Rain Works Wonders

Everything looks better after a rain, except, for sopping wet dogs and cats.  But the blessed rains of this week have put new life in all the vegetation here.  Even beyond the much needed moisture, the overcast skies and lower temperatures were extra bonuses.  The lowest recorded temperature in July and the lowest high recorded in July both happened this past week.  What a fabulous week.

turkroseofsharonThe Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriaacus) loves a little extra drink.  They are all covered with flowers.  One of them is shown behind the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and Lil Miss Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in this picture.

roseofsharon2The Rose of Sharon, like all the plants that have a flower that resembles Hibiscus, can transport me to Hawaii or other tropical places I’ve visited.

hibuscus15Sweet rain drops.

hibuscus14I can’t recommend these hardy plants enough.  Even when it’s hot, hot, hot and they get little water, they survive.  They don’t bloom much without some watering, but they stay alive.

daylilyEven a Daylily (Hermerocallis fulva) bloomed with the extra dose of water.  All the buds indicate more to come.  It’s past their normal blooming time but love that pop of color.

purplesage2The desert Purple Sage, Cenizo (Scrophulariaceae Leucophyllum frutescens) blooms burst out after a rain.  Every time I see one of these bushes, childhood memories of the West come to mind.  Although I haven’t read Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, the whole western book and movie genre is very familiar.

I’m also reminded of the Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”.  Those songs were a favorite of my Dad, and every Saturday morning the radio was tuned to a country music station.  Although, country-western is not my own personal preferred music style, it brings back good thoughts about my youth.

bluemistBlue Mist is blooming enough to draw Viceroy butterflies.  As more  flowers open up, there will be tons more butterflies.  I’m not sure if this is a Conoclinium coelestinum or a Conoclinium  greggii (dissectum) because the difference between the two is slight to untrained eyes.

This week has brought blessings of full water tanks or ponds, drainage into lakes, green fields and grasses, and a wonderful respite to a hot summertime.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is a hardy, deciduous shrub with flowers that look like the tropical hibiscus.  It is also known as Shrub Althera, Rose Altera, or St. Joseph’s Rod.  They are very low maintenance.

All three of these shrubs came from a friend in the metroplex.  I had always admired her Rose of Sharons.  She had brought small plants from her sister’s yard in Michigan back to Texas.  A few months before we moved, she gave me some pots with small bushes.  The tallest one was one foot.  This is what they look like eight years later.  They are about 7′ now and would probably be taller in better soil.

The first time this friend visited me here, I showed her the bushes and commented that I was happy that they came from bushes with different color flowers.  She said that wasn’t true.  They all came from the same bush.  Look at the subtle difference in the color shades.

We decided that it had to be the soil, even though the bushes are close to each other.  I don’t know another explanation.

One problem or plus, depending on your point of view, with this bush is that new plants come up all around the bushes.  When they are very small, they can easily be pulled up.  But by the time they are a foot tall, they have a long tap root and are much more difficult to get up.  Of course, that root is part of what helps them survive the heat and sun in Texas. They do need water to bloom.

Although you need space for these shrubs, they make great borders behind other plants in the garden or as a hedge along the perimeter of a yard.  The flowers are beautiful.  Sharing just requires a little digging and potting.   In the fall or early spring, little clusters of bud pods where flowers bloomed will need to be cut off the branches before spring blooming.  Pruning can help the shape the bush or contain its size.

“Live in a way that every moment matters.  Capture every thought, every scent, every note of music, every glint of sunlight on water, every chance to help another human soul.”  Grandma Rose in The Language of Sycamores by Lisa Wingate.