There Be Chairs!

There comes a time in a gardener’s life when she wants Adirondack chairs. Real Adirondack chairs, wood and all. We’ve had a lightweight, plastic pair for quite a few years, but they began falling apart. When you’re sitting in a chair and then stand up and the chair snags your shorts and yanks them down–you know it’s time for new chairs.

I mentioned to the hub last spring that it was time for a pair of wooden Adirondack chairs. Silly me, I assumed we’d buy some, but the Hub had different ideas: he wanted to build Adirondack chairs.

Fast forward through the rest of spring and most of summer–there be chairs!!

I like yellow chairs. Yellow is cheery, welcoming, and easy to spot and clean off bird poop. In our front garden, we have yellow metal chairs, with a red table in between.

For our homemade chairs, we discussed natural wood with varnish and color varnish and since I was the decider-in-chief, I chose color varnish. The yellow is bright (maybe too bright?) but I’m generally happy with the chairs and the little blue table set in between, which the Hub also made. Additionally, the chairs are comfortable and each has an ottoman for propping up our feet so that we can watch the birds, bees, and butterflies.

I’ve set the chairs in a shady part of the garden and away from the pond, so that birds, especially during migratory season, can visit without intrusion. I’ll be close enough for photos, but distant enough as not to frighten them.

Thanks Hub and happy sitting!

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!

Is This All?

I wonder if the Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, is baffled? It was once a larger tree, but now is only a trunk and some foliage, where is the rest of it?

This mature Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata, froze during the winter storm in February. I assumed it was a lost cause and that the dead trunk and limbs would need removing. But in late April, new growth burst upwards from the base of the plant and shot toward the sky with speed. In July, the Hub and I finally had time to remove the dead portion of the tree and I also pruned the multitude of shoots from its base, leaving a single strong one with an attached second branch which will serve as the trunk of the “new” tree and its two lead branches. The crotch of the new trunk is just a few inches below the crotch of the original trunk. The two main limbs are now about 6 feet tall and growing by the day.

There’s a lot of green in this photo, but the feathery foliage forms a V from behind the original trunk and is loving the plentiful sunshine. At some point later in autumn or winter, I’ll have the Hub don his lumberjack hat and saw the original trunk to the ground.

By next summer, the tree should be even taller, maybe with more limbs, and covered in its signature yellow blooms. Pollinators will join with anoles in enjoying its presence.