Well it’s October.I tend to write about what ever is on my mind at the moment I start writing. Today it is bonsai trees and dead plants. Bonsai plants are a favorite of mine.The patience and skill to spend years developing a well shaped bonsai, pretty cool. Some of the bonsai plants we get can be decades in the making.So when someone buys one and it dies it is sad on several levels.Bonsai have by design very shallow roots so they dry out quickly.They can be made from almost any tree or shrub, some are good house plants and some are for outside.
I remember years ago we had a man buy a nice, not too expensive bonsai juniper to put on his kitchen table. I told him several times that junipers need to be outside.He put it inside anyway. Well, it died. it took a few months, but it died., He was mad when I did not replace it for him. Oh, and it died a month or so before he came in to tell me it was suffering. If he had come in sooner, as in before it died, we would have had a chance to get him to move it outside as we told him when he bought it. We had another man who bought a bonsai, he lived on the bay. We told him to water every day. He was convinced that any plant on the bay side of his house did not have to be watered. It would magically absorb enough moisture from the dew and moist breezes. Not true .He called a few days after he bought his bonsai to see why it was wilting so badly.well-shapedWe talked about watering every day by hand, not by moist breezes. He called in time and his bonsai recovered.
The point being, if you buy a plant and it starts looking bad call before it dies!!!If you do not call and it dies, it is not my fault that you did not try to get help. Most plants need daily watering through the first 2 summers.It is not fair to us if you loose a plant because you do not take care of it and then want another one for free.We are not a giant rich company.Maas Nursery is run by a small group of gardeners, plant lovers , family and friends.
Our replacement policy, try to keep it fair. If you lose a plant and I have lost some too, then we replace the plant for free. If you lose one and we never lost one before, maybe it’s not a bad plant.Our warranty is based on the health and quality of the plant.loseIt is not a guarantee that it will not die at your house.We make sure we do our part, you have to do yours.
In general we are much more generous if we get a chance to fix the problem before the plant is dead. We can almost always solve the problem and save the plant if you call in time.If it needs more water, less sun, spraying for an insect, CALL us.We can walk you through what to do.But if you loose a plant our policy is to give a 50% discount on the replacement.
The idea there is that then we both have some skin in the game.Across the board free replacements tend to make a person less motivated to care for the plants they just bought,”Oh well. I’m busy this week, no time to water. But Hey, if the plants die they will just give me new ones.”I actually had a friend from out of state say that one time.That doesn’t seem fair does it.
So, I drifted away from bonsai trees for a few paragraphs.Bonsai is the art of miniaturization of a tree with trimming, bending, root reduction, etc to make it look like a small version of a full sized tree found in nature. The reason bonsai plants are on my mind today is that I have been working on expanding our bonsai area the last month or so.More space, new plants, more pots, pedestals and stands.We are going to just about double what we have.Many of the new plants are already here with more to come.
There are varieties that work well inside as well as some that are best outside.We have old ones and young ones.There are also some that might survive a missed watering or two, just don’t go days.
Paul, Jim, and Daniel are the most bonsai knowledgeable for technical and trimming questions, but anyone can help with general information.Also the Houston Bonsai Society has free quarterly outreach and teaching here at the nursery. Check when you are here or each month in this newsletter to see Clyde’s schedule. Once or twice a year we will be having a class on growing bonsai plants. The class is taught by Jim, and or Paul and I think Clyde will usually be here too, and sometimes Daniel.
The class usually is hands on and you make a bonsai to take home as part of the class fee. It is a great class. We have limited supplies for the bonsai class, so sign up as soon as you decide you want to come and get registered on line. As I remember, the last class filled up pretty fast
So, it wasn’t long after I started working at Maas Nursery that I encountered a customer walking through the center aisle of bedding plants with a paint chip card. I thought, hmmmm, that’s interesting. Trying to match paint color to the blooms on flowering plants is quite ambitious, but ok, to each his/her own.
This little scenario does bring up an issue that I suspect all landscape designers/retail nursery workers have. Sometimes, customers do have unrealistic expectations of a plants appearance, performance, as well as availability at the nursery. Plants are living things – they don’t always look exactly as you expect, grow as you expect, bloom as you expect, and they most definitely don’t look the same year round, year after year after year. That’s just life. Plants grow and change and bloom and wilt and die too. Their performance/success in your garden is very much up to you the gardener. It’s you who has to make sure you have your plants growing in the right conditions and with the right care
Magazines and Pinterest are great places to get basic landscape ideas, but they often include very ideal pictures of established plants at their peak performance and, many times, the plants used in the articles/pins/etc. just don’t grow here. Check the article, those beautiful hostas you see growing in full sun are probably somewhere in the Midwest, definitely not here. You may be able to get a different variety that does grow in our zone (often with protection from our afternoon sun), but sometimes, you just have to pick a completely different plant to get the look you desire
So, what about gardening with natives? YES, native landscapes are great for many reasons, but if they aren’t planned well, they will often look very unkempt in their off-peak seasons. Most beautiful landscape plants (native or otherwise) need a fair amount of work to keep them in tip-top shape and looking good. Trimming, fertilizing, watching for pests, keeping diseases under control and proper watering are key (even natives will need some water in drought periods)- All good garden stewards know to stay ahead of the game.
And, I know this won’t be a shocker to our loyal customers, but not all plants are available in all sizes year-round. I think most of us know that annual plants are available by season (for example – snapdragons in winter and vincas in summer). But we all don’t seem to know that many perennials are also only available from growers for short periods of time. Some plants grow VERY quickly and getting them in smaller sizes (or at all) is very difficult later in their growing season. For instance, you may be able to get flats of 4″ verbena in late spring/early summer, but by mid-summer all you can get are quarts and gallons. This tends to be an issue with seasonal perennial color plants more than others, but it’s an issue we encounter with many other landscape plants as well. If you can get the plants from growers, it is going to be a little more stress on your wallet than if you had bought them earlier when they were available in smaller sizes.
So, what does all of the above mean? Really, the more you know about your zone and your specific growing conditions and plants that do well in your area, the more successful you will be in your garden and the better your landscape will look. But, such is life, nothing is guaranteed. Plants are ALIVE. They have needs and if those needs aren’t being met, you won’t get good performance from them. Gardeners can certainly be dreamers, but they also need a healthy dose of realism mixed in there too. Your plants are not going to look magazine ready year-round without some serious planning and work in the garden. Great expectations can be met in the garden with a healthy dose of care and understanding. And, as we often say in the garden center, there is no such thing as a care-free plant unless it comes from a local craft store.
It is always a good time to add a water feature. Our birdbath in a shaded corner of our yard is a very popular place to visit on a hot afternoon. Each day we check the water level. We add clean water daily. The high temperatures increase the rate of evaporation. Almost immediately after we add water, a Blue Jay or two will land on the edge, jump into the water and splish splash until clean. They move up into a tree to shake off. The little birds, like Wrens come by in a pack of ten or so. They are very social and chatter while they bathe or wait for their turn in the water.
The birdbath is like a beacon announcing open for business. The birds drink and bathe. The squirrels come by for a drink, but the bees are our favorite. The bees seem to sense that water is being added. They arrive in a small group and hover above the birdbath waiting for the water to stop. Once stopped, they land on the rim and drink from the full bowl. It is fascinating to watch. And, you feel like you have helped everybody out with a cool and refreshing drink.
The bees help pollinate my veggie plants and my citrus. The birds bring the gift of song and sometimes a mystery plant from afar. The squirrels give my puppy some exercise. And by providing a water source, the squirrels, will leave my tomatoes alone. Most tomatoes are consumed in search of liquid. The birdbath provides both a distraction and a water option for the squirrels.
Add a birdbath to your yard… It is like a tiny waterpark that never closes. Sit back and enjoy!
Like almost everyone in our area, I’m replanting my garden this year. I’m busy replacing plants that have been in my garden for years. The situation is sad in a way but also gives me a great opportunity to try something new. I’m planting several hibiscus. The nursery has some real beauties this year. The hard part is deciding which ones I want for my new garden. The big, showy Cajun hibiscus are calling to me along with some new Althea which are in the hibiscus family. There are the large Shirley Temple and variegated leaf hibiscus along with Texas star hibiscus. Perennial hibiscus have large dinner plate size blooms that are amazing. I could fill my whole garden just with hibiscus. And the fun part is growing them is easy. Hibiscus have a few requirements but nothing demanding.
Hibiscus need full sun to filtered light in our hot summer afternoons. Water them regularly but don’t let them get soggy. A very important requirement is fertilizer. Hibiscus really need their own food. These plants originate from volcanic regions which are high in potassium. Potassium is the third number on your fertilizer container. Maas carries food specifically for hibiscus to meet the unique nutrient requirements of these plants. I use granular food because it is easy. Water your hibiscus a little first, sprinkle the food around the plant and water again to start the feeding. Slow release fertilizers will feed the plant every time you water. Do this for your hibiscus every month or more during the blooming season. My hibiscus in pots get fed every two weeks.
The only real issue with hibiscus is they are not freeze hardy as most of us found out this winter. Bring your hibiscus pots in if the temperature gets to the low thirties. For hibiscus planted outside use Insulate cover over the plants and secure it to the ground with rocks. Do not use plastic as this will burn the plants and bed sheets sometimes are not enough cover. One of my colleagues at Maas is very clever. She uses cotton backed plastic picnic table cloths to prevent freezing hibiscus. The cotton side goes on the plants. She says they work great. If after all your precautions your plants still freeze, do not pull them up immediately. I have had hibiscus come back from the dead several times because the roots did not freeze. In spring, cut the dead plants back to the ground and wait. Miracles do happen.
Sometimes hibiscus get pests or fungus. Treat your hibiscus with Triple Action when this happens. It is an organic pesticide and fungicide all in one that does the trick every time. Spray your plants when you first notice the problem, and continue spraying every 7 days for 3 weeks. This should take care of the pests. If the bugs, such as mealy bugs come back, keep repeating the treatment. In the hot summer spray only in the evening. Triple Action is oil based and can burn your plant in the hot sun.
There are so many beautiful pictures of hibiscus from the nursery. Here are some examples of the colors and varieties Maas carries. If you want a special variety, call before coming. Our stock changes daily. My advice is come to the nursery and see what we have. It’s a fun outing and the hibiscus won’t disappoint!
This past Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my family and a couple of friends at the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. And, it just so happened to also be the International Flower and Garden Show at Epcot. Ah! Disney truly is Magic!!!
Anyway, I am sharing this with you, because being at Disney World confirmed my own experimentation at home. You CAN grow just about anything in containers!! So, those of us with small spaces or digging dogs or the inability to care for a large garden can still grow things we love!! And, that includes food plants as well as pretty ornamentals and flowers.
Recently, I added a small gravel area to my backyard for a container veggie garden. I have plenty of space, but I have doggies that love to get into things when I am not around. So, a container vegetable garden was the way to go. I used half whiskey barrels and water troughs for my containers and all is going well. I am seeing great growth in just about a month since planting transplants and everything looks healthy. I can’t wait to start harvesting!!! I have planted: 2 varieties of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, spinach, okra, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, onions, and many varieties of tomatoes and peppers. As long as you give these plants good soil, good drainage (so be sure to drill holes in the bottom of your planters), good fertilizer (like Microlife 6-2-4), regular watering and lots of sunlight, you can’t go wrong!
And, almost anything can be a container. Wheel barrows, kitchen sinks, stock pots, buckets, food/water troughs for animals, etc. Basically, as long as the material is weather proof, food safe and the container is big enough, you can probably make it work. Just be sure to drill enough holes in the bottom for good drainage. A little thing to help with drainage that I like to do is add a little gravel or expanded shale to the bottom of containers before I add soil.
Below are some pictures of my little garden as of March 8:
The Lettuce Barrel
Eggplant and Pepper Barrel
The Tomato Trough
Below are some pictures of container gardening at Disney World’s Epcot:
Disney Stockpot and Small Containers
I will keep you posted as my garden progresses. Please share with us any photos of your own small gardens. You don’t need Disney Magic to make it happen!
Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s slow this train down! It is already April and I still haven’t finished all my garden clean up. I seem to work at a snail’s pace; I have only completed parts of my front yard, and there is so much more to go…. ugh! At least there is still time to finish and get this yard in shape before summer. I want to be able to garden from the window by the time it gets too hot and the mosquitoes get big enough to start carrying people off, and that is very soon.
Gardening to be done in April:
Water. Now that is getting hotter we must water more. I’m especially talking about watering those newly planted plants. Sprinkler systems are great for established plants, but newly planted plants need water that is directed at the root ball. It’s important to keep these roots moist and sprinklers may or may not get water to the root ball of a newly planted plant. Be careful to water your plants thoroughly, they will thrive and once established, you will be able to water less.
You may also need to water other plants, even the established ones, more often in the warmer weather. Just keep an eye on your garden and if you notice signs of stress like leaf drop, brown leaves and/or bud drop, you should check to see if it is just a matter of watering the plant. Don’t wait until there are limbs dying to check. With more sun, wind and less rain, plants will be thirsty.
If your camellias have finished blooming, it is time to prune, if needed, and fertilize them. This helps the plant to have a better show of blooms next year. Azaleas can be fed and pruned as well. If you haven’t cut back the winter damage to your garden plants, now is a good time to finish that.
April is a great month for vegetable gardening, you are not too late. Plant beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, okra, peppers, radish, squash, watermelon this month. If you don’t have time to get a garden ready, use containers to grow your vegetables. Once you have your seeds or transplants all, you need to grow your own food is good soil, good drainage and full sun. Why not give it a try?
There are tons of blooming plants here at The nursery, with all kinds of options for you to
Super Elfin Impatiens
add color to containers, landscapes, and even a couple for inside your home. For summer color in the shadier side of your garden try impatiens, begonia, Persian shield, coleus, heuchera, columbine, alstromeria, caladium, polka dot plant, ajuga, torenia, Mona lavender, cat whiskers, justicia, creeping Jenny, dichondra and many more. Brighten up your garden by bringing color to the shadier to part sun areas of your garden.
For summer color in the sunnier areas of your garden, try these beautiful plants: blue daze, dianthus, petunias, celosia, cleome, coreopsis
, cone flowers, rudbeckia, salvia, vinca, gomphrena, sun coleus, pentas, zinnias, cosmos, angelonia, calibrachoa, gazania, lantana, verbena, and more. These plants will give your garden or patio a colorful new look for the summer.
For indoors, we just received tons of house plants that are amazing. There are many types of Sanseveria like: Bantel’s sensation, starfish, Mikado Fernwood, whaletail, cylindrical, etc. Sanseveria is a great indoor plant that doesn’t require a lot of watering or attention to grow; truly an amazing plant. We also received some beautiful aglaonema, Chinese evergreen plant, varieties include Etta rose, sapphire Suzanne, Siam red, silver bay, and sparkling Sarah. These plants are an easy way to add beauty to any room.
Come out and see these beautiful plants before they are gone.
Last year was a very hard gardening year. Harvey had many of us with yards full of water and water in our houses as well. We were all finally getting back on our feet and then came the great freeze of 2018. Many plants that survived previous freezes did not survive this one. previous freezes did not survive this one. All of this added up to a great stress on plants that did survive. Stressed plants are very vulnerable to soil diseases, fungal problems and problems with insect pests. The camellias and azaleas in our gardens mostly made it through the flood and freeze, but these events left them very stressed and fragile. A perfect environment for attacks from tea scale and lace bug insect pests.
At the nursery, we are trying very hard to switch to organic methods to control pests and disease. At Bayou Bend Home and Gardens, home of the Ima Hogg plantation, the emphasis is on organic practices as well. Much of Bayou Bend was flooded for four days. The extensive camellia gardens were flooded along with the rest of the park. To start the revival process, the soil at the gardens was first attended to. Compost was added along with dried molasses and Microlife 6-2-4. Like the gardens at Bayou Bend, our gardens need to be replenished with organic matter after flood damage. Adding organic matter to your camellias and azaleas is the first line of defense against pests. Adding mycorrhizal fungi to your plants also helps the roots systems with the uptake of nutrients which is very important to the shrubs health.
The garden environment of your camellias and azaleas is critical to your plants health. Camellias need an acidic soil and partial sun to shade to be truly happy. Azaleas also need acidic soil. They need sun or shade depending on the type and need to be located accordingly. For example, encore azaleas prefer sun. Good organic matter, a proper soil pH and correct water and sun requirements go a long way in helping your plants fight pests and disease. Air circulation is also very important for your plants health. Prune your shrubs so they have an open habit allowing air to flow through the branches. A healthy plant is a strong plant and better able to fight insects.
The next step in warding off pests is vigilance. Keep a look out for insect pests when you water. During spring and summer do frequent checks on the undersides of your camellia leaves. You are looking for slightly fuzzy white and brown insects on the under side of your leaves. This is tea scale. The adult insects produce a hard shell, don’t move, and suck the juice out of your leaves. Tea scale can sometimes be misdiagnosed for a fungus because of its fuzzy appearance. At the first sign of scale, remove all the infected leaves and dispose of them away from you camellia. If scale is caught early you can control it by removing it. Female scale insects hatch eggs underneath their protective shell. Once the eggs hatch the crawlers emerge. Crawlers travel around the camellia until they settle down to feed. Once they have found a spot they stop moving and produce their own hard shell. Crawlers usually emerge in spring so spraying with a good horticultural oil will smother the insects. Once they have formed a hard shell they are much tougher to kill. Neem oil has been shown to be effective for controlling scale but must be reapplied throughout the growing season. D- limonene, the active ingredient in orange oil has also been tested on scale with some success. Both neem and orange oil have been shown to eventually break down the hard shell of the scale. All of the above mentioned methods for controlling scale are organic. These control methods take diligence and persistence by the gardener but the reward is no harmful chemicals in your garden.
Vigilance is also important to keep ahead of pests on your azaleas. Lace bug is the most common insect pest for azaleas in our area. Lace bug damage on azalea leaves will look like silvery white or yellow spots. The lace bugs themselves are very hard to see due to their almost translucent appearance. Lace bug, like tea scale, causes damage by sucking sections of the leaf dry. Also like tea scale, lace bug is found on the underside of the leaves. Control is much like tea scale control. Remove affected leaves and dispose of them away from the plant. Insecticidal soaps, neem oil or horticultural oil will also kill lacebug. When spraying these oils , make sure to cover both the tops and bottoms of the leaves to get all of the insects. Reapplication of oils or soap throughout the growing season will add an extra layer of protection. One caution on horticultural oils including neem oil, do not spray these oils in the heat of the day. They can burn your plants leaves.
To keep your azaleas and camellias happy make sure they are located in the right environment, have the correct soil and sun requirements and have good airflow. Give them the proper food, organic matter and acid. Keep a look out for insect pests and remove them as soon as possible.Use organic oils and insecticidal soaps for further protection. With a little more work you can keep your azaleas and camellias beautiful without harmful chemicals destroying your garden.
March is an amazing gardening month, there are so many gardening opportunities. Let’s take a look to see what’s up. The seasons are changing and the flowers are changing from winter to warm weather bloomers. All kinds of plants will continue to bloom and release sweet fragrance. Vegetable gardening is moving forward with more heat loving veggies. Then there is the damage from our very cold winter. Maybe it’s not as fun as planting but just because it is brown doesn’t mean it’s dead.
What flowers can you expect to see in March? Dianthus, petunia, geraniums, begonias, impatiens, marigolds, verbena, Bacopa, nasturtiums, gazania, zinnias, ageratum, phlox, salvia, coleus, pentas, and dusty miller are a nice start to this new season. For early spring flowers: foxglove, blue bonnet, delphinium, and sweet pea will be blooming soon. These plants are so beautiful you don’t want to miss having them bloom in your garden this spring. Just having something beautiful to look at in your garden while you wait for all the cold damaged plants to return will make all the difference.
Texas Mountain Laurel
I love fragrant plants and some of my favorites will be blooming and smelling great this season. Here are just a few of my favs: Sweet olive shrub, this one has a very potent sweet fragrance from the tiniest flower. Texas Mountain Laurel is another shrub with a fragrance that can knock your socks off. This shrub/tree, has beautiful purple blooms with the scent of grape soda. Pink Jasmine is a vine that has pink buds that open white with an intense jasmine scent. Citrus trees have white blossoms with an amazing, you guessed it, citrus fragrance. Skinners banana shrub fragrance reminds me of bananas and cake, not too bad. Hopefully, these few plants will get you started interested to start your very own fragrant garden.
Next up, is your vegetable garden. Get your tomatoes in the ground this month, don’t wait. Other veggies to plant this month include: Peppers, beans, lettuce, corn, eggplant, squash and watermelon. What to pick for your garden? Plant what you love to eat!
If you haven’t trimmed back the cold damaged plants yet, now is the time. Get out the trimmers, garden scissors, and loppers and get busy. We are going to get all that dead looking stuff out of the garden. Some of these plants only look dead, so don’t be too hasty and pull them all out of the garden. Cut it back starting at the top and then cutting a little back at a time until you see green. The plant may need to be trimmed all the way back within a few inches from the ground, and that is okay. It may very well return and be even more beautiful than before. Blooms might be delayed by this, but the plants will bloom again.
Oh, before I forget. Fertilize your garden with an organic fertilizer. Microlife will work wonders to improve your soil and help your plants thrive.
As soon as I flip my calendar from February to March my thoughts jump to roses and how many I want and where am I going to put them and do I have enough sun and on and on. I become more than slightly obsessed. The new hybrid tea roses get me every time. Last year it was Blue Girl, the year before it was Scentimental. Roses are a very versatile landscape plant. Grow them up arbors, plant them in herb gardens, use them in mass for a blooming hedge or fence or even grow them in containers. Every garden should have at least one rose. The only set in stone requirement roses have is sun. Most roses need at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of sun even in the summer.
When our Weeks roses come in March there is always a flurry of phone calls and a rush of customers heading out to pick up their favorite roses before they are gone. Weeks roses come in all different varieties, shapes, sizes and colors.The most popular is the Hybrid Tea. Teas are the quintessential roses that florists adore. They have single perfectly shaped blossoms on large long stems.They are great for cutting and are long lasting in a vase. Floribundas are another type of rose we get from Weeks. We also get a few from the Antique Rose Emporium. Floribundas are medium compact shrubs that look great in a casual garden. The flowers are smaller than a hybrid tea’s and bloom inclusters, making a beautiful small bouquet on the rose bush. Floribundas are one of my personal favorites as they bloom constantly and have great disease resistance.The Grandiflora class of roses is a great mix of the hybrid tea type and the floribunda. The shrubs are large like a hybrid tea with large flowers that form clusters on long stems. One cut branch of grandiflora blooms makes a vase full of flowers.The last two types of roses we get from Weeks are climbers and shrubs. The class names say it all. Climbers ramble or can be trained up trellises or walls. Shrub roses are large shrubs with large flowers. These roses make great borders or living fences.
For some reason, a lot of people are scared to try roses in their yard or they think they need a formal rose garden to grow roses. Roses are very easy to grow and can be grown in any type of garden. I always grow my roses in with my herbs. Last year I added some veggies in the same bed with marigolds, cosmos and zinnias. The combination was beautiful. Just make sure that the plants you grow with your roses can take the 8 hours of hot summer sun. Roses love water but not on their leaves. The biggest problem with growing roses on the gulf coast is a fungal disease called black spot. The rain and humidity in spring causes the fungus to grow. Just like the name implies, the fungus shows up as yellow spots on the leaves which quickly turn black. I do preventative fungus treatments using neem oil. If you start your neem oil schedule before fungus becomes a problem on your roses you can keep black spot disease under control. Plant roses according to our planting guide. Rose roots hate sitting in water and will quickly rot if they are not planted in a well-drained space. Leave space between roses so they have good air circulation. This will help with fungus problems. Roses prefer acidic soil. All of our rose fertilizers contain ingredients that make them acidic. Everyone has a favorite rose fertilizer but my choice is Microlife for azaleas, azaleas and roses need the same food. It feeds your roses and your soil helping to keep your plants healthier.
Whatever rose you choose to grow this year is up to you. There is such a large variety of color, fragrance, size and shape that the choices seem endless. Come out and walk through the roses. Take your time. Stop and smell them, as the saying goes. One of the roses will call to you more loudly than the others. If you’re anything like me you will have several roses screaming in your ear before getting halfway through the display. Pick them up and take them home. Give them love and roses will amaze you for years to come. If you have a specific rose in mind, call us first to see if it is available. We will be happy to check for you or suggest an alternative.
My favorite shrubs are both low maintenance and multipurpose. They attract and provide nectar for bees and butterflies. They add color and texture to my yard. Some have a dreamy fragrance and some leave flowers in my puppy’s hair. Most of these flowering shrubs also attract hummingbirds when they are passing through. The flowers provide nectar for the birds. Your yard can be a pit-stop on their journey.
Turk’s Cap comes in both red and pink varieties. I have the red version. It
prefers full sun, but will do quite well in partial sun. It may grow to 5 feet tall and wide depending on the conditions in your yard. It is easily trimmed to a manageable size for most any yard. It blooms profusely from early spring well into fall.
Jatropha also has pink and red varieties. This shrub can grow to 5 feet tall but will stay more compact and grow more upward than outward. It will also bloom from early spring into the fall. Again, this shrub prefers full sun.
My Mock Orange is a transplant from my mother’s yard. This woody shrub will have a brilliant show of flowers in May. It will be completely covered with white orange blossom flowers. It is also very fragrant. It may be trimmed to maintain a certain size, or if in a corner of your yard, it can grow to a large 6 feet tall and wide anchor shrub. Full sun is preferred, but it will still bloom with a little bit less than full sun.
My Blue Plumbago is a small, hardy, profusely blooming shrub. It will grow to 4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. This sun-loving shrub can easily be trimmed to maintain a certain size.
All of these shrubs are heat and drought tolerant once established. Of course, they do need occasional watering. Shrubs can handle a lot of foot traffic and lots of dog interaction. I still get the beauty of a flower bed, but in a more upright position. I like to think of it as a dog safe upright garden. She still has the run of the yard, and my flowers are safe above ground.