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Category Archives: Perennials

ANCIENT WISDOM—-GARDEN EDITION

June 12, 2019

Sometimes a problem caused by carelessness can be solved while teaching a useful lesson.

There is a blackberry patch in the Raincatcher’s garden. Blackberry jelly is a real treat.  The first step in making blackberry jelly is naturally—picking the berries.  This isn’t quite as easy as it might seem but gardeners are tough and volunteer to do the picking.

 

Above: Blackberries ready to pick at Raincatcher’s

So, with a sturdy stick and rosetender gloves I, one of the tough volunteers, was able to pick a full bowl of nice ripe berries. I took off the gloves and laid down the stick and prepared to sack up the harvest—of course—I spied a whole cluster of ripe berries in the very center of a vine.  I had to add these to the bowl and felt pretty sure I could carefully grab them—which I did—but then my berry  filled hand got caught in the thorns and ripped a strip of skin.

Above: Blackberries and their thorns

How could thorns cause such a wound—it was bleeding a surprising amount—blood running down my arm. Yikes, I was there alone so this was a problem to solve myself.  I was just thinking I would have to use my shirt to apply pressure when I remembered that yarrow has been traditionally used to stop bleeding.  The garden has plenty of yarrow so I picked a bunch of leaves and held them to my thorn wound.  Amazing!!  The bleeding stopped—and my hand felt much better.

Above: yarrow leaves used to treat a wound

When I got home I looked carefully at my hand. There was no blood seeping at all.  This called for a bit of investigation.

The true name for common yarrow is Achillea millefolium. Millefolium means thousand leaves—makes sense—but why achillea?  The hero Achilles from Greek mythology is said to have used this herb to treat the wounds of soldiers in the Trojan war.

Now the truth of this is lost in the mists of time but— scientific studies have found an alkaloid—achillene—that facilitates blood clotting and activates blood platelets.

Now we do not practice medicine in the garden nor would we ever recommend using plants in place of medical advice and/or treatment. Its also very important to be sure of a plants identity before applying it to your skin.

That said—its also good to find out how plants have been used and valued by our ancestors. Plants are amazing and powerful—not just pretty.  The traditional wisdom of using yarrow to stop bleeding was a lesson learned.  Of course the other lesson—don’t think you are smarter than a blackberry vine!

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis and Ann Lamb

Hybridizing Daylilies

June 12, 2019

The subject of genetics is fascinating. Will a blue-eyed Daddy and brown-eyed Mommy produce a child with blue eyes or brown? With daylilies you can marry the favorite characteristics of one variety to another and hope to produce your perfect “child.” Daylily hybridizing is a little bit about sex and a lot about science. Jim Dempsey, a Dallas County Master Gardener since 2007 and retired city of Dallas forensics expert lets us in on daylily details.

Jim, did you start hybridizing daylilies in 2016?
Yes, 2016 was the first attempt at hybridizing at Raincatcher’s.

Above: Jim Dempsey talking to Beth Sonier about daylilies at Raincatcher’s.

 Do you use diploids or tetraploids?
 I prefer tetraploids because the flowers are usually larger and better color.
And how do you know which one it is, by the name of the daylily? Usually, when you buy from a grower or catalog they will tell you.  Unfortunately, you cannot cross a diploid to a tetraploid.
Do you have a goal in mind when hybridizing? Larger flowers, brighter colors and longer blooming periods.

Above: Peach Daylily with ruffled edges

Are you looking for a more vibrant color, more ruffles or extended bloom time? Yes, to all of that. We do have a large yellow daylily of interest that that has a long bloom period.

Above: Yellow Daylily purchased by Jim. He was told he could name it and so he did: TBNL (to be named later)

When do you collect seeds? Collect seed pods just before they crack open and then let them dry out before planting.
Do you have a favorite? Merely Mystical – peach with yellow ruffled edges

 

Thank you, Jim, and thank you Starla for the pictures and videos.

Ann Lamb

Sunny Yellow Flowers For Fall Beauty From Raincatcher’s

Our yellow flower tour starts as the cheerful yellow daisy like flowers of zexmenia welcomes visitors to the garden.  It is hard to go wrong with this native plant. Zexmenia asks little beyond a sunny spot with a bit of room to spread.  Butterflies and bees are frequent visitors to the lasting display of clear yellow flowers.

Zexmenia

One need not go far to see the bees enjoying the fuzzy round blooms of the golden lead ball tree. This small tree, native to Texas, has been blooming for months.  The flowers are a bit out of the ordinary and always attract attention.

Fall is the time for the tall yellow cosmos to shine. It is true the tall plants may fall over in wind and rain and it can be over ambitious in seeding itself.  But, no plant is perfect and isn’t it a happy sight? It is well worth overlooking a few things—and bees and butterflies really do love it.

The fast growing well adapted argentine senna is literally covered in lovely yellow flowers.  Some sennas bloom for a short time and seed out to an alarming degree. This one doesn’t. The flowers last for a long time and seeding is not a problem.  If that isn’t enough to make it a favorite—it is also a host plant for those pretty yellow sulfur butterflies.

This yellow rose is part of the trials to try and find plants that resist rose rosette disease.  Let’s all think positive for this little plant with flowers in such a delicate shade of yellow.

Esperanza cannot be left out of any list of favorite yellow flowers.  This plant was almost given up for lost in the Spring—what a come back it seems to have more bright yellow flowers than it has leaves.

Don’t forget that vegetables can be as pretty as they are delicious.  This yellow okra flower is a perfect example.

If your garden could use a little sparkle or if you want to do more to provide the nectar pollinators need to live,  add some , or all, of these lovely yellow and you will do both.

You can see all of these plants at Raincatcher’s garden at Midway Hills Christian Church.  Garden work is on Tuesday mornings and you are always welcome.

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

Summertime!

Color wheel at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Bog sage

Annette, Gail, Kathy and others have turned the color wheel into a spectacular sight. If you haven’t taken time to enjoy the wonder of the north garden, take a walk through it and check out the color wheel (love the bog sage in the blues!), the tomatoes in our tomato trial, and the beautiful flowers in the pollinator garden.

Did you know we harvested 17 pounds of red potatoes and  35 pounds of potatoes June 5th?

Our orchard looks wonderful this year with Champanel grapes in abundance and thriving fruit trees, and those daylilies in the mixed border are blooming like crazy.

Champanel grapes,one of our peaches and harvested potatoes!

Lisa Centala

Pictures by Starla Willis

The Frostweed, yes.

fROSTWEED

Good morning, I am sending you this article on an interesting perennial phenomenon  from a favorite blog of mine, called Portraits of Wildflowers. You can find it via this morning’s post: The Frostweed, Yes!

We also have several wonderful pictures and write ups about Frostweed on Dallas Garden Buzz. You can find them by using our search or clicking here.

Happy 2018 to all our readers!

Ann Lamb

 

Porterweed

How often do you get an entertainment package with a nectar source?

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

My husband has mentioned several times how entertaining the Porter weed is which can be seen through our den windows. We have watched hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees drinking from it.

Now we must say goodbye and hope that it returns from its roots next year. Proper mulch has been applied.

Porterweed comes in several colors and be careful because the names and growth habits will switch according to species or cultivar.

Raincatcher’s has Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis, in our courtyard garden and Lavender Porterweed Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea in our butterfly garden.

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Make a note to look for this favorite nectar source at the Texas Discovery Garden spring plant sale in 2017.

In the meantime, Porterweed, we are going to miss you!

Ann

Hope you read yesterday’s freeze information yesterday and for further info click here.

Note: I have seen Porterweed spelled as two words and one word.

 

 

That Doesn’t Look Like Milkweed!

The milkweed section of the April Texas Discovery Garden plant sale is not for the faint of heart. Once the gate is opened, you’ve just got to get in there—elbows flying—and grab.

Turns out, this year we purchased an interloper that hitched a ride to the Raincatcher’s Garden with the native Rose, Common, Green, Green-flowered and Antelope Horns milkweed.  And this milkweed has been turning heads.

The green pods of African Milkweed

The green pods of African Milkweed

African milkweed Asclepias physocarpa or Gomphocarpus physocarpa was a mild mannered herbaceous plant with tiny white star-shaped flowers from August through September.  Then 3-inch pale green, round seedpods covered with soft hair-like spines appeared in October.  None of the Raincatcher’s volunteers had seen anything like it. The spiny pods will fade to red or brown and slowly split to release numerous oval seeds, each with a tuft of silky hairs to catch the wind.

Brown pods obviously

Brown pods with milkweed bug

African milkweed, which is also known as Balloon Plant, Swan Flower and Tennis Ball Plant, is an annual milkweed native to Africa. Its distinctive seedpods are often used in flower arrangements—or as conversation pieces in the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale, November 4th  for members, November 5th for the public. Information here.

A Bright Spot in the Early Spring Garden

copper canyon daisy As with many plants, Tagetes lemmonii is known by so many common names (Copper Canyon Daisy, Mexican Bush Marigold, Mountain Marigold, Mount Lemmon Marigold, tangerine-scented marigold, and Perennial Marigold) that it is almost easier to refer to it by its Latin nomenclature.  Yet even its Latin name has a fascinating story behind it.

Tagetes lemmonii is native to the high mountain canyons of northwestern Mexico and southern Arizona.  A finely leafed plant with a very distinctive aroma often described as minty and fruity, lemon and tarragon, or (for some people) just plain “Yuck,” it can grow to a size of four to six feet tall and can spread to six to ten feet.  It can be sheared back however.  It grows best in full sun in well drained soil. It can be grown in part shade, though it may get leggy and have fewer blooms.  Once established it needs little to no supplemental watering.  If grown in an area where deer are a problem, deer will definitely avoid it.  However pollinators, including yellow sulpher butterflies and beneficial insects, are drawn to it.

T, lemmonii is considered to be photosensitive and blooms with bright yellow daisy-like flowers in the fall, winter and early spring when the daylight hours are shorter.  In mild winters, it provides a welcome bright spot in the garden since the flowers can last for quite a while.  However in colder winters, it will sometimes die back to the ground but return in the spring.

Though I always thought that its Latin name lemmonii came from its strong citrus/lemon aroma, a Google search from San Marcos Growers (smgrowers.com) reveals otherwise:  “This plant was discovered in southeastern Arizona, by the early plant collectors, self taught field botanists, and husband and wife, John (1832-1908) and Sara (1836 – 1923) Lemmon. These two incredible people met in Santa Barbara, California, where Sara Allen Plummer lived, in 1876 when she attended a lecture given by John, who at the time was the California State Board of Forestry Botanist. They married in 1880 and botanized throughout the southwest and in the process discovered over 150 new plants including an unknown species of Tagetes, from which they sent seed to Asa Gray at Harvard University, who then named the plant to honor them. Sara and John also climbed the highest mountain in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, which is now called Mount Lemmon reportedly because Sara Lemmon was the first woman to climb it. Both authored books and articles which Sara often illustrated and she was instrumental in the efforts to name Eschscholzia californica as the official California State Flower, as it was done officially by Governor George Pardee in 1903. The Lemmons established plants of Tagetes lemmonii in their garden in Oakland, California and progeny of these plants were introduced to the nursery trade in southern California, and England by the early 1900’s.”

copper canyon daisy top downThere is one word of caution when pruning or working with Tagetes lemmonii. Some people are extremely sensitive to the oils in the leaves and can develop a painful, itchy rash when their skin is exposed to sunlight. Sometimes this rash can continue for several days. Therefore it might be best not to plant Tagetes lemmonii where it can be brushed against, be sure and wear gloves and long sleeves when working with it, or at least wash your skin well with soap and water after handling.

Carolyn

Picture by Roseann from Texas Discovery Garden.

Globemallow

Globemallow Sphaeralcea ambigua

We didn’t think it would survive in Dallas. Much less bloom. Well, the Globemallow’s exquisite pink flowers triggered gardeners’ squeals—this is a passionate bunch!—last week at the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Globemallow

We planted Globemallow on a whim last year in the Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden. Most natives from the Big Bend region fail miserably in our dense clay, but this shrubby perennial will tolerate our soil and treat gardeners to “spectacular displays in wet years” according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The combination of purplish-pink 1” cup-shaped flowers and grayish-green scalloped leaves is a show stopper. The most common bloom color, however, is an apricot-orange suggestive of spring quince. If you prefer a color, you might be wise to purchase the plant in bloom.

Steer clear of stroking the leaves. The little hairs can irritate and sometimes cause an allergic reaction.

Plant Globemallow or Desert Mallow in full sun. It will become straggly in partial shade.  It is lovely with grasses or scattered throughout natural plantings.

Elizabeth

Picture courtesy of http://www.wildflower.org

Hardy Amaryllis

Our dear friends Evelyn and the late Harold Womble, have shared Hardy Amaryllis bulbs with us at the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road and now at Midway Hills.  Their home is graced with a  large bed of these bulbs that have multiplied over the years and ended up in their son’s gardens and friend’s gardens. Their original bulbs came from Evelyn’s family home place in Brownwood.

Evelyn, Hardy Amaryllis and Daffodils, All Blooming!

Evelyn, Hardy Amaryllis and Daffodils, All Blooming!

Hippeastrum x johnsonii, the St. Joseph’s lily, blooms in early April in Dallas. The bright red blooms, trumpet shaped, are striped with white. The strap like foliage lasts late into the year and looks tropical.

Because the bulb perennializes so well it is often called the finest amaryllis for southern gardens.

Hardy Amaryllis and daffodils 2015

In Perennial Garden Color, Dr Bill C. Welch calls the bulbs “living antiques because they are tangible symbols of success for generations of Southern gardeners.  Many have been lovingly handed down among the families that contribute cultural diversity and richness to our gardens.”

We will now have our own supply of “living antiques” thanks to Harold and Evelyn.

Ann

Pictures by Starla

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