Winter(?) Blooms

While it flies in the face of garden normalcy, it’s been a good winter for many of the flowering perennials in my garden.  Few plants were sent deep into dormancy, so flowering florals have been a constant.

This cheery cool season bloomer has brightened the edge of a garden for months.  Four-nerve DaisyTetraneuris scaposa, is a tidy little thing.  Evergreen slender leaves serve as a base for sprightly yellow daisies.  Even after a hard freeze, this is a typical winter bloomer.

 

Owing to the mild winter, there are a couple of Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea, eager for spring to begin.  Interestingly, the established plants, some of which are years old, haven’t bloomed up yet.

This group volunteered themselves for a pathway decoration.   I’ll leave them be–who am I to yank them up when they’re so charming?

 

Another beneficiary of our lack of freezes this winter are the Tropical sageSalvia coccinea.  This particular one is red, but the white ones have bloomed all winter too.  They’re a little lanky now, but I’m still enjoying the accents of red, so they’ll remain until the new growth catches up with the old-growth blooms.

 

A cousin of the S. coccinea is this salmon-colored Autumn sageSalvia greggi.  It’s not a bountiful bloomer, but only because it grows in too much shade.  Still, the blooms are beginning and will grace the garden for the next couple of months, taking a break during our hot summer, resuming flowering in fall.

 

Another “victim” of the mild winter is the Mexican honeysuckleJusticia spicigera.  This is a funny plant as it doesn’t have a specific bloom time. In mild winters like the one this year, it blooms all winter, well into spring.  In a “normal” winter (whatever that is), it’ll be knocked to the ground, requiring several months to flush out before flowering ensues.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these winter-orange blooms and so have the honeybees.  Most of the native bees are dormant for now.

Mexican honeysuckle is also a great plant for part shade–yay for me as I have plenty of that!

 

My two red roses have produced luscious blooms all winter, non-stop.  This, the Martha Gonzales rose,

…and its botanical doppelgänger, the Old Gay Hill rose.  Easy to grow, disease-free, and gorgeous against the blue Texas sky, both roses are head-turners.  I’m not going to prune them just yet, against common gardening wisdom;  there will be time later for that.

 

In the last week or so, the Southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis has burst out in blooms.

The sweet, snowy flowers attract skippers and honeybees, and dot the back of the garden, clambering up a fence and creeping along the ground.

The buds are a pure pink, so provides a bit of a color two-fer.  Alas, it’s more than likely that the birds will pick off the berries before I get to them.

 

I finally found the one spot in my garden for Desert mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  Native to regions west of Texas, this lovely requires full sun and excellent drainage.  It’s a high elevation shrub, but the best I could do was pop it into a raised bed.  I love it, blooms or not, and the tangerine flowers paired with that grey-green ruffle of foliage is a winning combination.

The native Blue Orchard bees, recently awakened from their own year-long dormancy, have enjoyed the pollen provided by this mallow.

 

A passalong plant,  Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia gigantea, delivers blasts of purple for this gardener and loads of nectar and pollen for the pollinators.  Honeybees are in a frenzy gathering the pollen as they gear up for spring.

I have quite a few clumps of this spiderwort and they seed out prolifically.  They’re easily pulled up and tossed into the compost, or even better, gifted to unsuspecting gardeners.

I like that the insect (a fly or native bee?) is also interested in the plant.  I wonder if he/she is responsible for the hole in the leaf?

Purple power rules the garden with these spring pretties.

Most of these perennials and shrubs bloom at least some during a colder winter, but this year, that floral show has been richer.  Of course, as we enter March, the month of spring, an overnight light freeze or two is predicted in the next few days.

Typical.

The native plants will be fine, the irises, reaching to the sky and starting their blooms, might be damaged.  Time–and actual temperature–will tell.  Regardless, spring is now knocking at the garden gate and winter is mostly done.

How has your winter garden fared?

A Parade of Pretties: Bloom Day for March

I’m not going to pretend that this post is anything more than a runway fashion show of the botanical kind.  What follows is a shameless and giddy celebration of the the bounty of blooming beauty that is early spring in my Austin, Texas, zone 8b, garden.

Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata, hit its flowering stride since last profiled  for its beautiful foliage a few weeks ago.

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Slender bloom stalks hold aloft the blasts of brilliant yellow,

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…and the gardener smiles.  Tiny critters of all sorts visit–to rest,

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…and pollinate.

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I’m not thrilled when a fly makes its way into my kitchen, but am happy to see it sipping the sweet stuff from the Golden Groundsel.

SpiderwortTradescantia, plants are strutting their flower-power and keeping the honeybees busy.

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This Giant Spiderwort  keeps company with garden furniture.

The many Spiderwort clumps my garden enjoy some variability in size and coloration and I suspect that there’s more than one species growing and cross-mingling through the seasons.

Coral Honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, a vine hosting dripping clusters of tubular beauty,

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…are surrounded by tiny native metallic bees, which I can only manage a vague photograph of.

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Actually, that’s not really true, but you’ll have to wait until my own Wildlife Wednesday on April 6th to see some slightly better photos of one of the stunningly gorgeous and fast-flying metallic wild bees.

This Coral Honeysuckle bloom cluster and the not-quite-open Spiderwort look like they’re trying to reach one another for a smooch.

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Well, it is spring, you know–the season of love!

Yellow Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana,

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

…and the hybrid between A. chrysantha and A. canadensis, pose beautifully and are available for nectaring, too–if you possess the right proboscis, that is.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

The A. canadensis is a smaller, mostly brick-red columbine.  But when cross-pollination occurs, the flower of the hybrid is typically larger, with more yellow and a blush of red.  Over the years, the columbines in my gardens have hybridized and I’m delighted with nature’s improvisations.

Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua, is also open for business,  awaiting interviews from native bees.  So far, it’s been teeny, tiny bees, too fast for this photographer to capture with any competence.

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The first blooms of many-to-come Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, have unfurled their pinky-purple glory, welcoming spring and their lengthy growing season.

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Another first is with this Brazos Blackberry bloom, which heralds more of the same.

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Once those flowers are spent, berries will not be far behind.  Yum!  I can taste the blackberries now–as well as the blackberry cobbler.  Bring’em, blooms!

Dancing at the ends of slender bloom stalks all winter and continuing their performance in the spring breezes, the cheery, bouncy Four-nerve Daisy (Hymenoxys), Tetraneuris scaposa,  flowers are nearly non-stop bloomers.

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Tired of these tidy, singleton blooms?  How about this cascade of Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

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A tough Texas native that is best when growing out of poor soil or rock, this one is content and flowering in my Green Tower, which is where I grow veggies and most of my herbs.  The Blackfoot Daisy buddies-up to a thyme plant which also flourishes in the Tower.

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Due to the non-winter this year, Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, wasn’t freeze-knocked to the the ground and thus is blooming with orange abandon this early spring.

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Mexican Honeysuckle boasts constant pollinator activity, especially from a variety of bees.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

There’s more where that came from!

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There are too many blooms and not enough time to showcase them all–they’ll just have to participate in another parade!

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Thanking Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.

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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.