Cool Autumn

Cool autumn refers to the temperature, but, also, how terrific it is.  Isn’t it astounding how many benefits come from rain?

Not only has the rain lowered the temperatures, it has provided water for plants to produce lots of flowers.  One of my favorites is Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus).

Turk’s Cap blooms in the hot summer months, but with extra moisture, it explodes in color.

Rain provides plants under a porch cover with moisture in the air.  This African Blue Basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum ‘Dark Opal’)  was small this spring.  The ends of branches have been snipped off to use to flavor dishes several times.

This basil does not seed, so cuttings must be taken to root for new plants.

Behind the basil is Autumn Joy Sedum, with flower clusters forming.  Beside that is Asparagus Fern, then a pot of Kalanche.

Autumn Joy Sedum is now in full bloom.  It only blooms in the fall, but the large succulent leaves makes it a worthwhile plant the whole year.  Plus, it does not need winter protection if it is nestled close to a dwelling or in some other protected spot.

Obedience Plants (Physostegia virginiana) shine on.  So cool.

Dusty Miller has survived another summer in a pot.  To the right is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower.

Mexican Petunia has enjoyed the rains, which have transformed the scenery from brittle, drab brown to brilliant emerald green.

Wild Aster filled in this flowerbed.

It’s a pretty little bush and covers up the spent bulb flowers in this bed during the hot months.

Fabulous Bachelor Buttons or Strawberry Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa) is a bright, happy plant.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) just keeps on keeping on.  It blooms and grows further out of its bed.

Ahh, refreshing rains and cool weather.   Good for the soul.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

Hardy and a Surprise

Plants that stand up to weather and time are excellent investments.

This Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is about 11 years old and continues to thrive in its small confined place.

It’s a large shrub with clusters of unusual yellow flowers that attract pollinators.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) has been another survivor.  It’s also about 11 years old.

Although it’s a tropical plant, it can survive here if it’s planted in a place protected from north winds.  So it’s not a shoo-in for our area.

Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is the best plant to attract Queen butterflies.  The flowers themselves are unimpressive, but they definitely provide the needed nectar.

If you plant them, they will come.  And stay for the duration until winter.

Always a pleasure to look out the window and see the flurry of activity on these flowers.

Also very hardy is a large variety of weeds that are tenacious.  It’s a constant struggle to keep them out of the flowerbeds.  But that’s to be expected since we live in the middle of pastures.

Pink Surprise Lily or Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera) was definitely a surprise for me this year.  According to my records, the bulb was planted 4 years ago and has never bloomed before.

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

In the Good Old Summertime

“In the good old summertime, in the good old summertime.
Strolling through the shady lanes with your baby mine.
You hold her hand, and she holds yours,
and that’s a very good sign.
That she’s your tootsie-wootsie,
in the good old summertime.”

This song comes from the Tin Pan Alley group of New York City music publishers and songwriters that started in 1885 and went through the early 1900’s.  It was originally the name for a specific area in the Flower District of Manhattan.

To me, the good old summertime means what’s happening in my yard because of the heat and lack of rain.

These are the small palm tree looking stalks that forecast the blooming of Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius).  In spite of the name, they are drought tolerant.  The stalks will reach 7 feet with small sunflowers by the end of August.

Reliable Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii), a Texas native, continues to flower with their cute little turbans.  It grows well in most parts of the state in sun or shade.

A great plant for our super hot summers.

There are two birds that we can count on every summer:  Hummingbirds and Barn Swallows.  The creation on top of this Hummingbird feeder is the work of Barn Swallows.

Barn Swallows are pretty birds that look for a ledge where they build a nest of mud, grasses, twigs, etc.  The birds stand on these ledges and poop all over whatever is beneath that ledge.  They also return to the same nesting area each year.  This includes their young as adults.  Swooping in low, they almost run into your head.

Because the population had increased so much and nested under our covered front and back patios, there was always a mess on the floor.  So, we hired a carpenter to eliminate the ledges.

Although they are fewer in number this year, they now build nests on the brick walls and anything up high like where this feeder was hanging.

What a mess to clean up.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a perennial bush that stands up to the heat.  It’s pale color isn’t too showy, but the scent of its foliage is wonderful.  The bees also love it.

The perennial Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) does well in the heat if it’s watered.

Bees flock to its small flowers.

“There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer’s day than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air.”  Peter Mayle

Summer White

Generally, brightly colored flowers are my first choice for the yard.  However, white ones add sophistication and calm in the garden.

This Moon Flower, Thorn-apple, or Jimsonweed (Datura wrightii Regel) usually produces pure white flowers.  This one has a slight pinkish tinge.  Not sure why.  This is a shady area most of the day with some early morning light.

Please ignore the clutter below the flower.

Datura is a narcotic and if ingested, could be lethal.

This Butterfly plant is in a container.  It seems to have done better in the heat than the ones in a flowerbed.  It could be because I’m more conscientious about watering potted plants because I’m afraid they will dry out quickly.

White Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri) is a pollinator magnet, plus it looks lovely swaying in the wind.  Note the visitor in the upper right corner of picture.

This Purple Datura actually looks white with a hint of purple along the edges of the petals.  Pictures on the internet show some with a deep purple color.  The Purple Datura originates several places in Asia.

The leaves also differ from the white Datura.

Daturas are annals that have large, prickly seeds that drop to the ground.  If conditions are good, a new plant will grow.  Or the seeds can be saved to start new plants.

Night bloomers, so early morning is the time to see their flowers.

Love the double petals.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia trachysperma) is in the Cleonmaceae family and has the look of the more popular Spider Flower or Cleome.

Seeds from Clammy Weed from a friend who is into natives.  Plant one and have a generous crop next year.

The plant’s height is about a foot tall.  Many consider it a weed, like the name.  And, it is definitely sticky or clammy.

One characteristic of the Southern Crinim Lily is the growth of the bulb to a large size and the multiplication of the bulb.  While it may be difficult to dig up, it’s a great pass-along plant that will be appreciated by the person receiving it.

The flowers tend to droop slightly.

There are conflicting views on the web – what?  Old views say that white clothes are cooler in the heat, while darker ones absorb the heat.  This view was practiced by the rich in the 18th and 19th century.

New views espouse that black is actually cooler because skin is hot in the summer and therefore reflects the heat back to the body from a white garment.

Anyway, white looks cool in the summer.  Just enjoy whichever floats your boat.

“It sometimes strikes me how immensely fortunate I am that each day should take its place in my life, either reddened with the rising and setting sun, or refreshingly cool with deep, dark clouds, or blooming like a white flower in the moonlight.  What untold wealth!”   Rabindranath Tagore

Shades of Pink

Color in the yard provides a lift to the spirit.  Especially when the summer heat is parching everything.

One characteristic of a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum), is a swollen trunk just above the soil level.

The flowers on this succulent are lovely.  Because it is a desert plant, it must be protected inside during the winter.  Strangely, it does better in filtered light rather than direct sun.

A gift from a bird has multiplied into a small forest of Germanders.  They are in the mint family with clusters of tiny flowers with a touch of pink inside each petal.  This variety grows to be about a foot tall.

Nothing like annual Petunias to bring some pizzazz.

Good old faithful succulent Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia) returns every year when the weather warms up.  This one has been in a pot for years.  Because our winter was so cold, it took longer to spring back and bloom.

Basket Flower (Plectocephalus americanus) is native to the southwest.  The buds look like thistles.  But this one isn’t prickly.

By the middle of summer, the buds dry and the flower is almost white.

But the pollinators aren’t picky about the color.

One of my all time favorite flowers is Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).  The common name seems so wrong since they are pink rather than purple.  It generously reseeds making for some surprising locations of new plants each spring.

The round red flowers are Strawberry Gomphera.

When the sunlight hits coneflowers just right, they glow.

Even without petals, their dome-shape form is so attractive.  Just can’t say enough good things about these wonderful garden charmers.

“A mind is like a parachute.  It doesn’t work if it is not open.”  Frank Zappa

Fading into Summer

Some spring flowers, especially bulbs, slowly fade away as the heat of summer looms heavy and seems to drop like a blanket.

Stella de Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis Stella D’Oro) is a profusive bloomer with dainty flowers close to the ground.  They have a pretty long blooming period, but give up when high temps arrive.

Ditch Daylilies or Tawny Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) also have a long bloom period.  This picture was taken at the height of the spring.

Still, a few hang on.  These are old fashioned lilies that have been around a long time and are as tough as nails.

This common daylily is a different species than the typical hybridized daylilies sold at nurseries.  They may be only available as a passalong plant.

Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) is a show stealer.  This spider-look lily was developed in 1949 and is still popular.

Paired with Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’), the look is fantastic.

Some nurseries advertise Crimson Pirate as a summer lily.  But here, in Texas, it is a spring one.

Crinim Lily bulbs are huge and multiply often.  They like the heat and can survive in full sun but appreciate some afternoon shade.  These had to be moved out of a flower bed when fiber cable was installed.  I was surprised that they bloomed this year.

Crinim Lilies are old timey Southern passalong bulbs.  They can be found at abandoned houses where they have survived for many years without any care.

Bee Balm, Monarda, Bergamot, or Oswego tea is also at the end of its spring time show.  This picture was snapped a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a hardy perennial that grows 2 to 3 ft. tall and needs staking.  I put a wire cage around them, which works well.

The form of these flowers always makes me think of the Shaggy Dog movie.  Not only are they pretty and bright, pollinators love them.  Bees and hummingbirds visit them often.

With the temperatures into the three digits, early morning is the only time to garden and to actually enjoy the garden.  Hope you can find a time to enjoy being outside, wherever you live.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Prov.12:18

Flowers, Art, and the Bizarre

Santa Fe offers lots of art galleries, flowers in yards and in public places, churches, and totally unexpected venues.

A walk down Canyon Road on a cool evening is a pleasant activity.  There’s plenty to see.  The red orange flowers are Yarrow.

Art galleries abound and have nice displays outside.  Since I know the prices are crazy expensive for the paintings and statutes, I am more interested in the plants, many of which I can’t identify.

The Mexican Feather Grass to the right of the seated Indian statue is an popular stand-by in our area of Texas.

Quirky.

Don’t know which variety of salvia this is, but it’s a beautiful deep purple.  The yellow Columbine looks like butterflies darting around.

Clever Rock, Paper, Scissors sculpture.

Many yards have Hollyhocks, which are lovely and reseed plentifully.

Red Hot Poker plants (Kniphofia reflexas or Kniphofia uvaria) add some pizzazz to this bed.

Like the look of a stone flowerpot.

Love all the bronze sculptures in Santa Fe, especially the ones of children.

Plants can be crammed into the smallest spaces.

We visited a bizarre attraction.  Forgive the blurred picture.  Meow Wolf is a 20,000 square foot experience entertainment business.  One enters different rooms via fire places, refrigerators, closets, etc.

New openings of Meow Wolf in Denver and Las Vegas will be in the near future.  The Santa Fe location generated $9 million last year.  The gift shop and online store gained revenue of over a million dollars.

Lots of neon contributes to the eeriness.  Using mallets, these ‘dinosaur bones’ produced musical tones.

This “ocean” is full of color.

Pressing on a cloth wall triggers more neon.

A jumbled maze of crazy entrances and spaces filled with unique decorations draws visitors into a confusing path with waiting surprises.

The New Mexico state capitol building reflects the adobe buildings of the area and the circular shape represents the Zia sun emblem on the state flag.  It’s very unlike the Texas capitol.

The walls inside the capitol are covered with individual paintings and other art work.  The public is welcome to walk through all the corridors to view the art.

In the center of town, the large old churches are reminders of the mission period in the southwest.  Shown here is The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

There are three museums on Museum Hill.  The bronze statutes all around Santa Fe reinforce the importance of art to the city.

A fun place to visit, Santa Fe offers many unique sights and experiences.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”   Winston Churchill

Bloom Time

Spring here has been on/off this year.  We still haven’t carried all the potted plants out of the shed, yet.  But it’s been warm enough for lots of flowers in the yard.

All the different colors of Iris have been beautiful.  It’s amazing that the flowers aren’t blow away because the winds have been so strong.

This small Western Catalpa or Catawba (Catalpaspeciosa) looks good in the spring but looks shabby in the hot summers.  It’s also known as Indian bean tree or cigar tree and is native to the U. S. Midwest.  The bean name comes from the 8 to 20 inch long seed pods in late summer.  The tree is three years old, but there haven’t been any beans, yet.

I was actually looking for an Orchid Tree, but a local nursery talked me into this one, instead.

Online information indicates that they should be planted in dry areas in any kind of soil and in full sun. This location checks all those boxes.

The flower shapes resemble an orchid.  We’ve debated about digging this tree up because it looks so bad with tattered leaves after enduring many days of wind , but can’t bring ourselves into taking out a living tree.

Lots of Amaryllis have bloomed in the yard, both single and double flowers.  Maybe our extra cold winter was what they needed.

Last year we bought a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis)  The picture on the label showed a fuller flower.

Also, it doesn’t have a scent like I expected.  It is supposed to be a good pollinator bush, especially for bees.  Still waiting to see how it performs.

I do love Irises.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Asia and Europe, but has naturalized in many parts of the U. S.  In Texas, we consider it a native because it’s so prolific.

Ox-Eye shines on tall stems and steals the show.  It does spread, but I consider that a good thing.  It can be dug up pretty easily.

Victoria Blue’ Salvia is a gorgeous perennial that was bred in 1978.  The flowers last a long time and can endure some shade.  It returned after a severe winter.  Love the strong, bright color.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  Hope your spring has been filled with flowers.

“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person.  Your behavior does.”  unknown

A Classical Garden

Recently, a garden club member invited us to see her garden.  I was blown away to find such a garden in Brownwood, Texas.

To me, it has all the elements of a classical garden – formality, large statues, topiaries, precision, and clean, neat lines.

The garden was especially colorful because blooming annuals are displayed in pots and tucked into bare spaces in beds.

Personally, I don’t invest in many annals because I’m cheap, I guess.  So I can’t identify many of them.  I do recognize Coleus, Petunias, and the purple Oxalis.

Snapdragons?

Another thing this garden has going for it is the raised beds.  There’s not very deep, but contain good, loose soil.

The whole backyard is surrounded by a ten foot wall.  That’s a plus because it blocks the wind from blowing in weeds.

There are 50 rose bushes in the yard.  I like that they are surrounded by other plants, mostly annals.

The flagstone pathways keep it all neat.

Not a  single weed.  It’s not surprising that the yard owner also owns a nursery.  So plant knowledge and maybe some help from employees keeps this place shipshape.

All these pictures were taken about 1 o’clock, with the sun directly overhead.  This creates harsh light and dark shades.  Not the best pictures.

Caladium, which is another annual, Hosta, and a water thirsty perennial Hydrangea all need shade.

The peachy color is alluring.

I think this is Penstemon, but it might be Foxglove.

The white flowers are Peonies, which surprised me because peonies need a long period of cold weather and a neutral soil pH.  Neither of these are part of this situation.  So these might have to be replaced periodically.

A beautiful garden anomaly for this town.  Just enjoyed the visit and returned to my life in a field of native grasses and weeds.

“The sad part about getting old is that you stay young on the inside but nobody can tell anymore.”  unknown

Spring Flowers

A colorful spring makes each day special.  It also provides abundant conversation topics between strangers and friends.

Most Texas blooming native plants, especially west of Interstate 35, say adios when the heat arrives. Who can blame them?  The summer can be unbearable.  This spring has been cooler than most.  Maybe that’s a good omen about the upcoming summer.

Texas Spiderwort (Transcantia humilis) is a native of Texas and southern Oklahoma.  It blooms March through June.

A crazy mystery about its name.   Why was it named after John Tradescant, who served as a gardener to Charles I in England in the 1600’s?  It’s a western hemisphere plant!  There must have been a reason.  Anyone know?

Golden Columbine or Golden Spur Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) has a delightful, zany flower.  It also blooms a couple of months in late spring before the weather gets hot.

Really interesting flower formation.

Several years ago Columbine was planted in a front flowerbed.  Here it is now in a side bed.  It’s also in several flower pots.  I don’t mind that birds and wind spread it because it so cheery and unique.

Found this Dianthus at Lowe’s.  It’s impossible for me to just walk past the plants.  The colors are almost neon.

Dianthus is mostly native to Europe and Asia but does very well here, especially if it’s shaded from late afternoon sun.

I think this is a Four Nerve Daisy.  Can’t even remember how long ago a couple of these were planted.

Even if it isn’t Four Nerve Daisy, I know it’s native because it was purchased at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

And then, there’s the re-blooming Bearded Irises.  Not native, but thrive here.

This light pink one is new.  As you can tell by the large cluster of the ones behind it, irises spread nicely.

Peachy gold and white ones.

Irises are just so easy.  Drop a bulb into a hole at the appropriate height;  once and done.  Plus, it creates new bulbs.  How great is that?

Another native, Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri) grows low to the ground and provides a pop of yellow.

Love the beauty of spring.

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.”  unknown