Early Days

Firmly ensconced in the early days of spring,  the garden is flush with new foliage and floral growth, birds (and bees!) are building nests, and gardeners are keen for emerging possibilities.  Here in Central Texas, we’ve forgotten that winter was a bust, with only two hard freezes for gardens and gardeners to endure.  Now in March, it’s all flourish and blooming, hope and planning.

Central Texans love to talk weather and this year many are commenting that everything is early!   But in my garden, things are mostly prompt in their materialization and that’s especially true of the native plants I grow.  Evolved along with the capriciousness of Texas weather patterns, these hardy ones are right on schedule. Yes, the Mountain laurels bloomed somewhat early, in Austin anyhow.  Those purple, drooping clusters are fading rapidly, their nectar and pollen contributions to bees and butterflies, and their gift of beauty and fragrance to human admirers, now concluded.  It’s time for other spring flowers to enjoy their time in the sun.

The first  columbines have opened in my garden. This is a hybrid between the native Yellow columbineAquilegia chrysantha and its cousin the Wild red columbineA. canadensis.

When these two columbine kinds are planted in close proximity over a few years and with thanks to pollinators and probably, the wind, yellow flowers with a blush of red, results.

I don’t mind.

 

Blasts of sunny glee define these clusters of cheery Golden groundselPackera obovata.

My little stand has grown and expanded from two small plants to a nice carpet of evergreen, topped with spring-bright sunshine.

In autumn, I’ll pull some of these up and deliver them to a new home.

A garden is always better for more of these hardy native Texas perennials and the tiny native bees are also enthralled at their bounty.

Possibly a Ceratina sp., a small carpenter bee

 

Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia giganteapose in a  range of purples.

A prolific bloomer, as well as re-seeder, I cull some of these (okay, lots of these) each spring, as well as gift as many as I can manage to unsuspecting, spiderwort-neophyte gardeners.

 

Astrud the Cat, seemingly unimpressed with the photographer,  also  contributes to spring color as she wears her lively collared accessory–her Birds be safe collar.

She’s mostly an indoor kitty, but likes to hang out with me and supervise my work in the garden.  The theory behind these silly collars is that cats, who are efficient predators, are better seen by their prey–those birds we want in our gardens–if the cats have a spot of brilliant color to them.  Cats’ fur doesn’t provide that bright coloration, but the patterned collars certainly oblige.  Apparently, birds see colors well, even in dim light, so the collar (which fits easily over a regular bell collar) is an ideal warning that there is something hinky and possibly dangerous in the verge.  We do want to protect the little foraging warblers and  finches, don’t we?  Of course, the best thing to do–for the safety of cats and their potential prey–is to keep cats indoors.  Neither of my cats are birders, though they’ve both been guilty of catching the occasional lizard, for which they are verbally admonished, accompanied with wagging finger.  Naughty kitties!

The collars flash brightness, they seem to work (insofar as the birds are concerned), and it’s also fun to laugh at the kitty wearing the clown collar.

Be it collar color or flower color, enjoy your garden: its birds, bees, and pets–and spring joy!

 

A Parade of Pretties: Bloom Day for March

I’m not going to pretend that this post is anything more than a runway fashion show of the botanical kind.  What follows is a shameless and giddy celebration of the the bounty of blooming beauty that is early spring in my Austin, Texas, zone 8b, garden.

Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata, hit its flowering stride since last profiled  for its beautiful foliage a few weeks ago.

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Slender bloom stalks hold aloft the blasts of brilliant yellow,

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…and the gardener smiles.  Tiny critters of all sorts visit–to rest,

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…and pollinate.

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I’m not thrilled when a fly makes its way into my kitchen, but am happy to see it sipping the sweet stuff from the Golden Groundsel.

SpiderwortTradescantia, plants are strutting their flower-power and keeping the honeybees busy.

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This Giant Spiderwort  keeps company with garden furniture.

The many Spiderwort clumps my garden enjoy some variability in size and coloration and I suspect that there’s more than one species growing and cross-mingling through the seasons.

Coral Honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, a vine hosting dripping clusters of tubular beauty,

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…are surrounded by tiny native metallic bees, which I can only manage a vague photograph of.

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Actually, that’s not really true, but you’ll have to wait until my own Wildlife Wednesday on April 6th to see some slightly better photos of one of the stunningly gorgeous and fast-flying metallic wild bees.

This Coral Honeysuckle bloom cluster and the not-quite-open Spiderwort look like they’re trying to reach one another for a smooch.

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Well, it is spring, you know–the season of love!

Yellow Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana,

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

Yellow Columbine with blooming Iris.

…and the hybrid between A. chrysantha and A. canadensis, pose beautifully and are available for nectaring, too–if you possess the right proboscis, that is.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with backdrop of orange blooming Mexican Honeysuckle and unopened Iris.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

Hybrid Columbine with not yet in bloom day lilies and Yarrow.

The A. canadensis is a smaller, mostly brick-red columbine.  But when cross-pollination occurs, the flower of the hybrid is typically larger, with more yellow and a blush of red.  Over the years, the columbines in my gardens have hybridized and I’m delighted with nature’s improvisations.

Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua, is also open for business,  awaiting interviews from native bees.  So far, it’s been teeny, tiny bees, too fast for this photographer to capture with any competence.

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The first blooms of many-to-come Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, have unfurled their pinky-purple glory, welcoming spring and their lengthy growing season.

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Another first is with this Brazos Blackberry bloom, which heralds more of the same.

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Once those flowers are spent, berries will not be far behind.  Yum!  I can taste the blackberries now–as well as the blackberry cobbler.  Bring’em, blooms!

Dancing at the ends of slender bloom stalks all winter and continuing their performance in the spring breezes, the cheery, bouncy Four-nerve Daisy (Hymenoxys), Tetraneuris scaposa,  flowers are nearly non-stop bloomers.

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Tired of these tidy, singleton blooms?  How about this cascade of Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

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A tough Texas native that is best when growing out of poor soil or rock, this one is content and flowering in my Green Tower, which is where I grow veggies and most of my herbs.  The Blackfoot Daisy buddies-up to a thyme plant which also flourishes in the Tower.

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Due to the non-winter this year, Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, wasn’t freeze-knocked to the the ground and thus is blooming with orange abandon this early spring.

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Mexican Honeysuckle boasts constant pollinator activity, especially from a variety of bees.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis) works the Mexican Honeysuckle flowers.

There’s more where that came from!

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There are too many blooms and not enough time to showcase them all–they’ll just have to participate in another parade!

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Thanking Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.

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