garden gate

We commonly say, “I love the morning glories on the back fence,” but did you know there are over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the world that are called “morning glory”? They are loosely held together in the family called Convolvulaceae and are revered for their beautiful blooms each morning.

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This time of the year, it’s fun to see just what plants are still thriving. My lion’s tail is one of the happiest looking plants around. Not only has it been blooming for months, but also I saw two hummingbirds taking turns on its flowers.

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As we look forward to fall and cooler temperatures, I’ve noticed that the colors of fall flowers for events and the colors of fashion we see in the stores seem to be very similar. That’s not an accident. Fashion often subtly dictates the colors that we use years before we even notice. Colors in our garden, in our “fancy” flower arrangements for weddings and special events, even the colors in our clothing and on the walls of our home, are set into motion years before they look “right” to our eye.

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It was a perfect day in southeast Texas. Beautiful Becki Stedman, “chief” of the weekly farmer’s market on College Street, was in place, smiling and greeting folks coming in for herbs, tomatoes, bread and more. Happily, I learned that the farmer’s market goes on for months more. I scored some veggies and squash blossoms then headed off 10 miles west to China, Texas, to pick up my new puppy and see what’s new in this town of 1,160.

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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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