Spring Things

In this post, there will be no philosophical musings, no preaching about pollinators or planting for wildlife.  Spring is in full flush with fresh florals opening each and every day.

Spring being spring, it’s all about the flowers.

This cheery bit of yellow, Golden groundsel, produces a sprightly sprays of spring flowers and a year-round, drought-tolerant groundcover.

Golden groundsel (Packera obovata)

The Texas mountain laurel is famed for its beauty and fragrance.  Spring breezes carry the iconic bouquet throughout Austin for weeks, though I notice the heady grape juice scent mostly after nightfall.

Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

During daylight hours, I sigh at the stunning blooms and appreciate what it offers pollinators.

Migrating Monarch butterfly nectaring at the blooms.

The tubular flowers on Coral honeysuckle vine pop in spring, but there are always a few clusters gracing the vine throughout summer.

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

I finally found a home for Carolina jessamine in my garden.  Requiring full sun, there is one spot in my garden–and one only spot–where this spring-only bloomer can grow successfully. Carolina is repaying me with a second spring set of blooms.

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Trees bloom too!  The catkins of the Texas oak tree vie for attention with new green foliage.

Texas red oak (Quercus buckeyi)

I like the lone double acorn cap, affixed firmly to the branch.  It hung onto the branch through winter and is now keeping company with the catkins and the new leaves.  I wonder if it’ll still be there in mid-summer?

It’s been easy to spot native and wintering birds as they perch in the bare-limbed trees.  Going forward, those observations will become more challenging as the deciduous trees leaf out.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Of course, what is up must come down, and that is certainly true of the oak catkins.  I’ll be cleaning the pond when all the oak catkins and powdery pollen is down and done.  But walkways, patio covers, and roof gutters also need some tidying.  Let the sneezing commence!

Shooting stars?  Garden fairies?  Nope, these darling dancers are the Yellow columbines beginning their blooming season!   I’ll enjoy these charmers into late April or May, and so will their pollinators.

Yellow columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)

Pink-tinged columbines, another Texas native, also provide a month or two of pretty pollinator action alongside their yellow compadres.

Wild red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Spiderworts dot roadsides, countrysides, fence lines, and my gardens with their purple-to-pink prettiness.  There are many varieties of these wildflowers, but I only grow the Giant spiderwort.  My specimens were on the verge of blooming when we were hit with a freeze–our only real freeze of this year–last week.  Still, quite a few are open for business and more are in the process of developing.  On the upside of enjoying fewer blooms this year is that there will be fewer volunteers next year requiring weeding. With gardening, it’s always good to take a positive spin.

P1170382copy

Giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea)

 

I garden in Austin, Texas (zone 8b) with mostly, but not exclusively, native Texas plants.  It’s been a while since I joined in with Carol’s fun May Dreams Gardens GBBD, but I’m happy to renew my participation.   Happy blooming!

An Easy Task

It’s a simple chore, this business of observing the growing season’s debut, a chore that requires only looking out the window or strolling along the pathway. Each day brings new life in the form of opening blooms, wafting tree catkins, and emerging wildlife ready for their pollinating, nesting, and procreating work.

Golden groundselPackera obovata, brightens March with full-of-sunshine-beauty.

A variety of small pollinators are attracted to these sweet flowers.  A tiny Miner(?) bee and her bee buddies are all over the shocking yellow blooms each day, this spring.

It looks like there might be a spider nearby–watch out little bees!

 

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, flush with terra cotta petals, beckon swiftly flying native metallic bees into alluring yellow throats.

The bees were  too fast for me to photograph competently, but the blooms held their position. Crossvine is one of Central Texas’ earliest blossoming vines.

Thanks to spring breezes, the Crimson flowers of the Old Gay Hill rose are accompanied by the downed catkins of a neighboring Red Oak tree.

 

Pink is the true color of the Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea,  just entering a long, glorious bloom cycle.

 

Another spring pink is the native to Central Texas, Hill Country penstemonPenstemon triflorus.

The tubular flowers typically align along tall bloom spikes, though this spring, the whole apparatus of this particular specimen nestles close to the ground.  The one currently in bloom waits for action from native bees, its stripes serving as a runway to a luscious nectar and pollen-filled destination.

Autumn sageSalvia greggii, blooms in a variety of colors.

This coral beauty is a reliable spring and fall bloomer, taking a break during our toasty summers, though it maintains a tidy, evergreen form in the heat.  Like so many other plants in my garden, the shrub is currently decorated with Red Oak.  The troop of Horsefly-like Carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis, who reside in my garden have no trouble finding the sweet spot(s) of these lovely blooms.

 

Another blooming vine, the Coral honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, is also a bee magnet.

Fortunately, this gorgeous bee (Sweat bee, Augochloropsis metallica ?)  rested between forays into the flowers, allowing for its capture in photo form.

Blooms are boss and for a look at a spring-flowering festival, check out Carol’s May Dreams Gardens celebrating all things blooming this March.

 

A Parade of Pretties: Bloom Day for March

I’m not going to pretend that this post is anything more than a runway fashion show of the botanical kind.  What follows is a shameless and giddy celebration of the the bounty of blooming beauty that is early spring in my Austin, Texas, zone 8b, garden.

Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata, hit its flowering stride since last profiled  for its beautiful foliage a few weeks ago.

IMGP5034_cropped_3627x3194..new

Slender bloom stalks hold aloft the blasts of brilliant yellow,

IMGP5028.new

…and the gardener smiles.  Tiny critters of all sorts visit–to rest,

IMGP5031_cropped_4083x2323..new

…and pollinate.

IMGP5188_cropped_3166x3410..new

IMGP5174_cropped_3567x3414..new

I’m not thrilled when a fly makes its way into my kitchen, but am happy to see it sipping the sweet stuff from the Golden Groundsel.

SpiderwortTradescantia, plants are strutting their flower-power and keeping the honeybees busy.

IMGP5007.new

This Giant Spiderwort  keeps company with garden furniture.

The many Spiderwort clumps my garden enjoy some variability in size and coloration and I suspect that there’s more than one species growing and cross-mingling through the seasons.

Coral Honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, a vine hosting dripping clusters of tubular beauty,

IMGP5017.new

…are surrounded by tiny native metallic bees, which I can only manage a vague photograph of.

IMGP5225.new

Actually, that’s not really true, but you’ll have to wait until my own Wildlife Wednesday on April 6th to see some slightly better photos of one of the stunningly gorgeous and fast-flying metallic wild bees.

This Coral Honeysuckle bloom cluster and the not-quite-open Spiderwort look like they’re trying to reach one another for a smooch.

IMGP5237_cropped_3898x3277..new

Well, it is spring, you know–the season of love!

Yellow Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana,

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

…and the hybrid between A. chrysantha and A. canadensis, pose beautifully and are available for nectaring, too–if you possess the right proboscis, that is.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

The A. canadensis is a smaller, mostly brick-red columbine.  But when cross-pollination occurs, the flower of the hybrid is typically larger, with more yellow and a blush of red.  Over the years, the columbines in my gardens have hybridized and I’m delighted with nature’s improvisations.

Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua, is also open for business,  awaiting interviews from native bees.  So far, it’s been teeny, tiny bees, too fast for this photographer to capture with any competence.

IMGP5044_cropped_4443x3180..new

The first blooms of many-to-come Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, have unfurled their pinky-purple glory, welcoming spring and their lengthy growing season.

IMGP5050_cropped_4240x3116..new

Another first is with this Brazos Blackberry bloom, which heralds more of the same.

IMGP5070.new

Once those flowers are spent, berries will not be far behind.  Yum!  I can taste the blackberries now–as well as the blackberry cobbler.  Bring’em, blooms!

Dancing at the ends of slender bloom stalks all winter and continuing their performance in the spring breezes, the cheery, bouncy Four-nerve Daisy (Hymenoxys), Tetraneuris scaposa,  flowers are nearly non-stop bloomers.

IMGP5043.new

Tired of these tidy, singleton blooms?  How about this cascade of Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

IMGP5071.new

A tough Texas native that is best when growing out of poor soil or rock, this one is content and flowering in my Green Tower, which is where I grow veggies and most of my herbs.  The Blackfoot Daisy buddies-up to a thyme plant which also flourishes in the Tower.

IMGP5180_cropped_3750x3359..new

Due to the non-winter this year, Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, wasn’t freeze-knocked to the the ground and thus is blooming with orange abandon this early spring.

IMGP5098.new

Mexican Honeysuckle boasts constant pollinator activity, especially from a variety of bees.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

There’s more where that came from!

IMGP5271_cropped_4552x2747..new

There are too many blooms and not enough time to showcase them all–they’ll just have to participate in another parade!

IMGP5273.new

Thanking Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.

IMGP5274.new