September Song

With thanks to Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson for this lovely bit of poetry and to
Sarah Vaughn and Willie Nelson (as a fellow Texan, I must include his version) for interpreting the words so beautifully.
 
Oh, it’s a long, long while
from May to December,
But the days grow short
when you reach September.
 
Indeed the days have grown noticeably shorter–not cooler, though.  The cool will come, as will the wet, but patience here in Central Texas for those particular autumnal qualities is still the order of business as heat lingers and summer blooms continue, though autumn is arrived.

Toward the end of its summer show, at least in my garden, is Pride of BarbadosCaesalpinia pulcherrima.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the brash and bold blooms these past couple of months, as have a variety of pollinators.  Honeybees, several species of native bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps all partake of these gorgeous hot beauties.  In spots around town where this riot of orange and yellow grow in full sun, the plants remain in full blooming mode.  Mine has blooms, but fewer each week.

 

On a subdued side of the garden is sweet little Pigeonberry, Rivina humilis.   A small, tough native ground cover, its blooming begins mid-summer and lasts until chill sets in–whenever that may be.

This particular plant has tiny white flowerets on small bloom stalks, but typically,  Pigeonberry blooms are pink.   In the shot below the flowers, spent flowers, and ripe, red berries all share space.  An extra pretty feature of this plant are its ruffly leaves–swoon!

In October and November, there will be fewer flowers and more berries. And yes, pigeons do eat the berries, as do doves and blue jays.

Dainty comes to my mind when I look at Pigeonberry.

 

My mature individual Red YuccaHesperaloe parviflora usually send up four to eight bloom stalks, each about 5 feet high.   In the past, I’ve noticed that heavy rain during that brief window of time when the bloom stalks make their appearance limit both the number and sizes of the stalks. Just that kind of rain pattern was in place this past spring at that particular time and as a result, every Red yucca I grow sent up one–and only one–stalk.  All were shorter than normal. I’ve missed the drama of multiple stalks decorated at their terminal ends with lovely salmon-n-gold blooms, but each individual stalk fulfilled its duty and produced flowers all summer.

This is one of the last of the season, in full pinky glory and accepting visits from hummingbirds and other pollinators.

 

It took a long while before I found the right spot in my garden for a FirebushHamelia patens.  Poor thing, I must have transplanted it at least four times.  A sun-lover, this plant is happiest where it’s hottest and sunniest.

That one best Firebush spot is located at the side of my house, in a narrow strip that no one visits or sees, except for the pollinators and myself.   The tubular flowers are red, tinged orange, and borne in terminal clusters.

Horsefly-like Carpenter bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) sipping nectar.

The occasional predator also hangs out, waiting for a meal, looking cute all the while.

 

Here you see the Hamelia paired with another hardy heat-lover, Flame AcanthusAnisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, situated at the far left and toward the back of the photo.  Both of these plants are native to Texas.

I wish my garden supported a better stage to showcase both the Firebush and the Flame Acanthus because they’re gorgeous summer-to-autumn bloomers,  water-wise shrubs, and good sources of food and cover for a variety of critters.

Like the Firebush, Flame Acanthus sports tubular blooms, but grows from a woodier shrub and is accented with small, slender leaves.    Its white bark is attractive, especially after a hard freeze with resulting dropped foliage.  It’s a winning garden addition year-round.

You can bet that hummingbirds make a bee-line for these blooms, too.

 

Dwarf Mexican Petunia, Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’ is yet another hot weather bloomer, most years flowering from July to October.  A tidy little plant and perfect for the front of a border, the flowers present themselves as a bouquet.  While not evergreen, the plant only dies to the ground during very hard or prolonged freezes; in our milder winters, the foliage remains.  The foliage is dark green and graceful, complementing the rich purple flowers.  In the photo, The ‘Katie’s’ striped companion is foliage from Variegated Flax Lily, Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’.

Can’t you just imagine a bride hold this as she marries her beloved?

 

Another ruellia in my garden is one in which I hold mixed feelings for.  The Pink RuelliaRuellia brittoniana ‘Chi Chi’ is another easy-to-grow, hardy plant flowering during our most difficult time of the year and I appreciate that.

The blooms are obviously similar to the ‘Katie’s’ Dwarf Ruellia, color notwithstanding.  The foliage is similar, too, but the plant is much taller.  This year, the ‘Chi Chi’ have grown nearly four feet high due to the heavy, prolonged rain of the spring months.  Pollinators, especially bees, visit the flowers constantly, making the it one of the better pollinator plants in my garden during August and September.

But ‘Chi Chi’ is invasive and I must keep the two groups of this plant in check, otherwise ‘Chi Chi’ would run rampant.  I don’t find seedlings all over the place, but they pop up close to where the main groups grow and ‘Chi Chi’ desires insidious expansion of boundaries.

Nope, not gonna happen, Ms. Chi Chi.  But you are pretty, I’ll give you that and I’ll keep you around as long as I can exercise a modicum of control over you.

 

Leadwort PlumbagoCeratostigma plumbaginoides, is a meandering cutey that I forget about, until those sky-blue flowers grab my attention.

Leadwort plumbago, with cheery blooms and lush foliage, hugs the ground closely and wends its way around other perennials.  This plant would probably like more sun, but nevertheless blooms during the latter part of summer and that’s why I grow it.

I once thought that, while the flowers were pretty, they didn’t attract any pollinators.  Happily, I’ve discovered otherwise!  I wasn’t fast enough with the camera, but just as I took this shot, a tiny native bee zoomed off from its mucking around in the middle of the bloom.  I like plants which serve a purpose other than pleasing me.

 

The next two plants I profiled in previous Monthly Blooms posts, but are well worth another visit as they’re still blooming, still providing for wildlife, and still making the garden a good place to be.  The Turk’s capMalvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii,  is chock full of hibiscus-like crimson blooms.

Pollinators love Turk’s cap.

As the season heads the end of its blooming time, Turk’s cap flowers share space with developing fruits, adored by a variety of birds like Blue Jays and Mockingbirds.

 

The Branched FoldwingDicliptera brachiata started blooming last month, but has hit its stride in September.  Sprinkled all over the diminutive shrub are elegant lavender beauties.  It’s not a showy plant and the flowers require a close-up for full appreciation.

Branch Foldwing appears delicate, but it shrugs off our heat and dry conditions, always looking its best.

Happy fall, y’all!   September has delivered some nice things for my garden and I hope to yours as well.  Hang in there Texans–it is autumn and time to kick summer to the curb.

May Flowers

May flowers–it’s such a cliché–but one that I’m going to embrace on this balmy May bloom day. The pinks in my garden seem to be front and center at the moment. Dusty  pink blooms of this Red yucca,  Hesperaloe parviflora, pop against a backdrop of Soft-leaf yucca foliage.

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While the blooms adorning a different Red yucca bloom stalk flash a bit of yellow–just enough to keep things interesting.

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With abundant rain, the Rock rosePavonia lasiopetala, is flushed full of foliage growth, but the few first blooms are opening up,

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…and many more will follow during the long growing season.  In truth, this is a plant that is floriferous in moderate drought; lots of rain produces lots of leaves, but fewer blooms. No matter, our summers are reliably dry and the multitudes of Barbie-pink blooms will turn heads as they open early in the morning, close by mid-day,  throughout the long summer.

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The pollinators and the gardener will enjoy the on-n-off bloom cycles of this hardy, small shrub well into October.

Purple coneflower,  Echinacea purpurea (which look pink to me) are in full spring show.

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And the large shrub, Barbados Cherry,  Malpighia glabra, is blasting the garden with its clustered version of the pink and yellow combo.

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Additionally,  the Barbados Cherry blooms fill the air with a lovely fragrance.   You can’t smell the blooms while reading this post, but the fragrance is special–a May garden delight.

Barbados Cherry and Purple coneflower are pink pals in the garden.

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Pink does not rule all of my garden though.  The yellow (Aquilegia chrysantha) and yellow-red (Aquilegia canadensis) Columbines are on their way out, having bloomed since late February.  However, they’re still producing for the pollinators, with some energy set aside for future seed production.

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Columbines soldier on as spring wanes and the temperatures warm. A cool season plant here in zone 8b, I miss Columbines when they’re done, but always enjoy their fairy-like, shooting-star charm in the cool spring garden.

Heartleaf Skullcap,  Scutellaria ovata, is filling the back garden with drifts of grey and blue.

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While Majestic SageSalvia guaranitica, is truly grand in the royal blue it wears.

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Finally, the creamy blooms of Twistleaf yuccaYucca rupicola, have made their once-per-year appearance in the front garden.  Poised atop the tall (5 foot) stalk, they beckon to native and honeybees to sip and gather from their floral bounty.

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Once the blooms are done, I’ll trim the stalk–maybe drying it for further use as a stake for some wayward plant later in the year.   The foliage is handsome, year-round, lending structure and evergreen sturdiness to the garden.

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Somehow, I managed to choose photos of all these blooms with not a single pollinator in sight.  Pollinators are in the garden and in abundance–nectaring and pollinating, even if I didn’t capture that particular beauty in this round of photos!

Fortunate to live where May blooms are plentiful,  I thank Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Join in, share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.

Bloom Day, November 2014–Dodged the Frozen Bullet

After a chilly week and our first real touch of winter, there are still blooms in my gardens. Lucky gardener!  Lucky pollinators!  I live in central Austin and those supposedly in the know predicted our temperature would fall to the high 20’s by early Friday morning.  Well there was no freeze for me and mine.  Outlying areas received their first freeze, but much of  Austin was spared–this time. To celebrate those lucky blooms, I’m joining with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for November Garden Blogger blooms.

The Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus, bloomed its signature fuchsia necklace  rather late this year.

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Now with colder temperatures and shorter days, the blossoms are fading on the vine.IMGP2341.new

I think my honeybees will miss this favorite nectar source.

The native Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  still blooms, IMGP1507.new

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…though it’s going to seed. One patch blossoms in tandem with the blue Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea,’Henry Duelberg’.

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A freeze would have quickly ended that pretty pairing.

Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, sports flowers this November and that’s unusual–they normally stop production by late October.IMGP2383.new

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Heavy with seed, I’ll expect more of these lovelies in seedling form next year.  Any takers?

And GoldeneyeViguiera dentata?  It just won’t quit.  This most photogenic of flowers, has bloomed since September.

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This is one of my two last blooming Goldeneye plants.

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The Goldeneye plants in the back garden bloomed first, then set seed and were followed by others throughout my gardens, each individual plant taking turn at adding cheeriness and wildlife goodness to the world.  I’m glad these hardy natives have planted themselves all over my gardens.  Bees, butterflies, birds, as well as this gardener, enjoy and appreciate a long season with these pretties.

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The last FrostweedVerbesina virginica, is in flowering mode.

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While most of that species are setting seed.

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A few Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus, still bloom.

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Yellow BellsTecoma stans, ‘Esperanza’, are available for passing bees and butterflies.

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Blue MistflowerConoclinium coelestinum,

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and Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, 

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…are toward the end of their season.  A true freeze will force the blue blooms into a tawny fluff, ready for dormancy.

Red YuccaHesperaloe parviflora, blossoms on its long bloom spike until a hard freeze.

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This hasn’t been a banner year for my salvia species.  They’ve bloomed, but not regularly nor as fully as usual.  But they aren’t quite ready to close up shop, so bloom they will until it’s just too chilly and dark.  Salvia like this red Tropical SageSalvia coccinea,

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…and this Purple Sage, S. greggii x mycrophylla,

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…and this red Autumn SageS. greggii, 

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…and another,

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…and this coral Autumn Sage.

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They’re determined, if not prolific.

The remains of Fall AsterSymphyotrichum oblongifolium, are tired of blooming and ready for seeding themselves.

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When I thought there would be freezing temperatures, I cut the last of the fall blooms of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea and Tropical Sage and did this:

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As well, I cut a few Goldeneye and basil and did this:

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I’m not much for cut flowers in the house (I much prefer a garden full of blooms), but they are nice when it’s gloomy outside. I guess November in my garden and my house is not so barren after all!

Pop on over to May Dreams Garden and enjoy a show of November blooms from all over