Bloom Day, October 2014

Summer has been reluctant to release its toasty grip on us in Texas, but the cool of autumn has mostly arrived. We’ve enjoyed a couple of refreshing cold fronts, dropping our temperatures into the ’50’s, with highs in the 70’s and ’80’s. The lingering warmth of September and early October didn’t damper blooms in my gardens, though. Joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens, I’m celebrating blooming stuff on this 15th of October.

There is no shortage of blooming native Texas plants in my gardens. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

Barbados Cherry, Malpighia glabra, has blossomed its dainty, pink clusters for a month or so now.

Soon, cherry red fruits will replace blooms, feeding a whole different crop of critters. Barbados Cherry is lovely in tandem with Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus.

A cultivar of the native red Turk’s Cap, the Pam’s Pink Turk’s CapMalvaviscus ‘Pam Puryear’, blooms as heartily as the red,

…but with softer pink swirls perched atop the long branches.   In my gardens, the Pam’s Pink is planted with FrostweedVerbesina virginica,

….and it’s a successful pairing.   Frostweed is an excellent wildlife plant.   Attracting butterflies, like this migrating Monarch,

…and bees,

…and this guy, a Tachinid fly,

…who you can see again on Wildlife Wednesday, a fun little wildlife gardening meme I host.  The next Wildlife Wednesday is November 5th.  Frostweed a stalwart native perennial; it’s drought hardy and works well in either shade or sun.

The GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, is photogenic in the fall garden.

Another perennial which attracts its share of pollinators,

…these pretty yellow flowers evoke glorious autumn sunshine.

They work and play well with other natives in my gardens,

…like the Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala and Barbados Cherry. And who doesn’t love the tried and true combination of yellow and blue?

This Goldeneye’s companion is the non-native Blue Anise Sage, Salvia guaranitica.  

The roses in my gardens are awake again after the heat of summer. I grow only water–wise antique or cultivar roses in my gardens.  If a rose can’t shrug off the heat and dry of the Texas summer, it’s out!  The Martha Gonzales Rose is one such beast.

Named after a Navasota, Texas gardener, Martha Gonzales,

…this rose is beautiful, fragrant, and tough. Martha grows in USDA zones 7a to 10b so it it’s appropriate in a wide range of situations.  If you only grow one rose, make it the Martha!

The Belinda’s Dream Rose, which is appropriate for USDA zones 5a to 10b,

is the quintessential elegant pink rose. Fragrant and downright luscious, Belinda isn’t quite as hardy as the Martha, but still performs well for me.  Belinda gets a little peeky in summer, but picks up again with rain and softer temperatures.  Caldwell Pink Rose,

looks dainty, but it’s no wilting beauty.  This poor thing, I’ve moved it four times–I think I’ve finally found its forever home.

A migrating Monarch finds this Old Gay Hill Rose delightful,

…and so do I.  Similar to the Martha Gonzales, the shrub is larger and the petals slightly (but only slightly) more pink than the Martha’s fire engine red petals.

I’m not a grow-only-native purest and host a number of non-native perennials in my gardens, like these Four O’Clocks, Mirabilis jalapa.  Considered a staple of the Southern garden, these are new to my gardens and were gifted to me by a gardening friend, TexasDeb at austin agrodolce.

These lovely trumpets open late in the day, bloom all night, and close in the morning. Four O’clocks are fragrant and are such lovelies–I’m tickled to make room for them in my gardens.

Jewels of OparTalinum paniculatum, are another new-to-my-gardens perennial from TexasDeb.  Jewels are also an old-fashioned flower of the Southern garden.

I love the teesny flowers, the “jewels” seeds, and chartreuse foliage. Both Four O’Clocks and Jewels of Opar are potentially invasive, so I’ll keep them in check–ripping out uninvited extras who crash my garden party!

It’s now that my Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus, shines,

…or is that a sparkle?  Whatever it is, the bees love this bloomer.

After each rain, the Almond Verbena, Aloysia virgata, flowers and its fragrance graces my garden.  Shown here in partnership with Turk’s Cap blooms, the Almond Verbena is favored by honeybees.

My Almond Verbena is the anchor plant in a group of native shrubs and perennials.

It fits quite well, I think.

Quoting another garden blogging buddy, Debra of Under the Pecan Trees,  we enjoy a “second spring” in Texas–a  lush blooming autumn gift, after the heat, when all, including gardeners, perk up anew.

What’s blooming in your gardens this October Bloom Day?  Check out May Dreams Gardens for blooms from everywhere.


I Couldn’t Wait

In my post, Cast Iron Crisp, I discussed how one stand of Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior), in my gardens, suffered leaf burn this past summer.

The plants have been in that spot for more than a decade and have never had this sort of damage.

The garden receives dappled shade most of the day, until the late afternoon blast of hot, west sun.  The plants that are in front and to the side  of the Cast Iron are all sun lovers and thrived with no ill effects from the exceptional drought and heat.

My assumption about the damage this year is that it was caused by the extremely hot (more than 70 days above 100 degrees) temperatures that Austin experienced during summer 2011.  Originally, I planned to prune the Cast Iron in winter and observe what happens next year and if it is as hot again and similar damage occurs, I would replace the plants.

Yeah, right.

I can’t wait that long.

So, once I’ve dug out the sun-burned plants, what do I replace the Cast Iron Plant with?

I wanted something that I don’t already have, that can take mostly shade, but won’t burn up with the death rays of the west sun and something that won’t need much water, given the very real possibility of Stage 3 water restrictions in the foreseeable future.

I love the native red Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) and have many of those shrubs in my gardens. I used to have a White Turk’s Cap and enjoyed it as well, but  moved it and it didn’t survive its transplantation.   I’ve never been quite as enthralled with the Pam’s Pink Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii ‘Pam Puryear’), although I’ve grown to like it more after observing it at Zilker Botanical Gardens (in the Butterfly Garden) and in private gardens around Austin.  According to those who grow it, it’s as hardy and xeric as the red Turk’s Cap. So, I decided to try two Pink Turk’s Cap as the replacements for the fried Cast Iron Plant.

I laid out the exact spot where I want the Turk’s Cap  and adjusted the soaker hose to pass over the root zone of each plant.

I dug ’em in, watered ’em and mulched ’em.

Because it’s late in the growing season, I opted for gallon pots each with a large root base  to better ensure survival odds through winter.  At maturity, these two plants should be four to five feet tall.

Viewing from the street (toward the tree), the Turk’s Cap will fill in the space behind  the Mahonia (Mahnonia repens) and in front and to the right  of the Cast Iron, thus shading the remaining Cast Iron Plant from the sun during the hellish summer months.  The small Giant Lirope (Lirope muscari) in the front/center of the photo, is a transplant from another part of my garden and will eventually be about three times its current size.

Viewing from the tree side of the garden (toward the street), a seedling Chile Pequin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum), is to the right of the Giant Liriope and left of the Mahonia and will fill in the area in front of where the Turk’s Cap is planted.

I opted to leave the section of Cast Iron Plant which was not sun-damaged.

I think this is a good solution to the Cast Iron sun-burn problem.  My greatest concern  is planting during the  continuing drought.  My hope is that I’m ahead of possible severe water restrictions with enough time for the xeric Pam’s Turk’s Cap to establish itself.

Wish them (and me), good luck.  And, think about what you can do to replace drought/sun damaged plants, inappropriately placed, with better suited options.