garden gate

As you drive around town right about now, have you seen the small trees that dot the community with huge blooms of pinks and whites? It is the camellia. And we are lucky to live in a part of the world where we can grow them easily.

This is the perfect time to find a lovely blooming camellia bush or small tree and bring it home with you. The local nurseries have them right now and you can pick your favorite color. You can decide the precise color, shape and size of the flowers.

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Is spring here? Has is sprung yet? It sure seems like it has. This is the very best time of year to clear away those dead winter leaves and make room for fresh, vibrant flowers and plants. It’s time to bring our yards back to life.

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After our month or so of daydreaming and looking at photos about a few fabulous international gardens, it’s about time to get to our own gardens. The winds are still blowing and it’s still a little cold outside, but have you ever thought of starting some plants from seed now? They can be ready to transplant into your yard in a few weeks. And besides, its fun to flip through the seed catalogs.

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Another destination for superb garden inspiration is Normandy on the coast of France. Its rugged beauty and American-loving people make it a great place to visit. From the wind-torn vines and trees on the coastline to hidden interior garden spaces to Mont St. Michel itself with its marshy spaces and super interesting topography, it is a “must see.”

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Well, it could be called “Heaven on Earth” if you like colorful strutting peacocks, huge brugmansias, towering orange trees and large streams cascading into ancient ponds. The Alcazar in Seville, Spain, was built in the 1300s during Europe’s Dark Ages and has managed to thrive. UNESCO made this one-time Moorish palace a World Heritage Site in 1987.

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I do enjoy the winter break from heat and weeds and daily responsibility outside in the yard but really welcome some “inspiration” during these colder months. And what a more perfect place to go for inspiration than the great gardens of the world. Versailles is such a garden. In these stately French green spaces with their topiaries and fountains and lakes, you can just imagine yourself in formalwear with nothing to do but stroll the paths and eat bon-bons.

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roses

If you ever wanted to learn about roses, this is the weekend you have been waiting for! The Golden Triangle Rose Society of Southeast Texas (GTRS) is inviting you to its annual free rose seminar. They are also extending an invite to their regular meetings and annual rose pruning and planting demonstrations in February.

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Now this plant loves cold weather! I never cease to be amazed when big box garden centers have cyclamen for sale in September here in Texas. Yes, sitting next to heat loving flowers, they place these gorgeous cyclamen flowers. November through February is when these beauties thrive in our neck of the woods. They do not like hot climes.

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When it’s been raining and cold, and it’s probably a few months until we can truly enjoy our outdoor spaces, I look for “inspiration”: a trip to Marrakech with its fabulous winter weather or to Seville with the Andalusian water gardens. Possibly the best option is to plan a virtual or real trip to Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France.

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Japanese maple

There are lots of ways to bring color into your yard, but none more beautiful than the Japanese maple. Just look at that beauty! Can we grow them here? You will be glad to know that we can, with just a few caveats.

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