Friday, March 6, 2015

Tropical plumeria has a sweet surprise in the greenhouse...

If you ask me to envision myself in my happy place, you'll find me on a beach somewhere, enjoying balmy breezes with a book in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other.

So when the weather warms up, I spend my time creating a similar happy place in my own garden.  Around our pool, I plant things that are lush -- some tropical, some native.  The tropicals typically live in very large ceramic pots that overwinter in the greenhouse.

For many years, I've been growing plumeria, or frangipani.  I've been given some by my parents, who brought them back from Hawaii, and from friends who have passed along pieces of theirs.

And, I've bought a few at the annual Zilker Garden fest from a vendor that has has an array of exotic plants that I am always enticed to bring home with me.

A deciduous shrub, Plumeria spp is a tropical plant native to parts of Central America.  Most of mine are yellow, though I do have one or two pink varieties.  The yellow blooms fill the air with the most amazing lemony goodness. 

Mine are all still in the greenhouse, thanks to our late cold spells.  While I was watering in there this afternoon, I discovered two giant seed pods.  I haven't seen them forming because this pot is in the very back corner of the greenhouse and I have to step up on some step stones to even see it.  They are the two elongated brownish pods going to the left and up of the main green stalk and then down to the right, cutting the photo diagonally.  Cool, huh?

The plumeria tree blooms in the summer and features waxy, showy flowers consisting of five petals in a funnel shape. When the flowers begin to wither, they are replaced by long, slender fruit. A nonedible seedpod, the plumeria fruit reaches lengths of between 6 to 12 inches. So, I must have had a bloom in the greenhouse over the winter that I didn't see and now ... voila!

You can propagate a new plumeria tree from seeds stored in the ripened fruit. It takes 9 to 10 months for the seedpods to fully ripen.  Then you can pull  them from the tree and harvest the seeds.

So, if you think you're in the market for some plumeria seeds in about 7 - 8 months, leave me a comment here!








Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter warm up -- hot colors in the garden...

Even here in Central Texas, our winter's freezing temps and cold, damp, grey skies are hanging on.  I'm done with it.  And  I know my gardening friends to the north are exasperated by the volume of snow that continues to plague them.

At the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland last spring, I was struck by the overwhelming use of color in the gardens there.  Plants, pots, furniture, you name it, vivid colors perked up each and every garden.  With a climate filled with its share of grey days, these pops of color  their gardens not only brightened up the space, they brightened my mood. 

As I'm sure they were consciously or subconsciously intended to do.

So for everyone who is exasperated by the lingering blanket of winter that covers our souls and our gardens this year, here are some of my favorite photos of tropical style gardens, plants and decor.

A little garden statuary can help to enhance your garden style.
Even if you're in a drought, a pretty rain chain can make it seem like you might be having a late afternoon tropical shower.
With only a few exotic-looking plants and the right leaf shapes, textures or forms, you can create your own resort-like retreat in your back yard.
Hot, contrasting colors embody the tropical style.
Bananas, crotons and coleus are true tropical plants.
Even if your design doesn't include many tropical plants, you can add some pops of color with garden art and decor.
While most coleus are shade plants, there are new sun-loving varieties that you can use in sunny spots.
Texture, second only to color, typifies traditional plants of the tropics.  Big, bold foliage with exotic patterns and texture abound in this section of the world.
Elephant ears can set the mood in your island oasis.
Giant planters filled with eye-popping color can seem tropical, even if the plants in it aren't. 

Tropical style is all about big, bold design that packs a punch.  Simply looking at these hot colors warms me up and gives me the itch to garden.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ice in the garden...

Baby, it's cold outside...

Central Texas gardens are being slammed with ice and even snow in some parts.  I feel for our northern friends who have it so much worse than we do.  We're feeling very deprived of our "normal" warmer early spring temperatures.

Iris, wisteria, and Texas Mountain laurel buds are being sabotaged. Delicate new shoots on perennials have bitten the dust. And, our evergreens will once again be slow to start their growth. 

Here are a few signs that it's really cold in my garden. 
This Japanese aralia will recover, but isn't this one of the most pitiful things you've seen in the garden.  It's hard to believe that it will perk back up when the temperature warms back up.
After several years, the pump on the birdbath fountain died.  I replaced it a few weeks ago with one that was the same size - to fit in the reservoir - but much more powerful.  It has a great bubbler.  If you look carefully, you can see that the majority of the water is frozen, except for the bubbling center, announcing loudly to the bird world that the water bar is still open for business.
Luckily, both the plum tree and the loropetalum were already in full bloom when the ice hit, so I am still enjoying this sight in the back landscape. 

It's 31 degrees and raining this morning, so I guess it's time to settle in with the seed catalogs for a little bit longer around here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Adding dimension and bones to the winter garden...

Now is a great time to plan for NEXT winter's garden.   When the blooms and the perennials have come and gone, what's left in your garden?  With many of the plants dormant, you can truly see the bones of your landscape and assess your needs.

Is there a wall of green -- several sets of medium-leafed glossy green shrubs that all blend into one another?  Does your garden lack definition?

Now is the perfect time to think about what you can add to the garden this spring that will give you depth and texture and form when you look out of  your window next winter.  Below, you'll find some ideas and tips to help make your garden great to look at when next winter comes around.


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I'm planning what I will add to my garden tonight.  We're under and winter weather advisory and I have the fireplace on and I'm thinking about all the ideas I shared on the show today ... off I go to find pen and paper and a cup of hot tea.  Happy planning...