August’s Heat

The last weekend in August is the time for the ‘Hotter Than Hell’ annual bicycle ride in Wichita Falls, Texas.   This event brings out tons of people who torture themselves on a up and down hill course in 100 plus temperatures.  I mean:  who does this?

But then, who lives in this climate?  The answer:  native Texans and many who have come to the sun belt to enjoy the wonderful winters.

augustheat4What else survives the heat?   There are actually quite a few plants that have adapted to extreme heat as well as the native plants.

This Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) is seven years old.  I like the curly, unpredictable growth habit.  However, it does not survive winter, even here, so it has to be brought in.

augustheat6That’s difficult since it has grown so large.  The spikes on the ridges are extremely sharp.  Last year a tall spike broke off.  No problem, I just planted it and now have another Elkhorn.  The white sap is poisonous, so handle with care.

augustheatIn the back to the right is an ornamental pepper plant, which has struggled this year.  It wilts between waterings, which is about three to four days apart.  It has several smaller plants that came up this year, so I probably should have taken them out of this pot.

The plant in front is Escheverua ‘Blue Curl’ which needs bright, but not direct light.  That requirement applies to most succulent plants.

augustheat2Some things are starting to look ragged at the end of summer.  Like this ten year old Oxalis.  But it’s hanging in there.

augustheat5It’s a challenge to find enough shade in our yard for plants that need it.  Above is Coleus and Purple Heart that get early sun as the sun hovers over the horizon.

augustheat3The potted Petunias have surprised me because they have lasted from spring into August.  I will definitely use some of them again next year.

augustheatbHere is a Moon Flower plant in another shady area and the pot with the new Elkhorn.

augustheataThe flowers of Moon Flower or Jimson Weed (Datura wrightii) are always a delight.

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augustheat9The metal pickup on a pole is about five feet tall.  That is a gauge for how tall the Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) has gotten.

augustheat7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala Scheele) is not a consistent bloomer, but I enjoy it when flowers appear.

augustheat8The flowers actually look more like a hibiscus than a rose.

augustheatdJust this year Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’)  was designated a Texas Superstar Plant.  I wondered why because we have two that are four years old, and this is the first year for them to bloom.  So I did a little research.  Although the plant label that came with them did not state this information, they do not do well in alkaline soils.  We definitely have that in spades.

augustheateThis year, I’ve poured the water on them and the blooms are gorgeous.

Crape Myrtles do so well in the whole central Texas area that I was surprised to learn that this one has different soil needs.  I certainly won’t dig them up.  But now I know they need extra water.

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center just sent out an article to encourage all the gardeners in Texas who are weary of the sun and hot temps this time of the year.  It pointed out some positives to note:  dried, brown, fried flowers provide seeds for birds and next year’s crops of flowers; act as mulch and insulate the ground from the heat; dried flowers provide beauty in form; and brown is not an ugly color.  That’s a great spin for us all.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”  Walter Winchell

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.

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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