Golden Autumn

This week marks the annual celebration of Texas Native Plant week, October 16-22.

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Two Texas natives, Lindheimer’s senna peeking through an American century plant, demonstrate the soft and the prickly of plants from the Lone Star State.

Texas is well-known for its spectacular spring wildflower show and especially its star wildflower and state flower, the Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis.  But September, October, and November display an equally stunning array of beautiful grasses, annuals and perennial bloomers, as well as colorful seed and berry-producing plants during the beautiful autumn display.  Important for pollinators, migrating birds, and other wildlife, Texas native plants are easy to grow, conserve water, and define place:  native plants make the Texas natural landscape, or your cultivated garden, special.

Yellow is an autumn thing here in Texas.  Native Yellow bellsTacoma stans shout golden goodness with masses of trumpet blooms–and the pollinators are appreciative.

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The Texas craglily, Echeandia texensis,  sports sweet flowers along 2 to 3 feet bloom stalks and blooms well into November.

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Zexmenia, Wedelia texensis, is a native flowering groundcover which graces any garden with loads of nectar-filled daisies from May through October.

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Zexmenia paired with another native groundcover in a container, Wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).

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Zexmenia planted with Twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola).

Sometimes called Puppy-dog ears because of its soft foliage, the Lindheimer’s senna, Senna lindheimeriana, rock cheery flowers which are native bee magnets.

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Plateau goldeneyeViguiera dentata, brighten Texas gardens and wild spaces with a blast of fall sunshine.

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Beloved by pollinators,

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…once the blooms are spent, native finches and warblers gobble the seeds throughout winter.

Lauding just a few of the native bloomers from my garden, I’m also enjoying Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day with Carol at May Dreams Garden.  Join in, share your garden pretties (native or not!), then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.

Between Drops

The rare August cool fronts which have stalled over Central Texas in the past week or so have brought welcomed rain to the hot August days…and nights, (with apologies to 1972 Neil Diamond). Between the drips, drops, and gushes of rain, coupled with sparkles of Texas sun which has filtered through from time-to-time, foliage in my Austin, Texas garden is washed clean of summer’s dust and birds’ poop.

Purple heart plantSetcreasea pallida, is a native to Mexico, but a naturalized plant throughout much of the southern United States.

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The foliage is of this shade and sun groundcover is purple, but other subtle coloring imbues the plant with opalescence.

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It’s a great ground cover for this area, one that withstands the capriciousness of our climate–drought, heat, flood, and freeze.  Once established, it spreads with glee and requires reining in on a seasonal basis.  It seeds out sometimes, like in this container of Texas beargrassNolina texana.  

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I’m pleased that the Purple heart chose a purple pot to settle in.

Purple heart is one of the few non-spiky, non-green, hardy perennial choices available for this region and adds purple pizzazz to any garden.

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Tasmanian Flax Lily ‘Variegata’, or DianellaDianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’ is another non-native plant flourishing in my garden.

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Dianella pairs nicely with Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia

Dianella’s snazzy green and white foliage stripes cheer several spots in my garden and bring needed structure to predominately shrubby plant combinations.  I usually plant three or four together for a dramatic effect.

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Dianella is water-wise and low-maintenance during our hot summers, though it needs covering during winter freezes.  I find this plant well-worth winter babying because it’s light and bright and complements other plants. Dianella also produces flower stalks with tiny blooms atop, though most gardeners plant it for its foliage.

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My honeybees visit the dainty blooms and I’ve also seen small native bees show an interest.  It’s a win-win for critters and gardeners alike.

A native member of the Liliaceae family, Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis, is about to begin its blooming cycle, but the foliage is lush from late spring until frost.

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I’ve planted a number of these over the years and enjoy their contribution to my garden.

One group of Texas craglily is situated with the also fall-blooming Gregg’s mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, whose foliage inspires common names such as Palm-leaf mistflower and Palm-leaf thoroughwort because of the palmate shaped leaves.

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Deeply lobed and vivid green, Gregg’s mistflower foliage is attractive for the whole growing season.

Pink-n-green-n-white is always a winning color combo, but especially so  in this recent impulse-purchased and potted Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’.

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I’m hoping for a glorious draping here and to not over-water the pot.

Finally, a capture of the harbinger of November’s autumn leaf change floating in a bird and bee bath.

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In November, foliage change in my garden will be about the less direct sunlight and cool temperatures. But this American sycamorePlatanus occidentalis leaf is probably a victim of the pre-rain Texas summer sun and heat.

Thanking Christina and her lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting, check out her Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day post for a look at foliage in many gardens , from many places, and then share your leafy loveliness.

 

The Lily and the Crag

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines crag as a steep, rugged rock or cliff.  As for lily, well, I think this is visually self-explanatory:

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Pretty, isn’t it?   And hardy too, just like the first part of its name–enduring like a rock, that is.

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Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  blooms beautifully in my gardens from September into November, sometimes well into December.

Tough-n-lovely, this excellent Texas member of the Liliaceae family is sorely underutilized by gardeners from Central Texas southward to the Valley.  Here in Austin, I’ve only seen it sold at one nursery, Barton Springs Nursery (BSN).  BSN labels this plant as “Copper Spiders” but as I researched this plant, I’ve never seen that term used anywhere else.  A long-time BSN employee recently shared with me the story that BSN originally purchased “Copper Spiders” from Yucca Do Nursery and that’s the name the online nursery dubbed it. A quick look at the Yucca Do’s website led me to the the Echeandia texensis page and it’s confirmed that “Copper Spiders” is definitively identified as E. texensis.

No matter what the folks in the nursery trade call it, this gardener calls it fabulous!

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There are two other Echeandia species in Texas, E. chandleri and E. flavescensbut I’ve been fairly sure for several years now that what I’ve purchased at BSN and have been happily enjoying in my gardens is  E. texensis.  All three Echeandia are commonly called “Texas Craglily”  or “Craglily”;  the E. flavescens is also called Torrey’s Craglily, and E. chandleri is known by the poetic Lila de los llanos.

When I first saw the Texas Craglily at BSN  (four? five?) years ago on a hot July afternoon (yeah, I garden in the summer), I remember thinking that I’d seen a photo of it in the seminal Texas gardening book, Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region,  by Sally and Andy Wasowski, which was my gardening guide and muse for many years. In fact, the Wasowski’s wrote about the E. chandleri, (page 177!).  but the bloom and foliage are very similar to the E. texensis.  

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I’m no botanist, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s been some hybridization in nature and cultivation through the nursery trade.  But whatever this plant is, I’m glad to make room for it in my gardens–and you should too if you live in Central and South Texas.

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Dying back at the first hard freeze, it disappears until late spring–sometimes not returning in full until May or June.

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During summer the foliage returns quickly and is attractive and well-behaved.

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It’s always a bonus in the garden to host plants with elegant grassy structure, especially when it’s lush and easy-care.  In my heavy soil, the foliage only grows to about a foot in height and width. Sometime in late August or early September, the stalks begin shooting upwards and bloom development begins, mostly toward the top of the panicles.

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A glorious autumnal yellow-orange, the sweet little blooms are pollinator magnets.

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Most of my Texas Craglily plants grow in part-sun, but it’s a perennial that likes lots of bright sunshine. Some of mine leeeaaan over to catch the rays.

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Others are tall and stand at full floral attention.  The more “balloon” look to the petals indicates early morning before they’ve stretched and opened.  Or maybe they just need their morning coffee.

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I have a number of Texas Craglily specimens planted alongside Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ and Gregg’s Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii:  it’s a winning combination.

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Peeking between some garden art, the graceful foliage holds its own.

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I see bees and butterflies feeding at the blooms throughout Texas Craglily’s bloom period, though funnily enough, I don’t have a single photo to prove that.  Additionally, none of my Craglily plants have ever produced seedlings–that could happen, but it hasn’t thus far.

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So I’m off to BSN to purchase just one more because I’ve figured out another spot where one is absolutely REQUIRED and will be perfectly situated.  And just in case there’s a run on these beauties, I asked a kind employee to hold two for me!  Ha!

I have no information about its attractiveness to deer, but if you live in or near Austin, try this lily in your garden–in full or part sun and either thin or heavy soil. Texas Craglily is hardy enough to handle the cracks, crags, rocks and clay, yet dainty enough to decorate the Texas autumn garden.

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Happy planting!!

Texas Craglily is a native plant and Gail at clay and limestone promotes natives  and wildflowers for the home garden through her Wildflower Wednesday gardening meme. Thanks to Gail for hosting and teaching others about the importance and beauty of wildflowers.