Twining Vining

As winter seems a no-show this year here in Austin, Texas, there are plenty of  greens, partial greens, as well as blooms in my garden this February.  Two of the green things twine along this swing beam, which we built long ago for a playscape, but was re-purposed into an adult weekend snoozing spot.

The vines draping the frame are Potato VineSolanum laxum on the left side, and Mexican Butterfly VineMascagnia macroptera,  on the right.

The Potato Vine is at its blooming best in fall, winter, and spring.  Our summers are too toasty and dry for the blooms to peek out, though the foliage remains green year-round.

A dainty vine, it doesn’t get too big or full and never requires pruning.

Once freezing temperatures arrive, the foliage develops a lovely burgundy blush. My garden hasn’t seen anything more than a glancing freeze this year, so the foliage coloration is more subtle this February.

The peduncle, receptacle, and calyx mirror the plum purple in the foliage.

The warm color provides a nice contrast to the winter white of the petals.

Conversely, the Mexican Butterfly Vine is vigorous grower and bloomer.   Like the Potato Vine, it is a tough and water-wise addition for any Southwest garden.

The strands of the vine grow continuously and I frequently weave them into the full parts of the plant, like errant bits of hair needing tucking behind an ear.

While not flowering now, clusters of bright yellow blooms grace this plant during summer and fall.

Once the blooms are spent, the seed pods develop into chartreuse “butterflies,”  which eventually become rich honey brown “butterflies.”

The vine appears to host multitudes butterflies, resting amongst the lush foliage.

For obvious reasons, Mexican Butterfly Vine is a fun vine to grow in the garden, real butterflies or not!

I planted the vine about 10 years ago.  The trunk shows its age and twisty nature.

Most winters, the foliage of Mexican Butterfly Vine remains green, though it freezes back completely when we endure temperatures cold enough–well into the 20’s–and for a length of time.  Even when knocked back completely by a hard freeze, it returns from its roots without fail.

Both Mexican Butterfly Vine and Potato Vine are no-fuss and low-water needs vines, and provide year-round interest and beauty.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting her celebration of blooms for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day  and also to Pam at Digging for profiling the beauty of foliage with Foliage Follow-up.  Please visit each lovely blog to see blooms-n-foliage in gardens from many places.

Bloom Day, December 2014

Celebrating blooming things with Carol of May Dreams Gardens on this last Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day of 2014, I’d like to share some currently flourishing flowers from my gardens.  It’s been mild here in Austin, Texas, though a few light frosts have come our way, none were significantly cold enough to dampen the blossoming spirit.

Wonderful native perennials continue strutting their blooming stuff late this growing season. Two native salvia species are providing nice nectar sources for passing bees and butterflies and a color show for the resident gardener.   The Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, …brightens the garden with its scarlet blooms, while Henry Duelberg salviaSalvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’ provides spikes of blue.


Planted near to those two perennials is a group of  Texas Craglily, Echeandia texensis. There are few blooms left, but many seed pods readying for future golden lily loveliness.

Some of my GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, still bloom.

I don’t really think I need to add anything to that!  These individuals face west and receive the warmth of the afternoon autumn sun.

A few Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, flowers grace the gardens as well. I don’t recall ever seeing this plant bloom so late before–I’m not complaining.

Native to areas west of Texas, but not specifically Austin, is the Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.

In my gardens it’s a reliable cool season bloomer–at least through the beginning of summer.  The one mature Globe Mallow in my gardens is beginning a nice bloom production and that’s likely to happen throughout winter.

There are always a few Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, charming the gardens. This one is planted with an unknown variety of basil-in-bloom,

…which I’d know the name of if I’d bothered to keep the tag.  Ahem.

And here, Coneflower is partnered with the equally sweet Four-nerve Daisy or Hymenoxys, Tetraneuris scaposa.

I love native Texas plants.

As for the non-natives, well, they’re pretty cool, too.  The Firecracker or Coral PlantRusselia equisetiformis, requires a hard freeze to knock it back. Obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

I feel good about this plant–it has such a tropical look, but in reality it’s water-wise and tolerant of the cooler season.

Roses are responding in kind to our temperate December by blossoming again. Whoop!

Glorious in vibrant red are these blooms of the Old Gay Hill rose.

Finally, the Potato VineSolanum laxum, has entered its bloom time.  This vine twines up one side of my swing beam and blossoms primarily in the cool months here in Austin. It’s a timid vine in my garden, never growing too large.    I forget about it during our long, warm  growing season–it’s there, but unimpressive. Once the temperatures cool, its lovely clusters of dainty, creamy-bell flowers provide interest for my honeybees, still foraging on warm afternoons.

Enjoy whatever blooms you have–indoors or out.  Then check out the many bloom posts by visiting May Dreams Gardens.