A Few of My Favorite Greens

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”

– Pedro Calderon de la Barca


The end of February is upon us, and J. and I have officially made it through our first full year of pollinator gardening. Having lived and breathed the garden’s dynamic kaleidoscope of color and movement, I can honestly say that the emergence of buds cannot come fast enough at the Schulz house.

For many of us, gazing out the window at winter landscapes dotted with scraggly drab twigs and crumpled up leaves can seem a bit overwhelmingly depressing. It’s not surprising, then, that the urge often exists to “cut it all back” and get rid of the brown. I get it. I truly do. But for pollinator gardeners like us, the lanky brown-ness must subsist, for beneath all of that misshapen debris lies a dormitory of snoozing insects just waiting for the alarm clock of spring to buzz (no pun intended). Dead vegetation is also a corner store for winter birds, providing left-over seed pods for consumption and material for nest construction. This is one example in life where garden function must supersede form. So what do we do with all of this brown? I say interject some green.

We’ve had some pretty cold temps in North Texas this winter, so cold that even our Frostweed iced, so I was surprised to see some of our plant varieties in the pollinator garden actually maintaining their green. If you are beginning to think about planting for the spring, I would highly suggest incorporating the following selections into your design, as they will continue “going green” throughout the winter and, thus, inject a little life into your deceased landscape, so to speak. They also might be the one saving grace that keeps those hand pruners and shears tucked neatly away, as they should be, for the winter.

So, try a few of these specimens out and see what you think. I snapped all of the primary photos of the plant while temps were still in the 30’s outside.  These are a few of MY favorite greens!


Curley-Leaf Parsley


This was truly our winter showstopper!  We had temps down close to 10° F, and our parsley just kept on trucking.  I can’t attest to flat-leaf varieties and their ability to sustain the cold, my guess would be that many wouldn’t be as hardy, but the curley-leaf was a winner. Throughout this blog I will try to give the specific scientific name on anything, so that if you look to make a purchase you will know exactly what you are buying, BUT that will also require committed organization on my part, which means not discarding the original packaging. Sadly, I can’t provide the exact Genus and Species for this variety, BUT I will be hosting a plant share this spring to promote #plantsharenow and will have a few potted starts to share.  In addition to its continuous greening abilities, parsley is an excellent host plant for the Eastern Black Swallowtail. I should mention, however, that if you happen to plant fennel next to your parsley, the Swallowtail will eye your fennel as a slice of chocolate cake and your parsley as an apple. We’re all fine with eating apples, but, given the choice, most of us will choose the cake. Planted side by side, our fennel WAY out-performed the parsley in Swallowtail attraction.

Female Eastern Black Swallowtail release, post-hatch.


Spanish Lavender

We bought this species (Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’) as a plant start from a local nursery. The purpose in our purchase was for its blossoming fragrance and ability to attract bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds, and we really didn’t even think about its evergreening capabilities. I like this addition because it easily grows from 1 to 3 feet tall, creating some nice wintry green height to any bed.  We have two clumps flanking each end of our pollinator garden for balance. With the other nectar choices that we had in our garden, again chocolate cake versus an apple, I found that butterflies and hummingbirds landed elsewhere, but the bees absolutely loved this plant.


Pink Primrose


A third favorite, and kind-of a bonus surprise, was this variety of Primrose. Apologies here for sure. I have no idea about the specific scientific name. This came in a wildflower mix packet in one of those, “Let’s see what happens if we just scatter this,” moments. I will have some starts of this available at the #plantsharenow event this spring as well. Primrose is a clumping plant that easily spreads in colonies, so to speak, so it can make for an excellent ground cover. Some of the leaves will turn a lovely crimson in fall and winter, speckled among the green, so it also provides additional color interest. You can see in the photo above that a few of our clumps seem to exhibit the possible beginnings of Botrytis Blight, by the brown spots appearing on the leaves. This wouldn’t be surprising, considering all of the moisture we have had lately, coupled with the lack of air flow that often happens in clumping plants. We’ll have to get on this soon so that it doesn’t spread!


Dwarf Mondo Grass


I cannot compliment this Dwarf Mondo Grass enough! We purchased this variety in flats from a local nursery. Unfortunately I did not keep a tag, but I will also have volunteers for the taking, that have begun spreading into unwanted territory, at #plantsharenow. We planted our pollinator garden on a pretty steep slope, so we used this mondo grass as a bottom border between the bed and the concrete sidewalk to help deter runoff and soil erosion. We planted the initial plants (across a 40+ foot span) about 6 inches apart, from center to center, and a year later the entire border is completely full, with no visible space between plants. This border remained green and full throughout the entire winter season, which helped consistently define our garden as “a garden” to passers-by on walks with children and dogs.

I know it seems a bit strange, as spring is upon us here in North Texas, to be discussing winter…but if you think ahead with some of your plantings this spring, you just might find yourself a little happier on the tail-end of the 2018 brown dog. 😉

All the best,

A. J.

– All content images by Amanda J. Schulz


Do you have a favorite winter green? Tell us about it below!

Why They Call It “Frost”weed

”Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem.

Most things are judged by their jackets.”

– Baltasar Gracian


I have to say that mid-January in North Texas was pretty painful.  Temperatures in the Dallas area dropped into the low teens but with no snow, no school closings (at least for us) and no hanging out in pajamas with popcorn and hot chocolate watching mindless television all day. It was simply bitter, frigid, cold, with absolutely nothing to show for it…that is, except for the Frostweed.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have mentioned this favorite of pollinator plants in several articles. It’s a wild specimen that everyone should domesticate as an absolute must for attracting loads of bees and butterflies, especially nectaring Monarchs. Early in my pollination obsession, I grew Frostweed in a school garden. I assumed, being the novice that I was during that first autumn, that the name “Frost”weed must have originated from the delicately clustered milky, white flowers towering above me.  That couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I didn’t realize, until I happened to come across an article by Monika Maeckle, with Texas Butterfly Ranch, that Frostweed gets its name, not from any normal blooming adornment, but rather from a process that happens within the plant under extreme weather conditions. As Monika writes, “Upon first frost, the stem splits, the sap oozes out and freezes to form fascinating curled ice ribbons and intriguing sculptures. That’s why it’s called Frostweed, or sometimes, Iceweed.” I was absoLUTEly intrigued. From what I had personally witnessed in the school garden, though, it was a bit of a stretch to say that the process would occur at first frost.  I had watched our garden several times, as temperatures dipped below the freezing mark, and nothing happened. Again, kind-of like no snow, school’s still on and you’re wearing a suit and heels instead of your PJs. I just wasn’t sure when I would get to witness this phenomenon in Dallas. Then, mid-January of 2018 hit, and, as crazy as it sounds, sixteen degrees gets you exACTly where you need to be.

I have to give big kudos to my husband J. He had taken our trash cans around from the street to the garage and noticed, what he thought, were plastic bags caught at the base of our Frostweed plants. When he went to grab them, though, he realized something far more amazing had happened. He sashayed through the back door and calmly said, “You’d better check your Frostweed.” He didn’t have to elaborate. I knew exactly what that meant. I was SO excited to FINALLY have stands of this amazing plant dressed in wintry dazzle. I skipped outside, still in my robe, no less, and there they were…lovely ribbons of ice, curled around the stalks. Absolute perfection. I had to tip my hat to Old Man Winter on this one.

I was so bummed, though, because I had to dress to go show houses to a client (real estate in the Dallas market waits for no one and no thing). I told J. it would be up to him to take my camera and photograph what he could before it warmed up to thirty-six that day. This would be the kiss of death. The Cinderella Frostweed would not leave even a glass slipper behind at this ball. So, while I was working that morning, J. grabbed the camera and headed to the pollinator garden for a photo shoot. He laughed later and said, “I felt like I had NO idea what I was doing.” I have to say, though, his shots are lovely. That’s the great thing about having a stellar partner in this life. A stellar partner happily picks up the slack to propel your dreams to fruition.

So, here’s to J., Old Man Winter and the beauty of Frostweed. Enjoy this phenomenon in the photos below and impress your friends at parties with your newfound knowledge. I should enter a disclaimer here, though, that this kind of party talk can go one of two ways. Either you will enhance your persona, as someone brimming with a vast amount of worldly knowledge, or the person across from you will frantically begin patting her head in the signature Elaine move to escape the conversation drag of whether a peanut is a nut or a legume. Here’s hoping you don’t get the head pat. 😉

All the best,

A. J.













– All content images by N. Jon Schulz


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