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England Goes to Texas

air date: January 4, 2014

Even if your garden isn’t Downton Abbey, most likely it has roots in English garden design. Find out why with insight from Texas A&M University’s Dr. William C. Welch. On tour, Jennifer and David Stocker built on childhood memories from across the pond when they designed their drought-tough garden on limestone. Daphne Richards explains why favorite northern plants, like peonies, can’t make the move to the Southwest. Her Plant of the Week is drought tough lamb’s ears, but find out why we can lose it. Merrideth Jiles from The Great Outdoors brings the garden indoors in low-care terrariums, even with succulents.

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Question of the Week

Peonies

Can I grow peonies and other favorite Northeastern/Midwestern plants?

Unlike Kylee Baumlee, who gardens in Ohio and blogs at Our Little Acre, Southwestern gardeners can’t easily grow peonies like her lovely ones.

When gardeners leave colder, rainier regions to put down roots in Southwestern states, it’s natural to want the plants that are familiar and close to their hearts. Once here, though, it’s best to choose plants that can withstand our soil, rocky sites, and harsh, hot weather.

This impulse for northern plants is actually more ingrained in us than you might realize. The first botanists in the United States brought with them plants from their native European homes. They also brought along plants that were collected and treasured by British and European botanists, who were the world’s leading plant collectors at a time when interest in botany was skyrocketing.

And so, the plants that were brought with the Brits became very popular in the nursery trade, and so did plants that were native to Northeastern states. Along with the development of our nation, our gardening interests developed. Businesses responded to fill the need, so widespread garden knowledge was (and often still is) based on that Northeastern foundation, making us long for the beautiful plants, like peonies, that we have been “trained” to love.

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Plant of the Week

Lamb’s Ears

Lamb’s Ears

Stachys Byzantina

Lamb's ears is a ground-level perennial, admired for its silvery color and fuzzy texture. It loves hot, arid conditions, perfect for a waterwise garden. Its fuzzy, floppy foliage complements taller or spikier plants that don't need much water. It's a perfect foil to lots of green and pairs wonderfully with any color. It's grown for its foliage but you may get a few flower spikes in summer. Lamb's ears are perennial and are easy care plants in Central Texas landscapes. Although listed as full sun, they will do best in hotter climates if protected from the intense heat of the late afternoon. Plant in in well-drained soil. They may rot in heavy clay soils, especially during cold, wet winters. And adding a little compost to planting beds if you can, would be a good idea. Being perennial, the top portion of the plant will die back in late fall or early winter, so give them a good pruning after you notice they top growth is dead. These gorgeous little wooly plants can tolerate cold temperatures well below freezing, so the roots don't need much protection in winter. Getting only 6 to 8 inches tall and a foot wide, Lamb's ears make great border plants in the front of garden beds.

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