The Spring Garden

Despite late freezes, drought, and earlier-than-normal warm temperatures, it’s been a lovely, affirming spring in my garden. Plants are growing, leafing out, and blooming in their typical order and roughly on their same schedule. Some, like the multitudes of Tradescantia, Spiderwort, were so eager for spring to happen that they’re over-performing. Of course that has nothing to do with the fact that I routinely fail to control them by weeding during fall and winter. Ahem.

My Spiderwort are pass-alongs varieties and they’ve mix-n-matched for years, so I don’t have a definitive species. Because of their height, I suspect T. gigantea, but regardless of species, the flowers are stunning in shades of purples with a few pinky hues. Some are pure lavender, with rounded petals,

…and some are deeper lavender with or triangulated petals

Certain individuals bloom in shades trending pink. These below sport ruffly petals.

No matter their color or form, Spiderworts are favorites of the honeybees. Flowering early and for most of the spring season, bees are keeping busy with the nectar sipping and the pollen collecting.

The first yellow in my garden is typically Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata. The little group I have brightens a shady spot.

The groundsel echos the Adirondack chairs: cheery blooms, comfortable chairs.

Last year’s deep, destructive freeze ended 2021 hopes for the luscious clusters of blooms from Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora. This year, both of my Mountain Laurels flowered beautifully, if too briefly. These blooms are known for their grape juice fragrance. Weirdly, I can’t detect their very sweet fragrance unless my nose is right up in the flowers or at night, with whiffs of the grape scent on the wind.

The irises I grow, all pass-along plants, have bloomed prolifically this spring, more so than in many years.

I think every single bulb, even those that I separated and replanted in the fall, have pushed up stalks and adorned those stalks with flowers. The irises are still going strong and are now joined by European poppies. Tall, leafy American Basket flower stalks await their turn to shine in the sun, while a couple of Martha Gonzalez rose bushes add pops of rich red and burgundy-tinged foliage.

Spiderworts, irises, and poppies are all plants-gone-wild this spring, but the heat and drought have sadly rendered the columbines less floriferous. As well, given my now full-sun front garden, columbines won’t grow there–they fry in Texas sun.

This one, as well as a couple of others, still have a place in the back garden. I plan to add more in the shadier areas because I can’t resist these graceful additions to the garden.

Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus, are in top form this year. Hummingbird moths and Horsefly-like carpenter bees are regular visitors.

I wonder if pollinators have a hard time deciding? Hmmm. Penstemons or Spiderworts? What am I in the mood for??

Of course, it’s not only gorgeous bloom time, but foliage presents a worthy rival in beauty and form during verdant spring. This silvery-green Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima, waves, adding movement and action in the garden. In the past, I’ve witnessed migrating Painted Buntings nibbling at the tiny seeds that feathergrass produces. I wonder if those colorful birds will find this patch as they move through my garden this spring?

The drought continues and summer will be a bear, but I’m grateful for the gentle artistry and renewal of life that is spring.

What’s in your spring garden this year? I hope it’s colorful and ever-changing and provides a respite from the world’s troubles.

Happy spring gardening!

33 thoughts on “The Spring Garden

  1. Lovely blooms! Spring is springing abundantly in your garden, Tina. 🙂
    All our minor bulbs are putting on their show here– scilla, crocus, iris and the first daffodils have come on just in time for Easter… they remind me of colored eggs hidden in the lawn. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Eliza! It’s definitely spring, but we’re sure edging in to summer! Boo! I always like the egg-like looks of bulb blooms; they are rather charming.

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  2. Love those spiderworts! An uninviting name for such lovely delicate blooms.

    It is fascinating to me how different the timing is on gardens in Austin versus gardens out here north and west of Dripping Springs. Things here are often delayed by days to weeks in terms of leafing out or blooming. I try to be patient and use your posts as a heads up as to what to be watching for. (I try!)

    Unfortunately, what we have in our garden here lately is a series of armadillo incursions. I think we discovered and blocked all their entry/exit point(s) at last so there will be human hands only doing the digging around here. Meanwhile, on a more positive note, Engelmann daisies are beginning to bloom, the pink evening primrose are flooding all their spaces, and our coral yucca are all sporting triplet bloom stalks this year.

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    • That is interesting that you’re so much further behind in the blooming. I hope you’re able to enjoy cooler temperatures that we have here in town?

      Armadillos are so weird and cute, but like deer, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with them.

      My coral yucca have also put out loads of stalks this spring! Woo-hoo!

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  3. Your Hill Country Penstemons are beautiful! Do they reseed for you? I’ve managed to keep some alive for a few years, and they’re blooming nicely this year, but they don’t seem to spread at all. You have some gorgeous iris, too! I second Deborah’s comment regarding Dripping Springs being a little behind. But we’ve definitely got wind. I’ve got larkspur, winecups, pink evening primrose and the sweet little native wild garlic going crazy, with a variety of other wildflowers and perennials waiting in the wings. It’s such a fun time of year! Thank you for sharing your lovely yard with us.

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    • They are so, so pretty and no, mine have never reseeded. They’re also not the easiest plant to find and I’d love some more. Grrr. Those iris have always been tough and hardy, but they’ve gone bonkers this spring–best show, maybe ever! That wind. I’m so tired of it, but at least the pollen has let up a bit. And we need rain, don’t we?

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      • Darn, I was hoping you’d have a wonderful secret to share on how to get HCP to spread! I had exactly one reseed at my last house, and it came up in an area away from the drip irrigation line, interestingly. I agree they are hard to find – I think I picked mine up in Medina. And yes, we could use some rain!!

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      • I wish! You’ve had one more seedling than I’ve ever had seed out. Weird, since it’s a Hill Country plant, you’d think it would go gang-busters to procreate. I’ve had a number of hummingbird moths working the blooms every evening–beautiful to watch.
        Did you get yours at that great nursery between Kerrville and Medina?! I got two of mine there and the other two at BSN. BSN will carry them; get on their wait list for the plant when either theirs are ready for sale or they get some in–and keep your fingers crossed.

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      • I see the sphinx moths on mine, too! Maybe I’ll try collecting seed since they’re doing such a great job at pollinating. I did get my plants at that little native plant nursery near Medina, along with a lot of other wonderful natives. It’s such a great place! But it’s good to know that BSN, another wonderful place, carries them as well.

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  4. Mountain laurel is what I would know as Texas mountain laurel. (I consider Kalmia latifolia to be mountain laurel.) I have never met it before, although I tried to grow it from seed. Unfortunately, the seedlings desiccated while the area was evacuated because of a nearby forest fire. I really do not know why it was never introduced here. If it does not perform well in the local climate, I do not know why.

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  5. Texas Mountain Laurel is the proper common name. I guess because I live here, I just leave off the ‘Texas’–everyone here knows what I’m referring to. It’s a great tree for this area; I have no idea how it might do elsewhere.

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  6. So many lovely things in blooms in your garden, Tina! Like you, I am a huge fan of Nasella tenuissima. Such a great grass, and – barring a fire – it WILL hold up to the nastiness that is hot, dry summers. Tough as nails.

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    • It’s a lovely time of year, Anna. Spring. Sigh. Mexican feathergrass is so versatile, too. I’ve grown it in shade, part shade, full sun, and containers–it’s a winner in all situations. Plus, it seeds out just enough to have replacements or to add in more spots, but not so much as to become obnoxious. Win!!

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  7. Your garden looks lovely, Tina. So many beautiful blooming plants.
    We have volunteer spiderwort growing in various spots in the yard and few are a nice combination of blue and white. We also don’t weed them enough and even when we do, the slightest bit of root hair seems to breed another colony.
    I planted a couple of Kalmias in our little woods last year and am hoping for some blooms. There are spots in the Quabbin Reservoir that I visit annually that in a good year are so profuse I can get lost within them looking for compositions.
    Thanks for sharing your garden’s beauty while we wait for ours to start flowering.

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    • Yes, it’s been a very flowery spring and that surprises me, because we’re so dry. I normally only water some in the summer, but I’ve had to start on the “new” front garden and I’ll probably water the back garden next week. Ugh!

      I imagine your situation may be too humid for the Mountain Laurel. I can grow Mountain Laurel, you can grow azaleas. We;ll each enjoy the others’ plants!

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  8. Ooh, that last photo with the Feathergrass and colorfull penstemons is gorgeous. Love the irises too. They don’t last long but they’re so lovely when it’s their moment. Mine are mostly passalongs too and it feels like greeting old friends when they flowers.

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  9. I’m surprised that you’re seeing the beginnings of my favorite basketflowers. I’ve been looking for signs of them without any luck. It surprises me that you’re so far ahead. Perhaps the garden environment encourages them; my favorite spots are all in the country, or in distinctly non-garden spots, like under billboards. On the other hand, you have reminded me that I found a driveway lined with them last year; it’s close by, and that spot just went on my “to visit” list.

    Believe it or not, I found a mountain laurel tree blooming away at the Brazoria refuge this year. I’ve seen the tree for years without recognizing what it was. It lost a lot of limbs in the freeze, but it certainly put on some flowers! There’s just so much to show now — even poor Walden West’s April visit has been simmering on the back burner!

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    • I’m surprised too, though as I recall, it was last spring that I was yanking them up because I thought they were some kind of junk plant that found its way into my space. It was only after my SIL allowed hers to grow, that it finally bloomed! I had a few left and the rest is history. I have a bunch this year; next year I will have to cull more of them. Just what I needed: another plant that seeds out prolifically! 🙂

      Cool about your Mt. Laurel! Both of my trees were really hit hard in last year’s freeze, but both are rebounding beautifully. You need to get back to Walden West–I’m eager for the next chapter!

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