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.

Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata): A Seasonal Look

In November 2015, I wrote about the golden glory that is Plateau GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, or as I usually call it–Goldeneye.


A native to the Southwestern U.S., specifically Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Plateau Goldeneye is a bright and sprightly autumn bloomer which graces the likes of roadsides, plains and valleys, and home gardens equally.


In profiling this perennial for A Seasonal Look, I realize that it has a limited area in which it grows naturally, but it’s an interesting plant and if you garden in its range, it’s one that dry-garden gardeners should grow, especially those who wish to attract a range of wildlife.


In winter after a  reasonable freeze, the plant is done for the year.


In milder winters (like that of 2016) there may still be some green leaves and canes,


…and a flush of new growth in January or February.

I typically  leave my Goldeneye for as long as possible because I’ve read that finches will take strips of leaves for their nests as they prepare for spring breeding season.  Also, there are often seeds available throughout much of winter for birds to snack on–and they do partake of those seeds.  So, in spite of its skeletal, freezer-burned appearance, I keep mine around until mid-to-late February, or as long as I can stand to look at them.


However, there arrives a day when it’s time to whack back the remains of the year’s growth.  And whack I do.


Does that make me whackadoo??

Here in Central Texas, in normal winters with regular freezes, Goldeneye remain dormant until March. It’s a nice garden design practice if planted with evergreens or more structural plants as companions, but the dormant period isn’t all that long. Once spring warmth envelops Central Texas, the arrival of Goldeneye foliage is not far behind.



Plateau Goldeneye belongs to the Asteraceae family and shares the qualities of other sunflower-type perennials–lovely, cheery blooms coupled with  somewhat large, sand-papery leaves.The leaves are attractive for most of the growing season–they’re a rich green, especially in early spring, then border on grey/green later in the growing season.


The leaves grow opposite and full along the stems of the plant, leading to a bushy, upright growth habit for the individual plant. Throughout spring and summer, the plant grows,



…and grows.


Goldeneye  plants  typically reach 3-4 feet tall in my gardens, but can grow as tall as 6 feet.

It’s exciting when I spy my first Plateau Goldeneye bloom, usually in August, but sometimes as early as June or July.


There are a smattering of blooms in summer, but only enough to hint at the beauty to come.RICOH IMAGING

In September, though the days are warm, the light changes and the buds of Goldeneye form.


The anticipation of those shorter autumn days, combined with the flowering Goldeneye, are  just compensation for the long Texas summer. And well-worth waiting for!!




BOOM!!  Plateau Goldeneye flowers appear and brighten the world.

A variety of bees nectar and gather pollen from this nurturing plant.



Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Goldeneye is also the host plant for two butterfly species, Cassius BlueLeptotes cassius and Bordered PatchChlosyne lacinia.  I’ve seen Bordered Patch butterflies and their eggs on Goldeneye, but never the Cassius Blue.  I’ve seen butterflies of many species working Goldeneye blossoms, but oddly, never took a photo. My bad.

The Goldeneye sunshine show lasts for 4-6 weeks. It’s a plant that mixes well with other bloomers, too.





Sometimes my Goldeneye require staking, especially in a wetter-than-normal year. The bushy quality of Plateau Goldeneye lends itself to a lush, but well-appointed mien throughout summer, which is deceptive because once the fall growth spurt occurs and the masses of blooms develop and open, the weight of those blooms can cause the plants to lean over.

In more shade, the plants grow taller, thinner, and they lean more. In fuller sun, the plants remain upright and generally keep their form,  even when the flowers appear.



Pruning Goldeneye in July or August by about 1/3 is one method of preventing Goldeneye floppiness and sloppiness once the October explosion of yellow flowery joy happens.  After a light pruning, the plant continues growing, but more compactly and seemingly able to handle the onslaught of flowers.  But if there are heavy fall rains during the height of blooming (which happens here in Central Texas) the floral-laden Goldeneye stems tend to flop over and sometimes break at the base of the plant. I boost the stems by staking if I can and don’t fret about it if I can’t.    For those gardeners who want a totally tidy plant, you’ll need to prune in mid-to-late summer.  If you’re fine with some seasonal fall wonkiness, just let the plants do what they want.


Every fall, the bloom decline seems sudden, though it’s probably because I enjoy the flowers so much that I’m sorry to see them go for the year.




However, once seed development is in full swing,

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

…a second wildlife performance is definitely worth watching.   Entertaining and biologically important, feeding finches of several varieties adore the seeds.  In my garden, it’s usually the Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria,  who are the main, though not the only, visitors of the Goldeneye food bar for weeks. Eventually, the finches clean out the seeds and/or move on to riper pickings and the plants are left to the whimsy of  colder temperatures.

The two major problems I find with Goldeneye is that they re-seed prolifically, especially in wet years, and the aforementioned flopping over once the blast of blooms appear.  I haven’t found the seedlings onerous to weed, and timely, judicious pruning mostly takes care of the wayward limbs.


Plateau Goldeneye is an extremely drought tolerant plant–very appropriate for someone who doesn’t want a water-needy perennial.  Because it’s such an attractive plant for so many species of wild critters, it’s a must-have addition for a wildlife garden.  It’s casual growth habit could be an issue for those wanting a more formal garden,


…but placing plants at the rear of a bed, fronted by other shrubs and perennials can solve the issue of their loosey-goosey growing nature.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson plant database, Goldeneye have only “minimal” deer resistance.

In Winter,














…Goldeneye is a tough survivor, beautiful bloomer, and a valuable resource for wildlife.  If you live in its native range, try this perennial in your garden.    It grows easily by seed or transplants.  Commercially, you’re most likely to find seeds or seedlings at a locally owned nursery, or if you live near Austin, Goldeneye are usually on sale at the LBJ Wildflower Center’s fall or spring plant sale.  Goldeneye is also a common passalong plant in its native range.


Plant and enjoy these gleeful blooms!

Golden Glory

As its blooming season winds down, I’d like to give a blogging shout-out to a stunning native wildflower, Viguiera dentataalso known as Sunflower Goldeneye, Plateau Goldeneye, Toothleaf Goldeneye, and because I like to keep things simple, my personal favorite common name for this plant: Goldeneye.


A most photogenic flower,


…the Goldeneye brightens the late summer and fall garden with masses of sunshine-cheery, little ray flowers adored by pollinators and gardeners alike.


Growing as tall as  5-6 feet, this is a hardy native of Central Texas, but also grows westward to Arizona and southward into Mexico and Central America.   A favorite landscape and wildlife perennial of mine,


…Goldeneye should have a place in all Central Texas gardens. I grew my plants from a few seeds, which have in turn reseeded.


I don’t mind.  I let them pop up, filling in spots where other things might not grow.  I transplant individuals where I want something that is low-to-no-maintenance and that will bloom beautifully, seed out, and provide food and cover for wildlife.  And if I don’t like where one plants itself (has that actually happened?), I can always pop it out and pass it along to another gardener.



The sprinkling of yellow flowers in late summer, followed by the blast of that same yellow in October, adds some fun and  whimsy to the garden.  And you want some fun and whimsy, don’t you??



There is nothing like the joy of yellow sunflowers in the garden and this one is a real winner.

Goldeneye pair nicely with all other flowers, too.



Not only do bees, honey and native,  like Goldeneye,



…but it’s a major source of seeds, winter food, and nesting material for the ever-darling Lesser Goldfinches.




I’m always thrilled with the first buds appear in late summer.


Conversely, I’m sorry as the flowers conclude their flower show.IMGP2225.new

..and go to seed.


But of course, birds show up for the seeds and that means more Goldeneye are spread to far-flung places, or maybe just the neighbor’s house, plus I can look forward to more Goldeneye.

A certain amount of tolerance for rangy plant behavior is a requirement with this lovely wildflower because it does grow large and is top-heavy with bunches of blooms. But considering the garden show and the value to native wildlife, a too floppy plant  is certainly something that I can live with.

I plan a more comprehensive A Seasonal Look on Goldeneye in the not-too-distant future, but for now, enjoy!



I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone who 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.

For my American readers, I wish a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday–full of love, family, and friends–and of course, pie.