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Tag Archives: Dallas Perennials

August Color in the Garden

Starla said, “my favorite color this week is violet.”

Thank you, Starla, we like it and welcome back!

Ann Lamb

Click here for other August photos

Send us your comments about the eclipse! We are interested!

The Rainbow Garden at Raincatcher’s

If your green thumb is ready to branch out into living color, visit our Rainbow Garden for inspiration and plan on taking lots of photos. You’ll find a colorful mix of flowers and vegetables growing in harmony. In the summer heat, early morning is a good time to stop by. Enjoy iridescent dragonflies and come face to face with giant bees casting their drunken shadows on the garden, touch fuzzy silver green lamb’s ear, and see if you can identify standing cypress. (Hint- it is red.)

See the violet morning glory threaten to take over the purple heart growing beneath it. Compare the many shades of blue flowers and notice the exuberant orange Mexican sunflower. Inhale the aroma of fresh basil and see how the eggplant and strawberries are doing. 

Now take a shady break under the garden’s charming vine-covered entrance arbor and make notes before heading to the nursery to create your own rainbow. The rainbow garden doesn’t get any shade from the hot summer sun and receives only minimal supplemental water so you know these plants can take the heat in your own sunny spots at home. Drop by anytime and let the garden inspire you.

Gail Cook

 Pictures by Starla Willis and Ann Lamb

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Fall Garden Tour, The Bowers Garden, Saturday, October 1, 2016

bowers-garden-pic-photoA regulation-size tennis court (with lights!) and a bamboo hedge didn’t quite fit into Jody Bowers’ vision of an English garden for her Swiss Avenue home.  Fire destroyed most of the original 1914 structure, and the home was rebuilt in 1924.

As part of a yearlong garden renovation, the tennis court and bamboo were removed. Designer Patrick Butterworth worked with the Bowers’ architect and contractor to replace them with a summerhouse and conservatory in the architectural style of the English/Norman French residence. The new formal garden mixes perennial beds and boxwood hedges filled with ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Grandma’s Yellow’ roses.

Jody then tackled the compacted soil that had been underneath the tennis court. “It was like asphalt.  Totally dead,” she says.  Dozens of bags of composted leaves and loads of topsoil were hand dug into the area to revitalize the soil.

She has been careful to relocate or reuse plant material when planning her garden. The boxwood in the parterre hedge was recycled from another garden. The scraggly plants had a good root structure and with some pampering are now thick and green. Two large Arizona Cypress were saved in large pots during the garden construction and are replanted in the back corners of the property.  “I love the challenge of trying to find things a new home when they outgrow their old home!”

In the summer, you’ll find Jody working in her vegetable beds filled with tomatoes, peppers and okra. She enjoys planting heirloom Brown Crowder Peas and Pencil Cob Corn, a field corn variety traditionally ground for “hoecakes.” Jody was given seeds for the peas and corn, as well as butter beans and miniature gourds, by the gardener at the Blackberry Farm hotel in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

In the warmer months, Jody enjoys cutting fresh flowers, herbs and greenery for arrangements. “Whether it’s zinnias or bee balm or bridal wreath or just a magnolia bloom, I love that I can walk outside and find something for a vase.” In cold weather, Jody fills the conservatory with tender perennials and starts cuttings and seeds under grow lights. “It’s my happy place outside in the winter months.”

She and husband Bill look forward to crisp evenings and a crackling fire in the summerhouse. “No matter the season, I know what lies beneath the soil, and it gives me great joy to just sit and ponder what will be returning and blooming the next season that rolls around.”

Elizabeth

Click here for full garden tour information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Spring at Raincatcher’s Garden 2016

“A little Madness in the Spring is wholesome even for the King.”
― Emily Dickinson

Take a walk with us through our garden to see some of our spring madness!

'Annelinde' peony-type tulip

‘Annelinde’ peony-type tulip

Iris 'Frothingslosh'

Iris ‘Frothingslosh’

Peach Tree Bloom

Peach Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Cultivate Garden Thoughts by reviewing:

Our Orchard Varieties listed on the right, front page under Raincatcher’s Resources

Blooming Bulbs 

Daffodils, Jonquils, Narcissus

If you are like me, you have fallen in love with the Pink Tulip and Ground Orchid shown above.  Order them for your garden and help ours. The Raincatcher’s Garden receives a portion of your order at Brent And Becky’s fundraising site Bloomin’ Buck$ (www.bloominbucks.com).

Ann

Pictures by Starla

 

 

BUTTERFLY PLANTS: I LOVE YOU, BUT IT’S TIME TO LEAVE

 

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

My side yard has a new unwanted hedge of plants in pots.  These are plants that should be planted in the new butterfly plot at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.  They are not. They sit in pots.  At my house.

The plants have been living in my side yard for two weeks.  They remind me of adult children who move back in for “just a few months, Mom,” and a year later you’re still sharing the washer with their yoga pants.

Using the butterfly garden plan, I made a list of plants required for that garden.   We needed almost 200 plants.

Plant sales are a little cheaper, but you have to know what you’re doing:

Get there early.  I am convinced most shoppers get up at 4:30 a.m. to line up two hours before the doors open.  If you’re pulling in the parking lot with your coffee in a to-go cup about 10:30, it’s not worth the drive.  The shelves are bare at that point.

Plant sales are the closest thing Dallas has to a crowded New York subway.  You’ve got to elbow your way to native-this and hard-to-find that  (saying ‘excuse me’ after each grab—this is, after all, The South).  My genteel mother would have been appalled.

Don’t kid yourself. A tiny old Prius will not be big enough for the drive back with your new acquisitions. You’ll have to beg your patient friend Judy-with-a-truck to pick up all the leftover purchases the next day.

Which brings us to why I have about 200 Plants In A Pot in my side yard, and why I know each of them intimately.

North Texas has been in a severe drought for six years.

I purchased the plants two weeks ago.  Six hours after I unloaded them to my side yard, I hauled them back into the garage because of impending “damaging 60 mph winds, hail, and possible tornadoes.” Out into the sun. Thirty minutes later, back into the garage. This has gone on for days. The plants are confused.  I am exhausted.

Last week I emptied 5 inches of rain from the rain gauge. It is too muddy to till the site for the new butterfly garden.  It is too wet to even think of planting.

The forecast is for 85 degrees and sunny today.  Severe thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow.

Elizabeth

To read more about our Butterfly Garden Plans click here.

Picture by Starla

Plant Sales and Church Potluck Dinners

 

If you think about it, a plant sale is a lot like a church potluck dinner.  You never know what you’re going to have, the good stuff goes fast, and you get to try new things.  And it’s all homemade, except for the tubs of fried chicken.

Our Sarah outdid herself organizing the Demonstration Garden’s annual plant sale on May 22, held each spring when the Demonstration Garden volunteers host the Master Gardener monthly meeting.  The speakers giving announcements didn’t start until 11:30 a.m., but the early birds were scrambling long before that for the best deals.

Plant sale cashiers

And what deals they found: About 33 bright cardstock plant tags in Elizabeth’s calligraphy hovered over the “Have to Have It Plants” like Purple Coneflower, Lyre Leaf Sage, and White Autumn Clematis.  “Garden Standbys” like Rock Rose and Red Yucca enticed shoppers.  And then there were the “You Don’t Find That Very Often Plants” including horseradish, Jewel of Opar, and Rose Campion.

Plant sale sign

Of course, garden advice was dished out with each purchase.  Want hummingbirds?  Flame Acanthus must be in your basket.  Malabar spinach? Well, it’s sort of like spinach, but it will take hot weather.

Now you don’t just decide to have a plant sale the week before.  This is a multi-month process for our Sarah to keep up with.  In March, eager plants are divided and seeds started.  Then nursemaids take these little guys home to pamper them.  Gardeners also raid their own yards for contributions. We even had many lovely plants donated by a friend of the Demonstration Garden, Master Gardener Margaret Burnette.  Then there’s the “I Don’t Know Exactly What’s Coming In” factor, as Sarah was inundated days before the sale with last minute “I’m Bringing….” emails.

This was a Plant Sale with added attractions.  Shoppers could also bring home some of the Demonstration Garden’s magical compost or worm castings.  Cindy has the knack of coaxing compost out of a mound of clippings and leaves, and shoppers knew to stock up.

Dallas County Master Gardener with Plant Sale Specimens

Dallas County Master Gardener with Plant Sale Specimens

It’s a year until the 2015 Demonstration Garden Plant Sale Extravaganza, and I’m already making my shopping list.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

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