Plants that shine in the winter garden…

After a few days and nights at 21 degrees, my Central Texas garden took a serious hit last month.  But, we were due.  Last year it didn’t freeze at all in my garden, so you can imagine how huge some of our perennials were by the end of 8 seasons of growth!

Our typical winter includes a few freezes, but the temperature dips to around freezing for a few hours and then climbs right back up during the day.  Not so this year.

I’m leaving the last of the fall leaves in the beds to help protect the plants and provide habitat for bees, so you are going to see the good, the bad and the very ugly.  It’s an all-exposed tour.  Viewer discretion is advised — you may need to avert your eyes in some parts!


While the ferns and the bletilla striata are dormant, he dry creek pathway is lined with hellebores, a few sedges, a few cephalotaxus prostrata.  Mostly out of view on the left are two leatherleaf mahonias.


The brilliant yellow berries on the mahonias add great color to the garden on gray winter days.


In drought years, the foliage of the hellebores disappears in the summer garden, and reappears in fall and through the spring.  I have a collection of different varieties.  Below is a winter photo of my favorite – ‘Phoebe,’ from several years ago when we had snow.


Isn’t that a gorgeous bloom?


Where the path diverges, a few more sedges and a standard Japanese aralia and a variegated Japanese aralia add a pop of green.  The squid agave in the Artemis statue head was unfazed by the cold.  Farther back, a small clump of cast iron plant draws the eye.


I’ve had this aralia for a long time.  It’s been through drought and covered in ice in bad winters, but nothing seems to slow it down.


This fall I planted another aralia variety – a variegated one.  I was a little concerned that it might be more tender than the other, but it has held up beautifully.


In the front bed, the one we jokingly call the hideous bed, natives and other well-adapted plants are hanging on.  Catmint, skullcap, Mexican feather grass, a whale’s tongue agave, salvias, Mexican sabal palms and a Spanish dagger yucca are all going strong.


Across the driveway, more xeric plants are showing off, like the Jerusalem sage, a Texas sotol, a sago palm,  and some salvia Greggii.


You’ll find Jerusalem sage in many parts of my garden.  It’s unusual color makes an intriguing contrast — and its fuzzy leaves make it completely deer-resistant.


Another variegated fatsia Japonica is keeping a squid agave and a mountain Laurel company.  Sadly, the dianella in the background looks like it’s toast.  I’m hopping it was established enough to come back from the roots quickly, once spring arrives.


A bright edge yucca, several more hellebores and a few almost hidden heucherellas are peaking out of the carpet of leaves.


Bright edge definitely earns its name!


I added a few new compact shrubs to the front beds last year.  These ‘Flirt’ nandinas make a beautiful middle-layer, evergreen addition and their added burgundy tips coordinate well with the larger loropetalum.


One of my favorite plants for winter/spring interest is Japanese quince.  It’s sculptural and almost-bare branches are sporting a flush of gorgeous, salmony-pink blooms.


The butterflies are so thankful that at least something is blooming out there!


And no matter what the plants are doing in the garden, we can always count on at least a few cardinals on our many feeders in the wooded area.

While these aren’t the prettiest pictures of my garden, they allow me to see the true bones of the landscape, and evaluate the beds to determine what projects I’ll want to undertake in the spring.

Catalog shopping spree for the spring garden…

Thanks to cool nights by the fire, flipping the pages of glossy catalogs filled with stunning photos of the swimsuit edition versions of new plant offerings, there are exciting new additions to my garden.

Pictured here, Aralia ‘sun king,Heucherella ‘gold zebra,’ Rudbeckia ‘prairie glow,’ and Eupohorbia ‘rainbow ascot.’

In light of the chilly temps, they are all still hanging out together in a tub trug – going out in the morning and coming in at night.  They are jockeying for prime places in the garden — each of them whispering to me: “I’d look fabulous paired with the verbena or calylophus or salvia…or whatever!”  They speak to me when they think the others aren’t listening.

I feel like they are the judges on “The Voice.”  Pick me, pick me, pick me.

But I haven’t picked yet — I’m still ruminating about the best spot for each of them — determined not to just plop them somewhere willy nilly.  This I do know, because of it’s color palette, the rudbeckia will be embarking on an adventure of its own — off to a very different part of the garden than the other shade or semi-shade plants.  It’s going to find its own hot spot in a yellow/orange themed bed.

Have your catalog weaknesses …(oops)…orders arrived yet?  Who will be joining your garden this spring?

Who knew?

Who knew?

Well, maybe you knew!

But I sure didn’t.

This is an Aralia that I planted two or three years ago. And this is apparently the beginning of a beautiful bloom stalk. I had no idea it would bloom.
I can’t wait to see what it looks like when each bud is open.
Do you have an aralia? Did you know?

By | 2016-04-14T02:40:12+00:00 November 4th, 2010|aralia, Blog, Sharing Nature's Garden|0 Comments

Revitalizing Rain

After our recent slow, soaking rain, I heard my plants in the garden give a collective sigh of relief.

Then the sun came out and several sad little specimens started lifting their frazzled foliage upward – reaching for the warmth radiating once again onto their little world.

Many things are very dormant. Some: dead-dormant. And most of the plants, while salvageable, are still sad. But the Aralia, above, once bowed over and brown, perked up again and was very pleased to be sporting some ravishing raindrops.
The teensy Bluebonnet plants are all still alive and beginning to grow again.
Many daffodil bulbs are popping up around various beds.
My Hellebores are a little worse for the wear, but they do have some fresh, new leaves. I can’t wait for the first blooms. Three of my 4 plants are new from last year and have never bloomed for me so I’m eager to see what they look like.
These darling little Hyacinths were a totally surprise when I happened upon them today. Forgot I’d planted them!
Who knows who this guy is! But he’s on the fast-track up.

This Autumn Joy Sedum survived all the cold – 18 and lower, without anything more than a few yellow leaves. And it’s blooming. Wow.
Then you turn around, and on the other hand…

Need I say more? Sigh…

Plants in a time of freeze…

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

I’ve been AWOL for the holiday-travel-birthday-holiday-travel-holiday-birthday season. (Technically, the last birthday isn’t over. Our 7-year old daughter and 12 little friends will be tumbling and eating pizza and cookie cake at the gymnastics center tomorrow afternoon!) But tonight is close enough!

I have so missed blogging. And I miss visiting other blogs, too. But I have to swear off entirely or I will get sucked into the vortex. (You know the vortex, don’tcha?!)

Sometimes life interferes with gardening and blogging, but boy I feel it. I miss the creative outlet and communing with nature and my blogging buds. I’ve been itching to garden, too, but our deep freeze is making that unlikely — this week, at least!

So I walked through the garden before last night’s 24F freeze to see what I could see.I know you will NOT believe this, but this is a Winecup that is STILL blooming from last Spring on the Rock Path! We have had frosts and light freezes already, and yet it still survives!
These are Daffodil bulbs peeking up to see what’s going on out here.
This is the very sad Agave desmettiana variegata. It did NOT fare as well through the light frosts of earlier Fall. In fact, it looks like mush. And last night did it in. Chalk one up to a lesson learned. I did not know it was so tender. All the other new Agaves in the garden this year seem to be weathering the storms ok.
This is my salmon and pink Acapulco Agastache – dead on top, but already bursting with new foliage from the base thanks to some recent sunny 50F days.
This Aralia is officially dead now. Totally wilter – I wonder if it will come back? Do you know?
This is the giant bowl of radishes, lettuce and Swiss Chard that I picked before the freeze. We ate the chard tonight with some bacon and balsamic vinegar and had radishes to eat by themselves. I pulled a 1015 onion and they are nowhere near forming bulbs. Think they are gonna bite the dust. Strawberries seem ok so far.

If they’re right (the mysterious “they”), tonight will be the true test if it gets down to 19F. (But then again, they said it might not get above freezing all day today, and I hit 39 and very sunny late afternoon here, so go figure!)

Be warm. Wherever you are, I’m sure it’s cold tonight!