Oppressive Blanket of Heat

Just a week or two of high temperatures with no rain can transform a pretty garden to dry crusty leaves, dead flowers, and limp stems and foliage.

For the first half of July, everything still looked pretty good.  The Vitex on the left had finished blooming and the Pink Coneflowers still had some flowers.  I recently pruned the Vitex in the hopes that it will bloom again this fall.

Hardy Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) last a long time:  from mid spring until mid July, depending on the weather .  Their refreshing look makes me happy.  But everything has its limits.  100 plus temperatures and dry heat with no relief buries us all.

This year a whole swarth of them came up among the Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).

The Crinums bloomed longer than usual this year.  But now the flowers are gone and the long leaves are looking ragged.

Enjoyed them while they were here.

This Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis, S. indica) has struggled this year.  It receives some morning sun but doesn’t get direct sun after about 11 am.

The routine now is for me to get out early, just after the sun rises, and water pot plants every other day.  Because I have so many, it takes over an hour.  Gardening obession has gotten a little out of hand.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri has been changed to Oenothera lindheimeri, according to Wikipedia) still looks pretty good, although it has thinned out a little since this picture was taken.

Butterflies and bees love Gaura.  It always amazes me how the pollinators get anything out of some small flowers.

Pink Gaura also is surviving the heat.

I have several Daturas or Jimsonweeds (Datura stramonium) in the shade, so they are doing well.  Have to be out at night or early morning to catch their lovely white blossoms.

Purple Heart is also in the shade most of the day, so it is thriving.  I have mistakenly identifed Purple Heart  as Wandering Jew in some posts.  A friend pointed out that they are not the same plant at all.

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) marches on.  I don’t think anything can kill it.  In fact, I have been trying to kill some that is encroaching on a rose bush.  It took multiple applications of Round Up before there was any noticeable damage.

Mexican Petunias love the heat.  Can’t say that I agree with them.  Hope you live in cooler temperatures or can stay inside and enjoy A/C most of the time.

Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”  Edwin KeithSave

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Bulbs Blooming

Different varieties of Lilies brighten up a spring yard.

Three Crinum Lilies, planted a few years ago, have begun to reproduce.  With our blazing sun from spring through fall, they would melt in full sun.  So these are planted on the east side of the house which protects them from the harshest sun.

They do well in southern U.S. because they love heat and moisture.  Here we have heat, but extra water is needed.

“Ellen Bosanquet” Crinum Lily (Crinum “Ellen Bosanquet’) with its deep rose color is lovely.

Crinums have huge bulbs.

Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) have also spread.  Like other daylilies, each bloom lasts for a day.  But these open early in the morning and truly last until the sun dips.

Although it is recommended that Kindly Lights should be protected during mid-day hours, these are in full sun most of the day.

Really like the spider shaped petals.

Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) has a striking deep burgundy color with golden highlights.

Very reliable bulb.

The tiny stones seen in the upper left of the picture are expanded shale, which is a wonderful amenity for clay soil.  It’s expensive but lasts forever.

Good old “Ditch Lilies” come back for the 11th spring.  What more can one ask for?

Pretty color and the foliage lasts until first frost.

These Daylilies were planted in two long flowerbed on opposite ends of the house.  One receives morning sun and one afternoon sun, and they perform equally well.  Such a hardy plant.  Love them.

If you haven’t tried bulbs, I think they deserve a chance.

“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”             Albert Einstein

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Rising Heat

As temperatures heat up, I appreciate those flowering plants that can survive.  The high so far has been 99 which means we haven’t gotten into the crazy time, yet.

summerheat7This Pink Guara (Onagraceae Gaura lindheimeri) has gotten out of hand.  It is spreading rapidly now.  It was well behaved for about six years.  But it still looks so pretty swaying in the wind.  It will bloom continuously until the first freeze.

summerheat8And all kind of pollinators enjoy it.

summerheat6This long stem was bent low as this butterfly, maybe a migrating Monarch, hung on.

summerheat9The Crinums from the Amaryllidaceae family are blooming now but won’t last long.  They probably should be divided.  However, the bulbs are huge.  So I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that in the heavy clay without tearing them up.

summerheataVery few Gladiolas have bloomed this year.  The bulbs have been in the ground for years.  I divided a few in the spring, which is the wrong time of the year for that and too late for them to bloom this year.

summerheatbAhh, the tropical Hibiscus flowers are glowing.

summerheatcThis plant is about eight years old.  I love it.

summerheat2For years, we’ve had Barn Swallows nesting on a small ledge around both the front and back porches.  They make a horrible mess on the furniture and the front wooden floor and back concrete.  So this year, we paid a hefty fee to have the HardiPlank extended to eliminate the ledge edge.

The creative Swallows, who normally build mud nests on the ledge, made an entirely different kind of nest out of mud.

summerheat1We have been washing down all nests before they are complete or before eggs have been laid.  Hopefully, this will be our last year to battle them.

summerheatThe stems that look like palm trees are getting taller.  They are Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) will reach up high and bloom in late August.

Everyone who sees them at this stage are fascinated by their form.

summerheatdThis year I discovered Soprano Lilac Spoon Daisies (Osteospermum ‘Osjaseclipur’).  It is a hybrid from the Osteospermum family that includes asters and daisies.summerheat4It’s easy to see how it got the spoon name.

summerheateThe petals may widen out on the tips as the plant or the flowers mature.  We’ll see.  It’s not winter hardy.

summerheat5As I was hand watering, at my feet was a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) – probably looking for a puddling place.

summerheatfThis is a scented Geranium or Pelargonium ‘velvet rose’.  It is in full sun until late afternoon.  Such a lovely flower with leaves that have a mild rose smell.

Hope your summer is enhanced by flowers.

“Have the maturity to know that sometimes silence is more powerful than having the last word.”  Thema Davis

Drooping in the Heat

The beginning of summer was so mild.   Then the heat was switched on suddenly.  Everyday now is in the high 90’s with a few 100’s.  Some plants are just barely surviving while others are hardy enough to last here.

Is it really this hot every single summer?  Yes.  It’s just easy to forget that until reality sets in.   But the mild winters and the few months of spring are great.

bloomingnowThis Sage Sapphire Carpet (Salvia sinaloensis) is now history.  I should not have believed the label – full sun.  Ha!  If I had moved it to the shade, maybe it would be alive but wouldn’t bloom.

Nice to enjoy in the spring but not worth it.

Bulb Flowers4“Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is now five years old and produces beautifully.  Being on the east side of the house, they only get morning sun.

Bulb Flowers5They droop downwards, so kneeling on the ground is required to get a pix.  Still a beautiful sight in early summer.

flowerbushes1The Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) bush has spread out to about five feet.  With its large, thin leaves, I’m amazed that it survives in full sun.  It’s one of those great perennials that can be planted and forgotten about.   Water twice a week during high temperatures, and it’s good to go.

flowerbushes4Just love the turban flowers.

flowers9‘Victor’ Crape Myrtle is dwarf size with coral red flowers.  It’s three years old and still not as many blooms as I expected.

texas star hibiscusThis is the way Texas Star Hibiscus blooms should look.  In the past, mine have had that greenish yellow joint between the petals.

flowers1But this year it looks like a regular Hardy Hibiscus flower transferred onto a Texas Star Hibiscus bush.

flowersCrazy.

flowers4This is a Hardy Hibiscus across the yard.  This bush gets tall and has lots of blooms before the heat wilts it.  With frequent waterings, it remains vibrant.  I just water it enough to keep it alive this time of the year.

When the heat gets to me, I remind myself that it won’t last forever.  It will still be awhile, but cooler days are ahead.

“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” Paulo Coelho

Heat, Grasshoppers, Fireants

Three digit temperatures started yesterday.  The heat and relentless sun will soon start to take its toll on vegetation.  Also, a grasshopper invasion is chewing up everything they land on.  We’re used to the gray ones with a little green on them.  This year there have also been bright yellow and chartreuse ones.

daylily2The return of old favorites is reassuring.  Very few day lilies survived the last hail storm.

daylilyThese are the old fashioned pass along Daylilies (Hermerocallis fulva).

crinim2When the Crinim lilies started to bloom, I had to watch them closely.  They had to be cut and brought inside because the grasshoppers were feasting on them.

crinim3The bulbs of these C. Bradley Crinims are huge and can’t be easily dug up.  So it’s best to plant them where you want them.

crinimThe curl in their stamens don’t seem to characteristic to all crinim lilies.  These have a nice aroma.

fireant2Look at these pictures to see if you can determine what this mystery clump is.  First, a shot looking straight down from the top.

fireantThen a side view.  It’s 4 1/2″ tall in a clump of grass.

fireant3Another side view from a different angle.  What do you think?

We think it is a fire ant bed that started building upwards after it was sprinkled with a fire ant insecticide.  The powder is white.  But I didn’t disturb it to find out.

Texas has many native ants.  They aren’t as big a problem as the imported fire ants (S invicta).  Although most Texans consider them to be a recent problem, they probably were brought into the country in the early 1920’s.  Apparently, they arrived via the soil in some potted plants or in the sand ballast of the ships.

In recent years, they have become extremely wide spread in the southern part of the US and almost impossible to get rid of.  The insecticides seem to cause them just to move to another area in the yard. Their bite leaves a red area with some pus and a sting for several days.

crinim4A picture to remind us that there are many pleasant things outdoors.

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.”  Chinese Proverb