Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Shade Kings.........Hostas

Hosta, Plantain Lily

Hostas are native to China and Japan they love cool, moist, mountainous, woodland areas, they have been extensively hybridized and are great additions to your shade gardens. Hostas are grown for the leaf color, shape and texture and not so much for the flowers which are usually white tinged with lavender. Hostas are prized for the extensive selection of colors, sizes, and as sculptural elements in woodland gardens and containers. Hostas will reach full maturity in 4 to 8 years and the size of the plant depends on the cultivar chosen, of which there are many.   Not only do humans like this beautiful shade lover..... even more so.... deer, rabbits, snails and slugs love to munch down on these tender beauties. The hosta becomes dormant in the winter--- dies back to the ground and then comes back with a vigor in the springtime. Give these a try in the listed areas you will not be disappointed.

Just FYI hostas are in the same family as the agave, yucca, nolina, and hesperaloe....very interesting. They were once classified in the Liliaceae but are now included in the Agavaceae by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, although some taxonomists place the Hostas in their own family: Hostaceae. You just gotta love those taxonomists, as if the plant names were not hard enough to remember already.....:>) (Just kidding guys, you are doing a great job classifying and naming and renaming...well you get the idea)

Plant Type: perennial
Plant Habit or Form: spreading / clumping 
Plant Use: beds, borders, containers
Propagation: division
Light Requirement: medium low
Flower Color: lavender, white
Blooming Period: summer
Height: 2 ft +
Width: 2 ft  +                                
Foliage Texture: coarse
Heat Tolerance: medium
Water Requirements: medium
Additional Comments: Remove spent flower stems. Feed annually. Watch for slugs and snails.

Good Example of a Woodland Garden

Massed border including Hostas beautiful!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

Knock Out® Rose
A True Winner

This variety of Rose burst forth on the landscape scene some time back and has changed the mind and thought process of some landscapers as to the placement of roses in the landscape. Thirty years ago we were told that  A. roses are never to be used in the front landscapes and   B. should always have a separate bed of their own for proper care and culture.

What a shame for such a beautiful example of color, in some instances blooming 10 months of the year. Now this rose is just that, a real winner, disease resistant, ever blooming, and tough. If my pack of dogs cannot kill them and they keep blooming after being used and abused by the canine group, they are truly a superior creation of the Almighty.

If unpruned, The Knock Out® Family of Roses can easily grow to be more than 3-4' wide x 3-4' tall. Periodic trims will keep them maintained at a smaller size. A once a year cut (to about 12-18" above the ground) in early spring (after the last hard frost) is also recommended for maximum performance.

Knock Out® Roses are easy to grow and do not require special care. They are the most disease resistant roses on the market today! They have stunning flower power with a generous bloom cycle (about every 5-6 weeks) that will continue until the first hard frost. All seven members in The Knock Out® Family of Roses are self-cleaning so there is no need to deadhead.

The Knock Out® Family of Roses are winter hardy to USDA Zone 5 and heat tolerant throughout the entire U.S. They thrive in almost every area of the country. In the coldest regions, they will need winter protection (check with your local garden center to see what method is best for your area).
(© Copyright 2010 Conard-Pyle...Information taken in part from Conard-Pyle Co....Thank You Very Much)

I enjoy all the roses, but I am partial to the yellow roses...I know, I know... Texas and all that. The Knock Out® Rose "Sunny" is one of my very favorites, yellow blooms and fragrant too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blue Grass......????

Blue Fescue
Festuca glauca

This has become one of my favorite ornamental plants, great when used as a specimen in rock gardens or nudged up against boulder in full sun placements. A couple of words of caution about this plant, it needs excellent drainage and NOT regular watering, water only as necessary to prevent total soil dryness. Blue fescue makes a very interesting clump planting in a hot, dry location. It is also good for a border or edge planting. It will take a small amount of shade, but it does prefer full sun and you will achieve a deeper blue in full sun.

Fertilization would be at a maximum of twice a year, with no more than a 3 -1-2 ratio fertilizer, water in well after fertilization. No need to prune this baby, just let it grow and take it's natural shape, it will bloom with buff colored spikes in early summer. In late winter or early spring cut back the die-off and get ready for a new year.
Try the cultivar "Elijah Blue" in the landscape and in your color pots for a unique and distinctive "blue" addition. Several cultivars of blue fescue will go as far as zone 3, so some of you Northern readers can use this great and very different plant in your landscape next year. The best planting time is early spring  and the second best is very early fall.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beautiful and Toxic, What a Combination

Brugmansia sp.
Brugmansia, Angels Tumpet

Wow what a tag line!
A small genus of six species of large shrubs to small trees characterized by herbaceous, to semi-woody tissues, large simple leaves, and large pendulous, trumpet -shaped flowers. This beauty is intolerant of frost; typically allowed to die back to the ground or grown in containers and protected. The overall plant has a coarse texture but the flowers are remarkably beautiful. They are sweetly fragrant, about 12 in (30.5 cm) long and shaped like trumpets. The corolla has five points that are slightly recurved. The flowers are usually white but may be yellow or pink and are pendulous, hanging almost straight down.

Angels Trumpet is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade Family); an extremely economically important family for food crops such as Potato, Tomato, Peppers, Tomatillo....and Tobacco.

This plant can grow to reach 12 feet and have a spread of 8 feet or more in ideal conditions
This beautiful and striking plant is native to South America and grown in moist, tropical, mountainous regions. It will easily reach very large sizes in one growing season; forms a large airy tree in it's native regions.
Here it will do best in larger containers or partially shaded areas with rich, moist soil. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds......


All parts of this and other angel trumpets are narcotic and poisonous. Some people have ingested or smoked angels trumpet for its narcotic effects, and some of those people are no longer with us. The use of angel trumpet as a landscape plant is banned in some municipalities.  So be intelligent and handle with care.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Real Traffic Stopper !!

Candle Tree...Candlestick Plant...Empress Candlestick

All pseudonyms for the plant Cassia alata....which the botanists have reclassified as Senna alata....well we really do not want to get into the whole renaming thing..... suffice to say it can be found under the name Cassia alata.
This is a late summer into fall bloomer that is a guarantee to stop traffic and have people asking you "What is that" and "Where did you get it?" (Yes... the true mark that your garden rocks)
make plans for growing this late-summer bloomer early. Set out the young candlestick plants in a sunny spot in the middle or back of a mixed border to bloom with fall perennials. Or in tropical designs, the large scale foliage contributes a texture contrast to elephant ears, tall grasses, banana leaves, caster plants, and cannas.
It becomes a massive tree in  its native tropics, but is a summer annual in our area, even still...expect it to grow to 8 to 10 feet before first frost. To achieve this type of growth it must be planted in heavy, rich, moist soil....just like the jungle that it is from, it will tolerate part day sun, but performs better in a full sun exposure.

The flowers: candelabras of upright racemes open golden blooms for several weeks in late summer and fall, some lasting up to two months before first freeze.
Back in "the day" when Love Field was "The Airport" the grounds crew would plant this show stopper at the entrance beds and boy would they make a show, they could be seen coming and going.

Now just for grins this plant has strong medicinal properties...mainly in the anti-fungal applications and is said to have been used to treat ringworm and athletes foot. Its active ingredients include the yellow chrysophanic acid. Its laxative effect, due to its anthraquinone content, is also well proven...just in case you need to know.

(Information taken in part from Maggies Garden .com, Aggie-horticulture, and Wikipedia...Thank You Very Much)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Blue Oak.......Are You Kidding Me!!

Quercus laceyi (Q. glaucoides)........Lacey Oak or Texas Blue Oak...

This my friends is a true resident of the Texas hill country, along with the Big Tooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum). We had the pleasure of viewing both of these "Texas Star Trees" a couple weeks ago on a short trip to the hill country.
The Lacey Oak is a medium size tree in good soils and a shrub on poor soils. Full sun to light afternoon shade with morning sun are the best exposures. Lacey oak is tolerant of heat, drought, and high PH soils, but does not like wet feet. Lacey oak will survive on well drained clay soils but prefers well drained limestone soils. Cold tolerance is thought to be good to zone 7.

This tree has much to offer in the nature of a landscape addition. The leaves expand as a soft pink color, turning blue-green as they mature, hence the name Blue Oak. The foliage is seldom bothered by insects or disease. Fall color varies from brown to yellow. The growth habit will vary with environmental conditions, with the ultimate size ranging from 30 to 35 feet in height and spread, making it ideal for those small lots or as a specimen tree.

(Information taken in part from: Texas Extension Service....Field Guide to Trees by Benny J. Simpson and Texas You Very Much!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of My Absolute Favorites........Firewitch Dianthus

Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'

This plant is one of my all time favorites, I have been using this particular cultivar in my landscape designs and at my personal home for years and this is one of the best articles about Firewitch...enjoy.....Ralph

The Perennial Plant Association has selected Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch' as their Plant of the Year 2006. This species of Cheddar Pinks, native to Cheddar Gorge, England, has spicy clove-scented flowers (the sweet fragrance of carnations) which face upward for maximum color impact. This German cultivar is one of the bluest-foliaged, one of the most tolerant of heat and varying soil conditions, and is one of the longest flowering of the many types of Dianthus.

This plant is similar to Dianthus 'Bath's Pink', but the cultivar 'Firewitch' ('Feuerhexe') boasts single, shocking magenta-pink blossoms that are nearly fringed on the edges. They are attractive to butterflies and make excellent cut and dried flowers. The plants bloom heavily from late spring into early summer, sporadically throughout the summer, and often rebloom in early fall, particularly when deadheaded consistently.

The masses of flowers contrast beautifully with the silvery blue foliage. The tight mats of linear, needle-like, evergreen foliage grows about 4-6” tall (the flowers top out at 7-8” tall) and 18-24" in diameter. This dianthus is not favored by deer once established. It is hardy in zones 3-8.

Landscape Uses

Dianthus 'Firewich' has bright magenta flowers.

Being relatively short, ‘Firewitch’ is an excellent plant for the front of the flower border or as edging. It is an excellent plant for the rock garden or a raised bed where it can spill over the edges. Its spreading tendency makes it an outstanding groundcover, particularly on dry slopes. Many plants can be placed together to create a “pool” of deep blue foliage when not in bloom. Individual plants can be kept smaller by pruning the foliage in very early spring or after the first flush of bloom. This plant also works well in containers.


Dianthus 'Firewich' is a great plant for the front of the border.

Dianthus grows best in loose, well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soils in full sun. It tolerates light shade, particularly in the afternoon. ‘Firewitch’ tolerates short dry periods, but needs regular watering during prolonged drought. Fewer flowers will be produced when grown in hot, dry areas. Don’t fertilize too much, as this promotes lush growth that may leaves the plants with gaps.

If grown in a container, plant in a mix with very good drainage and place in full sun or light shade. Water thoroughly when dry, but do not allow the medium to remain wet.

Dianthus can be propagated by division in early spring, just as the new growth begins to appear. This is recommended every few years because it tends to be a short-lived perennial otherwise.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gaillardia.....Spring is Coming

Spring is coming and what better thing to do, than to talk about what we want in our Spring and Summer gardens......The Gaillardias are some of my favorites, of course I love the color combinations of yellow and red, they just seem to light up the area.

What a great and colorful flower. One familiar to all who have ever gone on a meadow jaunt in the beautiful Texas prairies...the one you most likely saw was Gaillardia pulchella......the annual or tender perennial. You can see meadows ablaze with this red and yellow delight sometimes called Indian Blanket. It blooms just after the bluebonnets are finished and often is the most dominate color in the field. This Texas wildflower grows throughout the state and is anywhere from 12 to 24 inches tall and will spread to 12 inches. Seed for this flower may be purchased from numerous sources.

This is Gaillardia aristata the true perennial
seen in the local flower beds around town. The common name you will hear for this one is Blanket Flower. Most likely the best known cultivar is Goblin, a sure winner for summer careful not to over water in the heavy clay soils of this area. This cultivar is neat and compact grows 12 to 15 inches tall. These plants can be purchased from your local nursery or ask your landscaper to brighten up your full sun beds with an addition of Gaillardia "Goblin"

Gallardia mixed with Artemisia "Powis Castle".

A word of caution for new perennial gardeners, give the garden a chance. It will take at least 2 seasons for the garden to fill in, this not the same as a heavy "seasonal color" bed, one that is changed for each season, heavily water, and fertilized. The perennial bed will, with patience and proper planning will give you explosions of color throughout the year, after blooming some of the perennials can look weedy, shear back and get ready for the next round of blooms. Want a perennial bed but don't want the work....give me a call at CGreen Landscape Irrigation.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All Things Christmas..."Sort Of".......

Schlumbergera bridgesil

Can anyone remember when we were kids and at Easter we would go to the feed store and buy baby chicks...sometimes multi-colored......Oh my.....Well the plant of consideration this week is not a pastel blue baby chick and unfortunately we really only appreciate it's beauty at Christmas hence the name "Christmas Cactus".

This plant is a native of Brazil, it is an epiphytic cactus with flat jointed stems. Sometimes call the Orchid cactus because of their rare and distinctive beauty...the word epiphytic means they derive their support from a host plant and are just passengers and not parasites....kinda cool just along for the ride....

Taking care of business: Schlumbergia bridgesil needs an average minimum temperature at night of about 62 degrees F. Use a soil mixture of 3 parts peat moss to 1 part loam or sand. Keep the soil moist during spring and summer with high diffused or filtered light. Fertilize every 2 weeks during this period. For bud formation, plants require full sun with a drier cooler conditions, plus the shorter days of fall, (Christmas..... Yea!!) In the fall , reduce the watering and keep the plant cooler, with a minimum temperature of 55 degrees F at night. Increase watering when the flower buds appear and fertilize every 2 weeks with a balanced household fertilizer at 1/2 strength until the flowers open.
(Information...(in part) taken from Cal's Plant of the week From the University of Oklahoma.... Thank You Very Much)

Now it would not be Christmas with out a Reindeer Run, and what better time to do it than when it is freeeeezzzzing cold outside. So this past Saturday when it was just those conditions, my trusty companions and I went forth. The local Lifetime Fitness was hosting a Reindeer Run in association with "Toys for Tots" bring a toy, have some fun, freeze and sweat, sound likes Christmas to me. So we went out to have some fun and represent the company CGreen Landscape Irrigation (to the best of our ability)...enjoy the pictures.

My daughter Melissa and Dixie the best runner in the group........

Okay.....this would be me...still cold...But look a the smile on Dixie's face...she love to run and loves the cold weather

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where There Is a Wall There Is a Way

Well is is winter and what better thing to do in the winter than build a wall. Now is the saying "Walls make friends or make better neighbors"?

Oh well, here at C Green Landscape Irrigation we are building some walls, borders, and beds. I started these pictures a day late, but it will be interesting to follow the progress of this wall as it comes into it's "own".

Lots of preparations have already taken place from shooting the grade, to painting the layout, laying re-bar in the trench for the footing, to where we are today. This wall is being constructed of "Oklahoma" chop stone on a concrete base reinforced with steel re-bar. Each layer will be mortared, leveled, adjusted, pushed and pulled, till the finished product is a focal point of the new landscape.

Natural stone walls either mortared or dry stacked, add extra dimensions of color, texture, depth, and contrast to your landscape. Not only are stone walls and borders beautiful, but functional as well, some walls and borders can act as retaining walls, borders for flower beds, and sometimes stone pathways can take you to that hidden part of your garden or landscape. Natural stone architecture takes the normal landscape to the next level (no pun intended) inviting you to see what is around the next corner, or down that stone pathway to your next garden adventure. Stay with us as we daily update the progress of our stone walls and borders.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Plant Worth Investigating

Achillea millefolium

This perennial plant is a native to Europe and Asia it is a member of the vast Asteraceae family. The 2"-6" clusters of tiny pink, white, or yellow flowers form atop a 6"-4' spike. (Depending on the individual species) The foliage is fern like. Achillea is drought resistant, and will grow in almost any soil. The plants bloom in June, but will bloom again in September if the dead clusters are removed. Common Yarrow has fern-like foliage and can be used as cut flowers. The species has pink flowers but cultivars can provide white or red blooms. They grow in ordinary garden soil and full sun. Cut off old flowers to prolong the flowering period. Achillea may become a weed if not controlled. Propagation: Divide in the spring. This plant can be grown in semi-shade, say morning sun……it will not bloom as much as in full sun and will not reach max height, but it is fantastic to use with holly ferns and hydrangeas for a wispy fern like clumping appearance. We should use this more in our landscapes, it of course a perennial. This past weekend we were in Fredicksburg, Texas, the landscaping around the pool where we stayed had several clumps of Achillea in mature growth. There was a gentle wind blowing in the pool area and the effect of the wind on the foliage of the Achillea was quite pleasant. Try will like it.....