Blog posts categorized as: Perennials & Annuals

The South Gets Sustainable at the 1st Annual Perennial Plant Association Southern Symposium

Nov 4, 2015

We had an amazing time with some wonderful folks from all across the south at this year’s PPA Southern Symposium. For our first year planning the event, we had an intimate but enthusiastic group of landscapers, growers, retailers and wholesalers, plus a few students. They came from Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma to learn how to grow and plant sustainable landscapes.

We started off Monday, October 5th, by greeting our fellow green industry pros over coffee, then got right into the fun with an explanation on the benefits of the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials by DABS Director of Horticulture, Jenny Wegley. Next up, Zac Tolbert of Local Plant Source, Inc. taught us how the demand for sustainable plants are affecting sourcing and purchasing and how to make sure your clients have the plants they want...and need.

Before breaking for lunch, Leslie Halleck, Certified Horticulturist and owner of Halleck Horticultural, taught us that through patience and practice we can restore our environment for local habitat one backyard at a time.

Lunch brought lively conversation and networking. We made new friends such as new PPA member, Roger Sanderson of the Texas Discovery Gardens and Dr. Elisabeth Sahin of GES Consultancies. Once back from lunch, Dr. Cynthia Mckenney, Professor of Horticulture, Texas Tech University, gave a fun (and informative!) presentation on how to grow a gorgeous landscape using good soil, native and adapted plants, and a dash of creativity! We especially enjoyed her tidbits on area natives, including milk thistle that, if ingested while pregnant, is thought to cause infants to grow excessive hair. WHO KNEW??


Lloyd Traven, Peace Tree Farm and Dr. Elisabeth Sahin of GES Consultancies enjoying lunch.

The last two speakers of the day, Dr. Jared Barnes, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, SFA State University and Lloyd Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm, duked it out for most animated talk. Dr. Barnes spoke about “Thrivable” Perennials for the south. He fawned over tough tropicals such as Chinese Yellow Banana, Musella lasiocarpa and Poke Salad, Phytolacca americana ‘Sunny Side Up’. If you haven’t met Dr. Barnes before, you’ll know him by his vastly creative array of bow ties.

As the piece de resistance of the day, Lloyd Traven taught us that growing in a commercial greenhouse without the use of chemicals CAN be done! Through the careful use of bio-controls predatory insects and careful planning, you can grow a diversity of crops together clean and pesticide free. Peace Tree Farm is an OMRI Certified operation.

Big thanks to North Haven Gardens in Dallas for providing us with wonderful volunteers for the day of the event!

If you were unable to come this year, we hope to see you next year. We plan to make it an extraordinary event. In the meantime, please consider becoming a member of the Perennial Plant Association. We’d love to see our community of green professionals in our area grow and become a stronger resource for networking, shared ideas and improved business practices. Join HERE.

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.

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?

AAS/PPA Perennial Trial Opens for New Entries

Jun 3, 2015

Are you in the business of breeding perennials? If so, there's a deadline coming up that may interest you:

After almost five years of anticipation, All-America Selections is proud to announce that our long-term perennial trial is now a thing of reality! AAS will be working in partnership on the trials with the Perennial Plant Association (PPA).

The next step is accepting entries for this brand new trial.

This is a very exciting opportunity for your company and your new genetics. For the fee of $1,200 per entry, your new genetics will be trialed at more than 20 diverse locations and evaluated by our non-biased, independent, professional judges. Please note: the usual AAS rules of ‘new, never-before-sold’ will apply in future years but for this first year, we will accept entries that have been introduced within the past 12 months, meaning no earlier than July 1, 2014.

This is a THREE-WINTER trial meaning what you enter in the summer of 2015 will be trialed winter 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 and will be introduced as an AAS Winner summer or fall of 2019.

Please start thinking about which of your breeding work would make a good AAS/PPA perennial entry for 2016-2019. Entries are due July 1. You can download the perennial entry form here.

Any questions should be directed to Diane Blazek, AAS Executive Director.

Cascabela: A Tropical Texas Beauty!

Sep 17, 2014

I spent some time in South Texas this month and loved being surrounded by all the beautiful tropicals that grow in the area. My favorite? This less-than-common apricot form of Cascabela thevetia. Such a beauty! This plant is related to Oleanders and has similar toxcitiy in all parts of the plant...so no munching...

Plant Irises in Fall for Spring Blooms!

Sep 12, 2014

Oh, I just love irises. It's hard not to love plants that are tough-as-nails in our Dallas gardens and look great. So do you have to wait until spring when irises are blooming to plant them? No way! Fall is a much better time to plant irises and when you're bound to find a better selection of variety in the garden centers or online, especially in bare root form. This fall I'll be adding more 'Orange Glaze' to my garden.

Iris 'Thornbird'

Winning Summer Plant Duo

Sep 8, 2014

It's been hot...dang hot! By this time of year, Texas gardens can look a bit worse for wear. Yet, there are a few plants that seem to soldier through, despite the brutal heat and drought. Here's a shot of a duo that makes me smile every time I look out my living room window...

The Texas sage 'Rio Bravo' is still a baby, yet it blooms its head off everytime humidity increases or we get a bit of rain. The 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine has basically engulfed all the surrounding plants, but makes a lovely foudation for the Texas sage. In fact, the sweet potato vine is basically eating my entire driveway. Yet, August is not a month we complain about plants thriving here in Texas. So go ahead you beast of a vine, swallow my driveway!

Garden Tour: What’s in bloom?

Apr 14, 2014

When you're a gardener, every day that makes up the transition from winter to spring is like having a birthday. We can't wait to hit the garden each day to discover emerging bulbs, leaves and blooms. Each new bloom sends the endorphins rushing through our system. Seriously...plants are like a good dose of crack to us plant addicts. I have no plans to kick my habit any time soon. Or ever. smiley

Tulips finished

So what's blooming? Now that the final tulips are exiting stage right, my garden will transition over from what has been a predominance of white flowers to purple. Everything is coming into bloom a bit late this year due to the extended cool temps.

Iris white sm

The white bearded iris are always the first to bloom in my garden and around town. They are always my first official signal that spring has arrived. These beauties will soon be followed by purples and blues.

Scabiosa sm

The butterflies should be showing up in no time now that the Scabiosa (pincushion flower) is peaking out.

Sophora sm

These are the best smelling blooms around! Texas mountain laurel is one of my absolute favorite plants. This is the first time this young plant in my garden has bloomed!

Rose joewoodardsm

'Joe Woodard' rose is just peachy, and the first to crack a bloom this spring. I love this tidy compact bloomer.

Salvia may night

Savia 'May Night' is kicking into gear with some stunning electric purple blooms. The cool temperatures are really amping up the flower colors this spring.

Crossvine sm

All the crossvine has expoded into flower in just the last couple of days. Gorgeous! There's lot's more going on in the garden, but I'll save some for later. What's blooming in your little patch of happiness?


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