Autumn Flowers

As my last post indicated, fall is a great time for flowers here in Central Texas. Though we enjoy a long growing season and a short dormant season (some flowers persisting even during winter) I think of the fall floral show a last hurrah before winter’s chill sets in.

One perennial growing in my formerly shady front garden/now full sun front garden that’s rocking the change is Pigeonberry, Rivina humilis.

A small ground cover, about four inches tall with a spread of maybe two feet, Pigeonberry is often touted as a shade/part-shade plant. Leftover from its time in the shade, the Pigeonberry has proved itself worthy as a full sun plant. Dainty flowers bloomed all summer, continuing that streak into October. Beginning sometime in September, luscious berries appeared, adding to the mix. It’s a pretty combination, the sweet pink of the petite flowers and the rich crimson, yummy looking berries!

By the end of October, it was all about the berries. As we’ve experienced a couple of chilly nights, the diminutive flower clusters are gone, some berries are left, foliage is burgundy–and there are about a million seedlings poking up from the ground! In case you’re wondering, I don’t often see pigeons at the pigeonberry, but doves and blue jays partake regularly.

Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, are also reliable participants in our second spring. They bloom tall and stately in spring, grow toasty and seed-producing by mid-summer, are pruned to green rosettes in August, and once September rolls around and after some rain, about one-third of my cones bloom up again for fall. The flowers never grow as tall as in spring, but I appreciate whatever blooms they want to deliver.

Another pink pretty are the mallow flowers of Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala. These shrubs have blooms all summer, but in fall the pink really pops!

Here are a few more Rock Rose, paired with Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata. These two make a lovely couple!

The Goldeneye are towards the end of their golden glory, but the has-been flowers segue to seed heads and they’re also cute. Flocks of tiny Lesser Goldfinch, as well as sparrows and wrens, nibble on the seeds, spreading them far and wide.

Fall Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, is great year round: attractive foliage, a sprinkling of happy aster flowers in spring and summer, and withstanding the hottest days and brightest sunshine. In fall, the explosion of purple always makes me smile.

I like it partnered with another plant in the Aster family, Four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris scaposa and the not-yet-in-bloom Gulf Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. It’s hard to beat those cheerful aster faces.

This little bit of Fall Aster is blooming only after being in the ground since August.

It’s at the base of a large Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, (with the large, heart-shaped leaves) and the winter rosette of an up-and-coming, spring blooming native Texas wildflower, Blue Curls, Phacelia congesta. The flowers of the Blue Curls are almost the same color as the Fall Aster, though in a bluer hue.

In a mild year, Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, will flower its orange, pollinator attracting blooms constantly. A hard freeze will knock it back to the ground, but it rallies and by mid-summer is back to its blooming ways. This autumn, it looks good with a young Goldeneye,

…and some (left to right, bottom of photo) White Tropical sage, Salvia coccinea, a Purple Coneflower, and another Texas native perennial, a Texas Craglily, Echeandia texensis.

This Texas Craglily sits in my back garden and is blooming well, even with more shade than it likes.

Last fall, after the tree was cut down, I transplanted four other individual Texas Craglilies from the back to the front garden and they’ve flourished in the heat and sun. They’re delicate looking, with fleshy foliage, but don’t let that fool you: they’re hale and hardy in a sunny space. They die to the ground in winter, return rather late in spring; the foliage looks nearly identical to that of Spiderwort. Lush and neat all summer, bloom stalks develop in September (usually), then orchid-like, orange/yellow blooms sprout all up and down the stalks. Honeybees and a variety of native bees are constant visitors.

The red flowers in the background are blooms on two Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii.

Turk’s Caps have a prolific, long blooming season, but are nearing the end of their flowering cycle. The swirled hibiscus blooms are still bright decorations in the garden. Fruits for the birds are developing, green at first, then red.

Cenizo shrub, Leucophyllum frutescens, sometime referred to as Texas barometer-bush, is blooming, signifying an increase in humidity and the possibility of welcomed rain. A honeybee was busy on the morning of this photo, but wouldn’t cooperate with my photographic efforts.

Finally, my roses stood up to the heat of summer, sometimes blooming, sometimes resting. With cooler temperatures, constant flowering will be the norm until a hard freeze. This Caldwell Pink looks like a bridal bouquet and its fragrance is a dream.

Flowers in fall–it’s a cheerful and hopeful way to end the growing season!

13 thoughts on “Autumn Flowers

  1. You and your garden have both been on a roll this autumn. Someone at the Wildflower Center once commented that Turk’s cap plants seem especially prone to getting their leaves nibbled. Have you observed that with yours?

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    • Yup, it’s been a floriferous fall. (I try to use that word any chance I get. 🙂 )

      Yes, the leaves do get munched, but I don’t pay much attention to that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in the act. I’ve wondered if it’s something that gets peckish at night?

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    • I’m sure we grow mostly very different things, but there may be some things in common.

      Isn’t that Craglily a lovely thing? I just love them. I’m moving two more to this garden after they finish blooming and even have a spot for them!

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  2. Your garden is really loaded with flowers. My Craig Lilies are also blooming and the seeds they dropped last year are growing. I have learned to identify plants that look like grass by touch. Hope you get some of this rain that’s coming.

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    • It’s been a perfect fall, though too warm. 😦 We’re still waiting for the rain.

      You’ve mentioned before that you grow Craglilies. I have never seen them in any other garden here in Austin, which is so odd, as they’re so easy to grow.

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  3. Without your explanation I’d never have guessed this to be an autumn garden post. Surely doesn’t resemble our garden currently. 🙂 The pigeon berries look tempting…especially if one is a bird.

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    • Lol, that’s why it’s called a second spring. We do have autumn foliage color change, but it tends to occur over a longer period of time, rather than over a few weeks. Typically, our trees change color in late November through December.

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  4. I’m glad you were able to get such lovely photos of your garden, as it seems that ‘winter chill’ is about to descend. We dropped twenty-five degrees overnight, and there are freeze advisories for areas north of I-10 now, so it’s about time for you and Steve to start looking for frost flowers! Despite the wind, it’s sunny and beautiful, so I may try to pull myself outside this afternoon, just to see what I can see. I do suspect most of the butterflies that have been migrating through have been blown south!

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    • It was beautiful today–and cold! We’re not in danger of any freeze here in Austin, but I think a freeze happened in parts of the Hill Country. There were butterflies out today, though fewer than there have been. I’m ready for cooler weather, but will feel a little sadness once that first freeze comes. Hope it waits until early January!

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