Ain’t Autumn Grand

Cool temps in autumn don’t bring the orange and yellow of fall foliage here, but they do bring the bright colors of flowers.  Roses rebloom, other flowers increase in number, and some newcomers shine this time of the year.

Intricate flowers of the Purple Passion Vine or Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) deserve a close inspection to see their uniqueness and beauty.  Zebra Longwing caterpillars and Gulf Fritillary caterpillars feed on passion vines.

Notice the other little flower intruding in this space.  It’s the native Morning Glory vine, which pops up everywhere and covers any surface where it’s tendrils can cling.  This vine is an aggravating, aggressive irritant in the yard.  Okay, it’s quaint growing on barbed wire out in the field, but mostly it grows in cultivated areas.

Cooler weather brings flowers galore on Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus-arboreus-var-drummondii).  What a wonderful Texas native perennial with its bright red unusual flowers and hardy in clay, rocky soil.  Glorious.

After other sunflowers have shriveled up, Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) wave their bright yellow faces in the air.  I don’t know if this actually grows in swampy areas, but it’s very drought tolerant here in our clay soil.

Jackmanii Clematis (Clematis x jackmani) is named after an English nurseryman who introduced this cultivar in 1862.  Great performer here in dry upper Central Texas.

Last year a small bush with spiky stems appeared in this bed.  I thought it was interesting and decided to leave it.  Boy, am I glad I did.

That little bush grew up into this Gayfeather.  This is not the type of Gayfeather seen in the fields in this area.  The local Gayfeather is one stem standing in a group of other single stems.  So I’m not sure of its variety or how it got here.

Bees are enjoying it.

A migrating Monarch stopped by for a snack.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this blog.  Hope you’re having a wonderful fall.

“Religion is what you are left with after the Holy Spirit has left the building.”   Bono

Still Blooming

Even the plants are tired and weary after a blazing hot summer.  But some hardy souls are still blooming.

Love Henry Duelberg Sage.  The white in the front is actually his wife, Augusta Duelberg (Salvia farinacea ‘Augusta Duelberg’).  The deep purple one is his namesake.  Found on two grave sites, the plant names honor them.

These perennials bloom from spring to winter.  I have them in pots and in the ground scattered around the yard.  Can’t have too much of a good thing.  They are a Texas native and a treasure.

Even though Rock Rose (Cistus x canescens) is native to the Mediterranean area, we Texans like to claim it as our own.  It is a great dependable perennial.  I love to look out in the morning and see those little pink flowers greeting me with a new day.

In a new flower bed, we planted three rose bushes, some small plants, and some bulbs.  Immediately, armadillos began to dig up the bulbs.  So we put up wire barriers, which have now been removed, and some large stones around the bed to discourage those little buggers.

Then I planted a few small annual Potato Vines (Ipomoea batatas) hoping to make it more difficult to get into the soil.  Boy, did they grow and cover everything.  Now I hope the few small plants will survive with no sun.  At least, gardening is a learning experience and an adventure.

It seems to take Bougainvillea forever to start blooming.  The gorgeous fuchsia-colored brackets aren’t the flowers.  The tiny white centers are the flowers.  In its own good time, it decides to put on a fantastic show.  Some fertilizer specifically for Bougainvillea helps.

This is definitely a zone 9 or hotter plant, so it has to go inside when the temperatures drop below 50.  Cut off all the long branches.  This makes it easier to carry and will help with new growth and blooming in the spring.

One of the few annuals I replace every year is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’).  It doesn’t reseed and even our mild winters are too cold.  But it adds movement and grace to the landscape.

“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some fresh air, and remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be.”  unknown

Surprise, Surprise

Not only have we had rains, but cool, crisp temperatures have been welcomed.  It’s way earlier than usual for below 80’s temps.  Gone were shorts and tee shirts.  Low 50 degrees brought out jackets and jeans.

Of course, that didn’t last.  Today, it’s 85.  There still some flowers to enjoy in late summer.

Appropriately named Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) is in full bloom.  This vine was brought to the US in the late 1800’s from Asia.  It has naturalized in the eastern states and is considered invasive in places that get lots of rain.  Not here.

The foliage is looking chloric this year.  Maybe some iron should be added in the spring.

One of its characteristics is the strong, sweet aroma that permeates a large area.

To be manageable, it must be cut back to the ground in the winter.  Growing quickly in the spring, the foliage will soon cover the trellis again.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) blooms in late August.  It’s considered a tropical plant but does well here if planted in a protected area.  Beautiful petite flowers cluster on arching branches.

Schoolhouse Lily or Oxblood Lily (Rhodophiala bifida) has never done really well for me.  Their bold red color exists for about a week.  One of those “it’s here – it’s gone” experiences.

South African Bulbine (Bulbine natalensis) thrive in our heat, but are only cold hardy done to 20 degrees.  So we transfer it to the shed for the winter.  It’s a succulent with the grass like structure storing water.

Rose Moss or purslane (Rhodobryum roseum) is an underused plant.  An inexpensive plant that can be put directly in the ground here.  It dies back when it freezes and will grow back in the spring.  There are lots of colors available.

It’s a super easy plant that doesn’t need much water.  In fact, it doesn’t do well in standing water, so the soil needs to drain well.

Since autumn is almost here, it’s time to start planting.   Autumn is the optimal time because plants’ roots will grow all winter and be somewhat established before summer temperatures arrive.

“Fall is summer’s flamboyant farewell.”  A.A. Fitzwilliam

Native and Adapted Plants

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas A&M Extension Agents have been on a mission for years.  They have been preaching about the benefits of native plants.  They also add that many plants have adapted well to our climate.

Native plants are winter hardy, evergreen, or spread seeds.  So that means they survive to grow and bloom in season.  Native also means that it grows naturally in your area.  However, many natives that are not in your immediate vicinity do well in your climate.

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) can be seen occasionally in our pastures.  But they are much more prolific further south.  But they survive our winters.

These look like tulips, but they open up more later in the morning.

Both of these plants were bought at the same time, but one flower is a deeper purple than the other one.  I’ve had both of these for several years.  Their seeds have not produced other plants.  Mystery.

There are vastly different regions in Texas.  Rainfall varies from 54 inches annual average in the east to 10 inches in the west.  Soils range from acidic to alkaline and from sand to clay to caliche to loam.  Winter temperatures, plus rainfall, and soils make native plants area specific.  Sometimes, I try to stretch it, but end up having too many pot plants to carry inside.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dudecandra) is one of those natives that pops up all over the yard.

A friend gave me seeds years ago.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads by underground rhizomes, but it’s fairly slow.  This has been here 10 or more years.

It’s surprising how well this thin leafed plant does in full sun or shade.

Love the turban flowers.

Iron Weed ((Veronia baldwinii fasciculata) seeds were given to me about 5 years ago.  So it also spreads slowly.

The blooms don’t last a long time.  They do grow in the ditches not too far away.

Sages are great performers in our area.  I have a flower bed full of Henry Duelburg Salvia or Mealycup Sage (Saliva farinacea).  The wind blew some seeds into a field nearby, so I dug them up and put them in several pots.  Some were taken to a club plant sale.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a Texas native.  However, the ones I’ve noticed around here are not as large as the ones I have bought.  Pollinators love this plant.

Passion Vine is also a Texas native.  Don’t think they grow naturally in our area but are well-adapted.

It actually has a tropical look.

Gregg’ Mistflower, more commonly known as Blue Mistflower, (Conoclinium greggii) is a Texas native that grows gangbusters here.  To the left is Mexican Petunia that is so well adapted that it’s invasive.

One of the best plants to attract butterflies is Bluemist Flower.

There are many, many more Texas natives that do well in a home landscape.  If chosen carefully, they can be successful and bring beauty to the yard.

”When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”  Chief Tecumseh

Blackberry Winter Over?

Hopefully, last week was the final throes of “Blackberry Winter”, the late cold snap that comes at the time when blackberries are blooming.

The Catalpa or Catawba tree has a very short window of looking good.  Its thin leaves are torn by wind and turn crisp on the edges from summer sun.

This tree is one of my bad choices that I’m living with.  But I don’t have the heart to chop it down.  It would probably survive better as an under story tree in our area.

Privet gets a bad rap in my opinion.  I know that it spreads easily in places that have much more rain than here and more fertile soil.  But that’s not a worry here.  The butterflies love the blooms, and I like the aroma and the arching branches.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii” vine has large purple blooms.  It comes from a grower in Surrey England in 1862.  He crossed two vines to produce this hardy version.

I took this picture because I like the elongated shape of Bur Oak leaves.  The huge acorns are another characteristic of this oak variety.

Bright Red Yucca’s towering stalks of blooms stand out in a landscape.  I think I went overboard on the size of the sign, but I still like it.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows well in semi dry soil and full sun.  It’s an evergreen that spreads.

This hardy yarrow was bought at a garden club plant sale.  The tight cluster of flowers top a stem full of lacy leaves.  The blooms also last a long time.

Summer is coming, so it’s time to enjoy these mild days of spring.

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

Chilly Days

The weather has reverted back to winter-like days with overcast skies and cooler temperatures.  This hasn’t stopped the plants from springtime mode.  In fact, they seem to like it.

For the first time in three years, the two Texas Mahonias (Mahonia swaseyi) are blooming.  These were purchased at the Native Plant Nursery in Medina.

The yellow balls open into pretty petite flowers. The shrub looks somewhat like Agarita, that grows in the fields.  The leaves have the same shape but aren’t as prickly.  It grows well in limestone soil.

Normally, I wouldn’t buy a plant from a nursery in Houston because their climate is radically different than ours.  But since this would be a pot plant, I knew I could find a good spot for it.

Purple Ground Orchid or Hardy Orchid (Bletilla striata) needs a shady area with indirect light but no direct sunlight.  It is delicate looking but is a perennial.

The details of its petals make it an exceptional flower that definitely looks like an orchid.

The Columbines (Aquilegia flavescens) are at the height of their bloom period.  Love this perennial.

Such zany flower shapes.

Dianthus or Pinks look so bright and cheerful.  The long stems came with this plant.  I think it’s some kind of Sedge.  I like the way it looks in the pot.

So many different varieties of Dianthus to choose from, but this one is my favorite because the amazing color is so varied.

Flowers on Eve’s Necklace or Texas Sophora (Sophora affinis) will become the string of black pearls necklace that make it unique.  The seed pods are poisonous.  The small tree Eve’s Necklace grows well in the center of the state and makes a great ornamental tree in the yard.

Gulf Coast or Brazos Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis) blooms before the harsh heat of summer takes over.  It is a native in southeast Texas and requires more moisture than most of the plants grown here.  Fortunately, it’s usually receives rainfall here at its bloom time.

Ox Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are show stoppers and reliable perennials.  They can be invasive but are easy to dig up.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolate) is blooming.  I had great hopes that this vine would cover this arbor.  But it’s been a slow grower.  Maybe someday.

Now a fond farewell to the Dutch Irises.  Your spring visit was short and sweet.  Thanks for coming.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”              Ecclesiastes 3:11

Dreams of Spring

So much work to do to prepare the flowerbeds for the arrival of spring.  As we get older, short periods of outdoor work is needed to build up strength and endurance.

Thankfully, there are a few plants that don’t require any backbreaking labor.

Native Coral Honeysuckle, also called Trumpet Honeysuckle or Woodbine (Lonicera Sempervirens L.) is one such vine.

Each individual flower will open up and provide nectar for hummingbirds.

Eventually, this vine will probably outgrow this tripod.  After two years, it’s already extending out.

Coral Honeysuckle is semi-evergreen.  Natives really are the best.  But I constantly get suckered in by other plants at the nursery.

So glad to see that the Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa caucasica) have returned.  By the end of summer, they were looking pretty pathetic.  There is an annual called Pincushion, but this one is the perennial type.

I love, love bulbs, rhizomes, and corms.  Each year I’m surprised by the different beauties.  The expression “dig, drop, done” is so true.  But every few years, they should be divided.

New growth of perennials, like Shasta Daisy, is such a welcome sight.  The promise of beautiful flowers makes me so happy.

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”  unknown

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens, outside of Hot Springs, is a 210 acre botanical garden.  The University of Arkansas owns the gardens for the purpose of education and research.

We visited in October, so chrysanthemums were prominent.   Yellow Cannas behind them are blooming, also.

At first, this bench tricks the eyes, but the back of the bench is actually a photograph.

Love how the sunlight makes the tops of this grass sparkle.

I think these are Azaleas, although it seems the wrong time of the year for the blooms.  It was still warm but shady in most parts of the gardens.

The peaceful, quiet spots are one of the attractions of these gardens.

More Azaleas?

On a weekday, we encountered very few people.  Except for all the paved paths, there is an allusion of being alone in remote woods.

American Beauty Berry has a few berries with a lone purple Plumbago flower.

Preparation for a Halloween event included several clusters of pumpkins and gourds.

Most of gardens consist of wooded areas.  There are a few open glades where sunlight  allows displays of shrubs and flowers.  A circle of Boxwood has a pot in the center to highlight purple and lime green potato vines.

Behind this grouping, metal butterflies look like they’re flying.  This was part of a partially set up exhibit.

One section shows off fairy or gnome houses.

Sorry for the bad photography conditions.  Strong sunlight shining into a shady area makes it difficult to get good pictures because the lighting is not the same in all of the picture.

Two workers in the background stopped to watch me take pictures.  Not sure if they were curious to see what I was photographing or just wanted a break.  We actually saw more workmen than visitors that day.

Garvan Gardens is a lovely place to take a slow walk and just enjoy a beautiful day.

“There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity, when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it.”  Lee Iacocca

Botanical Garden at Fayetteville

In October we visited The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Their website states that it is 44 acres in size.  But only 4 acres are in cultivation.  So, by large city botanical gardens standards, it’s small.  Therefore, less time is needed to stroll through it.

Near the entrance on one side were small garden plots planted and maintained by garden clubs and individuals.  This one has three different colors of Gomphrena – purple, lavender, and white.  Not sure what the orange/yellow flowers are.

These plots were not quite as manicured as the main gardens.  Keep promising myself that I’m going to get some Cosmos seeds.  Maybe this spring.

Cosmos is an annual that has tall stems and reseeds well.

Label titles this Garden King and notes that it’s constructed from found metals.

Hyacinth Bean Vine is an annual, so seeds must be saved.  Another wish plant for me.  This tends to be a pass-a-long plant, meaning that friends share seeds.

Like the lime green Stone Crop ground cover.

The path to the right bisects the main gardens.  Another paved pathway forms a circle around this garden area.  Around the perimeter of the entire cultivated area, a dirt path forms the outer edges of the garden.

Neon bright Gomphrena creates a bold entrance to the main garden.

Interesting combination of Coleus and Cockscomb (Celosia cristata).  Both are annuals.  Coleus can be overwintered inside.  It will become straggly, so in spring, cut the stems and root in water for fresh plants.  Seeds from Cockscomb can be harvested.

I thought this was a Candlabra bush, but the leaves aren’t like others that I’ve seen.

My favorite park of the gardens were all the bronze statues of children at play.

The next post will feature more of these statues.

“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.” Clare Ansberry, 

Gray Days of Winter Around the Corner

Enjoying a few more days of some color in the yard.

A few Jackman Clematis purple flowers hang on the vine.

Although all the foliage is gone, some Whirling Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) still  waves in the wind.  Behind that are some red blossoms on a Flame Acanthus.

Henry Duelburg Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea) doesn’t want to say goodbye just yet.

This year the Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) won’t be carried inside, so it may pass away completely.  Each year we haul it in and each spring it takes forever for it to recover, and it seldom blooms.  So I give up.  It belongs in zones 10 – 11, but I was trying to push the envelop.

On a misty, overcast day, native Flame Prairie Sumac (Rhus Lanceolata) looks like it’s on fire.

This year the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) has lots of tiny orange red berries.  I love the fact that it’s an evergreen tree.

Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua) berries are a little bigger and redder.  A winter treat for the birds. It’s a Texas native and a very hardy small tree with multiple trunks.

The tree/bush is very full of berries.

A few buds have shown up on the Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) .  It quit blooming months ago when the heat got too intense.  It’s also called Apricot Mallow based on the color of its flowers.

Maggie Rose (Rosa ‘Maggie’) just keeps on blooming.  It’s a fragrant bourbon rose that likes our climate.

Bought this bush a couple of years ago and kept it in a shed until I had a place for it.  It has surprised me because the limbs have grown so long and gangly, and the magneta globe flowers are so tiny.

Have lost the tag and can’t identify it.

It has a tendency to spread out.  So it’s really too close to other plants.  I’ll worry about that next year.

Several of the David Austin roses I have don’t flower very well.  But this Thomas A. Beckett blooms often and the bush looks healthy.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) flowers last a long time.

I moved this Mint to a container because it was taking over a flower bed.  Even in tight confines, it’s doing well here.

“One kind word can warm three months.”  Japanese proverb