Wildflower Wednesday, August 2014

Today I join Gail at clay and limestone with heat loving wildflowers for August. No longer cool nor even somewhat pleasant, we’re crawling down the hard stretch of summer here in Austin, Texas. But the light is different and once in a great while, I feel a slight change to the breeze. When there is a breeze.  I say that every year, to anyone who will listen: Sometime in August there is a change–the air is different, the breeze is different! Usually those I’m in conversation with roll their eyes and smirk.

I get lots of smirks.

There’s no smirking though when viewing  this hot, summer/fall blooming GoldeneyeViguiera dentata.

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A few of these flowers open throughout the summer months, but in October? Watch out! There will be an explosion of yellow.

The ridiculously pink Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, is a long-blooming native perennial. These pinks,

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look almost too pink.  They open in the wee hours before dawn and close in the afternoon heat.  This group is tired of the heat and are closing up shop for the day,

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…while this group contends with both heat and sun.

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By 4pm in hot August, Rock Rose blooms are done for the day. Fresh, perky blossoms will open for business early the next morning.

The glory of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea, 

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is over for the year.   I leave the gone-to-seed flower heads as long as possible for finch nibbling, but the blooms are crispy now and I’ve pruned most back to their rosettes. After the spring/summer blooms are done and pruned, there’s usually a second flowering that is shorter in stature, but very welcomed,

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…by pollinators and people.  Later in fall, Purple Coneflower will segue again into seed production for winter finch food.

YarrowAchillea millefolium, is taking a bow for its long bloom season as well.  All of mine, save this patch,

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are pruned to their ground foliage for the year.  I’ve always found the ecru disks of spent blooms as attractive as the snowy white of the peak of Yarrow season, so I keep them through the long summer months.

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The finches appreciate the seeds, too.

Turk’s Cap,  Malvaviscus arboreus, blooms magnificently during this toasty time of year.

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Visited by bees,

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Turk’s Cap produce scads of swirled lovelies with pollen and nectar galore and will do so for another month or two.

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, employs a hopeful common name.

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Frost.  That’s hard to imagine right now. Frostweed’s snowy blooms evoke a coolness we can only dream about with our daily 100 degree-plus temperatures and the death rays of the August sun.

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Flowering will continue into September, giving way to seed production in the fall.

Slather on the sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and traipse over to clay and limestone to see other hot August wildflowers.

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!

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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.