May Flowers

Early spring blooms are a thing of the past, and summer, with its accompanying hot-tempered blooms, is knocking at the door.  May brings rains–typically our wettest month here in Central Texas, zone 8b–but also the warm breath of summer breezes.  With added humidity, summer’s sauna is about to begin.  Even so, the days are pleasant and blooms that love the heat will soon be stars of the garden.

Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea, are in their prime and open for pollinators to sip from and gardeners to delight in.  I spotted this Crab Spider waiting for a meal on an open coneflower bloom.  The honeybees are fond of coneflowers, but I imagine it was a fly, syrphid fly, or small native bee that the crab was hoping for.  Honeybees are a tad big for this little thing, though crab spiders are successful predators.

It skedaddled as I was shooting the photo.  Notice the bit of webbing attached to the central disk of the flower:  no doubt, some meal will become ensnared in that.

Sun shines in the sky, coneflowers sparkle in the garden.  

Little coneflowers, all in a row, though it’s not the straightest of rows.

 

Another late spring/early summer native that has hit its stride, is the perennial Heartleaf skullcapScuttelaria ovata.  The small, violet blue blooms are borne along flower spikes.  They complement the grey-green, fuzzy foliage.  

A step back reveals a contrast between the bright green foliage of a neighbor plant, Drummond’s ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, and the subdued tinge of the Heartleaf’s foliage. The tiny blooms are charming accents.

In late autumn, Heartleaf skullcap emerges in drifts in my garden, filling spaces and buddying up to other perennials and evergreen plants.  It acts as an evergreen during winter, keeping the garden full and lush.  Once blooming commences in April, the summer perennials are up and running, preparing to take over the garden show.  Heartleaf skullcap pairs well with all the plants in my garden.

Heartleaf foliage is fetching and in a wide shot of the garden, they’re the primary attraction of the plant.  But the flowers are visible–dots of lavender blue setting off the foliage–and the bees, native and honey, take notice.  The blooms are popular among that crowd.

 

White flowers are refreshing and none more than those of YarrowAchillea millefolium. Feathery foliage pairs with these flat-topped clusters of tiny florets, just right for the smaller pollinators to work around.  On this day, at this time, a fly works the blooms.

I transplanted this group of yarrow last autumn from a different part of my garden.  They adjusted well and haven’t missed a beat in their blooming!

 

Red yuccaHesperaloe parviflora, a member of the Agave family, sends up graceful stalks in spring, loaded with salmon-n-butter blooms, to the delight of of hummingbirds, native bees, and butterflies. 

Oh yeah, this gardener loves Red yuccas, too!

The stalks grow 4-5 feet tall, seemingly overnight, emerging in March/early April from an evergreen base of succulent-like leaves.  The flowers that blossom along the stalk strut their blooming stuff all summer and through autumn, making this plant a must-have for gardeners, especially those who plant for pollinators.

Do you see the webbing toward the top of this bloom stalk?  Looks like our friend the crab spider (or one of its friends) set up shop for a go-to meal.   I prefer not to witness an entangle bee or butterfly, but that’s part of a balanced garden life.

On another, shorter bloom stalk of a different individual Red yucca, the stalk divided itself into three distinct sections, each allowing for the open blooms to face a different direction.

Soon, I expect that the hummingbirds will find these luscious blooms.  I’ll enjoy observing their meals and the territorial battles that will ensue. 

 

May blooms: no longer quite spring, but also, not yet summer.   May is a nice bridge of blooming from cool season flowers to hot Texas summer blooms.

Joining with Carol in celebration of all things blooming, please pop over to her May Dreams Garden to see blooms from many places for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. 

A Corner Full of Foliage

With the blossoms of blooms that spring inevitably gifts our gardens, it’s  easy to overlook the foliage of spring.  New foliage emerges from winter-dormant perennials, evergreen plants flush fresh foliage distinct from older leafy brethren, and gardeners take notice at the greening of their space.  In one corner of my garden, there’s little floral interest at the moment, but plenty of foliage fanfare.

The focal point of this part-shade garden rests on a blue pot full of an eye-catching silver-green American century plant, Agave americana.

Garlic chives (bottom left), Pale-leaf yucca (center), and Autumn sage (bottom right) round out the perennial plants in this garden.

Hugging the fence line is a large clump of emerging-from-winter native Turkscap, Malvaviscus arboreus.   I like the bright green leaves and softer form of Turkscap neighboring the spiky, silvery agave.  Another North American green-grey foliaged native, Heartleaf skullcap, Scutellaria ovata, accompanies the agave and fronts the Turkscap, as well as filling in other spots of this garden.

 

The leaves of Turkscap are wide and mallow-like, which makes sense because Turkscap is in the mallow, Malvaceae, family.

A closer look at Heartleaf leaves and bloom spikes against the Turkscap leaves.

 

Heartleaf skullcap is an aggressive, but easily controllable perennial sporting beautiful, soft-to-touch foliage.

Heartleaf also flowers lovely blue/blue-violet bloom spikes from spring to early summer. The plant is at the beginning of its flowering season and in fact, there are some blooming in other parts of my garden.

Oops–I meant to talk only about foliage for this post!

Blue-grey in color and barb-sharp in form is this Pale-leaf yuccaYucca pallida, sitting alongside the Heartleaf skullcap,

…and photobombed here by the same plant.

I like this yucca: tidy, hardy, and attractive year round, it’s also one of the few yucca plants that is happy growing in shade and part-shade–and that’s a win for my sun-limited garden.

An emerging Big muhlyMuhlenbergia lindheimeri, just in front of the silly bird, tolerates the Heartleaf buddying-up to it.

The Big muhly complements both agave plants with its similar shape and slender, grass-like foliage.  Unfortunately, this specimen struggles a bit and doesn’t grow as large or as full as it should; it would thrive with more sun.

Shy, retiring muhly is nearly hidden and definitely overshadowed by the garish Turkscap and the elegant Heartleaf skullcap and Pale-leaf yucca.  The bird shows well though, don’t you think?

Like the juxtaposition of the the silver foliaged agave with the brilliant green Turkscap, Turkscap and Heartleaf (and Pale-leaf yucca!) are opposites which nicely pair with one another.

The Heartleaf continues–yes, there’s plenty of it in this garden– beyond the Turkscap and fronts yet one more yucca-type plant that’s actually another species of agave:  Red yuccaHesperaloe parviflora.

Garlic chives fill in the bottom right of the photo.

Red yucca’s graceful, slightly arching foliage is a genuine, deep green, rather than the silver/grey/blue greens of Heartleaf skullcap, Pale-leaf yucca, and American agave.  It’s also a gentler plant:  no sharp needles in which to poke the gardener when she’s bumbling around the garden!

Heartleaf drifts into and around three groups of Garlic chivesAllium tuberosum. The chives look spiky, but are soft and malleable. They’re a cheery green, harmonizing well with the Heartleaf, and fragrant too, when stepped on or handled.

 

At the end of this corner bed, one last vivid green foliage perennial partnering with Heartleaf is Fall asterSymphyotrichum oblongifolium.

The new aster leaves trend chartreuse, which brightens this particular combination.

There are a few blooms happening in this garden–the large volunteer sunflower and a couple of red blooms on an Autumn sage, Salvia greggii, but right now this bed is all about foliage and structural plants–both valuable assets in a garden.

Whatever foliage is gracing your garden this April, please check out Christina’s lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.  Also, happy Earth Day!  Christina’s advice about planting a tree (or two or three!) is excellent; native trees are best, but trees are the life-blood of this planet. Additionally, funding for and promotion of science and research institutions will be this planet’s saving.

 

May Flowers

May flowers–it’s such a cliché–but one that I’m going to embrace on this balmy May bloom day. The pinks in my garden seem to be front and center at the moment. Dusty  pink blooms of this Red yucca,  Hesperaloe parviflora, pop against a backdrop of Soft-leaf yucca foliage.

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While the blooms adorning a different Red yucca bloom stalk flash a bit of yellow–just enough to keep things interesting.

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With abundant rain, the Rock rosePavonia lasiopetala, is flushed full of foliage growth, but the few first blooms are opening up,

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…and many more will follow during the long growing season.  In truth, this is a plant that is floriferous in moderate drought; lots of rain produces lots of leaves, but fewer blooms. No matter, our summers are reliably dry and the multitudes of Barbie-pink blooms will turn heads as they open early in the morning, close by mid-day,  throughout the long summer.

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The pollinators and the gardener will enjoy the on-n-off bloom cycles of this hardy, small shrub well into October.

Purple coneflower,  Echinacea purpurea (which look pink to me) are in full spring show.

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And the large shrub, Barbados Cherry,  Malpighia glabra, is blasting the garden with its clustered version of the pink and yellow combo.

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Additionally,  the Barbados Cherry blooms fill the air with a lovely fragrance.   You can’t smell the blooms while reading this post, but the fragrance is special–a May garden delight.

Barbados Cherry and Purple coneflower are pink pals in the garden.

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Pink does not rule all of my garden though.  The yellow (Aquilegia chrysantha) and yellow-red (Aquilegia canadensis) Columbines are on their way out, having bloomed since late February.  However, they’re still producing for the pollinators, with some energy set aside for future seed production.

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Columbines soldier on as spring wanes and the temperatures warm. A cool season plant here in zone 8b, I miss Columbines when they’re done, but always enjoy their fairy-like, shooting-star charm in the cool spring garden.

Heartleaf Skullcap,  Scutellaria ovata, is filling the back garden with drifts of grey and blue.

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While Majestic SageSalvia guaranitica, is truly grand in the royal blue it wears.

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Finally, the creamy blooms of Twistleaf yuccaYucca rupicola, have made their once-per-year appearance in the front garden.  Poised atop the tall (5 foot) stalk, they beckon to native and honeybees to sip and gather from their floral bounty.

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Once the blooms are done, I’ll trim the stalk–maybe drying it for further use as a stake for some wayward plant later in the year.   The foliage is handsome, year-round, lending structure and evergreen sturdiness to the garden.

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Somehow, I managed to choose photos of all these blooms with not a single pollinator in sight.  Pollinators are in the garden and in abundance–nectaring and pollinating, even if I didn’t capture that particular beauty in this round of photos!

Fortunate to live where May blooms are plentiful,  I thank Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy 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.