October Blooms

Spring has sprung!

Oh, that’s not right. But it is. Sort of.

Here in Central Texas, zone 8b, we’re enjoying our second spring, so called because the native annuals and perennials burst out with a bevy of blooms, celebrating the end of the hot season and the return of the cool.

And how cool are these lovelies? Gregg’s mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, are native to the southwest–Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A mostly autumn blooming groundcover, established plants produce a smattering of blooms during spring and summer. During months when the fuzzy blooms are on hiatus, the stars of this plant are the palmate, light green leaves. The combination of the lavender-blue blooms and the cheery green leaves gladdens this gardener’s heart.

This time of year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a mistflower group who doesn’t host a remarkable variety of pollinators, they’re all over these pretty blooms. That also gladdens this gardener’s heart.

Coral vine, Mexican creeper, Antigonon leptopus, is an old-fashioned vine, resplendent in dripping pink in the latter part of summer and well into the fall months.

I’ve grown this vine in my garden for many years. It resided in the back garden. It returned after winter each spring, climbing up and over a trellis during during the growing season, until that spot became too shady. About 3 years ago, I moved the hefty root to my front garden, where the vine receives ample sun. The vine is happy here, as are the honeybees, small native Perdita bees, and various butterfly types.

I love this vine and am comfortable with it where I garden, but Coral vine is designated as an invasive species here in Texas (click on the link above for more information) and so should be grown with caution and attention to nearby areas. I wouldn’t plant Coral vine if I lived near a greenbelt or natural area, because it’s known to seed out and once it is in a uncontrolled area, it can spread and displace native plants, which is never a good thing. In my years of hosting this vine, I’ve only seen 2 or 3 seedlings that germinated at the base of the plant. I’ve never seen birds nibble at any seeds, so I plan to keep it where it is–pink and pretty and full of the good stuff for bees and other pollinators.

The happy faces of Fall aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, arrive along with cooler temperatures–which makes everyone happy. These cheery, lavender asters don’t bloom for long, maybe 2 weeks in total. I have several groups of them, each of which bloom with slightly different times, so in my garden, the aster show lasts through much of October. For the rest of the growing season, the plant grows as a low shrub/ground cover with attractive, diminutive leaves. In winter, a hard freeze will knock back most of the foliage, leaving an evergreen rosette until new spring growth.

Another pollinator magnet, the asters always have plenty of nectaring business and often host rarely seen winged things. This Syrphid fly (?) is unknown to me; the closest ID I could find is Hoplitimyia constans. I’ll continue looking for an identification and update if I find a match. It’s a handsome critter, no doubt.

Sunshiny Plateau goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, is another native perennial, seeding out with abandon and rocking its yellow vibe with verve. Bees, butterflies, and gardeners all love this member of the Asteraceae family. I just realized that 3 of the 4 plants profiled for this post belong to this prolific family. Aster plants are garden stars!

Goldeneye volunteers pop up in my garden and depending upon where they land, I keep–or not. There are so many, I don’t mind tossing out a few. Well, I don’t mind too much. Goldeneye individuals grow tall, so I make some (rather) lame attempts at control, pruning it back a couple of times during summer. But once the fall rains arrive and Goldeneye send forth their end-of-season stems, gloriously topped with dabs of sunny delight, I don’t mess with them.

I stand, admire, and don some sunglasses.

In a work/storage area, I let these seed out, grow up, and have at it! The bees and butterflies love this buffet of pollen-n-nectar. The fun doesn’t end when the blooms end, because wrens and finches of various sorts swoop in for the seeds, assuring a good crop of Goldeneye for the next year.

There are always more Goldeneye.

Happy spring! Happy autumn! Happy blooms! Join in celebrating blooms along with Carol at May Dreams Garden and gardening friends. Pop over to appreciate blooms from many places.

It’s Fall, Y’all

Letting you know that it’s fall in Texas–thus, the y’all, y’all.  A conjunction of you + all, and common in the vernacular of the American South, it’s a friendly and practical  term for inclusion and invitation to a conversation.  This conversation is about the beginning of our second blooming season, so-named “Autumn” or “Fall” in most of the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Texas?  We usually refer to it as, I’m so glad summer’s over!!

While in most places plants are beginning the decline of growth and production in anticipation of winter, many of our tough customers are readying for their second spring. The days still reach into the low 90’s F, but nights and mornings are cool and lovely, and even the afternoon warmth feels different from the summer heat.  Or so I tell myself. Human rationalizations aside, with a smidge of rain and gentler temperatures becoming normative, every Texas gardener eagerly awaits the garden’s emergence from summer’s dormancy.

It’s about time!

Native to Argentina but naturalized throughout much of Texas, Oxblood  or Schoolhouse Lily Rhodophiala bifida, in my garden have unfolded in a couple of waves this fall.



The stratification of blooming time has been a nice change.  Usually these individual bulbs jut out of the ground, stalk with buds, then blooms atop, bursting open with showy flowers, all with a few days of one another.  Oxblood fade away until the next September, leaving only foliage as a reminder–and not even that remains after winter.

And there’s a romance in the garden, too, this early fall.


Hugs between this extrovert Oxblood and a reserved Garlic Chive, Allium tuberosum–I guess it’s true that opposites attract.

Another Garlic Chive waits alone, early in the morning,  for honeybee suitors.


A new-ish bloomer for me is this purple grape juice colored Autumn SageSalvia greggii x Salvia microphylla.


I purchased three plants from a locally owned nursery well over a year ago and am finally seeing clusters of blooms, though there were a smattering throughout summer.   The story told is that one of the employees of the nursery spied the mother plant, un-named and un-tagged,  at a big box store.  The plant was purchased, cuttings were taking, and now the big-box plant descendants are sold from time-to-time at that nursery, usually during summer.   It’s an attractive purple salvia, water-wise and tough, and beloved by my honey and native bees.


Stalking a honeybee as she worked, partially hidden in the grassy foliage of a Giant Liriope,  Liriope muscari  ‘Evergreen Giant’, I snapped shots of the pretty lavender bloom spikes.  If you look closely, you can see a little bee butt.


These ornamental and drought-tolerant grasses don’t bloom often, though they are very welcomed when they do, usually in early fall.


In late July I pruned the bountiful Henry Duelberg Sage, Salvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’, in preparation for fall blooms.  This beautiful native perennial is an excellent food source for wildlife–pollinators and seed-eaters–and provides a great fall (and spring/summer) flower show for me.



That show has begun and will not disappoint–either the pollinators or the gardener.


‘Henry’ is nice, planted in conjunction with the open-for-nectaring business, Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, blooming just behind.


I think this migrating Monarch butterfly,


..and pollen-gathering, nectar-sipping honeybee,


…would readily agree–huzzah for the fall bloomers!

The white and red Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, have blossomed for the past month or so, even before the moderate cooling.



Mexican Butterfly Vine,  Mascagnia macroptera, are showcasing cheery yellow blooms,


…and a few “butterfly” seedpods.



Fall Obedient, Physostegia virginiana, is a re-introduced perennial for me–I grew it many years ago.


I’m happy to host this charming bloomer and tough native again.  How did I go so long without it??

FrostweedVerbesina virginica,


GoldeneyeViguiera dentata,




…and Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, are full-flush with fall flowers.


The Rock Rose blooms crinkle a wee bit against the afternoon heat, but are staying open-ish.  That’s a definite change from the summer xeric practice of shuttering the petals by mid-afternoon.



Zexmenia,  Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida, are also back in top form.




All of these perennials are ready for visits from pollinators, and later for the seed-munching warblers, wrens and finches.

And my good friend,  sweet Asher-the-Dog?  He’s happy to rest on the cool pebbles, enjoying an early fall Texas morning.


Happy Autumn, y’all!