The Lily and the Crag

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines crag as a steep, rugged rock or cliff.  As for lily, well, I think this is visually self-explanatory:

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Pretty, isn’t it?   And hardy too, just like the first part of its name–enduring like a rock, that is.

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Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  blooms beautifully in my gardens from September into November, sometimes well into December.

Tough-n-lovely, this excellent Texas member of the Liliaceae family is sorely underutilized by gardeners from Central Texas southward to the Valley.  Here in Austin, I’ve only seen it sold at one nursery, Barton Springs Nursery (BSN).  BSN labels this plant as “Copper Spiders” but as I researched this plant, I’ve never seen that term used anywhere else.  A long-time BSN employee recently shared with me the story that BSN originally purchased “Copper Spiders” from Yucca Do Nursery and that’s the name the online nursery dubbed it. A quick look at the Yucca Do’s website led me to the the Echeandia texensis page and it’s confirmed that “Copper Spiders” is definitively identified as E. texensis.

No matter what the folks in the nursery trade call it, this gardener calls it fabulous!

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There are two other Echeandia species in Texas, E. chandleri and E. flavescensbut I’ve been fairly sure for several years now that what I’ve purchased at BSN and have been happily enjoying in my gardens is  E. texensis.  All three Echeandia are commonly called “Texas Craglily”  or “Craglily”;  the E. flavescens is also called Torrey’s Craglily, and E. chandleri is known by the poetic Lila de los llanos.

When I first saw the Texas Craglily at BSN  (four? five?) years ago on a hot July afternoon (yeah, I garden in the summer), I remember thinking that I’d seen a photo of it in the seminal Texas gardening book, Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region,  by Sally and Andy Wasowski, which was my gardening guide and muse for many years. In fact, the Wasowski’s wrote about the E. chandleri, (page 177!).  but the bloom and foliage are very similar to the E. texensis.  

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I’m no botanist, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s been some hybridization in nature and cultivation through the nursery trade.  But whatever this plant is, I’m glad to make room for it in my gardens–and you should too if you live in Central and South Texas.

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Dying back at the first hard freeze, it disappears until late spring–sometimes not returning in full until May or June.

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During summer the foliage returns quickly and is attractive and well-behaved.

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It’s always a bonus in the garden to host plants with elegant grassy structure, especially when it’s lush and easy-care.  In my heavy soil, the foliage only grows to about a foot in height and width. Sometime in late August or early September, the stalks begin shooting upwards and bloom development begins, mostly toward the top of the panicles.

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A glorious autumnal yellow-orange, the sweet little blooms are pollinator magnets.

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Most of my Texas Craglily plants grow in part-sun, but it’s a perennial that likes lots of bright sunshine. Some of mine leeeaaan over to catch the rays.

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Others are tall and stand at full floral attention.  The more “balloon” look to the petals indicates early morning before they’ve stretched and opened.  Or maybe they just need their morning coffee.

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I have a number of Texas Craglily specimens planted alongside Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ and Gregg’s Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii:  it’s a winning combination.

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Peeking between some garden art, the graceful foliage holds its own.

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I see bees and butterflies feeding at the blooms throughout Texas Craglily’s bloom period, though funnily enough, I don’t have a single photo to prove that.  Additionally, none of my Craglily plants have ever produced seedlings–that could happen, but it hasn’t thus far.

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So I’m off to BSN to purchase just one more because I’ve figured out another spot where one is absolutely REQUIRED and will be perfectly situated.  And just in case there’s a run on these beauties, I asked a kind employee to hold two for me!  Ha!

I have no information about its attractiveness to deer, but if you live in or near Austin, try this lily in your garden–in full or part sun and either thin or heavy soil. Texas Craglily is hardy enough to handle the cracks, crags, rocks and clay, yet dainty enough to decorate the Texas autumn garden.

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Happy planting!!

Texas Craglily is a native plant and Gail at clay and limestone promotes natives  and wildflowers for the home garden through her Wildflower Wednesday gardening meme. Thanks to Gail for hosting and teaching others about the importance and beauty of wildflowers.

 

Bloom Day, December 2014

Celebrating blooming things with Carol of May Dreams Gardens on this last Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day of 2014, I’d like to share some currently flourishing flowers from my gardens.  It’s been mild here in Austin, Texas, though a few light frosts have come our way, none were significantly cold enough to dampen the blossoming spirit.

Wonderful native perennials continue strutting their blooming stuff late this growing season. Two native salvia species are providing nice nectar sources for passing bees and butterflies and a color show for the resident gardener.   The Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, 

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Planted near to those two perennials is a group of  Texas Craglily, Echeandia texensis.  

IMGP3086.new There are few blooms left, but many seed pods readying for future golden lily loveliness.

Some of my GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, still bloom. IMGP3053.new

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I don’t really think I need to add anything to that!  These individuals face west and receive the warmth of the afternoon autumn sun.

A few Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, flowers grace the gardens as well.

IMGP3057.new I don’t recall ever seeing this plant bloom so late before–I’m not complaining.

Native to areas west of Texas, but not specifically Austin, is the Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.   

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In my gardens it’s a reliable cool season bloomer–at least through the beginning of summer.  The one mature Globe Mallow in my gardens is beginning a nice bloom production and that’s likely to happen throughout winter.

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There are always a few Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, charming the gardens. This one is planted with an unknown variety of basil-in-bloom,IMGP3046.new

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…which I’d know the name of if I’d bothered to keep the tag.  Ahem.

And here, Coneflower is partnered with the equally sweet Four-nerve Daisy or Hymenoxys, Tetraneuris scaposa.

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I love native Texas plants.

As for the non-natives, well, they’re pretty cool, too.  The Firecracker or Coral PlantRusselia equisetiformis, requires a hard freeze to knock it back.

IMGP3059.new Obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

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I feel good about this plant–it has such a tropical look, but in reality it’s water-wise and tolerant of the cooler season.

Roses are responding in kind to our temperate December by blossoming again. Whoop!

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Glorious in vibrant red are these blooms of the Old Gay Hill rose.

Finally, the Potato VineSolanum laxum, has entered its bloom time.  This vine twines up one side of my swing beam and blossoms primarily in the cool months here in Austin. It’s a timid vine in my garden, never growing too large.    I forget about it during our long, warm  growing season–it’s there, but unimpressive. Once the temperatures cool, its lovely clusters of dainty, creamy-bell flowers provide interest for my honeybees, still foraging on warm afternoons.

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Enjoy whatever blooms you have–indoors or out.  Then check out the many bloom posts by visiting May Dreams Gardens.

 

Foliage Follow-up, May 2014

We’ve received a little rain here in Austin, Texas and so continue our verdant spring before the summer heat fries everything in the garden.  I particularly like this lush threesome of the glossy, dark green-leafed Star Jasmine vine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, fronted by the soft, graceful Inland Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, further fronted by an arching American BeautyberryCallicarpa americana.

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I’ll remove the Inland Sea Oats next year to give the Beautyberry room to grow. For now, I  like the array of foliage these three plants provide in this shady spot.

Sedum, Sedum potosinum, is delightful in the garden; its delicate, fleshy foliage hugs the ground and rocks as it spreads.  It is attractive before it blooms,

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and during bloom time.

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All of the Fennel plants in my gardens are still gorgeous this May.

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I’ve seen a few butterfly caterpillars chomp, chomp, chomping, but apparently not enough to eat the Fennel to the ground.

This Pale-leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida,  

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echoes the yellow of its home with stripes along the edges of its leaves.

I fell in love with the Corkscrew Rush, Juncus effusus, when I visited another garden.

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It requires more watering than I typically tolerate from my plants (twice/week during our summers), but I don’t consider that onerous and this sedge plant is a fun addition to my gardens.

I enjoy the play of late afternoon light on this Soft-leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia.

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I have several of these non-native yuccas in my gardens and appreciate their tolerance of my somewhat heavy soil.

The pairing of the bright green, tropical foliage of the not-yet-in-bloom Turk’ s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, with the gray-green, fuzzy Heartleaf Skullcap, Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata, was a gardening serendipity that I’ve encouraged.

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Finally, there’s little but foliage going on here–and such a nice variety of shape and form, if not color.

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At the far left is the soft, silvery Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuisima, with spiky  Iris flanking its right.  A tiny-leafed, ground-hugging Thyme completes the trio.  Two plants from the Malvaceae family, Lemon Rose MallowHibiscus calyphyllus, and Turk’s Cap fill the center/right section of the photo.  The foliage of those two are similar–wide and heart-shaped.  To the right and front of the photo, Fall Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium and Texas Craglily, Echeandia texensis, both sport foliage which contrasts with the tropical looking Malvaceae plants: the Craglily’s slender grass-like lily leaves and the perennial aster’s narrow leaves.

Actually, if you look closely, you can see some blooms–at the top-center of the plant group is a cluster of Heartleaf Skullcap–its blue/purple flowers and fuzzy, gray-green foliage in total contradiction to everything else.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting the May salute to foliage.