What Happened to Autumn?

The middle of October was still in the throes of summer.  Here we are on the last day of October.  Last night was a hard freeze.  So all those jobs that we postponed because it was too hot and had planned to do in autumn, probably won’t get done this year.

Today the sun is shining.  Apparently, the freeze didn’t kill anything.

Autumn Purple Asters are in bloom.  These were divided a few years ago.  It looks like that task needs to be repeated.

Pretty little fellows.

Last spring I planted a couple of Country Girl Mums (Chrysanthemum ‘County Girl’).  They got so tall that they flopped over.  So this coming year, I plan to trim them back a bit in the summer.

But aren’t they gorgeous?  They have full pedals, like daisies.

Not readily available in box stores.  Look for them in a local, privately owned nursery.

Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth) is also difficult to find.  But well worth the search.  They reseed beautifully.

The spots on this Cannova Yellow Canna Lily from Monrovia makes it a little different from the usual canna lily.Good old dependable Belinda’s Dream survived the summer well and produced another flurry of blooms when the weather cooled just a tad.

This unknown native showed up a couple of years ago in a flowerbed.  They’re easy to pull up, so it’s not a problem when they pop up.  I pull some and leave some because they fill in some bare spots once the Purple Coneflowers and Daisies give up the ghost in the relentless heat of summer.

I’ve looked in my native flower books to identify them.  So far, no luck.

Three new Smoke Bushes (Cotinus coggygria) made it through the summer.  Maybe next year they will bloom with smokey plumes in the fall.  Thankfully, they are drought tolerant.

I think this is a Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth.  It grows differently than the Strawberry Gomphrena because they are individual plants.  This one is a short rounded shrub.

This is a rose that I propagated, so I don’t know which one it is.  I propagate several different kinds of roses at the same time.  They are labeled at first.  When they get transplanted, my labeling system breaks down.  Need to work on that.

Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) is still blooming and attracting some butterflies.

If the cold weather continues, all these beauties will die and reappear next spring.

The next blog will show a few more flowers that are hanging on.

“Don’t let the world convince you that trusting is for fools and forgiving is for the weak.  These gifts are blessings given to you that prove that you have an amazing capacity to love and that you have goodness in your heart.” Brigitte Nicole

Flit, Flutter, Flap

Faster than the speed of light:  at least, that’s what it seems like when you’re trying to photograph flying creatures.

Although I’m definitely not knowledgeable about identifying butterflies, this is a type of Giant Swallowtail feeding on Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).

Flame Acanthus grows in poor rocky soil and in direct hot sun, so it’s great for our location.  It’s a perennial that does better if it is severely cut back in the early spring.  It starts to leaf out late in the spring, but from then until the first frost, it is covered with small tubular red flowers.

Here’s a Swallowtail on Obedient Plants (Physostegia virginiana).  Obedient Plants, native to North America, freely reseed, so they spread easily.

Another Black Swallowtail on Acanthus.

Queen Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) camp out on Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) all summer long.

They swarm the tiny powder puff flowers flitting from flower to flower.  If you want butterflies in your yard, Bluemist and Flame Acanthus will do the trick.

Some Dusty Miller is hanging over the Bluemist, but their meal is found in the Bluemist.

Vine Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha vitis) is common to the southwestern US.  Thanks, moth, for being perfectly still so I could get a picture.

A  Monarch (Danaus plexippus) stops on her journey to Mexico to enjoy the Bluemist Flowers.  Also known as the Milkweed Butterfly because that’s the only food source for their caterpillars.

Thankfully, the Monarch Butterflies aren’t as picky as their caterpillars.  This one enjoys Purple Asters.  Actually, it looks like two are feeding on the same flower.

This beauty – Pipevine Swallowtail or Blue Swallowtail (Battus philenor) adds color to the garden.

Detail is seen in this bright orange Dragonfly resting on a fence.

Giant Sulfurs or Cloudless Giant Sulfurs (Phoebis sennae) must love red flowers.  They have been a constant presence in our yard for a month.  This one is feasting on Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), the last one left from summer.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) attracts of Sulfurs.

Sulfurs are also fans of Flame Acanthus.

Other butterflies like this small one that I can’t identify are flitting here and there.

“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  St. AugustineSave

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Fabulous Fall

A little rain and cooler weather does wonders for us all.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) is a zone 9a – 11 plant; therefore it’s a pot plant for me.  Even though it loves heat, it does much better here in a shady area.  Our blazing hot sun burns tender leaves.

Everything I’ve read indicates that it is a pollinator magnet, but I’ve never seen one on or near it.  It’s a conundrum.

Scented Geraniums also like the heat but wilt in direct sunlight.  This one is so pretty with an impressionist painting look.

Don’t have a clue what this plant is.  It’s in a pot, so I must have planted it.  Or maybe it’s one I brought from Mother’s house.

It has been outside all summer and only got berries on it a few weeks ago.  Those berries turned into these pretty clusters of miniature flowers.  Anyone know?  Please comment if you know.

After some harsh cold spells last winter, this large shrub was dead as a doornail.  Then, two little stems came up.  We cut the large branches and main trunk off.  The stump is in the lower right corner.

One of my all time favorite flowering bushes, Texas Flowering Senna (Senna corynbosa) is hopefully going to survive.  These are difficult to find since most nurseries don’t carry them.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana), is also known as French Mulberry, American Mulberry, Spanish Mulberry, Bermuda Mulberry, Sour, and Sow-berry.  I much prefer Beautyberry because the vibrant neon color of the berries is astounding.

Of course, they don’t survive our winters but do well in a protected shed.

Autumn means pretty colorful leaves.  This red one was found in a dry creek bed.  I’m not sure what tree it’s from.

Just got this birdhouse and signs up recently.  My husband painted the signs, while I painted and decorated the birdhouse.  The pole stands at the edge of a bed of native orange Cannas.

The days are comfortably warm, but the sun is still bright.  Wonderful autumn days pull me outside to enjoy the relief from summer heat.

The flowers of this African Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) bounce playfully when there is a breeze.

Not sure what kind of Purple Asters these are.  In the spring, I divided them and spread them out more.

Just love the bright cheeriness of them.

Ixora (Ixora coccinea) blooms from the time we bring it outside each spring and even retains some blossoms in the shed through the winter in the shed.  But near the end of summer, most flowers drop off.  Then magically, it blooms again.

A tropical shrub native to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, it is also the national flower of Suriname.

Such a lovely color.

Hope you are enjoying autumn weather where you are.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  L. M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables 

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Flower Bunches

One philosophy of landscape designers is to plant large sweeps of one color for a bold eye catching display.  They also say to have a limited number of plant varieties in a yard.  Now I don’t follow either of those landscape rules.  Not that I doubt their validity.  It just that I prefer a cottage garden look.

bunches2At this time of the year, those mass plantings that I do have look kind of scraggly after a long summer.

In my opinion, one of the best plants to draw butterflies is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii).  But even large groups of them aren’t that impressive except for all the activity of beautiful butterflies darting all around.

bunches4To really see the flowers themselves requires a close up shot.  They are like little puffs of pale lavender.

bunches3Migrating Monarchs stop to feast for a day or two.

bunchesThis year I vow to divide the Purple Asters.  If only making that statement would get the job done.

bunches1Some plants like this Russian Sage grew and spread beyond what I had expected.  Putting one tiny plant in the ground, I certainly did not leave enough room for them to expand.  So they are wedged between Earthkind® Roses and Salvia Greggi.

bunches6I have planted these Coral Drift Roses since this picture was taken.  They are low growing, spreading bushes with clusters of roses from spring until frost.

Last year we planted five along one edge of a bed.  I had planned to put something else along the other edge.  I tried some irises, but it looked lopsided after their blooms ended.  So these are to fill in to make one larger group of roses.

buncheskHere is a close up from one of the bushes from last year.  Drift roses are a variety of Knock-out® roses.

bunches7Sometimes groups of flowers can be small but their brilliant color still grabs one’s attention.  This Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) came from a friend.  Many stems have been cut and rooted and shared.

Note the thorns on the stems.  I have a cheap pair of kitchen tongs I use to handle them.  Most of these stems will be cut off soon because it is too difficult to put the pot in the shed without tearing skin.

bunches8Gorgeous clusters of bright red from this Bougainvillea, still blooming in late October, steals the spotlight.  It also has thorns and will need to be repotted in a larger container as well as trimmed back.

bunchesbAnother striking blossom made up of tiny flowers is found on the Vitex tree or large shrub (Vitex agnus-castus) .  Its upright bunches are very attractive.

Whatever your garden style is, just enjoy it.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”  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

Purple in the Yard

Although our autumns are iffy and interspersed with many summer days, the somewhat cooler days give plants a chance to recover and bloom.

These are two small Texas Asters (Aster oblongifolius)  that I bought in the spring at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin.  Now they’re two big ones.  This is my first experience with asters.  The fact that they have spread so fast and are blooming so profusely makes me a great fan.

I also love their color and feathery petals.

The Blue Mist has continued strong all through the summer.  It’s an amazing plant not only because it’s a butterfly magnet, but because it blooms so long.  It’s like the turtle in the Tortoise and the Hare.  It just keeps on going.

The light is giving the flowers on this Butterfly Bush a burgundy color, but it actually is purple.  It has also bloomed all summer in spite of the fact that an armadillo dug a deep hole down into its roots.  We filled in the dirt numerous times.  Finally, we sprinkled Ortho Fire Ant Killer on the filler dirt and put more big rocks at the top.  The fire ant killer stinks, so we thought it might discourage pests.  So far, so good.

This is ornamental garlic.  Last year it didn’t do much but is finally filling out and blooming well.

This is that same garlic plant.  The low setting sun is giving the petals a pinkish cast.

Rosemary has pale purple or lavender flowers.  This plant has spread like wildfire.  It’s about 4 feet in diameter and 3-4 feet tall.  I trimmed it quite a bit a couple of months ago.  I need to get back at it.

Another faithful bloomer – Mexican Petunia.  It’s about four feet tall.  One small cutting was planted five years ago and has now spread to cover a five foot by eight foot area of a flowerbed.

This Plumbago has struggled all summer.  It’s in a pot, but I’m not sure where to plant it.  Duranta is a heat lover, so it has performed well all summer.  Purple jewels just drip off its branches.

A Reblooming Iris has an early bloom.  It needs to be a little cooler for them to rebloom.  These were ordered from one of those mailings that gardeners get.  It’s really not a good idea for those of us who live in an extreme southwestern climate to order from companies in the north.  But those catalogs are so tempting.  However, this one turned out to be a good purchase.  These irises bloom in the spring and again in the fall.

They need a little more water than the old farmhouse natives in this area.  My native irises are not even in the yard but in a field close to the house.  So they don’t get watered at all.  Of course, they haven’t fared too well the last couple of years, but should be okay in a year with more rain.

There are a few more purple plants still looking good.  These are some I really like.

Purple, red, and yellow are my favorite flower colors.  It’s dangerous for me to say favorite when I talk about plants because it seems many are favorites at different times.  That kinda negates the proper use of the word.

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”   Jenny Joseph