Color Wheel

In the color wheel, red and yellow bookend a range of oranges.  There’s no book-ending in my Central Texas garden, though. The color wheel, well-represented throughout, is engaged, even in winter.

This past week saw the first blooms of the Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.  For now, only one bloom in this drooping cluster is willing to flounce its yellow petticoat.

Clusters of coral-red blooms, skirted with golden-yellow frills, bloom on and off throughout spring. When the rains are generous, this vine flowers well into summer.

 

Petite HymenoxysTetraneuris scaposa, sends up sunny winter daisies, each of which dance in chilly breezes atop slender stems.

The Hymenoxys bloom in spring and occasionally in autumn; flowers hunker down in dormancy during the hot months of summer.  The evergreen, grassy clumps from which hail the stems and blooms, are always present, permanently marking the plants’ homes.

 

As mentioned in my last post, orange is this winter’s signature color.  Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera, is covered in tubular orange goodies, eager for  pollinators to awake and work.

Plenty of honeysuckle orange decorates my winter garden.

 

Globe mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua, opens for honeybees each cold day, once the sun warms its petals.

Globe mallow dots its foliage with orange-petaled beauty.

I miss a good, hard freeze which sends the garden into rest and simplicity.  But enjoying blooms in winter?  Well, that is hard to beat.

Enjoy blooms from many places by checking out May Dreams Gardens, Carol’s monthly marking of blooms.

Winter Oranges

Wet, cold, and gloomy describes recent days, but after all, it is February and some winter weather is expected.  My Farmhouse Delivery of local produce came yesterday, and with it, some oranges.   The the rogue grapefruit keeping the oranges company is from last week’s delivery and became my afternoon snack.  Yum.

Hamlin oranges and Ruby-red grapefruit from Texas valley farmers.  There were originally four oranges…

Fresh fruit aside, my real appreciation of winter oranges has recently resided with butterflies and blooms, here demonstrated by the orange-winged Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, nectaring on a softer version of orange represented by a Globe mallow bloom, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  My garden has enjoyed a surplus of the fritillaries this winter because its host plant, passion flower vine, remains green and providing for fritillary caterpillars hatching from eggs.

Globe mallow is a cool season bloomer. It’s a native shrub to high altitudes in far West Texas and New Mexico, but grows well here in Central Texas–in the right conditions.  I struggled to find a place for this beautiful plant, but only have one spot where it’s grown successfully: it’s happily planted in a raised bed which is in year-round, full, west-facing sun.  The mallow has stunning grey-green, frilly foliage, paired with salmony-orange flowers.

Another orange winter beauty is the Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera,  which blooms prolifically during our milder winters.  I especially like this plant because of its water-wise character in summer, its ability to thrive in shade-to-part-sun, and its role as a great pollinator attractor. During the warm months of the year, honeybees, native Carpenter bees, and a variety of butterflies all flock to these orange delights.  In recent weeks I haven’t noticed any pollinators on the tubular blooms, not even the active fritillaries, but I know the nectaring insects will be back for their “orange” juice in the near future.

The orange has brightened my garden this winter, because even with tepid temps, there aren’t many flowers abloom.  That will soon change:  I’ve spotted an iris and a columbine, each with at least one bud that should open in the next week or so.

The oranges cheer dull days, timely and welcome reminders of joy in color and life from gardens.

Thanks to Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Pop over to her beautiful blog and check out other February musings.

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.

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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,

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… these drama queens thrive in the heat.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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,

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…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.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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

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

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Or rather, sunflower de l’ete.

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While new flowers open daily,

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

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Happy finch!

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