Here in Austin, Texas, the weather has settled into the summer pattern of boringly bright days, warm-to-hot-temperatures, and plenty of humidity; the solstice is now a memory. There’s just no way around it–it’s summer, and as writer Al Bernstein said: Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.
So what’s in the garden reflecting the shimmering June days? In a word: Daylilies. I say that, though I have only one type of daylily, planted in only one spot. Their cheery orange is, for me, a June thing every summer.
My mother-in-law gave to me a couple of daylily leaves with attached root 20 some-odd years ago. She wasn’t a gardener and I have no idea where she got hers, but they hadn’t bloomed alongside her driveway in many years. She insisted that they were lovely.
And she was correct.
Full and ruffly, I look forward to the blooms every June, though sometimes they appear as early as May or as late as July. I believe they’re a form of the Asian variety Hermerocallis fulva.
For years, I didn’t notice any pollinators at these blooms, but as I have paid more attention, I see a species of native bee who visits when these flowers open. A small, iridescent blue-green bee, it’s probably a Sweat bee, Genus Halictidae. The bees dive deep into the flower and it’s usually several minutes before they emerge; I have to be quick with the camera button!
The Purple coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, opened for business in May, but have achieved their zenith of beauty in June.
An excellent pollinator plant, there’s always something working these happy flowers, like this Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor. I wonder if Ms. White flower spider is sizing up the butterfly for a meal?
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a pretty plant year-round, mostly due to its foliage. But in May, it sends up flower stalks and by June, those stalks are topped off with white flower clusters, adding their particular charm to bright June days.
I’ve seen all sorts of pollinators at Yarrow, from common, everyday flies, (great pollinators!),
…to large, dramatic bees, like this Horsefly-like Carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis.
By mid-July, the snowy blooms will turn toasty, and will then attract little finches and sparrows who flit through the garden.
Barbados cherry, Malpighia glabra, a hardy Texas native, serves as a privacy screen in my front garden. It’s a large shrub which may be hedged, though I prefer its natural shape of arching branches. After rains, the plant bursts full of sweet pink flowers, eventually producing, juicy, red fruits favored by birds and mammals. The fruits are called acerola cherries and are used to make juice. I’ve tasted the fruits and they are sweet, though it would take quite a few to squeeze into juice.
The pink flowers are small and dainty, borne in clusters along the branches.
Eastern Carpenter bees, Xylocopa virginica, visit whenever the blooms appear. These bees are fast fliers–I was lucky to get this shot!
Zexmenia, Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida, provides a sparkle of yellow in my garden. A low growing, deciduous shrub, Zexmenia loves abusive heat and blooms best in the heat. In fact, with our wet late spring, mine haven’t bloomed quite as well as usual, though the yellow still sparkles-up the garden. The yellow flowers are companionable with many plants.
Another flower which attracts many types of pollinators, it’s also a host plant for three different butterfly species: Bordered Patch, Sierran Metalmark, and Lacinia Patch.
Here a Ceratina bee sips nectar. It looks like others before it have nibbled at the petals.
Pretty in pink are Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala. Another shrub with twinkly flowers, I utilize Rock rose as a staple plant in my garden. It grows and blooms in shade or sun (better in sun), and is a tough customer in our long, hot summers. I prune it back a few times during the growing season as it blooms best on new wood and will seed out prolifically if allowed. I like this little shrub planted in a mass to amplify the its pink power!
Small, hibiscus-like blooms are favored by pollinators like this Grey Hairstreak, Strymon melinus.
Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is no yucca, but in fact a gorgeous plant in the Agavaceae family. From late April until late October, Salmon-pink, tubular flowers with creamy yellow interiors, adorn tall, arching bloom stalks.
The base of the plant is fleshy, dark foliage and a nice structural element, especially in winter; the showy blooms are a cherry on top. Typically, I can’t look at these flower stalks without seeing some pollinator going about its business: bees of several varieties, some smaller butterflies, and hummingbirds are all are drawn to Red yucca. Alas, I seem to have missed catching any pollinator in my recent photos. Drat!
Late spring blues segue–just for a bit–into June with Heartleaf skullcap, Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata. A perennial groundcover, which is low to the ground during late autumn and winter, the plant rockets upwards in spring, developing beautiful lavender-blue flowers, which make gardeners swoon,
…and bees work.
The foliage is a lovely blue-grey, soft and slightly sticky, but a perfect partner for the salvia blooms.
I like oregano–a lot. Pollinators like oregano (and other herbs) blooms–a lot. The teeny-tiny, frothy white flowers of oregano are in full bloom mode right now and pollinators are all over them.
My honeybees are especially fond of oregano flowers. I wonder if their oregano-derived honey can be used on pizza?
Big red sage, Salvia penstemonoides, started blooming this month and will bloom throughout summer. My camera doesn’t quite catch the beauty of the magenta coloring of this salvia flower, but it’s a show-stopper. Native only to the Edward Plateau of Central Texas, this plant was thought to be extinct, but was then discovered blooming in south Austin in the 1980s. Fortunately for Austin gardeners, it’s easy to grow from seed and some local nurseries have made plants available.
During its summer blooming period, hummingbirds, mostly female Black-chinned and Ruby-throated, visit mine.
Happy June blooms and many thanks to Chloris of The Blooming Garden and her celebration of monthly blooms. This ends National Pollinator Week here in the United States. Readers from elsewhere–you were probably wondering why I was beating the pollinator drum! Gardeners are usually close to and aware of their environment, so I’m probably preaching to the choir, but if you don’t plant for pollinators–do! You’ll be amazed at who shows up and pleased at how pollinators and all wildlife bring life to your garden.
Your garden is certainly in full bloom. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white spider. It is also extremely hot at my side of state.
It’s been very humid here, though typical warm temperatures. That white spider was big–usually they’re little ones!
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So enjoyed this post and the window into your beautiful garden!
First, the confession: I’ve tried to like rock rose, and I just don’t. I have no idea why. I have friends who grow it, beautifully, and it always is buzzing with pollinators, but it just doesn’t appeal in the same way as so many other plants. Those buds certainly are hibiscus-like.Maybe if I concentrate on its hibiscus-like qualities I’ll grow more fond of it!
Now, that red yucca? That’s a different matter: likewise the sage, and the yarrow, and the skullcap. I thought of you in east Texas. The beautyberry was in bloom everywhere, and really thick in some places. I finally got to see its flowers, and they are lovely.
I’ve come across others with the same opinion about Rock rose. I think they may just be too, too pink for some! And, I get that–pink isn’t really my favorite, but I sure love them for their cheer and toughness, and in my shade garden, they’re winners.
The red yucca is a great plant and the few spots I have of sun host at least one each. Interestingly, this year, each individual plant only sent up one stalk (with one exception) not sure why as normally, the more established individuals will put out 4-6 stalks. I suspect our early, dry spring is the culprit; it seems if it’s particularly dry, the plant limits its flower production and there seems to be a window of stalk growth and once that time is past, there are no new stalks for that year. Still, I’m glad for what I have and they’ll bloom well into autumn.
I love the sweet flowers of beauty berry, though they’re subtle. Mine are still blooming, but most of the flowers are spent and little green berries have developed. The purple color development will happen in about 6 weeks. Woo-hoo!!
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You have some beautiful things blooming for sure, and it looks like pollinator heaven! My Echinacea is just about to bloom, too. We’ve had an uncharacteristically cool June, but we’re just about to turn the corner and March into a warm late-June/early July. That’s OK: That’s how I like it in the summer. That Daylily from your MIL is really special! I don’t recall seeing that one before–yes, orange ones, but the form of that one is so unique!
Thank you, Beth. Despite the humidity, it’s been a pretty early summer. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your coneflowers–they’re some of the most satisfying natives to grow, I think. And I agree with you about the daylilies: they’re similar to the common oranges, but I’ve never quite seen the double petals, the stripes, and they’re also shorter than the typical “ditch” lilies.
What a lovely post, thank you for sharing Tina. I always come across lovely new plants on your blog. I have never seen the Pavonia before or the Barbados cherry. We have lots of bumble bees this year, in fact we have Tree bumble bees under the eaves outside our bedroom. They make a strange noise early in the mornings. I never noticed what a variety of bugs there are on flowers until I started photograhing them.
Thanks, Chloris. I’m fascinated by your increase in bumblebee activity and their early morning bee activities. Wonder what’s up with that? Like you, it was photographing the blooms and paying close attention to what is around that alerted me to the huge variety of insects that are in the garden daily, season after season.
The tree bees make a weird noise, I think the nest must be in the loft. I read it is called bee chatter. They don’t do it during the day. The tree bumble bee, Bombus hypnorum only arrived in this country in 2011.
That’s interesting–they’re not endemic to your area? Where did they come from and is it considered a climate change event?
All that color is making me jealous. June is normally quiet and with our cold spring it is quieter than normal this year – not much in the way of blooms. Some interesting natives you have that I was unfamiliar with – Scullcap, Rock Rose, Barbados Cherry – very nice.
I do have pops of color, but we’ve had plenty of rain this early summer and so many of my more floriferous plants have grow lots of foliage and are blooming less than normal. Most of what I grow likes it dry.
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You know, I only discovered the red yucca by accident, while trying to procure some of the few yuccas I lacked. It was so late in the game that the formerly yellow red yucca had already become trendy, and is now about as popular as the red red yucca. (That sounds silly.) Anyway, they are more popular here now, and rightfully so. They do quite nicely in the chaparral climate, and are friendlier and compatible with most landscape styles than the yuccas that I like so much.
Red yuccas are great plants–water wise, attractive, great for wildlife–what’s not to love about them? There are two cultivars which have become popular here in the Austin area, a dark red, which is nice and a creamy yellowish, which I don’t care much for. I still prefer the native salmon-pink.
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Yeah, I was not sold on the yellow either. It seemed to be one of those things that was popular because it was supposedly rare. In fact, it was so rare, that everyone had them! . . . like yellow clivia.
June really is the best part of summer in Texas (at least in my opinion). The weather is hot, but I’m not over it yet. The flowers are blooming and not beat down by the heat. Everything doesn’t have a cast of brown, like at the end of August, due all the days of intense sun and humidity. Your garden looks great and I love seeing all the visitors, especially the humming bird.
Yes, June is a nice month here and this year, especially so with our regular rainfall. I’ve enjoyed the hummer and now it seems I have two visiting–let the chases begin!