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North Texan gardeners learn quickly the meaning of "micro-climate." The concept is that small sections of your yard differ in growing conditions from all the other tiny areas that can be carved out of your growing space.

However tedious it may be, it pays dividends to pay close attention to water, soil and sunlight. I call one Texan micro-climate "The SunRay of Death." Morning, noon and teatime, the space is peaceably in shade, cool, moist and soothing. At 5- 6 o'clock a laser ray of sunlight and brutal heat strikes this micro-climate, incinerating fern, Japanese aralia, creeping low growers, hellebore and even hydrangea.

I picture myself in a space movie, as I watch my well-tended plant curling up in brown-leaved doom, frantically looking around me for the source of this evil-empire devilry. And sure enough I spot it: a gap between tree bough and fence, an un-looked for seasonal shift of the sun's path, or just plain oversight when I planted in spring.

Yet, sometimes the micro-climate magic works in your favor and miraculously an uncommon plant to these parts thrives! Such a specimen is Philadelphus Snow White Sensation. It's common name is Mock Orange. The light, intoxicating, citrus scent of this shrub will knock you out. The contrast of the creamy white blooms and bright green leaves romance the onlooker to picture drinking iced tea and lemon in long dresses on the porch one afternoon.

The growing guide will tell you this beauty likes full sun, but they don't mean Texas-style! My thriving plant has dappled light all morning and early afternoon with shade in the SunRay of Death late afternoon.

When we step outside, the fragrance wafts over invitingly and it is such a joy to take a small moment to appreciate nature in its glory.

Contact us for guidance if you want to try one!

#mockorange, #microclimate success story, #NorthTexas gardening, #beat the sunray of death

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Whether a longtime North Texan gardener, or someone new to the pleasure a garden brings, you need to add Peonies to your plant watchlist.

Yes, watchlist, not crazy Reddit stock picks here, (although there is a great flower called stock), but rather a plant to fall in love with and figure out where the heck it will fit in your garden.

Peonies delight all. There are two types of peonies and both grow well here in Texas. There is the tree peony and the herbaceous one. The velvet petals, the vibrant colors, and their vitality wins gardeners over. Who doesn't covet the Festiva Maxima? They have multiple, lovely white petals with ruby red traces of color! Tree peony can come in a buttery yellow with single saucer petals.

Team Alanis has been successfully growing Peonies in Texas for about 7 years now, but there are a few guidelines. First, peonies require a lot of sun, even in our hot summers. Second, they require lots of nutrient-rich soil. Our team has a number of fixes for our clay soil, so don't worry there. And they do require even watering.

Yet once these beauties establish in your garden, get ready to Wow your friends and neighbors with this English garden mainstay!

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