How Dry It Is

While the Gulf coast of Texas experienced horrendous flooding, the western and central part of the state were dry and dusty.  Here we’ve had 13 inches of rainfall this year, less than half of the average 27 inches.  We’re drier than even surrounding areas.  I suspect that’s due to the fact than our property is in a valley between two ridges.

Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is so hardy that some consider it invasive.  This has been here for about 11 years, and only two years ago did another one come up in the same flower bed about three feet from the parent plant.

The flower bed has drip line watering, so a voluntary in our hard clay dirt outside of the flower bed doesn’t seem likely.

The thin, narrow leaflets on the compound leaves that resemble Mesquite leaves means that there is little water evaporation, so it’s a great plant for our area.

A desert plant from South Africa, African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange African Bulbine’), doesn’t mind the heat.  It cannot take cold, so we’ve been lugging two pots of these into a shed each year for more years than I care to remember – probably 11 years.

The flowers aren’t showy but look nice blowing in the wind.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a prolific grower.  Also known as Virgin’s Bower and Japanese Clematis, it is such a vigorous plant that it must be cut back each winter.

This year the vine has suffered from chlorosis.  It’s one of those things I think of when I pass by it and forget later.  Just recently I read that the iron should be applied with Sulfur Soil Acidifier.  I bought some today, so there’s no excuse to postpone this task.

Sweet Autumn Clematis lives up to its name.  The sweet smell engulfs anyone near it.

Anyone familiar with Mexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) knows how invasive they are, but a patch of them is a stunning sight.  All this started from one little cutting I took years ago.

Every spring we dig them up around the edges to stop their spread.  This year I gave up and used several doses of Round Up to keep them contained.

And, oddly, I still like them.  They look great behind a bed of Blue Mist Greggii.

The Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) have begun their reach for the sky.  In spite of their name, they are drought tolerant and get very little water.

From spring until the middle of September, the plants have this palm tree look.

Then the stems start growing tall and sunflowers appear.

Extremes of weather plays havoc in gardens, but plant lovers just keep propagating, planting, watering, and weeding.  It’s can be frustrating but satisfying and rewarding.

“There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control.  We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help.”
Jan SchakowskySave

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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

This and That

A little rain, a lot of wind requiring holding on to a tree for stability, a little cool weather, and some flowers hanging on is the situation here.

autumnblooms4The Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is losing flowers quickly in this wind.  Earlier in the spring it wasn’t blooming profusely like normal.  But it recovered and is an interesting focal point at one corner of the house.

autumnblooms8It’s always a surprise where Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma) will come each year.  This year the holes of some insects left the leaves looking like tattered lace.

autumnbloomsmThe flowers are attractive but not bold.  With some decent foliage, it’s a nice looking plant.

autumnbloomsaI don’t know why it took me so long to discover Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha).  It’s a perfect plant for our arid conditions.  It’s a shrub that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.  Oops, I definitely didn’t leave enough space for its width.

autumnbloomsnMexican Sage is a sun lover, although it will tolerate some shade.  It is drought tolerant and attracts bees.

autumnbloomsoPlus, the flower spikes have a soft velvet look.

autumnbloomspJust makes a person want to reach out and touch it.  We’ll see how it survives the winter.

autumnbloomseThe Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) or Narrow-leaf Sunflowers put on their usual air show waving on tall stalks.  Most of the flowers are gone now, but they bloom for about two months.

autumnbloomsgOne stalk leaned over and it was easier to admire the flowers close-up.

autumnbloomshThe brilliant red turban-like flowers of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) just keep on attracting bees.

autumnbloomsfI love to watch all the flitting activity of the pollinators.  Very soothing.

autumnbloomsdSince Orange African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) is not winter hardy, I’ve kept it in two large pots for years.  But the last couple of years, I’ve planted some as an annual in one bed.  Each spring when the pots are put outside, a few clumps are hanging just over the edge of the pots with their roots out of soil, so I decided to just put them in the ground, where they last until the first freeze.

This is a water wise plant that does well in the hot sun and is a beauty.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.”
Chief Seattle Duwamish

Lookin Good

It’s always amazing to me that some plants do so well in our heat and are at their peak of performance this late in the summer.  Yes, it is still summer weather, no matter the date on the calendar.

africianbullbineAfrican Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens’) and Wandering Purple Jew (Tradescantia palliada) both survive very well.    Both are super tough and have low maintenance.  Of course, the Purple Jew or Purple Heart must be in mostly shade.  It needs just enough light, but not direct sun, to bloom.

bulbineEach year the heavy pots of African Bulbine must be carried into the greenhouse/shed.  This year I planted some directly into a flowerbed.  We’ll see if it survives the winter cold because it’s rated to survive in zones 9 – 11.  Maybe with enough mulch?

The Wandering Jew will also die when the first freeze occurs.  Never fear, it will come back in full force.

woodfernSurprisingly, the Woodland Ferns still look good near the end of September.

plumbagoWow, the Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) just keeps blooming and looking beautiful.

coneflowersAnd the Coneflowers (Echinacea) sparkle like stars.

swampsunflowers6Finally, the Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) have shot up and bloomed.  So tall.  They do not flower until late August or early September.

swampsunflowers5Next year I think I’ll take my friend’s advice and cut them back when they’re about 3 feet tall.  She tells me they will still bloom and not lean so much.swampsunflowers4One reason I don’t cut them back is that I like the palm tree look they have before the long stems shoot up.

turkscapAnother superstar is Turk’s Cap Mallow (Malvaviscus).  I mean that literally.  They are on the Texas Superstar List.  Love their bright color.

Isn’t it great that the long, hot summer is what some plants need to look their best?

“Don’t let the world convince you that trusting is for fools and forgiving is for the weak.  These gifts are blessings given to you that prove that you have an amazing capacity to love and that you have goodness in your heart.”  Brigitte Nicole