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.

These fall days are refreshing.

“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

A Touch of Autumn Color

Autumn color in central Texas is definitely different than in other parts of the U.S., especially, the northeast.

The first obvious color is Prairie Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that forms colonies in limestone.

The wind can quickly blow off the leaves, leaving a somewhat bare tree with its heavy seed clusters.  Recently a friend of mine was trimming branches above her head and didn’t realize that she was standing in poison sumac.  Made me wonder how one can tell the difference between the poisonous and nonpoisonous.

 This web site shows pictures and descriptions of Poison Sumac.

But that’s like remembering which snakes look like poisonous ones and which ones are poisonous in the heat of the moment.

So I’ll try to remember to enjoy Sumac from a distance.

One of my favorite trees in our yard is Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis).  It’s a pretty tree any time of the year, although it does require some shaping as the lower limbs grow downward.

Just to show how recommendations change, Chinese Pistache was once considered too invasive.  Now it’s a Texas Superstar tree.  In my book, it’s a winner.

Its autumn color gives me a sense of season, even if the temperatures waffle from cool to hot.

The light and wind seem to give it a different color each day.

The berries have a somber look when it’s cloudy.

Or bright and shiny when sunlight hits them.

The leaves on the Texas Maple turned yellow before the wind snatched them away.  Not sure exactly which type of maple this is.  The man who bought it and planted it got what was available.  I should have asked more information.

With the inconsistent temperatures, the Yellow Lead Ball tree (Leucaena retusa) looks like spring and fall at the same time.  The yellow puffy balls have returned while the seed pods dry and drop.  This is a Texas native and has done well in our yard.

Yellow pom-poms make this a festive sight.

Red Oaks can turn a deep red or burnt orange like this one.  Autumn leaves with Showbiz red roses blooming in a pot and evergreen cedars in the background – that’s our fall.

This wispy Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) tends to bloom in late summer or early fall.  But this year, the flowers came late.  The bush doesn’t look like much.

But up close, the bright dainty flowers are pretty.  This bush has a sharp, nose wrinkling smell, so it should be planted away from the house.

A native in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico, it adapts well to our soil and climate.

Re-blooming Irises have also shown their flowers late this year.  The Strawberry Gompheras  or Globe Amaranths (Gomphrena globosa) will continue to bloom until the first freeze.

Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis) joins in the color parade.

Red Robins flew in for a quick visit one cloudy day.  They never wear out their welcome.

Hope your fall has been colorful and enjoyable.  It’s the time of year for being thankful and for spending time with friends and family.

“Being married means mostly shouting ‘What?’ from other rooms.”  unknown

Red Hot Summertime

Back in the days before central air (the dark ages), an afternoon nap was mandated.  We would lie down while Mother read to us.  Soon she would be asleep, and we would be restless and anxious to get outside again.

Today, any work that needs to be done outside must be finished by noon.  This morning I mowed and moved the pots seen in this picture.  So it looks much more manicured now.  Coral Drift Roses still blooming.  If they are deadheaded, they will bloom until frost.

Salvia Greggii holds up well in the heat.

Today there are so many different Geraniums on the market.  The colors and scents vary.  They do better here if they only get indirect sunlight or early morning sun.

Flame Acanthus or Hummingbird Bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii)) provides nectar for pollinators.  It can take poor soil, hot sun, and is root hardy to zone 7.

Critters visit off and on all day.

The bright red of Strawberry Fields Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) draws attention like a neon sign.  They are native to Texas and Mexico and are strong reseeding annuals.  Away from the yard, they pop up around the compost heap.

Pink Coneflowers (Echinacea) attract butterflies, who like to land on their dome shape.

Roadrunner strolls across the yard nibbling here and there.  He froze when he sensed my presence at the door.

So thankful for A/C, shade, and iced tea.

“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”  Joseph Wood KrutchSave

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Hooray for Hardy

Plants that border on the aggressive can survive in this hard clay and caliche soil and endure the droughts.  Out with the finicky plants.  But I admit that I sometimes fall prey to those pretty flowers in the nursery that I know will not survive here.

Growing beside a county road, this Square Bid Primrose (Calylophus drummondianus)  is a good example of surviving some of the worst conditions.

Also known as Drummond’s Sundrops, that name fits.

Actually, in a flowerbed, it doesn’t spread that much.  Maybe because it gets regular water.  The one on the left was bought this year because the older plant wasn’t filling in the space.

Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is a zone 5 – 10 perennial.  Other common names are Scarlet Rosemallow, Crimson Rosemallow, and Wild Red Mallow.

Actually, Star Hibiscus is native to most southern states.  Some people resent that Texas was added to the name.  Guess we were just the first to claim it and name it.  Texans are not known as shy.

Although mine doesn’t bloom frequently, it’s a sight to be behold when it does.

Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) spreads to hold soil in place.  It is native to seashores around the Pacific.  It was an unidentified plant when I bought it, so it was a surprise to find out its natural environment.

This one is mostly in the shade, so maybe that keeps it confined.

It probably blooms better in full sun.  Ah, well, live and learn.  I certainly don’t plan to dig it up.  It is hardy and entrenched.

American Germander or Canadian Germander (Teucrium canadense) from the mint family is a volunteer plant.  It was probably a gift from birds.

Several plants came up among Pink Guara.

Two of my favorite super hardy and dependable flowers include Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Strawberry globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa).  In my opinion, they are absolute musts for gardens.  They are heavy reseeders, so once you put in a few plants, there will be plenty to share.

Love the color, the shape, and the fact that pollinators flock to them.

Hope your garden is blessing your life.

“Dance like no one is watching.  Email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.”  unknownSave

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Oldies but Goodies

One of the pleasures of gardening is the return each year of perennials.  Success with plants is not always the case, so it feels good when it happens.

oldiesOne sure way to achieve success in the garden is to use native plants.  All plants are native somewhere, so planting native always refers to what grows naturally in your neck of the woods.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is one of those wildflowers that comes up wherever it pleases.  If that doesn’t bother you, then it works.   I like the way the white flowers kind of glow.

oldies8Clammy Weed and Zinnas are easy to please – just a little water and sunshine.

oldies1Rose of Sharon also does well here.  Most of my bushes have the flowers that look like Hibiscus.  These have a rose look.

oldies2One of the best plant that gardeners in central Texas can have are Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  Just step up close to them and have butterflies darting all around you.oldies3Blue Mists fill in spaces among other plants.  If you like that, you’re good to go.  If not, put them in a contained flower bed.

oldies44Another beauty is Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus drummondii).  It doesn’t look like it would survive Texas sun, but this plant has been in this spot for eight or nine years.  it’s tough.

oldies4The garden is doing well when all kinds of “good” bugs live there.

oldies5Bright red of these turbans always make me smile.

oldies7Behind the Blue Mist, Mexican Petunias (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’) keep expanding.  This is another one that needs to be contained if you have limited space.

This group all came from one cutting that I took nine years ago.  If you see something you like, then ask permission to take a cutting.  If it doesn’t survive, then nothing lost.

oldies6One of my favorites:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) was planted many years ago.  I bought it long before I knew anything about it.  It is now a Texas Superstar plant.

Many hardly plants are found in cemeteries.  These were growing on a grave when they were discovered, so they were named for the name on the tombstone.

oldies9Ordinary Morning Glory reminds me of old gardens of the early settlers.  There’s a reason they have been around for years and years.  It’s impossible to kill them.

Just a few seeds from a friend and voila, you’ll have flowers forever.  But they are invasive, so beware.

oldiesaRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is one of the better behaved natives.  It stays where it is put and is not invasive.

oldiesbPretty little flowers that look more like hibiscus than roses.

oldiescStrawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) does come up profusely.  But it’s a small plant that looks good poking its head up among other flowers.

Neat and tidy in the garden isn’t my thing.

oldiesgCanyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is fighting to keep its place in a bed since Pink Gaura keeps spreading out.

oldiesdThis bush in the back yard is so bright and cheerful.  I have sought to identify it definitively.

Finally, a nursery man had one like it and told me it was a Texas Flowery Senna (Senna corymbosa).  Other names include Flowering Senna, Tree Senna, and Buttercup Bush.

After about six years, it’s about 6 feet tall and wide.  Great plant.

oldiesfSmall green flying bugs or bees flit from flower to flower.  One is on a petal in the upper middle of the picture.

Wildflowers are just weeds.  So pick the pretty ones you love and plant a few seeds.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  W. E. Johns

 

Heat Lovers

The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.

heatlovingDesignated a Texas Superstar Plant, the Texas Star Hibiscus, doesn’t look like a hibiscus.

heatloving1It has not been a heavy bloomer for me, but the flowers are unique.

heatlovingfTo me, the only reason to plant Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii A. Gray) is to attract butterflies.  These are truly covered from late spring to late fall with Viceroys.

The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.

heatloving2Bluemist flowers are small and not that noticeable or impressive.  The purple flowers to the right are a few larkspurs hanging on.

heatlovingg

heatlovingdOn the porch that provides indirect light, A Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has outgrown its container.  That should be fun to transplant.

It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant.  Color of the flowers is so pretty.

heatlovingeIce plant has been in this pot for years.

heatloving3A Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) that is a couple of years old has gorgeous blooms.

heatloving4This will grow into a tree with several trunks that arch out from the center.

heatloving5Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wildflower that came from the same lady who gave me the Crown of Thorns. The seeds are carried by the wind, so it comes up in unexpected places.

heatloving6Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) must be watered regularly to bloom.  But it is so worth it.  The other bush with red blooms is Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Dynamite’).  Both of these bushes are about 10 years old..

heatloving7Love Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. Ex G. Don SSP Russellianum) and Strawberry Gompheras (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) and Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

heatloving8One of my favorite flowering bushes, Duranta doesn’t begin to bloom until mid July when the temps rev up.

heatlovingaIt is in the verbena family.  The clusters of tiny flowers are breathtaking.

heatloving9Although Duranta does well in our hot, hot summers, it is iffy in cold weather.  Mine is on the east side of the house, so it gets morning sun and no direct northern winds.  A heavy mulch when it starts to get cold protects the roots.  So it’s a great plant if you have just the right place for it.

heatlovingbRecently we bought three new Crape Myrtles from a guy attending a gardening seminar.  He said that they are a new type called ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle and will grow to 10 – 12 feet tall.

heatlovingcLove the color of the flowers and that they have been blooming since they were planted.

Right after these pictures were taken, some of the branches were broken off and the flowers eaten.  Jackrabbits, I think.  Grrr!   So I put cages around them to protect them.

“… it looks to me like the upcoming U.S. presidential election will force Americans, to paraphrase the great American writer Gore Vidal, to cast their ballot against the evil of two lessers.”  Ted Woloshyn

Gardens at Biltmore

The gardens at Biltmore are fabulous, as expected.

gardensThe wooded garden area is huge, and I doubt that we saw all of it.  It is naturalistic in design, but definitely has some order to it.  There are wide paved paths through sunny and shady areas.

Most of the shrubs were unfamiliar to me.

biltmoreflowersBut a few had labels.  This Weigela (Weigela florida) in the honeysuckle family is gorgeous.

gardens2At one spot, there was a glimpse into the more formal gardens.  The wooden arbor seen here is in the center of the gardens that are laid out symmetrically.

gardensdAt the main steps that lead down into the formal gardens, almost the whole garden is in view.  In the far back is the conservatory with tropical plants.  These were popular on large estates during the Victorian age.  Today, they are found in large public gardens.

gardens4A type of Beebalm, maybe.  A reader provided the information that this is a Centaurea.  Glad to know.

gardens5Tall spikes of Gomphrena pop with the shaded wall background.

gardens6Japanese Iris require an acidic soil, so we certainly cannot grow them here.

gardensaaAlmost all of the flowers were planted in generous groupings.

gardensaaaThe white tree in the background at the right caught my attention.

gardensbCloser, it’s still a mystery.

gardensbbAh ha – a Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus).  I’ve only seen ones with orange blossoms in our area.

gardenscLots of different types of Bearded Irises scattered throughout the garden.

gardensccA large rose garden area had all kinds of different varieties.  It was a little too early in the year for them to be in full bloom.

gardensdd

gardenseBehind the wall at the back of the gardens are greenhouses plus a nursery.

biltmoreflowers3Love the contrasting colors.

gardensf

biltmoreflowers4The Peonies blew me away.

biltmoreflowers6It is just too hot and dry here to grow them.

biltmoreflowers7But, if I could, I’d have a whole yard of them.

biltmoreflowers8Love them all.

gardensgPretty color in the petals but unknown to me.

gardensggThis white plant was very strange and was in two different spots.  I couldn’t tell if they were bulbs that needed to keep their foliage until it all shriveled up or if it was a plant with that color of foliage.

gardenshEuphorbia Lime Green bush.

gardenshhVery striking.

gardensiiThe flower beds along the outside walls were wide and layered.  Very attractive with the wooded garden behind them.  Wonder how they weed?

gardenskClematis

gardenskkAzaleas that must be young plants.

gardensjjIn one corner of the wall was what looked like a house.  I figured it was a storage area for gardening supplies, but it might have been a house for a gardener at one time.  Behind the lady, who was a gardener putting out bedding plants, and to her right is an arched exit that leads into more wooded garden areas.

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”  Lindley Karstens

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Garden Memories, Hopes

When the skies are dreary and the yard is barren, I look for any color, shape, light to lift my spirits.  Although we have not had the rough winter like most of the US, winter cold makes me long for spring.  Guess living most of my life in a dry, hot environment has become part of who I am.

afterfreeze1A few pots of Pansies are still alive – scraggly, but colorful.

afterfreeze2Green from Yellow Columbine sticks out between dead Woodland Fern.  In the spring, I’ll be mumbling about Columbine coming up unwanted in this bed.  Now I’m glad to see something alive.

afterfreeze3Good ole reliable Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum keeps on keeping on.

afterfreeze4Underneath these resting Daylily stalks lies the bulbs that will provide new stalks and gorgeous flowers in the spring.  The promise of new life encourages all gardeners.

afterfreeze5Dead Senna branches will need to be cut off to the ground in the spring, but now they provide seeds for birds.

winteryyar3Twirling Hummingbirds make me smile in all seasons.

winteryyard3

winteryyard2Not much rain this fall and winter, so I like the looks of some melting ice on tree branches.

winteryyardThe sunlight made them sparkle like diamonds.

winteryyard4All the Gomphera heads are white now rather than the bright red ones that will bloom in the spring.  Each of these hold about 100 seeds.  They will be so thick that thinning will be required.  I plan to move some to a new bed and to share some.

winteryyard5Pansies just amaze me.  I guess because I’m such a wuss in the cold.

winteryyard8We’ve had several Cardinals in the yard this year.  They are so wary that my attempts at photographing them has not been very successful.

winteryyard9Talk about bringing a bright color to the yard.  I love to watch them from inside a warm house.

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  unknown

Indian Summer Blooms

Indian summer has struck again although this time of the year doesn’t follow the strict definition.  There has been no hard frost, yet.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac adheres to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer.”

It certainly feels like an Indian summer because we’ve enjoyed a spell of wonderful cool nights and days.  But now we are back in the grips of heat with highs in the low 90’s and harsh sun rays lashing out at us.

stillbloomingpThe purple Fall Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) came out when it turned cool.  Since they are hardy, maybe they will last for a while in spite of the heat.

stillbloomingrTheir color has faded.  While waiting for them to fill out with flowers, I sacrificed getting a picture with their deeper color.

Really must force myself to divide them after the last freeze next year.  That just happens to be when everything needs attention.

stillbloomingqA great autumn plant.

stillbloomingoThe Strawberry Fields Gomphera  (Gomphrena haageana) just keeps on shining.  One of my best purchases.

autumninpots3This Ice Plant is on a covered porch, but the late afternoon sun still shines on it.

autumninpots4Very heat hardy but dies in a freeze.  So some must be brought in for a start for next year.

autumninpots1The Autumn Sedum  (Sedum  spectabile ‘Brilliant’ Stonecrop) has started blooming, although the renewed summer weather has stopped that.

autumninpots2Maybe when it gets cool again, they will finish blooming.

autumninpotsAll of these pots are in the shade most of the day with a little afternoon light hitting them.

autumninpotspost6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)  is in a pot under a large Live Oak tree. So it is in the shadows all day but gets indirect light and seems very happy.

crownofthornsAnother Crown of Thorns is on a covered porch but gets lots of low late afternoon light.  It has flourished since the top was cut off which caused branching and a fuller plant .  The plant behind it is Oxalis.

Weather wishing doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying it.  I do want some of those cool days to return.

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Thomas Sowell