August Blooms

It’s hot August and hot-hued blooms are more than a match for the heat wave that defines recent days in Austin, Texas, USDA zone 8b. The flowers are fine as the day heats up, but the gardener becomes sweaty and grumpy.  Early morning is the best time to appreciate the heat-loving blooming bonanza.  

In my shady garden, I grow only two Pride of BarbadosCaesalpinia pulcherrima; both receive late morning to late afternoon direct sunshine.  I adore the full-of-pulchritude flowers, but each of my individual plants are, truth be told, thinner and less lush than those around town which grow in all-day sun.  

I’m not complaining, especially when an early migrating Monarch stops by for a sip of the sweet stuff that the flowers offer in abundance.  In fact, these blooms are pollinator magnets and there’s always something flitting about and alighting on the bright blooms.

 

Turk’s capMalvaviscus arboreus, is a signature plant in my gardens, as they bloom well in shade–which my garden has plenty of–as well as in full-to-part sun.  These native Texas shrubs bloom multitudes of petite fire-engine red hibiscus flowers from May until October.  Bees and hummingbirds are frequent visitors, and birds will enjoy the fruits that follow, later in autumn.  

    

More hot red blooms this hot August are found on the Firecracker plantRusselia equisetiformis.

A plant which thrives in both dappled shade and part sun, its tubular blooms attract native metallic bees and hummingbirds.   It’s a tough plant:  it requires little water, has no disease or insect problems, and is lovely in both flower and foliage.

I also grow a cousin to the R. equisetiformis, the Russelia coccinea.  My one little plant  has been in the ground for quite a few years and doesn’t bloom often.  

But, it’s blooming now–and how–and has done so for much of this summer.

I like how the arching branch full of red blooms visually bisects the purple Oxalis Triangularis.

Blooms are numerous along arching branches, bright red, but more fluted than the cigar-shaped R. equisetiformis blooms. The leaves are small, opposite and scalloped, rather than the fern-like foliage of the R. equisetiformis

The R. equisetiformis is native to Mexico and southward.  I’ve had both plants in my gardens for many years, but the R. equisetiformis is the more prolific of the two and seemingly better adapted, as mine grows in both shade and in some sun, whereas the R. coccinea seems happier in a spot protected by the Texas summer sun.

 

Mexican HoneysuckleJusticia spicigera, is back in blooming business after its June and July vacation.

The pollinators are cheering!  Well, they don’t exactly cheer, but there are few bloom clusters which don’t have attendant bees, busily working the blooms–all day, everyday.   It’s a popular place to eat!

A honeybee works the bloom,

…as does a Southern Carpenter bee,

…and a Horsefly-like Carpenter bee.

 

Another two plants which thrive in summer’s heat are the Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, and Firebush, Hamelia patens. 

Like the other hot plants in this post, both of these shrubs produce blooms that pollinators love.  Shortly before I caught this shot of the Flame Acanthus flower, it was feeding a female Black-chinned hummingbird.  The hummer buzzed away with an annoyed chirp directed at me, but the flower remained, posed for a photo.

A native metallic bee was more cooperative with the photography session as it ignored me and worked a bloom cluster of  the Firebush.

It’s hot.  It’s August.  There are still a few more weeks of oven-like temperatures–can you tell that I’m weary of the heat?  That said, my garden and its heat worshiping blooms are doing just fine.

Autumn is just around the corner.  I can’t wait.

For more awesome August blooms, check out May Dreams Gardens and its celebration of blooms galore.

Red Hot

It’s hot, hot, hot!  That’s a common, though tiresome, refrain this time of year here in Austin, Texas as we’re all incessantly whining about summer’s heat.

Or maybe it’s just me who’s whining?

Handling the heat better than I are some heat-loving perennials, currently blooming, and instead of whining, they’re shining.  The Firecracker plant, Russelia equisetiformis, scoffs at summer’s heat and humidity, putting on a red-hot bloom show–with no intermission–for months at a time.  This one, which is situated in my shady front garden,

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…softens a corner between a pathway and sitting area.

The red-orange tubular flowers attract tiny native metallic bees, though photos of such are hard to come by–the bees fly too fast and disappear into the floral tubes, rich in nectar and pollen.

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You can catch a glimpse of purple-foliaged Purple heart augmenting the cheery red cascade of Firecrackers.

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A different clump of Firecracker plant in my back garden adds to the tropical look around the pond.

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Like the front garden Firecracker, this one has bloomed continuously since winter, because neither specimen froze to the ground due to the mild winter of 2015-16.

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The pond Firecracker also enjoys a purple neighbor in the pond waterfall perennial called Ruby Red Runner.

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Flame acanthusAnisacanthus quadrifidus, a heat-loving native Texas shrub with petite, bright red-to-orange blooms, is in full bee and hummingbird attracting mode.

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This single bloom plays peek-a-boo through the foliage of a companion Plains goldeneye, but you can see some of its flaming partners in the background.

 

Another garden buddy, FirebushHamelia patens, in keeping with  the theme of red-hot beauties, is a real garden hot-shot.

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Like the Firecracker plant, my Firebush never froze to the ground and has grown quite tall (almost 4 feet) because of this year’s non-winter.  My parents planted one many years ago in their garden in Corpus Christi, Texas (along the Gulf of Mexico) which has a more tropical climate than Austin.  It’s rarely been pruned and is–I kid you not–nearly two stories tall and  easily 20 feet wide.  My measly little shrub  has a lot of growing to catch up with that!

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The scarlet blooms with their yellow throat make this an attractive source for hummingbirds.

 

Another blazing beauty in bloom is a surprise Spider lily, Lycoris radiata.  

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Typically, these stunning bulbs push their flowers up and out, seemingly overnight, in late August or September.  But this one decided to grace the garden a little early.

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A flamboyant, red-hot late summer treat!

As this is posted, our triple-digit heat wave is broken.  Rain is falling and is forecasted for the next few days.  For Texans, rain in early August is a gift–and tremendously appreciated. Oh, it’ll toast up again, rest assured.  But the long, dry Texas summer is being shown to the door and autumn’s second spring blooming cycle arrival is eagerly awaited.

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

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, 

IMGP3068.new …brightens the garden with its scarlet blooms, while Henry Duelberg salviaSalvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’ provides spikes of blue.

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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.