A Surprise Basket

I like early mornings.  I need the time to myself, to wake up, to think about the day ahead, to breathe the outdoors. The light is soft and even in the warm, humid Texas summer, the morning walk through the garden is calming, refreshing.  I love the sunrise, the sparkle of light through the trees, casting shadows, then not, across the garden.  I replenish the bird feeders and baths and notice the changes in the garden.  I feed the fish in the pond.  This morning ritual doesn’t take much time and is a good way to face each day.

While my eyes are bleary, at least until the caffeine kicks in with its magic, I’m often surprised, and usually pleased, by the bits of news the garden has for me.  Recently, I was in my front garden and was flabbergasted when I spied a bit of pink underneath a Mexican Orchid tree, whose flowers are decidedly white.

What ho, you frilly, pinky thing!  The anemone-like flower was low to the ground, highlighted by the rising sun to its east.  Its plant companions, a Purple Heart,  Tradescantia pallida and a low branch from the Mexican Orchid tree,  Bauhinia mexicana, are there, always, but made room for this new resident.  It reached out, made sure I noticed–an American Basket flowerCentaurea americana

Some time ago, my blogging buddy, Shoreacres of the beautiful Lagniappe and the thoroughly charming, The Task at Hand, mailed some basket flower seeds to me, which I happily spread out in autumn of 2018–and then, completely forgot about.  I never assume the seeds would germinate (because seeds will, or won’t, and I go with the flow) and particularly not in this shadier, rather than sunnier, spot.  I’d spread the seeds in the same garden, but primarily in the part of the garden where the west sun bakes, figuring that the sun-loving annual would be content to grow there.  I recall having extra seeds and tossing out those extras in this area;  here we are, nearly two years later, a single American Basket flower in bloom.

I’m tickled pink.

Thistle-like in structure, its filaments are soft, not prickly.  American Basket flowers are native to Texas and a number of other states, typically growing in prairie-type settings.  I checked that day and for the next few days, for interested pollinators.  I never saw any, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t visit, only that I didn’t see. Basket flowers attract butterflies and native bees and I hope that some found this specimen, though it was so low to the ground.  I would love for some pollination to have happened, so that I enjoy another surprise again next summer.

I’ll have to wait and that’s okay.  The basket flower find reinforces the commitment to my early morning strolls and especially, to the connections that gardeners and plant lovers share.   

With grateful appreciation for the many knowledgeable garden/nature bloggers who share their seeds (thanks, Linda!), tell stories, and express their love of the natural world.  Today, I’m linking with Anna and her lovely Flutter and Hum and Wednesday Vignette. 

20 thoughts on “A Surprise Basket

  1. I too had put out (and forgotten) seeds for American Basketflower, unsure now if it was one or two years ago. I was similarly surprised to see 3 or 4 erupt into bloom late last month. The blooms did not last long and, having not personally witnessed any pollinator activity, I wonder if they will reseed and reappear? I certainly hope so.

    These two unexpected appearances have me wondering if there was something about the weather this year that enhanced their germination? Had the seeds previously scattered been lying dormant, waiting for better circumstances?

    I don’t know. What I do know is that the brief blossoms are lovely and their appearance was an exciting observation, interrupting as it did the less pleasant visual evidence we face daily of deer, bird, and grasshopper munching. That’s the thing with natives – you ARE always feeding somebody. With the blanketflower, for a brief spurt, it was our eyes and souls fed.


    • Hey, Deborah–Wise words and observations from another blogging buddy who has shared some of your bounty with me! (The Rough-leaf Dogwood is now a real tree–tall, leafy, bloomed (this spring) and developing berries! Woo-hoo!

      I don’t know about your situation west of Austin, but if you recall, last June was quite wet and even “cool”–by Texas summer standards. Is the drier June this year more conducive to the pop of the basket flowers? I don’t much care, but I do hope that this one is a harbinger of others to come, in the future.


  2. I love going outside first thing, with cup in hand, too. Such a great way to start my day! It grounds me and steels me against whatever the world will throw at me that day. The basket flowers are lovely. Wonder why they are called basket flowers? Maybe because of how the bud looks? Or, were its fibers ever used to weave baskets?


    • Even if I have someplace to be early morning and don’t have time for a full-on stroll, I step outside and breathe deep.

      From the link to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s post about Basket Flower: “The name basket flower refers to the stiff, straw-colored bracts just beneath the flower head, which are divided at the tip into long, sharp teeth.” 🙂


    • LBJWC doesn’t mention anything about deer, but you might want to noodle around on some other sites to find out if this is a deer munchie. I just wish I had more full sun so that I could grow more of them. Sigh.


  3. That’s an interesting-looking basket-flower. The florets seem “looser,” i.e. sparser than usual, and while flowering this late isn’t unheard of, it isn’t common, either. I wonder if being in a garden has anything to do with it. Does the little “basket” underneath look like the ones you’ve seen on other basket-flowers?


    • I assumed the looseness–and I agree that it is “loose”–was due to the flower growing in a shady spot. I’ve noticed that “full sun” plants will grow in shade, but they’re not their “full” selves. Does that make sense?

      I’ve never grown basket flower. I’ve seen them, but in groups and never have I really observed them up close, except in photos. But I did check and yes, the basket is there!


    • When I was in Kerrville on June 28, my friend’s basket-flowers still were blooming, and this week I saw a few blooming here — even some in bud. And when I looked through my file of basket-flower photos, there were several that showed this looser construction. Why it happens I can’t say, but in this area, at least, it’s pretty common.


  4. I’m tickled for you. What’s most amazing is that the seeds I gave to a friend in Kerrville came up this year, too — and in fact, those are the ones I got to see blooming at the end of June. I’m going seed collecting again today, so I’ll be able to send you some nice, fresh ones. They’re from a huge stand of flowers that comes up every year. I’d thought they weren’t going to bloom this year, but I was wrong. The bloom came very late, and I just missed it. So, few photos this year, but there are lots of seeds!


  5. How wonderful that the seeds germinated and you have some new flowers. I think growing plants from seed is particularly gratifying. I am not a morning person, but I agree–I’ve always enjoyed the garden in the morning when I’ve made a point to visit it early. 🙂


  6. Pingback: Basket Case | My Gardener Says…

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