It’s Purple Time

My garden is graced with purple:  purple blooms, foliage, and fruits continue with a seasonal tradition of a purple-to-lavender champion performances during the long Central Texas summer. Of course other colors dot the landscape, but plants which rock the purple hue thrive after months of heat, with (typically) little rain, and rule the month of August.  It’s purple time!

Foliage recovery is in full swing for this Branched foldwing, Dicliptera brachiata,            , which appeared unannounced, but welcomed, in my garden a couple of years ago.

Munched stems are recovering their green.

This restrained and unobtrusive little native perennial hosts the Texan Crescent butterfly.

Texan Crescent nectaring in spring on Golden groundsel.

My garden enjoys a nearly year-round population of these pollinators because I grow several of its host plants in the Acanthus family, including the Branched foldwing. The caterpillars do a nibbling number on the foldwing’s leaves, but the plant rebounds with aplomb, leafing out again and again, and setting blooms in late summer.

Dainty and unpretentious, the lavender–not really purple–flowers provide for tiny pollinators.

 

Drummond’s ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, is another native Texan that loves the heat and demonstrates that affection with daily doses of purple goodness.

Opening early in the morning and closed by late afternoon, the blooms are loved by many-a-buzzing pollinator.  I’m rather fond of them myself!

I like the foliage, too. An attractive green-gray, it’s full and lush from spring until the first hard freeze–whenever that happens.  I like to mix it with some evergreen plants, so that there’s some winter action while the ruellia plants rest up for summer.

Cast Iron Plant, Iris, and Sparkler Sedge provide some winter green structure alongside the ruellia.

 

The cultivar, Katie’s Dwarf ruellia, also called Mexican petunia by Texas AgriLife, produces similar blooms as the native ruellias, though larger and more purpley colored. The lance-like foliage structure and ground-cover growth habit allows this plant to front large plants beautifully.  Katie’s Dwarfs also fits well into a narrow garden.

A water-wise wonder,  I’ve had a couple of these tough Katie’s grow out of rocks;  that’s a plant I can get behind!

With a  bouquet-like demeanor, the Katie’s Dwarf bloom spectacularly in shade, in full sun, and everything in between.

 

Purple-luscious fruits of the American beautyberry,  Callicarpa americana, are nearly ready for the appetites of hungry Mockingbirds and Blue Jays.

Gone are the petite pink blooms which decorate this deciduous shrub in early summer. Instead, the fruits are morphing from green to garish metallic purple, preparing for the birds’ meals.

Beautyberry also has a graceful growing habit, lovely in any garden.

Beautyberry is a win for gardeners and for wildlife–and adds some purple vibe to my August garden.

The refreshing pond isn’t without its purple contribution in the form of a cleansing bog plant, Pickerel rush, Pontederia cordata.

With the ever-increasing shade thrown on my garden, these pretty blooms are less active with each passing summer.  I appreciate the foliage, but I miss the massive blooming show that was common 8-10 years ago when we first built the pond.  These blooms benefit from plenty of shining summer sun.

 

Another pond plant, this Ruby Red runner, an Alternanthera hybrid, adds a bit of purple-ish foliage fellowship to the waterfall.

I’m probably stretching the purple with this plant; I suppose it’s really more of a burgundy red, but I’ll lump Ruby Red into the purple camp.

Purple HeartSetcreasea pallida, is native to Mexico, but naturalized in many parts of Texas.  I grew up with this common groundcover; my mother planted it along with her banana plants.  No banana plants in my garden, but Purple Heart works in shade or sun as a border groundcover.

As well, I like it cascading over containers.  It brings a spot of color to a dark corner of the garden.

Reds, pinks, whites and yellows are biding their time for now, hunkering down against the blast of August heat.  Once the days are shorter and the rains more regular, the garden wheel of color will burst forward with a vivid spin.  But for the rest of August, I’ll treasure the purples for their late summer donations to garden color.

Pretty purples!

Joining with Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day to celebrate the blooms of August, please pop over to May Dreams Gardens to enjoy blooms from many gardens.

Not-Yet-Autumn-Greens

While today may be the autumnal equinox, it remains hot and humid here in Central Texas.  A wet and (for Texas) mild August lulled me into stupidly thinking that summer 2016 had breathed its last hot breath.  During this past week, summer returned with a fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-it’s-so-hot reminder that summer is not done with us yet.  While it’s been toasty, some of my hot season blooming favorites are now showing off  their cooling foliage.

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This lush group of perennials soothes my perspiring brow.

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This group includes Garlic chives,  Allium tuberosum,  Branched foldwing, Dicliptera brachiata,   Drummond’s ruellia,  Ruellia drummondiana, Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia, Ruellia britttoniana ‘Katie’s Dwarf’, and Gulf penstemon,  Penstemon tenuis.           .

There are some blooms flowering on these perennials.

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Looking closely, you can see the small, lavender flowers of the Branched foldwing and the larger flower of Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia.

Except for the spring blooming/summer seeding Gulf penstemon, all of these plants flower prolifically in July and August, slowing, but not ending, flower production during September and October.

The green onion-like foliage of Garlic chives pairs nicely with the full-leafed Drummond’s ruellia,

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…and mixes it up well with the petite leaves of the Branched foldwing.

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This particular group of Garlic chives hasn’t bloomed this year, but I  appreciate their slender leaves mingling with other foliage nearby.

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Throughout the warm months, there are always Texas Crescent butterflies, Anthanassa texana flitting in my garden.  Host plants for this little cutey insect are those  in the Acanthus family, like this Drummond’s ruellia, whose leaf serves as a resting spot for this Texas Crescent.

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A wider view of the Drummond’s ruellia, sans butterfly.imgp9963-new

Cooler weather is on its way in the next few days–the first cool front of the season!

I’m thanking Christina and her lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.  Check out her blog for foliage from many gardens and from many places, and then share your own leafy loveliness.

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Wildflower Wednesday, June 2014

Summer is in full swing in Austin–heat, blooms, heat, blooms.  I tire of the heat and humidity, but beautiful native wildflowers thrive in our sticky summers and today is the day to show them off.  Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting and promoting the use of native plants and wildflowers in the home garden.

A few years ago at the Lady Bird Johnson  Wildflower Center’s fall native plant sale, I bought a Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.

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It was a total impulse purchase and I’m glad for that particular lack of impulse control!  Each spring, this little annual (for me) pops up in a different place in my gardens.  This year?  It’s on the back patio, keeping the potted bougainvillaea company.  I’ll let it seed out this summer and who knows where it will appear next summer.

I must share a photo or two of my wonderful Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

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The quintessential summer perennial in my gardens, Coneflowers are tough, happy summer flowers.  They are great for pollinators and also are terrific as cut flowers indoors, if you’re so inclined.

The  Zexmenia, Wedelia texana, began blooming a little late this year, but is in full force now.

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Zexmenia is a lovely Texas flowering perennial and performs no matter how hot it is in Austin.

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I often pair Zexmenia with Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, in my gardens.

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From morning through mid-afternoon, the combination of the pink Rock Rose and the yellow  Zexmenia is pretty and fresh.  Both perennials require little water and are favorites of native pollinators. The hibiscus-like flowers of Rock Rose close with the heat mid-afternoon, leaving  the yellow Zexmenia to go it alone until the next sunrise.

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A few years ago, I collected seeds of Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana. I caught the first bloom of the season recently.

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This ruellia, which isn’t commonly available, doesn’t usually begin blooming fully until mid-to-late summer.  I was tickled to see one open early in the growing season.  It looks like the ants are happy about that too!

The ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia, Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ still sports its pretty bloom spikes.

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It’ll bloom until it’s too hot, then the ‘Henry’ rests, renewing its bloom cycle again with cooler autumn temperatures.  I’ll prune the ‘Henry’ to keep it tidy until its fall bloom cycle.

Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, is an excellent summer bloomer and another favorite of mine.

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It’s a superb  wildlife plant as well:  hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love its bright red blossoms and the birds devour its fruits in the fall.  It grows as a thick shrub,  so many lizards, birds and insects shelter in it.

The cheerful Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, should bloom through mid-summer.

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One reason I chose this wildflower for my gardens is that I noticed how many bees visit it in other gardens.  That hasn’t been true for this daisy this year and I’m not sure why, but Engelmann’s Daisy is still a bright spot in the garden.

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Lastly, this is a nice conglomeration of summer beauties together:

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Two native Texas perennials I haven’t profiled today, Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius, are blooming in this photo.  Usually, the Damianita takes a break in the summer after its profusion of spring blossoms.  Rock Penstemon is a hardy summer/fall bloomer.

What native wildflowers are in your garden?  For more wildflower goodness from many places, check out clay and limestone and its celebration of June wildflowers.