We’re Back, Baby!

In February, once the snow cleared and the ice melted from wicked winter storm, Uri, I assessed the damaged garden–and damaged it was. I guessed (correctly–yay!) that my native plants would endure. But I wondered if the plants I grow which are native to regions south of the Texas border might succumb to the way-out-of-wack deep-freeze week. Minimally, I assumed it would be autumn or even next growing season before the pollinators and gardener would once again enjoy the gorgeous blooms from Mexican and Central American plants.

I’m so glad that I was wrong!

I grow two Mexican orchid trees, Bauhinia mexicana, and both emerged from the soil in late spring and there’s been no stopping their growth. This one is my oldest tree and has been blooming since June. Here in Central Texas, the “tree” is really a large shrub.

The blooms are snowy white, but the plant loves the heat.

Foliage of Turk’s cap photo-bombs the orchid tree. Do you see it?

My other mature orchid tree receives more sun, growing a little faster and flowering more. This tree is a seedling from my original tree.

The orchid tree is partnered with a cluster of native White Salvia coccinea.

Rather than the pure white of the mother tree, this tree’s flowers are white with a subtle blush of pink.

Another Mexican perennial that I thought wouldn’t bloom until fall is the Mexican honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera. In this part of my garden, it’s paired with the South American beauty, Majestic sage, Salvia guaranitica, which grows just behind it.

Majestic sage and Mexican honeysuckle are perennials that have proven themselves reliable, even after a week of sub-freezing temperatures. The rich blue of the sage blooms complements the cheery orange honeysuckle flowers. Both plants are pollinator magnets; the sage is a favorite of various butterflies, but the bees are all about the honeysuckle blooms.

When Mexican Honeysuckle blooms, it really blooms!

Honeybees have been all over the Honeysuckle flowers. Usually, I also see plenty of native carpenter bees at these blooms, but sadly, their population is decreased this year. While the plants returned with vigor, some insect species have been slower to recover.

Native to parts of the Carribean Islands and Mexico, Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, lives up to its botanical moniker, very pretty. This one is tall and truthfully, a little past its blooming prime for the year. Still, it’s topped with dramatic orange and yellow flowers that usually have pollinator attendants.

Early in the morning, only the honeybees are at work.

One more Carribean-to-South American plant that has weathered well in my garden during both hot and cold is the Firecracker fern, Russelia equisetiformis. Not only did its ferny foliage pop up from the ground after the winter storm, but its fire-engine red blooms have popped with color all hot summer.

All of these plants are tough, beautiful perennials that return after the hardest freezes and grace the hottest summers; I’m glad they’re a part of my garden palette.

I’m happy to link with Carol and her Bloom Day for August. Check it out to see lovely blooms from many gardens! Happy gardening!

24 thoughts on “We’re Back, Baby!

  1. Beautiful!
    You have both cool white and hot orange!
    Yes, I noticed the Turk’s Cap – it has such a sprawling habit, it tries to get in every photo here! I hate cutting plants back or digging them up for the compost pile, but I have got to do something before they take over the entire flower bed at the end of my house!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

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    • They’ve been real champs. I also really like the texture of the leaves. It’ll be done blooming for me by mid-September (with more sun, it blooms until late October), but I still love the feather texture and it’s blue/grey tinge.

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  2. That is an orchid tree that I am not familiar with. The primary species that I remember from Southern California is Bauhinia purpurea. Bauhinia X blakeana has become more popular more recently. Are you familiar with Bauhinia punctata? We studied it in school, but have not seen it since then. It is a shrubby form, and is rather sparsely foliated.

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      • Bauhinia punctata probably looks better in pictures. The floral color is nice, but the flowers are small and not very prolific. I just like it because it is a species of Bauhinia that can grow as low shrubbery in rather dry situations. The popular tree sorts need a bit of water, even as street trees. We can not plant them as street trees because so many street trees get no water. As shrubbery, they get rather large and lanky.

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  3. Those orchid trees are real stars, aren’t they? What a lot of lovely blooms you have in your garden. Yes, I’d say you are definitely back!

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  4. I’m glad to see your garden bounced back. I love your white-flowered orchid tree. I’ve got a Bauhinia x blakeana (Hong Kong orchid tree) that came with the house. It looks rather sad at the moment but I’m hoping that cooler weather will bring it back. I’m tempted to plant a Caesalpinia but its mature size has me wondering where I could put it.

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    • Thanks, Kris. The orchid trees are really lovely plants. I wish they were more available commercially. I looked up your Bauhina and it has gorgeous blooms. I hope it’s happier when things cool down a bit. I know I will be. 🙂

      The Caesalpinias do get large, but they sure make a statement.

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    • Thanks, Beth! I like that plant too. Now that my main front garden will be receiving more sun (after the ash tree is removed 😦 ), I’m thinking about adding another next year. They’re real show stoppers!

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  5. Tina I’m so glad your non-native plants have been reborn from the ground and haven’t stopped growing and blooming – I love it. Your garden is back! Mexican orchid trees have a divine flower, I love them. The flowers of the Mexican honeysuckle are wonderful and melliferous, I love them like the majestic sage with blue flowers. Pride of Barbados with its majestic flowers and leaves with such a fabulous texture I love it. Firecracker fern with its red flowers is lovely. Tina you have some magnificent flowering plants: a wonderful garden and a garden for pollinators. Enjoy it. Take good care of both of you. Tina I hope your back is getting better. Hugs. Have a nice week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

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      • Tina I am very happy that you are happy for the recovery of all your plants. Thank you very much for caring how I am. I am still very depressed but I have decided to fight to get out of the hole and I have not written before because I have had family visits at home for a few days. Take care Tina! Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

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  6. I kept telling myself to be patient, and finally! the Bauhinia lunarioides and the Mexican Olive down in Brazoria County decided to bloom. They appeared in the midst of the sudden arrival of things like the Maximilian sunflower, and got put on the back burner, but they deserve to have their portraits posted, too.

    When I looked at the maps, I couldn’t figure out how the B. lunarioides landed in Brazoria County, so far from its native territory. Finally, I decided it was planted there; its in an area at the Brazoria refuge that’s planted with yuccas, sotol, Mexican olive, and such. I suspect it might be meant as a demonstration garden of plants that are Texas natives, but not naturally occurring in the refuge.

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