May Flowers

Early spring blooms are a thing of the past, and summer, with its accompanying hot-tempered blooms, is knocking at the door.  May brings rains–typically our wettest month here in Central Texas, zone 8b–but also the warm breath of summer breezes.  With added humidity, summer’s sauna is about to begin.  Even so, the days are pleasant and blooms that love the heat will soon be stars of the garden.

Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea, are in their prime and open for pollinators to sip from and gardeners to delight in.  I spotted this Crab Spider waiting for a meal on an open coneflower bloom.  The honeybees are fond of coneflowers, but I imagine it was a fly, syrphid fly, or small native bee that the crab was hoping for.  Honeybees are a tad big for this little thing, though crab spiders are successful predators.

It skedaddled as I was shooting the photo.  Notice the bit of webbing attached to the central disk of the flower:  no doubt, some meal will become ensnared in that.

Sun shines in the sky, coneflowers sparkle in the garden.  

Little coneflowers, all in a row, though it’s not the straightest of rows.

 

Another late spring/early summer native that has hit its stride, is the perennial Heartleaf skullcapScuttelaria ovata.  The small, violet blue blooms are borne along flower spikes.  They complement the grey-green, fuzzy foliage.  

A step back reveals a contrast between the bright green foliage of a neighbor plant, Drummond’s ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, and the subdued tinge of the Heartleaf’s foliage. The tiny blooms are charming accents.

In late autumn, Heartleaf skullcap emerges in drifts in my garden, filling spaces and buddying up to other perennials and evergreen plants.  It acts as an evergreen during winter, keeping the garden full and lush.  Once blooming commences in April, the summer perennials are up and running, preparing to take over the garden show.  Heartleaf skullcap pairs well with all the plants in my garden.

Heartleaf foliage is fetching and in a wide shot of the garden, they’re the primary attraction of the plant.  But the flowers are visible–dots of lavender blue setting off the foliage–and the bees, native and honey, take notice.  The blooms are popular among that crowd.

 

White flowers are refreshing and none more than those of YarrowAchillea millefolium. Feathery foliage pairs with these flat-topped clusters of tiny florets, just right for the smaller pollinators to work around.  On this day, at this time, a fly works the blooms.

I transplanted this group of yarrow last autumn from a different part of my garden.  They adjusted well and haven’t missed a beat in their blooming!

 

Red yuccaHesperaloe parviflora, a member of the Agave family, sends up graceful stalks in spring, loaded with salmon-n-butter blooms, to the delight of of hummingbirds, native bees, and butterflies. 

Oh yeah, this gardener loves Red yuccas, too!

The stalks grow 4-5 feet tall, seemingly overnight, emerging in March/early April from an evergreen base of succulent-like leaves.  The flowers that blossom along the stalk strut their blooming stuff all summer and through autumn, making this plant a must-have for gardeners, especially those who plant for pollinators.

Do you see the webbing toward the top of this bloom stalk?  Looks like our friend the crab spider (or one of its friends) set up shop for a go-to meal.   I prefer not to witness an entangle bee or butterfly, but that’s part of a balanced garden life.

On another, shorter bloom stalk of a different individual Red yucca, the stalk divided itself into three distinct sections, each allowing for the open blooms to face a different direction.

Soon, I expect that the hummingbirds will find these luscious blooms.  I’ll enjoy observing their meals and the territorial battles that will ensue. 

 

May blooms: no longer quite spring, but also, not yet summer.   May is a nice bridge of blooming from cool season flowers to hot Texas summer blooms.

Joining with Carol in celebration of all things blooming, please pop over to her May Dreams Garden to see blooms from many places for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. 

Spring Things

In this post, there will be no philosophical musings, no preaching about pollinators or planting for wildlife.  Spring is in full flush with fresh florals opening each and every day.

Spring being spring, it’s all about the flowers.

This cheery bit of yellow, Golden groundsel, produces a sprightly sprays of spring flowers and a year-round, drought-tolerant groundcover.

Golden groundsel (Packera obovata)

The Texas mountain laurel is famed for its beauty and fragrance.  Spring breezes carry the iconic bouquet throughout Austin for weeks, though I notice the heady grape juice scent mostly after nightfall.

Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

During daylight hours, I sigh at the stunning blooms and appreciate what it offers pollinators.

Migrating Monarch butterfly nectaring at the blooms.

The tubular flowers on Coral honeysuckle vine pop in spring, but there are always a few clusters gracing the vine throughout summer.

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

I finally found a home for Carolina jessamine in my garden.  Requiring full sun, there is one spot in my garden–and one only spot–where this spring-only bloomer can grow successfully. Carolina is repaying me with a second spring set of blooms.

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Trees bloom too!  The catkins of the Texas oak tree vie for attention with new green foliage.

Texas red oak (Quercus buckeyi)

I like the lone double acorn cap, affixed firmly to the branch.  It hung onto the branch through winter and is now keeping company with the catkins and the new leaves.  I wonder if it’ll still be there in mid-summer?

It’s been easy to spot native and wintering birds as they perch in the bare-limbed trees.  Going forward, those observations will become more challenging as the deciduous trees leaf out.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Of course, what is up must come down, and that is certainly true of the oak catkins.  I’ll be cleaning the pond when all the oak catkins and powdery pollen is down and done.  But walkways, patio covers, and roof gutters also need some tidying.  Let the sneezing commence!

Shooting stars?  Garden fairies?  Nope, these darling dancers are the Yellow columbines beginning their blooming season!   I’ll enjoy these charmers into late April or May, and so will their pollinators.

Yellow columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)

Pink-tinged columbines, another Texas native, also provide a month or two of pretty pollinator action alongside their yellow compadres.

Wild red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Spiderworts dot roadsides, countrysides, fence lines, and my gardens with their purple-to-pink prettiness.  There are many varieties of these wildflowers, but I only grow the Giant spiderwort.  My specimens were on the verge of blooming when we were hit with a freeze–our only real freeze of this year–last week.  Still, quite a few are open for business and more are in the process of developing.  On the upside of enjoying fewer blooms this year is that there will be fewer volunteers next year requiring weeding. With gardening, it’s always good to take a positive spin.

P1170382copy

Giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea)

 

I garden in Austin, Texas (zone 8b) with mostly, but not exclusively, native Texas plants.  It’s been a while since I joined in with Carol’s fun May Dreams Gardens GBBD, but I’m happy to renew my participation.   Happy blooming!

May Flowers

I wish I could say that April showers brought my May flowers, but here in Austin, Texas (zone 8b), it was a dry April and so far, May is in fine copycat form as the dry late spring segues into summer. Nonetheless, there are plenty of blooms in the garden because I’m a lazy gardener and choose tough plants that withstand the tricky Texas conditions while delivering valuable and pretty blooms–a win for pollinators and a delight for the gardener.

A stunning set of blooms, the always dramatic, royal-blue Majestic sageSalvia guaranitica,  currently reigns in certain spots of the garden.

I expect this crew to be the last of the Majestic blooms for a while, as this perennial’s blooms enjoy our gentler months of spring and autumn and then temporarily abdicates blooming during the toasty summer months.

 

Brightening a front garden is a reliable spring and autumn bloomer, the low growing shrub, DamianitaChrysactinia mexicana.

Handsome evergreen and aromatic foliage, plus perky daisy flowers, equals floral sunshine.

 

This nice combo sits nearby and includes some of my favorite flowers: Purple coneflowersEchinacea purpurea and ZexmeniaWedelia acapulcensis var. hispida.

Both are superb pollinator plants and almost always have insect visitors in, around, or on the blooms.

 

Red yuccaHesperaloe parviflora, are now in full, salmon-and-yellow glory.

The flower stalks are 4-5 feet in height and bear multitudes of belled blooms during spring, summer, and through fall, nourishing insect and avian pollinators alike.

 

A spray of Heartleaf skullcapScutellaria ovata, dances in front of surrounding shrubs and grasses, its violet blooms a floral contrast to the other foliage-prominent perennials.

A closer look…

 

Nothing shouts summer!  like sunny sunflowers and this threesome nod approval for a fast track to the summer blooming season.

Some of this season’s sunflowers are already in seed production and the finches and sparrows are taking notice.

To enjoy more May blooming beauties, please pop over to Carol’s May Dreams Gardens and enjoy bloom-filled-blog posts celebrating blooming in May.