It’s Fall, Y’all

Letting you know that it’s fall in Texas–thus, the y’all, y’all.  A conjunction of you + all, and common in the vernacular of the American South, it’s a friendly and practical  term for inclusion and invitation to a conversation.  This conversation is about the beginning of our second blooming season, so-named “Autumn” or “Fall” in most of the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Texas?  We usually refer to it as, I’m so glad summer’s over!!

While in most places plants are beginning the decline of growth and production in anticipation of winter, many of our tough customers are readying for their second spring. The days still reach into the low 90’s F, but nights and mornings are cool and lovely, and even the afternoon warmth feels different from the summer heat.  Or so I tell myself. Human rationalizations aside, with a smidge of rain and gentler temperatures becoming normative, every Texas gardener eagerly awaits the garden’s emergence from summer’s dormancy.

It’s about time!

Native to Argentina but naturalized throughout much of Texas, Oxblood  or Schoolhouse Lily Rhodophiala bifida, in my garden have unfolded in a couple of waves this fall.

The stratification of blooming time has been a nice change.  Usually these individual bulbs jut out of the ground, stalk with buds, then blooms atop, bursting open with showy flowers, all with a few days of one another.  Oxblood fade away until the next September, leaving only foliage as a reminder–and not even that remains after winter.

And there’s a romance in the garden, too, this early fall.

Hugs between this extrovert Oxblood and a reserved Garlic Chive, Allium tuberosum–I guess it’s true that opposites attract.

Another Garlic Chive waits alone, early in the morning,  for honeybee suitors.

A new-ish bloomer for me is this purple grape juice colored Autumn SageSalvia greggii x Salvia microphylla.

I purchased three plants from a locally owned nursery well over a year ago and am finally seeing clusters of blooms, though there were a smattering throughout summer.   The story told is that one of the employees of the nursery spied the mother plant, un-named and un-tagged,  at a big box store.  The plant was purchased, cuttings were taking, and now the big-box plant descendants are sold from time-to-time at that nursery, usually during summer.   It’s an attractive purple salvia, water-wise and tough, and beloved by my honey and native bees.

Stalking a honeybee as she worked, partially hidden in the grassy foliage of a Giant Liriope,  Liriope muscari  ‘Evergreen Giant’, I snapped shots of the pretty lavender bloom spikes.  If you look closely, you can see a little bee butt.

These ornamental and drought-tolerant grasses don’t bloom often, though they are very welcomed when they do, usually in early fall.

In late July I pruned the bountiful Henry Duelberg Sage, Salvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’, in preparation for fall blooms.  This beautiful native perennial is an excellent food source for wildlife–pollinators and seed-eaters–and provides a great fall (and spring/summer) flower show for me.

That show has begun and will not disappoint–either the pollinators or the gardener.


‘Henry’ is nice, planted in conjunction with the open-for-nectaring business, Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, blooming just behind.

I think this migrating Monarch butterfly,

..and pollen-gathering, nectar-sipping honeybee,

…would readily agree–huzzah for the fall bloomers!

The white and red Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, have blossomed for the past month or so, even before the moderate cooling.


Mexican Butterfly Vine,  Mascagnia macroptera, are showcasing cheery yellow blooms,

…and a few “butterfly” seedpods.


Fall Obedient, Physostegia virginiana, is a re-introduced perennial for me–I grew it many years ago.

I’m happy to host this charming bloomer and tough native again.  How did I go so long without it??

FrostweedVerbesina virginica,

GoldeneyeViguiera dentata,

…and Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, are full-flush with fall flowers.

The Rock Rose blooms crinkle a wee bit against the afternoon heat, but are staying open-ish.  That’s a definite change from the summer xeric practice of shuttering the petals by mid-afternoon.


Zexmenia,  Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida, are also back in top form.

All of these perennials are ready for visits from pollinators, and later for the seed-munching warblers, wrens and finches.

And my good friend,  sweet Asher-the-Dog?  He’s happy to rest on the cool pebbles, enjoying an early fall Texas morning.

Happy Autumn, y’all!


Hummingbird Horseplay

Hummingbird wars–that’s what I call the zooming, zipping, and general territory defending that the teensy winged wonders engage in, especially toward the end of their time here in Central Texas.  Hummingbirds are now preparing for their fall migration (some have already left), and their wintering in Mexico and Central America.  This summer, I’ve observed both a male and female Black-chinned Hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri, in my garden, though I was never able to get clear captures of either.  Here,

…a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, rests while surveying her territory, also known as my back garden.  The literature about the Ruby-throated suggests that the male is the main aggressor, defending his territory and food sources with great vim and vigor, but I’ve noticed that both genders appear enthusiastically antagonistic to encroachments by critters, especially when those critters are other hummingbirds. Though it isn’t always other hummers that are chased;  in July I witnessed a female chase a Carolina Chickadee around the garden–that was a hoot!

I employ in a bit of eye-rolling when I hear people exclaim how “mean” hummingbirds are, as if human beings can pass judgement on any other creature in the nastiness quotient.  I usually respond to the hummingbirds-are-mean comments with a you’d be mean too, if you were tiny and vulnerable, traveled alone for hundreds to thousands of miles, back and forth, attempting to locate enough food to survive and thrive while doing so.  The hummingbird’s migration is a feat that requires a certain level of courage and I’m certainly not going to pass judgement on any critter with that kind of chutzpah.

This is the same (?) or perhaps another, female Ruby-throated enjoying a quick junk-food snack of sugar syrup.

I haven’t hung a hummingbird feeder for quite a few years, but bought one this year in a weak moment.  I grow lots of plants that hummers love:  Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus,  is a huge favorite,

…but they also love Yellow BellsTecoma stans, as well as most plants in the salvia family.  But when these adorable birds are feeding, they’re often far across the garden and not easily seen as they move about the shrubs and around the limbs of plants.  For purely selfish reasons, I hung a feeder on the back patio cover to better observe and enjoy their visits.  They chase one another from the feeder, buzzing past the astonished and thrilled gardener.  Hummers also demonstrate possessiveness with their favorite plants, too. Throughout August and into September, one male Ruby-throat claimed three Turk’s Cap shrubs in my back garden as HIS!  He spent lots of calories defending his particular nectar-loaded buffet.

To augment their liquid diet with protein, hummingbirds eat a variety of insects like mosquitoes (not nearly enough, if you ask me), flies and even aphids, which  are plucked off of plants.

The Ruby-throated is so named for the brilliant red feathers adorning the throat of the male of the species.   This male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, rested in my Desert WillowChilopsis linearis,

…but wasn’t situated quite right for the show of scarlet feathers.  At off angles, the feathers appear rusty-brown to dull red.  After this photo was taken the bird flew away from the tree and toward me in hot pursuit of another hummer which I didn’t see at first. That ruby-red throat came directly at me, in brilliant, flashing color. You’ll  have to take my word for it because I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to capture a bird flying that fast.


As cool fronts move through Central Texas over the next few weeks, the remaining hummingbirds will wing their way south, surfing blustery winds.  I’ve notice fewer hummingbird antics this past week; Mr.That-Turk’s-Cap-is-mine-Mine-MINE!!  is no longer around and I think  one or two of the female visitors are gone. There are the occasional hummers who overwinter here, but mostly they reside in sunny Mexico until spring migration northward.  They’ll be back in my garden next spring for their courting, during summer for raising chicks, and in early autumn, careening around the garden, chasing each other and providing entertainment for this gardener and backyard birder.

And since I think the hummingbirds are looking good in my gardenI’m joining with Gillian at Country Garden UK and her new Looking Good in the Garden meme, which will be a regular Friday feature.   Pop on over to read about what’s looking good in her garden, as well as other gardens.

A Guest Blog Post

A while back I was kindly asked to write for  as a guest blogger, a regular feature on the site each Wednesday.  Gardening Know How chooses a variety of garden bloggers with a wide array of interests and, lucky bloggers, they let us rip-n-write about anything near and dear to each of our gardener’s hearts.  If you’re a regular reader of mine, my article, The Living Garden, won’t come as a surprise.  I’m at it again and about the same ole, same ole, yada, yada, yada:  use native plants and water-wise principles, plant for wildlife–they need our help, get rid of water-wasting turf.  If you’re a new reader to My Gardener Says, this article gives you a bit of history about why I plant what I plant.

In any case, if you’d like to take a peek at my guest post for today, check it out here.

Thanks to Shelley Pierce at Gardening Know How for the fun opportunity to spread the wildlife and native plants gardening love to a wider audience.