Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prairie Plant Profile #3 - Prairie Larkspur

A year ago I started a monthly feature on this blog called Prairie Plant Profile. Each month, I profile a plant in my prairie that has my attention at the moment and describe my experiences with the plant. So a year later, it is time for the second monthly installment of Prairie Plant Profile.

Prairie Larkspur, Delphinium carolinianum, is a perennial wildflower with a range from Texas to Canada and across the southern United States. The flower spikes grow up to 3 feet above the deeply cut leaves that cluster near the ground. It prefers a full to partial sun exposure and well drained soil. Prairie Larkspur blooms over a 3-4 week period between April and June. The leaves usually die to the ground in hot weather. I have not noticed any insect or disease issues with Prairie Larkspur.

My plant has white flowers with just a hint of blue, but there are also plants with solid blue flowers and every shade of blue in between. Botanists once thought the white and blue flowered plants were separate species, but now believe they are the same species.

Here is a look at the leaves at the base of the plant.

The spur at the top of the flower gives the Prairie Larkspur its common name.

Some references indicate that Prairie Larkspur is a short lived perennial. I was concerned that my plant would not see another season because its leaves did not emerge from the soil until late April this spring. Fortunately, it is still alive and blooming, so I should be able to harvest seeds and try to start more plants.

I have not had success germinating the seeds from this plant yet. One year I let the seeds fall naturally around the plant and the second year I harvested the seeds and planted them in early spring. This year, I will plant seeds in the fall and throw some of them in my decomposed granite pathways since seeds for every plant in my prairie seem to germinate with ease in my pathways. Prairie Larkspur seeds can be purchased online at Native American Seed and Prairie Moon Nursery.

Check back in 2012 for the third monthly installment of Prairie Plant Profile.

07-29-11 Update. Oops! This is actually installment #3. I forgot Prairie Plant Profile #2 was Brown-eyed Susan. Click here for a link to that post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Conservancy's Open Days - Dallas Part 2

Earlier this week, I posted pictures from two of the gardens on the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Tour in Dallas. Click here to see that post. Below are highlights from the three remaining gardens. (Odd formatting courtesy of Blogger and my impatience.)

Blue Lotus Gardens in east Dallas is the next stop on the tour. 

The front yard of this garden features large specimen agave, yucca, cacti and various other xeric plants.

A large raised berm is the perfect location for these plants.

I like this water feature in the back yard. The red wall around this bed is decorative...

but it also keeps the resident turtle from straying from its home.

Off to the side of the garden, a corrugated metal mural adds color to the garden and helps screen a large rainwater storage tank.

This bamboo roofed cabana looks like a nice place to relax and enjoy the garden.

Behind the cabana is a vegetable garden and a herb bed, complete with a trunk and night stands. 

I walked by the night stands twice before I realized that they were bee hives, complete with bees!

These fountains and birdbath were repurposed as succulent planters. 

The reason I did not notice the bee hives is because I kept studying the metal fence. I keep bouncing around ideas for privacy fencing around my back yard. I want something that will last longer than wood and metal is under consideration.

A long lotus pool runs along the side of the garage.

This stainless steel bowl is home to goldfish and a tropical waterlily. I bet the water gets warm in the summer sun.

The next stop is the Herndon Garden in north Dallas. Water features and large stepping stones dominate this garden.

The stepping stones leading to the front door are made of concrete with a stamped pattern on top to give a flagstone look.

More of the concrete stepping stones are in the back yard. A pond is in the center of the picture. The steps to the right lead to a sitting area with a fireplace. 

This is a stream that leads to the pond.

Large koi and a red eared turtle call the pond home.

This sturdy looking gate opens to a secluded garden on the side of the house.

This garden features another stream. The sound of falling water fills the space.

This looks like a peaceful place to relax.

The Rister-Armstrong Garden in the Knox-Henderson area was the last stop on the tour. This is another garden that is too formal for my tastes, but the overall layout and integration of architecture, hardscaping and landscaping is amazing.

This is the stonework at entrance to the to the garden. This view is from inside the courtyard area looking out.
The homeowners purchased the property next door to their home and built a garden pavilion and what they refer to as a carriage house, aka, garage. The pavilion is to the left in this photo and the carriage house is straight ahead. The main house is to the right.

One of the many water features in the garden. The main house is in the rear.

This is the sunken lawn in the back yard.

Looking toward the garden pavilion. Inside, the pavilion is set for dining. I walked inside suddenly felt like a bull in a china shop. In the back of my head I could hear my mother saying "Don't touch!" 

Thanks to all for opening your gardens to the public and allowing us the opportunity to borrow your ideas and incorporate them into our own gardens. For another (and more observant) perspective on these gardens, go to Pam Penick's blog, Digging. She is drove up from Austin to tour the gardens with her daughter and is posting a garden a day this week.

The Water-Wise Landscape Tour is coming up Saturday, June 6. This is a free garden tour that features water conserving private landscapes across Dallas, Plano and Coppell, as well as public demonstration gardens and talks. There are almost 30 gardens on this tour, including the Blue Lotus Garden seen above. Click the link above for additional information and garden photos.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden Conservancy's Open Days - Dallas Part 1

The Garden Conservancy's Open Days tour of Dallas gardens was Saturday. Two of the gardens were in Oak Cliff and three were in Dallas. This post will feature the gardens in Oak Cliff and a follow up post will feature the Dallas gardens.

The Munsterman Garden was the first stop. According to tour materials, the owner is a garden contractor. 
The front yard features sun loving plants near the street, including Agave and purple coneflower.

Shade loving plants grow under the large trees near the house.

In the backyard this fence constructed of hog panel and cedar separated the vegetable garden from the rest of the yard. Off to the side of the vegetable garden was a chicken coop. I did not get any other pictures of the backyard because it was so full of people. A flyer on a table indicated that this house would be on the market for sale soon.

Back in the front yard, it appears the owner continued his streetside garden in front of the neighbor's house. I thought the curved copper riser for the sprinkler head was creative. 

The Row and Ramirez Garden is in the historic Kessler Park area.  

The mid-1920s house is surrounded by expansive terraced gardens. The garden is much too formal and labor intensive for my tastes, but it suits the house.

It seemed that there were miles of hedged boxwoods and dwarf yaupon hollies.

These were trimmed in a chainlink design with loropetalum in the center. Off to the right,  the hydrangea on either side of the stairs are shaded by their own umbrellas.

The stairs going up to the front door are lined with potted plants.

This is a water feature near the pool.

This is another water feature at the back of the property. It looks like it could date back to the early days of the house. 

After leaving the fenced area surrounding the house, I walked the sidewalk in front of the house and noticed this feature hidden on the far side of the garden. It looks like Poseidon once presided over a terraced water feature, but now each section is planted with flowers. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


My prairie garden received some refreshing and needed rain today.

By sundown, the clouds were clearing and a rainbow stretched across the eastern sky.

I am fortunate. According to U.S. Drought Monitor, the drought is less intense in this area than any other part of the state.

To the gardeners in the rest of the state and elsewhere in need of rain, I hope you get yours soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Wildflower Week

This week, May 2-8 is National Wildflower Week. As I was thinking about how I could work that into a blog post, I started wondering if the native flowering plants in my prairie garden are still considered wildflowers. Are wildflowers still wildflowers if I buy them at a garden center or a native plant sale? Are they still considered wildflowers when I purposely planted them in my garden? Have I domesticated or tamed the wildflowers when I plant them where I want them to grow and remove them when they try to grow where they want to grow?

OK, I am over-analyzing. Here is a look at some of the wildflowers blooming in my prairie garden this week. 

The yellow flowers of four nerve daisies, Tetraneuris scaposa, are prominent in the front yard prairie. Winecups,  Callirhoe involucrata, add a magenta accent. In the background are the coral flowers of red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, purple flowers of mealycup sage, Salvia farinacea, and the purple-tinged flowers of the Husker Red variety of Penstemon digitalis.

In the background is mealycup sage. I planted purple mealycup sage, but several white flowered plants are beginning to appear on the prairie. In the foreground are more four nerve daisies, chocolate daisies, Berlandiera lyrata, winecup, and black sampson coneflowers, Echinacea angustifolia.

This is a close up of a black sampson coneflower. This plant is also known as narrow leaf coneflower.

The flowers of Mexican hat, Ratibida columnaris, are highly variable from plant to plant. This is the more common red and yellow combination.

This is a less common solid yellow variation.

The flowers of Missouri evening primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa, open in the evening and close the following day. 

Gregg's mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, just started blooming. This is a great butterfly nectar plant, especially for monarch and queen butterflies.

Around in the backyard prairie, more red yucca, mealycup sage, bee brush, Aloysia gratissima, cutleaf daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida, and zexmenia, Wedelia hispida are blooming.

Celebrate National Wildflower Week by planting some wildflowers that are native to your region. They are colorful, easy to grow, conserve water, and are essential to the survival of several species of native bees and butterflies.