garden gate

The creeping phlox (phlox subulata) is such a beautiful flowering groundcover. She is a true gem in our spring garden. Those yummy blooms are sweetly fragrant, as well. Deer don’t usually go for this creeper, and it’s drought tolerant if you forget to water some weeks.

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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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Calla lily

Just the name, “calla lily” sounds beautiful.  And its blooms are some of the most striking of all flowers.  The calla is neither a “Calla” nor a “lily” but accidently incorrectly named by the famous Carl Linnaeus, and the name stuck. Some smaller florists’ varieties of this bulb are better as houseplants but we can grow the larger varieties outside.  This perennial bulb must be dug up and stored in cold zones but here they are hardy enough to last through our winters and surprise us year after year.   

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Baby zinnia grown from seed

I just can’t think of any gardening that is more fun than growing from seed. That is, of course, when the outcome is what you expect. There are some simple ways to make seed growing a good experience. When you can master “the seed,” you can start your garden earlier in the season, have plants that are unique and make sure that everything is grown organically. 

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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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I find home remedies fascinating. They usually work so well that the ideas have been passed down from great-grandparents. They don’t cost much, if anything, and they are just downright interesting. We want our gardens to thrive, not just limp along. Farmers did well with no purchased pesticides for hundreds of years, so maybe we can too?

Spray to deter bugs 

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Swiss chard

Quiz question of the day: What is one vegetable that you would grow in the garden to eat and use as a low, decorative hedge in the front yard? One of the best answers would be Swiss chard. It is just beautiful! Just look at those brightly colored stems and thick, crinkled leaves. This photo was taken in front of a restaurant in Houston. Chard’s colorful stems and bright green leaves make it the single most glamorous garden green. It is super nutritious, too.

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Our occasional freeze makes it pretty tricky to grow citrus on a grand scale here in Southeast Texas, but large scale operations did exist at one time in Beaumont, Orange, Beeville and Falfurrias.

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Yes, my front porch is dressed with a few poinsettias, and I have holly in respectable places around the house, but my true passion is Christmas cactus. Let me clarify, the enjoyment comes in getting this seasonal cactus to survive 11 months of the year and then bloom right about now. A beautiful Cuban friend of mine has a pink Christmas cactus that has been blooming annually for 15 or more years. It was her mom’s, so she is proud to see it flower every Christmas season.

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