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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Two exits west of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
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This is a great spring for blooming plants. One of the most noticeable plants is the primrose jasmine. They are the large (6 feet tall, 12 feet around) dark green mounds covered with yellow half-dollar-size blooms. Unfortunately, unlike most of the other jasmine, primrose jasmine is not fragrant. It is an invincible xeriscape plant, however, and the deer do not eat it, so it is a good choice for most San Antonio neighborhoods. Primrose jasmine blooms best in full sun but can tolerate considerable shade.


Another plant that looks a lot like primrose jasmine from a distance is also blooming now; it is Lady Banks old-fashioned rose. Some Lady Banks have a fragrance and thorns, but most are thornless without much of a fragrance. The flowers can be a lemon-yellow color or white. Deer eat at the Lady Banks but in my neighborhood they (the Lady Banks) manage to outgrow the browsing and bloom above the browse line. Lady Banks is even larger than primrose jasmine and is also a good xeriscape plant.


Bridlewreath spirea has creamy white blooms on a weeping shrub. It makes a good xeriscape plant but will be eaten by deer and does not get as large (6’ by 6’) as Lady Banks or primrose jasmine. Bridlewreath has some shade tolerance but blooms best in morning sun or full sun.


The irises are blooming wonderfully this spring. A cool, long spring suits them well. The old fashioned blues and whites bloom first and now the fancier German iris are ready to make a show. They come in yellows, whites, blues, maroons, oranges and bicolors. Many have pleasant fragrances. Irises are premiere xeriscape and deer proof plants. I like to use them as groundcovers for full sun areas. The sword-like foliage is attractive all year.


Iris rhizomes are still available in the nurseries. Planted now they will not bloom this spring but will be ready for next year. Some of the later irises available in containers at nurseries can be transplanted to the garden in time to bloom this year if it is done quickly.


The pink-red blooming trees just under the edge of live oaks and other large shade trees are redbuds. They are inconspicuous for most of the year but make a good show every spring. There are several selections available. The Mexican, Texas or Oklahoma versions seem to tolerate drought better than the Eastern redbud. Deer do not seem to like redbud foliage or blooms in most neighborhoods.


Whereas the redbud is an irregular old-fashioned small tree that does best hidden among the plant border, the Bradford pear is at its best as a specimen tree in full sun. It is a fast but disciplined grower that produces a compact crown which is now covered with white blooms and light-green new leaves. There are other ornamental pears closely related to Bradford that are also blooming now. Most are sterile so there will not be any fruit.


Mexican buckeyes are sometimes mistaken for redbuds. They have pink flowers and shade tolerance as well, but they are less tree-like and often form thickets along fence lines. Redbud fruit is a long pod and Mexican buckeye fruit are in capsules with four compartments. Most Mexican buckeyes have seeds on the plant through the spring. If you can’t tell which pink-blooming plant it is, get close enough to see if there are still four-section capsules hanging; if there are, it is a Mexican buckeye.


I have written about Texas Gold columbines many times. They are among my favorite plants with their maidenhair fern-type foliage and yellow shooting star blooms. They are blooming now in clumps under deciduous trees. I like their blooms and their foliage. They make a great groundcover if your neighborhood is not blessed by a heavy deer population. Texas Gold columbines looks too lush to be a xeriscape plant, but it is a native of West Texas and prospers in our climate.


If you take a walk in a typical San Antonio neighborhood the fragrance of grape bubble gum is floating in the air. Texas mountain laurels do not bloom for a long period but they are spectacular every spring with their purple flowers and fragrance. Texas mountain laurel is a native plant that has outstanding landscape value. Besides the bloom, it has shiny evergreen foliage and has great drought resistance as it grows into a small tree or large shrub (15 feet). Grow it in full sun for maximum bloom. Even in a neighborhood populated by a heavy deer population, spring can still be a festival of blue with irises and Texas mountain laurel growing side by side.