Something Different

Gardeners are attracted to the beauty of nature.  Sometimes, unique plants bring fascination.  For me, often, that translates to tropical plants that cannot live through our winters.

But some plants with unusual forms do very well here.  Like this Ornamental Onion that has not only survived but spread.

Can’t even remember where I got this.

These zany looking flowers are actually their reproduction method.  Each cluster is made up of tiny bulblets that fall to the ground and become new plants.

I really don’t know if these are edible or not.  A speaker talking about foraying for wild plants said that a person can eat anything once.  But, that sounds like dangerous advice to me.

This Rainbow’s End (cv. SAValife) own root miniature is different because its roses are all different colors all at the same time.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles came on the market a few years ago.  Even Walmart carries them.

The ones I’ve seen in bloom have white blossoms.  This one is Black Diamond Red Hot, which is supposed to have hot red flowers.

A local nursery was selling tropical Popcorn Cassia (Cassia didymobotrya), which is supposed to smell like popcorn.

The leaves look like a plant that would do well here, but it is zoned for 14 to 15.  This means that it will freeze below 40 or 50 degrees.  I should have researched before buying it.

One of my biases is that nurseries sell plants that will not last in their area so customers will buy something else next year.  Can’t believe that I fall into that trap over and over.

“Oh no.  You did it again.”

Swamp Sunflower is a misnomer for this plant.  It grows very well in our drier soil.  The tiny forest is about 15 inches tall now.

They grow tall – about 8 to 9 ft. before flowering with small sunflowers that bloom in late summer.

“Forget trying to walk a mile in my shoes.  Try spending a day wandering around in my mind.  Now, that will give you something to worry about.”  unknown

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Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Yellow and White Blooms

Because of the weather, everything growing in the yard is late.  The weather:  that often discussed topic that none of us can change.  This year’s catastrophic winter and now spring has affected us all to some degree.  Compared to many, many states, we’ve had it easy.

But we still see the results of a much colder and longer winter than usual.  This winter there were more days, 70, of freezing or below freezing days locally than in written record.  That is well above normal.  Then this week on Tuesday, a 110 year record of the lowest temperature on the latest day of spring was broken with a morning temperature of 35.

blooming6The Columbines (Aquilegia) are sparse this year, but I’m glad we didn’t lose them.  Several shrubs and small trees did not make it.

blooming7Although this particular Columbine is not native, it has adapted very well.  The only Texas native Columbine is red and yellow and the blooms tend to be smaller.

Columbines are perennials that need partial shade.  Mine get morning sun and afternoon shade.  They are considered to be deer resistant.

bloomingThe bloom looks exotic like a tropical.

bloomingbThis sedum with the yellow flowers is a ground cover that is probably a Stonecrop Sedum.  It has not spread as well as I had hoped.  It is hugging some Crinums that have not bloomed yet.

bloomingcSo pretty for such a tiny little flower, but the bright color makes it noticeable.

bloomingdThe flowers on this Ornamental Onion have not truly opened. Last year the hail beat them down to the ground, so I wanted a picture in case that happens again.

Ornamental or Wild Onion is in the Allium family, but I’m not sure if any variety is native to Texas.

blooming3If forced to pick a favorite flower, I would say roses or daisies.  These hardy Ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) perform well every year.  They are native to Europe and milder climates in Asia.

blooming5If I move to the side to get a shot, it appears to be a field of daisies.  I would love that.

blooming4“Fresh as a daisy” is an apt idiom.

With no rain and the wind sapping everything, I’m thankful to have any flowers.

“You can find inspiration from others, but determination is solely your responsibility.”  Dodinsky