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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Bloom Day, September 2014

September heralds a change from the blisteringly hot to the merely hot in Austin, Texas. This gardener welcomes that subtle, but fundamental change:  the shorter days, the approaching autumn cool and if we’re lucky, some rainy days ahead.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this lovely blogging meme celebrating all that flower.

It’s somewhat about the Ruellia this time of year in my gardens.  I grow both a native, Drummond’s Wild PetuniaRuellia drummondiana, like these cuties peeking out through foliage,

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…and these that aren’t  quite so shy.

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I also grow a well-behaved cultivar, the Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia, Ruellia brittoniana, ‘Katie’s Dwarf’,  blossoming beautifully during the late summer and autumn months.

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Additionally, a less mannerly variety, the Chi-Chi Ruellia, Ruellia brittoniana ‘Chi-Chi’, makes its home in my gardens.  Here is it nicely co-mingling with the blooming and berrying PigeonberryRivina humilis,

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…and flowering alone.

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I love the first two Ruellia species and have a complicated relationship with the third.

The various Salvia in my gardens, like this red Autumn SageSalvia greggii,

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…really strut their stuff in the fall. Flowers that appear on and off during our hot summer, the blossoms on these woody, native shrubs will consistently impress both pollinators and gardeners throughout our productive autumn months.

A different salvia, the white Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, was knocked back this past winter with our  late freezes,

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…but are lush with snowy, bee-friendly blooms now and will bee that way until there is a killing frost.

Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, opens its Barbie Doll Pink blooms each morning, remaining open longer as the days get shorter.

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Another perennial with pretty-in-pink blossoms, is the Purple Heart, Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart’.

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I grew up with Purple Heart rampant in my mother’s garden–I have warm memories of playing near stands of this naturalized ground cover with its dramatic purple foliage and charming blossoms.

Sweet Basil produces tiny flowers for pollinators,

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… and the native, wildlife perennial, Lindheimer’s Senna, Senna lindheimeriana, blooms from August into September for the pollinators, then sets seeds for the birds later in fall.

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I always forget that I planted these Red Spider Lily bulbs,  Lycoris radiata,

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…. until they pop up, overnight it seems.

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These are such gorgeous flowers! I don’t know why I can’t remember that the bulbs are in the ground, waiting for the first of the September rains, to grace the gardens with their exotic beauty. The strappy foliage (which emerges after blooming) disappears in the late winter/early spring.  The memory of those exquisite blossoms should stay with me, but I’m always surprised to welcome them again, each September.

Finally, a Monarch butterfly is now visiting my gardens, sipping on his preferred blooms of the Tropical MilkweedAsclepias curassavica.

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My heart lifted to see this North American beauty after all I’ve read about the very serious decline in the monarch butterfly population.

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Go Monarchs!

Here in Austin we enjoy a second, spectacular blooming season, beginning just about now.  Fall blooms abound and there’s more to come!  For today though, check out blooms from everywhere at May Dreams Gardens.