Bloom Day, August 2014

Celebrating August blooms,  I’m thanking Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this fun flower meme.   With sporadic rains and relatively mild temperatures this summer, there are fewer burnt-toast blossoms in Austin’s August.

My Mexican Orchid Tree, Bauhinia mexicana, has bloomed on and off all summer.

Elegant, snowy blossoms cool a shady spot on hot Texas afternoons. These flowers are  a favorite of Black Swallowtail Butterflies.

In stark contrast with the white Mexican Orchid, but also favored by butterflies, is the Pride of BarbadosCaesalpinia pulcherrima.  Tropical-hot orange and yellow,

… these drama queens thrive in the heat.

Royal SageSalvia guaranitica, blooms stunningly in early and mid-spring, but not as commonly though summer.

This year though,  a smattering of midnight blue gorgeousness has graced the two royal specimens in my gardens.

With multiple flowers opening everyday, the Lemon Rose MallowHibiscus calyphyllus dances through August.

Flouncing her petals open in the mornings, sashaying during afternoon breezes and bowing to heat at the end of the day, this mallow is a consummate performer.

The  blooms of Coral VineAntigonon leptopus, form on lacy loops along climbing tendrils.

I’ll replace its trellis next winter when this tropical, but hardy-for-the-Austin area herbaceous perennial freezes to the ground.

The trellis is a bit wonky, even for me.  The honeybees and I eagerly await the apex of Coral Vine’s blossoming period–soon, very soon!!

A close-up of a coral  Autumn SageSalvia greggii, flower,

…it belongs to a woody shrub native to Texas which produces a variety of colors.  I like this soft coral pink–it’s the best blooming salvia in my gardens this year.

The bright red Martha Gonzales Rose, Rosa ‘Martha Gonzales’, flowers throughout summer.

I wish mine received a little more sun–it would bloom even more.  This is a terrifically tough antique rose for Central Texas.

The Mexican HoneysuckleJusticia spicigera, returned full-force after our hard winter.

It’s orange clusters await early fall visits by butterflies and the occasional hummingbird.

The shrub is covered in tubular goodness now and that’s likely to continue into the fall months.

This pairing of pink and blue is too sweet!

The creeping groundcover, Leadwort Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, produces sky blue florets,

…which beautifully complement the small periscope blooms atop the stems of Pink Skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens.

And still screaming: Summer! Summer! Summer!–is the sunflower de jour.

Or rather, sunflower de l’ete.

While new flowers open daily,

…those spent blossoms that have gone to seed are providing yummy munchies for the local finches.

Happy finch!

Visit May Dreams Gardens for more blooming beauties this Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

We’re Not Hobbits

I let it happen again.

Somehow I managed not to notice that the Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus),  was draping, ever-lower, over the rickety arch.

Every year, I promise myself that in August, as the Coral Vine begins its fall growth spurt and bloom-up, that I’ll control the vine so that it doesn’t grow too low into the arch.

And once again, I was so entranced with this lovely vine and its sweet, little blooms, that I didn’t have the self-discipline to better control its growth.  So, until it freezes, we have to bend over to walk through the arch.  We’re not a tall family, but we’re not hobbits, either.

Well, there are worse things to deal with in the garden.

My garden hasn’t experienced the first frost of the year.  I know some outlying areas around Austin dipped below the freeze point, but  in central Austin, we’re still green ‘n growing.  Even so, I thought it best to snap a few photos of my Coral Vine before winter’s chill.

This gorgeous vine is native to Mexico, but very common in the mid-to-southern parts of Texas.  It has lovely heart-shaped leaves,

and strands of lacy, pink blooms.

In Austin, it tends to bloom in the latter part summer and into fall, until the first freeze and then, it’s a goner.  It grows from a large tuber and the new strands will appear late in the spring.  Established plants grow remarkably quickly once the temperatures warm.  I  don’t spy new growth until late April and my arch is usually covered within a month.   Coral Vine is drought and heat tolerant.  It will produce a smattering of blooms in the summer,

but its main bloom time begins in August.  Mine is usually swarming with bees–so much so, that the arch is animated with movement.  However, in this drought year, the vine didn’t grow quite as rampantly, didn’t bloom as prolifically  and there weren’t as many bees buzzing about.  Still, Coral Vine remains a favorite of those who do visit.

About three years ago, the Coral Vine was completely covered with blooms and therefore, with bees.  I frequently observed an anole lizard, who apparently lived in the vine.  He would saunter out from somewhere in the vine to bee hunt.  I only saw him actually snatch a bee once for his meal, but he was a big, healthy guy, so I guess he was getting plenty of bees to eat.

Coral Vine is a wonderful vine to grow on a trellis or fence.  It’s beautiful, easy, fast-growing, a great wildlife plant.

Just make sure that it doesn’t grow so much that you have to machete your way through its thicket.