Heat Lovers

As the summer drags it feet and lingers, the sun bakes plants.  And often there’s no relief of cooler temperatures at night.  So it’s totally amazing that some plants do so well through our long, hot summers.

Normally, I’m too chintzy to invest in annals.  But Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) finally lured me to buy a couple of them.  Plus, I had just the spot for them.

Our winter temperatures are too cold for them, and they don’t reseed.  But they are drought tolerant, can take the sun, and last for months.  The wind creates beautiful movement of their feathers.  So I’m sold.  Love them.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) is a longtime favorite that always provides late summer blooms.  Beauty just drips off its branches.

With clusters of velvet-looking deep purple flowers, each petal is edged in white.

I think it surprises some people that roses do so well in our heat.  To me, roses conjure up England with its misty days.  So when I first tried them, I was leary.  What a pleasant surprise.

This particular bush is Brilliant Veranda by Kordes.  In a picture, the sun fades out their startling bright color.  This is a small bush that does well in containers and has been in a pot for two years.

Abraham Darby is hardy up to zone 11, so it likes heat.  It was planted this spring.  It’s a David Austin rose named after the man who build the first iron bridge.

I’ve gone rather ga-ga over roses.  Can’t seem to get enough of them.

Caryopteris, Blue Mist Shrub, or Blue Beard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) is drought tolerant, is bothered by few pests, and is hardy enough to make it through our extremely low temperatures last winter.  Cold hardy zones 5 – 9.

It’s obvious why it’s called Blue Mist Shrub because it looks so much like the Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers.  Stats say it will remain a compact small shrub: 3 – 4 ft. wide and tall.  So far, it’s been great.

It’s great to have plants that endure the summer heat.  They provide a reason to go out into the sunlight.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

Spring Fed River

While in San Angelo recently, we enjoyed strolling through a small park area bordering the Concho River.  The key to success in public park spaces is meeting the needs of local people and knowing what grows well in your area.

The sight of this spring fed river in dry West Texas always makes me feel good.

Although this area is beside a major road, it is quiet and peaceful.  The deep shade of what I think is Arizona Cypress (Cupressus Arizonica) is a welcome relief from the hot afternoon sun.

A  soothing spot to while away an morning or afternoon.

Continuing our walk, we cross the river on the foot bridge.

The Concho River in West Texas seems like a strange place for a mermaid statue, but is actually appropriate since she is holding a Concho freshwater mussel that produces gorgeous pearls in many colors.  The pink one is probably the most well known, even from the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

The sculptor, Jayne Charless Beck, was a San Angelo resident artist who passed away in 1993.  After his death, this bronze casting of “The Pearl of the Concho” was donated to the city.

This memorial for 9/11 victims displays 2,996 flags for the victims.

A metal cross stands in the center of the memorial.

Several plantings of Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculate) provide a coolness to the area.  It is native to South Africa and survives in zones 8 – 11.

This combo with Texas Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) contrasts the brightness of the yellow and the calming effect of the blue.

The draping of the Blue Plumbago’s long branches is an additional plus.

In the right zone, Plumbago is easy to grow.  Unfortunately, for me it is an annual and has to be grown in a pot.

Yellow Bells also require mild winters, but the problem can be solved with heavy mulching and some kind of cover over the roots.

Grass plantings are very popular.  This is Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) with an Autumn Salvia Greggii (Salvia greggii) in front.

Some consider Mexican Feather Grass to be invasive.  It has not been for me, but the top half of the plant should be cut off in winter to keep it from flopping and looking messy.

Salvia greggii should also be cut back severely in winter.  Otherwise, it becomes too leggy.  The species has several different flower colors.

I think this is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetumsetaceum ‘Rubrum’), which is hardy in zones 9 – 11.  It’s used as an annual in larger Texas cities.

Mugwort or Artemisia  (Artemisia vulgaris) placed in the middle of Mexican Feather Grass adds a lovely softness.

Salvia Greggii can be overused because of its hardiness, but this park has just a few scattered here and there.

One of my favorite ornamental trees or large bushes is Chaste Tree, Abraham’s balm,  Monk’s pepper or Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus).  They are just so reliable for our dry areas, plus they have gorgeous purple flower clusters.  After the flowers die, the cluster of berries can be dried and used in arrangements.

Before turning around, we stopped outside of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts that we had previously visited a few weeks before this trip.

Potato Vine with Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and maybe a Bougainvillea that isn’t blooming.

Nothing is as refreshing as a walk through nature, even if it’s in the city or maybe, because it’s in the city.

“We always want the best man to win an election.  Unfortunately, he never  runs.”                   Will Rogers Save

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