Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Plants in Review

Where did all these plants come from and how many did I actually acquire during the past year?  I pondered those questions a year ago around the time I posted about my first plant purchase of 2013.  Since 2012 was a pretty big year for plant purchases I came up short in the tracking department so I kept track in 2013.  The results surprised even me.

Throughout the past year as each plant arrived I took a photo and noted the date.  They came to me in almost every way possible from swaps to mail order to local nurseries and even some were left on the front porch.  The stories of these plants follow my blog pretty closely so my 2013 plant acquisitions are my 2013 Year in Review post.


The first plant of the year was the Agave neomexicana planted in the driveway island.  The part I didn't write about at the time is where I purchased this plant.  One of my favorite places to buy plants is the Military Exchange or PX.  All major military bases have an Exchange or PX and many also have a garden center.  The plant selection is very good in the San Antonio area.  Regular readers will recall the Bismarckia nobilia or Bismarck Palms which were a hit on the blog in 2012 and were purchased at the PX on Ft. Sam Houston.  Several plants I've added this year were also purchased at the PX including this agave so I will point them out as we go along.

When I visited Yeya's to pick up a few vintage items for my garden I also brought home plants from Mario's extensive succulent collection.

The haul also included these Bunny Ear 'Alba" cactus pads.


February brought a trip to Austin to see Pam Penick of Digging launch her book Lawn Gone! at the Natural Gardener.  The top plants on my list were these Texas Sacahuista grasses which are common in Austin but are not generally available in San Antonio by that name.  Since I wanted the exact plant I had seen featured on Austin gardening blogs I was happy to have the opportunity to purchase them in Austin.

On the way home from Austin I visited Vivero Growers and picked up a Wooly Stemodia to use as a ground cover in my front agave bed.


My favorite for March is the Black Mondo grass I found at Shades of Green which I spread out into a window box so it can grow up a bit before I find a place for it in the garden.  It's about ready to grace a container planting this spring.

On that same trip I added Verbena bonariensis to the circle garden.

A box of plants from Santa Rosa Gardens arrived in early March.

Rainbow Gardens gives out "Rainbow Bucks" to spend in August so I tend stop there a lot early in the season because it's like getting a 10% discount.  I added two Foxtail Rosemary along the entrance path to the newly expanded circle garden.

Potato vines and coleus for container plantings rounded out my trip to Rainbow Gardens.

This Agave victoria-reginae with several pups from another trip to Rainbow Gardens...

 where I also picked up this sedum to add to the planter with the Black Mondo Grass.

Sunshine Orange Bougainvillea from the Ft Sam PX.

In full bloom later in the summer

Lowe's clearance rack yielded a Senecio and.....

...this small Tradescantia to add to container plantings.

Another trip to the PX and I found two False Agave plants to place in front of the garage.


In March I posted my Winter Walk Off tour of the neighborhood sponsored by Les at A Tidewater Gardener.  I won the Grand Prize, a selection of seeds which arrived in April.

Since it was getting late in the year I planted a few of each and Cardinal Climber was the only one to bloom.  For 2014 I will start the rest of them earlier and see if that works better.

April brought another trip to Yeya's for the little Peanut cactus and two more succulents.

Stopping in at the San Antonio Xerophyte and Cactus show I picked up an Agave 'Shira ito no Ohi' from East Austin Succulents.  It's hardy outdoors here but I have it in a pot for now since it's so cute.

Lomandra and white blooming Ruellia from the PX.

I attended and posted about a local plant swap while bringing home a couple cart loads of plants.  I also brought home a number of veggie plants this time.  Champion tomato and Casper eggplant for our heat along with holy mole pepper and purple tomatillo for salsa and our favorite chiles rellenos.  There's an air plant in there too.

Here they are at home prepping to be planted out in the garden.  I didn't keep an exact count but there are about 20 in the photo including Canna Intrique and a number of salvias.

Among the highlights from the swap are these two cacti.  The column cactus and a native claret cup cactus which bloomed just a few days later.

I wasn't finished acquiring plants that day when I stopped at Rainbow Gardens on the way home and picked up Sweet Annie, Xylosma, Oregano, and Gray sage.

The center yucca in the row of three out in the front yard was struggling so I replaced it with a new one from the PX.

Attending a seminar at Hill Country Gardens led to four more plants.  Salvia darcyii, Pink mallow, Bamboo muhly, and Deer muhly.


May was the time for Lowe's to mark down this Needle Palm to $10.00 and we planted it in a shady corner by the garage.

Ragna helped out  by picking up 25 Pink Muhly plants for just $2 each at the Lowe's in her neighborhood so I could finish the driveway planting this year.

1/4/2014:  Adding in that Michael at Plano Prairie Garden gave me Bee Brush, Clammy Weed, and Eryngium when I visited in May.  I posted about the Clammy Weed for Wildflower Wednesday in July and the Bee Brush has been planted along the back edge of our yard.

Sorry Michael!  I can't believe I left your plants off the list!


June saw the arrival of my backorder from Santa Rosa gardens.  Amsonia and two Muhly 'White Cloud', they were small and it was getting hotter so I planted them in containers on the deck to allow them time to acclimate.  The gold oregano is from Rainbow Gardens and was planted along the stone pathway in the garage courtyard.


In July I purchased this Grape '1400' from the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas plant sale held each month during their meetings.  This grape was developed to produce in our climate and rocky, alkaline soils.  We planted it next to the new cedar arbor and I look forward to seeing it grow over the next few years.

Pomegranate 'Salavatski' is also recommended for our climate so I added one to my growing collection of fruit trees.


Bauhinia Mexicana and White Plumbago purchased with Rainbow Bucks I received for purchases made at Rainbow Gardens in the spring.

Black and Blue Salvia which I lost track of where I found this.

Sweet Almond Verbena from Lowe's clearance

Red barrel cactus from the PX

Colocasia 'Illustris' from Lowe's clearance table for the shade garden and variegated fig ivy from Home Depot for containers.

A trip to Shades of Green for milkweed, white penta, and frogfruit as a trial for groundcover.


In July I entered the Warrior Family Support Center gardens where I volunteer each week in a contest to win a garden from High Country Gardens.  Overall we came in fourth place and will receive one of their garden packages in the spring so thanks to all of you who voted for us in the contest. When the Center was selected as a finalist they also gave me personally a gift certificate from High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  These are the plants I purchased with the gift certificate.  Two Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue', two creeping germanders, two artemesias, and Agave toumeyana v. bella.

Agave toumeyana v. bella is extremely cold hardy and grows to a max size of 5"!

I joined friends Melody, Cheryl, and Jeannette on a plant shopping trip to Austin and returned with more plants!  Salvia mexicana, Muhlenbergia reverchonii, Mini equisetum, Woolly ironweed, Berkeley sedge, Kidneywood, and Abutilon....

...Rosemary Gorizia and Black Dalea

I set up some plant exchanges with Facebook friend Lorelei Stewart Mayer who lives a long way from town.  It seemed every time she was in town I was not at home so she picked my plants off the porch and left plants for me in return.  These are Maxmillian sunflowers and Inland Sea Oats complete with detailed descriptions. 

Lorelei also dropped off native lace cactus (which gets a beautiful strawberry bloom) after I mused about them on my blog.  Finally I was home and enjoyed giving her a tour of the garden.  I'll see her garden in March and I'm looking forward to it.

Our long-time next door neighbor moved in June and I volunteered to help out by plant sitting until she could get settled in her new place.  When she picked up her plants in September she decided to leave a few behind including hardy ice plant, Ruellia, and two Bougainvilleas.

...a Crown of Thorns plant...

...and five sago palms which still need to be planted...somewhere.

I visited Milberger's and found a Mexican Buckeye tree to add to my growing collection of native understory trees.


October is Support Your Independent Nursery Month and I celebrated with a visit to Medina Garden Nursery.  The big find was a native Hibiscus or Rosemallow and I brought home a few other favorites including White Turk's Cap and Jerusalem Sage.

I attended the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Fall Festival and brought home three new plants.  Blue Mist or Crucita, a native plant I highlighted for Wildflower Wednesday....

Lespedeza or Little Volcano Bush Clover has pretty pea-like blossoms which the deer love so it needs to be moved behind the fence....

...and a free Texas Redbud from our local energy company CPS.  Tough to see in this photo it has heart-shaped leaves.  The big show is in the spring when the branches are covered with bright flowers.

October was also the second swap of the year and I came home with a nice selection of Agaves including a huge A. parryi from Heather at Xericstyle and she also gave me a Dasylerion wheeleri in return for a small rooted Dalea greggii.  I'm going to drop off a few more plants this spring to balance things out.

Plus this huge fruiting Guava

The swap was an opportunity to add salvias and other great plants which do well in our area to my garden.  In the back right are very smooth spineless opuntia meant for Nopales or eating.  I did plant them so I can have more in the future.

This Agave tequiliana 'True Blue' from local plant collector Al Del Rio was a very nice gift.

During my visit to local nursery institution Fanick's I purchased another white Plumbago for the front garden.


Two Boxwood plants from the PX to fill in containers by the front door.  Yes, that is lava rock.  You got a problem with that?  The squirrels definitely have a problem digging in their favorite pots now.

Melody saw my post on Schefflera 'ex housplant' in the bed by the front door and gave me a variegated Schefflera she didn't have a place for.

On our last visit to The Antique Rose Emporium Melody and I took a few cuttings of a beautiful Salvia regla which are rooting in the garage now.


This beautiful Poinsettia was a door prize I won at the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas meeting in December.  If you live in San Antonio I highly recommend their Gardening Essentials classes held on the third Monday of each month at noon in the San Antonio Garden Center right next to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  Let me know if you plan to attend I'd love to meet you.

The Poinsettia was a reminder of the wonderful time we spent at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania countryside during the Thanksgiving holiday.

How many plants?  My count is 188  191.  About 75 or so were swaps or gifts and the rest were purchased.  The last two years have been big years for plant acquisitions as we continue to expand our gardens and 2014 promises to be nearly as big as I finish up several areas.  I just received a Facebook alert that one of my favorite local nurseries is having a clearance to get ready for spring!  Spring, I am so ready.

I enjoy remembering the stories behind these plants almost as much as I enjoy the plants themselves.  Especially the ones from friends.  One of the many joys of gardening.


  1. I love this idea! I've been keeping my list of new acquisitions in my head for years, but it's not nearly as easy as it used to be (even with an annual list that typically numbers around 30-35 new plants a year). I'll try your idea this year and see if I can be as diligent as you were in 2013.

    1. I plan to keep a list in 2014. Not sure if I will publish it as a review again or not.

  2. You can grow such interesting plants in your climate, although we do cross over with some of them. I agree: The stories behind the plants are almost as fascinating as the plants, themselves. Happy New Year!

    1. There are a number of things we can't grow that I would love to grow but overall I like our climate. Looking at your weather report for the weekend I do know I wouldn't trade our summer heat for winter cold.

  3. Reading your post, I thought "gee, she acquired a lot of plants last year - I don't think I picked up that many." So I did a quick tally from a spreadsheet I kept. I was wrong (and I even excluded annuals, bulbs and anything I put in a pot). How does this happen?

    1. I also left out a number of divisions, cuttings and fall planted bulbs.

      You are still adding to your garden so that's a big reason. I expect the numbers will be down after 2014.

  4. That is quite a collection of plants. Your garden will be even more beautiful when they mature. You will probably have a bunch of clammyweed in your garden next year too. I thought that True Blue agave had an unusual crosshatch pattern until I noticed the pot had the same pattern.

    1. Oh no! I knew I would forget something! I even posted about your plants. Thanks Michael. I'm sure there are others.

    2. I added you in now! The pattern is from the screen room where the agave sits now since it is not entirely cold hardy here--especially this year.

  5. Wow, that's a lot of plants. You kept track so efficiently. I can never remember where I got what. Sometimes I can't even remember the what.

    1. That's part of why I decided to try and keep track. I did miss a few though.

  6. You are a very brave (and organized) woman. The thought of doing a post like this terrifies me.

    Seriously though, you acquired a lot of fabulous plants in 2013, hats off to you!

    1. Not as organized as it seems since I left out plants from Michael when I visited his garden. I even posted about them at the time.

      It was fun to try, not sure I would do it again but I haven't acquired a plant from 2014 yet so there's still time to decide.

  7. You've bought more than 100 plants in 2013! Wow! I understand you want to expand your garden and need more and more. I liked and would buy next:
    Bunny Ear 'Alba" cactus
    Black Mondo grass
    They all are beautiful but it's pity are not enough hardy for our climate. Have a nice weekend, Shirley!

    1. There is one agave that is very hardy which might work.

  8. That array and qty of plants almost surprises me, Loree...I mean...Shirley! But you have such a huge lot (to my eyes), and so many spaces, it's really not that many plants (you can tell your husband that part). Seeing that your PX has such plants sounds interesting, but then again Costco had some interesting ones too.

    1. The area for gardening is quite large and since very little is lawn that leaves plenty of room for plant. His only complaint is how much work is involved in planting trees and shrubs. Now that we have a lot of borders built I can plant the smaller stuff myself.

  9. And I thought I acquired a lot of plants in 2013! May I use this post in my defense the next time the subject arises?

    1. Of course you may if it will help. Looking back I realize I even exercise a little restraint at some of the garden centers and events I attended.

  10. There is ice in our yard again, too bad we can't give you some during your long hot summer. I keep an Excel database of plants acquired, it helps a lot over time since I can go back and see how old things are. It's so easy for us gardeners to add up quite a few plants in a year. It's great you can grow Bougainvillea, I miss that and citrus from California.

    1. It's cold everywhere, including south Texas this week. The bougainvillea and some of the citrus are moved indoors for the winter. With the lows predicted this week I don't think most of them would make it otherwise.

      The spreadsheet is a good way. Knowing when a plant was added to the garden helps me determine if it is performing as it should.

  11. This is a great idea Shirley, to have a round up and timeline of plants you bought through the year. It's an online diary that will be handy to refer to in the future, as well as fun to look back!

  12. Whoa! That's an amazing feat of record-keeping, Shirley, one I'd never accomplish. I'm happy you did, though, as I get a virtual tour of your outstanding garden, seeing favorites we share, including black mondo – beautiful and versatile.

  13. You are AMAZING - what a neat idea that I am sure required a lot of discipline to accomplish! :) It is a neat idea to ponder....what all of our tally's are...


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