Summer Continues

Summer drags on, but we did have a respite with rain and cooler temperatures one day last week.  And thankfully, there have been only a few 100 plus days since then.

summercontinues6Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is doing well even though it may receive too much water from the sprinkler system as we try to keep other plants alive.

summercontinues7This one is probably ‘Santa Barbara’ since it has pale purple calyx and flower.

summercontinuesdI like that Drift Roses spread out low to the ground.  Another plus is that they almost always have flowers during the blooming season.

summercontinues8Coneflowers (Echinacea) have won a place in my heart.  These were planted late in the spring, so they’re blooming much later than the older ones I have.

summercontinues9Bees seem to be everywhere gathering nectar.

summercontinuescWhite Plumbago (Plumbaginaceae) or Leadwort looking good. That’s also Plumbago in the turquoise pot.  It was purchased in the spring and is still small but has grown quite a bit.

summercontinuesaThe Plumbago flowers aren’t as full as they were in the cooler temps of late spring.

summercontinues3The Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) to the left looks a little weary.  The Senna from the family of Fabaceae has perked back up.

In the background, the fields are white from searing heat and lack of moisture.

summercontinuesI love this bush and so do the bees.

summercontinues2The bright yellow flowers are so cheery.

summercontinuesbWe had a seven foot tower built for a rose bush since an aggressive climbing rose tore up the old, less sturdy one.  We pulled that rose up and will replace it with something else this fall.

summercontinues4This Common Garden Spider immediately claimed the tower.

summercontinues5A camera flash was needed to capture the spider’s web.

animals5Freeze.  Let’s play statues and maybe no one will notice me.  This Jackrabbit stays in the yard and sometimes has companions.  I’m okay with them as long as they just nibble on grass.  But lately, they have ventured into the flower beds and are eating plants down to the nub.  Chasing them off is useless.  They return as soon as I go back in the house.  Ah, the pleasures of country living.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

Wintertime Yard

When it’s cold but dry outside, I sometimes wander around in the yard looking for some beauty in forms or at least, something unusual.

winteryardThese Coneflowers (Echinacea) are a good place to start.  I like their spiky ball shape and the way the light creates different color tones.  The name Echinacea comes from the Greek word meaning sea urchin.  That spiny center certainly looks like one.

This past year Coneflowers became one of my favorite flowers because the petals and central disk have bright colors and demand attention.

winteryard2The branches and seed pods on this Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta) strikes me as interesting.  In a state known for its Bluebonnets, this native loses out on the spotlight.  But it has beautiful light blue bell shaped blossoms that grow on curling stems.

winteryard3The dried flower heads of Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) in their winter gold make me anxious for their bright red color to return.  Lots of seeds should have fallen to produce a good crop this coming spring.  Another fave.

winteryard4A few orange-rust colored leaves cling to this Flame Acanthus (Acanthaceaae Anisacanthus wrightii) creating a stained glass window look.  Maybe my imagination is too strong.

winteryard6Bare branches emphasis a characteristic of the Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii).  The bark loses its outer layers on the trunk and larger branches.

winteryard5As with other white oaks, the Chinkapin is a hardwood used in building construction.

winteryard7The curly leaves of Woodland Ferns take on an artistic look in the winter.  They are crisp and look like they would crumble easily.  But past experience reminds me that they are difficult to pull out of the bed to prepare for new shoots in the spring.  So I use loppers to chop them off at the ground.

With little shade in my yard, they occupy the only flowerbed that receives almost no direct light.

winterskyHow fortunate we are to live where the skies are clear and vast.  When I think of all the millions of people who only see smog when they look up, it makes me sad for them.

wintersky2Love the buttermilk sky.

Plants, trees, and skies remind of God’s daily grace.

“Counting other people’s sins does not make one a saint.”  Unknown

Cool is Good

What a difference the cool days and nights make.  A sigh of relief is heard from all of nature.

firecrackerBright red  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii) shines in the sunlight.  It is not covered in blooms like this today as some have fallen off.

africianbullbineBoth of the above hot weather plants are doing well with the cooler days.  Orange African Bulbine  (Bulbine frutescens) has lots of orange and yellow blossoms waving in the wind.  The bed of purple Wandering Jew also sports many lavender flowers.

bluemistGregg’s Blue Mist (Conclinium greggi) just keeps on giving to the butterflies.  I always puzzle over the name of this plant.  Where is the blue?

bouganvillaEven though Bougainvillea is a warm tropical plant, even it seems to be enjoying less heat.

turkcapTurk’s Cap, Texas Mallow, Mexican Apple, or Bleeding Heart (Malvaviscus drummondii) has outdone itself this year.

Its many good qualities include being drought tolerant, surviving heat, and growing in many types of soils, wet and dry environments, and sun and shade.  This means it is grows well in far West Texas arid sand, in East Texas gumbo soil, and in North Central Texas black clay, and in my rocky caliche.  Hooray for this great plant.

plumbagoImperial blue cap Plumbago (Plumbago auriculate) also has bloomed and bloomed this year.  It is native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial there.  It loves the sun, but will freeze back here.

iceplantThere seem to be several plants called Ice Plant.  Both of the blossoms of my two look similar, but the leaves are different shapes.  The one in this picture doesn’t bloom  as profusely as the other one.  I have been unable to find a more specific name for them.  But they are wonderful succulents.

mexican petuniaAnother plant that flourishes here and blooms from late spring to the first freeze is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  I have the tall version shown in the picture and the low ground cover one.

Sunshine is needed to grown them.  The tall ones form colonies of woody stalks and can be invasive.

mexican petunia2Their flowers have crinkly petals.

Such a nice time of the year.  It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors.

” I have CDO.  It’s the same thing as OCD, but all the letters are in alphabetical order…As it should be.”
Tee shirt humor

This and That Blooming

The milder and wetter summer here has been a boon to flowers.  By mild, I mean that the highs are in the 90’s rather than the usual 100 plus.  Usually by mid July, everything would be shriveling up.

acanthus2This Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var wrightii) is still sprouting flowers every day.  It’s also known as a Hummingbird bush and Mexican Flame.

Flame Acanthus is native from west and south-central Texas into northern Mexico.  It is named for Charles Wright,  botanical collector, who collected extensively in Texas from 1837-1852.  He also collected in Cuba and his native Connecticut.

acanthusFlame Acanthus is a deciduous shrub that blooms from summer to the end of fall.  It dies in the winter and new shoots come up in the spring.

balloonEven a few Balloon Flower or Chinese Bell Fowers blossoms are opening.  Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) bloom consistently every year.  I just need to remember to deadhead them more often because they won’t bloom without that.

bluemistbutterfliesThe Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii) are just coming into their own and attracting butterflies like honey draws flies.  Grow it in full sun where it thrives, and they will come.

gold lantanaGold Lantana brightens its corner.

gold lantana3New Gold Lantana is a Texas Superstar Plant, which means it’s drought tolerant and survives many different soil and weather conditions.

The older varieties of Lantanas are hardy but are considered weeds because the birds eat the seeds and spread them.  Also, they tend to be tall and lanky and drop their flowers after rains.

The new improved varieties have been sterilized.  They bloom profusely without the berries and spread out.  They are an asset to the garden.  Just keep the spreading characteristic in mind when planting.  Another bonus:  all Lantana is considered deer resistant.

gaurafullEach morning the wind blows through this spreading White Gaura.  It provides a good morning wave and makes me chuckle.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) is also called Lindheimer’s Beeblossom.  It is a perennial native to the U.S.  The four petal white flowers open early in the morning.  I’ve read that the flower fragrance smells like cat urine.  I don’t really detect any smell.

gauraThe buzz of the bees on the Gaura was loud when I was up close photographing them.  A few landed on me but took off with a shake of my hand.  These bee were constantly on the move.  Near the top of the picture one is visible.  These are smaller bees than the bumble bees on some other bushes in the yard.

This species is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879), who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas.  He was a German immigrant, who came as a political refugee.  Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species.

whitegaura2So delicate.

Remember the lyrics:
“Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet Me.”

It’s a joy to look out my windows and be greeted by all the flowers.

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”                John Ruskin

Autumn Blooms

It happens every October or November.  A few colder days makes us actually believe that summer is over.  It never is.  But the cooler temperatures have given new life to plants that have endured the summer furnace.  Cooler here means in the high eighties with lows in the fifties at night.  But we’ve had a few nights in the low thirties.  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii) or Hummingbird Bush is a shrub that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.  This one was bought at the spring plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflowers Center in Austin.  It’s hardy and does well in full sun, blooms in the summer and fall.  It does need average regular water.Although Lil Miss BiColor Lantana isn’t the orange and yellow flowered Texas Lantana growing wild in the fields, it does well here, grows fast and takes over a large space.  Its branches arch out about five feet.  Lantanas are deer resistant, so they are very popular here.

This one came from a stray shoot growing in my mother’s yard in West Texas.  This particular kind of lantana can take over a space.  But occasionally, I just lop off any unwanted long branches.

The Blackfoot Daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are still going strong.  They are a Texas native that love full sun and are a great border plant because they don’t grow taller than a foot.  Blackfoot Daisies bloom all summer and into November.

This New Gold Lantana (lantana x hybrida) has spread out about eight feet and continues to be covered in blossoms.  It has survived for five years and is great here because it tolerates our sun and heat and blooms constantly from spring until a freeze.  New Gold Lantana is on the Texas Super Star list, which means it is one tough cookie that survives our extreme soils and climate.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) or Texas Mallow is on the left.  A small part of a Autumn Sage or Salvia or (Salvia greggii Gray)  is in the lower right of the picture.  Both are favorites in Texas gardens because they perform so well.  They both grow in a variety of soils all over Texas.  The branches  of Turk’s Cap grow upright but tend to lean.  The red flowers have swirls with red stamens sticking out the top.  I don’t see that it looks like a fez, but that’s where the name came from.

Turk’s Cap grows in shade or sun but does better in the shade.  In the sun, sometimes it gets mildew, although I haven’t experienced that.  It has dense, deep roots, so it doesn’t transplant very easily.

Autumn Sage is also known as Cherry Sage or Gregg Salvia.  It is in the mint family and has a minty scent when brushed against.  It is native to the US and is a work horse in gardens across Texas.  It is a 2-3 ft. tall shrub that blooms from spring to frost and is drought tolerant.

I’m thankful for Texas native plants and for those that have adapted well to living here.  I love plants that flower and endure the heat.

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-.George Bernard Shaw