Garden Art

As it’s Texas Native Plants Week, I thought I’d contribute a photo which profiles a few of the lovely native plants in my garden, as well as a seasonal piece of garden art which has highlighted the front garden this fall.

Clockwise, starting from the bottom left of the photo: the winter rosettes of Big red sage, Salvia pentstemonoides and moving upwards, the pink blooming shrubs, Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala. Behind those, peeks out white blooming Tropical sage, Salvia coccinea paired with some spikey foliage of a Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, plus three, second year Big muhly grasses, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri. The two yellow spots of sunshine in the background come in the form of Plateau goldeneye, Viguiera dentata and their frothy, cloud-like companions are Frostweed, Verbesina virginica. Lastly, the diminutive daisies dancing at the bottom right are Blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

For more information on growing native plants in Texas, check out these informative sites, Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Native plants are beautiful, easy to grow, and reflect the place where you live–in Texas, or elsewhere. Native plants evolved alongside their companion critters and so attract and nurture pollinators, birds, and wildlife of all kinds and sorts.

Native plants bring a garden to life.

I’m linking with Anna, in Oregon, for Wednesday Vignette. Additionally, I’d like to give a nod and a link to OregonFlora, a gorgeous website profiling the native plants of Oregon. This site gives information about where native plants of Oregon are found, how to use them in home gardens, and lots of other valuable information for anyone interested in native plants. This site and the work related, is headed by my friend, Dr. Linda Hardison with her Oregon State University team.

Native plants rock!

Texas Native Plant Week

The third week of October is Texas Native Plant Week.

Chile pequin Capsicum annuum
Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora
Full photo of Red yucca

If you’ve discovered the beauty and practicality of utilizing native plants–in Texas or elsewhere–every day is a celebration of native plants. Using native plants in home gardens is a no-brainer: they’re easy to grow, lovely, and fit where you live.

In spring:

Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens
Spiderwort, Tradescantia sp.
Yellow columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha
Aquilegia sp. (hybrid of A. chrysantha and A. canadensis)

Or summer:

Drummond’s ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana
And a group of Drummond’s ruellia
Tropical sage, Salvia coccinea (White) with accompanying dragonfly
Purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea with nectaring Funereal Duskywing, Erynnis funeralis
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
(left to right) Purple coneflower, Zexmenia, Twistleaf yucca, Henry Duelberg sage, Globe mallow
Big red sage, Salvia pentstemonoides with Southern Carpenter bee, Xylocopa micans
Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala with resting Horsefly-like Carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis

In autumn:

Rock rose with nectaring Little Yellow, Pyrisitia lisa
Texas craglily, Echeandia texensis with accompanying Horsefly-like Carpenter bee
Gregg’s mistflower, Conoclinium greggii with nectaring Grey Hairstreak, Strymon melinus
Plateau goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, with honeybee

In winter:

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica after the first freeze of the season
Possumhaw holly, Ilex decidua

Whether its flowers–annuals and perennials–trees, groundcovers, or grasses, native plants exist and flourish in every region and all seasons. Native plants and seeds are readily available from many local nurseries and online sources. With native plants, your garden will be dynamic, reflecting your particular geography and imparting a sense of place. Additionally, native plants support native wildlife, and a garden is never so alive as when pollinators, birds, reptiles and mammals are at home.

October Blooms

Spring has sprung!

Oh, that’s not right. But it is. Sort of.

Here in Central Texas, zone 8b, we’re enjoying our second spring, so called because the native annuals and perennials burst out with a bevy of blooms, celebrating the end of the hot season and the return of the cool.

And how cool are these lovelies? Gregg’s mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, are native to the southwest–Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A mostly autumn blooming groundcover, established plants produce a smattering of blooms during spring and summer. During months when the fuzzy blooms are on hiatus, the stars of this plant are the palmate, light green leaves. The combination of the lavender-blue blooms and the cheery green leaves gladdens this gardener’s heart.

This time of year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a mistflower group who doesn’t host a remarkable variety of pollinators, they’re all over these pretty blooms. That also gladdens this gardener’s heart.

Coral vine, Mexican creeper, Antigonon leptopus, is an old-fashioned vine, resplendent in dripping pink in the latter part of summer and well into the fall months.

I’ve grown this vine in my garden for many years. It resided in the back garden. It returned after winter each spring, climbing up and over a trellis during during the growing season, until that spot became too shady. About 3 years ago, I moved the hefty root to my front garden, where the vine receives ample sun. The vine is happy here, as are the honeybees, small native Perdita bees, and various butterfly types.

I love this vine and am comfortable with it where I garden, but Coral vine is designated as an invasive species here in Texas (click on the link above for more information) and so should be grown with caution and attention to nearby areas. I wouldn’t plant Coral vine if I lived near a greenbelt or natural area, because it’s known to seed out and once it is in a uncontrolled area, it can spread and displace native plants, which is never a good thing. In my years of hosting this vine, I’ve only seen 2 or 3 seedlings that germinated at the base of the plant. I’ve never seen birds nibble at any seeds, so I plan to keep it where it is–pink and pretty and full of the good stuff for bees and other pollinators.

The happy faces of Fall aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, arrive along with cooler temperatures–which makes everyone happy. These cheery, lavender asters don’t bloom for long, maybe 2 weeks in total. I have several groups of them, each of which bloom with slightly different times, so in my garden, the aster show lasts through much of October. For the rest of the growing season, the plant grows as a low shrub/ground cover with attractive, diminutive leaves. In winter, a hard freeze will knock back most of the foliage, leaving an evergreen rosette until new spring growth.

Another pollinator magnet, the asters always have plenty of nectaring business and often host rarely seen winged things. This Syrphid fly (?) is unknown to me; the closest ID I could find is Hoplitimyia constans. I’ll continue looking for an identification and update if I find a match. It’s a handsome critter, no doubt.

Sunshiny Plateau goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, is another native perennial, seeding out with abandon and rocking its yellow vibe with verve. Bees, butterflies, and gardeners all love this member of the Asteraceae family. I just realized that 3 of the 4 plants profiled for this post belong to this prolific family. Aster plants are garden stars!

Goldeneye volunteers pop up in my garden and depending upon where they land, I keep–or not. There are so many, I don’t mind tossing out a few. Well, I don’t mind too much. Goldeneye individuals grow tall, so I make some (rather) lame attempts at control, pruning it back a couple of times during summer. But once the fall rains arrive and Goldeneye send forth their end-of-season stems, gloriously topped with dabs of sunny delight, I don’t mess with them.

I stand, admire, and don some sunglasses.

In a work/storage area, I let these seed out, grow up, and have at it! The bees and butterflies love this buffet of pollen-n-nectar. The fun doesn’t end when the blooms end, because wrens and finches of various sorts swoop in for the seeds, assuring a good crop of Goldeneye for the next year.

There are always more Goldeneye.

Happy spring! Happy autumn! Happy blooms! Join in celebrating blooms along with Carol at May Dreams Garden and gardening friends. Pop over to appreciate blooms from many places.