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Posts from the ‘perennials’ category

Oxeye Daisy

“Coral Nymph” Pink Sage

This beautiful flower was one of the first things I ever planted in my garden and I couldn’t remember its name.

At first I thought it was some kind of skullcap because I didn’t know anything about plants when I bought it. It kept popping up occasionally in early summer, in the same places where I’d sown Texas Red Sage (Salvia coccinea) seeds. Is this color a naturally-occurring variety of red sage? I don’t know, but it continues to reseed and looks beautiful mingled with its red sisters.

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Briar vine (“Saw greenbriar”)

I’m adding this to my plant list because I battle it often and don’t want to forget the name. If you live in Austin, you probably know this vine, the one that grows unasked in the shade and tangling up your trees; one day you decide to pull it out and in response it attacks you with a sharp cut from one of its very rose-like sharp thorns. Read more

White Aster

February 2009. I was greeted by this flower last fall, nearly five years after living in our house. I had never noticed it before, but this year was full of surprises, in the middle of a drought no less.

A whole ribbon of these appeared on a very shady fenceline near our dog run. Not the prettiest place in the world, but where better to surprise me with Texas wildflowers? I absolutely adore daisies, and so one can imagine I was delighted to have some effortless ones suddenly appear. Read more

Viola ‘Etain’

Update September 2009: They did not live through the Texas summer. Seems like they’d need to be watered daily to survive.

On a trip to Scotland this summer, I was walking by a small cornershop florist in a small village, and in front a lone pot of violas was blooming, labeled “Etain”. I leaned in to smell and was surprised; it was nothing like pansies or annual violas, which often have no fragrance. I had to have one. I almost considered buying it and trying to hide it somewhere in my suitcase home. So you can imagine my excitement when, on a trip to Home Depot to buy house paint, I happened to come across these in the nursery. Just six of them, and I took four. Read more

Sweet Violet

Today I opened my eagerly awaited box of sweet violets, and they are among the last of my fall plantings. After researching them last fall, I found the one nursery in the U.S. that specializes in violets and since I was a little late in their fall delivery season, I waited all year to order them, for fear that a spring planting might be too hard on them. I contented myself in the meantime with experimenting with other fragrant plants I had never tried, like sweet peas and garden pinks.

I have never smelled a sweet violet before, and I suspected they might have the same light fruity fragrance that other violas have. But I was wrong. As I opened the package I could smell a distinct fragrance I had never smelled before. Surprisingly, some of the violets were in bloom, particularly “D’Udine”, a pretty little double violet. Read more

Purple coneflower

This flower needs no introduction. During my first-ever gardening escapade, I sowed Texas wildflower seeds all over my bare back yard (in January!), and native Purple Coneflower was among them. They never came up but the next year I sowed the seeds in a prepared bed in fall. By spring it seemed like hundreds came up. I discarded many and potted many others, giving some away to friends that summer. Read more


There are different types of Oregano, of which the common names can be confusing. A couple different types are called Italian Oregano, or alternately Marjoram. By far, the kind you most often find in your spice jar and the species most often used in Mediterranean cooking is Origanum vulgare, also called Greek Oregano or Wild Marjoram.

Greek Oregano is said to be a little spicier than the kind I am growing, Origanum onites, which the tag called Italian Oregano and which is also commonly called Pot Marjoram. There is also the actual species Marjoram, Origanum majorana. And not to mention an herb known around here as Mexican Oregano, which is not really Oregano at all, but a similarly spiced herb from the verbena family. Read more

Penstemon or Beardtongue

Penstemons are becoming hugely popular in gardens, it seems, and they encompass a wide range of species native to the U.S. Since I first started gardening, I was attracted to foxgloves but haven’t had much success with them so far, as with many perennial cottage garden plants they fare better in cooler summers. I was also on the lookout for spiky tall plants for parts of my garden that needed less sprawly things (I seem to have a lot of sprawliness). I’ve tried Mulleins, foxglove, larkspur. Read more

Purple Passionflower

Do I love, love, love this vine. And I am so proud that something this ridiculously showy could be native to Texas. It has proven to me that wildflowers don’t have to be rustic (and I do like rustic).

After my failures with the Passionflower ‘Incense’, which was repeatedly chomped on by caterpillars, I decided to try another type. This is definitely the more frequently-grown kind, and the showier. Passionflower incense–i.e., passiflora edulis–has smaller leaves, and smaller flowers which are pale purple whose petals sort of fly backwards, rather than splay out. Passionflower incarnata, however, takes over with just a little bit of sunshine.

Seriously, I did not water this plant for 3 months of its first summer, other than the first week it was planted. And did it grow, covering about a 25-foot long fence and starting to climb up our barn. I’m hoping beyond hope that it doesn’t turn into another aggressive vine like trumpet vines, which I’m desperately trying to get rid of and yes, have resorted now to chemical warfare, since the roots go down at least 2 feet and despite Pilates and all my Detroit strength, cannot get down there.

However, I don’t think I’d mind as much if this popped up somewhere else. It it just too pretty to miss, and its effortless care makes one feel rewarded for all the work of keeping things alive in Texas.

And do butterflies love it, and bees, and anything that flies, really. It’s a banquet feast. And for whatever reason, it appears only one or two leaves here and there got eaten… I did see a few Gulf Fritillaries around it but maybe they were lured off to my Passiflora Incense to lay their eggs (which as I write has 2 leaves on it… is still alive, so maybe I’ll keep it on as bait!)