July Blooms

It’s hot.  Really hot.  It’s the kind of hot where all you want to do is pull up a hammock and nap in the shade, not unlike this Horsefly-like Carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis.  I observed this sleepy-head as I worked in the garden, pruning a bit of spring’s overgrowth.  The bee chose a pretty-in-pink spot for its rest, curled up in the pinky petal of an open Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, bloom.   

I stopped by from time-to-time, taking a break from my hot work to check on the bee’s movement and there wasn’t any.  Who can blame the bee for wanting a snooze in the heat?  Here in Austin, zone 8b, record breaking heat–108°F on Monday–has rendered everyone somnambulant.  Well, it is July in Texas and even the bees need their afternoon siestas.  The flowers are still going strong, even if the rest of us need our rest.

 

This bee, another Horsefly-like carpenter bee, is as busy as can bee, working the heat-loving blooms of the Henry Duelberg sage, Salvia farinacia ‘Henry Duelberg’.  Bee and blooms are a productive pair.

As August approaches, I’ll prune the ‘Henry Duelberg’ salvia to the ground and let it rest.  When the early autumn rains arrive (fingers-crossed!) and the days shorten, the ‘Duelberg’ salvia will bloom up again, providing for pollinators throughout the fall months.

Grey Hairstreaks, Strymon melinus, enjoy nectar from many different blooms, but as with lots of other pollinators, the Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea, is a fan favorite.  The little charmer crawled around the center of the flower, taking in what it needs, while adding beauty to the garden.

As summer drags on (and on…), the coneflowers will fade and seed out, assuring plenty more new coneflowers and blooms for next season.   Pollinators rub their wings together in satisfaction–and cheer!

 

A majestic Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes, regularly visits the stunning, intricate blooms on my Mexican Orchid treeBauhina mexicana.   The ice-white flowers appear on and off throughout the growing season, to the delight of the big pollinators and the tiny ones too.  Snowy blooms cover the small tree, visually cooling, if not in reality.  I look forward to temperatures following in suit–in October.

 

Nothing says SUMMER like sunflowers.  

Always cheery and comfy in the hottest of hot weather, these bright blooms are the perfect summer flower: easy to grow for the gardener with plenty to offer for wildlife.  Pollinators love the nectar and birds enjoy the eventual seeds.  It’s a wildlife garden win.

This Southern Carpenter bee, Xylocopa micans, nectar steals from my magenta gorgeous Big Red sage, Salvia penstemonoides.  It’s fascinating to watch the shiny, brilliant black bee buzz from bloom to bloom, searching each for the sweet stuff. The bee dips its proboscis in some blooms, remains for a time–sipping.  Other red receptacles are checked, then ignored, having already donated their goods to some passing pollinator.  

Originally, this stand of four individual plants grew in my back garden, but as that area has become increasingly shady, I transplanted the sage to the front garden, where it thrives, enjoying blasting west sun.  It’s a tough, Texas plant and a beautiful addition to my garden.  

Celebrating mid-summer blooms, I’m linking with May Dreams Garden’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and also with Flutter and Hum and Wednesday Vignette because blooms are the protagonists of garden stories.  Check out both lovely blogs for blooming stories.   

 

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

 

Wildflower Wednesday, June 2014

Summer is in full swing in Austin–heat, blooms, heat, blooms.  I tire of the heat and humidity, but beautiful native wildflowers thrive in our sticky summers and today is the day to show them off.  Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting and promoting the use of native plants and wildflowers in the home garden.

A few years ago at the Lady Bird Johnson  Wildflower Center’s fall native plant sale, I bought a Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.

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It was a total impulse purchase and I’m glad for that particular lack of impulse control!  Each spring, this little annual (for me) pops up in a different place in my gardens.  This year?  It’s on the back patio, keeping the potted bougainvillaea company.  I’ll let it seed out this summer and who knows where it will appear next summer.

I must share a photo or two of my wonderful Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

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The quintessential summer perennial in my gardens, Coneflowers are tough, happy summer flowers.  They are great for pollinators and also are terrific as cut flowers indoors, if you’re so inclined.

The  Zexmenia, Wedelia texana, began blooming a little late this year, but is in full force now.

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Zexmenia is a lovely Texas flowering perennial and performs no matter how hot it is in Austin.

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I often pair Zexmenia with Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, in my gardens.

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From morning through mid-afternoon, the combination of the pink Rock Rose and the yellow  Zexmenia is pretty and fresh.  Both perennials require little water and are favorites of native pollinators. The hibiscus-like flowers of Rock Rose close with the heat mid-afternoon, leaving  the yellow Zexmenia to go it alone until the next sunrise.

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A few years ago, I collected seeds of Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana. I caught the first bloom of the season recently.

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This ruellia, which isn’t commonly available, doesn’t usually begin blooming fully until mid-to-late summer.  I was tickled to see one open early in the growing season.  It looks like the ants are happy about that too!

The ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia, Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ still sports its pretty bloom spikes.

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It’ll bloom until it’s too hot, then the ‘Henry’ rests, renewing its bloom cycle again with cooler autumn temperatures.  I’ll prune the ‘Henry’ to keep it tidy until its fall bloom cycle.

Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, is an excellent summer bloomer and another favorite of mine.

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It’s a superb  wildlife plant as well:  hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love its bright red blossoms and the birds devour its fruits in the fall.  It grows as a thick shrub,  so many lizards, birds and insects shelter in it.

The cheerful Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, should bloom through mid-summer.

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One reason I chose this wildflower for my gardens is that I noticed how many bees visit it in other gardens.  That hasn’t been true for this daisy this year and I’m not sure why, but Engelmann’s Daisy is still a bright spot in the garden.

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Lastly, this is a nice conglomeration of summer beauties together:

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Two native Texas perennials I haven’t profiled today, Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius, are blooming in this photo.  Usually, the Damianita takes a break in the summer after its profusion of spring blossoms.  Rock Penstemon is a hardy summer/fall bloomer.

What native wildflowers are in your garden?  For more wildflower goodness from many places, check out clay and limestone and its celebration of June wildflowers.