Grasses, Berries, Groundcovers: Autumn Images

Cooler temperatures and regular rainfall herald autumn in Central Texas–and we all breathe a sigh of relief that the broil of summer has passed. Perennials awake from their summer siesta, ushering in a second spring of blooms. From September until first frost, there are easily as many blooming beauties, especially of the native kind, as in spring.

Our native grasses, soft and elegant throughout the summer, acquire a warmth of color and rock dramatic plumage in autumn, challenging the beauty of accompanying blooms.

Big muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) graces a combo of Plateau goldeneye and Turkscap.

I’ve had mixed results with Big muhly, as my front garden has historically been too shady for this sun worshipper, while my back garden offered only a few spots of sun, coupled with heavier soil, so muhlies were typically short-lived.  With more opportunity for the sun to blast my front garden, the four Texas native Big muhlies planted have found a home.

The same muhly at a different angle.


Common yarrow, Achillea millefolium,  is a native North American plant which grows throughout the continent.

A beautiful ground cover for most of the year–especially in winter–yarrow blooms white clusters atop 2-3 foot stems in June and July, the florets turning toasty in August.  Mine haven’t bloomed particularly well in the last 2 years, but I don’t mind, since it’s the lacy foliage that I prize.

For wildlife, autumn provides a boon of berries, and Texas native plants oblige in spades.  Pigeonberry, Rivina humilis,  is a favorite of birds, especially–you guessed it–of pigeons and doves.

Leaves are ruffly and bright green, complementing both the tiny pink-to-white blooms and the cherry-red berries.   Once a light freeze happens, the foliage will blush burgundy, until a hard freeze renders this small ground cover dormant until late spring.

For now, the leaves remain a cheery green.


Another native plant, the deciduous herb, Chili pequinCapsicum annuum,  provides fruits for birds and mammals.  Birds are frequent visitors, so much so that another common name for this plant is Bird pepper.  Texas’ only true native chili pepper, the fruits are hot, but birds (and husbands) love the taste.

Red berries, ripe for picking.

The leaves are small and dainty, and the form of the shrub, elegant.    I love them planted as a mass, with 3 or 4 together.

Chili pequin planted with common yarrow.


Mexican FeathergrassNassella tenuissima–for obvious reasons that you can observe, has become a popular landscape plant throughout North America.

This is the spring view of two of the Mexican Feathergrass in my garden.

Native to Texas and New Mexico, southward into Mexico, and with a separate native population in Argentina and Chili, the Mexican Feathergrass is a tough, drought-hardy perennial grass prized by gardeners and easy to grow.

The autumn view of the same two plants. More muted and worn from a full growing season, these two still accent the garden and complement the rocks which border the pond.

I’ve grown Feathergrass in both shade (not deep, but dappled) and sun.   It’s been the native grass that has performed best for me and seems a go-to grass for both home and commercial landscapes in these parts.  It seeds out, not obnoxiously, but just enough that I can transplant and use in different situations.

Thanking Christina of Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting this monthly tribute to foliage; please check out her lovely blog for more fall foliage fanfare.

Foliage Follow-Up, July 2015

Welcome to hot July in Central Texas and to the monthly, leafy meme of Foliage Follow-up.  Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting.

The pond in my Texas garden cools and soothes when the Death Star arrives and is in full force.

Temps are hot and so is this foliage combo.

Pretty in purple Ruby Red Runner, an Alternanthera hybrid, has spread  to the bog from its original spot as a waterfall filter plant.

I like its creeping ways though, and it shouldn’t travel too far afield from the pond itself, as it requires water. If you read this blog, you know that this gardener, doesn’t water that garden–not enough anyway for a water-loving plant to take over.  All of the surrounding foliage beauties are water wise and appropriate pond companions: Softleaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia, Firecracker Fern, Russelia equisetiformis,  and Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima.

I especially like the leaves of the Pickerel Rush during the summer months.  The lush green, heart-shaped form lends a tropical feel in contrast to the blasting from the sun.

As well, the Ruby Red Runner, intertwined with the large Pickerel leaves, adds a bit of spice.

What cool foliage do you have in the garden this July?  Show them off and then pop over to Digging to enjoy other hot July foliage.

Foliage Follow-Up, November 2014: The Non-Freeze

My gardens are slowing down in preparation for winter, but haven’t experience the frosty nip that was promised earlier in the week. Thank goodness!  I’m not quite ready to give in to the dark season.  Not Just Yet.

Focusing on mid-November foliage, I’m joining with Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up.

In one corner of my garden with dappled light most of the day and some direct sun off and on, are a couple of favorite foliage vignettes.  One such is of Iris straps, Blue MistflowerConoclinium coelestinum,  and cobalt-blue containerized succulent Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense.

Planted alongside that mix are several  Dianella or Variegated Flax Lily, Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’.

I love the wide, grass-like foliage of Dianella with its snazzy white stripes down the

When a freeze was predicted this week, I covered the Dianella, though my concerns were unwarranted.  Last winter, I covered all of my Dianella each time the temperature sank into the ’20s, especially for extended periods. They soldiered through winter like the garden champs they are and thrived in our long, hot summer. Dianella nicely combine with Iris and Soft-leaf Yucca straps,

…as well as with these snuggly Love-Critters.

Ghost Plant is unkillable:  it goes for months without water, isn’t fazed by freezes (or at least mine haven’t been), can re-grow if a stem is broken.

My kinda plant.

Maiden GrassMiscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ is in its glory

The beautiful seed heads reflect the sun as it briefly peeked through our mostly cloudy week.

Toasty-seeded Inland Sea OatsChasmanthium latifolium and the green swath of Cast Iron Plant,  Aspidistra elatior are a striking pair.

Added to this scene is Purple HeartSetcreasea pallida, which dramatizes that story a bit.

Big MuhlyMuhlenbergia lindheimeri and Soft-leaf YuccaYucca recurvifolia  are cool weather

Graceful while also lending structure to the garden, these two are beautiful companions throughout the year, hot or cold.

I took this photo of  evergreen Yarrow, Achillea millefolium and Chile Pequin, Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum,  just before what was supposed to be a freezing night.  I figured the fruits wouldn’t survive the plunging temperatures and wanted to record them for

I’m happy to report that the fruits are still available for dining by interested birds.

I love the twisty-curvy foliage of Corkscrew RushJuncus effusus spiralis, silhouetted over a pair of Mexican FeathergrassNassella tenuissima.

Finally, the leaf change is beginning on my Red Oak, Quercus coccinea. Here in Central Texas, our tree foliage color change occurs later than that of our northern kin, but beautiful and appropriate for our climate and region. There will be more of this in the weeks to come.

Digging hosts Foliage Follow-Up–drop in for a look at November foliage fanfare.