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.

IMGP0216_cropped_3829x2521..new

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.

IMGP0218.new

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

IMGP0235_cropped_3548x3355..new

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

IMGP1283.new

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

IMGP1166.new

IMGP1149.new

…and bees,

IMGP1077.new

…and this guy, a Tachinid fly,

IMGP1072.new

…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.

IMGP1031_cropped_3429x3208..new

The GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, is photogenic in the fall garden.

IMGP1236.new

Another perennial which attracts its share of pollinators,

IMGP1241.new

…these pretty yellow flowers evoke glorious autumn sunshine.

IMGP1008_cropped_4129x3078..new

IMGP1342.new

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

IMGP1185.new

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

IMGP1277_cropped_3129x3382..new

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.

IMGP1208.new

Named after a Navasota, Texas gardener, Martha Gonzales,

IMGP1204.new

…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,

IMGP1612.new

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,

IMGP0975.new

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.

IMGP1014.new

A migrating Monarch finds this Old Gay Hill Rose delightful,

IMGP1724.new

…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.

IMGP1180.new

IMGP0856.new

IMGP0858_cropped_3419x3414..new

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.

IMGP1369.new

IMGP1380.new

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,

IMGP1413.new

IMGP1415.new

…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.

IMGP0918.new

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

IMGP0910.new

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.

 

Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra): A Seasonal Look

The debut for this seasonal look-see is Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra).  I love Barbados Cherry, but even I don’t think it’s a particularly sexy, exciting plant.  It’s rather a staple of sorts: the practical “nursing shoe” of plants versus its sexier “stiletto heel” exhibitionist kin.  Barbados Cherry is tough, reliable and in its steady way, beautiful.  Gardeners utilize it as a hedge, but it also produces a mass of blooms, at least a couple of times per year, with lush berries following.  It is extremely drought tolerant, growing well in shade, part shade and full sun.  Barbados Cherry is an excellent wildlife plant.  It develops into a thick shrub/thicket, so birds love it for protection and is a host/nectar plant for several butterflies.  For all that acclaim, Barbados Cherry is not a particularly fast grower and is not deer resistant.

Most of the year, Barbados Cherry presents as a green shrub, though individual plants can be shaped as a sphere or in  tree form.  I don’t care for overly pruned plants, preferring more natural growth patterns.  I’ve only pruned my B. Cherry to prevent overhanging the driveway too much. I planted my original five shrubs about 20 years ago, in a shade/part shade area, primarily as a privacy hedge.  Once established, B. Cherry like this most of the year.

IMG_0860.new

20111016_27.new

20110924_37_cropped_2385x1328..new

A disclaimer:  these photos were taken in autumn, but Barbados Cherry are green, rear-round, with some exceptions, noted later.

The photos illustrate a plant, while not heart-stopping, is green, lush and tough.  In the course of its life, my hedge of Barbados Cherry withstood bicycles, basketballs, soccer balls and all manner of kid destruction while demanding nothing from me,  serving its purpose well.

In spring and fall, reliably after rain, the Barbados Cherry will explode with ruffly clusters of pink, dainty flowers.

20110924_35

My experience is that the bloom cycle lasts up to about six weeks, once in the spring/early summer and then again in the fall.

20111105_5

20111105_8.new

During the bloom cycle, berries like this beauty develop.

20111105_4

Barbados Cherry is especially stunning when there are blooms and berries at the same time which typically occurs during both bloom cycles..

20120528_40.new

20120528_41.new

Many birds, but especially mockingbirds, favor the berries.  The berries are sweet, though a little seedy for my taste.

Depending upon the winter, Barbados Cherry exhibits differing responses.  To about 30 degrees for short periods of time, Barbados Cherry remains evergreen.  If temperatures remain in the low 30s for long periods or dip into the 20s, for more than 12-15 hours, some of the upper limbs will defoliate, though in a thick bramble, the rest will likely stay green.

P1020883

Not much green here, because of the freeze events of the 2013-14 winter.  Still, this group (different from the one in the photos above) isn’t completely frozen to the ground because it’s in a protected area. The branches will flush out with new growth once temperatures warm. There’s no need to prune further than where you can scratch the surface to find some green. In this photo, it’s just below the copyright.

P1020886.new

Because winter was colder than in the last 2 decades and the original, exposed stand of Barbados Cherry experienced a number of freezes well into the mid 20s, they froze completely to the ground.

I knew they were goners when I saw the trunks of the shrubs.

P1020558.new

P1020560.new

By early March, I’d cut all of the original stand of Barbados Cherry to the ground.

P1020882_cropped_2691x1903..new

So much for my privacy hedge!  Now, to wait until new growth from the roots. Finally, in late March, signs of life!!

P1020963_cropped_1649x1180..new

As of the end of March 2014, these individual plants are recovering slowly from the hard freezes of this past winter.

P1030044_cropped_3604x1751..new

In fact, B. Cherry is at its northern range in Austin.  According to the Native Plant Database of the Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Center, B. Cherry are native to South Texas, Mexico and into Central and South America.  So it is a tropical plant and not reliably evergreen in Austin.  I knew that when I planted, but was lulled to complacency by the abnormally mild winters we’ve experienced since the mid-to-late 1990s.   As of March 31, 2014 all of the Barbados Cherry are sprouting green from the trunks.  I’ll definitely keep them, but because the light requirements have changed for this garden, I am augmenting the garden by planting other native plants and will prune the B. Cherry more regularly.  This garden will no longer be a mono-culture hedge, but a more diverse native garden.