Purple Prose

According to Wikipedia: In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. My garden is currently demonstrating its own purple prose happening with an extravagant, ornate, and flowery late summer purple parade of perennial pulchritude. Late summer and autumn is a good time to celebrate the power of purple in the Central Texas garden.

Tidy bouquets of Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia are scattered–some by the gardener, some by serendipity–throughout my gardens.



Bees, as well as butterflies and moths, love the deep, pollen-rich blooms which open in the early morning and close by the end of the day.


An American bumblebee worked the blooms one morning.

These lovely cultivars are well-worth having in Texas (and maybe other) gardens.  Amazingly water-wise (they grow and bloom in the cracks of cement walkways), are disease-free, and pretty in bloom and foliage.


Who wouldn’t want these lovelies making an elaborate statement in the garden?

A native Texas ruellia, Drummond’s wild petuniaRuellia drummondiana, is also flowery poetry right now.




Seeds were gifted to me a few years back, and I sprinkled them in the garden and now have a lifetime supply–and then some– of these sweet and hardy late summer/autumn wildflowers. Like the Katie’s ruellia and all other ruellia plants, the blooms open in the morning and close for the evening–and then seed out prolifically!


A native metallic sweat bee moving in for nectaring.


And a closer look…

Drummond’s wild ruellia is also the host plant for the Common buckeye butterfly and I’ve noticed that in years prior to growing  Drummond’s ruellia, I rarely sighted buckeyes in my garden, but recently the butterflies have become more regular visitors.


Kissin’ cousins: the Drummond’s ruellia and the Katie’s dwarf ruellia.


On the metallic side of purple are the bodacious berries of the American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, in full, fall form.


Birds love to eat them, the gardener loves to look at them and speak and write their praises.


Trending toward the lavender end of purple are a few blooms of the Giant liriope,


…and the native Branched foldwing, Dicliptera brachiata.


I grow a lot of the giant liriope; one or two were given to me years ago and the clumps that I’ve transplanted from those originals form a staple of my shady, water-wise garden.  The blooms are scarce, only occurring this time of year when it rains.   Honeybees visit when the diminutive flowers arrive.

The Branched foldwing was a mystery plant until I identified it last year, which you can read about here.


Dainty and restrained, it’s not a wowzer kind of plant, but the foliage is attractive and the little blooms charming; they’re just the right size for the smaller pollinators.

Orange and purple are a stunningly clashing combo, but that combo often works well and no more so than when my resident Neon skimmer rests on the purple bloom stalk of the Pickerel rushPontederia cordata.



A purple blooming Autumn sage, Salvia greggii x mycrophylla, is beginning a nice composition of blooms, though I don’t think it’s enjoying the constantly wet soil that has been the norm this August.


I hope the wet weather breaks for a dry-out and these shrubs can loudly purple-up my back garden for the coming months.


SkyflowerDuranta erecta has never been so eloquent, nor for so long, in my garden.


It’s not covered in dripping purple comeliness like I’ve jealously witnessed in other Skyflower shrubs, but I’m pleased that the blooms have appeared, on and off, since spring (thanks to the mild winter) and that they’ve provided nectar and respite for pollinators.



Purple heart plantSetcreasea pallida is lush and purple in its groundcover drama throughout our long growing season. While I like the blooms, it’s the showy purple leaves that turn heads.



Purple prose. Late summer purple speaks with beauty and extravagance in my garden as autumn approaches. Soon, companion colors will add to the garden’s story.


27 thoughts on “Purple Prose

  1. My liriopes are just about to flower, and we have the Purple Heart plant in the greenhouse. I might put it outdoors for the summer now I’ve seen yours. I would love those other ruella plants around the garden. I wonder if they are hardy in the uk? Thanks for sharing your photos.


  2. Just yesterday, I made a stop at the West Marine parking lot to check out fresh purple I saw in the vacant lot next to it. I found it was prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) — quite a treat!
    And wild ruellia is appearing again. After looking at your photos, I still think that what I’m finding is Ruellia caroliniensis.

    I’m glad to have an ID for the skyflower, too. There’s a very large plant at a local marina that’s been glorious in past years, but I’ve never seen it elsewhere, and hadn’t been very determined about identifying it. The groundskeepers cut it back terribly last spring, but I’m going to stop by today and see if it’s recovered.


    • I just love prairie verbena. I’ve never been able to grow it because my garden is sun-challenged, but I enjoy it in others’ gardens. There are so many ruellia species, but they’re all making themselves known at the moment. So sad to hear about the Texas chainsaw massacre of the skyflower–eek! It’s really a lovely plant, with the beautiful arching branches and flowers.


  3. I love Fall bloomers. Just when the days change, they come out. I am able to grow quite a few of the plants you highlighted. Katie’s Ruellia really loves it here, maybe too much. It has left its original bed and grows where it wants.


  4. Purple does seem to stand up pretty well to our summer heat. I have never see that Dicliptera brachiata. A tiny but interesting flower. I marvel at the ruellia with a bounty of flowers every morning. It may be a bit invasive but still worth having.


    • That skyflower is a real stunner. I wish I had a good, full-sun spot for it, that’s when it’s at its best!! There’s also a white form, though I’ve only seen one or two of those. The purple is gorgeous.


  5. Tina todas sus flores son maravillosas. La Ruellia enanos de Katie con su abejorro me encanta. y la Skyflower es preciosa. Todas son muy bonitas. Y las fotos de una fotografa profesional. Es cierto que las plantas en otoño se ponen más bonitas. El respiro del calor. Saludos de Margarita.


  6. When I left for my little holiday everything was just kind of dusty and wilting. Not any more! Second spring has arrived. In a wild field I saw R. humilis growing with some kind of widow’s tears. Gorgeous. Come hell or high water I am going to recreate that combo in my own garden in the teeny tiny bit of sun I still have. Meanwhile, in the shade nothing beats the dwarf Mexican petunia. That is one of my favourite plants.


    • Ha ha–if you don’t like Texas weather, wait a bit…or go out of town, it’ll be different when you return. I love the plants in the ruellia family–such pretty, stalwart perennials.


  7. While the ruellias deserve all the love they are getting here, it is the BeautyBerry bush that I unabashedly adore. Those other-worldly purple berries against the lighter green broad leaves on arching stems light up any place they appear, and with so little fussing or care-taking needed. And yes, the birds do work hard to strip the berries off as quickly as they ripen but that makes all the more attractive to my eyes. Purple for the win!


    • Right??? I prefer your description of “otherworldly” to describe the berries’ color, to my “metallic”. I just love them and so do the birds. Purple for the win, indeed!!


    • The Katie’s is a cultivar of R. brittoniana. A really terrific little thing. I don’t know if you could grow it as more than an annual–it dies to the roots in our “normal” winters.

      Liked by 1 person

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