Oppressive Blanket of Heat

Just a week or two of high temperatures with no rain can transform a pretty garden to dry crusty leaves, dead flowers, and limp stems and foliage.

For the first half of July, everything still looked pretty good.  The Vitex on the left had finished blooming and the Pink Coneflowers still had some flowers.  I recently pruned the Vitex in the hopes that it will bloom again this fall.

Hardy Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) last a long time:  from mid spring until mid July, depending on the weather .  Their refreshing look makes me happy.  But everything has its limits.  100 plus temperatures and dry heat with no relief buries us all.

This year a whole swarth of them came up among the Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).

The Crinums bloomed longer than usual this year.  But now the flowers are gone and the long leaves are looking ragged.

Enjoyed them while they were here.

This Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis, S. indica) has struggled this year.  It receives some morning sun but doesn’t get direct sun after about 11 am.

The routine now is for me to get out early, just after the sun rises, and water pot plants every other day.  Because I have so many, it takes over an hour.  Gardening obession has gotten a little out of hand.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri has been changed to Oenothera lindheimeri, according to Wikipedia) still looks pretty good, although it has thinned out a little since this picture was taken.

Butterflies and bees love Gaura.  It always amazes me how the pollinators get anything out of some small flowers.

Pink Gaura also is surviving the heat.

I have several Daturas or Jimsonweeds (Datura stramonium) in the shade, so they are doing well.  Have to be out at night or early morning to catch their lovely white blossoms.

Purple Heart is also in the shade most of the day, so it is thriving.  I have mistakenly identifed Purple Heart  as Wandering Jew in some posts.  A friend pointed out that they are not the same plant at all.

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) marches on.  I don’t think anything can kill it.  In fact, I have been trying to kill some that is encroaching on a rose bush.  It took multiple applications of Round Up before there was any noticeable damage.

Mexican Petunias love the heat.  Can’t say that I agree with them.  Hope you live in cooler temperatures or can stay inside and enjoy A/C most of the time.

Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”  Edwin KeithSave

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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.

augustheatc

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

Nice Cool Relief

Last week an inch and three quarters of rain brought some cooler temperatures.  It was a greatly needed relief for humans, animals, and plants.

Nice reprieve2This Golden-Ball Lead Tree (Leucana retusa) has struggled again, its second year, because some creatures (I suspect jackrabbits) strip and break its lower limbs.

Nice reprieve5But it recovered nicely the latter part of August.  It is a shrub or spindly tree that grows well in rock or caliche.  So it should feel right at home here.

Nice reprieve3The globe like flower is yellow but looks more golden with this early morning back light.

Nice reprieve4I like photographing back-light plants, so here’s another shot.  The books say Lead Ball blooms in April and May.  But here it is performing in September.  Maybe it will prove to be a spring and fall bloomer.

Nice reprieve1This vulture seems to be relaxing and enjoying the cool morning.

Nice reprieve6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) tend to bloom year round since they are considered house plants.  But they do well outside during the warm months with filtered light and slightly dry soil.  Just beware of the thorns.

Nice reprieve7The Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is slowly covering the new arbor.  I can’t wait to see the full coverage – maybe next year.

Nice reprieve8It blooms in spring and fall.

treeThis two year old Vitex Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has grown quite fast.  Vitexs are also called Hemp and Sage trees.  I need to cut off more lower limbs this winter.

Nice reprieve9Vitexs are native to India and China but have been adapted to this area for a long time.  Another common name is Monk’s Pepper, which comes from the old wives tale that in medieval times, monks made a potion from the berries that helped them maintain their vows of chastity.

Nice reprieveaVitex attract many pollinators.  The berries are still used in herbal remedies.

Vitex can grow up to 20 ft. tall with snarly trunks and branches.

Nice reprievebFor a long time, I assumed that Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) would not survive our heat because the leaves are large and thin.  Then I saw one in garden an hour away from here.

Nice reprieveeSo I grabbed one this year at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring sale.  It has bloomed way more than I expected.

Nice reprievefIt is in a pot in mostly shade.  It’s looking a little tired right now, but has provided many large flowers with a morning glory shape.

Nice reprievecBecause it has grown larger than I expected, it will need to be upgraded to a larger pot next spring.

A garden presents wonderful surprises and joys.

“I changed my password everywhere to ‘incorrect.’ That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.'” unknown