Boerne offers the beauty of central Texas, caves, and nature al natural.
The pictures in this post were taken at a Community Garden in the small town of Menard. There are raised beds that can be rented for growing vegetables. The garden is also used to teach Jr. Master Gardeners. They have a separate section with raised beds for them.
The flowers on Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) have a velvet look and feel. The problem is that it needs warmer winters. So, alas, it freezes back when I try to grow it. But it is a gorgeous plant.
One couple teaches the Jr. Master Gardeners and takes care of this garden. They recruit volunteers whenever possible. What a heart for their community.
Another tropical plant is Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). Their bright color certainly steals the scene and makes us all drool for one. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that no matter how much you want some plants, if they won’t survive the winter, forget them.
Anyone with a garden anywhere knows that plant choices are important. Sometimes we cannot plant something we really like.
“The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” John F. Kennedy
Plants that stand up to weather and time are excellent investments.
At zone 8a, we’re out of its normal range. The optimum zones are 6a to 7b. When it was planted, the zone maps put our area at 7b. Revised maps show we’re in a hotter zone.
I’ve since learned that the best growing conditions include a cold, long winter. Since we did have colder temperatures and a later spring, I guess that explains why it finally bloomed. Also, this lily prefers a dry, hot summer. Voila. We have that in spades.
The leaves appear first and die; then the naked stem with flowers appear.
Iron Weed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a native that grows in bar ditches and bloom with some moisture. They can be gangly growing 3 ft. tall with flowers right at the top of the stem. Their best feature is the purple color of the flowers.
I got a fistful of seeds from a friend about 4 years ago. The plants reseed and will spread out.
“Respect old people. They graduated high school without Google or Wikipedia.” unknown
Faster than the speed of light: at least, that’s what it seems like when you’re trying to photograph flying creatures.
Flame Acanthus grows in poor rocky soil and in direct hot sun, so it’s great for our location. It’s a perennial that does better if it is severely cut back in the early spring. It starts to leaf out late in the spring, but from then until the first frost, it is covered with small tubular red flowers.
Giant Sulfurs or Cloudless Giant Sulfurs (Phoebis sennae) must love red flowers. They have been a constant presence in our yard for a month. This one is feasting on Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), the last one left from summer.
“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” St. Augustine
Menard, Texas, is a small town with concerned citizens. One couple has taken on the project of educating children about gardening through the Junior Master Gardener program. They have classes for students from kindergarten through junior high.
This couple also maintains the citys Marjorie Russel Education memorial garden.
On this visit with the Master Gardener students who were finishing their course for certification, the garden was alive with butterflies. Bluemist Flowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) is a must have plant for central Texans to attract butterflies. I admit that I’m prejudged about this plant because it has been so successful in my own yard.
Monarch butterflies absolutely must have milkweed plants to survive. This tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is one of the showier milkweeds that is a beauty in the garden. Unfortunately, mine freeze each year and don’t return.
On the right are rose hips from spent roses.
Not only do the Junior Master Gardeners meet here and plant their own plots, anyone in the community can rent one of these plots for $10 to $30, depending on what they can afford. The city provides the water, and the couple in charge do the watering. What a deal.
I admire people who give of themselves to their communities.
“Trump and Clinton are like divorced parents fighting over custody of us. And we just wanna live with Grandma.” unknown
One philosophy of landscape designers is to plant large sweeps of one color for a bold eye catching display. They also say to have a limited number of plant varieties in a yard. Now I don’t follow either of those landscape rules. Not that I doubt their validity. It just that I prefer a cottage garden look.
In my opinion, one of the best plants to draw butterflies is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii). But even large groups of them aren’t that impressive except for all the activity of beautiful butterflies darting all around.
Some plants like this Russian Sage grew and spread beyond what I had expected. Putting one tiny plant in the ground, I certainly did not leave enough room for them to expand. So they are wedged between Earthkind® Roses and Salvia Greggi.
Last year we planted five along one edge of a bed. I had planned to put something else along the other edge. I tried some irises, but it looked lopsided after their blooms ended. So these are to fill in to make one larger group of roses.
Sometimes groups of flowers can be small but their brilliant color still grabs one’s attention. This Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) came from a friend. Many stems have been cut and rooted and shared.
Note the thorns on the stems. I have a cheap pair of kitchen tongs I use to handle them. Most of these stems will be cut off soon because it is too difficult to put the pot in the shed without tearing skin.
Gorgeous clusters of bright red from this Bougainvillea, still blooming in late October, steals the spotlight. It also has thorns and will need to be repotted in a larger container as well as trimmed back.
Whatever your garden style is, just enjoy it.
“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” unknown
One of the pleasures of gardening is the return each year of perennials. Success with plants is not always the case, so it feels good when it happens.
Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is one of those wildflowers that comes up wherever it pleases. If that doesn’t bother you, then it works. I like the way the white flowers kind of glow.
One of the best plant that gardeners in central Texas can have are Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii). Just step up close to them and have butterflies darting all around you.Blue Mists fill in spaces among other plants. If you like that, you’re good to go. If not, put them in a contained flower bed.
This group all came from one cutting that I took nine years ago. If you see something you like, then ask permission to take a cutting. If it doesn’t survive, then nothing lost.
Many hardly plants are found in cemeteries. These were growing on a grave when they were discovered, so they were named for the name on the tombstone.
Just a few seeds from a friend and voila, you’ll have flowers forever. But they are invasive, so beware.
Neat and tidy in the garden isn’t my thing.
Finally, a nursery man had one like it and told me it was a Texas Flowery Senna (Senna corymbosa). Other names include Flowering Senna, Tree Senna, and Buttercup Bush.
After about six years, it’s about 6 feet tall and wide. Great plant.
Wildflowers are just weeds. So pick the pretty ones you love and plant a few seeds.
“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” W. E. Johns
The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.
The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.
It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant. Color of the flowers is so pretty.
Rose 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..
Although 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.
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
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.
Pictures 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.
The 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.
Several potted plants still look good:
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
Whenever I go outside to move the water hose from tree to tree, I feel like I should apologize to all the plants for the heat. It’s unbelievable that they can live in 100 plus temperatures that continues for days.
In spite of the heat that takes one’s breath away, some plants continue to bloom.
Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, or Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’ is a survivor.Butterflies love it. Monarchs must have milkweed to survive, so this is a pretty one to have in your yard.
To get the orientation of this picture, Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii Torr.) or Baldwin’s ironweed or Western Ironweed, is growing in the pot to the right, but has twisted up to the left. It’s also called Tall Ironweed. Now I know why. This fall I plan to plant this in the ground somewhere, keeping in mind that it is aggressive.
Hope you find some beauty in this heat – maybe looking out of a window to a favorite view.
“Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat cake.” unknown