African Bulbine/Other Flowering Plants

Fantastic weather.  Our mornings have turned cool:  50’s and 60’s greet us early.  With highs in the 80’s, this is really autumn.  Not only are we enjoying it, but plants are rejuvenating with a sigh of relief.

stillblooming9This is probably the best time of the year for Purple Heart and African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’).  More flowers  appear and the color of both flowers and foliage is stronger.

Since the Bulbine is native to South Africa, it is an annual here.  Mine stay in pots that must be brought inside during the winter.  They survive well in our shed kept just a few degrees above freezing.  In the spring when we bring the pots out, I pull out a few clumps of the succulent leaves and plant them in a bed.

stillblooming6For some reason, I cannot get a good close up that shows the true colors of Purple Heart.

stillblooming7This is better, but the flower is a little deeper pink in reality.

stillbloomingaTexas Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’) are such a delight.  This one is hardy to Zone 9.  An important note for those in lower number zones.  Buy the Gold Star and not a tecoma grown from seed.  Otherwise, it will be an annual.

stillbloomingbPreviously I had tried the Esperanzas sold in chain stores.  Losing them in the winter made me a believer in the Texas hardy one.

stillbloomingcA few Purple Cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea) keep opening up.

stillbloomingdTheir colors are paler, but still pretty.

stillbloomingeThe cone flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

stillbloomingiThe Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) bushes have spread this year and the flowers have been brilliant.  They have become established and just make themselves at home.   The bushes spread out like a queen draping her skirt out beyond her throne.

Turk’s Cap can be grown in the sun or shade.  In the sun, they flower more, but their leaves do better in the shade.

On the right is an Autumn Sage.

stillbloominggLots of pollinators love Turk’s Cap, including this Splinter Moth.

stillbloominghRussian Sage is still covered with blossoms.  With their soft pastel color and indistinct form they look like a Monet painting.

And now from Art Master’s Gallery is a picture that speaks to our drought situation.

mousesidewalkCute, huh?

“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better.
Every problem comes to break us or make us.
The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.”

The Lady Wore Red

Chris De Burgh’s “Lady in Red” lyrics include these lines:

“I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight.  I’ve never seen you shine so bright.”

A red dress is an attention getter.  Red flowers have that same effect in the garden.

ladyinredEven a common old fashioned plant like Canna Lilies are still striking.  Not only do the bright flowers shine, but the large leaves fill up a space.

They have the added bonus of being low maintenance and easy to grow.  They probably bloom better with a little more water, but mine do fine with less than ideal amounts.  The rhizomes multiply yearly which makes it easy to share the bounty.

ladyinred5Dynamite Crape Myrtles have a deep, deep red color.  For all of central Texas, Crape Myrtles are one of the best flowering small trees around.  They come in so many different colors and are a trustworthy performer.

I’ve read that Dynamites are fast growers.  That has not been my experience.  Granted, the soil here is dense clay with lots of caliche and rocks.

They did not even bloom for the first two years and only had a few flowers the third year.  Just when I was about ready to give up, they were covered with full, gorgeous clusters.

ladyinred6Crimson Pirate Daylily is new this year.  We’ll see how hardy it is in this climate.

ladyinredbThe Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has bloomed several times this year and none last year.  Sometimes plant performance is a conundrum.

ladyinred9The wind whips it around pretty hard.

ladyinredaThe pods for new blooms are clustered behind the one already open.  So far, only one flower at a time blooms.

ladyinred8On a different branch a flower pod awaits its turn.

ladyinredcTurk’s Cap flowers are small but so attractive.  The large, thin leaves look totally unsuitable for our hot summers.  But it’s in full sun and has survived for five years, continues to grow and get larger.

ladyinreddRed Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have shoots coming up all around the mother plant.  It surprised me to learn that hollyhocks are short lived with only a 2 to 3 year lifespan.  However, they readily reseed.

ladyinredp.jpgFlame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus Nees var. wrightii) looks so unimpressive from a distance with the red washing out in the sun.

ladyinredfUp close each tubular flower seems bold.  Also known as Hummingbird bush, Wright’s desert honeysuckle, Wright acanthus, Mexican flame, and Wright’s Mexican flame.  So it’s no surprise that hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects flit around it.

ladyinredgAll the new little bushes sprouting in my beds attest to the fact that it reseeds profusely.

ladyinredo.jpgBack in full force, Strawberry Field Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) has filled out this spot nicely.  Each flower contains about 60 seeds.  That accounts for all the new plants this year.

Gomphrena also makes a good dried flower.  I tried a few last year.  If cut when the color is vivid, the color holds pretty well.

ladyinredr.jpgOne Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) still has a few blooms but has mostly gone to seed.  It is indigenous to the southeastern US and is a member of the phlox family.

Standing Cypress or Texas plume, Red Texas star, Red gilia has been difficult for me to get established.  I don’t know if that is because it is biennial here or that the seeds are not sprouting.  But it is such a striking plant that I keep trying.

“One of the most breathtaking concepts in all of scripture is the revelation that God knows each of us personally and that we are in His mind both day and night.”  Dr. James Dobson

Cool is Good

What a difference the cool days and nights make.  A sigh of relief is heard from all of nature.

firecrackerBright red  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii) shines in the sunlight.  It is not covered in blooms like this today as some have fallen off.

africianbullbineBoth of the above hot weather plants are doing well with the cooler days.  Orange African Bulbine  (Bulbine frutescens) has lots of orange and yellow blossoms waving in the wind.  The bed of purple Wandering Jew also sports many lavender flowers.

bluemistGregg’s Blue Mist (Conclinium greggi) just keeps on giving to the butterflies.  I always puzzle over the name of this plant.  Where is the blue?

bouganvillaEven though Bougainvillea is a warm tropical plant, even it seems to be enjoying less heat.

turkcapTurk’s Cap, Texas Mallow, Mexican Apple, or Bleeding Heart (Malvaviscus drummondii) has outdone itself this year.

Its many good qualities include being drought tolerant, surviving heat, and growing in many types of soils, wet and dry environments, and sun and shade.  This means it is grows well in far West Texas arid sand, in East Texas gumbo soil, and in North Central Texas black clay, and in my rocky caliche.  Hooray for this great plant.

plumbagoImperial blue cap Plumbago (Plumbago auriculate) also has bloomed and bloomed this year.  It is native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial there.  It loves the sun, but will freeze back here.

iceplantThere seem to be several plants called Ice Plant.  Both of the blossoms of my two look similar, but the leaves are different shapes.  The one in this picture doesn’t bloom  as profusely as the other one.  I have been unable to find a more specific name for them.  But they are wonderful succulents.

mexican petuniaAnother plant that flourishes here and blooms from late spring to the first freeze is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  I have the tall version shown in the picture and the low ground cover one.

Sunshine is needed to grown them.  The tall ones form colonies of woody stalks and can be invasive.

mexican petunia2Their flowers have crinkly petals.

Such a nice time of the year.  It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors.

” I have CDO.  It’s the same thing as OCD, but all the letters are in alphabetical order…As it should be.”
Tee shirt humor

Rain Works Wonders

Everything looks better after a rain, except, for sopping wet dogs and cats.  But the blessed rains of this week have put new life in all the vegetation here.  Even beyond the much needed moisture, the overcast skies and lower temperatures were extra bonuses.  The lowest recorded temperature in July and the lowest high recorded in July both happened this past week.  What a fabulous week.

turkroseofsharonThe Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriaacus) loves a little extra drink.  They are all covered with flowers.  One of them is shown behind the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and Lil Miss Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in this picture.

roseofsharon2The Rose of Sharon, like all the plants that have a flower that resembles Hibiscus, can transport me to Hawaii or other tropical places I’ve visited.

hibuscus15Sweet rain drops.

hibuscus14I can’t recommend these hardy plants enough.  Even when it’s hot, hot, hot and they get little water, they survive.  They don’t bloom much without some watering, but they stay alive.

daylilyEven a Daylily (Hermerocallis fulva) bloomed with the extra dose of water.  All the buds indicate more to come.  It’s past their normal blooming time but love that pop of color.

purplesage2The desert Purple Sage, Cenizo (Scrophulariaceae Leucophyllum frutescens) blooms burst out after a rain.  Every time I see one of these bushes, childhood memories of the West come to mind.  Although I haven’t read Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, the whole western book and movie genre is very familiar.

I’m also reminded of the Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”.  Those songs were a favorite of my Dad, and every Saturday morning the radio was tuned to a country music station.  Although, country-western is not my own personal preferred music style, it brings back good thoughts about my youth.

bluemistBlue Mist is blooming enough to draw Viceroy butterflies.  As more  flowers open up, there will be tons more butterflies.  I’m not sure if this is a Conoclinium coelestinum or a Conoclinium  greggii (dissectum) because the difference between the two is slight to untrained eyes.

This week has brought blessings of full water tanks or ponds, drainage into lakes, green fields and grasses, and a wonderful respite to a hot summertime.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bold Red

Guess I’ve mentioned before that I really love the way red flowers brighten up an outside space.  It’s so strong and vibrant.  This post shows some examples.

redspheresThese Strawberry Field Gomphrenas (Gomphrena haageana) really do remind me of strawberries.  These are the first ones I’ve tried, so I hope they love the heat, as advertised.

redsphereLove the red with little yellow tips that look like stars.

victor crepeThe flowers on this Victor Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) don’t look as deep a red as the picture on the label indicated.  But it has just started blooming, so we’ll see.   I’m counting on the dwarf size promised on the tag.

turkscapThe bright red flowers of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) stand out against the dark green leaves.

turkscap2This variety of Turk’s Cap is named after a Scotsman, Thomas Drummond, who traveled to America in 1830 to collect plant specimens from western and southern US.  He spent twenty-one months in parts of Texas.  He also noted 150 species of birds.

turkAlthough I don’t know who named this plant Turk’s Cap, it comes from its resemblance to the old turbans worn by the men in the Ottoman Empire.  This is a painting of Mehmet the Conqueror who ruled in the 1400’s.  He ended the Byzantine Empire and set up the Ottoman Empire composed of Turkish tribes.

When the Ottoman Empire fell at the end of WWI,  Mustata Kemal Ataturk set up a democratic government in Turkey and eliminated the use of turbans, fezs and the Ottoman script.  He is known as the father of the modern Turks.

turkscap3My Turk’s Cap has survived very well in full sun and is a reliable perennial.  It is now on the Texas Star plant list.

dynamitecrepe3This Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Whit II’) has bicolor blossoms this year.

dynamitecrepeSo I’m guessing that this variety of Crape Myrtle is the result of cross breeding.  Maybe the bush is now producing the two colors from those original different types.

dynamitecrepe2The three bushes I have are seven years old and are covered with showy flowers this year

“One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well.”  Louis Kronenberger.

Autumn Blooms

It happens every October or November.  A few colder days makes us actually believe that summer is over.  It never is.  But the cooler temperatures have given new life to plants that have endured the summer furnace.  Cooler here means in the high eighties with lows in the fifties at night.  But we’ve had a few nights in the low thirties.  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii) or Hummingbird Bush is a shrub that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.  This one was bought at the spring plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflowers Center in Austin.  It’s hardy and does well in full sun, blooms in the summer and fall.  It does need average regular water.Although Lil Miss BiColor Lantana isn’t the orange and yellow flowered Texas Lantana growing wild in the fields, it does well here, grows fast and takes over a large space.  Its branches arch out about five feet.  Lantanas are deer resistant, so they are very popular here.

This one came from a stray shoot growing in my mother’s yard in West Texas.  This particular kind of lantana can take over a space.  But occasionally, I just lop off any unwanted long branches.

The Blackfoot Daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are still going strong.  They are a Texas native that love full sun and are a great border plant because they don’t grow taller than a foot.  Blackfoot Daisies bloom all summer and into November.

This New Gold Lantana (lantana x hybrida) has spread out about eight feet and continues to be covered in blossoms.  It has survived for five years and is great here because it tolerates our sun and heat and blooms constantly from spring until a freeze.  New Gold Lantana is on the Texas Super Star list, which means it is one tough cookie that survives our extreme soils and climate.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) or Texas Mallow is on the left.  A small part of a Autumn Sage or Salvia or (Salvia greggii Gray)  is in the lower right of the picture.  Both are favorites in Texas gardens because they perform so well.  They both grow in a variety of soils all over Texas.  The branches  of Turk’s Cap grow upright but tend to lean.  The red flowers have swirls with red stamens sticking out the top.  I don’t see that it looks like a fez, but that’s where the name came from.

Turk’s Cap grows in shade or sun but does better in the shade.  In the sun, sometimes it gets mildew, although I haven’t experienced that.  It has dense, deep roots, so it doesn’t transplant very easily.

Autumn Sage is also known as Cherry Sage or Gregg Salvia.  It is in the mint family and has a minty scent when brushed against.  It is native to the US and is a work horse in gardens across Texas.  It is a 2-3 ft. tall shrub that blooms from spring to frost and is drought tolerant.

I’m thankful for Texas native plants and for those that have adapted well to living here.  I love plants that flower and endure the heat.

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-.George Bernard Shaw