Cara Burk

Posts by g15n20b

White Autumn Sage – Salvia Greggii “Alba”

White Autumn Sage – “Alba” is a marvelous Texas native, that also goes by the common name “Texas Wedding”.  It is perennial, and blooms all year long.  It can be used in a border, as a blooming perennial, and can also function as a small-to-medium shrub.

If you use it as a shrub, you will need to plan on pruning it regularly so that it puts on lots of foliage, and stays green, and compact in form.

Plant White Autumn Sage – “Alba” – near your patio, by the entrance to your home, or along a pathway where you can enjoy it’s lovely fragrance.  The snapdragon-like blooms attract butterflies and bees to your garden.

Growing Conditions:

Light requirement:  Full sun, partial sun

Water use:  Low

Soil moisture:  Dry

Type of soil:  Well-draining; sandy, rocky/gravelly

Plant Characteristics:

Family:        Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee)

Genus:         Salvia (SAL-vee-uh)

Species:       greggii (GREG-ee-eye)

Duration:    Perennial / Shrub

Habit:          Shrub

Size:             Up to 5′ tall, 2-4′ wide

Care and Maintenance

We have had Autumn Sage “Alba” in our gardens since 2008 and they have never stopped blooming.  This is a terrific plant for North Texas.  You can virtually ignore this plant and still have beautiful blooms.

If you want to allow it to form a natural shape, and allow it to grow to full size (about 5′ tall and 3-4′ wide), you will only need to cut it back a couple times a year.  Spring and fall will be sufficient.

For a more compact, or trained shape, you can prune your Autumn Sage by up to 1/3 of it’s overall size every few months.  Just watch for new growth — of foliage and blooms — before you prune again.  (New growth is how you know your plant has recovered from the prior pruning session.)

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Blackfoot Daisy

A compact mounding, evergreen Texas native with fragrant, white, daisy-like blooms that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Growing Conditions:

Light requirement:  Full sun, partial sun

Water use:  Low

Soil moisture:  Dry

Type of soil:  Well-draining; sandy, rocky/gravelly

Plant Characteristics:

Family:         Asteraceae  (as-ter-AY-see-ee)

Genus:          Melampodium (mel-am-POH-dee-um)

Species:        leucanthum (loo-KAN-thum)

Duration:      Perennial

Habit:           Herb

Size:             Up to 1′ tall, 1-3′ wide

Care and Maintenance

In North Texas, Blackfoot Daisy will bloom most of the year.

Keep your plant tidy, and covered with blooms by cutting it back by several inches — overall — every few months from March through September.  (So, 4 or 5 times at least, through the warmest months).

If we have a warm winter, too, your plant may need to be cut back once or twice during the months from October through February.  Watch the weather forecast, though.  Do not prune your Blackfoot Daisy before predicted extreme cold weather, ice, freezing rain, or snow.

Once it is established in your landscape, BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO OVER WATER THIS PLANT.  It does NOT like to be watered every day.  It is a drought-tolerant, true Texas native, and does not need to be watered except if we have extreme drought conditions.

THIS PLANT WILL NOT DO WELL IN A LOCATION THAT IS WATERED WITH A SPRINKLER OR DRIP SYSTEM ON A DAILY BASIS.

 

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Chinaberry Tree – a NON-native to avoid

This is a shot of the Chinaberry Tree displaying its winter interest — the dried berries which are a golden tan color and remain all through the winter here in North Central Texas.

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While these trees can look quite spectacular against a leaden winter sky, they are not native to the United States and have become quite invasive in the Southern states. They crowd out native trees, drop their blooms and seeds freely, and the birds distribute those seeds everywhere they go.

Unfortunately, the Chinaberry Tree is still sold in nurseries — even though it is listed as an invasive species at http://www.texasinvasives.org/.

It’s latin name is Melia azedarach and it is known by quite a few other common names including Bead Tree, Pride of India, Pride of China, Umbrella Tree,  and Persian Lilac.

At Burk’s Nursery & Garden, we will never sell the Chinaberry Tree because it is a non-native and because it is also invasive in Texas. We highly recommend that you avoid buying or planting this tree and — if you already have it in your landscape — we strongly suggest you remove it, or have it removed.

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Purple Heart – a winner in sun or shade!

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The tiny lavender-pink blooms of Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida) add charm and whimsy to the spring, summer and fall Texas garden.

This variety (above) has deep purple stalks and foliage with a lavender-pink blossom. Although Purple Heart will usually die back to the ground after a hard freeze, I have seen it bloom during our milder winters, especially if you have it in a location where it gets protection from north winds and can get good sun (4-6 hours a day) during the colder months.

Purple Heart will do well in sun or partial shade, but needs at least a few hours of direct or dappled sun each day to thrive. The solid purple variety (above) will be a deeper purple when in a shadier location. The color lightens to a medium purple when in a full sun spot in the garden.

The other variety we grow and offer for sale is green and purple variegated with the same charming lavender-pink flower.

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The variegated Purple Heart also does well in either full sun or partial shade. The variegation will be more green when it gets lots of sun and more purple when it gets mostly shade.

Both varieties of Purple Heart do well in containers for the patio, and in hanging baskets. Although it is non-native, it is well-adapted for North Central Texas, is not invasive, and adds interesting color and texture to your garden or outside living area.

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Catnip – not just for cats

Catnip, or catmint (Nepeta cataria) is a lovely plant to add to a sunny location in your North Central Texas garden. It is drought tolerant, bloom consistently (even during milder winters), and attracts  beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies.

100_2029 As you might guess from it’s common name, catmint is a member of the mint family and can be used to make a soothing, bedtime tea.  (However, we strongly recommend that you do your research before making tea with this plant. We do not recommend any particular dosages and this post is not meant to offer medical or homeopathic advice).

The dried leaves can also be used in cat toys. The plant can also be enjoyed by your outdoor cat. Ours LOVES her catnip plant!

Here is another shot of the dainty flower stalks:

 

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Catmint/catnip will need to be replaced every few years, as it is a biennial plant. However, you can collect seed, which is easily started, or you can allow it to self-seed when you plant your original plant.

Be aware that catmint / catnip can be invasive — as are all members of the mint family. To solve this, you can use the “bottomless pot” method when you plant it:

  • Cut the bottom out of a plastic pot that is large enough to give your plant plenty of room to grow.
  • Dig your planting hole and situate the bottomless plastic pot in the hole with the rim at ground level.
  • Plant your catnip / catmint inside the bottomless pot.

100_2030The plant shown above was potted in our yard two years ago using the “bottomless pot” method and we have had NO problems with it spreading.

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Purple Coneflower – a gorgeous Texas native

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This is one of our stunning coneflowers from earlier this summer.  Purple coneflower makes a great cut flower, attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, and is a carefree perennial for your North Central Texas garden.

Echinacea purpurea is a true Texas native and is beautiful naturalized in fields and prairies, as well as in the urban garden. It has an upright growth habit but needs to be pruned to keep from drooping over. Feel free to harvest blooms all summer — this will keep your plant tidy and you won’t have to give it support to keep it upright.

100_2006Purple Coneflower will re-grow from the root each spring, but you can also collect seed and start some in flats, if you want to have more plants. BUT BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU HARVEST THE SEED HEADS. WHEN THEY ARE DRY THEY ARE VERY SHARP AND POINTY. (I have even drawn blood when I jammed my finger into one of the seed heads).

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Gray Santolina — a unique & interesting plant

Gray Santolina (latin: Santolina chamaecyparissus) is a terrific plant to add to a sunny spot in your landscape. It has a mounding growth habit and is evergreen here in North Central Texas.

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Although it is native to the Mediterranean, we have had great success with it in our full sun summer garden. Gray Santolina is drought tolerant and prefers a sandy or gravelly location. They will, however, tolerate clay if they are not constantly standing in water. Too much irrigation will kill Gray Santolina.

If you want to add silvery, gray-greens to your color scheme, with the added bonus of an interesting texture, Gray Santolina is a great choice. Some customers have commented that it looks like coral, and I must say I agree!

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Keeping your Gray Santolina in a compact mound is easy, as they tolerate pruning very well. Just remember the rule: never prune more than 1/3 of the plant during a single pruning session. (Note that there ARE exceptions to this rule, but they are rare).

Gray Santolina also blooms. Once your plant has been in the ground for a couple years, you can expect yellow, button-shaped flowers held aloft above the gray-green foliage. The plant blooms in the spring and — once the blooming period is over — you should prune all the dead blooms and stalks so you have a nice, neat mound of foliage again.

Gray Santolina has a number of common names: Ground Cypress, Petite Cypress, Holy Herb and — the most interesting — “Lavender Cotton” (don’t ask me why — there is absolutely nothing lavender about this plant…)

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Carolina Cherry Laurel – foliage & uses

As a follow up to our post last month, the Carolina Cherry Laurel is a gorgeous evergreen tree with glossy foliage, tiny fragrant white blooms in spring, and dark berries that the birds love.

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In addition to being useful in your Texas landscape as a lovely small tree, the Carolina Cherry Laurel works wonderfully to screen ugly fences or to provide year-round privacy. This picture shows one growing at our back fence.

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This tree does a great job of blocking the backside of our neighbor’s wood fence, as well as providing a nesting spot for the tiny finches that make their home in these small trees.

Here is a close-up of the same tree, showing what a terrific job it does of screening ugly views and providing privacy.

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Carolina Cherry Laurel – a beautiful southern native

Carolina Cherry Laurel is a lovely, evergreen small tree or large shrub which performs beautifully in North Central Texas. It’s latin name is Prunus caroliniana and it grows naturally throughout the Southern United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Texas.

Here is a group of 3 trees growing in our yard. I’ve included Miss Kitty in the picture for scale. These trees vary in height from 8-1/2 to 12 feet.

Large bush_optHere is another which we keep severely trimmed so it can grow at our gate but still allows us to go through with a full wheelbarrow. This specimen (the photo on the left) is about 6 feet tall and only extends from the fence about 1 foot.

The photo on the right shows the same tree, but you can see that the growth is open, airy and very pretty against a chain link fence. The tree is shaped to a width of about 4 feet.

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Texas native plants — tough, water-wise, drought-tolerant and beautiful

Looking for plants here in Arlington, Texas but not sure what to buy?

It will be worth a few minutes of your time to learn about the benefits of planting Texas natives in your yard. First, Texas natives can stand up to the sizzling summers and still look beautiful.

They don’t need as much water (after the first month, while they get established) as non-native plants.

Most will come back, year after year, and you won’t have to buy new plants every year.

What could be better than that?!

 

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