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Brenda's Garden
Brenda's Garden
by Brenda Beust Smith
Friday, April 01, 2011

What flower says spring more than gerbera daisies.Quote: O, my days of April, I've pined for you so long
And waited to see your gardens return where they belong
-- from "Days of April" by Whitney Albright

Most of the time this Whitney Albright prose above wouldn't fit.  By March, most of our hardy plants have returned and are either starting to bloom or are in full color. 

I'm awed that my gerberas (pictured above in a previous year's blooms) are covered with buds.

Some folks have a hard time with gerberas.  Usually that's because they want to be EXTREMELY well drained and we usually have spring and fall monsoon rains. The roots stay too wet, they become weakened and when the heat of summer comes, they can't stand it. 

I have mine in containers with a large hole.  They're about 10 years old now and bloom delightfully every spring.

Not this year! This year, after such a hard winter, we have to be patient.  Even the hardiest of plants may take longer than usual to come back. The solution?

Cut them back to live wood, then cut off another third.  If you don't hit any live wood, then leave a little stump.  Hopefully they'll come back from the root stock.

MarigoldRather than stare at these stumps for another couple of months, however, camouflage them with spring annuals, such as marigolds.

Marigolds, petunias, snapdragons, stocks, alyssum, dusty miller and similar spring bloomers should continue to bloom until May or June.  If your "stump" hasn't sprouted new growth by then, it's probably gone.

Your oleanders should already be coming back.  These super-hardies are fabulous for our gardens.  Looking for the newest varieties?  you'll find them at the big Oleander Sale during the 2011 Oleander Festival at Moody Gardens and the new oleander Garden Park, 2624 Sealy in Galveston.

Check out the website: for schedules.

Black-eyed SusanBleeding heart vineDEAR BRENDA: I've got a hideous chain link fence at the back of our yard.  Part is in sun and part is in shade.  Any suggestions? -- Tod

DEAR TOD:  I can think of two that are very hardy and very pretty.  Both of mine did die back this year but they are already back and growing strong. For sun: black-eyed Susan vine.  For shade: bleeding heart vine.

DEAR BRENDA: What would you suggest for a really hot, dry place.  It's out front by our mailbox, by the curb and it's hard to water out there.  Norma

GuaraDEAR NORMA: I have a mailbox with planters that is really hard to water. In it right now are lantanas and bulbine. They do very well.  Suprisingly, the geraniums I put in there for color until the lantanas and bulbine could fill out almost outdid these two for color and hardiness.

But they didn't make it this summer.  So in back of the lantana, I'm going to put guara.

This airy plant is actually a Gulf Coast native, but the hybridized versions produce more flowers. This one needs to be extremely well drained.

DEAR BRENDA:  What are those feathery white trees blooming in the esplanades all over Houston? N.J.

DEAR N. J.: Aren't they marvelous?  They are fringe trees.

Like the gaura, the hybridized versions now available in many nurseries, have much whiter flowers and bloom far more than our native varieties.

P.S.  Don't miss new posts. Make the Lazy Gardener's Blog (
) your home page.

Brenda Beust Smith (Features > Brenda's Garden)
Email Brenda for list of area gardening/environmental speakers ($5) andlist of her topics for garden club presentations ($250-$300)

"THE LAZY GARDENER'S GUIDE ON CD" — Specifically for Houston area gardens: monthly do-now reminders & gardening advice. 12 pre-designed gardens for butterflies, hummers, sun, shade and more. A gardening book on CD. $20. Make checks payable to Brenda B. Smith & mail to: Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD, 14011 Greenranch,
 Houston, TX 77039-2103.

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