Cassia

Rocky, no soil spot? No Problem!

After several years of trying various vines along a fence, the light bulb finally went off in my head.  There is a sizable section of fence on the back corner of our driveway, and I really wanted to cover it in beautiful blooms.  I have grown morning glories, white potato vine, Mexican flame vine, passion vine, and star jasmine.  Some lasted longer than others.  The passion vines were decimated by caterpillars almost as soon as I planted them.  Others vines just struggled in the hot, rocky, dry bed.

This bed is shallow, and below a few layers of amended soil you will find nasty caliche and rock.  No amount of building it up helped, and even then the soil would often wash away.  I have been known to keep beating my head against the gardening wall, but I finally got tired of losing.

Then it came to me — I needed a container to fill with good soil.  A BIG container.  I was motivated by a stunning evergreen wisteria that I just had to have.   (It’s not a wisteria at all, it’s millettia reticulata, but that’s one of its common names.) 

This was my motivation:

Isn’t this the most amazing bloom? 

So, off I went to Tractor Supply in Dripping Springs to get myself a small, 2x2x4 stock tank.  Add a few cans of Rustoleum hammered-metal spray paint and I went to town.

I didn’t think the silver would work in that bed, and this is a great color that I’ve used on countless pots, home fixtures and other items when I was flipping houses.

I should mention, in the interest of full disclosure, that the spray paint mist did give my feet and toenails a nice tan that required nail polish remover to take off. 

 Removed the pathetic jasmine vine and smoothed out the tank’s new home.

There – that looks nice.

Last night, with my dear husband’s help, the wisteria, Natural Gardener garden soil, decomposed granite and Native Texas Hardwood Mulch all went into the tank. 

All ready for the rains forecast for this weekend.  Didn’t want to miss that opportunity. 

The Amistad salvias in front of the tank will have to find a new home this fall — with a little less sun.  They struggled there this summer.  I haven’t decided yet what will join the bright edge yuccas in that spot.  Any ideas?  Magenta vine, yellow and lime yuccas, yellow cassias — on the other side is a desert willow.  It’s a hot, dry and rocky bed.  But I want a hot color to play off the yuccas.

Now we wait for the next bloom on the wisteria!

Got a little garden bling?

I love bling.

I loved bling when bling wasn’t even cool.

Don’t know what I’m going to do when clothing styles change, because I’m taken with the swirls and the sequins and the glitter that are so popular right now.

Then I got to thinking, I like a little bling in my garden, too.

And I don’t mean gazing balls (I’m not so fond of them, actually).

Like this ginger I recently planted — it’s kind of like bling in my garden.

What’s garden bling, you ask?

You know — it’s those one-of-a-kind specimens, the exotic plants or the plants that perform amazingly. The plants you and your gardening friends ooh and ahhh over time after time.

So here is an overview of the plants I think of as bling in my garden. For starters, there’s this Carara Ginger — a tropical perennial with reddish bracts with pale purple to greenish tips. It blooms for several months and like part shade. It’s new to me, and I don’t know if it will do well here, but it called my name at the nursery.

This “Phoebe” hellebore is another delicate favorite that is a shining star in my garden. It never ceases to amaze me that she almost disappears in warm months, but comes back in the cold of winter like a pale princess.
Even though the foliage is less than attractive at times, when it blooms, this Night-blooming Cereus is stunning. Sadly, you have to catch it late at night or first thing in the morning to enjoy its one-night bloom.
The cassia, with their tall, exotic structure and candle-like blooms is always a thriller in the garden. Especially the year before last when they didn’t die back in the winter and grew to be about 12 feet tall in its second season.
Then of course there is the Moy Grande hibiscus — phenomenal blooms as big as plates. On a mid-summer day, there were as many as 12 giant blooms open at once. It’s a real show-stopper.
These irises are really exotic, but I’m so enamored with the color that I eagerly await their bloom every spring. It’s a Louisiana iris, “Professor Neil” and one of my favorites.
The Bletilla Striata, or ground orchids are defnitely bling. Just the thought that I have “orchids” growing in the ground amazes me!

The plumerias definitely are exotics, but they love it here. It’s been a particularly good year for them this year. They’ve liked the extra moisture in the air.
But on the same note, I’ve had to pull this Desert Rose out of the rain many times this summer because I wants to be dry, dry, dry. And it rewarded me with these great blooms.
These? No exotic at all, but the giant patch of wine cup that completely covers my rock path each spring is another jaw dropper. I walk around the path for months, because I can’t bear to cut it back one little bit!
And this ia a perfectly ordinary Wisconsin ditch lily, brought to me in a bucket by car by Lori, the Gardener of Good and Evil . Hemerocalis experts frown at these common ditch lilies, but this amazing plant bloomed for me ALL summer long and at times had a dozen hot tangerine blooms at once.

I had a hard time limiting my choices because there are so many plants in my garden that I think are special. So, these are just a few of my favorite things.

Which plants are the bling in your garden?

I see Dead things!

Some things are just … DEAD.

They might come back, mind you. But for now, they are D-E-A-D!
The gingers always die and come back, but not with these frigid temps. Guess we will have to cross our fingers. The Esperanza behind them sometimes don’t make it back, even in just a cool year, so I expect to lose some of them. But I have to say, the Ginger smells amazing outside – something about the freeze and thaw that is working on their roots and the best smell is wafting up from them. Interesting, you’d think a freeze would generate no smell. That was one of my complaints about living in Minnesota for a few years – grey, no-smells of outdoors winters.
The onion tops cratered — wonder if the 1015s in the ground will still form. I pulled a test one and they are only about the thickness of a double-wide green onion so far. I’ll cross my toes!
The big ol’ 8-ft tall Duranta Erecta succumbed last night. May not get that tall next year. It never froze back or went dorman last fall, so it might take it awhile to get that big again. I’ll cross my arms!
Same with the giant Cassias. The Candlestick trees grew for 2 years straight and never stopped. I suspect they will top out at 6 feet next year, instead of 12 feet! I’ll cross my legs!

Guess it’s gonna be a “short” Spring! (And I don’t think I have anything left to cross)

Oh, Happy GBB Day!


It’s Bloom Day here in Central Texas, where the ground is still damp, the morning skies are a little gray and the gardeners are on Cloud 9.

Carol, of May Dreams Gardens, invites us to share our garden blooms on the 15th of every month.

Enjoy a little trip through some interesting things in my garden today.

This isn’t everything that’s blooming here today, just things that have burst back into life after our 7 inches of glorious rain last weekend.

It’s amazing what a good dose of real rain water will do for our gardens. And it was even down to 69 degrees last night.

Fall is just around the corner.
This is a Hyacinth Bean that was turning yellow and not flowering before the rains.
Sadly, the rains washed my BT off this Butterfly weed. Can you see the hundreds of baby caterpillars eating at the buffet there? Ewwww. They have almost destroyed the plants, so I think I will have to spray them again.
The Abutilon is very happy, and has managed to bloom all summer in spite of the drought.
I’m ever so proud of this beautiful clump of Oxblood lilies, passed along to me by MSS of Zanthan Gardens.
The Sweet Alyssum are bursting with blooms thanks to the cooler weather.
My favorite purple ‘Homestead’ Verbena.
Straight neck squash blossoms promise wonderful produce to come.
That pesky Cypress Vine is out of control again. I like it right now, but thank goodness for winter!
This is a canteloupe bloom. It’s taking over my whole garden — it’s bed, the pathways on either side of its bed and part of the other two beds! It better make me some fruit.
There’s another view of the squash with its blooms peeking out. And, there, see the canteloupe tendrils sneaking over in front of it?
Morning glories saluting the day again.
My Cosmos in the cutting garden are have gotten their second wind now.

The Esperanza are stunning — they were happy in the drought and now they are happy with the rain. Can’t complain about that, now can you?
The Hibiscus in pots have multiple blooms for the first time in months.
Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming its little head off.
Another little Oxblood lily.
One of the few Agapanthus that the darn hound dog didn’t dig up. What is it with her and bulbs at this time of year? Is there something going on here that I am missing?
These poor little Salvias have been stunted all summer long – and bloomless. Yeah for rain.
The Turks Cap is full of little red hats of happiness, and the Mangave ‘macho mocha,’ given to me by Pam, of Digging, is pretty happy here, too.
The flickering flame-like blooms of the candlestick tree, Cassia alata, are lighting up my garden.
And, of course, what would a lot of rain be without a pretty mushroom?
A few little Lobelias, planted with no success several years ago, have made a bit of an appearance now. I don’t think they will really make it where they are though — I might have to think about moving them.
The wedelia is so slow to grow here, but I did get several blooms out of this one this week.
And the Buddleia is finally blooming again. The other one is borderline dead, but it’s showing signs of a few green leaves this week. I hope it survives.

All in all, it’s a great bloom day here at Nature’s Garden.


Never ending warm to hot weather has its benefits.

These Cassia never died back last winter. They were snuggled in a corner of the house – protected on three sides by a fence, the house and the breakfast room wall.

And while the nurseries around here now have 2-foot tall plants to sell, mine are a towering 10 feet tall.

I can barely see the beautiful flame-like blooms that give the Candlestick Tree its common name.

There are several more plants along the driveway, but they died back and are now just about 4 feet tall and blooming.

They get less water, too, and less hot sun, which they love.

If you look closely, you can see the drought stress on them and the plants around them. Many plants in the garden are turning yellow and losing leaves from the heat and the lack of water. And insects have set in, sensing that the plants are feeling peaked.

But even with the stress, these statuesque plants bring real drama to the garden.

By | September 1st, 2009|Blog, candlestick tree, Cassia, Sharing Nature's Garden|0 Comments