garden gate

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Peter and the rest of us have made peppers the second most popular veggie in the world, second only to the venerable tomato. There is just such a world of colors, shapes and flavors among peppers. Some of us like the sweet while some like the spicy while others like to grow those they can pickle. Grow your own and you can choose just what you want.

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Years ago I started buying plants for the yard, and if I saw it and it was pretty, I bought it. The result was areas full of bits and pieces and mostly flowering little plants that were pretty labor intensive. Then I went to a gardening lecture at our Beaumont Botanical Center where the speaker spoke about a plan for the yard. Crazy talk. He suggested a list of attributes that you would want in any plant in your yard. He also talked about the possibility of using no flowers at all in your landscape!

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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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Remembering the color wheel in art class, there is a whole section with my favorite colors of the hottest pink, neon orange and brightest yellow. Those colors just make you feel so great. Color can be exciting or soothing. In my mind, there is always a place outdoors for an area that looks like a party is ready to happen.

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hibiscus

Just look at that beautiful bloom! I can always count on my hibiscus to give me a jolt of color in the yard. Not only are they easy to grow, but they also tolerate our summer weather. And you say they are edible, too?

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eggplant

Our cup runneth over this time of year! Recent trips to our farmers market and local stands has my kitchen counters laden with huge quantities of fruits and vegetables. I can’t help myself! I’m finding myself looking up those recipes from last summer about canning and freezing and drying. Not everyone likes eggplant as much as I do, but it could be thought of as an art installation. Just look at those purple and white beauties.

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Governor’s mansion in historic Quapaw

Herb enthusiasts from Texas and all over the United States met in Little Rock, Arkansas, from May 4-7 for the annual meeting and educational conference. Many from the Beaumont area were in attendance. Highlights of the conference included a presentation by P. Allen Smith and tour of his Moss Mountain farm, trip to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, dinner at the governor’s mansion, and presentations by many well-known herbal experts.

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I had the great pleasure of talking with a real local farmer recently. I first met William Perego at the festive Saturday morning farmer’s market on College Street by the tennis courts a couple of weeks ago. William and his wife, Lori, live in Kirbyville and are pretty popular up that way this time of year. They farm acres of land and produce quite an inspirational variety of produce. If they have just too much of something some weeks, they give the extra to the local nursing homes. William says, “I make sure to keep the local widow women with some produce, too.”

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tomato

Maybe I like to grow tomatoes because they are so quirky. Maybe its because I can grow whatever weird kind of tomato I’d like to eat rather than pick from those limited options at the grocery store. I pulled some delicious red ones off the vine this morning and sliced them to go onto toast. Life can’t get much better than that.

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I’ve walked through many a furniture store trying to find just that ‘right’ area rug to inspire the rest of the room.  Certain colors just make me happy and others bring me a sense of calm while others just don’t do a thing at all.   Your outdoor room can inspire you in just the same way.  Why would you want a yard that makes you snooze?  Choosing the colors that you find appealing when you are outdoors at your home are just as important as what you see inside.

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