Pops of Color

As summer drags on with no rain, the field grasses are drying, so that’s a drab sight.   Some brightness in the yard is definitely needed.

Old fashioned Geraniums ignore the heat and keep on blooming, but they can’t handle full sun.

I got a start of these several years ago at a club plant sale and have kept several pots since then.  They’re easy to propagate by cutting off a stem and sticking it into soil.  Sometimes I remember to dip the stem in a rooting compound and sometimes I don’t.

Rose Moss(Portulaca grandiflorais) is another good old reliable.  This pot has been on my porch for about six years.  Every spring I question whether or not it survived the winter cold.  Then, just when I’m about to give up, they sprout and bloom.

When I think about how long some of these plants have been in the same pot, it surprises me.  This Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) is probably 11 years old.

Every winter, it goes into the heated shed, so I don’t know if it would recover otherwise. Cold hardiness is zone 7 – 11, but I don’t trust the new 8 zone listed for us.

I think this is Antimima concinna, a type of Ice Plant, that is in the Aizoaceae family.  The Aizoaceae family is huge with over 1800 species and is mostly endemic to Southern Africa.

This has been in this pot so long that I don’t even remember where it came from.  This lovely small flower is another one that will return after a severe winter.

http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/aizoaceae.html is a good source for all these succulents that look so much alike.

Tropical Ixora (Ixora coccinea) grows in most tropical areas but is prominent in Asian tropical countries.  The leaves feel stiff.  The clusters of tangerine colored flowers last a long time on the stems.

Mine is in mostly shade but gets a shot of late afternoon sun.  About 12 years old, this plant is a winner in my book.

Gorgeous.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is truly thorny, so it’s difficult to re-pot.  Mostly, I keep cutting off the long stems and starting new plants for plant sales or passalongs.  The stems need to harden a couple of days before planting.

About six years ago, I got a cutting from a friend.  The flowers last for months and are in a lovely color.  Native to Madagascar, they are tropical.

This spring I found a Thornless Crown of Thorns or Gerold’s Spurge (Euphorbia geroldii) at a nursery near Kerrville.  Whoopee.  It’s great to not dodge the thorns.

It is hardly to 30 degrees and likes semi-shade.  Mine gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will bloom just about year round, if brought inside during the winter.

Love it.

Finally, my Bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spectabilis)  is blooming.  Every year, I get impatient for this beauty to strut its stuff.

It needs lots of hot sun, lots of water, and some fertilizer to get it going.  The first time I saw this plant years ago on Turks and Caicos, I was smitten.  Even on those wind swept islands, it bloomed and flourished.

Such a beauty.

Hope some color is brightening your summertime.

“Credit is what keeps you from knowing how far past broke you are.  Debt is slavery of the free.”  unknown

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Heat Lovers

The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.

heatlovingDesignated a Texas Superstar Plant, the Texas Star Hibiscus, doesn’t look like a hibiscus.

heatloving1It has not been a heavy bloomer for me, but the flowers are unique.

heatlovingfTo me, the only reason to plant Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii A. Gray) is to attract butterflies.  These are truly covered from late spring to late fall with Viceroys.

The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.

heatloving2Bluemist flowers are small and not that noticeable or impressive.  The purple flowers to the right are a few larkspurs hanging on.

heatlovingg

heatlovingdOn the porch that provides indirect light, A Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has outgrown its container.  That should be fun to transplant.

It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant.  Color of the flowers is so pretty.

heatlovingeIce plant has been in this pot for years.

heatloving3A Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) that is a couple of years old has gorgeous blooms.

heatloving4This will grow into a tree with several trunks that arch out from the center.

heatloving5Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wildflower that came from the same lady who gave me the Crown of Thorns. The seeds are carried by the wind, so it comes up in unexpected places.

heatloving6Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) must be watered regularly to bloom.  But it is so worth it.  The other bush with red blooms is Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Dynamite’).  Both of these bushes are about 10 years old..

heatloving7Love Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. Ex G. Don SSP Russellianum) and Strawberry Gompheras (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) and Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

heatloving8One of my favorite flowering bushes, Duranta doesn’t begin to bloom until mid July when the temps rev up.

heatlovingaIt is in the verbena family.  The clusters of tiny flowers are breathtaking.

heatloving9Although Duranta does well in our hot, hot summers, it is iffy in cold weather.  Mine is on the east side of the house, so it gets morning sun and no direct northern winds.  A heavy mulch when it starts to get cold protects the roots.  So it’s a great plant if you have just the right place for it.

heatlovingbRecently we bought three new Crape Myrtles from a guy attending a gardening seminar.  He said that they are a new type called ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle and will grow to 10 – 12 feet tall.

heatlovingcLove the color of the flowers and that they have been blooming since they were planted.

Right after these pictures were taken, some of the branches were broken off and the flowers eaten.  Jackrabbits, I think.  Grrr!   So I put cages around them to protect them.

“… it looks to me like the upcoming U.S. presidential election will force Americans, to paraphrase the great American writer Gore Vidal, to cast their ballot against the evil of two lessers.”  Ted Woloshyn

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Indian Summer Blooms

Indian summer has struck again although this time of the year doesn’t follow the strict definition.  There has been no hard frost, yet.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac adheres to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer.”

It certainly feels like an Indian summer because we’ve enjoyed a spell of wonderful cool nights and days.  But now we are back in the grips of heat with highs in the low 90’s and harsh sun rays lashing out at us.

stillbloomingpThe purple Fall Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) came out when it turned cool.  Since they are hardy, maybe they will last for a while in spite of the heat.

stillbloomingrTheir color has faded.  While waiting for them to fill out with flowers, I sacrificed getting a picture with their deeper color.

Really must force myself to divide them after the last freeze next year.  That just happens to be when everything needs attention.

stillbloomingqA great autumn plant.

stillbloomingoThe Strawberry Fields Gomphera  (Gomphrena haageana) just keeps on shining.  One of my best purchases.

autumninpots3This Ice Plant is on a covered porch, but the late afternoon sun still shines on it.

autumninpots4Very heat hardy but dies in a freeze.  So some must be brought in for a start for next year.

autumninpots1The Autumn Sedum  (Sedum  spectabile ‘Brilliant’ Stonecrop) has started blooming, although the renewed summer weather has stopped that.

autumninpots2Maybe when it gets cool again, they will finish blooming.

autumninpotsAll of these pots are in the shade most of the day with a little afternoon light hitting them.

autumninpotspost6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)  is in a pot under a large Live Oak tree. So it is in the shadows all day but gets indirect light and seems very happy.

crownofthornsAnother Crown of Thorns is on a covered porch but gets lots of low late afternoon light.  It has flourished since the top was cut off which caused branching and a fuller plant .  The plant behind it is Oxalis.

Weather wishing doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying it.  I do want some of those cool days to return.

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Thomas Sowell

Little Spot of Floral Color

The British say they would like a spot of tea, which I enjoy, too.  But something else I crave is a little spot of color on living plants in the house during the winter months.

iceplantAnd sometimes, a little spot is all you get, like this flower on an Ice Plant.  But it brightens a windowsill that provides indirect light.

Just break off a few stems of an ice plant growing in a pot outside.  Stick the stems in a pot of soil and bring inside and keep moist until it roots and grows.  The outside plant will die during a freeze, anyway.  So you kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.  Rescuing a plant for another year and being able to enjoy it inside.

kolancheAnother plant that needs to be brought inside is Kalanchoe.  As this plant demonstrates, they tend to get leggy and the stems drape down.  To start another plant, follow the same steps as for the Ice Plant.  So it’s possible to keep starting new plants almost indefinitely.

kolanche2Even when the plant starts looking scraggly, the small clusters of flowers are pretty.  This particular variety of Kalanchoe has pale yellow and pink blooms in the small cluster.

kolanche4Each plant usually has lots of clusters at one time.

kolanche3Because many people desire flowers in their homes,  florists do a booming business.  But I love the fact that living plants produce flowers over and over.

“I grow plants for many reasons:  to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”  David Hobson

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

Softer Hues

Some of the old fashioned heirloom flowering plants have muted colors.  The first plant shown reminds me of my grandmother for some reason that I can’t really explain.

frenchhollyhock7This spring a friend gave me two French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) or Mallows.  This smaller version of Hollyhocks was new to me.

The flowers are clustered close together and just whisper, “Look how sweet we are.”

frenchhollyhock6One positive is that it doesn’t grow as tall as other hollyhocks, so it doesn’t lean and fall over.  Also, it is relatively disease free.

frenchhollyhock5The negative reviews say that it is invasive.  Honestly, if it grows well here, it tends to be invasive.  So, just pick your poison.

Mine are in full sun and are surviving, so far.  Of course, the grasshoppers are taking out chunks of the leaves.

plumbagoThe plant in the photo above was bought with a group of small plants at the spring Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant sale.  I thought it was a phlox, but I can’t find written proof that I bought a phlox.

Or is it a Plumbago?

plumbago3The delicate cluster of flowers grow on the tips of the long branches.

plumbago4Sure curious about what plant this is..

iceplant2Years ago I bought a tiny Ice Plant.  There are many varieties of this succulent with slightly differently leaf shapes and bloom structures.  Most nurseries just call them Hardy Ice Plant.

iceplantJust break off a branch and stick it into soil, and voila, a new plant.  They will freeze if the temperatures stay below 30 degrees for a few days.  So I always keep some growing inside during winter, so they can be put outside in spring.

iceplant3Ice Plant will be a good performer with regular watering and filtered light.

“Will you love me in December as you do in May,
Will you love me in the good old fashioned way?
When my hair has all turned gray,
Will you kiss me then and say,
That you love me in December as you do in May?”
James Walker