Lovely Lavender

This Althea, Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is full of big, showy blooms right now.  Its branches bent with the weight of the blooms, the hardy perennial will bloom on and off during our long warm season.  The rangy shrub buds and blooms profusely, especially after rain moistens the soil and flower production ramps up for the show.

I don’t remember which cultivar this is but I’m sure that I have the name tag stashed away somewhere.  

The Althea sits near my pond and last year I planted two specimens of another hibiscus cultivar, Lemon Rose Mallow, Hibiscus calyphyllus, just in front of the Althea.   I think they’ll be great bloom partners, yellow and lavender faces open to the sunshine, bodacious blooms both, cheering and thriving during summer’s heat.

I need some happy vibes today and these flowers are the ticket.  I’m joining in today with Anna’s Wednesday Vignette, to celebrate garden stories. 

Requiem For A Rosemallow

A while ago, I wrote about a favorite plant in my gardens, the Lemon Rosemallow, Hibiscus calyphyllus.

The Rosemallow is still one of my favorite summer bloomers, but sadly, my original plant appears to be dying.  One-by-one, in this past month or so, the leaves have turned yellow and wilted.

Within two weeks of the first looking-like-it-needs-water symptoms,

…the entire branch, with leaves, has turned crispy and died.

Even as the stems die off, the remaining dwindling-in-number healthy stems have continued to produce blooms.  Such a stalwart, stoic little hibiscus.

I don’t know why the plant is dying–it may simply be that Rosemallow is not long-lived here in Central Texas. Rosemallow is not native, though it’s considered an appropriate landscape perennial for many places, including Central Texas.   It was one of the best bloomers during the hellish 2011 summer of record heat and drought and it returned vigorously after our hard winter this past year.  In between,  I’ve been impressed with this lovely, but tough perennial because of its graceful form and constant blooming, coupled with its ability to shrug off drought conditions.

I’m trimming off the afflicted stems as they die,

….and  have only three left stems left.  Those stems will be gone soon–I can see the necrosis of the leaves beginning.

I’m sorry that this plant is at the end of its days, but I’m philosophical about my gardens and the plants I grow, even when an adored plant dies:  it’s not the end of the world, there are way bigger problems than silly garden issues and the death of one plant is an opportunity to try something new.  Or not.  But I think in this case, as much as I’ve enjoyed the Rosemallow in that spot, I’m going with something different.

Just because.

A gardening friend is gifting to me some Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum.  I know that Garlic Chives are aggressive in the garden, but bees relish the blossoms and that mitigates any negative issues I might have with the plants.  I’ll be a good  gardener parent and practice tough love;  I’ll  make sure that the Chives don’t get out of hand and annex more than their assigned garden spaces.

Remember that statement when I’m complaining in four years that the Garlic Chives are everywhere.

I planted a new Rosemallow earlier this summer in a different part of my gardens,

…and it’s doing well.  It’s grown, bloomed several times, and is filling out beautifully.  I’ll  let the idea of planting another Rosemallow somewhere else rumble around in my head for a while and maybe figure out another spot for some future planting date.

For now though, I’ll say a fond goodbye to a beloved perennial and its beautiful flowers.


Bloom Day, August 2014

Celebrating August blooms,  I’m thanking Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this fun flower meme.   With sporadic rains and relatively mild temperatures this summer, there are fewer burnt-toast blossoms in Austin’s August.

My Mexican Orchid Tree, Bauhinia mexicana, has bloomed on and off all summer.

Elegant, snowy blossoms cool a shady spot on hot Texas afternoons. These flowers are  a favorite of Black Swallowtail Butterflies.

In stark contrast with the white Mexican Orchid, but also favored by butterflies, is the Pride of BarbadosCaesalpinia pulcherrima.  Tropical-hot orange and yellow,

… these drama queens thrive in the heat.

Royal SageSalvia guaranitica, blooms stunningly in early and mid-spring, but not as commonly though summer.

This year though,  a smattering of midnight blue gorgeousness has graced the two royal specimens in my gardens.

With multiple flowers opening everyday, the Lemon Rose MallowHibiscus calyphyllus dances through August.

Flouncing her petals open in the mornings, sashaying during afternoon breezes and bowing to heat at the end of the day, this mallow is a consummate performer.

The  blooms of Coral VineAntigonon leptopus, form on lacy loops along climbing tendrils.

I’ll replace its trellis next winter when this tropical, but hardy-for-the-Austin area herbaceous perennial freezes to the ground.

The trellis is a bit wonky, even for me.  The honeybees and I eagerly await the apex of Coral Vine’s blossoming period–soon, very soon!!

A close-up of a coral  Autumn SageSalvia greggii, flower,

…it belongs to a woody shrub native to Texas which produces a variety of colors.  I like this soft coral pink–it’s the best blooming salvia in my gardens this year.

The bright red Martha Gonzales Rose, Rosa ‘Martha Gonzales’, flowers throughout summer.

I wish mine received a little more sun–it would bloom even more.  This is a terrifically tough antique rose for Central Texas.

The Mexican HoneysuckleJusticia spicigera, returned full-force after our hard winter.

It’s orange clusters await early fall visits by butterflies and the occasional hummingbird.

The shrub is covered in tubular goodness now and that’s likely to continue into the fall months.

This pairing of pink and blue is too sweet!

The creeping groundcover, Leadwort Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, produces sky blue florets,

…which beautifully complement the small periscope blooms atop the stems of Pink Skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens.

And still screaming: Summer! Summer! Summer!–is the sunflower de jour.

Or rather, sunflower de l’ete.

While new flowers open daily,

…those spent blossoms that have gone to seed are providing yummy munchies for the local finches.

Happy finch!

Visit May Dreams Gardens for more blooming beauties this Bloggers’ Bloom Day.