Thursday, March 29, 2012

Springtime Roses Bloom at The Antique Rose Emporium

Roses are blooming in abundance this spring at The Antique Rose Emporium in San Antonio.  This yellow rose was just one of many blooms I saw when I visited earlier this week.

This is the view from my parking space.  I began snapping photos as soon as I stepped out of the car.   Mountains of white climbing roses and pink roses right up to the bumper! 

The mild, rainy winter has brought out the blooms by the thousands.  It was a beautiful sight and such a contrast to my visit in October when weather setbacks had delayed the blooms.  To the right of the entrance is a cedar gazebo surrounded by a hedge of red roses.  The white roses in the background are the same ones you can see from the parking lot.

This climber is just beginning to make its way up the gazebo post.

Red climbing rose demonstrates the variety, with the sale specimens nearby.  As you may have noticed, the great thing about this place is how they demonstrate possible ways to grow the various types of roses within a garden setting.

Shrub Rose in the demonstration garden

Container rose on display by the perennials

Roses rambling along a fence and climbing over the side of the sales office


Roses used as a hedge with blue salvia and other perennials


The giant bottle tree is just visible among all the roses

The best blooms I've seen in a couple years on this climbing rose

Another climber along the adobe wall and more rose hedges

The blue courtyard featured a beautiful climbing apricot rose




More roses over and under the arbor


A bee on this rose, it was too windy for butterflies


More beautiful roses over by the Hacienda de las Rosas special events center

Cactus, roses and a windmill -- a great Texas combination to end the tour.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blooming Memories

Sometimes an otherwise ordinary plant is valued for a special reason not even related to the plant itself.  For me, it is my Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) which evokes memories of another place and time.  It isn't among my favorites in the landscape -- until it blooms, as it is doing now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mexican Flame Vine Shines with Late Winter Color

The last few weeks we have had more gray clouds than sun -- an unusual weather pattern here in San Antonio.  The bright, splashy blooms of Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) have added a much needed infusion of color these days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh my, Muhly, how you've grown!

Another tale of ungardening and regardening.  Earlier this month I wrote about my regardening efforts by replacing the mystery grasses in the front island bed with Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia Capillaris).  This was how the garden looked after putting the new Pink Muhly in place

This is how that same garden looks a couple weeks later

Notice the difference?

The Pink Muhly has "grown" pretty fast.  Well, not exactly.  It was actually Regardening #2, as I replaced the still new 6" Pink Muhly with even newer, larger ones.  I had looked all over town for the large size Pink Muhly before settling on the 6" plants thinking I needed to get them in the ground.  Of course, as soon as I did I spotted the larger 10" plants and decided to make another switch.  Sooo...  Regardening strikes again in the same spot.  And of course DH has been so very pleased to help...ha ha ha.

A bit obsessive? Perhaps. But this is the most visible spot in the front yard, the area we see first every time we leave or return.   My concern was the smaller plants might not bloom well this year and after eighteen months of sad looking grasses there I'm ready to see a nice display this fall.  Sometimes obsessive makes good gardening sense.

I'm really, really, done replacing these now.  Unless of course I find the five gallon size ready to bloom....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

There's a bee in my (Blue)bonnet!

Pollinators in the form of bees have descended on our bluebonnet patch.  We've had a shortage of pollinators around here for a few years so this working bee was a welcome sight.

This one little bee was buzzing about by herself and the phrase "bee in her bonnet" came to mind.  The phrase is quite old with an early version first written in 1513.  There are a number of meanings assigned to the phrase.  One definition says it refers to "a state of agitation".  Another is "an idea which is fixed in one's mind". 

The second definition would certainly apply when it comes to my garden this spring.  After two years of drought and three years of planning, we've been busy as a bee trying to finish several big projects before the heat of summer sets in.  The garden has been on my mind a lot these last few weeks.

The bee apparently gets a little help from the flowers, which provide color-coded signals telling the bee which ones to visit.  A Bluebonnet is made up of many individual flowers on each stalk and each flower needs to be pollinated to form a seed pod.  When the young flower is ready to be pollinated, the center is white, the color which attracts bees most.  As the centers turn pink and finally red with age, the bees tend to ignore them.

It's believed this encourages bees to visit flowers that have more viable pollen since the bees prefer the white centers.       

Guess you could say I have a bee in my bonnet since there is a lot to do in the garden this spring.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Silver Foliage Shines for Foliage Follow-Up - March 2012

For March Foliage Follow-Up sponsored by Pam Penick at Digging I'm highlighting the silvery foliage in my garden.  I'm a bit tardy with this one since I've been getting new plants in ahead of the rain forecast this weekend. 

First up is the Elaeagnus, which I featured in my plant ABC's a few weeks ago.  The new foliage has since turned from bronze to silver, and recently with our slightly overcast days it's been very pretty.

Elaeagnus is a a pretty backdrop for the pale yellow-green leaves (just now visible) of the American Beautyberry by the driveway (Callicarpa americana).

The Elaeagnus also makes a great backdrop for the Texas Mountain Laurel 'Silver Peso' (Sophora Secundiflora) we added to the front garden last fall.  It surprised with two tiny blooms this spring.  The blooms never fully opened, but with plenty of new growth this spring it won't be too many years before we see full sized blooms.  The new foliage is very soft and the deer have been nibbling so I am going to put a cage around it for a while.

Artemesia Powis Castle in front of the Eleagnus and Beautyberries is beginning to spread out a bit.

Artemesia Wormwood out back by the creek is doing well among the wild verbena and rocks.  It's also known locally by the Spanish name Estafiate and is used as a medicinal herb.

Gray Santolina with the sages in the front island bed.  Santolina smells like new tires so the deer don't bother it.  Easy to grow from cuttings and takes heat and drought well, Santolina is a great edging plant for the gravel garden.

To see more foliage photos check out other garden blogger's Foliage Follow-Up posts at Digging.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bluebonnets! GBBD March 2012

Ahhhhh, Bluebonnet time!  When it comes to native wildflowers in Texas, there is no contest for the favorite.  Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), the state flower, wins every time.  That's just one reason why I'm featuring these Bluebonnet photos -- all taken in my backyard -- for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, March 2012.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Plant ABC's - G is for Gaillardia

The ABC's of plants in my garden continues with Gaillardia 'Mesa Yellow'.  Cheerful and bright, the sunny yellow flowers have yellow centers to match.

It's a native prairie flower that blooms all summer, does well in full sun.  Also known commonly as Blanketflower, this low water-use plant adapts well to many different soil types.

Like many of the flowering plants in my garden this plant was planted in a temporary bed last fall.  It bloomed throughout the winter, but It's getting crowded in this spot and needs more sun so I'll move it to a sunnier spot soon and enjoy it so much I'll look for more when plant shopping this spring.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Regarding Re-Gardening

Sometimes a good garden requires several attempts.  Take my driveway island...please!  I've been working and reworking the west half of this small spot for three years.  Maybe, just maybe, it's now right.  The driveway island was one of the first areas completed in the front yard makeover and by the fall of 2010 it was looking just as I had envisioned it.

The Zebra Grass (Miscanthus zebrinus) planted there looked especially good while dormant so I crossed this spot off the to-do list.

Not so fast...

A  year later the Zebra Grass and Ruby Crystals Grass (Rhynchelytrum nerviglume) in the front island bed had been reduced to toast by the drought and heat of 2011.

Clearly a rework was needed and since this is a highly visible spot, it moved quickly to the top of the to-do list.  I replaced the miscanthus with three drought and heat tolerant Lindheimer's Muhly.

Or so I thought...

Soon after planting the "Lindheimer's Muhly" I noticed they didn't look quite right.  These plants were purchased during the fall sale at a very reliable independent nursery and all three were labeled Lindheimer's Muhly.  No reason to doubt, except they didn't look nearly as nice as the Lindheimer's muhly planted a year earlier.

In fact, they looked weedy and more like field grasses.  Definitely not a good look for the front yard where I need plants to hold up through the winter.  They were dormant when planted and I was pretty busy last fall so I decided to wait.  When they began to green up this spring I compared the blades and, sure enough, they are not Lindheimer's Muhly. 
This all worked out okay because I had changed my mind about what I want there anyway.   I decided to add Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) to my yard after seeing the most amazing displays of them all over town last fall and noting that they continued to look good all winter.  The Lindheimer's Muhly originally appealed to me because I didn't think I would like the Gulf Muhly pink as much.  Plantings like this one along Josephine St. changed my mind.

The unidentified grasses have been moved to new beds in the back yard.  Fortunately my husband disliked the mystery plants even more than I did and was more than willing to help me move them and plant the Gulf Muhly.  We also relocated the Ruby Crystals Grass and replaced them with the more drought tolerant Mexican Feather Grass (Nasella tenuissima)

That looks better already! least to me it does.  It will take about 18 months before they mature, but these plants will stand up much better to our weather and drought.  We finished just in time for rains this weekend.

The three misidentified plants were deeply discounted in a fall sale last year and I've found a new spot for them so I'll just let the nursery know what happened.  It'll be a fun surprise to see what they are when they bloom in the fall.

It's such a prominent spot that if this doesn't work, I'll rework it again.  Meanwhile, I love it when I change my mind and it works out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Scene on the Street - Sunset and Broadway

Some places make you want to slow down and take another look.  San Antonio has many such places and this is one of them.  Even in San Antonio, where the agave is a common landscape plant, this place stands out for its abundance of them.  I drive by here often and today became the day to stop for a few photos.  As impressive as this looked driving by, it's even more so from the sidewalk.

I don't know the origin of the buildings or if they are currently in use.  This is on a busy commercial street, but there are no signs to indicate it is currently occupied.  A quick check shows that it was an antique store for a while.  We'll walk along the sidewalk from west to east.  The Texas Mountain Laurel and other large plants offer a hint of the impressive view beyond.

Just on the other side the scene changes dramatically to agaves on a berm in front of the driveway.  The rocks, while looking random, are well placed.

Back along the sidewalk there's a great mailbox, agave, ocotillo, and a Retama tree.  The agaves were planted close to the sidewalk and the lower leaves are trimmed back.

Up above the plants include bear grass, yucca, and we get a glimpse of the buildings

Along the way there's enough of a clearing to get a good look at the front entry and the stonework around the door.

Matching stonework around the window on a small building to the right.

Back to the street, the agaves create quite a jumble at eye level

A look at the decorative painting around the windows to the left of the entry

An up close view of the agave jumble

Nearing the end, more agave and yucca

One last peek over the fence before I go on about my errands.

Those are our beautiful native Texas Mountain Laurel flowers to the right.  The flowers are intensely fragrant and smell like grape kool-aid. 

If this place ever re-opens as a business I would love to see inside.  Now on my way....