Texas Truism

Ah, the smell of spring in the Texas air!

RICOH IMAGING

Northwest face of my Mountain laurel.

The grape-soda-spring-in-the-air smell, that is.

RICOH IMAGING

Southeast side

Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, is at its peak of bloom in Austin and such a spring cliché, that I’m reluctant to add my photographic two-cents worth to the throngs of purple-powered photos appearing on FB, Nextdoor and elsewhere.

Clearly, I’ve overcome my hesitation.

Walking, riding my bike, and driving in the car, I frequently get a snoot-full of this heady, cloying fragrance, reminiscent of grape soda.

Texas mountain laurels are everywhere and why not?  They are beautiful small trees year-round and stunningly beautiful trees during their short, early spring bloom period. The blooms are early this year, along with the awakening of so many other plants. Mild-to-warm winters and weird premature spring action has become the norm over the past couple of decades in Austin. There was a time that mountain laurels bloomed consistently in March–sometimes early March, sometimes later March–but rarely in February.

Times have changed and the climate has changed.

I don’t mind an early spring, though that might mean an early summer and given the long, warm season in Texas, I don’t know many, myself included, eager for that particular scenario. But pollinators are pleased at the beginning of floral bounty and who can complain about that?

Honeybee

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Regardless, spring is here and there’s not too much we can do to slow the onslaught of new blooms-n-foliage.  Breathe deeply and enjoy!

The Green of Spring

Spring is springing here in Austin, Texas–and how!  After a mild winter, punctuated by a few days and nights of low 20sF/-6 to -16C, fresh greens are poking out and peeking through, heralding a new year of plant growth and garden possibilities.  It’s only the beginning of the Central Texas season of verdancy, but notable for its altering of the tawny and gray palette that is the Texas winter landscape.

Possumhaw hollyIlex decidua, is flushing out new yellow-green foliage growth.

Buds of the tiny white flowers are developing at the base of the leaves.

Bark of this attractive small tree serves as elegant white scaffolding in an emerging sea of green, popped here and there by luscious red berries which haven’t yet been gobbled up by various wild critters.

 

The Possumhaw’s  garden neighbor, an Almond verbena,  Aloysia virgata, was an impulse buy for me some years ago and one I don’t regret.  No berries on this small tree, but after each rainfall during the growing season, fragrant white blooms materialize and are friends to the pollinators.  For now, its foliage blushes new, transforming to solid green when ready.

 

Another small native tree with multicolored foliage is my Texas smoke treeCotinus obovatus.  

This one is a couple of years old and growing well, with foliage color year-round and sprigs of blossoms coming soon.

 

The Goldenball leadtree, Leucaena retusa, has sprouted its new greens against the clear blue sky.

Additionally, its koosh-like blooms will be ready for interested pollinators in the next month.

Budding blooms keep new foliage company.

Not as tall as the aforementioned wildlife-friendly trees is the shrub White mistflower, Ageratina havanensis, a semi-evergreen, sometime spring, and always fall bloomer, whose blooms are beloved by butterflies and bees alike.

Some leaves remained on my shrub after our hard freezes, but fresh foliage is quickly appearing to fill in the bare-limbed gaps.

 

Closer to the ground are the evergreen serrated leaves of the wildflower Golden groundsel,  Packera obovata.

.

The oval leaves lend year-round groundcover beauty, but the lance-like and dramatically serrated leaves announce the pedicels that host cheery yellow blooms which will mature in the next month or so.

 

Turk’s capMalvaviscus arboreus,  is awakening from its winter slumber, as well. It’s hard to imagine that this plant’s stems will grow to 5 or 6 feet by May.

This set of Turk’s cap leaves share space with a Giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea).

A close-up shot shows a slight fuzz, which is part (only part!) of the reason that Turk’s cap is such a water-wise perennial.

 

I’m awaiting the vibrant blooms of the Red poppy, a reseeding annual, world-wide garden favorite and welcomed spring flower.  Its foliage is beautiful,

…a gray-green, ruffly wonder in the unfolding spring garden, and in this case,  hosting a green stink bug.  Do you see it?

Whatever foliage you grow–bugs, or not–please check out Christina’s lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.  See interesting foliage from many gardens and many places, and then share your own leafy loveliness.

Additionally, many thanks to howtostartagarden.org for honoring ‘mygardenersays’ with a ‘Top Southwest Garden Blogs’ recognition.  I’m honored and humbled.

 

Bloom Love

Oh this is happy day of love: for our partners, children, friends and communities and it’s also a perfect day to love those first blooms in the garden.  In my awakening garden, only a few are showing their well-loved faces and providing for hungry pollinators.   Included in these earliest blooms are flowers of Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia gigantea.

RICOH IMAGING

 

The first of many-to-come blooms of Autumn sageSalvia greggii,  are presenting in a salmon-colored package.

RICOH IMAGING

It was in this set of blooms that I spied one of the early native bees, a Blue Orchard bee,  busily gathering nectar and pollen.

 

Reliable winter bloomers are the charmers adorning the Potato vineSolanum laxum.

RICOH IMAGING

This little cluster decorates the residential area of a non-occupied wren house.  I’m eagerly awaiting a wren couple settling in, loving and raising some chicks, and enjoying their flowers.

 

With apologies to Robert Burns and his June-blooming red, red rose, my two red rose shrubs each sport a couple of blooms which have opened for pollinator business and gardener love this February.  The Old Gay Hill rose,

RICOH IMAGING

…and the Martha Gonzales rose,  are gearing up for their spring performances.

RICOH IMAGING

These two roses look similar at first glance but Martha is a smaller shrub decorated with petite, deep red blooms and the Old Gay Hill rose showcases larger blooms with a more brilliant hue.  Both are water-wise perennials and stalwart bloomers.  I look forward to the blast of crimson they lend my garden later in spring.

It’s early days for bloom love in the Northern Hemisphere.  This day and everyday, should be a day of love and kindness in the garden–and everywhere.

For a look at more loved and lovely blooms, check out Carol’s May Dreams Gardens celebrating all things blooming from many places this February.