Tuesday, August 22, 2017

THE JOY OF CRAPEMYRTLES

A sampling of crapemyrtle blooms in my neighborhood

If I could pick one plant that I ignore and seldom even notice it would be our huge crapemyrtle in the front garden.


It has kept that old, straggly shape for the last 32 years. It has always looked like a bent over 'old man'. 


Judging from its trunk, it was probably planted back in the 1960s or even earlier. Our house was built in 1949 so it could be very old.


I have always felt sorry for our crapemyrtle because it struggled for decades underneath our neighbor's line of pecan trees. You can see from this photo how lopsided the poor thing has grown.


That all changed three years ago when the trees were cut down to make way for a new house.
The crapemyrtle that had waited patiently for perhaps half a century had finally been released from its shady captivity.

Our crapemyrtle is also a haven for a naturally occuring species called ball moss.
The ball moss does not take nutrients from the tree, but it can overwhelm its host if left unchecked. I climb a ladder once a year to thin out the hundreds of ball moss babies.

The crapemyrtle is an excellent choice for most of East Texas since it requires no fertilizing, no special soils, no pruning, and will tolerate both wet periods as well as drought.
Our crapemyrtle also has a high canopy that allows that perfect dappled light to filter through to the flowers below. I try to plant flowers and herbs that like a dry soil in and around crapemyrtles since they have an extensive root system that will compete for water.  My rosemary plants LOVE this location.

I am a bit color blind in the area of pinks and magentas. So I went around the block and collected a sampling of our neighborhood crapemyrtles. I'm pointing to mine. What color would you call it?
By the way, there were at least three more shades of pink I could have added to the group, but I was on my bicycle and it was too HOT to do any more collecting!

I have one other crapemyrtle in the backyard. It is the white variety with a beautiful tan and white trunk and gorgeous foliage. In the fall, the leaves turn a flaming orange color.
It's a very small plant, so no blooms yet.


Our crapemyrtle will never have a perfect shape or win any prizes. But it does bloom its heart out each and every year for months on end. If it ever dies (which will be decades from now), I will turn some of the smooth branches into walking sticks. We've been through a lot together during the past 32 years of gardening. It would be nice to have a keepsake of my old friend.

All for now!
Happy Gardening!
David/:0)
Houston, Texas




Friday, August 11, 2017

HEAVENLY PLUMBAGO FOR THE SUMMER GARDEN


The old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is one every gardener lives by. For me, the living proof is none other than Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).

Blue agave with blue plumbago....so cool!

For most Texas gardeners, plumbago just grows and blooms without a care.
For me, I have struggled....until now.
Butterflies LOVE plumbago nectar!


This is my third year to grow this same plant and it is finally blooming like a champ. I find it weaving its way around agaves and spilling over a small stone ledge...just like you'd find in garden magazines!. It has well over a hundred clusters of blooms
and seems to be adding more each day!

Zinnias, gomphrena and blue plumbago in the front garden

It is easily one of  my proudest gardening moments. Plumbago even loves our torrid August heat!
I love Plumbago!
I'll end with a funny story from my childhood.

Each summer I would spend a lot of time with my grandmother out on the farm. She had the most wonderful flower garden you could imagine.
One day while helping her pull weeds, I stopped and asked, "Grandma, why do your flowers all look perfect?"
 "They don't."
 "What you're looking at are only half my flowers."

Imagining some wonderful gardening secret I asked, "So where's the other half of your flowers, Grandma?"

She didn't even look up to answer, "They're all dead and I pulled them up!"

So much for perfect flowers!

All for now. Happy Gardening.
David/:0)

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