Spring Garden

I’d originally planned three posts profiling my gardens this spring, one each for early spring, mid-spring, and late spring. My garden changes a good bit between February and June. Life renews and it’s fascinating and affirming to witness the seasonal changes in flower, foliage, and fauna.

Well, early spring scooted right past me and late spring is knocking at the door, insistent to enter, but this is the first “spring garden” post I’ve managed to produce. It’s been a busy few months with plenty of distractions.

The back part-shade garden is filling in after winter’s freezes. Early bloomers are mostly done and beginning their seed processes, summer bloomers are arising from the Earth, growing in stature before their blooms begin.

In March and April, there were sweet columbines and iris, scads of spiderwort, and sprinklings of native Gulf Coast Penstemons, Penstemon tenuis.

These pretty, bell-shaped blooms don’t last long, only about 3-4 weeks, but they make a nice impact in the garden and provide for pollinators. Their seeds will feed some birds, some squirrels, and ensure this plant’s future in my garden and probably elsewhere.

Another native perennial which flowers in mid-spring, more blue than purple, is the native Lyre-leaf Sage, Salvia lyrata; these bloom in concert with the penstemons.

This photo, taken yesterday, shows the former flower stalks, now seed stalks. I’ve seen Painted Buntings, Lincoln’s Sparrows and Clay-colored Sparrows nibble at these seeds.

A wider look shows the garden in its “short” form. Come mid-June and going forward, many of the plants that you don’t notice or even see in this photo will be 4-5 feet tall. The early spring bloomers will be gone, or will have resigned themselves to green, ground-hugging rosettes, many offering seeds, at least for a time.

We never got around to cleaning the pond or separating the lilies and the Pickerel Rush.

It’ll be interesting watching these plants during summer. They tend to bloom well in spring, then mostly provide foliage protection for the fish during the heat of summer, with occasional blooms flowering up from the base. I wonder if my not having separated them this spring will make much difference in bloom production?

Once the heat sets in, this shady part of the garden provides respite from the relentless Texas sun. But so far, it’s been a cool spring–and wet! I’m not confident that our drought is over, but we’ve received some drenching storms and the plants (and gardener) are happy and appreciative.

The front–all full sun of it–is bursting with color, form, and life. Migratory Lincoln’s Sparrows, Painted Buntings, Common Yellow-throats flit through the garden, nibbling whatever seeds and insects that come their way, filling up for their trip north to their breeding grounds. I occasionally chase a couple of neighborhood cats out of this wildlife haven.

Early blooming perennial spiderworts and annual poppies provided pops of color and good things for the pollinators. They were accompanied by flowering shrubs that like cooler temperatures, like Globe Mallow, Spaeralcea ambigua,which is still in full bloom.

As is typical and planned for, the purples and blues are dominant in the garden in this middle part of the spring season. Red, yellow and orange will get their turn to show off in summer. White flowers also come into their own during summer and fall, and are restful for the eye.

About five years ago, a friend gave me a couple of sprigs with roots of Blue Curls, Phacelia congesta, an annual Texas native spring wildflower. They’ve seeded out–and how! This year’s bumper crop of the unusual caterpillar-looking wildflowers has provided color and lots of movement in the form of visiting pollinators.

There aren’t any pollinators on this Blue Curls cluster, but that’s an anomaly; these diminutive blooms are pollinator powerhouse plants.

Blue Curls are bunched up at the edge of the garden. The slender, tower-like plants toward the center are the soon-to-bloom American Basket flower, Centaurea americana. This is another pollinator favorite and summer bloomer.

My Basket flowers have grown even taller since this photo, though I have pruned by half some of them. With pruning, the towers grow bushy, multi-branched and more shrub-like. Also, since they’re shorter, I can enjoy viewing the flowers! Those colossal towers are too high for me to see anything but the bottom of the blooms and the pollinators flying above them.

In another spot of the garden, I love the combination of Blue Curls, with their lacy green foliage, paired with the ruffly grey foliaged Globe Mallow.

The stand of Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus, has been stunning. I see carpenter bees nectar stealing, but the main pollinators of these flowers are the many Hummingbird, or Sphinx moths that visit at dawn and sunset, and sometimes during the day.

Deep blue Henry Duelberg sage, Salvia farinacea, complements cheery yellow Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia. These two will bloom well into the summer months and potentially, through fall. Both are excellent wildlife plants: nectar and pollen for pollinators, seeds for birds-n-beasts. Oh, and the gardener really likes them too!

It’s a mixed-bag with the bloom stalks of my Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora: This one produced 10 stalks; some others have none. Usually, my established yuccas each shoot up 3-5 stalks. I’m not sure why some didn’t produce any bloom stalks this spring, but the tough, evergreen foliage is still worthy and welcome in the garden.

Though fleeting, spring is a special time of year in any garden. Gardens are fresh, life is everywhere, and it’s not at all difficult to find color, texture, and wild things active.

What’s growing in your spring garden?

21 thoughts on “Spring Garden

  1. Time tends to speed up and run away from us in spring, I’ve noticed. How quickly I fall behind every year! Your garden looks lush and beautiful, Tina. I like the natural, yet clearly tended, look. Amazing how your front sunny bed has evolved in a short time!


    • I just feel like I haven’t been able to keep up with things, but there are definitely worse problems to have.
      Thanks, Eliza. I’m very happy with how the front garden, in particular, has developed. I didn’t think it would mature so quickly and in a drought, no less. Here’s to the power of native plants!


  2. What a big change from just a couple of months ago. Your Engelmann’s daisies are reflected in colonies in many places around Austin now; this has proved a good year for them.

    Regarding your second picture, have you ever done selfies in those metallic globes?


    • It’s really grown in well. I’ve also notice Engelmann’s along MoPac, especially–they’re having a great season, it seems.

      Yes, as a matter of fact, in an earlier blog post a few years back, I was taking a photo of something in that spot and when I downloaded the photo to my computer, there I was–in the sphere!


    • Thank you, Beth! I’m happy with the garden’s progress this year, but (and I’m sure you know all about this) I’m always looking to how I can change things up!


  3. Your garden looks absolutely wonderful. If I were a bird or butterfly, I would come visit every day. 😊
    Your photos also highlight the differences between the climate in Colorado and Texas. I can only dream of such lush and verdant vegetation.


  4. Lily pads are evergreen? Six were added to a drainage pond here, but never performed well. They started growing nicely just before the weather got cool for autumn, and then suddenly disappeared! I never noticed that the foliage was deteriorating. It just disappeared! I think that a single leaf of one of the specimens may be growing toward the surface, but I do not know.


    • Well, my lily pads are evergreen in winter, even after a hard freeze. They grow quite fast in my pond, so it’ll be interesting if I’ve made a mistake by not separating them this spring.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There are a half-dozen places where I regularly can find our native water lilies. The same thing happens in those spots; the pads disappear, and then begin regrowing to the surface as the weather warms. It may be that Tina has a species that’s been bred for persistence during cold weather. There are places in the state where there’s a whole lotta water lily breeding going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the things I enjoyed this year was finding so many ‘garden flowers’ growing in the wild. One of the prettiest scenes was a field filled with Lyre-leaf Sage in East Columbia; they were growing under the spread of a large live oak. I thought of your Red Yucca a couple of weeks ago when I was in Friendswood. They reconstructed the main street through town, and replaced whatever was there was a combination of some sort of flowering tree and Red Yucca. It survived the freezes, and was filled with red blooms — so pretty, just like your garden.


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