As promised in the last newsletter edition, the following plants are suggested for those who do not have the time or inclination to spend much time outdoors.  The list includes adapted (not native) evergreens that will give a year-round permanent appearance to a garden, and perennials that add color a good part of the growing season.  All need little water once established.  Always consider the mature size of a plant to prevent overcrowding.

Evergreens – These are generally not bothered by insects or disease.  November is a good time to plant them. 

  • Pittosporium. Solid green or variegated.  Will grow large but can be trimmed to almost any size.  Will tolerate part shade.
  • Compact nandina.  Grows slowly to 4 or 5 feet tall.  Small blooms turn to red berries in fall.  Leaves change to fall colors as temperatures cool.  Takes bright shade to full sun. 
  • Sago palm.  Has a fern like appearance and grows slowly to about 4 feet high and wide.  Tolerates a broad range of light.
  • Mountain laurel.  Grows slowly to a large shrub or small tree.  Needs full or partial sun to produce very fragrant blue flowers in early spring.  

Perennials – Cold hardy and come back year after year after being trimmed back to about 6 inches high in mid-February.  Are generally free of insects and disease and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  To start, plant in early spring as plants become available.  

  • Thryallis.  Grows to 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.  Blooms yellow flowers from early summer to late fall.  Takes full to partial sun. 
  • Esperanza.  Blooms yellow or orange trumpet shaped flowers through the summer and fall.  Grows 5 to 7 feet tall and wide.  Needs half to full days sun. 
  • Mexican honeysuckle.  A shrub that blooms orange flowers from late summer through fall on a shrub that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.  Needs half to full day's sun.
  • Variegated ginger.  Grown for its vivid lime and yellow foliage.  Light needs range from bright shade to full sun.  
  • Firebush.  Has orange flowers from mid summer to late fall.  Grows up to 6 feet tall and wide in full to partial sun. 

Fall is a good time to fertilize flowerbeds and lawns with an organic fertilizer that does not necessarily have to be watered in immediately.  Next, add mulch around shrubs and in flowers beds to a depth of 4 to 5 inches.  In South Texas, roots continue to grow in the winter so water lawns about every three weeks if it does not rain (about 1/2 to 1 inch). 

Put out water and birdseed to help birds make it through the winter.  They help to control the harmful insect population in the garden.  

From The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain:  A Book of Quotations: Wrinkles should indicate where smiles have been. 

Garden Note:  If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

- Alan Cash