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

Other Color in Fields

Most of the wildflowers in Texas are small and not even noticeable from the road.  Walking through the fields, it takes an eagle eye to spot tiny little blossoms.

This wild aster looks like a blur of white.

Although I’m not a botanist, I think this is a Texas Aster (Symphyotrichum drummondii).  Up close, it has the yellow center and some faint pink or lavender on the petals.  They bloom September – November.

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between a wild aster and a tiny wild daisy, but I think these are Spiny Aster (Chloracantha spinosa).  It is also known as Mexican Devil-weed.  They grow in bigger masses than the Texas Asters and are therefore easier to see.

They have a more defined petal and the centers are not as feathery.  Also, they grow on taller, straighter, thicker stems.

Both the Texas Aster and the Spiny Aster grow among weeds and tall grasses in the bar ditches and other poor soils. Gayfeather (Liatris elegans), also called Blazing Star, are blooming now.  They grow on barren land in a single stalk up to 3 feet tall.  When there are several together, they make a stunning sight.

They have a long taproot, which makes it difficult to dig them up.  I’ve tried.  So gathering seeds is the best choice in order to grow them in the yard.

Another stunner in the field or along caliche roads is Poverty Willow.  It’s also know as Roosevelt Weed or New Deal Weed.  It is one of the first plants to invade abandoned fields, roadsides and disturbed habitats and is extremely drought tolerant.   The Roosevelt name comes from the belief that it was planted during the Dust Bowl to hold down soil.  But it is another one of those invasive plants that sucks the water out of the ground without providing any benefit to animals.

It looks like cotton puffs and has a silky feel.

One flower at this time of year is definitely visible as you drive the highways in central Texas.  It actually is very distracting to me.  I can’t take my eyes off them.  The Maximilian Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) are a gorgeous sight.

The flowers are smaller than the common sunflower, but grow stacked on a stem.  The flowers are 4 inches across.  Because their flowers are close together, this provides a mass of color. They grow from tubers, which reportedly were a food source for the native western Indians.  They were named for Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian of Prussia who traveled in the 1830’s throughout the western part of the US.

Cattle eat them, so about the only place they grow are along the roadsides beyond the reach of cattle.  Deer also eat them, so I’m surprised there are any left to decorate the areas along the roadways.

Texas has lots of different kinds of wildflowers.  Some are so tiny they are barely visible, while others are massive.  Some are so invasive they threaten the existence of beneficial plants.  Others just add a spark of color in an area of dying grasses.  I appreciate the beauty in them all.

“Every great wave of popular passion that rolls up on the prairies is dashed to spray when it strikes the hard rocks of Manhattan.”  Henry Louis Mencken