African daisies (also known as Gazania) stole my gardener's heart last spring and summer. They took a short nap for a few months and here they are popping up again already! Said to be annuals, they do tend more towards perennial growth in warm climates. We had no true freezes in southwest Houston this winter, so both of these plants were content in their containers, growing bushier than ever. For a long time I thought of the leaves as striped, but when I took these photos today, I saw that the front of the long bladelike leaf is green, while the back of the leaf is white, not that it shows very well in my photos.
I planted some African daisies from seed last year and also impulsively purchased a few at Joshua's Nursery. I believe the two shown above are from the nursery plants. Looking at my seed packet, I remember now that the ones grown from seed were of the "Stars & Stripe" Gazania variety, even more beautiful to me (see below). I am glad I did not use all the seeds last year and intend to grow some more. They have so much personality! The seeds came from Seedville USA.
In general, I am holding back in the yard. We decided not to grow tomatoes this year. The water bill runs high when the rains don't come. The time and care necessary to achieve success just seems too daunting. Maybe it's an age-related preference. Every summer for more than 20 years, I have grown tomatoes with mixed results. We did best with the Juliet variety, but so many other varieties were not worth the effort. I continue to strive for a less-is-more look in the yard. I am always fighting the invasion of ferns and ruella which tend to run rampant, though we appreciate them as part of the yardscape. I am even considering removing my Belinda rose and replacing it with something easier. Rose care in a humid climate is daunting; often I can barely keep up with black spot disease. Growing herbs is easy enough, so we will continue to cultivate basil, rosemary and mint, etc.
Later in 2015 we will be tearing down our old garage and rebuilding a bigger one with a larger footprint so my husband can have a man cave when he retires. His wing of the garage will have air conditioning and a workbench we can both use. A few months ago we hired an architect to design the building. Now we have those plans in hand so the next step is to seek approval from our subdivision's Architectural committee. We don't want to build in the heat of summer, so hopefully all of this will take place next fall and/or winter. Here we are in mid-February, technically winter, but it sure feels more like Spring. And so it goes on the Gulf Coast of Texas.....