Wildflower Wednesday, July 2014

Given the seemingly intractable problems our world faces, sometimes it’s hard for me to take garden blogging seriously.  But encouraging beauty and sustainability through practical gardening choices is one ingredient toward healing a troubled world–even if it’s only on the trifling scale of our own back yards.  Celebrating native plants and wildflowers, I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone for July’s Wildflower Wednesday.  Native plants and wildflowers provide year-round pleasure and sustenance–for gardeners and wildlife.  There are so many reasons to use wildflowers in the home garden: they are beautiful, they require little irrigation and no chemicals and wildflowers evoke a sense of regional location.  Using wildflowers in the home garden is one way to honor the natural, local beauty inherent in all places and to affirm a positive future, wherever one lives and grows.

In my gardens, FrostweedVerbesina virginica, is just beginning its bloom period.  I captured the very first tiny florets recently.

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The flowers will expand in summer and early fall, then form into attractive seed heads. A mature Frostweed is multi-trunked,

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and tall. This deciduous plant fits nicely into a shade or part shade garden.

One of this year’s first GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, flowers was hiding behind some large leaves.

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Another primarily fall bloomer, this happy native will burst forth with masses of blooms in October, so Texas-bright that you’ll almost need sunglasses to look at them!    For now, the perennial sunflower is growing and producing a smattering of blooms.

The Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is common in Central Texas. The clusters of pink-to-coral blooms,

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are favored by hummingbirds, bees and people.   Red Yucca is quite dramatic when viewed in its full form.

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The tall, arching branches hold aloft those bloom clusters high above other perennials.

Closer to the ground, Pigeonberry, Rivina humilis,  is a low-growing ground-cover that is beautiful and cooling in shade.

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It produces many small, pink flower spikes which form luscious red berries which grateful birds enjoy.

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In my gardens, a variety of doves snack on these berries.

Another strong hummingbird attractor is the Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii.  A deciduous shrub, the Fame Acanthus grows red-to-orange tubular flowers.

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These striking blossoms bloom profusely during the summer and fall months and without efforts from this gardener.

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That’s my kind of wildflower plant!

Here it is in full shrub mode, photo-bombed by a hardy Turk’s Cap!P1050985.new

There are many native Ruellia Texas.  The one I grow is called Drummond’s Wild Petunia or Ruellia drummondiana and is another wildflower at the start of its summer/fall bloom cycle.  A very tough plant which doesn’t require work from me, it displays small, purple blooms. Fresh blooms open each morning, then drop at the end of the day.

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A versatile perennial, it performs well in either shade or sun and isn’t large.  Ruellia dies to the ground in the winter, so  I like to plant it between evergreens, like this group which is sandwiched between native Columbine on its left and native Yarrow to its right.

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To me,  Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus,  is the quintessential Texas wildflower.  Thriving in the hottest and toughest conditions, it blooms, blooms, blooms.

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It provides all sorts of good things for wildlife: cover, nectar, pollen and fruit.  What’s not to love about that plant for Texas birds, bees and butterflies?  And for two-legged Texans, Turk’s Cap form lovely perennial shrubs for their gardens that are easily maintained and make the statement: I’m from here!

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Beauty matters.

Wildflowers matter.

Grow what belongs where you are: for ease, for wildlife, and because wildflowers work in the garden–in all sorts of ways.

Grow wildflowers because they give joy.  And joy matters.

 

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, May 2014

As we roll into our long warm season here in sunny Austin, Texas,  perennials segue from the early cool season blooms to heat-loving (or at least heat-tolerant) late spring/summer blooms.  Several different native yucca plants grace my gardens this May, such as a Pale-leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida.

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Another native yucca, Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora,

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will bloom continually until fall.  The flowers are delicate looking and favored by hummingbirds.

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Another native yucca, Twistleaf Yucca, Yucca rupicola, shot up a bloom stalk this spring.

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Heat-loving ZexmeniaWedelia texana, begins its long bloom cycle in May.  This hardy perennial blooms prolifically throughout our hot summer and into the cooler October.

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A favorite spring and summer bloom  for butterflies, bees and people is the Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. 

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Here it resides across from patch of cheery Zexmenia.

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The Heartleaf Skullcap, Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata, is a beautiful, spreading ground cover which develops stunning blue/lavender flowers, blooming April through June.

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In the late spring garden, the Heartleaf Skullcap is stunning–in both bloom and foliage.

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The lilies in the pond are blooming as well. This pretty pink one is the ‘Colorado’ Lily,

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and the creamy yellow is the ‘Claude Ikins’ Lily.

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Both lilies bloom almost year-round in my pond, even occasionally in  winter.

Revel in your blooms, wherever you (and they) May be.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for May.