Winter(?) Blooms

While it flies in the face of garden normalcy, it’s been a good winter for many of the flowering perennials in my garden.  Few plants were sent deep into dormancy, so flowering florals have been a constant.

This cheery cool season bloomer has brightened the edge of a garden for months.  Four-nerve DaisyTetraneuris scaposa, is a tidy little thing.  Evergreen slender leaves serve as a base for sprightly yellow daisies.  Even after a hard freeze, this is a typical winter bloomer.


Owing to the mild winter, there are a couple of Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea, eager for spring to begin.  Interestingly, the established plants, some of which are years old, haven’t bloomed up yet.

This group volunteered themselves for a pathway decoration.   I’ll leave them be–who am I to yank them up when they’re so charming?


Another beneficiary of our lack of freezes this winter are the Tropical sageSalvia coccinea.  This particular one is red, but the white ones have bloomed all winter too.  They’re a little lanky now, but I’m still enjoying the accents of red, so they’ll remain until the new growth catches up with the old-growth blooms.


A cousin of the S. coccinea is this salmon-colored Autumn sageSalvia greggi.  It’s not a bountiful bloomer, but only because it grows in too much shade.  Still, the blooms are beginning and will grace the garden for the next couple of months, taking a break during our hot summer, resuming flowering in fall.


Another “victim” of the mild winter is the Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera.  This is a funny plant as it doesn’t have a specific bloom time. In mild winters like the one this year, it blooms all winter, well into spring.  In a “normal” winter (whatever that is), it’ll be knocked to the ground, requiring several months to flush out before flowering ensues.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these winter-orange blooms and so have the honeybees.  Most of the native bees are dormant for now.

Mexican honeysuckle is also a great plant for part shade–yay for me as I have plenty of that!


My two red roses have produced luscious blooms all winter, non-stop.  This, the Martha Gonzales rose,

…and its botanical doppelgänger, the Old Gay Hill rose.  Easy to grow, disease-free, and gorgeous against the blue Texas sky, both roses are head-turners.  I’m not going to prune them just yet, against common gardening wisdom;  there will be time later for that.


In the last week or so, the Southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis has burst out in blooms.

The sweet, snowy flowers attract skippers and honeybees, and dot the back of the garden, clambering up a fence and creeping along the ground.

The buds are a pure pink, so provides a bit of a color two-fer.  Alas, it’s more than likely that the birds will pick off the berries before I get to them.


I finally found the one spot in my garden for Desert mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  Native to regions west of Texas, this lovely requires full sun and excellent drainage.  It’s a high elevation shrub, but the best I could do was pop it into a raised bed.  I love it, blooms or not, and the tangerine flowers paired with that grey-green ruffle of foliage is a winning combination.

The native Blue Orchard bees, recently awakened from their own year-long dormancy, have enjoyed the pollen provided by this mallow.


A passalong plant,  Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia gigantea, delivers blasts of purple for this gardener and loads of nectar and pollen for the pollinators.  Honeybees are in a frenzy gathering the pollen as they gear up for spring.

I have quite a few clumps of this spiderwort and they seed out prolifically.  They’re easily pulled up and tossed into the compost, or even better, gifted to unsuspecting gardeners.

I like that the insect (a fly or native bee?) is also interested in the plant.  I wonder if he/she is responsible for the hole in the leaf?

Purple power rules the garden with these spring pretties.

Most of these perennials and shrubs bloom at least some during a colder winter, but this year, that floral show has been richer.  Of course, as we enter March, the month of spring, an overnight light freeze or two is predicted in the next few days.


The native plants will be fine, the irises, reaching to the sky and starting their blooms, might be damaged.  Time–and actual temperature–will tell.  Regardless, spring is now knocking at the garden gate and winter is mostly done.

How has your winter garden fared?

23 thoughts on “Winter(?) Blooms

  1. It’s amazing how much I love four nerve daisies and how much I don’t like Euryops… and yet they have similar flowers! But it’s the form and long nodding stems on the four nerve that do it. Lovely pictures and garden!


  2. It’s been mild here in Houston, too. Which is frustrating because now I’ll be covering things that are already thriving and tropicalish for the freeze this weekend.

    My Mexican honeysuckle is also starting to bloom!


    • Bummer! I didn’t know you guys are in line for a freeze, too. I really can’t cover anything, especially the iris stalks and blooms. I’m just hoping that the weather people are over-predicting. That’s never happened before, has it? 🙂 Good luck in Houston!


  3. Yes, sad but true, we are expecting a freeze here and I’m at the north side. I’ll be moving in my tropicals today. My salvia has done well all winter and I just cut the old spent stems back. Everything is coming up.


    • Normal for a mild winter, yes. 🙂 Typically, the salvias don’t bloom and unless an evergreen shrub or rosette, they’re dormant. But not so this year. The coneflowers rarely bloom in winter, but it does happen. In the next few nights, will have some freezing temperatures overnight; I’m not keen on that now, as so much has flushed out, but I don’t think I have much of a say about it.


  4. Good heavens! What’s all this talk of a freeze in Houston? I’ve not heard a thing about it. It’s a good reminder of just how large Houston is, how Bay and the wetlands affect our temperatures, and what “micro-climate” really means. We may drop to the upper thirties one night, but that’s not enough to nip much of anything.

    I smiled to see your four-nerve daisy. They were just emerging in the hill country last weekend. The dewberries are thick here now, and I’ve even found a few blue flags in the ditches. They’re raggedy beyond belief, but there. My big surprise in the hill country made me feel as though the flower gods had blessed me. Right there on the Willow City Loop, the white prickly poppies were thick. I could hardly believe it. They were too scattered for any kind of impressive field-of-poppies photo, but I’ll be sharing a couple of portraits. You can imagine how happy the bees were to have their pollen-filled faces shining in the sun!


    • Yes, everyone–including myself–are freaking out. It’s not unusual for us to have a freeze in March, but it’s been so mild this year, that everything is coming, or has come, out–ready for spring. My biggest heartbreak are the iris; I must have 2-3 hundred buds–quite a show. If it gets as cold as the weather folk are prediciting, they’ll all be mush.

      I love prickly poppies and I look forward to your beautiful photos. I’ll bet the bees were super happy about all that poppy goodness!


  5. I’m trying to pretend it won’t actually be 25 degrees later… And wrapping up my peas and lettuce in case it will actually get that cold.
    I’m glad I took a run to the garden shop today for some bedding plants for the house to go on the market. One of the regular employees there (they’re all regulars at this place!) hollered after my selections: “you need to keep those indoors through Wednesday!”


  6. Yeah, I am near Bastrop and hope covering the babrabdos cherry, new mistflower leaves, clematis and young yarrow. We will see, I bet the frostweed will put on a show!


    • I only covered a few tender ones, like the Dianella. I like that plant (a non-native), but it’s not reliably winter hardy. I did bring into the house my bouginvilla–for the first time this year, which tells you how mild it’s been. I haven’t checked my frostweed yet this morning, thanks for the reminder. Hope all your plants are ok!


    • No, there wouldn’t be, I guess. We have more out than we should, but there’s not much to do about that. My house is full of iris stalks right now. I must have cut 50 stalks with open, or near open, blooms. I left some out, so they’ll be mush after our freezes, though it’s only 30 right now.

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