It’s Purple Time

My garden is graced with purple:  purple blooms, foliage, and fruits continue with a seasonal tradition of a purple-to-lavender champion performances during the long Central Texas summer. Of course other colors dot the landscape, but plants which rock the purple hue thrive after months of heat, with (typically) little rain, and rule the month of August.  It’s purple time!

Foliage recovery is in full swing for this Branched foldwing, Dicliptera brachiata,            , which appeared unannounced, but welcomed, in my garden a couple of years ago.

Munched stems are recovering their green.

This restrained and unobtrusive little native perennial hosts the Texan Crescent butterfly.

Texan Crescent nectaring in spring on Golden groundsel.

My garden enjoys a nearly year-round population of these pollinators because I grow several of its host plants in the Acanthus family, including the Branched foldwing. The caterpillars do a nibbling number on the foldwing’s leaves, but the plant rebounds with aplomb, leafing out again and again, and setting blooms in late summer.

Dainty and unpretentious, the lavender–not really purple–flowers provide for tiny pollinators.


Drummond’s ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, is another native Texan that loves the heat and demonstrates that affection with daily doses of purple goodness.

Opening early in the morning and closed by late afternoon, the blooms are loved by many-a-buzzing pollinator.  I’m rather fond of them myself!

I like the foliage, too. An attractive green-gray, it’s full and lush from spring until the first hard freeze–whenever that happens.  I like to mix it with some evergreen plants, so that there’s some winter action while the ruellia plants rest up for summer.

Cast Iron Plant, Iris, and Sparkler Sedge provide some winter green structure alongside the ruellia.


The cultivar, Katie’s Dwarf ruellia, also called Mexican petunia by Texas AgriLife, produces similar blooms as the native ruellias, though larger and more purpley colored. The lance-like foliage structure and ground-cover growth habit allows this plant to front large plants beautifully.  Katie’s Dwarfs also fits well into a narrow garden.

A water-wise wonder,  I’ve had a couple of these tough Katie’s grow out of rocks;  that’s a plant I can get behind!

With a  bouquet-like demeanor, the Katie’s Dwarf bloom spectacularly in shade, in full sun, and everything in between.


Purple-luscious fruits of the American beautyberry,  Callicarpa americana, are nearly ready for the appetites of hungry Mockingbirds and Blue Jays.

Gone are the petite pink blooms which decorate this deciduous shrub in early summer. Instead, the fruits are morphing from green to garish metallic purple, preparing for the birds’ meals.

Beautyberry also has a graceful growing habit, lovely in any garden.

Beautyberry is a win for gardeners and for wildlife–and adds some purple vibe to my August garden.

The refreshing pond isn’t without its purple contribution in the form of a cleansing bog plant, Pickerel rush, Pontederia cordata.

With the ever-increasing shade thrown on my garden, these pretty blooms are less active with each passing summer.  I appreciate the foliage, but I miss the massive blooming show that was common 8-10 years ago when we first built the pond.  These blooms benefit from plenty of shining summer sun.


Another pond plant, this Ruby Red runner, an Alternanthera hybrid, adds a bit of purple-ish foliage fellowship to the waterfall.

I’m probably stretching the purple with this plant; I suppose it’s really more of a burgundy red, but I’ll lump Ruby Red into the purple camp.

Purple HeartSetcreasea pallida, is native to Mexico, but naturalized in many parts of Texas.  I grew up with this common groundcover; my mother planted it along with her banana plants.  No banana plants in my garden, but Purple Heart works in shade or sun as a border groundcover.

As well, I like it cascading over containers.  It brings a spot of color to a dark corner of the garden.

Reds, pinks, whites and yellows are biding their time for now, hunkering down against the blast of August heat.  Once the days are shorter and the rains more regular, the garden wheel of color will burst forward with a vivid spin.  But for the rest of August, I’ll treasure the purples for their late summer donations to garden color.

Pretty purples!

Joining with Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day to celebrate the blooms of August, please pop over to May Dreams Gardens to enjoy blooms from many gardens.

Summer Surprise

I’ve grown an unknown crinum lily for a number of years, but rarely has it bloomed.  No matter, as I’ve contented myself with appreciating its abundant foliage and the lush tropical feel that the plants  lend my decidedly non-tropical garden.

This summer, one of my crinum bunches bloomed.

It wasn’t a prolific bloom show, but it was enough that I swooned for several days over the beauty of the blooms.

Softly pink and gloriously fragrant, these July flowers were a real gift–and surprise–during the hottest time of the year.

These bulbs came from my parents’ garden in South Texas.  My mother grew them, though I don’t know where she got them nor when she planted them.  In her garden, with the full, blasting South Texas sun and the loose, sandy soil, the crinums always flowered with abandon during summer, their seemingly delicate, but tough-as-nails pink lily faces open to the sky.   In my clayey soil and dappled shade garden, the blooms are a rare and reticent offering.

Both of my beloved parents are gone now–my mother in 2002, my father last summer. But I grow their flowers, evoking their love of gardening and appreciation of the natural world.  When my crinums bloomed, I checked my daughter, Shoshana’s, grave where I planted crinums, to see if her crinums were blooming.  Alas, none were open. Those have bloomed in past summers, but the bulbs that my father gave to me after she died are quiet this year.

This year, the granted blooms were for me.

“…you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”

It’s not fear of ballistic missiles from North Korea, nor passage of bathroom laws directly impacting the transgender population.  It’s not about police brutality or the exit from the Paris Climate Accord.  It is about the destruction of a unique habitat–found nowhere else in the world–and it is important.  It’s not making headlines, nor inspiring Facebook likes, but if it’s lost, it won’t return; you can’t repeal the destruction of an extraordinary ecosystem.

I’m referring to the Trump administration’s building of the border wall between the United States and Mexico and how those plans are taking shape.  In the past months, work has begun–silently and without public input–to destroy many miles and acres of land, both federally owned and privately owned, to build a wall between us and our southern neighbors.

The plans, as best we know them, will involve destruction of some of the most biologically diverse habitat in the United States. It will negatively impact the flyways of hundreds of species of migratory birds, as well as the migration pathway for the threatened Monarch butterfly. This landscape also provides a home for the endangered Ocelot and Jaguarundi, as well as multitudes of species of mammals, insects, and reptiles.

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Center are in the crosshairs of this controversial wall.

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, about Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge:

Established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds. It is also at the northern-most point for many species whose range extends south into Central and South America. The refuge is right in the middle of all this biological diversity, which is what makes this 2,088 acre parcel the ‘jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.’ Though small in size, Santa Ana offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States beyond deep South Texas.

The good folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and those working at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge CANNOT speak on behalf of the biological diversity they are charged with protecting because they are federal employees and subject to dismissal if they speak out about this abomination against the last remaining natural habitat in South Texas.

From the Texas Butterfly Ranch blog:  ‘Border wall at National Butterfly Center violates property rights and worse’:

Known as one of the top birding destinations in the world, Santa Ana is being sacrificed precisely because of its federally protected status. Since the U.S. government owns it, they won’t be subjected to pesky lawsuits from private landowners like Marianna Wright and the National Butterfly Center. As another story in the Texas Observer noted in June, a third or more of 320 condemnation suits filed against private landowners to build a wall in 2007 are still unresolved.

Not only is Santa Ana in danger, but the border wall work will also destroy land belonging to the National Butterfly Center, which is privately owned.

From the home page of the National Butterfly Center:

‘Bugs vs. Americans. Bugs lose.’

One short-sighted commentator’s glib response to the situation summarizes part of the ignorance surrounding everything at stake here. This isn’t all about the butterflies.

No permission was requested to enter the property or begin cutting down trees. The center was not notified of any roadwork, nor given the opportunity to review, negotiate or deny the workplan.  Same goes for the core sampling of soils on the property, and the surveying and staking of a “clear zone” that will bulldoze 200,000 square feet of habitat for protected species like the Texas Tortoise and Texas Indigo, not to mention about 400 species of birds.  The federal government had decided it will do as it pleases with our property, swiftly and secretly, in spite of our property rights and right to due process under the law.

Why should you care?

  1. If you own property or value your Constitutional right to due process, you should be very concerned about the government doing entering property without permission or due process. Altering it. Destroying it. Coming onto it and killing creatures that live there with reckless indifference. Your home or property could be next.
  2. If you think the “Border Fence” will stop illegal immigration, you are mistaken. The fence has gates and gaps every mile or so where people can pass through; so the fence is actually a FUNNEL, designed to direct those crossing into our country to areas where Border Patrol agents may more easily monitor and intercept traffic—that is, unless people use ladders or scale the fence on their own, which they do.
  3. If you pay taxes, you should understand the Border Fence is not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. It is a waste of tax dollars.

The feds have shelved a variety of environmental and property rights laws in order to build a border wall that most experts believe will do nothing to stop illegal immigration and that many Americans don’t want.  Further, the feds are doing this with no public discourse or input.  If you don’t care about wildlife, remember that folks from all over the world visit both Santa Ana and the Butterfly Center, and that has a positive and enormous economic impact on this region and that will be permanently lost if these plans go through.

If you want a say in this matter, please download, print, sign  and mail this letter to Colonel Paul E. Owens of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division.

If the Trump administration has its way, this unique and valuable habitat will be forever destroyed–at the taxpayers’ expense.  As well, this wall will do nothing to protect Americans.  Below is more information about what is happening at the border.

From Texas Monthly:  ‘Butterflies Versus Border Patrol’: 

Mission, Texas was well on its way to establishing itself as the butterfly capital of America. In 2002, the North American Butterfly Association founded the National Butterfly Center on a former onion farm near Mission. The one-hundred-acre nature preserve features one of the largest native plant botanical gardens in the country, including hundreds of host plants that attract butterflies. The town embraced its new attraction. Every fall, during the annual Monarch migration, the center hosts the Texas Butterfly Festival, which draws thousands of butterfly lovers from around the world to South Texas.

From Texas Observer: ‘National Butterfly Center Founder: Trump’s Border Wall Prep ‘Trampling on Private Property Rights”

“This is a much bigger issue than the National Butterfly Center,” Glassberg told the Observer. “There’s a procedure the government could follow with due process. But they’ve decided — like with so much else — to just ignore the law, trampling on private property rights. The complete disrespect for the legalities of this country is something that ought to concern every American regardless of how they feel about a border wall.”

From the Los Angeles Times:  ‘This ‘crown jewel’ of wildlife refuges is one of the world’s top bird destinations. Trump’s wall would end public access’

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville who represents the area of the border including Santa Ana, said he requested a briefing about the wall from Customs and Border Protection officials.

“Clearly, it’s all being done in secret and it’s not transparent at all,” he said. “I can tell you we’re going to fight like hell to stop it.”

“These refuges are national treasures and sacred places, and we have to do everything we can to stop the Trump administration from putting this wall into place,” said Vela, who opposes all border walls in his district, famously telling Trump in an open letter last year: “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”