Over the past several months we have been promoting Texas Superstars, those plants that have been tested for several years at four diverse locations around the state and found to thrive in all.
One might now ask where to see them. One good location is the IDEA Garden, one of the four gardens in the Tyler Rose Garden complex maintained by the Smith County Master Gardeners. The IDEA Garden is in the far southeast corner of the Rose Garden. One section of the IDEA Garden has been dedicated to showcasing Superstars. The section — actually two small sections separated by a crushed granite pathway — is identified by a sign posted on the fence.
Of the 74 plants designated Texas Superstars by the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, the IDEA Garden has 34. Most have Superstar tags; others have ordinary tags. Some are hard to find, however, since the plants grow faster than we can move the tags! Some, like Texas Gold columbine, have already peaked. Some, like John Fanick phlox, are in their prime. Others, like Gold Star esperanza, have been slow to come back this year because of our peculiar winter and spring weather. With summer temperatures these are now growing rapidly.
Annuals to look for are the Serena Series angelonia or Summer snapdragon, Whopper begonia, Baby’s Breath euphorbia, Globe amaranth (Gomphrena), Rio Series mandevilla (Dipladenia), Laura Bush, Tidal Wave Silver and Tidal Wave Cherry petunias, Butterfly Deep Pink penta and Cora Series vinca.
Perennials are Texas Gold columbine, Princess Caroline Napier grass, New Gold and Trailing lantanas, Turk’s cap, Katie Dwarf Mexican petunia (not a garden thug like its full size cousin), John Fanick phlox, Cape plumbago, Mexican bush sage, and Henry Duelberg, Mystic Spires Blue and Mystic Spires Blue Improved salvias.
Per-annuals are those plants that are perennials in tropical Texas but are annuals in Tyler. If our winter is not too severe and they are heavily mulched, some will survive here, however. IDEA Garden per-annuals are Brazilian Red Hots alternanthera, Pride of Barbados (not yet blooming due to the delayed summer onset), Duranta or Brazilian sky flower, Gold Star esperanza (smaller than usual due to weather), Firebush, Firecracker Jatropha, Variegated tapioca (also smaller than usual due to weather), and thyrallis or Shower of Gold.
Woody shrubs to be found are Belinda’s Dream rose, and both Blue Angel and White Angel altheas.
A specialty plant is the Balsamic Blooms basil.
Although not in the designated Superstar section, the IDEA Garden does have a Possum Haw deciduous holly. It is spectacular in the fall, and cedar waxwings love it.
So we Master Gardeners extend an invitation to you to come see our gardens. Come often. They change weekly. By the way, we have a lot more than Superstars.
The Smith County Master Gardener program is a volunteer organization in connection with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.