Early Morning Golden Glow

In an attempt to beat the harsh sunlight, I went out early to get some pictures.  Only when I looked at them on the computer did I notice the eerie gold cast from the rising sun.

earlymorning glowBy the gate a couple of young rabbits were hopping around.  At first, they looked like cottontails.

earlymorning glow1But some of the pictures show characteristics of jackrabbits – tall ears, long front legs, and coloring.  So it seems that the jackrabbit population in the yard is growing.

earlymorning glow2In the backyard flowerbed everything is waning.  Flame Acanthus (Wright Anisacanth) or hummingbird bush on the left with slender red blossoms provides a perfect tube for hummingbirds to feed.

reblooming1The flaky bark on the branches, along with its shape, makes a nice winter accent.  Acanthus does well in sunny, well-drained soil. It is hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy to zone 7.

reblooming3The Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) with the yellow flowers had a burst of reblooming after a few cooler days a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous bush when covered with bright yellow flowers.

earlymorning glow4In the background of the previous picture is this new arbor structure.  The plan is for this Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top to make a shady nook.

The stats say that the vines grow 50 feet, so I think it will happen.  It also seems to be evergreen here.  Another vine in the same family, Trumpet, is greatly maligned as being too aggressive.  They both have pretty orange tubular flowers.  So far, I’m happy with the look.

earlymorning glow5The root system of this Mexican or Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) still concerns me because it’s so close to the house, and the tree itself is larger than I expected it to grow.

earlymorning glow6Bees were extremely busy in the early morning.

earlymorning glow7So active that getting a pix required some patience.

earlymorning glow9For some reason, the Duranta (Duranta erecta) has not bloomed very much this year.  I suspect it’s because I did not do a good job of fertilizing everything or applying mulch this year.  The bees were enjoying the few flowers on it.

earlymorning glow8Also, the Morning Glory only has a few blossoms.

earlymorning glowcClammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra),a  small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s one of those plants that comes up in different spots every year.  Insect holes in the leaves appear every year.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty little bush.

earlymorning glowaA couple of wildflowers, Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbiaceae), came up in a flowerbed.  At first, I kept planning to dig them up.  Then, I decided to leave them because they brighten up the area.

earlymorning glowbThe actual flowers are yellow and tiny set in white and green bracts.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad. The end.”  unknown

Pure White Flowers

The rains have stopped and the sun is out.  Now we get to enjoy the results of our unusual rainfall: 14 inches in May.  Woohoo!  Blooming flowers bring a special beauty to the whole outdoors.

We were one of the fortunate ones to receive enough rain to fill tanks and creeks, but not so much that there was destructive flooding.  Our hearts go out to those in other parts of Texas still suffering lost of loved ones, property, and everything they had.

white4This White Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’) is just starting to bloom after its stay in the shed over the winter.  It’s also known as Cape Leadwort.  Sometimes common plant names are just plain funny.

bloomingnow9I’ve wanted a Datura (Datura wrightii) for a few years and found one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at their spring plant sale.  They require mostly shade, so the only place I have is under a large Live Oak tree at the back of the backyard.  So vigilance is required to see it bloom.

bloomingnowaThe common name is Angel’s Trumpet, along with Moonflower.  Several other plants are also called Moonflower.  They are part of ‘witches’ weeds’ because they are poisonous.  Hence, they could be used to create a deadly potion.

Other names include Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple, and Stinkweed.

bloomingnow8Datura was used as a narcotic for American Indian religious ceremonies.

Although it sounds scary, it’s pretty and safe if there are no young children or pets that would chew on it.

bloomingnowlShasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) brighten up a flowerbed.  It is a hybrid created by an American horticulturist in 1890.

bloomingnowkShastas grow in a clump and should be divided every 2 to 3 years.  That’s on my to-do list this year when the bloom period is over.  They need full sun and survive very well in zones 4 – 9, even in our lousy caliche clay.

bloomingnowzPollinators flock to them.  Although I’m not very good at identifying butterflies, this looks like a Common Buckeye.

bloomingnowzz

bloomingnowzzzJust love the bright freshness of daisies.

“When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.”      Mark Batterson

Garden of Eden

Recently I visited a garden in Eden, Texas, with a gardening class. Eden is between Brady and San Angelo and has a population of just over 93,000.  That fact is a total surprise because we only made this one stop and drove on through it.  I thought it was probably smaller than that.

Here is a description of the town from their website:
“Founded in 1882, Eden is located at the intersection of US Hwy 87 & 83 where the Texas Hill Country and the rolling farmland of the southeastern extremes of the Permian Basin merge.

Eden is a scenic transition of cattle, sheep, and goat country, cotton fields, forage crops, oil and gas wells and some of the best hunting to be found in Texas.”

gardenofedenThis public garden used to be an abandoned lot that attracted drug dealers.

gardenofeden2A few people proposed the idea of a garden.  One man made it happen and continues to maintain it, mostly alone.

gardenofeden7He is a landscaper, and his skills show in the garden.  This rustic water feature used a cattle water trough, rocks, posts, and an old milk can.

gardenofeden3

gardenofeden4Very clever.

gardenofeden5It was a surprise to see Moon Flower there.  I don’t see it in many gardens.

gardenofeden6They are considered night bloomers.  I think this one is in the Datura species.

gardenofeden8The sun makes this grass pop.

gardenofeden9This Asparagus plant was new to me.  Makes me want to try it.

gardenofedenaThis gardener used lots of the same flowers scattered throughout the area.  He also wisely used reliable plants.  This is Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

gardenofedenbSurprises around every corner.

gardenofedendLantanas do extremely well in dry hot areas.  This New Gold Lantana (Lantana x hybrida ‘New Gold’) is an example of the spreading branches of Lantanas.

gardenofedencHis use of native stones enhanced the garden.  Especially liked the benches near the walkways.

gardenofedenfA migrating Monarch butterfly enjoying Lil Miss Lantana.

gardenofedeng

gardenofedenkNative wild Morning Glories.  They can be seen on barbed wire fences all across the central part of Texas.

gardenofedenlA nice job of mixing cacti and agaves with other plants.

gardenofedennAnother technique used was the placement of plants with the same colors together to create a large sweep of color.

gardenofedeno

gardenofedenpDuranta (Duranta erecta) is one of my favorite bushes.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  For a better one, see other posts.

gardenofedenqCross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) is a popular vine that grows to massive sizes.  I’m not sure what the plan is for this one’s future – maybe to allow it to cover that rock structure.

gardenofedenrThe achievement of lush looking plantings can be difficult using our native plants.  But it’s possible by filling in with softer plants like this Dusty Miller or Artemesia.

gardenofedensThe garden is on the highway, but it’s winding paths through tall bushes allows one to feel lost in a secretive place.

gardenofedentBlue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnei) is also known as Paraguay Nightshade.  It’s an evergreen that blooms repeatedly.

gardenofedenuThe flowers resemble those of Mexican Petunias.

gardenofedenvA walk though arch was covered with this Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).  The vine itself looked pretty sad, but a few flowers still showed their stuff.

gardenofedenxThe shadows of these cacti create more interest than if they had been planted in the middle of other plants.

An impressive garden, especially since it’s the work of one man who works as a volunteer and in his spare time.  Sometimes the people in a community aren’t aware of the gift of time by some of their citizens.  Thanks to volunteers everywhere.

“When we stand back to consider the premise – that God owes us a good life – it is clearly unwarranted. If there really is an infinitely glorious God, why should the universe revolve around us rather than around him?”        Tim Keller

Flowers on Long Branches

Some plants love the hottest time of the year here.  And I’m so glad to see them when it seems that nothing could grow in 100+ temperatures with little moisture.

delicatecThis was the way a White Gaura (Gaura lindeimeri) or Butterfly Gaura plant looked last year in the early summer.  Notice how full it is with white flowers on the very tip of the branches.

delicatedPure white delicate flowers constantly swaying.

delicateaAt the other end of that same flower bed was a Pink Gaura.  Both plants were a couple of years old last year.

delicatebPink flowers with pink on the ends of the stamens.

delicate9This year the White Gaura is much smaller and the Pink one has disappeared all together.  But several new Gauras sprang up in different places in that same flowerbed.

delicate8Now they all look like pink and white combinations.

delicate7The pinks are not as dark and the whites have a pink tint.

delicate6All these pictures are the result of me trying to get that perfect shot of a Viceroy butterfly with its wings open.

delicate5It didn’t happen, so I just kept snapping.  With all the pollinators here, there are plenty of good shots for professional photographers in the yard.  Just can’t quite pull it off.

delicate2Another plant that blooms at the end of long branches is Duranta (Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’).  It is a beautiful jewel.  This one is 8 years old and is very reliable.

delicate3It never blooms before late July or even into August, when the temperatures are consistently high.  The plant dies down with the first frost and sends up new shoots from the woody base the next spring.  The branches’ lengths reach 4 to 5 feet long.

delicateThis little girl and her bunny are 9 years old.  When I bought her at a craft store, I wondered how long she would survive outdoors.  Still looks sweet.

delicate4This is one of my favorite plants (aren’t they all?).  The brilliant purple edged with white is so delicate looking.

Last winter I was concerned that it might not make it.  But it helped that it was already established.  Since Durantas are native to the tropical parts of the Americas, heavy mulch during winter is recommended for cooler zones.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson

Duranta

One of the real gems in my garden is the flowering Duranta.  Every year I’m anxious for it to bloom, but patience is necessary because it won’t start blooming until July.  But it will be covered in blooms through the autumn until a freeze.

There are at least two varieties in Texas.  This is the Duranta erecta, Sapphire Showers or Brazilian Sky Flower, which is in the verbena family.  The other one is Golden Dew Drop, which has yellow golden flowers.  I haven’t actually seen the yellow one.

The gorgeous clusters of tiny 1/2″ flowers hang from long stems.

The long branches grow from the ground to 3 – 5′ in length.  Additional branches grow from these “trunks”.  Because there are so many branches, it is full and sways in the breeze.  Mine is on the east side of the house and is in a bed right beside the house.  So it gets some protection from the cold winter winds.  During summer, it gets morning sun.

I found this one at a nursery in Goldthwaite and have only seen it at one other nursery – Barton Springs in Austin.

It dies when the temperature drops below freezing.  I cut the dead branches all the way to the ground after it dies or in early spring.   Then in late, late spring, new branches come from the roots, so it can be root hardy here in zone 7b.   I’ve had the plant for five years.  In that time, there have only been two harsh winters.  The other Duranta that I bought at the same time died when the temperatures dropped into the teens.  So I use heavy mulch now to help protect the roots.  In south Texas, it is an evergreen.

Bees and butterflies love it.  And so do I.  Its crisp look, abundant flowers, and long blooming time make it a favorite.

“I never get tired of the blue sky.”  Vincent Van Gogh