From the Sperry Home Gardens: May 3, 2018

Most of you are probably aware that Lynn and I live outside McKinney in rural Collin County. That’s fairly far north in the state. As recently as three weekends ago we had temperatures into the mid-30s, and I just couldn’t bring myself to start carrying plants out of my greenhouse into our landscape. Plus we were about to get a new roof (my longtime advertiser Wortham Brothers Roofing, who else!).

This moving plants out is a process I really enjoy, but I have to hire help, and it takes several days, so I only want to go through it once.

That time began earlier this week, and I thought I’d show you some of the first plants we set in place. I wanted to try a few things differently this summer, so those were where I began.

First, however, the stalwarts…
Two of my plants have been in the same places for more than 20 summers and I have absolutely no interest in changing that.

‘Raspberry Ice’ bougainvillea

Raspberry Ice bougainvillea sits in just the perfect spot at the corner of our entryway porch. It gets an hour or two of filtered sunlight so it holds its colorful leaves. It produces hot raspberry pink bracts once in a while, but I grow it for the colorful foliage. It went back to its old favorite location.

Continued Below


Star jasmine

Star jasmine (sister to Asian jasmine) is a fabulous vine with its white, pinwheel-shaped and highly fragrant flowers. It’s very common in the southern half of the state where I grew up, and I’ve missed being able to grow it outdoors reliably in the Metroplex (tender to our winters), so I’ve grown mine on a heavy trellis in a 20-gallon nursery pot that goes into the greenhouse in winter. It’s in bud or bloom every spring when we bring it back out. I love this plant!


‘Macho’ fern

When I bought this plant they warned me it was a horse. I’ve had it tucked away in a shaded corner where no one could see it for several summers. It’s 6 feet across now, and I decided to show it off proudly this time around. I hope this spot won’t have too much early morning sun to keep it happy. I’ll be ready to move it back into the shadows if I have to, but I’m guessing our pecan forest will protect it quite well.


Bloodleaf (Iresine)

I felt like a missionary growing this fabulous little plant back in the 70s. No one knew what it was. Somewhere I found one, and I hung onto it carefully. I was afraid I’d never see it again. Then one day I was touring the Dallas Arboretum with my good friend Bob Brackman and he showed me a bed he’d planted featuring it. Bob had the ability of bringing plants into the spotlight at DABS (just as he’s doing at the San Antonio Botanic Garden these days). Breeders have been working with this plant, and now it’s become somewhat mainstream. I use it for color in shade when hardly anything else gets enough sunlight to color up well.

This gives you a good idea of how bloodleaf shows from a distance. Click photo for larger view.

Plants already set into the landscape are visible in the distance, but ferns in the foreground are awaiting their placement.

Several key plants have already found their summer homes in this part of our garden. Two large crotons will be repotted into larger containers. You can’t see it very well, but a Brugmansia that has become rootbound in its green glazed ceramic pot will go into the ground up on the hill. Hopefully I’ll show it to you in bloom as the summer progresses. I’ll lose it come winter, but it’s just gotten too large. I’ll fill the bare ground in the front of that bed near the drive with some trailing bromeliads, but more on that later. Click image for larger view.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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