Native Texas Plant Week and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day–October 2012

For Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and in celebration of Texas Native Plants week, I’m posting some pics of a few currently flowering beautiful native plants in my garden.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting–check out her site to enjoy photos of blooms from many places.

One overview look at a group of Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii),

and a close up of this great native perennial ground cover.  The Gregg’s Mistflower is native to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

The Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), is always a winner in my gardens.  Its main bloom period is spring through mid-summer, but I always have some blooms in the fall until a hard freeze ends the glory.

A larger view of another perennial, Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum),

and its closeup.

The two mistflower species are related, but they are a little different. It’s difficult to tell from my limited photographic abilities, but the Gregg’s Mistflower is a lighter blue, while the Blue Mistflower is much darker.  Also, the leaf characteristics are different in the two plants.  Both are perennial ground covers with the main blooming period occurring from September through November.  Both are also favorites of the butterflies and bees.

The Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata) brightens the roadsides and my gardens in October.

At its peak of beauty now, Goldeneye blooms in the spring and sporadically in the summer months and is an excellent wildlife plant.  It provides for pollinators and birds, alike and it’s pretty for people to enjoy too!

Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) is a relatively new addition for me.

I’m glad I have a place for this hardy and sweet little aster.

A nice combination of plants:

From left to right in the photo above are Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea), some overhanging blooms from a Red Yucca (Herperaloe parviflora), at the back, some Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), a Pale Leaf Yucca (Yucca pallida), the yellow daisy, Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) and Red Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii).

Another nice mingling of native perennials:

more Coneflower, more Turk’s Cap, more Goldeneye.

The Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) is a plant with shocking yellow flowers paired with striking dark, green foliage.

Damianita blooms on and off for the growing season and is native to Central/West Texas and New Mexico.

Texas native plants fit well within the palette of a large mixed perennial garden.

Natives that are blooming are White Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’), Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans), Big Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri).

Wherever you live, plant natives in your gardens.  They’re easy, hardy and reliable and attract wildlife to your gardens.

For more information about native plants of North America, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site.

Go natives!  Go garden bloggers!

Hill Country Blues

I love blue flowers in the garden and my current favorite blue flowering perennial is the Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).

(As a disclaimer, many of these photos show the flowers of this post as more purple than they are in real life. I don’t know if it’s me or the camera. It’s probably me.)

It’s lovely planted with other mid-to-late spring bloomers.

I’ve grown the compact cultivar Mealy Blue Sage  for a many years in my gardens.

The true native Mealy Blue Sage is taller and typically a lighter blue than the cultivar Mealy Blue.  The cultivar has a darker blue bloom and is compact in form, reaching a height of about eighteen inches. It is a terrific addition to the garden.  They’re happiest and most striking when they’re blasted by the hot, Texas sun.

These three have been in this spot for several years and bloom stunningly in spring, with a second, less dramatic bloom cycle in the fall.  During the summer, the Mealy Blue Sage tend to bloom less and typically, I’ll cut them back to the ground in July or August.   The plants bloom again in the fall but once the temperatures are consistently chilly and the days are short, I prune the spent bloom stalks down to the base rosette for winter.  The rosette is evergreen for winter here in zone 8b.  This plant is so pretty when planted en masse and is excellent for the xeric garden, especially because of its compact form.

I fell in love with the  Henry Duelberg S. farinacea when I started working at Zilker Botanical Gardens a few years ago.  I manage the Grow Green Gardens as Zilker Botanical Gardens (ZBG) and these demonstration gardens are designed to showcase low maintenance, native and non-native plants.  The City of Austin’s Grow Green program provides a wealth of information for homeowners and businesses about proper landscape plant choices and irrigation techniques to enhance water conservation.  Many folks who live in and around Austin are familiar with the free Plant Guide (located in the above Grow Green link, bottom right hand side of page) where some of the more popular landscape plants for Central Texas are profiled.  The Henry Duelberg Sage is listed in the Plant Guide, but when I started working at ZBG, there wasn’t one planted in the Green Garden.

So, I fixed that.

This beautiful specimen blooms three-quarters of the year and is a dramatic addition to the entry of the Green Garden.  It’s produced loads of seedlings (which will be  planted in other gardens at ZBG).  This spring, a white blooming hybrid seedling, the Augusta Duelberg, has joined the mix.


I was so entranced with the Henry Duelberg and its performance at ZBG, that I bought several for my gardens.

The Henry Duelberg is larger than the cultivar Mealy Blue Sage and has a graceful, open form.  The stems are two to three feet tall and the flower spikes atop the stems are three to four inches long.  This gorgeous bloomer is probably a hybrid of the native  Mealy Blue Sage (S. farinacea).

The leaves are lance shaped and are located along the length of the stem.  The Henry Duelberg will bloom from mid-spring, through early summer.  In my gardens, it experienced a dormant period during the hottest part of last summer.   I pruned mine to the ground and once the rains began again, the Henrys enjoyed a nice fall bloom cycle.  Like the cultivar Mealy Blue, the Henry Duelberg can be pruned to its evergreen winter rosette at the end of the growing season.

The Henry Duelberg at the Green Garden bloomed all of last summer, but it’s more established and receives more water than my personal plants.

Both the Mealy Blue Sage and the Henry Duelberg are favorites of bees and butterflies, as well, though I’ve noticed more pollinators visiting the Henry Duelberg than the Mealy Blue. I planted two, four-inch pots of Henry Duelberg in the fall of 2010 and they have re-seeded, so I have  six of these plants now.  Thus far, all of mine are blue–none have hybridized to the white ‘Augusta’ form.

As with most plants in the salvia family, the hybrids and cultivars of S. farinacea are generally considered deer resistant.

The Henry Duelberg Sage was discovered growing without care in a Texas cemetery by  Texas  horticulturist and garden writer, Greg Grant.  He named the blue flowering plant after Henry Duelberg and the white variety after Henry’s wife, Augusta.  If this plant can survive neglected in an old cemetery, surely it’ll perform beautifully for you in your gardens. So go ahead–plant a Salvia farinacea (‘Henry Duelberg’) in your garden.

Or, if you prefer its little cousin, plant the Mealy Blue Sage.

Or, plant both and enjoy the show!