Friday, September 30, 2011

Outside The Box

Yet another fine example of gardeners finding new uses for old items. I love the versatility of combining rebar and PVC. Have a look.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)

As it's name suggests (at least it's non-scientific one), this very pretty shrub is native to Texas.  It really is drought tolerant, thrives in rocky soil, and loves the heat.  As a matter of fact, most of the information I read about this plant indicates that one of the few things, other than too much water, that irritates it is too little sun.  It really is native to Texas and loves our harsh climate!  It is also known as Cenizo, Purple sage, Texas Ranger and the Texas barometer bush.  I can attest to the fact that the flowers do seem to emerge right before it rains.  The above picture was taken today.  This is a couple of days after our last rain, but the flowers have been on it for about a week.  My husband even commented on them and said he hoped it was an indication of rain to come.

The bush usually grows 3 - 5 feet tall, but may grow as tall at 8 ft.  The bushes on our place are right in front of the house and are over 6 ft tall.  We have let them go unpruned for too long and they are beginning to look scraggely, but a good fall pruning can take care of that.  They can be grown from seed or propigated from semi-hardwood cuttings.  Any of you lucky enough to attend the lecture hosted by the Master Gardeners of Fannin County last week will know how to propigate from cuttings! 

Aside from a very hardy, attractive shrub, the leaves and flowers can also be used to make an herbal tea.  Several articles have been written describing the use of this tea for medicinal purposes.  Some believe it is useful in treating colds, coughing, and fever and chills associated with the flu.

We have found this plant a welcome addition to our flower garden.  I hope you find this information useful if you're looking for any native shrubs to add to yours.  As always, happy gardening!

Monday, September 12, 2011


For the last two years, our yard has been home to pokeweed.  Having never encountered it before, it took a while for me to figure out what it was.  I finally asked a couple of my native Texan friends, and they didn't hesitate to identify it.  I am still debating what to do with it.  I hate to pull out a potential food source, but this particular food source can be poisonous if not prepared properly.

Here are some things that I've noticed.  First is that it seems to be drought and heat tolerant.  Everything in the yard has been struggling this summer except for the pokeweed.  It has doubled in size!  Second is that it is very prolific.  Apparently the birds eat the berries and pass the seeds.  I noticed little sprouts in the raised beds early this year and pulled them right out.  That proved a very easy task and they haven't grown back.  Last year, before I knew what I was looking at, I allowed one to grow in one of the beds.  The things was nearly as big as a tree before I pulled it this spring.  It took a shovel and a lot of digging to finally get the roots out.  I have allowed the patch to grow next to the peonies on the north side of the house, but I'm afraid they are taking over.  To top it all off, I just noticed it growing in the rose bush island out back.  It's starting to feel like a plague! 

Those sounds like bad things, but if I can keep it controlled, I have to admit that it's somewhat attractive and is obviously happy with our harsh soil and climate.  And like I said before, it can be eaten.  I've heard some people refer to it as a southern delicacy.  (Does anyone remember the song Poke Salad Annie)?  There are even recipes for it on some of the more popular recipe sites.  I'm not convinced to try it out yet because of all the 'cook it just right' warnings, but I'm not sold on just pulling it up as a nuisance plant either.

If you have pokeweed on your property, or find it just shows up one day as a gift from the birds in the area, these are some things that you'll have to consider before you decide what to do about it.  I'll keep you updated on ours, and will be sure to let you know how it goes if we ever decide to eat it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ever see a squash flower?  Aren't they pretty!  If you're not already out tending to your fall plantings, then get going! It's a lovely day to be outside, and your garden will benefit from your attention. As will you! Happy gardening.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How Bad is The Texas Drought

Here's a quick article on how bad the drought is here in Texas, and how it can affect even Americans who don't live in Texas.  The article focuses on beef, but keep in mind that Texas also grows a lot of wheat and cotton.  These crops have been decimated as well.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drought? What drought? Part 1

The moss rose (portulacas) has decided not to participate in the drought.