butterfly weed

Greening up the garden on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

After several gifts of much-needed rain this spring, the garden is beaming with delight. (As are the weeds, but that’s another story.)

We barely saw winter this year, it made a few stops nearby, but never stayed long enough to qualify for a freeze at my house.

Having happily forgone dormancy, many plants in the garden are big and bursting with blooms well ahead of their traditional schedules. So here is a peek into my garden as I celebrate Garden Bloggers Bloom day, created by Carol of May Dreams Gardens
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This tropical hibiscus was never expected to make it through the winter – I planted two them knowing I’d probably have to replace them this spring, but low and behold, they are happily blooming again.

Euphorbia ‘Ascot rainbow’ against the backdrop of native prairie verbena.

Jerusalem sage, Phlomis, getting cozy with some Salvia Greggii in the front bed.

New additions to my shade garden last year, I added both solid yellow and fruit cocktail shrimp plant to the palette.

Purple and fuchsia dominate the end of the front bed. The irises in the foreground are done already, but they were a lovely lavender.

Scuttelaria wrightii, purple skullcap, enjoyed our warm spring and is trailing out into the walkway.


I replanted Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ again this year where I had some holes in the front bed. It makes a nice contrast agains the sculptural foxtail ferns.

A tidy, low, mounding shrub, Catmint ‘Walker’s Low,’ is one of my favorites.

The Salvia ‘Mexican limelight’ on the right and back of this photo is only sporting a few blooms right now, but soon it will create a nice contrast against the yellow Calylophus in the front.

The butterflies homed right in on this native butterfly weed — they knew I’d planted it just for them. (Along with dill, parsley, fennel and many other host/food plants.)

This explosion of four-nerve daisies came flying over from the bed on the other side of the driveway and clearly like where they landed!

More prairie verbena in driveway bed, set against the Lantana ‘horrida,’ — purple and orange is one of my go-to color combos.

Early spring and much-needed rains also mean an early pruning season in the garden. I’m not quite as excited about that result.

Here, the Jerusalem sage, Salvia greggii, Zexmenia, Mexican feather grass and Mexican honesuckle are getting just a little too neighborly for my taste. I’m gonna have to go break up the fight out there this week!

I’ve twice tried to plant Cardoon in this bed with no success. This year, voila! This plant, put in last summer, overwintered well and is rewarding me with blooms.

I love its color and its beautiful, exotic form.

The cardoon, related to the artichoke, is enjoyed frequently in Mediterranean cuisine. It is grown primarily for its thick stalks, which can be braised, stewed or deep-fried.

I’ve also grown artichokes many times in the past, but usually let the chokes bloom instead of eating them. They are just too pretty to eat, in my opinion.

I think I’ll try to cook a few of the stalks of this cardoon – just to see what it tastes like.

Most of my lantana is blooming throughout the garden. Purple trailing lantana is backed by Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front walkway bed.

I think this is Lantana ‘cherry sunrise’ on the side of the house. Unlike the native ‘horrida’ which can take over your garden – growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall – this cultivar is a very compact and orderly size of 2-3 feet wide.

The first of several rock roses began blooming this week. Pavonia lasiopetala is a tough native plant, but the deer find it tasty, so it has to live inside of the fence.

This daylily, ‘grape magic’ was ordered from Olallie Daylily Gardens when I created the daylily bed in 2008. It was advertised as an August bloomer. Just a tad early this year~!

This is Mexican flame vine, hard at work brightening up this section of fence.

These daylilies are not in the daylily bed, but out by the pool. I don’t know the cultivar, and they look a little washed out in this photo – they are a very deep, velvety maroon color.

Just down the way in the pool bed, this Pride of Barbados has also begun to bloom, well in advance of its traditional August arrival.

Last year’s addition to the pool bed was this Iochroma ‘royal queen.’

I didn’t realize how well it would do in this spot, so I’ll have to keep pruning it. I might have to get a few more to put in other spots in the bed now that I’ve seen how much they like it.

Clematis pitcheri is crawling with delicate little blooms.

Although I like the bright blue larkspur the best, the white and pale blue are the most prominent in the cutting garden this spring.

Leonotis leonurus, lion’s tail, ‘carefree beauty’ rose and Salvia ‘indigo spires’ are all blooming at once in the cutting garden.

Our recent rains have been good for these salvias. In times of drought, they really fade back.

Plenty of chow for pollinators in this garden!

I planted a few 4″ pots of Limonium sinuatum, (statice) in the garden last month. After all, a cutting garden needs some of this bouquet staple, doesn’t it?

The Echinacea reseed in this small spot and come back in droves, year after year.

Behind the pool, the transplanted Salvia ‘Amistad’ adapted very well and is bordered by yellow bulbine.

Behind our fence, the oleander I planted last year as a screen is doing its job. I will probably add a few more this year so we can start taking out some cedars.

The Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front bed makes a dramatic statement.

The Texas Yellow Star, or Lindheimera texana daisy, reseeded into my decomposed granite path and now towers above all of the other low-growers. It doesn’t really matter, though, because the bluebonnets and wine cups have already taken over the entire path, so the yellow star can be right at home.

We may be in for an early, hot summer, but I’m ok with that since I’ve enjoyed so many beautiful early blooms in the garden. What’s blooming in your garden today?

Propagating new plants for a new year…

Before we get our first official freeze here in Central Texas, I went wandering through the garden and gathered up a box of cuttings from some of my favorite annual plants and then spent a few hours in the greenhouse.

I got my tools and materials together and set about prepping the cuttings, trimming leaves, making long, clean cuts and giving everyone a dip into the rooting hormone.

Nice and toasty warm, with plenty of humidity and a controlled temperature, the cuttings should grow happily in the greenhouse over the next few months of winter.

When spring arrives, I’ll enjoy having some great little starter plants to replace the annuals I lost through the winter, or to expand planting of some of my favorites.

Can you tell what I planted?

Some plants are easier to identify than others.

This one is an easy ID, but also one of my faves.

Now let’s see if I can keep them all alive all winter.  Fingers crossed!

The good, the bad and the ugly…

“To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.”
— ecclesiastes 3:1-8

So, as the Death Star blazes on (100+ for as long as I can remember …103 today), some things in my garden are still doing well — many things, in fact. These plants have popped up recently and come into their own. These are some of my hot St. Tropez-on-the-beach-loving plants!
Grandpa Ott morning glories greeting the day on the back fence in the cutting garden.
Look hard for the 3 new Butterfly weed plants in the center of the bed – finally filling a hole left by last year’s Viburnum exorcism!
Coral trumpet vine is bursting with trumpets — can you hear her?
The huge Duranta bush looks like purple fireworks exploding in this corner.
And one of my very favorites, the Pride of Barbados, is giving us a long show this year. This tropical normally doesn’t bloom until August and I’m so excited to see them so early. I hope they can last the whole, hot summer.
Another Pride of Barbados.
Like the Pride of Barbados, this Cassia alata, or Candlestick Tree, normally blooms in August. I have two in a slightly less than perfect spot – they routinely stop growing at about 2-2-1/2 feet tall, and this one is blooming already! My other 3 are in a hot protected corner in the back and they are easily 10 feet tall! They aren’t blooming yet, but they never even died back during our mild winter last year. Can’t wait to show them to you.
A few spindly vines still have wonderful tropical colors to offer. They just need to GROW and fill in! The orange one is a Mexican Flame Vine and the other is a Morning Glory.

Ok – did enjoy the tour?

You might want to shield your eyes now — parental discretion is advised for the following photos. These are the bad and the ugly. Things stressed by the heat and the sun and not enough water, or, conversely, too much water or scalding on the leaves. I desperately try to water before 9 a.m., but life doesn’t always cooperate and at 106, 1 missed day of watering can mean death. So, sometimes even careful watering with warmer temps can damage.

Ready? Are you sitting down?
My new Avocado plant. I think it fried in the heat, I thought it like sun…maybe not OUR sun, though.
My lacebark elm is stressed and I’m going to have to get a drip hose on it to deep water tomorrow.
A Mandavilla vine recently planted with roots too close to the surface in the cutting bed.
The variegated lemon tree has a few sad leaves.
And the Sago is suffering, too.
The black elephant ears were great until about 2 weeks ago. These are in full sun, and on a less than scorching summer, which we USED to have, they are fine that way. But, that’s not this year!
Variegated shell ginger struggles, too
And apparently, I have the dreaded day lily rust that came to Texas in the last year or two. I may have to remove them before the other plants in the bed succumb to it.
Even the tropical Plumeria has a few sad spots.
And this one is just plain UGLY. But amazing, nonetheless. This is a Texas Bluebonnet. They normally bloom in March, but I did see my first bloom this year on February 28th and posted about how amazing THAT was in this Seriously? post.

Seems we could all write a lot of “Seriously?” posts these days, couldn’t we?