Cousins!

Spring just isn’t spring in my garden without the sunshine-cheery Golden groundselPackera obovata. 

The small patch has grown from two, four-inch pot sized plants popped into the ground four or five years ago to a respectable sized carpet with a seasonal  yellow flourish.  Also called Roundleaf goundsel, Roundleaf ragwort, and Squawweed, this native North American perennial is an excellent shade-loving ground-cover.  The foliage is attractive year-round  and the happy daisy flowers brighten the late winter/early spring garden.

In recent weeks and at the opposite end of my property from the groundsel, I’ve watched a singular plant growing in the middle of a mulched pathway.   The foliage is certainly interesting, but unfamiliar.

I enjoy surprises in the garden (well, not all of them…), so I decided I’d keep–or not–the plant once it bloomed and I could better identify it.  Well, the mystery plant has finally unfurled its flowers.

Clearly, this pretty is a relative of the Golden groundsel, though obviously a different sub-species.  I checked the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Database and it didn’t take long to discover that it is a ButterweedPackera glabella.  Also called Cress-leaf groundsel and Yellowtop (my favorite), it evokes the same spirit of spring as its cousin, the Golden groundsel.

The flowers are almost identical.

Yellowtop (Packera glabella)

Golden groundsel (Packera obovata)

 

Both plants exhibit interesting foliage.  The Golden’s base foliage is oval (thus the  ’round-leaf’ in several of its common names) and finely serrated.  Its bloom-stalk foliage is more lance-like and deeply lobed.

The Yellowtop’s foliage is also rounded and deeply lobed, but with smooth perimeters. The differential in leaf color between the two plants is primarily because of light and the different times of day that I shot the photos, though the Yellowtop is a smidge lighter green than the Golden groundsel.

I have no idea where this single Yellowtop came from and especially in the spot in which it grows.  While the Golden groundsel prefers shade (mine gets a bit of afternoon sun) and is a perennial evergreen, the Yellowtop is an annual which thrives in either sun or shade.  The LBJWC says that it is a prolific re-seeder and I hope they’re right because I’d love more of this little spring thing sprinkled in my gardens next year.

All in the family:  plant cousins book-ending my home garden–Golden groundsel,

…and Yellowtop.

Hello Spring!

 

An Easy Task

It’s a simple chore, this business of observing the growing season’s debut, a chore that requires only looking out the window or strolling along the pathway. Each day brings new life in the form of opening blooms, wafting tree catkins, and emerging wildlife ready for their pollinating, nesting, and procreating work.

Golden groundselPackera obovata, brightens March with full-of-sunshine-beauty.

A variety of small pollinators are attracted to these sweet flowers.  A tiny Miner(?) bee and her bee buddies are all over the shocking yellow blooms each day, this spring.

It looks like there might be a spider nearby–watch out little bees!

 

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, flush with terra cotta petals, beckon swiftly flying native metallic bees into alluring yellow throats.

The bees were  too fast for me to photograph competently, but the blooms held their position. Crossvine is one of Central Texas’ earliest blossoming vines.

Thanks to spring breezes, the Crimson flowers of the Old Gay Hill rose are accompanied by the downed catkins of a neighboring Red Oak tree.

 

Pink is the true color of the Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea,  just entering a long, glorious bloom cycle.

 

Another spring pink is the native to Central Texas, Hill Country penstemonPenstemon triflorus.

The tubular flowers typically align along tall bloom spikes, though this spring, the whole apparatus of this particular specimen nestles close to the ground.  The one currently in bloom waits for action from native bees, its stripes serving as a runway to a luscious nectar and pollen-filled destination.

Autumn sageSalvia greggii, blooms in a variety of colors.

This coral beauty is a reliable spring and fall bloomer, taking a break during our toasty summers, though it maintains a tidy, evergreen form in the heat.  Like so many other plants in my garden, the shrub is currently decorated with Red Oak.  The troop of Horsefly-like Carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis, who reside in my garden have no trouble finding the sweet spot(s) of these lovely blooms.

 

Another blooming vine, the Coral honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, is also a bee magnet.

Fortunately, this gorgeous bee (Sweat bee, Augochloropsis metallica ?)  rested between forays into the flowers, allowing for its capture in photo form.

Blooms are boss and for a look at a spring-flowering festival, check out Carol’s May Dreams Gardens celebrating all things blooming this March.

 

Early Days

Firmly ensconced in the early days of spring,  the garden is flush with new foliage and floral growth, birds (and bees!) are building nests, and gardeners are keen for emerging possibilities.  Here in Central Texas, we’ve forgotten that winter was a bust, with only two hard freezes for gardens and gardeners to endure.  Now in March, it’s all flourish and blooming, hope and planning.

Central Texans love to talk weather and this year many are commenting that everything is early!   But in my garden, things are mostly prompt in their materialization and that’s especially true of the native plants I grow.  Evolved along with the capriciousness of Texas weather patterns, these hardy ones are right on schedule. Yes, the Mountain laurels bloomed somewhat early, in Austin anyhow.  Those purple, drooping clusters are fading rapidly, their nectar and pollen contributions to bees and butterflies, and their gift of beauty and fragrance to human admirers, now concluded.  It’s time for other spring flowers to enjoy their time in the sun.

The first  columbines have opened in my garden. This is a hybrid between the native Yellow columbineAquilegia chrysantha and its cousin the Wild red columbineA. canadensis.

When these two columbine kinds are planted in close proximity over a few years and with thanks to pollinators and probably, the wind, yellow flowers with a blush of red, results.

I don’t mind.

 

Blasts of sunny glee define these clusters of cheery Golden groundselPackera obovata.

My little stand has grown and expanded from two small plants to a nice carpet of evergreen, topped with spring-bright sunshine.

In autumn, I’ll pull some of these up and deliver them to a new home.

A garden is always better for more of these hardy native Texas perennials and the tiny native bees are also enthralled at their bounty.

Possibly a Ceratina sp., a small carpenter bee

 

Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia giganteapose in a  range of purples.

A prolific bloomer, as well as re-seeder, I cull some of these (okay, lots of these) each spring, as well as gift as many as I can manage to unsuspecting, spiderwort-neophyte gardeners.

 

Astrud the Cat, seemingly unimpressed with the photographer,  also  contributes to spring color as she wears her lively collared accessory–her Birds be safe collar.

She’s mostly an indoor kitty, but likes to hang out with me and supervise my work in the garden.  The theory behind these silly collars is that cats, who are efficient predators, are better seen by their prey–those birds we want in our gardens–if the cats have a spot of brilliant color to them.  Cats’ fur doesn’t provide that bright coloration, but the patterned collars certainly oblige.  Apparently, birds see colors well, even in dim light, so the collar (which fits easily over a regular bell collar) is an ideal warning that there is something hinky and possibly dangerous in the verge.  We do want to protect the little foraging warblers and  finches, don’t we?  Of course, the best thing to do–for the safety of cats and their potential prey–is to keep cats indoors.  Neither of my cats are birders, though they’ve both been guilty of catching the occasional lizard, for which they are verbally admonished, accompanied with wagging finger.  Naughty kitties!

The collars flash brightness, they seem to work (insofar as the birds are concerned), and it’s also fun to laugh at the kitty wearing the clown collar.

Be it collar color or flower color, enjoy your garden: its birds, bees, and pets–and spring joy!