Falling in Love with the Fall Garden Center

I had to be in Wichita Falls today for an appointment. So before coming home, I made a stop at Smith Gardentown. What a treat! I love to visit garden centers, farms and nurseries at all times of the year. This time I was just looking and trying to get ideas for Christmas for the various horticulturalists and ornithologists in my life.

I drove up and instantly loved the place because there were ducks on the pond, Canada geese grazing and little garden statues of pigs.

Canada geese!
A little concrete piggy for the Kentucky Pig!

I love to visit farms and nurseries in the fall because it shows me what plants look like in the fall – whether the foliage is colorful, evergreen or if a deciduous plant has pretty bark.

Little Henry will be a definite addition to my garden. Beautiful spring blooms, beautiful fall foliage!
Opuntia Prickly Pear-- Thornless!

In the hustle bustle of the spring some plants get overlooked, like this really cool cacti! A prickly pear without the prickles.

Then there are the perennial favorites … a Shumard Oak. I have one just like this in my front yard and this photo reminds me why … It’s beautiful and well adapted for our area.

Shumard oak tree -- excellent tree for North Texas.

A place with a friendly cat that comes meowing for affection is always a good sign. Two cats who are friendly and want attention and are neutered means that the people here care for lots of living things – not just plants.

This cat chased me down so that I could pet it.
Kitty #2 sleuthed across the patio to get a scratch.
Swiss Chard-- excellent for the fall kitchen garden. I think this is the "neon lights" seed mix.
Mixed pansies ... happy pansy faces.
Some of the greatest rose gifts are the blooms in the fall.

The garden center is always a good place to get gift ideas for the gardener. Look at these beautiful garden globes. We can just file that under the “pretty-stuff-momma-can-never-have-because-she-has-a-boy-and-a-dog-that-is-OCD-with-spheres.”

I can never have pretties like this ...
Cloche terrarium ... nice coffee table gift for the gardener.
A flag for everyone (at least in my divided house).
Bird feeders and houses for all the little finches in your life.
Happy pansy face, y'all!

Perennial Favorites and Bad Dogs

Perennial Favorites and Bad Dogs
I was just writing about spring and how I love to watch things grow … and it’s even cooler to see perennials emerging from their winter slumber. 
Half the time I forget I’ve planted them, then I will start to see this little bit of green peeking out.  After an investigation, I realize it’s not a weed, but a perennial. 
This is a lilly -- not sure which kind yet.

Love perennials … they are more expensive than annuals, but if you select the right varieties for your area, you will be able to enjoy them year after year. 

I personally try to have a good mix of perennials and annuals.  One of my most favorite annuals of all time is the pansy. 

Happy Pansy Face

Look at this pretty, happy pansy face!  Fortunately where I live, I can plant pansies in the fall and they will usually overwinter then grow all spring until the end of April.  Then I rip them out and replace them with something more heat tolerant.

 This is Mexican sage, a hearty perennial.

Mexican Sage waking up from a long winter's Siesta

Sometimes I find this in the garden… bad dog … if you can’t tell by the photo,  my dog Ruby, dug in the flower bed and dislodged this beautiful specimen of Mexican Sage. 

Bad dogs dig in the flower beds

I love Mexican sage for my particular area, because it’s hardy and blooms continuously, it can withstand the hot Texas sun and summer, and requires very little watering.

Mexican sage in full bloom -- pretty!

This is a variegated sedum, another hearty perennial that can grow just about anywhere in the U.S.

Variegated sedum, aka striped sedum
Verigated sedum in its full bloom, in the late summer or early fall.

 What’s the difference?

Annuals complete their lifecycle in one growing season, meaning that an annual plant can grow from seed to maturation (seed reproduction) in one season—snap dragons, petunias and pansies. Generally most garden vegetables are annuals.

Perennials have an ongoing lifecycle, meaning they come back every year after a period of dormancy. Trees and shrubs are good examples, but other flowers are salvia, daisies, sedums and chrysanthemums. Some perennials are grown as annuals in northern climates because they are not cold-hardy.  A good example of this is dusty miller. It’s a perennial where I live, but in Kansas and north, it’s not hardy enough to overwinter.     

BTW … for those of you North Texas gardeners out there, we are coming up on our last average killing-frost dates this week and next.  For more info contact your local Texas county extension agent– they know all the scoop for your county’s growing particulars. (PS– if you live in a different state they have extension offices too).

The bad dog ... Looking very pretty on a spring day at the "Goat Ranch." (there aren't any goats, btw).