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.

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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

Purple Blooms

Continuing with the color theme, today the focus is on purple, the color of royalty.

bloomingnow3This Jackman Clematis (Clematis jackmanii) was chosen because it is reported to be a good clematis choice for our area.  Other clematis have prettier and more complex flowers.

bloomingnow1After its initial flourish of flowers, it hasn’t bloomed again.  Clematis is supposed to be an easy vine with lots of blooms.  So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe it needs fertilizer.

bloomingnow2I do like the color and size of the blossoms.

bloomingnow7It’s crazy that some Larkspur are still blooming.

bloomingnowdMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) really are purple.  I don’t know why these look pink in the picture – probably the strong sun.  Can’t get any easier than this plant.  The biggest problem is that they spread with underground runners.

bloomingnowfAnother winner is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  The flowers are all gone now.  But I just trimmed them back for a second blooming this summer.

bloomingnowvI love the look and smell of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  The color is too subtle for some people’s taste.  But the soft pastel blends in well with stronger colors.

bloomingnowwGregg’s Blue Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) is also a light purple, almost a lavender.  It’s pale color makes it look bland except for all the butterfly activity.  That gets one’s attention.

purpleDeep purple African Violets is the prettiest violet, in my opinion.

white3One stalk of French Hollyhock (Mallva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) survived from the rust fungus.  It was actually not in the flowerbed, but just outside the yard in the weeds.  I transplanted it, so we’ll see what happens next year.

Flowerbeds5This is the flowerbed that I was going to be cautious and not over plant.  Who knew the bushes would get so big and the flowers reseed and multiply so well?  Not me, obviously.

purple3The Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are especially tall this year.  All the rain in May made everything abundant and hardy.

flowers8Such a pretty flower.

purple5The Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook) has been like a Jack in the Beanstalk plant that just keeps getting taller.

purple6Unusual flowers and foliage make it an interesting plant in the yard.  It’s another purchase from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  One of those impulse buys without much knowledge of its characteristics.

Purple robes may have belonged exclusively to the kings, but fortunately, we can enjoy it where ever we wish, including our gardens.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864

New Flowerbed

Yep.  Another lasagne garden flowerbed was created this spring.  But this one has a twist that helped another problem.

frontbed10For years I’ve bemoaned the fact that the front walkway is too narrow.  We’ve learned that the wide open vistas require that everything be bigger to fit the scale.

Besides needing a flowerbed to break up the yard space and another space for plants, we opted for a plan that would also visually widen the flagstone walk.

frontbed6By using rocks in the same color palette of the flagstones, the eye is tricked into perceiving this as one space.  After building the lasagne flowerbed in the early spring, we hired a young man to install the metal divider to keep the soil out of the rocks.

So far, so good on that. frontbed5This view is from one end of the bed.  As you can tell, the plants were given space to grow.  On the left is a Dwarf Crape Myrtle.  In the middle and in the foreground is a Blue Curls bush, and a clump of Texas Bluebells is on the right.

frontbed4This picture shows the bed in June after the rock border was finished.  I’m very pleased with the look. frontbed8Then, boom.  In the center of the bed a monster plant has taken over stretching out to about 7 feet.  All these plants came from either the Garden Club plant sale or the annual spring sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  I thought I was choosing carefully and researched the plants I wanted.

The day after the Wildflower Center sale, I was knocked down with a severe case of allergies that turned into a bronchial infection.  All this to say that the planting of all those purchased plants did not happen until weeks later.  So even though, I was still sick, it came to a point where they had to be put into the ground.   The placement was rather helter-skelter..

frontbed11This unknown plant was not a conscious buy.  Either it was mislabeled or I grabbed one from a different section than I intended.  Does anyone know what on earth this is?

Several low branches that covered other plants have been cut off.  The reddish trunk is about 3 inches in diameter.

frontbed12The long fronds or whatever they are look soft but are actually scratchy and have some sharp points on them.

The plan is to try to transplant this alien when it gets cooler.  There are some places away from other plants where it would look good.  If that proves impossible, it will be tossed.

frontbed9Love the twirling hummingbirds.

“Old age is the most unexpected thing of all the things that can happen to a man.”  James Thurber

Summer Wildflowers

After the baking sun has wilted many plants, animals have sought refuge in the shade, and humans are inside with A/C, the summer plants that thrive in the heat are in their glory.

sunflowerNothing says summertime like Sunflowers.  it’s really surprising how many different varieties there are.

In fields of sunflowers, they all face the same direction, which is known as heliotropism.  I always thought that this trait of facing the sun was the source of the name sunflower.  But I have read that the name comes from how they resemble the sun with the yellow petals being the rays.

sunflower2These are actually called Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus).  My granddaughter asked me earlier this year who named all the wildflowers since so many have fanciful names.  Not much imagination on this one.

sunflower4Sunflowers are native to the Americas.  Seeds were carried to Europe by the Spanish explorers in the early 1500’s.

During the 18th century, they became popular in Russia because their oil was used during Lent when other oils were forbidden.

sunflower3When I see a sunflower, I think of the lyrics to John Denver’s song: “Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.”  Don’t know why that connection.

bluebellsThe Texas Blue Bell (Eustoma grandiflorurn) doesn’t require much water and in fact, won’t survive in soil that doesn’t drain well.  The foliage is somewhat thick, like a succulent.

bluebells2They are a beautiful sight in the pasture.  I still wonder why they are called blue rather than purple.  Also, the bell shape isn’t immediately obvious.

Blue Bell Ice Cream from the Brenham creamery is sold directly to 22 states, mostly in the south.  On a tour of their plant, it is explained that the brothers who started the company named it after these wildflowers growing in the surrounding fields.

bluebells3This year I planted Blue Bells in my flowerbed.

bluebells4With watering, they should bloom longer.  But in an elevated bed, they still will not have their feet standing in water.

unknownIsn’t this interesting?  I don’t know what it is and don’t know if I’ll be able to find it again after it opens.

I’m glad there are flowers and plants for all seasons and places.

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.”  James Matthew Barrie