We’re Back, Baby!

In February, once the snow cleared and the ice melted from wicked winter storm, Uri, I assessed the damaged garden–and damaged it was. I guessed (correctly–yay!) that my native plants would endure. But I wondered if the plants I grow which are native to regions south of the Texas border might succumb to the way-out-of-wack deep-freeze week. Minimally, I assumed it would be autumn or even next growing season before the pollinators and gardener would once again enjoy the gorgeous blooms from Mexican and Central American plants.

I’m so glad that I was wrong!

I grow two Mexican orchid trees, Bauhinia mexicana, and both emerged from the soil in late spring and there’s been no stopping their growth. This one is my oldest tree and has been blooming since June. Here in Central Texas, the “tree” is really a large shrub.

The blooms are snowy white, but the plant loves the heat.

Foliage of Turk’s cap photo-bombs the orchid tree. Do you see it?

My other mature orchid tree receives more sun, growing a little faster and flowering more. This tree is a seedling from my original tree.

The orchid tree is partnered with a cluster of native White Salvia coccinea.

Rather than the pure white of the mother tree, this tree’s flowers are white with a subtle blush of pink.

Another Mexican perennial that I thought wouldn’t bloom until fall is the Mexican honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera. In this part of my garden, it’s paired with the South American beauty, Majestic sage, Salvia guaranitica, which grows just behind it.

Majestic sage and Mexican honeysuckle are perennials that have proven themselves reliable, even after a week of sub-freezing temperatures. The rich blue of the sage blooms complements the cheery orange honeysuckle flowers. Both plants are pollinator magnets; the sage is a favorite of various butterflies, but the bees are all about the honeysuckle blooms.

When Mexican Honeysuckle blooms, it really blooms!

Honeybees have been all over the Honeysuckle flowers. Usually, I also see plenty of native carpenter bees at these blooms, but sadly, their population is decreased this year. While the plants returned with vigor, some insect species have been slower to recover.

Native to parts of the Carribean Islands and Mexico, Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, lives up to its botanical moniker, very pretty. This one is tall and truthfully, a little past its blooming prime for the year. Still, it’s topped with dramatic orange and yellow flowers that usually have pollinator attendants.

Early in the morning, only the honeybees are at work.

One more Carribean-to-South American plant that has weathered well in my garden during both hot and cold is the Firecracker fern, Russelia equisetiformis. Not only did its ferny foliage pop up from the ground after the winter storm, but its fire-engine red blooms have popped with color all hot summer.

All of these plants are tough, beautiful perennials that return after the hardest freezes and grace the hottest summers; I’m glad they’re a part of my garden palette.

I’m happy to link with Carol and her Bloom Day for August. Check it out to see lovely blooms from many gardens! Happy gardening!

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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…and bees,

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…and this guy, a Tachinid fly,

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…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.

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The GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, is photogenic in the fall garden.

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Another perennial which attracts its share of pollinators,

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…these pretty yellow flowers evoke glorious autumn sunshine.

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

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

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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.

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Named after a Navasota, Texas gardener, Martha Gonzales,

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…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,

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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,

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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.

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A migrating Monarch finds this Old Gay Hill Rose delightful,

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…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.

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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.

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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,

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…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.

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

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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.

 

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.