Cool Autumn

Cool autumn refers to the temperature, but, also, how terrific it is.  Isn’t it astounding how many benefits come from rain?

Not only has the rain lowered the temperatures, it has provided water for plants to produce lots of flowers.  One of my favorites is Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus).

Turk’s Cap blooms in the hot summer months, but with extra moisture, it explodes in color.

Rain provides plants under a porch cover with moisture in the air.  This African Blue Basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum ‘Dark Opal’)  was small this spring.  The ends of branches have been snipped off to use to flavor dishes several times.

This basil does not seed, so cuttings must be taken to root for new plants.

Behind the basil is Autumn Joy Sedum, with flower clusters forming.  Beside that is Asparagus Fern, then a pot of Kalanche.

Autumn Joy Sedum is now in full bloom.  It only blooms in the fall, but the large succulent leaves makes it a worthwhile plant the whole year.  Plus, it does not need winter protection if it is nestled close to a dwelling or in some other protected spot.

Obedience Plants (Physostegia virginiana) shine on.  So cool.

Dusty Miller has survived another summer in a pot.  To the right is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower.

Mexican Petunia has enjoyed the rains, which have transformed the scenery from brittle, drab brown to brilliant emerald green.

Wild Aster filled in this flowerbed.

It’s a pretty little bush and covers up the spent bulb flowers in this bed during the hot months.

Fabulous Bachelor Buttons or Strawberry Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa) is a bright, happy plant.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) just keeps on keeping on.  It blooms and grows further out of its bed.

Ahh, refreshing rains and cool weather.   Good for the soul.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

Shade Lovers

Finding shady areas for plants can be a challenge if you live where the sun glares down with full force for months at a time.  Shade doesn’t have to be a totally dark area, but one where there is no direct sunlight.

In my case, that means covered porches or close to the trunks of large trees.  My porch areas can look messy because I also root many plants there.  Here are Coleuses, Old fashioned Geraniums, and an Aloe Vera.

Coleus may seem like an old lady plant; since I’m an old lady and it’s only been a favorite the last couple of years, that fits.  But it brings color in areas where flowers won’t bloom.

This one came from a cutting about four years ago.  Coleuses root easily in water and are great pass-along plants.

The lime green ones really brighten up a shady place.

This is an attempt at a fairy garden.  Problem is:  when you water, pebbles and other small articles tend to wash away or fall over.  Variegated Ice Plant has grown like wildfire.

A professional gardener for a public garden made the statement that neatness is more important than what you plant.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  And, let’s face it, it’s difficult to keep a garden weeded and cleared of debris when you don’t have a staff.  That’s my excuse.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) branches bend over and grow crookedly.  This one will definitely have to be cut back before carrying it into the shed for winter.  Maybe some friends would like a cutting?

The thorns are vicious.  This one came from a cutting about six or seven years ago.  Several cuttings have been made from the original planting and propagated and given away.

This was bought at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  It can’t take our cold winters, like many of the other plants shown in this post.  It also has sharp thorns.  I keep telling myself to toss it, but here it is after two years.

These three pots of plants have been here for years and years.  The Red Apple Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia) on the left and the Autumn Joy Sedum are perennial, and thankfully do not have to be toted into the shed for the winter.  These are succulents, so broken stems can be planted directly into potting soil.

The Purple Oxalis  is not cold hardy.

The Sedum will put on a show with pink flower clusters soon.

Pale pink flowers contrast nicely with the purple leaves of Oxalis, which is in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is another new favorite.  The smell is wonderful.  It does not reseed but can be propagated with cuttings rooted in water.

To the left is another Autumn Joy Sedum, Kalanche on the right, and Asparagus Fern in the back.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) is an extremely hardy perennial ground cover.  As demonstrated by this picture, it spreads rapidly and should be contained.  This flowerbed is surrounded by a porch and a sidewalk on two sides.

The light pink flowers always show up white in my pictures.  The stems can be broken or cut and rooted in water.  Another good pass-along plant.

“You can lead a man to congress, but you can’t make him think.”  Milton Berle

Convenient Containers

Container Gardening has become all the rage.  It is rightfully touted as useful for small spaces, like apartment balconies and as a way to make a statement.  But there is a real knack to combine plants to make it artful, which I don’t seem to possess.

I use flowerpots for totally different reasons.  Since there is little shade in my yard, I use pots to place plants in some shade.  Under trees is one of my few options, and since it is not healthy for tree roots to have the amount of water that flowers need, I don’t want to put them in the ground there.

Another use of pots is demonstrated with these Petunias.  Pots are an easy way to use the color of annuals wherever you need it.

Deciding where to put plants sometimes requires some time to think of the right place or to prepare a flowerbed for them.  Phil Colson of Atlanta says, “For their first three years in the garden, keep perennials on ‘roller skates,’ moving them around until you find the spot they like best.  Then just leave’em alone.”  This quote comes from Passalong  Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing.

These Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) came from my mother’s yard.  I’ve had them before in the ground here.  But that spot was either flooded or dry as a bone, so eventually, they died.

Sedum is another plant that needs shade, so I put them on the covered porch that gets filtered sun.

As I have confessed before, I am guilty of buying plants with no place prepared to put them.

Leaving plants in pots until you have the right spot for them can go on indefinitely.  These three plants:  Salvia Greggi, Oso Easy® Honey Bun Rose, and Ligustrum have been in these pots for at least three years.  It is amazing how long plants can be in pots before they become root bound.

This Mock Orange (Philadelphus x virginalis ‘Minnesota Snowflake’) is shown here in a pot, but actually made it into a flowerbed in just months.  It is called mock because it has a citrusy smell but, of course, is not an orange tree.

I found Blue Mist Spiraea or Bluebear ‘Dark Knight’ shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and am excited because  butterflies love Blue Mistflower (Coelestinum).  The flowers look alike.

This is zoned down to 5, so I plan to get this in the ground, eventually.  It is a woody perennial that should get about 5 feet tall and wide.

Still trying to decide where to put this Ragin’ Cajun Ruellia or Texas Petunia (Ruellia elegans), but it will probably be permanently in a pot.  It should endure the heat but not the cold.

Another reason I use pots is that I adore lots of plants that are not cold hardy and thus have to be moved inside for the winter.  Actually, I’m not sure how this Foxglove will perform here, but the color of the flowers were irresistible.

There are no rules on how large a “pot” can be.  Cattle feeders are poplar for lots of uses here.

Here Yellow or Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum (DC.) A. Gray protects the roots of a vine.  This is a hardy Texas native.

Clematis vines need feet in shade and the rest of the vine in the sun. Jackman clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is a perennial flowering vine hardy from zone 4 – 9.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Your comments encourage me and help me learn.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it is accepted by the majority.”  Rick Warren

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What Is and Is to Come

Last days of winter – maybe.  Warms days followed by cold days creates a confusing message to nature.

The dried blossoms of Sedum Autumn Joy can be sprayed and used in flower arrangements.  Silver paint makes them look classy.

Plus, Sedum Autumn Joy is a wonderful succulent that is reliable.  Green leaves are already popping up.

Bi-color Iris (Dietes bicolor) or African Iris or Fortnight Lily forms a clump with long sword like leaves.  It’s a native to South Africa, so I’m hoping that it will recover from the hard freezes this year.

Texas Flowering Senna produces tons of seed pods.  After giving lots away, these were left.  The strange thing is that with all these seeds, there are no seedlings that come up under the bush.

Texas Flowering Senna displays stunning yellow flowers that last for about seven months.  Can’t wait.

The leaves of Red Yucca are still green but the tall flower stems are dry.  The flowers leave a hard shell with black seeds.

Most of its leaves are still clinging to one Red Oak in the yard.  The strong winds haven’t dislodged them  yet.  Before long, new leaves will sprout.

There are several varieties of Senna.  Not sure which one this is.

Interesting flower seed pods and branch forms.

Clusters of dried False Foxglove seed pods make me anxious for the return of their white petals with pink splotches.This time of year wild creatures are astiring.  A group of wild turkeys passed through behind the house.  Stealthily, I cracked open the back door and poked my camera through it.

From the road wild turkeys don’t appear to have much color, but a zoom lens shows their pretty feathers.

Looks like two old gossipers speaking solemnly about something.

Guess mating season has started, meaning new little ones.

Can you tell that I am ready for spring with its warm weather and pretty colors.  I know, I know.  It’s still February.  Just daydreaming.

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”  Joey Adams

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