Devon on October 13th, 2012

The genus name means flower of love, from the Greek agape (meaning love) and anthos (meaning flower). Agapanthus have long, fleshy leaves that form dense clumps of evergreen or deciduous foliage. Tall stems tower above, bearing heads of bell-shaped or tubular flowers, in shades of blue, purple or white. In frost-free climates, flowers of evergreen varieties appear over a long season; in cooler zones, summer is the principal flowering season. Agapanthus ranges in height from 6 inches for dwarf forms, while giants can be up to 6 feet! Here are a few of my favorite varies:

peter1) Peter Pan Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Petter Pan’) Evergreen miniature variety forming the most compact of all the agapanthus. Foliage mounds to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Mid-blue flowers on spikes to 12 inches tall. Flowers in mid-summer. Dry, well drained soils, full sun, zones 7-10.

snowwhite2) Snow White Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Snow White’) Prolific flowering variety. Lush strap foliage mounds are covered all spring & summer with pure-white flowers on a stalk to about 2 feet tall.

plenus3) Full Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus praecox ‘Plenus’) A true sterile form which does not produce a seed pod. Broad strap leaves happy in sun or shade. In early summer a short flower spike develops to about 2 feet and deep-ish blue double petalled flowers emerge from a bulbous looking cluster.

dutch4) Dutch Blue Giant Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Dutch Blue Giant’) The most spectacular of all Agapanthus; this variety is big in every respect! Lush foliage growth will develop into large clumps about 1m tall and across. In mid-summer masses of vertical dark-green & purple flower spikes emerge and will reach a height of over 6 feet.

getty5) Getty White Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ‘Getty White’) A good cultivar with broad upright foliage, and a very large clear white ‘snowball’ flower to 3 feet tall.

Devon on September 13th, 2012

wisteriaIn the western China province of Hubei, the much-loved vine that westerners know simply by the scientific name Wisteria is called chiao teng (beautiful vine). In Japan, it’s called Fuji. By any name, this rambunctious climber with lacy green foliage is an exceptional beauty in bloom.

Dramatic clusters of flowers in blue, pink, purple, and white can dangle from 1 to 3 feet in length. You can train these twining woody vines as climbers, ground covers, or trees (tree wisterias are often sold already trained). Plants will thrive in any soil that drains well and in every climate zone in the West. Make sure, though, that you have room to grow them: Wisterias are vigorous, even rampant growers. Chinese and Japanese wisterias are the most widely sold types. Silky wisterias, also from Japan, deserve equal attention. Here are a few varieties:

cooke1) Cooke’s Special Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Cooke’s Special) Chinese variety with clusters of fragrant blue-purple flowers are 20 inches long. This variety can rebloom.

caroline2) Caroline Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisCaroline’) Japanese variety mauve flowers come out in early spring. The variety is fast growing and early flowering.

macrobotrys3) Longissima Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisMacrobotrys’) Japanese variety. Grows exceptionally long clusters (sometimes as long as 3 feet) of moderately scented violet-purple flowers.

royal4) Black Dragon Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisRoyal Purple’) Japanese variety. Sweetly scented dark purple flowers emerge in midspring before leaves.

white5) Snow Showers Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisShiro Noda’) Japanese variety. Blooms in long clusters of densely packed white flowers. In Wisterias, Valder calls the late-flowering ‘Shiro Noda’ “one of the most beautiful of all,” although it has poor autumn color.

violacea6) Murasaki Kapitan Wisteria (Wisteria sinensisViolacea’) Silky variety. Profuse blue-violet blooms in early spring. Twines clockwise.

Devon on September 13th, 2012

Rosemary is amazing. It’s used for so many things, such as a scent in cleaning and cosmetic products. In times gone past, launderers once laid sprigs of the herb on their freshly washed linens to perfume them and repel moths. It is documented as an antidepressant and has antibacterial properties. A few leaves steeped in boiling water is a nice inhalant or a tea to relieve head colds, to soothe sore throats, cure bad breath, and reduce gas. Historically, it was used as incense to purify the air in sick rooms. Also, it’s recorded that during the plague of 1665, people wore bundles of the herb around their necks to ward off germs and to ease the smell of death. “There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” So said the disturbed Ophelia to Hamlet in Shakespeare’s tragedy, listing the herb among other plants well known in medieval folklore. Rosemary is still considered to promote memory because its smell is a stimulant, making the mind alert and clearing the senses.

For the reason, that’s why whenever I pass a Rosemary plant, I run my hand along a spring and then rub the oils on my neck. Not only does it provide a nice cologne for others, it deodorizes the smells around me. Here are a few varieties of rosemary:

arp1) Arp Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp‘) originally found in Arp, Texas, is regarded as the hardiest Rosemary cultivar and it quickly forms an upright hedge of aromatic needle-like foliage. Profuse clear-blue flowers add to the effect. Takes to pruning well for small topiaries. Good flavor for cooking. Evergreen.

common2) Common Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Taurentius‘) is an upright type that grows 2 to 4 feet tall; bears delicate light blue flowers. Does not require extra watering. In a sunny location it will thrive. It responds well to trimming and can be shaped like an evergreen bush. In warmer climates, in fact, Rosemary is an evergreen and grows to be a very large bush or can be trimmed like a small tree. The Rosemary plant originates in the Mediterranean region and means ‘dew of the sea’ in Latin.

gorizia3) Gorizia Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Gorizia’) The long, broad leaves of this unique rosemary extend from thick, rigidly upright stems blushed with a reddish brown. Its leaves are fat and long, double the size of more ordinary varieties. Light blue flowers, often in the summer, cluster along tall, unpruned stems. While the aroma of the leaves is not overpowering, it is gentle, sweet, and a bit gingery.

white4) Rosemary, White-flowered (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Nancy Howard‘) Unique white flowers cover the stems of this semi-upright plant in late summer and fall (even occasionally in spring). Large, deep green leaves contrast with its stiff, almost white stems. Plants carry a pleasant rosemary aroma

pink5) Rosemary, Pink-flowered (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Majorca Pink’)Tender perennial. Although it has flowers something less than pink (technically they are described as amethyst violet), it is a delightful counter to the traditional rosemary blue. The plant has stiff, upright stems along which small, dull green leaves loosely cluster. The fragrance is clean and slightly fruity.

irene6) Irene Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Irene’) A semi-prostrate spreading evergreen shrub to 2 to 3 feet tall by 6-8 feet wide with bright green foliage and blue-violet flowers in late winter through early spring with sporadic bloom year-round. This prostrate rosemary has been touted as a breakthrough in rosemary’s because of its brilliant blue-violet floral color and greener foliage. Cascades beautifully over walls with a hummocky growth habit. Plant in full sun. As with other Rosemary it is resistant to deer and rabbit predation, tolerant to salt spray, alkaline soils and drought tolerant.


Devon on April 17th, 2012

I had an amazing surprise birthday! It all started when I got home from running errands around 4 pm Saturday. The house was empty, so I knew something was up. I was told to get ready and have an overnight bag packed by 6:45 pm. When the time came around, a black BMW town car arrived to pick me up. The chauffeur drove me around for a few and then dropped me off at The Hotel Zaza. Once I got out of the car, an employee met me at the front door and took me to the room.

We walked all over the hotel. I almost thought he was walking us in circles — until we walked through a locked glass door with a neon sign over it displaying “The Magnificent Seven.” He opened the door, so I walked in. As I turned the corner of the foyer, everyone yelled “surprise”! My first — just like in the movies — surprise party! But not just a surprise party, a surprise party in a Magnificent Seven 2,125 square feet suite, catered, full open bar, silver platter ‘strolling’ hors d’oeuvres, and full scale in-room dinner for 8! When I saw everyone (Jay, Meryl, Sheldon, Clay, Danny, Moses, & Hector), I was in shock. I always wondered what I would do in a surprise party situation — now I know. I stood there with a blank look on my face and my mouth open — like a deer in headlights! LOL.

Once it sank in, I ran around the room giving everyone hugs. There was so much to take in. First, seeing everyone, but also the room! The room was superbly decorated in two ways — the hotel itself and also for the party. The room was a cozy, romantic, dark, gothic style — red couches and all. And for the party, it was done up with candles, balloons, and presents!

After giving everyone hugs, the hors d’oeuvres began ”strolling’ the room. 3 servers began rotating the room with Brisket, Bacon, and Cheddar Slider; Pickles Shitake and Cashew Chicken Spring Rolls; Mini Kobe Corndogs with Spicy Mustard; and Micro Tuna Taco with Avocado Pico — all of which start the party off right! They also brought you any drink you wanted (because of the in-room platinum level open bar). With the party in full swing, we all sat down at the 8 person dining table and picked out our entrees for dinner. Once ordered, we all talked around the table and had glasses of champagne. Dinner rolled in a few minutes later and everyone enjoyed a meal from the hotel’s 4-star restaurant, Dragonfly. We all enjoyed sea scallops, steak, salmon, mac & cheese, truffle tater tots, and more. I had the salmon which was divine, if I do say so myself — a perfect complement to the h’orderves from earlier.

Once dinner was done, the servers brought out a 2 layer carrot cake covered in custom cream cheese frosting! With one candle on top Two of the servers stood on either side of me — with at the time appeared to be flame throwers — I was later told, industrial size sparklers! The cake was frosted with trees and white picket fences on the sides. I found out later it was from my favorite bakery in Dallas, Celebrity Bakery. It was perfectly moist and spiced just how I like it.

After dinner, we all sat in the living room again and I opened presents. Can you believe it? After all of this, there was even presents! A bar of chocolate once told me “your presence is often the best present,” and it’s right. So thank you everyone who could make it to my birthday! You being able to celebrate this experience with me was a gift in itself. And the actual gifts, were cherries on top of a perfect night! Thank you!

And one more thing specifically to Jay: a birthday like this most people only get to see on TV or in a movie — needless to say, only dream about even. To have actually had the chance to experience it — and to experience it with you and all my friends, is, well — I am speechless again — just like when I turned the corner of the foyer and saw everyone! This birthday experience was truly a surprise and a memory I will never forget. It was truly surreal and made me feel like a celebrity — I new I liked Celebrity Bakery for a reason. LOL. Thank you!

Devon on April 10th, 2012

Well, it’s April — Landscape Architecture month. Frederick Law Olmsted (the “Father” of landscape architecture”) was both April 26, 1822 along with some other good memorable people, such as: Charlemagne (April 2, 742), Booker T. Washington (April 5, 1856), Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452), Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867), Charlie Chaplin (April 16, 1889), J. P. Morgan (April 17, 1837), William Shakespeare (April 23, 1564), and Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889) — okay maybe not all good memorable people. But that’s beside the point, the most important April Birthday is MINE – LOL! (April 16, 1985). LOL, i’m not that vain, right? Anyways, some interesting events happened in April too: G. Washington inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30 1789; Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 6, 1830; Louisiana became the 18th state on April 30, 1812.; and Television first publicly broadcast from the Empire State Building on April 30, 1939. But that’s not really want this post is about. It’s my Birthday month plant post! And in honor of my Birthday, I will talk about my favorite flower, Lilac. For as long as I can remember, I loved the smell of Lilac. Syringa is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family (Oleaceae). It’s a deciduous shrubs or small trees that flowers in shades of purple (often a light purple or “lilac”), white, pale yellow, pink, and even a dark burgundy.

1) Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) This is the typical Lilac you can find around, especially public parks in the North East. It does best in full sun and acidic/neutral well drained soils. But, it has an average water need, so water regularly. It is very attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.

2) Alba (Syringa vulgaris ‘Alba’) the term French lilac has come to mean all cultivars of the common lilac that have double flowers. But this is a white double flowering variety. White Lilac. Now that’s an oxymoron!

3) Charles Joly (SyringaVulgaris ‘Charles Joly’) Shiny purple buds opening into double, magenta flowers that are very fragrant, and excellent for cutting. This strong, long-lasting shrub has an upright shape and is easily grown in average, medium moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Charles Joly Lilac tolerates light shade, but best bloom is in full sun. It prefers organically rich, slightly acidic soils with good drainage. With its lovely spring accent, it makes a wonderful screen or border specimen. This hardy, disease and deer resistant lilac, is simply stunning as it shows off its vivid coloration of the deep, wine-red flowers. It is considered to be the best in its color class.

4) President Grevy (Syringa vulgaris ‘President Grevy’) vigorously growing French Hybrid Lilac with double, lilac-blue, fragrant flowers that are produced on large panicles in May. It is a leggy, suckering, deciduous shrub, somewhat irregular in shape. This is a strong, long lived shrub that will give a lifetime of flowering satisfaction. President Grevy Lilac prefers full sun, good drainage and air circulation. If one removes flowers as they fade, as well as older wood and suckers, it will improve the plants appearance and flower production.

5) Ludwig (Syringa vulgaris ‘Ludwig’) red-purple flowers in early June that are excellent as cut flowers because of their very fine fragrance. This lilac is beautiful as a hedge or background planting. The blooms come late spring, extending the lilac season! This lilac has an outstanding open branched, upright habit useful in mixed shrub borders or in mass plantings. It is easily grown in average, medium moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Ludwig Spaeth tolerates light shade, but best bloom is in full sun. It prefers organically rich, slightly acidic soils with good drainage. Once it is established, it only needs occasional watering

6) Evangeline (Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Evangeline’) Evangeline is an early flowering, attractive hardy hybrid that is a profuse boomer; non-suckering and deer resistant too! Since Evangeline is an early bloomer, it flowers a week or more before common lilac. Sites with full to partial sun and well-drained, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil are ideal for this early flowering lilac. Evangeline is an ideal old-fashioned shrub for screens, tall hedges, or specimen plants. The blooms make a lovely flower arrangement!

Devon on March 1st, 2012

I don’t really know of anyone that would say ground cover is their favorite kind of plant — and I am no different. But, I do have a favorite ground cover: clovers. In honor of March and St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would write about the Oxalis family. First, there are multiple plant families that have three leafs, but Oxalis is what I think of. The iconic green three leafed plant is a shamrock, which is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland, with St. Patrick having used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity. My personal favorits are:

1) Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) A perennial herb common throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia. Oxalis acetosella, commonly known as wood sorrel, grows in clonal stands typical of self-pollinating plants. The leaves of wood sorrel are clover-like, and for that reason it is sometimes referred to as a shamrock (though shamrocks also often refer to true clovers, Trifolium spp.) and given as a gift on St. Patrick’s Day. Wood sorrel, like spinach and broccoli, contains oxalic acid, a common ingredient in cleaning products and rustproofing treatments.

2) Purple Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis). Yes, this is edible — and looks great as a garnish on pasta salads. This wood-sorrel is typically grown as a houseplant but can be grown outside in zones 8a-11, preferably in light shade. It is endemic to Brazil.

3) Bronze Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens Atropurpureum). This creeping perennial has deeply divided, reddish-bronze leaves edged in green. White pom-pom flowers adorn the top in summer. It will do tremendously well draping over a retaining wall, filling gaps in flagstones patios, and edging a pond or surrounding ferns and hostas in a shade garden. Also terrific in a container over top of flower bulbs. Needs adequate light or it will stretch. This plant will be more red in sun, more green in shade.

Devon on February 5th, 2012

If you know me well, then you know I love basil! Basil is indeed my favorite herb. I love it because there are so many kinds and it goes with everything — even fruit. If you remember, last year one of my New Year’s resolutions was to grow a basil plant from seed and keep it alive all year — which I did. I think I am going to try it again this year with a new variety. Anyways, I have compiled a list of my favorite 8, yes, I said 8. There are even more, but the list here covers a good range of flavors. Many of them also have a compact version for your kitchen or outdoor planters. Oh, a note: most people know you can dry basil — but you can also freeze it! To freeze: wash it, dry them well, then brush both sides with olive oil. Lay them out on wax paper and stack. They will freeze well and keep for a few months. Or you can freeze a leaf into ice-cubes and through them into soups or pasta sauces when needed.

Almost all these need full sun (around 6-8 hours) and regular watering. They grow quickly so the more water the better. Yet, they don’t like wet feet, so good draining soil is a must. If you use a good compost soil (Miracle-Gro Potting Mix works very well) they will not need fertilizer. To keep your plant producing, pick leaves from the top of the plant. If it starts to bolt (flower), pinch the flowers off to stimulate vegetative growth. You want your plant to put its energy into producing leaves, not flowers!

1) Genovese (Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’). This is traditional italian basil. It’s the iconic look and taste of basil for most Americans. Tall and relatively slow to bolt (flower) with large, dark green leaves about 3″ long. The plant gets about 24-30″ tall. 68 days from seed to harvest.

2) Thai (Ocimum xcitriodorum ‘Siam Queen’). Flavorful garnish for sweet dishes. Green, 2″ long leaves have a spicy anise-clove flavor. Attractive purple stems and blooms. Called “Horapha” in its mother country, “Hun Que” in Vietnam. Plant gets about 12-18″ tall. 64 days from seed to harvest. P.S. There is another called ‘Thai Magic’ — which is more mild/sweet with just a hint of anise.

3) Cinnamon (Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’). Distinctive violet/purple stems, veining, and flower bracts with lavender blooms. Beautiful in casual flower bouquets. Plant gets about 26-30″ tall. 64 days from seed to harvest.

4) Spicy Globe (Ocimum basilicum minimum). Small, dome-shaped plants with tiny leaves — I am tiny! Spicy, sweet basil flavor packed into 1″ long leaves. Decorative plants can be grown in pots or used in garden beds. Plant gets about 8-14″ tall. 70 days from seed to harvest. It really does grow in a dome shape without any pruning.

5) Mrs. Burns’ Lemon (Ocimum basilicum citriodora). The best tasting lemon basil, with a sweet, tangy flavor. Very bright green, 2.5″ long leaves with white blooms make this basil both attractive and intensely flavorful. Plant gets 20-24″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

6) Lime (Ocimum americanum). Adds a unique citrus flair to fish and salads. Compact plant has 2″ long, bright green leaves. Plant gets about 16-20″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

7) Amethyst Improved (Ocimum basilicum ‘Amethyst’). The darkest purple basil I’ve seen! Nice, thick, turned-down leaves like the classic Genovese leaf — and tastes like it too. This almost-black basil is a real focal point. It makes an amazing purple pesto or adds some nice color to salads. Plant gets about 16-20″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

8) Red Rubin (Ocimum ‘Red Rubin’). Vigorous, purple, Italian Large Leaf type! High yields and great flavor. Flat, 3″ long leaves stand out horizontally, and are a copper-tinged purple color. Plant gets about 18-24″ tall. 76 days from seed to harvest — longest wait that I know of.

Devon on January 15th, 2012

So, I couldn’t think of a New Year’s resolution to add to my others until now. It actually takes care of two birds with one stone. First, I have not been writing in my blog as much as I would like. Second, I need to study-up on my plants for my LARE exams this year. Put them together — I am going to write a blog post every month this year over some of my favorite plants! For this lovely January 2012, I have selected Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum). Japanese Maples are native to Asia and southeast Russia. They are either a deciduous shrub or small tree ranging from 1 foot to around 32 feet in height. There are so many cultivars with unlimited forms, colors, leaf types, and sizes — yet, the red-leaf seem to be the most popular. My top five favorites that I would like to share are:

1) ‘Bloodgood‘ is a small, rounded, deciduous tree which typically grows to 15-20 feet tall and features purplish-red flowers in spring, deep reddish-purple summer foliage, red samaras in late summer to early fall and good crimson-red fall color. As with many maples, the flowers are rather attractive close up, but are not particularly showy from a distance.

2) ‘Aconitifolium‘ is one of the most amazing maples. Its leaves are serrated/lobed almost like a fern. They open green and turns shades of yellow-orange. The images does not do it justice, you need to search online for other images. Leaves turn crimson in fall. It typically grows slowly to 8-10 feet tall. Small reddish flowers appear in spring before the leaves and give way to samaras which ripen in late summer to early fall.

3) ‘Sango-kaku‘ aka Coral Bark. The leaves are generally green that turn brilliant yellow in fall. But this maples is not just coveted for it leaves, but after the leaves drop. In the winter months, the newer trunk/stems turn to a bright coral-red color. This is an upright cultivar that may reach 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. This tree does have one down side, it is highly susceptible to bacterial blight (Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae), which can be reduced if planted in a site with good air circulation.

4) ‘Burgundy Lace‘ has a height and spread of about 12 feet — and is a slow grower. The multiple trunks are picturesque, grey and show nicely when lit up at night. It has purple-red colored leaves, cascading growth habit, and fine lace-like leaf texture. As with most Japanese Maples, part sun is preferred, but this maple, under hot conditions, leave’s will burn in the sun (best in almost full shade).

5) ‘Seiryu‘ aka Green Lace. In summer, the tree has a light green color and is reminiscent of a lacy curtain. In late autumn, leaves turn to an expectant green, then to a muddy orange and finally a brilliant red, all within 48 hours! Its mature height is around 15 feet tall, with a spread of 12 feet. Try and avoid the “twigginess” of some selections when finding the right tree for your garden.

Devon on January 5th, 2012

Happy New Year! For New Year’s Eve, a group of use went to Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck. If you know Dallas, that’s the big rotating ball restaurant at the top of Reunion Tower. The meal was a fabulous 7 course prefix with Kobe beef and lobster as the main entree. We started eating at 10:30 pm and finished with dessert and a glass of champagne at midnight — just in time to watch the fireworks off in the distance. It truly was an enchanting evening. I have now been in Dallas for over two years — so much has happened. According to my 2011’s blog entries, here are the highlights:

I was looking back at my New Year’s 2011 post — my New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to finish my 2010 resolutions. Lets see how I did:

  • Lose 10 pounds (Nope, maybe this year)
  • Try and reduce self-inflicted stress in my life (Yes and no, but I still need to work on it)
  • Stop relying on spellcheck/Google (I did good for a few, but still relying)
  • Pay off all credit cards (YES! By June 2011 I had all credit cards payed off)
  • Establish an emergency fund (Not so much — because of the above, HAHA)

Looks like I still have some work to do. But this year is already shaping up. I have plans to see Kathy Griffin live on stage in January, a mini-vacation to Austin in January, a mini-vacation to San Antonio in February, Passing section D of the LARE in March, my 27th Birthday in April, and a full 8-day vacation to Disney World in June. That takes us to the half way point of 2012. The rest of the year is still up in the air. Happy New Year!


Devon on December 30th, 2011