About Tina

I’ve gardened in Austin, Texas (zone 8b) since 1985. I garden with low maintenance, native and well-adapted non-native plants to conserve water and reduce workload. I also choose plants which attract wildlife to my gardens. I’ve completed the Travis County Master Gardener and Grow Green program (through the city of Austin). I’ve volunteered for a number of public and private gardens, as well as consulted and designed for private individuals. Formerly, I managed Shay’s Green Garden at Zilker Botanical Gardens and Howson Library Garden for the City of Austin. My garden is a certified Monarch Waystation and a Wildlife Habitat.I blog about my garden adventures at: https://mygardenersays.com/ I love blooming things and the critters they attract. Tina Huckabee

Color Wheel

In the color wheel, red and yellow bookend a range of oranges.  There’s no book-ending in my Central Texas garden, though. The color wheel, well-represented throughout, is engaged, even in winter.

This past week saw the first blooms of the Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.  For now, only one bloom in this drooping cluster is willing to flounce its yellow petticoat.

Clusters of coral-red blooms, skirted with golden-yellow frills, bloom on and off throughout spring. When the rains are generous, this vine flowers well into summer.

 

Petite HymenoxysTetraneuris scaposa, sends up sunny winter daisies, each of which dance in chilly breezes atop slender stems.

The Hymenoxys bloom in spring and occasionally in autumn; flowers hunker down in dormancy during the hot months of summer.  The evergreen, grassy clumps from which hail the stems and blooms, are always present, permanently marking the plants’ homes.

 

As mentioned in my last post, orange is this winter’s signature color.  Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera, is covered in tubular orange goodies, eager for  pollinators to awake and work.

Plenty of honeysuckle orange decorates my winter garden.

 

Globe mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua, opens for honeybees each cold day, once the sun warms its petals.

Globe mallow dots its foliage with orange-petaled beauty.

I miss a good, hard freeze which sends the garden into rest and simplicity.  But enjoying blooms in winter?  Well, that is hard to beat.

Enjoy blooms from many places by checking out May Dreams Gardens, Carol’s monthly marking of blooms.

Winter Oranges

Wet, cold, and gloomy describes recent days, but after all, it is February and some winter weather is expected.  My Farmhouse Delivery of local produce came yesterday, and with it, some oranges.   The the rogue grapefruit keeping the oranges company is from last week’s delivery and became my afternoon snack.  Yum.

Hamlin oranges and Ruby-red grapefruit from Texas valley farmers.  There were originally four oranges…

Fresh fruit aside, my real appreciation of winter oranges has recently resided with butterflies and blooms, here demonstrated by the orange-winged Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, nectaring on a softer version of orange represented by a Globe mallow bloom, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  My garden has enjoyed a surplus of the fritillaries this winter because its host plant, passion flower vine, remains green and providing for fritillary caterpillars hatching from eggs.

Globe mallow is a cool season bloomer. It’s a native shrub to high altitudes in far West Texas and New Mexico, but grows well here in Central Texas–in the right conditions.  I struggled to find a place for this beautiful plant, but only have one spot where it’s grown successfully: it’s happily planted in a raised bed which is in year-round, full, west-facing sun.  The mallow has stunning grey-green, frilly foliage, paired with salmony-orange flowers.

Another orange winter beauty is the Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera,  which blooms prolifically during our milder winters.  I especially like this plant because of its water-wise character in summer, its ability to thrive in shade-to-part-sun, and its role as a great pollinator attractor. During the warm months of the year, honeybees, native Carpenter bees, and a variety of butterflies all flock to these orange delights.  In recent weeks I haven’t noticed any pollinators on the tubular blooms, not even the active fritillaries, but I know the nectaring insects will be back for their “orange” juice in the near future.

The orange has brightened my garden this winter, because even with tepid temps, there aren’t many flowers abloom.  That will soon change:  I’ve spotted an iris and a columbine, each with at least one bud that should open in the next week or so.

The oranges cheer dull days, timely and welcome reminders of joy in color and life from gardens.

Thanks to Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Pop over to her beautiful blog and check out other February musings.

Snow Day

At the risk of ridicule from my northern kin–I woke up to snow today!

There wasn’t much of the white stuff, but enough for me to bring out the camera and crunch around the garden.   Actually, there was very little crunching as I meandered, because the air temperature was 32ºF (0ºC), but the ground stayed warm enough that the snow which landed on the ground, didn’t stick.

The snow did blanket plants, rooftops, and other assorted surfaces, which was a joy to see.  Here in Austin, Texas, ice storms are more often the norm than actual snow.

I’ll probably kiss my crinum lily foliage goodbye after today.  It’s remained evergreen up until today, but after our “snowstorm,” I suspect it will be rendered frozen mush.  That’s fine,  the mushy straps will be good additions to the compost bin.

A quintessential Central Texas winter garden scene: snow laden plants, blooming water lily.

At sunrise, the sky was clear.  With a morning of sunshine, the temperature will warm up quickly.  But for this moment in time, snow highlights the textures of the garden.

Snow-pack (snort!) highlights the back garden greenery in white.

This Sparkler sedge, Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’, wears its snow well.

A snowy hat tops the silver globe,

…and its blue cousin.

Brrr!  Snow capped bee hives!   The bees were warmly tucked in, but a short time later, I saw a few venturing out.  What must honeybees think of the snow?

The temperatures weren’t cold enough for the Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, to perform its icy show, but I’d say that this morning, it lives up to its common name:  frostweed.

A patterned Barbados cherry, Malpighia glabra.  The leaves of B. cherry are quite attractive, but more so with a touch of the white.

At 10AM, the snow has melted in my garden.

It was fun while it lasted!