Sunday, April 12, 2015

What's down there inside of all these bluebonnets?

Who knew that dogs were so interested in bluebonnets?  She's my sniffer girl - part long-legged hound, part catahoula and part husky.

Truth be told, she's not really that interested in the bluebonnets - but she does like having a nice winecup snack.
Last year, she uprooted all of my winecup plants in this flagstone and decomposed granite path.  Apparently this beautiful trailing wildflower's tuberous roots are quite tasty!
Side note:  Dakota has also been known to dig up and eat other bulbs, like agapanthus.  I dug it out of the front garden because the deer were eating it.  Little did I know that the deer sent a memo to Dakota, alerting her of it's tasty bulbs.  So, now I have no safe zone ... and no agapanthus.
Oops, is that a bug in there?  She'll eat them, too!
Awwww, Momma, I'm really a good girl...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Brilliant bluebonnets brighten the spring countryside in Central Texas...

It's a banner year for Texas wildflowers.  Just the right amount of fall and spring rain has bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, Indian Blanket and a slew of other wildflowers cover Central Texas.

This burst of blooms even made the national news; I was delighted to see it on Monday night's NBC Nightly News.  We're so proud of our wildflower displays that have their roots in the beautification efforts started by Lady Bird Johnson while her husband was president.

Lady Bird wanted to clean up Washington D.C. and the country's highways by regulating billboards, junkyards and other unsightly displays that she felt marred the natural beauty of our nation's countryside.

President Johnson announced the America the Beautiful initiative during his State of the Union speech in January 1965, saying:
"I want to make sure that the America we see from these major highways is a beautiful America."
Thus followed  Highway Beautification act that called for control of outdoor advertising and other items along Interstate or primary highways and encouraged scenic enhancement of our nation's roadsides.

On her 70th birthday in 1982, Mrs. Johnson founded the National Wildflower Research Center, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the preservation and re-establishment of native plants in natural and planned landscapes.  She donated 60 acres of land to establish the Center. In December, 1997, the Center was renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in honor of Mrs. Johnson's 85th birthday.  Mrs. Johnson was chairman of the Wildflower Center's board of directors until her death in 2007.

I remember well her passing, as the people of Texas lined up for miles along her funeral procession route, the hearse coming through Oak Hill on its way to her final resting place beside her husband at the family cemetery at the LBJ ranch.

She accomplished so much in her lifetime, and she left us an amazing legacy by raising awareness of the importance of preserving natural and native beauty in our nation.

Bluebonnets against the backdrop of the Hill Country.

The bluebonnet show is just as dramatic in contrast to Indian Paintbrush.

In my own garden, bluebonnets blanket my stone and granite path and my daughter's play scape pea gravel, taking their place with another of my spring favorites, winecup.

Up close or as distant blur of constant blue along the hills of Texas, bluebonnets herald the arrival of spring like no other.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dazzling color in the spring garden...

We all love the spring garden -- the awakening of plants that herald the arrival of spring and provide a foreshadowing of more  to come.

As the sun shifts in the sky and the breezes begin to warm up, I'm enjoying some rejuvenating time in the garden.
I bought these sweet glass daffodils to bring a pop of color into the garden before the daffodils were ready to open up.
The 'Kate Izzard' irises are loaded up and several of them are opening every day.  You can tell that I should have divided them last fall, which I fully intended to do, but I seriously need to do that this fall.
Just gorgeous.
Even though traditional tulips aren't in our Central Texas plant palette, these species tulips, cluisana 'Lady Jane' are sweet substitutes in my garden. 
This little patch of phlox disappears entirely in the head of summer, but I can count on it to emerge in spring with loads of little blooms.
My cemetery irises are also popping open all over the garden.  Our winter clearly made the irises happy.
Bluebonnets are covering my decomposed granite path, and even Kallie's playground filled with pea gravel.  Fletcher enjoys a peaceful moment with them here.
While most of the buds on my monster wisteria were frozen in our last freeze, there are still some opening up and draping delicately from the fence.
And then there is the homestead verbena.  What a powerhouse.  In the cooler spring and fall, they thrive and liven up any spot in the garden.  They will shrivel and look poor in the heat of summer, but just shade your eyes and pretend not to see them until they return again in the fall.  Even though many of our bloomers start now and run through the fall, homestead verbena is well worth it's little summer break.

Now that the threat of freezing is past (I have my fingers crossed as I type this), it's time to fill in the rest of the garden with new and exciting plants that will herald the summer.

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!