Gardening: Consider These Plants For Your Landscape

Most oleanders have frozen to the ground in North Texas and we likely won't see flowers on them until 2022.

Most oleanders have frozen to the ground in North Texas and we likely won’t see flowers on them until 2022.

Special at the Star-Telegram

I was scrolling through the 32,000 photos on my phone a few days ago and found a few that I really intended to share with you as I took them. But something else came up – probably a bigger story or a flashier photo, and so there the photos ended up in the traffic jam.

I’ve got a few out for you now. Most wouldn’t have enough substance to make an entire column, but maybe they can reinforce each other and make everything look like it’s worth your attention. And it will get eight photos from my camera. (It’s a beginning.)

Agarita. This plant is not very publicized. After all, it’s as thorny as a roll of barbed wire. It grows slowly and, when fully grown, is only 3 or 4 feet tall. But it’s a tough old plant that grows in arid southwest Texas, where rattlesnakes and prickly pears are its neighbors. It blooms in late winter / early spring, and it bears fruit that birds love – in fact, I even ate agarita jelly. It’s a sister of the mahonias, nandinas, and barberries, and frankly, it should be planted a lot more often.

Kaleidoscope abelia. I’m a standard shiny abelia fan. It is a tall, arching shrub that is suitable for all of Texas, both for climate and soils. It’s an intensely variegated shape that stays short (about 3 feet tall). It colors best almost in full sun, although a little shade from the mid-afternoon sun in summer is a good plan. Give it a highly organic planting soil and keep it constantly moist. Its precautionary margin of error is just a little narrower than its standard big sister.

Redbud Gold Hearts. There has been a wave of interesting redbuds in the market over the past 20 years. It is one of the most amazing. It has the typical redbud growth habit and leaf shape as well as the normal redbud flower color, but its new growth is a bright lemon yellow. The many well-groomed specimens I see on my daily trips look great all spring and summer, and this comes from a guy who usually doesn’t lean towards the variegated foliage. This one is so eye-catching.

Pink and red laurels. There is nothing special about the varieties in this case. It’s just that my photo brought back good memories. For most of us in and around Fort Worth and Dallas, our oleanders froze to the ground. Most are coming back strongly, but we won’t see any flowers on them until 2022 at the earliest. And it depends on what is going on this winter, also on how much new growth the old plants are rejecting.

Spores on the back of a holly fern flyer. When I was a teenager I had a plant stand in the local IGA supermarket in Bryan. One day the store called me to tell me that a lady had brought back all my holly ferns, upset and demanding a refund. She had actually cut off all the leaves because there were bugs on the back of the leaves. But, in reality, his plants were very healthy. They were just spores – the reproductive stage that all vigorous ferns will go through. It’s normal. Certainly nothing to worry about. And certainly no reason to destroy your ferns, whatever the type.

Different types of plants with pink polka dots. It’s crazy what hybridizers have done with this plant. It was an unremarkable pink (or white) speckled foliage plant that you would occasionally see in greenhouses. Now, however, it’s available in a wide range of reds, pinks, and whites, and it’s used both in beds and in patio pots, often in dramatic combinations of flowers and foliage. It grows best in the sun until mid-morning, then in bright shade the rest of the day. Proven Winners has a selection called Hippo Pink Polka Dot Plant which has won 30 major awards.

Dwarf Chinese holly with berries. I took this photo at our own front door. These plants have been growing there for 44 years, and they never bore fruit until they were six or seven years ago. In fact, I always knew that dwarf Chinese holly was a male selection so it could never have fruit. A seasoned nurseryman was with us a few days ago and he noticed the green fruits on our shrubs saying, “I’ve never seen this on dwarf Chinese holly before. But they were there.

Purple butterfly spotted with red. I photographed this tropical beauty on our porch earlier this week. That’s its real name, or if you prefer, it’s Limenitis arthemis. The reference I read after being able to identify it says that it is “not an abundant species” and that it normally lives high in the forest canopy, coming to the ground mainly to feed and sip puddles of water. water and stream banks – neither had on our porch. But we were happy to welcome him to our home.

You can hear Neil Sperry on KLIF 570AM on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on WBAP 820 on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Join him on and follow him on Facebook.

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Terri S. Tomasini