying the colorful display of azaleas, tulips, daffodils, violas, camellias, Lady Banks roses, wisterias, dogwoods and Japanese maples all in their spring finery.  Enjoy the show!

Azaleas line the streets - they're everywhere!

Orange tulips were HUGE - and gorgeous!  I saw them in several gardens.

This Japanese maple was green, instead of the usual red.
Click HERE for more info on the yellow azalea.  

A private garden.  Isn't it beautiful?  
Click HERE to see more of this garden from last year.

You can see some wonderful views by walking around.

In fact, some of the gardens are right on the street.

Or you can just drive around and see the show.

This garden was along the street, too.  A perfect place to take family photos.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the colors of spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Spring has arrived, and I am loving every minute of it.

I have blisters on my feet.

My arms and legs have scratches all over them.

My nose and cheeks have a touch of sunburn.

My muscles are sore.

My house won't be clean again until next winter.

We have been eating very, very late.  And very simply prepared dishes.

It's wonderful!

What's blooming in my garden for Garden Bloomers Bloom Day?

Carnation, dianthus, iris, daffodil, crocus, salvia, muscari, scabiosa, gaillardia, 
camellia, pansy, various ground covers, and an occasional rose bloom.

This gardener is happy!
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