Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oh! Leander

Nerium oleander

Nerium oleander, a semi-tropical shrub that a lot of folks take a chance on growing up this far north. My mom's yard has a number of them, in various shades of pink and white. They're much more common down where she and my dad have taken Isaac, along the gulf near Corpus Christi, but when they're put in a fairly protected sunny spot and given the right conditions, oleanders do okay up here.

And they really lend a lush, tropical, exotic feel to a landscape. I like 'em.

The resident Texas garden-guy, Neil Sperry, doesn't like them so much, but I think that's because too many people just willy-nilly plant them up this far north when they're really not adapted to this zone. I figure, though, if you want to take the risk and you're aware of the possible consequences of a complete freeze at some point in the future, you might as well go for it. It certainly won't happen every year, or even every other year. We just don't get that cold here, at least not for long enough to do real damage. My mom's an expert gardener, anyway, and has a real knack for green growing things.

I love Neil Sperry, by the way. He has had a radio call-in program in the DFW metroplex area since 1980 and the man just knows what he's talking about... a reasonable, mature, smart guy with a lot of gravitas and integrity who's worth listening to. When we lived in Iowa for eleven years, I lamented that there just didn't seem to be any resources available that were geared specifically for Iowa landscapes -- I had been accustomed to Neil Sperry and his devotion to Texas-specific gardening, and even though I didn't expect there to be a radio host, I did sort-of hope there was at least a BOOK or a magazine or something that I could refer to. No such critter existed, though, that I could find. And that's a shame. Every state should have its own Neil Sperry. We're really lucky in Texas to have him.

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