Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Meadow Take One

In a picturesque (ahem) corner of my garden, I am attempting to create a wildflower meadow. The meadow is located in the eastern corner of my property where there is no irrigation, so whatever grows has to grow on it's own with little help from me.  

Post oaks, which are barely making it in this drought, stand at the edges of my meadow.  An ornamental wind mill that sits in the middle of the meadow, hopefully, announces that something more than a weed fest is going on out there. 

After an incredibly dry fall, I had completely written off the meadow for this year.  It didn't look like any of my seeds were going to germinate.  Contrast this to other parts of my garden, where self-seeded plants were running amok.  

The purple flowered, Lyre Leaf Sage (salvia lyrata) and red flowered, Scarlet Sage (salvia coccinea) pictured below are free seeding plants that will spread quickly if not kept in check. Maybe I'll put some of these in my meadow.

In an effort to have some flowering plants in my sad little meadow, I purchased five blooming Indian Paintbrush in four inch pots and planted them in the meadow.  Coincidentally, while planting my transplants, I found that there was actually one little paintbrush that volunteered of it's own accord.  With any luck these six Indian Paintbrush will produce seeds for next year's flowers.

One day, when my husband was itching to mow down my meadow, I decided to venture out in search of any redeeming value the meadow might hold. From a distance it looked like a weedy mess and I was having a hard time justify it's existence in my own mind.  Maybe it was time to mow and call it quits for this year.

To my surprise, I found something more than just weeds.  There were flowers, pretty flowers, trying to make it among the taller weedy plants and grasses.  

This was not the big show of wildflowers that I was hoping for, but I'm not disappointed. 

If you look closely and take pleasure in small things, even a weedy meadow can hold a few surprises.

Herbertia lahue

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lovely Lavender

Lavender is best known for it's fabulous scent, but I would gladly grow Spanish lavender even if it had no fragrance at all.  

Spanish Lavender, Lavandula stoechas, is a sun loving perennial that forms a 2 foot tall shrubby mound.  This plants blooms profusely is the spring and then keeps on going.

The big surprise to me is that Spanish Lavender does not need full, all-day sun to thrive.  I tried to grow this plant in a full sun area with limited irrigation and it did not do well.  I currently have it growing in a southern exposure under the outer branches of a red bud tree.  The location is protected from both morning and afternoon sun, and this seems to be working quite well.

Fernleaf Lavender, Lavandula multifida, is growing close by in another bed.  This plant is not as cold hardy as the Spanish Lavender and freezes back to the ground nearly every year.  It has come back reliably for the past 3 winters.  This past winter it hardly died back at all and started blooming again at the first sign of spring.

In my garden, Fernleaf Lavender, is growing in a north eastern exposure.  I have 3 plants which are just far enough from the eave of the house to miss out being shaded from the mid-day sun, but some tall trees protect the plants from harsh afternoon rays.

Last December just before the first freeze, I collected up all the Fernleaf Lavender flowers and dried them.  They make excellent sachets.

In Central Texas, plants don't always grow in accordance with the plant tags.  Many plants, including these lovely lavenders, appreciate and can do with less sun than you might think.  Now that I know the secret to growing lavender in my garden, you can bet I'll be adding more.