October’s Garden

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Coral vine with two bumble bees by the new blue gate-trellis.

Honestly, September got away from me.  I’m not sure where it went, but I know much of my time was spent watering plants because it hardly rained here despite rain falling all around us.

On the sunny side, because there was no rain, I was able to get several projects completed.  For example, I scraped and painted my used & rusty patio table and four chairs. I’m very pleased with the outcome considering the bad shape these were in.

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I also ordered three boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens ‘Skywalker’) from Park Seed and have planted one.  I’m using one of these to screen part of my backyard from the new deck my neighbor, John, built.  The other two boxwoods will be planted by another area of the fence that needs screening. I’m still planning to put up lattice and privacy flags as the boxwoods will take awhile to get big.

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This particular boxwood has a tall conical shape.

I’m also painting two gates that will eventually become trellises.

Below are two “befores” of my unpainted gate:

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And here are two “afters” of the one I’ve finished:

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A few weeks ago, I found a lantern by the curb on Garbage Day.  It had no glass and was rather scuffed.  I decided the lantern was a good candidate for use in the garden, and here are the results:

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I used hardware cloth to replace the glass and mounted the lantern on one of my fence posts, which I painted black.  Just today, I added a black cast iron plant hook to the post.  More photos to come at a later date.

Finally, despite the fact that my garden is still in its infancy, I’m proud to say I do have a few plants in bloom this month:

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Above: Butterfly weeds (Variety unknown.  These were cuttings given to me by a neighbor.)

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Antique rose, Mrs. Dudley Cross, above.

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Autumn aster purchased last fall at the Stephen F. Austin University plant sale.

As Bugs Bunny would say, “That’s All Folks!”  Happy blogging!






Friends don’t Give Friends Mexican Petunias

I’ve wanted to post for the last three days, but life got in the way.  You know how that is…protest property taxes, grocery shop, mow, murder plants, etc…

So, first let me give you a small tour of what my garden looks like.  All photos were taken this morning.


This was the general view of my garden (coffee in hand) from the deck this morning.

Almost without fail, I check my baby plants every morning, usually in my night clothes.


Baby hyssop planted two days ago.  He/She should look like this when all grown up.


Baby butterfly weed, a very slow grower, but appears healthy.


Baby foxglove. Should look like this as an adult.


Baby ‘Red October’ bluestem grass.  Believe it or not, these are my favorite babies. I know–mothers aren’t supposed to have favorites.

And now let’s move away from the baby plant crib.


Second year red hollyhock in the veggie patch. These are biennial so unless it re-seeds, I’ll need to plant it again.  Notice all of the bare earth?  I weeded!


Colorful photo of my mulched path on the south side of the yard.

By now you’re probably wondering, what the heck do any of these photos have to do with Mexican petunias? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to give you an update on my garden.

In the early 1990’s, “Mexican ruellia” (Ruellia brittoniana) also know as Mexican petunia was  considered a great plant for central Texas.  They were hardy, easy to grow, pretty, attracted wildlife, and self-seeded.  What more could one want in a plant?

My husband and I dutifully planted three.  I shudder when I think about this today.  Who needs a lawn when you have Mexican petunia?

When my then boss bought a new house and said she had a black thumb, I offered her several Mexican petunias.  I told her they were foolproof; that she could not kill them.  I was right.

Fast forward to the here and now, I would never in a million years plant tall Mexican petunias nor would I ever offer them to a friend, and yes, they grow in east Texas too.

If a Mexican petunia could get inside your house, it would grow in the dirt between your floor boards or in the dust on your furniture.  The word, invasive, doesn’t do this plant justice.

Some 15 years after I’d left my former job, I ran into my former boss in the supermarket and in the course of our conversation, I asked her about the Mexican petunias.  In answer, she rolled her eyes.  Oh, yes, she still had them.  (I knew this would be her answer because once you have them, you need dynamite and some serious prayer to get rid of them.)

How does this relate to my garden today? When I first moved in, a woman I know gave me several pass-along plants from her garden.  One was a Seven Sisters rose and the other a Four o’Clock, Mirabilis jalapa.

As a fairly seasoned gardener, I already knew about the bad habits of Four O’Clocks.  There are several sites on the web with the title, “How to Grow Four O’Clocks”.  There needs to be a counter site with the title, “How NOT to grow Four O’Clocks” because like ruellias, once you have them you won’t NOT have them.

I put the Four o’clock she gave to me in a large pot, and I diligently pull up the babies it makes each spring, but I had no previous experience with the Seven Sisters rose.

The Seven Sisters rose also reminds me of Mexican petunias. Invasive?  Oh My Goodness!  In less than six months, this baby rose had canes with roots 8 feet from its original planting site, plus in the two years I’ve grown it, it did NOT bloom.  Not once.

In my innocence, I’d never grown a Multiflora rose.  The woman who gifted it to me said this rose was a cutting from one her father grew on his farm “way-back-when”.

I wish I’d taken a photo of it before I killed it, but alas, I didn’t.  Two days ago, as much as I hated to do it, I cut the thorny creature to the ground, removed its invasive on-the-ground canes, and applied an herbicide to its stump, which is something I’ve only used once on poison ivy. I consider myself for the most part to be an organic gardener.

Had I left this rose, it might have choked me while I slept, kind of like this vine is choking my scarecrow.


Native Snailseed vine on my Lady of the Garden.

And that’s MY Story.

Have you ever grown an invasive plant and lived to regret it?  I’d love to know.