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

Heat Lovers

As the summer drags it feet and lingers, the sun bakes plants.  And often there’s no relief of cooler temperatures at night.  So it’s totally amazing that some plants do so well through our long, hot summers.

Normally, I’m too chintzy to invest in annals.  But Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) finally lured me to buy a couple of them.  Plus, I had just the spot for them.

Our winter temperatures are too cold for them, and they don’t reseed.  But they are drought tolerant, can take the sun, and last for months.  The wind creates beautiful movement of their feathers.  So I’m sold.  Love them.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) is a longtime favorite that always provides late summer blooms.  Beauty just drips off its branches.

With clusters of velvet-looking deep purple flowers, each petal is edged in white.

I think it surprises some people that roses do so well in our heat.  To me, roses conjure up England with its misty days.  So when I first tried them, I was leary.  What a pleasant surprise.

This particular bush is Brilliant Veranda by Kordes.  In a picture, the sun fades out their startling bright color.  This is a small bush that does well in containers and has been in a pot for two years.

Abraham Darby is hardy up to zone 11, so it likes heat.  It was planted this spring.  It’s a David Austin rose named after the man who build the first iron bridge.

I’ve gone rather ga-ga over roses.  Can’t seem to get enough of them.

Caryopteris, Blue Mist Shrub, or Blue Beard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) is drought tolerant, is bothered by few pests, and is hardy enough to make it through our extremely low temperatures last winter.  Cold hardy zones 5 – 9.

It’s obvious why it’s called Blue Mist Shrub because it looks so much like the Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers.  Stats say it will remain a compact small shrub: 3 – 4 ft. wide and tall.  So far, it’s been great.

It’s great to have plants that endure the summer heat.  They provide a reason to go out into the sunlight.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

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

Hibiscus and Lookalikes

Exotic Hibiscus flowers conjure up the romantic South Pacific islands.

Tropical Hibiscus has a special beauty.  The tall pistil is one of its characteristics.

However, they can be a pain to grow in hot, dry central Texas.  This one has been in a pot for years and is probably very root bound.  But, as long as it lives, it will be taken into a heated shed during the winter.  So, I guess it’s worth the trouble.

This is the same plant and is looking a little ragged in this especially dry summer.

Luckily, there are plants with that look that do extremely well here.  They endure the hot summers and some cold times in the winter.  Rose of Sharon or Althea shrubs (Hibiscus syriacus) become very large and are covered with these exquisite flowers.

Bees love them.

Their flower colors range from white to pink to deep lavender.

The bright red center of these flowers are striking.

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has small hibiscus like flowers.  They grow in dry rocky soils.  The flowers last one day, but with a little water, there will be more the next day.

Hardy Hibiscus is exactly what its name says.  It is a perennial that is tough and has the beauty of a delicate tropical flower.

Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has a more unique look with its two color petals and long finger leaves.  But it still has that tall pistil.

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) provide the look of hibiscus, with a shorter pistil.  They stack up on a central stalk that branches out.

All of these plants come from the Mallow (Malvaceae) family.  There are 4225 known species.  These are very diverse because included with all these lovely flowers are okra, cotton, and cacao.  Only a botanist could understand the complications of plant orders.

But what I see is that all the flowers in this blog have tall pistils, where the male and female parts provide reproduction.  Also, the flower petals mostly have the same form.

Plus, all add beauty to gardens.  When the temperature is stagnant in the triple digits, hardy plants are a blessing.

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.” –Thomas Cooper

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

Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM is a unique city with a recognizable southwestern look.

Heavily influence by both Mexican and Indian cultures, this city has blended them both into a unique style.

Adobe buildings might seem to be the style of choice.  But, in fact, a city ordinance requires that all buildings use both these materials and style.  Flat roof and flat, smooth stucco sides are characteristics of this style.

Many native plants are seen throughout the city.  I think this is Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum).

Santa Fe has been in an extended drought period.  Large lawns are taboo.  Only small accent lawn areas can be found.  In fact, most lot sizes for houses are small.

Another common sight is this type of fence.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s inexpensive or if the style is just popular.

Stone fences, patios, and walkways are ubiquitous.  It’s a readily available material, but not sure about construction costs.  Wonder how old this mailbox is?  Another modern one near the gate is in current use.

Many fences of all types are covered with vines, like this Clematis.

Smoketree or Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) has a mysterious look.  This one has already lost the smoke puffs on the ends of the branches.

Yarrow is a popular accent plant.

Ox Carts from Mexico or Costa Rica are used as decorations.

Flower beds abound.

Art Galleries are a big draw for tourists.  In the early 1900’s Anglo artists moved into the area and were fascinated by the people, the landscape, the arid climate, the colors, and the light.

This followed the earlier artist colonies that had formed in the late 1800’s in nearby Taos.  By the early 1920’s, prominent artists were producing varied styles of art in both places.  Thus began the art scene that continues today.

Sculptures and paintings from traditional to modern are available.

Old doors from Mexico, clay pots, carved wood pieces, jewelry, and other collectables are plentiful.  The only drawback might be the price of a particular item.

In an isolated area with congested traffic downtown, this city is still worth the visit.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”   Thomas Edison

Dark and Light Contrasts

Shadows and bright sunlight in the same picture can be too harsh of extremes.  Unfortunately, here in Texas, that’s a reality and difficult to avoid.

The plants in the sun can look more like sculptures rather than living things.  So I’m trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with these extreme exposures.  Please bear with me.

Chandor Gardens uses many different oriental structures because they fascinated the original owner and builder.

Patterns on the large stepping stones are created by the sunlight breaking through the tree branches above.  The same sunlight creates a white Fourth of July sparkler of one of the hanging Spider Plants.

This rough stone pedestal has oriental statutes standing on flat surfaces.  Not my favorite thing.

The top crossbars on this pergola have curved edges to give it an oriental look.  The red Japanese Maple adds contrasting color with the surrounding greenery.

The long lower area of grass near the original residence was once used for lawn bowling, I think.  Gotta be a bugaboo to mow that, so the modern version is artificial turf.

Looking away from the house gives a sense of how long this sunken spot is.

The dense shrubs and trees provide shade and make it fairly comfortable to be here on a hot summer day.

There isn’t much whimsy in this formal garden, so I was surprised to see this addition.  I personally like little touches like this.

Looks like one of the many sages popular in Central and Northern Texas.  They can take the heat.

Boxwood hedges are used to define areas.

Since this garden is a hundred years old, keeping structures in sturdy condition is part of the upkeep.  This bridge was replaced a few years ago.

Nandina shrubs with red berries have become maligned choices because they are originally from Asia.  Some people consider them invasive.  I feel these accusations are a little strong.  Roses also came to us from Asia via Europe.

There is a serenity about this place that draws us back again and again.

Looks natural and wild but probably requires a lot of work.

Lots of water in small ponds provide a sense of coolness.

Love this curve promenade leading to the house area.  It also makes a grand entrance for brides who are wed here.

As summer heats up, hope you find some soothing cool shade.

“Gardening is about poetry and fantasy. It is as much an activity of the imagination as of the hands.”  by “Centipede” in The Guardian, April 7, 1892

Cozy Chandor Gardens

Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX, was originally a private space that is now owned by the city park system and is open to the public.  Its size is small compared to most public gardens but full of interesting nooks and crannies.

Since it’s two hours away from us, we visit about once a year.  Like most gardens, it’s constantly changing.  This concrete bowl is new.  The surrounding beds are full of annuals.

The bold midday sun makes it all look artificial and blurs the edges of the Snapdragons.

The small tufts of purple flowers is Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), a native to Caribbean islands that requires warmer winters to be perennial.

All the annals make a bright welcome.

A sidewalk from the entrance leads to the ticket office in the main house.  This little cherub sits on a wall where there are steps down to the next level of the garden.

The house was the home of the Chandors, owners and creators of the buildings and gardens.

The purple twinges on the Agaves reflect the purple ground cover.  The green Mondo Grasses line the walkway.

I heard the garden horticulturist explain to a group that the agaves were lifted out and stored in a green house during the winter.

This garden was established in the 1930’s, so the large, mature trees provide lots of shady areas.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) need mostly shade and lots of warm weather.  They are native to US southeast, which is perfect for them.

This man made-waterfall is especially impressive when one realizes the time frame of the construction and the lack of heavy equipment available.

Water Irises line the edge of the water pool, and a rose bush grows to the side of them.

The abundance of different varieties of trees and shrubs create cozy, protected spots.

Different levels of the garden provide interest.  I don’t know if these were natural or created.  Flowers are tucked into small and large spaces.

Mr. Chandor was fascinated by the Orient and used Japanese statuary throughout the garden.

Several varieties of Japanese Maples were planted.

One of my favorite features is this side entrance gate.

It was a gift to Mr. Chandor from a friend.

Looking through the gate beckons one to unknown treasures inside.  Entering opens that trove that gardeners love.

The next post will show other parts of the garden.  Thanks for visiting.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”   John Quincy Adams