Purple Reign

Purple is the color of the week in my garden.

A purple Spiderwort flanks a potted Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), setting the mood for a reign of purple.

 

Oh sure, there’s yellow, red, and orange too, all vying for attention with their look at me! petals and am I not gorgeous? spring-green foliage.  But it’s the purple array of Spiderwort–demonstrating pollinator-driven color and petal variations–that is stealing the wildflower show at this moment in my March garden. 

Some Spiderwort flowers are darker and suggest an affinity for geometric arrangements.

The petals are curling, heralding afternoon heat.

 

Other Spiderwort flowers trend pink, though purple is definitely a part of the petal pedigree.

 

Still other Spiderwort are shy and soft in color, with hint of blue and only a suggestion of exhibitionist purple.

 

The pollinators are busy, busy, busy and Spiderwort blooms are a favorite dining spot!  This diminutive syrphid fly caught my attention as I was chasing a significantly larger butterfly.  I failed at photographing the butterfly, but I followed the syrphid, or flower fly, as it visited several Spiderwort blooms.  The syrphid was a work-horse pollinator at the flowers, spending more time at each bloom than the flighty butterfly.

 

Part of the honey for next season will come from this Spiderwort and its farming honeybee.

Check out Ms. Honeybee’s pollen pantaloons.  The proper name for this part of the honeybee is pollen basket or corbicula, but I prefer my own addition to bee etymology:  pollen pantaloon.

 

Purple reigns in the garden, though it–in the form of Spiderwort–hasn’t quite taken over.  If I want a diverse garden community next year, I’ll need to cull a fair number of these randy Spiderwort plants–they’re rather a promiscuous bunch!    That’s fine, I’ll be donating some to plant swaps and cajoling neighbors into planting some of my extras.  (But will those neighbors ever speak to me again, after they, too, reap the bounty of Spiderwort?)

A stalk of purple passalong iris photobombs the cluster of spiderwort.  In time, this iris and  its compadres will likely  assume the mantle of purple.

Spiderwort: a reign of purple and a prince of flowers.

Golden Glory

As its blooming season winds down, I’d like to give a blogging shout-out to a stunning native wildflower, Viguiera dentataalso known as Sunflower Goldeneye, Plateau Goldeneye, Toothleaf Goldeneye, and because I like to keep things simple, my personal favorite common name for this plant: Goldeneye.

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A most photogenic flower,

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…the Goldeneye brightens the late summer and fall garden with masses of sunshine-cheery, little ray flowers adored by pollinators and gardeners alike.

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Growing as tall as  5-6 feet, this is a hardy native of Central Texas, but also grows westward to Arizona and southward into Mexico and Central America.   A favorite landscape and wildlife perennial of mine,

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…Goldeneye should have a place in all Central Texas gardens. I grew my plants from a few seeds, which have in turn reseeded.

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I don’t mind.  I let them pop up, filling in spots where other things might not grow.  I transplant individuals where I want something that is low-to-no-maintenance and that will bloom beautifully, seed out, and provide food and cover for wildlife.  And if I don’t like where one plants itself (has that actually happened?), I can always pop it out and pass it along to another gardener.

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The sprinkling of yellow flowers in late summer, followed by the blast of that same yellow in October, adds some fun and  whimsy to the garden.  And you want some fun and whimsy, don’t you??

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There is nothing like the joy of yellow sunflowers in the garden and this one is a real winner.

Goldeneye pair nicely with all other flowers, too.

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Not only do bees, honey and native,  like Goldeneye,

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…but it’s a major source of seeds, winter food, and nesting material for the ever-darling Lesser Goldfinches.

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I’m always thrilled with the first buds appear in late summer.

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Conversely, I’m sorry as the flowers conclude their flower show.IMGP2225.new

..and go to seed.

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But of course, birds show up for the seeds and that means more Goldeneye are spread to far-flung places, or maybe just the neighbor’s house, plus I can look forward to more Goldeneye.

A certain amount of tolerance for rangy plant behavior is a requirement with this lovely wildflower because it does grow large and is top-heavy with bunches of blooms. But considering the garden show and the value to native wildlife, a too floppy plant  is certainly something that I can live with.

I plan a more comprehensive A Seasonal Look on Goldeneye in the not-too-distant future, but for now, enjoy!

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I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone who promotes natives and wildflowers for the home garden through her Wildflower Wednesday gardening meme. Thanks to Gail for hosting and teaching others about the importance and beauty of wildflowers.

For my American readers, I wish a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday–full of love, family, and friends–and of course, pie.

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Wildflower Wednesday, November 2014

As the  2014 growing season slows, it’s harder to showcase blooming things for the garden.  Berries?  Sure, lush in their ripeness.  Beautiful foliage?  Yep–in abundance in the trees and on the ground. Interesting seed pods?  All over the garden, the remains of spent blooms.  But blooming things are scarcer and scarcer, even in temperate Austin, Texas.  Today though, I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone to mark another celebration of wildflowers on this fourth Wednesday of November.

Even after our first light frosts Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea, blooms.

IMGP2684.new Vibrant scarlet blooms brighten my garden  in these shorter days of autumn into winter.

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Salvia species of all sorts flowered reluctantly in my gardens this year.  I’m not sure why, though I know that many salvia require lots of sun and that’s something my gardens see less and less of.  The Tropical Sage is an exception to that full-sun rule. These little herbaceous perennials bloom beautifully, in full sun,

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…to mostly shade. IMGP2687.new

These red Tropical Sage begin flowering mid-to-late summer and have bloomed through the fall.   In my gardens, I grow more of the white bloomers  than the red.  The white Tropical Sage blooms late spring through early fall and during a mild winter, throughout. Generally, they’ll bloom in winter, until a hard freeze nips them, which I should add, is the norm.  (My property also is in central Austin, so my garden benefits from a heat-island effect and often doesn’t get as cold as outlying areas.) The red form blooms later for me–late summer into fall and also during winter if conditions allow. Drought hardy, prolific re-seeders, and deer resistant, Tropical Sage are also good nectar sources for pollinators.

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Oh and they’re just darn pretty!

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Tropical Sage are great to tuck into spots of the garden where there are limited choices, or where you want to fill in space.   I like to group several together in close proximity, like this bunch of almost finished white bloomers,

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This gives a larger shrub effect, but without overpowering surrounding plants.

Tropical Sage are moderately fast growers.  I can plant seedlings like these in late fall or even winter,

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…and as long as they’re well-mulched, they come back ready for action in late spring.  These are seedlings that I transplanted about a year ago.

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Tropical Sage are native perennials to the southern coastal areas of the United States, including Texas and annuals in most other places.  A great perennial native wildflower–plant them now (in their native range)  or next year.  To celebrate wildflowers and native plants in the garden and to see what wildflowers other gardeners grow, take a turn from this busy holiday weekend and travel on over to clay and limestone.

Wildflowers work!