Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In a Vase: Bits of Bougainvillea

I haven't had too many blossoming flowers during our scorching 100+ degree F days in Central Texas to be able to clip for pretty summertime bouquets.  However, one heat-loving plant did start to put on a hot and showy summertime display - my bougainvillea.

The bougainvillea is native to South America and thrives in the heat and sun.  In Central Texas, it dies back to the ground in the winter, but always returns late summer with a beautiful display of flowers on new growth.

To help promote flowering, once the plant starts putting out blossoms, I snip back the limbs to stimulate the growth of more flowers.  I didn't want to throw the pretty papery flower clippings into the compost pile, so into a vase they went - and are really quite long-lasting and great looking cut flowers.  I just wish I had more going on in the garden right now so I could add some complimentary blossoms to the vase.  I suppose the simplicity of a single type of bloom in a vase has its own unique elegance.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the In a Vase meme every Monday.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Summer 2015

I was slacking the last couple of months on posting blooms for Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens (even though I was diligent about taking pictures), and since I have minimal August blooms, I figured I play a bit of catch-up with my summer-time bloom pictures.

WARNING:  an excessive amount of flower pictures follow.


Since we had a mild start to our summer temperatures and a lot of early summer rainfall, the June blooms were fabulous.

One of my favorites for the month were the sunflowers.

I love how bright and cheerful they are.

The bees certainly loved their pollen.

Some of the sunflowers were planted on purpose, like these along the fenceline.

Some were volunteers from fallen birdseed...like these ones.  I love how their faces follow the sun.

The echinacea or purple corn flowers were out in full force.

Daylilies were finishing up with their late spring-time blossoms.

The antique roses went through a bloom cycle, including the Heritage (David Austin) and 

Mrs. B. R. Cant (Cant & Sons).

The butterflies were loving the Black Knight butterfly bush,

as well as the Texas lilac vitex, which is a Texas Superstar.

My orange canna lilies had a great mid-summer season, after I divided them and spaced them out last fall.

The nectar of the zinnias spread around the garden are a favorite treat of the hummingbirds, whether they are purple,


or pink.

The shasta daisy seeds that I spread around last fall finally blossomed and made great cut flowers.

And to finish up the June 2015 blooms, here is a petite little blossom of my ice plant, which I had gotten several cuttings from my neighbor last fall - gotta love free pass-along plants!


My favorite blossom of July had to have been my deep purple morning glories.  Such a vibrant color greets me every morning!

The roses continued their summertime showcase, including Abraham Darby (David Austin),

Heritage (David Austin),

Mrs. B. R. Cant (Cant & Sons),

Madame Joseph Schwartz (Earthkind),

and Graham Thomas (David Austin).

The orange canna lilies continued going strong, with a nice magenta backdrop of my neighbor's crepe myrtles.

July finally got hot enough for the blue plumbago to come out to play,

as well as the shade-loving Turk's cap in pink,

and normal red varieties.

While hanging out in the shade, I saw that the giant liriope grasses were also blooming with their delicate spires of purple flowers.

Other July blooms included the garden phlox,

more coneflowers,

Black-eyed Susans,


and trailing lantana.

The veggie garden was even putting on a show, with beautiful okra blooms,

as well as cucumbers.


Finally onto my few August blooms...there are the reliable, heat-loving annual zinnias - here in a giant purple variety.

The bougainvillea has started to bloom, but I just clipped back the branches today to encourage even more blooms in a couple weeks.

The bright orange of the cosmos help lighten the drab appearance of the sun-scorched garden.

 And to cool off with some shades of purple, we have the lavender finally blooming,

As well as the pass-along Mexican petunias, which are keeping cool in the shade.

If you've made it this far, thanks for checking out all my summertime blooms in my Central Texas zone 8b garden.  I can't wait to show you next month's blooms, when we really start getting into the most colorful time of the year for our area!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Crock Pot Freezer Spaghetti Sauce

If your garden tomatoes have been as bountiful as mine have this year, you have tomatoes coming out the wazoo and can't find enough recipes to use them all up!  Thankfully, I found this easy-peezy crock-pot tomato sauce recipe.  I don't have the patients, or time, for canning tomato sauce, so this recipe was just what I needed, and the sauce can be safely stored in the freezer so it can be enjoyed for months to come (if it lasts that long)!

Crock Pot Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
(makes about 4 quarts)


  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I usually put extra in for extra garlicy flavor)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 16 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive/grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste


1.  In a slow cooker, saute together the onion, garlic, green pepper, and vegetable oil. Cook until onion is transparent.

2.  Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low heat. Stir frequently.

3.  Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers. Store in freezer.

4.  When ready to use sauce, thaw, heat over stove and stir in can of tomato paste.  Feel free to add other ingredients that you prefer in your tomato sauce - I like ground turkey and mushrooms.  Serve over pasta dish and enjoy!

Note:  Foodsafety.gov says that you should use frozen soups and stews within 2-3 months of freezing.