flowers

This beauty is a perfect addition to your yard. The shrimp plant has a rather sophisticated botanical name: Justicia brandegeeana. It was named after the American botanist Townsend Stith Brandegee (1843-1925) according to an interesting article titled “Reiman Gardens” in the Iowa State University blog. The species is indigenous to Mexico, where it was discovered. Brandegee is given credit for bringing many beautiful and hardy Mexican plants to the U.S. Your grandma may have called the shrimp plant “false hop” or “Mexican shrimp.”

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Yes, it is that wonderful time of the year again when those green leaves in the trees surprise us with how much they grow every day, and birds just everywhere with their antics. And we are getting very busy in the yard. It can even be overwhelming. Hopefully, you have clipped dead branches and prepared a little section of your yard for growing some new little seedlings, even if it is some pots with brand new potting soil.

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I can’t resist the temptation to buy those beautiful “about to flower” bulbs in the nurseries and big box stores this time of year. Can you? They tease us with such a variety of colors and flowers and fragrances that it is almost impossible to say no.

Most all of these bulbs have been “forced” to bloom, and are called “winter forced.” Some of them bloom indoors for us and nowhere else. But lately I’ve had some luck with transplanting those bulbs to an outdoor spot. What do you have to lose?

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Keeping your garden looking its best throughout the growing season and into fall is possible with the help of low maintenance bulbs planted in the spring. Plant them among other annuals or perennials and watch as these bulbs brighten the garden, adding new life to your late season gardens.

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Some plants are just plain pretty. The Persian shield (Strobilanthes) got its name from that sheen on the leaf that gives it a sort of metallic look. The leaves are so iridescent that it truly is as showy as a blooming flower. Gardeners in the North and South and all in between love this delightful tropical shrub. It has amazing purple foliage. It will also produce pale purple flowers. Put it in garden beds, borders or containers. Just think of this striking plant next to some purple Bordeaux “Supertunias.”

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When most of the other flowering plants in your yard are gasping for air, the bougainvillea is just hitting its stride. They start smiling and blooming like crazy when there isn’t much water, when the sun is too hot and when you can barely walk barefoot on your concrete sidewalk.

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Not many plants, trees or flowers can boast that they bloom continuously for months on end. But the vitex can! It is a sure-fire winner for your yard. This purple bloomer is an excellent choice for our smaller, modern suburban landscapes.

You may know this small tree or bush by other names. Some folks call this specimen tree a “chaste tree.” I’ve also heard it called Hemp tree, sage tree, Indian Spice tree and monk’s pepper. It is native to China and India but became a “resident” of America hundreds of years ago.

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Photo by Stephanie Reger

Every few years, I torture myself and attempt to grow one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. My object of sure disappointment is the peony. But aren’t they just gorgeous!

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the peony is a flowering plant of the genus Paeonia. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. Peony experts can attest to around 40 or so species of this most lovely flower. They are among the most popular garden plants in some regions, but alas, not easy to grow here.

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Magnolia flower

The Magnolia Garden Club is hosting its biannual flower and horticulture show with the theme, “Birds & Blooms,” at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET) April 5-6. The show is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6. Admission is free.

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