Sunday, April 12, 2015

Southern dewberries

I've lived here in this home since 2002. In the beginning, I fought a mean, prickly vine called southern dewberry. It sprawled in a far corner of the back yard and refused to behave. I knew what it was because I'd become acquainted with dewberries while living in East Texas around 1988. Back then, I'd put Patrick, just barely walking, in a little red wagon and pull him all over Martin Creek Lake State Park (where we lived at the time) so I could hunt for dewberries. A lot went into my bucket for a future pie. A lot more went into little Patrick!

Anyway, fast forward to the Pink House and my new life here. After James came along and we started our Texas Wildscape in 2007, I finally relented and awarded the stubborn vine its own metal name marker. "You win," I said. "I give up. You can stay. I'm not gonna fight you any more."

After all, Rubus trivialis is a Texas native!

Well, lo and behold, this spring "my" dewberry bloomed in profusion! For the first time ever, we've got REAL dewberries! 

Okay, not a whole lot. But, hey, it's a start. And it's about time, Ms. Southern Dewberry!


New transplants etc.

Lanceleaf coreopsis and lyreleaf sage
On our way home last Thursday from a business trip near Conroe, I lusted after a plant with yellow flowers that I'd spotted growing in huge numbers off the highway. Yes, we stopped so I could get one. We also stopped along the road so James could dig up a coreopsis for me. A freebie lyreleaf sage came along, too. There were LOTS of them growing in that spot.

Below is my bush pea, which I potted up as well. It's looking a little puny, but I'm hoping it survives. Time will tell.
Bush pea
For grins, here are some other seedlings and transplants I've got going. Anyone want a flame acanthus? I've got at least four of those and more in the gardens (once you have one flame acanthus, you're set for life.) I also have a spiderwort potted up. Want it? That's a yellow yucca on the bottom, and a little tasajillo in the bottom right corner. Over in the top left corner, those are two legume plants, species yet to be determined. I found them growing in a garden path last year so I dug them up and put them in pots to see what they were. Haven't figured them out yet. I love a good mystery. Don't you?

Planting what where


Menodora's new location

Gray globe mallow

Prairie flax

Downy phlox

Pitcher sage

Pitcher sage and downy phlox are neighbors
My transplanted natives and new wildflowers from Saturday's plant sale

Standing cypress 2015

Two. That's how many we have this year. My potted standing cypress (yellow pot, above) was one that I unexpectedly rooted from a cutting last year. The other (below) sprouted from a seed that lodged between the patio and brick wall. Go figure.

Standing cypress have a two-year life cycle. They produce a rosette their first year, then shoot up and bloom their second. I hope to gather at least some seeds from my two. Last year in our Meadow, I spread a bunch of standing cypress seeds given to me by a friend, Nancy. I'm watching for sprouts but not sure if I've sighted any yet. Last year, Nancy also brought me a cutting for show-and-tell. I stuck it in water, and it took! 

So there you have it–our two standing cypress for 2015.

Dr. Sheryl

We've had some fierce winds in the past few months. One nearly broke off new growth on our four-year-old Texas buckeye. So I found some tall, sturdy sticks and used them as props to hold up the broken limb. (In the photo above, you can see the three sticks sticking up above the tree.) Voila! The limb survived and is healing itself. In the photo, I'm pointing to the wound.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pull it!

So all winter, a mysterious volunteer thrived in our back yard, impressing us with its tenacity and will to survive. The few freezes we had just barely burned the leaves. What was it? I posted photos of it last month on Facebook, and folks weren't sure. I could tell it was definitely in the mustard family. Honestly, we were hoping for some kind of veggie producer. But what? 

So I questioned Cheryl, who owns Blanco Gardens, via Facebook, and she wrote back: "It looks like giant mustard–"bastard cabbage"–which is a terrible, invasive weed. I'd dig it out and see if it has a long taproot–more proof it is a plant you do not want!"


"Hmmm," I posted back. "THE bastard cabbage??!!!!!!! I'll check it out. Most of that stuff I see is tall and leggy, not bushy. Heaven forbid we have THAT TERRIBLE invasive in our gardens!!!!!!!

But alas, I fear we do.


I took plenty of photos and then yanked the dastardly thing OUT. No point in taking any chances! Rapistrum rugosum is a species that is rapidly moving into Texas and pushing out our beautiful natives. The puzzling thing about this particular plant in our back yard is that it looked so different from the ones we see along highways, which tend to be straggly and tall. Our is/was extra bushy and robust. 

"I guess it was just really happy growing in our gardens," I told James. 

I still wonder, though, if our plant really was a bastard cabbage. Any thoughts? 

These two photos below were taken March 25, 2015.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New additions

 Meet our new additions from the spring native plant sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Alamo vine (Merremia dissecta)
Downy phlox (Phlox pilosa)
Golden dalea (2) (Dalea aurea)
Gray globemallow (Sphaeralcea incana)
Low menodora (redbud) (Menodora heterophylla)
Pitcher sage (Salvia azurea)
Prairie flax (Linum lewisii)
Purple salvia (Salvia greggi)
Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosserrantus)
White avens (2) (Geum canadense)
White butterfly gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)


Plus this "six pack" of assorted native wildflowers...

I bought two more white avens and two more golden daleas to supplement two of each that we already have (and are flourishing). The Alamo vine is to replace one that didn't come back last year. We're going to try gaura yet again, and I really wanted an orange-colored globemallow (our Blanco County native Sphaeralcea angustifolia has pink flowers). But the gray globemallow will be beautiful, too.