Blog posts from August 2015

Texas Sage: Who wore it best?

Aug 31, 2015

If there is one landscaping practice I simply won't succumb to it's formal boxed (and boring) foundation shrubs. I prefer to pick plants that will grow to the size I want them, where I want them, and then let them do their thing. Of course a little tip pruning is required for any foundation shrubs now and then, but overall I like my foundation beds much more natural.  In order to bring foliage and bloom interest (and bee food) into my #frontscape I've incorpoated a number of Texas sage plants.

Some sort of wet stuff came down from the sky in Dallas the other day. After an intensly hot and dry summer, a bump in humidity and a bit of rainfall has sent my Texas sage shrubs into a blooming frenzy. Ok, some of them. Not every Texas sage performs the same; there are several species and a number of cultivars available. So, which one do you think is wearing it best right now?

You'll see Texas sage 'Silverado' on the left...and Texas sage 'Rio Bravo' on the right. It's an easy choice, no? The 'Rio Bravo' is so heavily loaded with blooms that some of the branches are bending under the weight. It's a glorious sight to behold and the entire shrub is vibrating with overjoyed honeybees. It looks like this every time it blooms.

While there are some blooms on the 'Silverado', it never blooms as intensely as my 'Rio Bravo'. Now to be fair, the 'Silverado' gets a tad more cast shade from the house. My other 'Silverado' on the opposite side of the house do get a bit more direct sun and thus will bloom a bit heavier. But even they can't match the profusion of blooms on the 'Rio Bravo'.

You'll notice that the foliage on the 'Rio Bravo' is more green than silver, so even though the 'Silverado' doesn't bloom as heavily, it does provide me with the intense silver foliage I want in the bed. So either way, it's a win/win.

Anyhoo, couldn't resist showing you a "who wore it best" from the garden.

Beyond the Poinsettia

Aug 31, 2015

The full article published in the August issue of Greenhouse Management Magazine.

Consumers are increasingly interested in nontraditional plants for the holiday season. Grower-retailers should consider these succulents, tropicals and edibles as the end of the year approaches.

While some growers are still finding steady success with their poinsettia crops, many others are turning to alternatives to correct sales slumps.

Demand for indoor plants is growing and customers want specimens that complement the look of their home and help them bring a bit of nature indoors. They also want multipurpose outdoor plants. Finished gift and table-top plants still offer a good opportunity to drive niche-season and impulse sales, but offering fresh new alternatives that meet customers changing indoor and outdoor plant needs may be the best way to recapture their holiday dollar. Here are a few finished potted plants that are trending and can be creatively marketed for holiday sales:


Echeveria are impressive specimens bound to please any recipient. The large whorled leaves of echeveria give it the look of a giant rose bloom. Some echeveria varieties sport brightly colored foliage and even ruffled leaves. Echeveria gibbiflora ‘Red Ruffles’ is particularly suited to the holiday season, with red-edged ruffled leaves.The rosette grows to the size of a large cereal bowl, making it the perfect size for a table-top centerpiece. Plants can be kept indoors in a bright location as a houseplant, or set out on the patio in summer. Echeveria make water-wise landscape specimens in warmer climates. Plants send up foot-tall flower spikes in summer with red-orange flowers. Echeveria ‘Christmas’ is also quite suited to the season, with red-tipped leaves.

‘Christmas Carol’ aloe comes complete with a festive name and brightly colored foliage. The succulent leaves offer deep crimson spots edged in vibrant red. Red flower spikes are a festive bonus. This is a petite plant perfect for a more space-conscious gift giver. Plants can be kept as an indoor houseplant or set outdoors in zones 9-11.

For a shock of intense foliage color, consider Crassula capitella ‘Campfire.’ The succulent leaves offer up a fiery red color perfect for the holiday season. Plants grow to only about 6 inches tall which make it a handy, grab-and-go holiday gift plant. Again, this succulent makes an excellent houseplant in a bright location and a perfect patio table plant in summer.

Read the entire article HERE.

Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars

Aug 13, 2015

Sometimes, when you're plant hunting, you end up finding the coolest critters instead. As I puttered around the Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore, snapping shots of plants, I was lucky enough to stumble upon some milkweed tiger moth larvae (caterpillars) munch on some Asclepias tuberosa (orange perannial butterfly weed).

Much like monarch butterfly caterpillars, the milkweed tiger moth,Euchaetes egle, harvest cardiac glycosides from milkweeds and retain them as adult moths. These compounds make them toxic to predators. Hence the bright warning colors. But really, I find them adorable! These brightly colored, and cute, caterpillars mature into a somwhat drab brown moth. Ah, youth is grand, no?

Smithsonian Gardens

Aug 5, 2015

Recently, I was in Baltimore for the Annual Perennial Plant Association Symposium. Tours are a big part of the week-long event and we had the chance to swing by the lovely gardens at the Smithsonian in D.C. If you haven't  been, be sure to make them a stop on your next visit to the Capitol.

A lovely Partierre planted with Angelonia in front of the visitor center.

The garden beds are filled with loads of interesting plants, most of which are clearly labeled.

It's a cornocopia of funky plants!

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