Wildflower Wednesday, August 2014

Today I join Gail at clay and limestone with heat loving wildflowers for August. No longer cool nor even somewhat pleasant, we’re crawling down the hard stretch of summer here in Austin, Texas. But the light is different and once in a great while, I feel a slight change to the breeze. When there is a breeze.  I say that every year, to anyone who will listen: Sometime in August there is a change–the air is different, the breeze is different! Usually those I’m in conversation with roll their eyes and smirk.

I get lots of smirks.

There’s no smirking though when viewing  this hot, summer/fall blooming GoldeneyeViguiera dentata.

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A few of these flowers open throughout the summer months, but in October? Watch out! There will be an explosion of yellow.

The ridiculously pink Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, is a long-blooming native perennial. These pinks,

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look almost too pink.  They open in the wee hours before dawn and close in the afternoon heat.  This group is tired of the heat and are closing up shop for the day,

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…while this group contends with both heat and sun.

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By 4pm in hot August, Rock Rose blooms are done for the day. Fresh, perky blossoms will open for business early the next morning.

The glory of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea, 

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is over for the year.   I leave the gone-to-seed flower heads as long as possible for finch nibbling, but the blooms are crispy now and I’ve pruned most back to their rosettes. After the spring/summer blooms are done and pruned, there’s usually a second flowering that is shorter in stature, but very welcomed,

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…by pollinators and people.  Later in fall, Purple Coneflower will segue again into seed production for winter finch food.

YarrowAchillea millefolium, is taking a bow for its long bloom season as well.  All of mine, save this patch,

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are pruned to their ground foliage for the year.  I’ve always found the ecru disks of spent blooms as attractive as the snowy white of the peak of Yarrow season, so I keep them through the long summer months.

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The finches appreciate the seeds, too.

Turk’s Cap,  Malvaviscus arboreus, blooms magnificently during this toasty time of year.

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Visited by bees,

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Turk’s Cap produce scads of swirled lovelies with pollen and nectar galore and will do so for another month or two.

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, employs a hopeful common name.

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Frost.  That’s hard to imagine right now. Frostweed’s snowy blooms evoke a coolness we can only dream about with our daily 100 degree-plus temperatures and the death rays of the August sun.

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Flowering will continue into September, giving way to seed production in the fall.

Slather on the sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and traipse over to clay and limestone to see other hot August wildflowers.

Foliage Follow-up, June 2014

As The Warm settles in for the duration here in Austin, Texas, interesting and lush foliage positions well alongside flowers in our early summer gardens.

Yes, summer in Texas is hot.  But here in Texas reside tough, tough plants that shrug off the heat and the dry and are magnificent to behold.  One such is the Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata.  Retama is a small, airy tree which grows along highways receiving no care and yet is stunning: in form, bloom and  foliage.

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The leaves are tiny, delicate and bright green. They form on a long leaf stalk and are paired opposite one another.

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The Retama is a Texas beauty.  I’m glad it graces my garden.

The pairing of a not-in-bloom Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata and Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, provides lots of lushness.

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The Mexican Orchid TreeBauhinia mexicana, returned after our cold winter.  It hasn’t bloomed yet, but the leaves on this little tree have always reminded me of ungulate hooves.

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Really, how often does one have an excuse to use that word??  Ungulate

The American Agave, Agave americana, in the container  provides a striking contrast with the Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior.

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If you look closely at the photo, top right, you can see The Husband’s bicycle, wheel a whirl, as he pedals to work. That’s a brave man in Austin’s traffic.

The unfurling of new Agave growth.

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Beautiful.

The Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima, is lovely with the YarrowAchillea millefolium, in the background.

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Both plants have delicate-looking foliage, but are hardy choices for our challenging soil and climate.

Another look at the Yarrow,  a summertime favorite of mine.

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I love this shot of the Sparkler SedgeCarex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’, behind (and above!) the Uruguayan Firecracker Plant, Dicliptera suberecta.

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The spiky, variegated ‘Sparkler’ looms over the soft, gray-green Firecracker Plant–they are opposite in  the foliage spectrum, but a nice combination.  The Firecracker doesn’t  bloom often, though it’s pretty when it happens.  I chose this plant primarily for its lovely foliage.  The ‘Sparkler’ is relatively new for me and so far, I love it.  It was evergreen during the winter and seems like a winner for summer as well.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting this festival of June foliage!

 

 

Wildflower Wednesday, May 2014

Here in Austin, Texas, May is quite pleasant and we’ve enjoyed some rain.  Yipppy!  Even better, our lakes have received some of that rain.  Double yippy!  We’re still in drought and the lakes are low, but at least we’ve had some relief.  Central Texas wildflowers continue their seasonal segue into summer bloom.  Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday to encourage and celebrate gardeners utilizing regional wildflowers in their home gardens.

My Yarrow, Achilliea millefolium, is especially beautiful this year.

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Yarrow is an excellent perennial for Central Texas.  It sports pretty white flowers which will fade to an attractive tawny brown as summer progresses.

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PigeonberryRivina humilis, is a small, delicate looking ground cover with sweet flower spikes at the top of the stems.

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Luscious red berries will develop after the blooms fade and those berries are favorites with many birds, including their namesake pigeons.

The combination of  pink Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus,  sunny Engelmann’s (or Cutleaf) Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, and deep blue ‘Henry Duelburg’ SageSalvia farinacea, continues its happy riot of color this spring.

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Heartleaf Skullcap, Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata,

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is a gorgeous, cool season ground cover.   It spreads prolifically, but is easily controlled by pulling up individual plants as needed.  With beautiful blue blooms and soft, grey-green leaves,

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it fills in the late spring/early summer garden.  By mid-to-late July, Heartleaf Skullcap will be dormant, reappearing with cooler fall temperatures.

And always in my gardens: Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

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I don’t think a garden is complete without some variety of this endemic American perennial.

Planted with Engelmann’s Daisy,

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or Heartleaf Skullcap,

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or Zexmenia, it is a perfect companion plant in full-to-part sun conditions.

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It’s a favorite flower for pollinators.

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Purple Coneflower is the bomb.

The xeric  Zexmenia, Wedelia texana,  begins its long bloom cycle in May.

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It’s another wildflower that pollinators prefer.

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Even without a dinner companion, Zexmenia are lovely and tough perennials.

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Planting native plants and wildflowers is the easiest and a beautiful way to a fabulous, regionally appropriate perennial garden.  Rip out your grass, plant native wildflowers and perennials and celebrate your sense of place in our world.

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Happy Wildflower Wednesday!