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